Michael Morones is an eleven-year-old boy who lives in North Carolina. He’s also something called a ‘Brony;’ a fan boy of “My Little Pony,” a line of plastic toys that began in 1983, and morphed into TV specials, an animated feature length film, and four animated television series.
But I guess being a boy and loving “My Little Pony” makes you a target of bullies, and after a lot of teasing and taunting and harassment and, after enduring that for about as long as he could, Michael Morones hung himself from his bunkbed.
"Mum, I'm tired of people being mean to me, I'm tired of people calling me gay, I'm tired of people telling me I'm ugly, that I'm stupid." — Michael Morones
Michael didn’t die, however, but he has been hospitalized since the incident, and doctors say he may have permanent brain damage and needs a tube in his throat as a result of his attempted suicide; for loving a cartoon pony.
"We won't know for months how much is going to heal. It could even be years before we find out what potential for healing he has." — Tiffany Morones-Suttle, Michael’s mother
The Morones’ family has been receiving support from well-wishers, including donations from around the world, hoping to help with the hospital bills, but, as usual, several anonymous hate-filled people have decided to co-opt a website created for Michael and post their negativity for all to see. Still, the website has raised some $70,000 as of last week.
"I've heard a lot of people say you need to go after bullies and hold them responsible. But you know, I don't think that's what Mike would want. I would rather teach people how to do right than turn around than punish, because punishment doesn't always work." — Tiffany Morones-Suttle
And support for Michael Morones, and for Bronys, is also coming from kind of an odd source; a place I’d almost never expect to react this way …
Down in Texas, Imperial Tattoo in Sugar Land tattoo artist is offering discount "My Little Pony" tattoos for just $20 to raise money for Michael; store owner Tony Wayne says they have been overwhelmed by the response.
"We've done 25-30 of them since last week and more are booked this week. They're regular guys, tattooed mean lookin' guys." — Tony Wayne
Wayne says as soon as he saw Michael Morones' story, he knew he had to help. He says tattoos are about “freedom of expression” and understands that Michael, and all little boys — and grown men, too, I’ve been told — who love “My Little Pony” are just expressing themselves.
Christy Van Kannon got a blue My Little Pony with a red mohawk on the inside of her left arm; she did it because one of her 12 year old daughter's school friends also committed suicide because of bullying.
"I have three kids. For me this was an incredible opportunity to show people how important it is to stop bullying, We have to stand up for others that can’t stand up for themselves" — Christy Van Kannon
Wayne said the money from his store's tattoos will go in part to Michael’s recovery fund and also to the anti-bullying group .
"I didn't even realize this was going on, but things should not be gender specific. I'm getting (a My Little Pony Tattoo) myself now. You don't have to be a girl to like My Little Pony." — Tony Wayne
And you shouldn’t be bullied almost to death for it either.