Trinidad Gomez is adorned with a pink and purple wig, lavender wings, horns and low top classic black and white Converse shoes.
Gomez, a 28-year-old Mexican-American transgender who identifies as a female, credits her self-discovery and happiness to the freedom and acceptance she found in the Brony community.
“I recently came out as transgender,” Gomez says. “My friends have been very supportive during this whole thing. I can’t really do it alone.”
A Brony is defined as a male, usually in his 20s or college age; not the usual target audience of the television show My Little Pony. according to Patricia Arreola, a 21-year-old linguistics and philosophy major at Los Angeles Pierce College, and a self proclaimed Brony aficionado.
My Little Pony was a series of toys created by Hasbro in the early ‘80s that were turned into a television series targeted toward young girls.
Since then, several TV series reboots have been created. The latest of these reboots, generation four is entitled My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and while the target audience is still young girls, a new type of fan has evolved.
Arreola describes two types of individuals that become a Brony. The first is someone who likes the show to get a reaction from society. While others “legitimately believe in the ideas and the values taught in My Little Pony, which is friendship, magic and it gives them an optimistic and friend based view of the world.”
The term Brony was created on the website 4Chan following the release of the series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, according to thedailybeast.com.
The worldwide My Little Pony phenomenon has led to fan conventions, such as BronyCon, which is a 3-day event in Baltimore.
Regardless of the gender, fans of the show are all considered Bronies, according to Gomez. She has become a well-known figure among the Southern California Bronies, whose Meetup.com web page has more than 1,700 members.
In school, Gomez was bullied and acknowledges that this is a common issue among the Brony community. After high school, she attended California State University, Los Angeles, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Letters in animation. Gomez currently works for an animation studio in Burbank as an independent artist.
It was the animation and writing that first attracted her to the show.
“I watched the whole first season in a week and I just kept watching,” Gomez says. “I drew my first picture, and I was like, yup, guess who’s a Brony now.”
Lauren Faust, the creator of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, is also known for her work on Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends and The Powerpuff Girls, she has spoken out on her unexpected fans.
“Up until now, they’ve had to hide that or pretend that they don’t like it or shove it down inside themselves,” said Faust in a 2012 interview with Bitch, a quarterly magazine. “Now, because of the Brony community, they can express it.”
Friendship is a common theme in the community.
Jessica Crawford, 29, also credits the show and its fandom for her current friends. Growing up in Tennessee, she moved around the country and currently lives in Los Angeles .
“I wish I would have known about My Little Pony before,” Crawford says. “Basically it changed my life.”
When her roommate moved out, she became depressed and would only leave her home to go to the store.
For Crawford, it was through Netflix that she first saw My Little Pony.
After a few episodes she was hooked and watched all three seasons available at that time. She then started looking into events on the Internet, and found the Socal Bronies Meetup.com page.
She was hesitant about attending but became more comfortable among the members and soon began trading information about shows that they had found on the Internet.
It is more than just a cartoon for Crawford, who wants to share with others the different lessons that the show teaches, including communication among friends and how to work together to solve problems.
Since becoming part of the fandom, she’s no longer depressed and she hangs out with other Bronies.
“I actually found something that I enjoy and makes me feel better,” Crawford says.
One of many friends she has found is Gil Arzola, 56. He is secretive about the fandom and does not want to release where he currently works.
The only person that knows about his fandom is his mother.
“My brother has his suspicions. When I’m going through the channels I skip over My Little Pony, Arzola says. He smiles as he proudly wears his shirt adorned with Queen Chrysalis, a character from the My Little Pony universe.
It’s common for Bronies to be secretive, but Gomez has the full support of her family including her mother Teresa.
“I try to listen to her when she tells me something,” Teresa says. While they do not watch the show together, she is aware of her daughter’s love of art. “They gifted her when she was in school, and I know she went into it because of her drawings.”
She is kept busy with her Youtube channel, Dysfunctional Equestria. The channel was created to entertain the Brony community, but also so fans would have a place to “heal and vent.”
“My primary passion is to entertain people,” Gomez says.
However, there are still people who find the fandom strange.
“A lot of Bronies get mislabeled by society,” Gomez says. “It’s not really a good thing because people don’t really understand it. We’re normal people who just happen to like a TV show.