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More on the BronyCan convention: https://bronycan.ca/

Mike Shay, also known online as BronyMike, at his home in New Westminster, B.C., on August 8, 2014. He works as a web programmer during the day but he also writes and performs music related to brony culture. (Jimmy Jeong for The Globe and Mail)

When Mike Shay, or BronyMike, came “out of the stable” and told his family that he was a fan of the Hasbro-produced show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, he had some explaining to do. Mike is a self-professed brony, a term that combines “bro” with “pony” and refers to male fans of the fourth generation of the ’80s animation series, although female fans also take on that moniker. His favourite character is a pink-maned pony named Pinkie Pie.

“Most who haven’t heard anything probably think it’s a bit weird, but they get over it once I explain some things. They know I’m a nerdy guy so usually it’s not too big a shock,” says Mr. Shay, a web programmer by day and the founder of the original B.C. Bronies group.

The brony fan group of about 30 people meets regularly to discuss the latest episodes, play card games and share their fan-created original drawings and music.

Aaron Pui at his home in Vancouver on August 13, 2014. Pui is a chef de partie by day. He also designs costumes and pillows for the brony community. (Jimmy Jeong for The Globe and Mail)

Cam Boyle at his Vancouver home on August 11, 2014. His day job is at a restaurant, and in the brony community he is a singer and artist. (Jimmy Jeong for The Globe and Mail)

Rob Harrison, also known online as Aphinity, at his home in North Vancouver, B.C., on August 9, 2014. He works in IT and as a professional mascot. (Jimmy Jeong for The Globe and Mail)

Afion Ruki at his home in Burnaby, B.C., on August 12, 2014. Afion helps to run the B.C. Bronies website and the Canadian brony convention. (Jimmy Jeong for The Globe and Mail)

“The B.C. community is about 600-700 strong,” says Afion Ruki, also known as Princess Afion, who is the head of logistics for BronyCan, a national brony convention that takes place this year in Richmond, B.C., from August 22 to 24. The convention, now in its second year, will feature a long list of guest speakers from Canadian company DHX Media, which produces the show. But the convention will also showcase fan-produced art, a charity auction, fan-produced merchandise and a concert devoted to original My-Little-Pony-inspired music, including a performance by BronyMike.

Lauren Stinson at her home in Burnaby, B.C., on August 11, 2014. Stinson is a student who contributes to the brony community by drawing avatars for Pony fans. (Jimmy Jeong for The Globe and Mail)

David Kronstein at his home in New Westminster, B.C., on August 8, 2014. He is an electronics engineer by day but he says he loves to tinker and build 3D-printed models for the brony community. (Jimmy Jeong for The Globe and Mail)

As for the haters and critics who are suspicious of bronies, Mr. Shay says that, “there are people who are stuck in their ways about gender roles.” He believes the stigma lies in older people’s memory of past generations of the show. “It was vapid and overly-sweet.” He believes that the young brony community enjoys the show because it shares a lot of the creative staff from shows in the 90’s that they all grew up with. “The characters are distinct and each have their flaws, which is refreshing.”

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