"You cut up my rainbow flag T-shirt into HOW many pieces?" Rainbow Dash shouted at Rarity.
"Dearie, I had a perfectly good reason...for not liking that flag."
"Rarity, if YOU have a problem with my rainbow flag T-shirt collection, I have a problem with YOU!" Dashie flew away crying, leaving Carousel Boutique and Rarity far behind.
Rarity sank to the ground among the pile of scraps. Accidentally sitting on her open scissors and poking herself, she leapt back to her feet and into the air. When she landed, she slipped on a piece of fabric and fell down again.
"Drat," she said. "That was neither elegant nor ladylike. Shredded garment, are you secretly laughing at me? You deserved every cut and slash I gave you! You don't know how much it hurt me to look at your...stripey flag! You don't know what it's like to be me!"
Twilight had walked up behind Rarity. "You're right," the purple pony remarked, "I don't know what it's like to be you. I don't understand. But I'd like to try."
"Twilight!" Rarity said. "I think it would be easier if I explain to you and our other closest Ponyville friends all at once. Maybe then Rainbow Dash will find it in her heart to forgive me."
"I don't understand yet," Twilight said. "But I want to give you a chance. I'll try to get everypony together to listen to you."
The Main 6 (Twilight, Applejack, Pinkie, Fluttershy, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash) were sitting around the Cutie Map table in the Castle of Friendship. Rainbow Dash was giving Rarity angry, hurt looks. Spike was there too, running to and fro with trays of snacks.
"I think we need to talk about...orientation," Twilight said.
"What about orientation?" Applejack asked. "Did the wind vane on top of mah family's barn get turned around again? Ah shor' don't want to confuse anypony about their proper orientation."
"What?" Applejack said. "Ah remember one time, a new weather pegasus got confused about which way was east and which way was west, and they didn't know which way the weather fronts were supposed to go. Ponyville's weather was all wrong for a week! It almost spoiled our apple crop."
Twilight remarked, "I can see that's very important. But that's not the kind of orientation I meant."
"Okay," Applejack said. "So what kind of orientation DID you mean? 'Cause I don't think our apple trees are about to start growin' their roots in the air and their leaves underground, 'less Discord goes on a wild tear again."
"What I meant was stuff like...what kind of special somepony a pony wants."
"Shucks, that ain't hard," Applejack said. "Sweet, kind, brave, hard-workin', strong, easy on the eyes. 'Course, I guess everypony's list is a bit different."
"Exactly!" Twilight said. "Everypony's list is different. That's what I wanted to talk about."
"So...," Applejack said, "Are you tryin' to fix everypony up?"
"What?" Twilight said.
"Are you tryin' to help everypony find their special somepony? 'Cause I can see where that could be a fun project, you likin' to make checklists an' tryin' to get things organized and all."
"That sounds fun!" Twilight exclaimed. "Maybe we should all talk about that. What kind of special somepony would each of us like to find someday?"
"Ah just told y'all mah list," Applejack said.
Fluttershy softly cleared her throat. "Speaking of orientation, there IS something that really confuses me."
"What's that?" Twilight asked.
"Maybe it's because he's been my little brother for so long," Twilight said, "but I don't think Spike is confusing at all."
"What I meant was...for a long time he seemed to have a huge crush on Rarity. But lately I see him spending more time with Gabby. A pony AND a griffon? None of them are even the same species! What's up with that?"
Spike said, "I don't really care about that. Turns out I'm what's called a sapiosexual."
"A sape what?" Rainbow asked. "Does that mean you're into some kind of ape? Spike, did that happen when you went through the Mirror Portal? Did that turn you into a...whatever you said?"
"SAPE-EE-OH SEXUAL," Spike said. "I care what kind of person you are on the inside. Not what you look like on the outside. I read about it in one of Twilight's sex ed comic books, and that's exactly how I feel."
"Awww!" Pinkie Pie said. "I think that's sweet!"
"So..." Fluttershy said, "if you love somepony, you wouldn't NOT love them just because they turned into another species? Like a talking ape, or a talking dog?"
"Well..." Spike said, "Maybe not a dog. I mean, I can love a dog but not in THAT way. Not as a special somepony. But if a special somepony is a pony, or a griffon, or even a dragon, I don't think there's anything wrong with that."
"What if it was a really weird species?" Fluttershy said. "What if it was something REALLY weird, like a..."
Fluttershy whispered, "(draconequus?)"
"What?" Spike asked.
"Would a draconequus be too weird?" Fluttershy said.
Spike laughed. "Discord and I are just friends! I do NOT want him to be my special somepony."
"Okay," Fluttershy said. "But he isn't a normal species like a pony, or a griffon, or a dragon. What if somepony DID want to be special someponies with a draconequus? Would that be too weird?"
"Wanting to be special someponies with Discord WOULD be pretty weird," Spike said. "But as long as Discord and the other pony treated each other right...I guess that would be fine."
"So, Fluttershy," Spike asked, "what about your orientation? Do you want to go next?"
Fluttershy whispered in a small soft voice, "I don't think I want to talk about me right now. What about you, Pinkie? Would you like to go next?"
Pinkie said, "When I was growing up on the rock farm, a lot of ponies had opinions on what kind of special somepony I SHOULD want.
"My mother always told me, as long as a stallion is kind, and very serious all the time, and works very hard and loves rocks, he should make you happy. But I think that isn't quite the right list for me.
"One of my grandmothers used to just say, it's every bit as easy to fall in love with a rich pony as a poor one."
Twilight rolled her eyes. "She must never have met Filthy Rich."
"So...if I were to combine advice from all my relatives with stuff I love, I guess I'd want...a pony who is kind, and very serious about fun, and likes making other ponies happy with great parties, and if he doesn't love rock at least loves some kind of music like maybe polka. And to please my grandmother he should be rich, maybe from owning a huge factory that makes some of the best party supplies." Pinkie blew a raspberry. "But how likely is that?"
"Oh...I think there might be one or two ponies like that out there," Twilight said. "I noticed you said HE. Is a stallion what you're looking for?"
Pinkie smiled. "A stallion could be good. But I also like what Spike said. I think maybe I could fall in love with a mare too, if she was the right kind of mare. I'm not worried about it. When we find each other and realize that we're the right ponies for each other, it'll be okay even if he's one of your apes, Twilight!"
Twilight giggled nervously. "You do realize...I'm not an ape-sexual? Whatever the real word for that is."
Spike teased her, "I don't know about that, Twilight. When you went through the Mirror Portal, who was that teenage native you kept tripping over?"
"I am not in love with Flash Sentry! And he is not my boyfriend. We just had a nice time together at a dance."
Spike elbowed Twilight. "I remember the way you two danced together. He was able to dance almost like you do. Do you know how rare that must be? Maybe you two really were meant to be together."
Twilight said with a little bitterness, "We can't be together. He has a girlfriend, and she's someone else. Or should I say, she's me but not me."
Spike exclaimed, "OTHER Twilight?"
"Yes," Twilight said. "The other world's Twilight Sparkle. Sunset Shimmer wrote me recently that they're dating now."
Spike shook his head sadly. "I know Other Twilight must be hard to compete with. She's super smart, cute, nerdy...if nerdy is what you're into, and anypony who would be into you would be into nerdy..."
"Flash Sentry isn't what I really want in the long run," Twilight said. "I like super smart and nerdy too, Spike. Did I ever mention, when I was a filly, I had a crush on Starswirl the Bearded?"
"When you were a filly, I think you only mentioned it about a million times," Spike said.
"I suppose I must have," Twilight said. "But me and Starswirl...what are the odds of THAT?"
"Wouldn't be the first impossible thing you've done," Spike said.
"Heh-heh," Twilight said. "I guess we'll see. Anyway, what about YOU, Rarity? What kind of pony are you hoping will be your special somepony?"
Rarity laughed. "Dear, I'm not really into ponies."
"NOW you tell me!" Spike exclaimed. "Does this mean maybe I would've had a chance with you?"
Applejack said, "Not into ponies? Rarity, Ah remember how you stammered and blushed over Trenderhoof, and how you chased after him. Of course, Ah guess he's kinda good lookin', if you're into ponies who wear very nice clothes an' don't have enough sense to tell an apple farm from a rock farm."
Rarity chuckled nervously. "Yes, he did wear very nice clothes."
The Mane 6 looked at each other.
Applejack was the first to speak. "Are you tellin' me it wasn't the pony you were so interested in, it was his CLOTHES?"
Rarity said, "What can I say, dear? You know I love to sew. And to create the very best in fashion. And making ponies look just perfect."
Twilight said, "I don't think I'm the only pony who's confused here."
Rarity said, "I...LOVE designing and making really excellent clothes. And putting them on ponies to help those ponies look their best."
Applejack said, "You're serious, ain'tcha?"
"I surely am. Those things are the closest I've ever come to...having those little tingling feelings. Or, sometimes, bigger tingling feelings."
Pinkie gasped. "Rarity is a...clothessexual? That can't be a word. But everything makes so much sense now! The reason Rarity doesn't have a special somepony is because she doesn't want one! But why were you chasing after Trenderhoof then?"
"His appeal to me wasn't exactly the stallion himself, darlings. It's because he's the biggest and maybe best clothes horse in Equestria."
"Say what?" Pinkie asked.
"If he sees an especially stylish article of clothing, he'll want to wear it. And he's a fashion leader. He has excellent taste and other ponies know it. When he puts on a new garment, soon other ponies will want to try it too. So suppose I make a beautiful new item of clothing. He'll want to put it on, and other ponies will be influenced, and..." Rarity closed her eyes and shivered a very special little shiver. "Putting a garment on Trenderhoof is like dressing thousands of ponies all at once."
Pinkie Pie said, "OOOH! So for Rarity, it's like getting to...do THAT with...hundreds or thousands of ponies. In one huge fun party!"
Rarity smiled. "So, Pinkie...you can see the appeal."
"Sure!" Pinkie said. "I like to help hundreds or thousands of ponies have fun all at once too!"
For a moment, nopony knew what to say.
Twilight gave Rarity a serious look. "Rarity, I think we need to talk about why you ripped that rainbow flag T-shirt off of Rainbow Dash and cut it into tiny scraps. Do you feel...uncomfortable with it?"
Rarity said, "I certainly do! At least I feel uncomfortable seeing it on Dashie!"
"But why does it bother you? Do you feel uncomfortable with mares loving other mares?"
Rarity said, "I love all of you ladies! Even though I don't love you in...THAT way."
"Aww, that's okay!" Pinkie Pie said. "I love you in not that way too! I just hope that you'll still love me in not that way even if someday I do love somepony else in that way. Okay?"
Rarity said, "If one of you falls in love with a mare...if you have a mare as your special somepony, I'm perfectly comfortable with that."
"Great!" Rainbow said. "So what's the problem?"
Rarity said uneasily, "I just hated that rainbow flag on your shirt SO much."
"How's that?" Rainbow asked. "If you love the rainbow mane and tail, you should love the rainbow flag too."
"What I'm NOT comfortable with," Rarity said, "is the way the tones on that shirt clashed with your mane and tail. It had six different colored stripes, and NONE of those stripes quite matched or complemented your hair colors. Shrunken violet does NOT go well with heliotrope. Pastel umber does NOT flatter nectarine. And so on. It was driving me mad to see that thing on you."
"Well," Rainbow said, "I guess I could cover my mane with a hat. Would that help?"
"What I'd like to do," Rarity said, "is make you a NEW shirt, with a rainbow flag that MATCHES your mane and tail. I'd be happy to design it with just about any symbol or symbols you want, Dashie, so long as everything is properly color-coordinated.
"Dashie, you can support gay and lesbian and transgender ponies, and ponies of all colors and shapes, and I'm fine with that. But there are SOME personal lifestyle choices I can NOT abide: the tacky, ugly, tasteless choices. Like socks with sandals. Or clothes that just...CLASH."
"That's kind of sweet," Dashie said. "So I can express support for any of my friends and family I want to, and even strangers, and you'll help me do it! So long as I do it in good taste."
"Exactly," Rarity said.
"I'm glad THAT'S cleared up," Twilight remarked.
"Me too!" Applejack said. "Ah'm glad it turned out to be so simple. Here Ah was afraid Rarity had some kind of weird fixation on traditional gender roles, and was tryin' to force that on everypony."
Most of the other ponies looked at each other and smirked.
"What?" Applejack said. "Just because mah family's been farmin' apples for hundreds of years, we aren't allowed to respect ponies' freedoms? Shucks, we're all ABOUT freedom. If anypony tries to take your freedoms away from you, Ah'll throw rotten apples at 'em."
"You said it!" Rainbow Dash cheered Applejack on.
"Mind you, that's not a hundred percent all the time instant guarantee," Applejack said. "Because at Apple Acres we take good care of our apples, and we don't usually HAVE rotten apples. And Ah don't want to waste good apples on some nogood rotten scoundrel anti-freedom ponies. But if anypony gives you a hard time about your...non-geographical orientations, any of you, Ah'll set a few apples aside and let'em go rotten just so Ah can throw those apples."
Twilight said, "I don't think I've ever heard a stronger expression of love for a pony's friends, Applejack, than you offering to deliberately let apples go bad."
"Ah know. It hurts me inside to think about doin' that. But doin' it fer freedom and mah friends, it's a good kind of hurt too."
The ponies all hugged. (And a little dragon hugged them too.)
"There's just one thing that confuses me about this," Rainbow Dash said.
"What?" Twilight wondered.
"Twi, you asked Rarity how she feels about a mare loving another mare as her special somepony. What does that have to do with anything?"
"Dashie," Twilight said, "your T-shirt had a rainbow striped flag on it."
"Right!" Rainbow said.
"So, Dashie...how do YOU feel about a mare wanting another mare to be her special somepony?"
"I'm used to it," Rainbow said casually. "I'm very cool, so pretty much everypony's gay for Rainbow Dash."
"Dash, do you know what a rainbow striped flag symbolizes to most ponies? Why it means so much to them?"
"I AM pretty awesome."
Twilight said, "Did you ever wonder why there are so many ponies who have flags and shirts and water bottles and...even some rather personal items, with that rainbow pattern on them?"
"Like I said, I'm pretty awesome."
"Rainbow, some ponies use a rainbow flag as a symbol of love and acceptance and pride towards ponies being gay for each other."
"That's great. With so many ponies gay for me, they SHOULD use rainbow flags that way."
Twilight rolled her eyes. "I don't think I'm ever going to get through to Dashie that it's not all about her."
"Okay then!" Rainbow said. "I'm hungry. Does anypony want to go for a hayburger? I burn a lot of calories, with all my athletic training. So for me it's all health food."
Fluttershy said softly, "I hear there's a new special at Burger Barn. They use different vegetables to make rainbow-striped food, and they donate part of the proceeds to charities that help gay and lesbian and trans ponies."
"What did I say?" Rainbow said. "I'm pretty awesome. So awesome that they make rainbow striped food to raise money for some of my favorite charities without me even telling them to. So you wanna go?"
"Sure," Twilight said. "I've liked everything I've eaten at Burger Barn. I want to try this...what's it called, Fluttershy?"
"The Rainbow Pride Burger."
Rainbow laughed. "The other day, Twilight, you were telling me sometimes my ego is too big. But these ponies just LOVE how proud I am. They're even using my pride to raise money for charity. That sounds to me like the best kind of pride."
Twilight laughed. "I guess it would be."
All the ponies went with Rainbow and Twilight to Burger Barn, partly because they were curious if Rainbow would ever figure out the real reason for all the rainbow-themed items.
They had a good meal. But if Dashie knew the rainbow pride theme wasn't really all about her, she never told anypony.
Corrections and Clarifications
What Spike says about sapiosexuality is not exactly wrong, but it's not exactly right either. More precisely, a sapiosexual is someone who is attracted to intelligence. Maybe Spike should be a bit more careful about trusting comic books.
Orientation is a really big, complicated topic. Talking and writing about it can be challenging.