To some, “My Little Pony” might seem like an odd focus for a collegiate club, but to freshman Bria Linza, it makes sense. Linza is one of a handful of students involved in MLP Bronies at the University of Utah, a student group that meets once a week to discuss and share anything and everything relating to “My Little Pony,” an entertainment franchise marketed primarily to young girls.
Linza is part of a global movement of Bronies — or Pegasisters, as female followers are referred to — who have found community, creativity and purpose in “My Little Pony.” When the computer science student started at the U last fall, she says she wanted to bring that sense of community to the university. Along with three others, Linza started the Brony club.
Bronies come from all backgrounds, said Linza, who is one of four of the group’s administrators.
“They aren’t just weird and creepy people,” Linza said. “They are people who range to be really diverse, and practically anyone. There is literally no stereotype.”
Aleana Perry, administrator and historian for the U’s Bronies group, agrees that diversity is a defining trait of the community.
“I’ve met a lot of different people,” said Perry, also a freshman. “It’s kind of made for everybody.”
The appeal of the “My Little Pony” universe, Linza said, is the depth and sophistication of the television show. Although many brush it off as entertainment for children, Linza argues that “My Little Pony” offers important life lessons and meaning.
“The show is based on morals,” Linza said. “It’s not just a little kids’ show.”
Linza said that many people are drawn to “My Little Pony” because of the community’s emphasis on fan involvement and creative expression. “There’s a huge creative side to the fandom,” said Linza, who makes music inspired by “My Little Pony” which is best described as a mixture of alternative rock and EDM. She has even performed at Crystal Mountain Pony Con, an annual festival held in Utah that draws hundreds of “My Little Pony” fans every year.
The creativity and project involvement in Pony fandom give artists opportunities to express themselves to a supportive, understanding community. For Linza, it has also helped her understand herself.
“It’s about being able to come out of your shell and connect to people,” Linza said. “The show has really helped me find myself.”
In addition to the U’s group, Linza is active in online Brony communities and forums. She writes for a life advice forum where she helps fellow followers work through their problems or anxieties.
“I think [the community] has made a positive impact on a lot of people’s lives,” Perry said. “There’s a lot of acceptance.”
Linza agrees that the community’s impact has been positive and helps people be comfortable in their own skin. “It’s really magical, in a sense.”
The MLP Bronies at the U meet weekly in the Union den on Saturdays at 4:30 p.m., although that time may change with the new school semester. In addition to meeting regularly, the group interacts and can be reached through the closed Facebook group “MLP Bronies @UofU.”