KLONDIKE, CP Army Headquarters – As Pride Month draws to a close, we celebrate with two of the community’s openly LGBT+ army legends from the Army of Club Penguin, an army known for its rich queer history.
Can I start by asking you how you identify and what your story is?
Shab: I identify as a bisexual who leans towards guys more when it comes to relationships. When I was growing up I struggled to figure out if I was gay because I was more interested in guys, but that didn’t seem right. It took a while, including dating a woman, to realize that I had an attraction to both, yet leaned more one way instead of being in the middle.
Mchappy: I identify as a gay cis male. I didn’t really have any grand coming out, it just was a very natural experience where I started comfortably being more true to myself more and more. Eventually, it was just the norm.
Shab, you joined ACP in January 2008! What was the prevalence and acceptance of LGBTQ+ people in the army community like at that time and for the duration of your time as an active member of the ACP? Obviously, the community was so much younger, but there were still notable figures such as Wgfv (2010) who were open about their sexuality.
Shab: Honestly, it wasn’t a hot topic or really one that came up much when I joined. At least, if it did I didn’t really pay attention. I believe there was a girl in UMA who liked other girls (I don’t want to assume she was a lesbian) but no one really cared? Armies have always seemed pretty friendly and open to me when it comes to sexuality, and it only started becoming more of a central topic (where people started coming out more) as I got closer to retirement.
ACP is famed for having such a rich queer history, with many leaders and members who identify as LGBTQ+. Why do you think this was the case?
Shab: LGBTQ+ tend to work harder, because they feel they have to fit in or be taken seriously, or maybe they needed, more than others, a safe place to exist. Analytics show that gay men, on average, have more or higher degrees than straight men. Something like 52% vs 36%. The theory is they feel they have to work harder to prove themselves in the world. I also think ACP’s culture helped make it a more welcoming place than some other armies.
Mchappy: Once upon a time ACP use to be one of the biggest communities here. Most people eventually ended up there or crossed paths with the army which allowed for a lot of people to intermix and meet one another. Since it was such an epicentre, naturally it included many people from different walks of life. Maybe contribute too that ACP tried its best to maintain the most general public-friendly community that it allowed people to feel that they could be themselves in a safer space. Granted there was still judgement but any sort of rowdiness back then would’ve been shut down.
Mchappy, as someone who’s been active in ACP and the community throughout the years, when did you start noticing a change in attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people within our community?
Mchappy: To be honest, I didn’t really see a huge change until bringing ACP back in 2019. OG armies ended under an era that saw the likes of politicians like Donald Trump succeed in the presidency, bringing about a different sort of attitude to our globalized society compared to the previous 8 years. When we brought ACP back, a LOT more people were more comfortable talking about their identities. It was something very noticeable to me as someone who has been around this community for a while.
And how did your own sexuality develop across that time? Did the army community help or hinder that development over the years?
Shab: I’m not sure the army community had an impact on my coming out story, but the group of friends I made in the community were the first close friends I came out to (like Boomer). The community gave me a safe space to do so, which little worry about getting backlash.
Mchappy: Like Shab said, the army community as a whole did nothing to help me. If anything it taught me to grow a thicker skin as I would constantly have to defend myself from people calling me slurs or making fun of me for something I can’t change. Of course having a close group of internet friends DID make a huge difference and probably is what really helped make me feel seen and wanted. I will forever be grateful to Etac14 who was quite literally a life saver for me when I was growing up. Internet friends can be really important, yo.
What advice do you have for younger members of our community who are reading your words now and struggling with their sexuality and/or identity?
Shab: There’s nothing wrong with you or your attractions or your identity, no matter what anyone else says. You know yourself best, not anyone else. There’s support all around you, you may just need to ask. You may have to struggle through the criticism and insults sometimes, and I’m sorry for that, but for every jerk there’s someone who will prop you up. Hang in there, ask questions or for help when needed, and be yourself.
Mchappy: Sometimes I feel like it is hard to give support because everyone is so different from one another. I think it’s important to realize that your life is so immensely precious. If you are currently struggling with anything regarding your identity then just know there will always be a group of people who wouldn’t bat an eye at you for being yourself. You’re loved, heard, and there will always be a friend around the corner. Just keep your chin up.
Thank you to both Shaboomboom and Mchappy for being so honest and generous with their answers. They both certainly have an insight into the army community’s LGBT+ prevalence over the years, and their support in our Pride Month celebrations is greatly appreciated.
Max is currently serving as CP Army Headquarters Vice Director. He is known for his positions as an ACP Leader (2021), CP Army Hub Executive Producer (2020) and Shamrock Bulletin Administrator (2021). He won ‘Best Admin’ in the End of Summer Awards 2020, as well as ‘Best Editor’, ‘Top Post’ & ‘Best Column’ in the CPAHQ 2021 Staff Awards.