Male My Little Pony Fans Sparkle at BronyCon 2012

Last year's BronyCon — a convention held primarily for male fans (though female fans are invited, too) of the children's cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic — was held in a small selection of New York City meeting rooms and attracted just over 100 people. And how'd that go this year? Over costumed 4,000 fans, affectionately dubbed "Bronies," from across the country showed up at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey to celebrate the show that many attendees claim taught them the value of tolerance, friendship and understanding.

The show's creator Lauren Faust was in attendance and was able to comment on the Brony phenomenon, saying that while she never intended for the cartoon to be aimed at young men (she wanted to create something for little girls that their mothers could possibly enjoy, as well), she feels the reception is a step forward:

"We live in a society where saying that something is for girls is the equivalent to saying that something is stupid, or saying that something isn't worthwhile. I think that's awful and I think that kind of attitude needs to be changed ... And these men are doing it. ... They're proud that they're forward-thinking and modern enough to look past this misogynistic attitude."

And what about the creepy factor?

"There are a lot of people who when they first hear about men watching a show for little girls, they're taken to a creepy place," [Faust] said. "They think there's something wrong with that, something devious about it. I think that's unfortunate.

"I don't think you have to have bad intentions to like little girls or to like the things that they like," Faust said. "And it's upsetting to me that people jump to those conclusions. I think it's unfair to men and I think it's unfair to girls and women."

Oddly enough (at least from my weird little internet bubble), Bronies have, overall, managed to escape the judgment that typically comes with being a man borderline obsessed with something created for children. Rather than judged as potential perverts or as, you know, pedophiles, they're seen as the sparkly scamps of the web — known for making mashups and waxing poetic about being kind to one another (their mantra is "I'm gonna' love and tolerate the shit outta you")— almost like the cartoon ponies that they, as Bronies, so admire.

BronyCon Summer 2012: My Little Pony - Friendship is Magic fans gather for convention [AP]