KLONDIKE, CP Army Headquarters – Seven years on from an article that explored the prevalence and acceptance of LGBT+ members in Club Penguin Armies, we revisit the same questions to truly see how far we have come.
Seven Years Ago
The first iteration of this article can be dated back to March 2015, when CP Army Central’s Albaro Lord was the first person to ever deep-dive into the army community’s LGBT+ prevalence and acceptance.
His article noted our Club Penguin army community was largely made up of Christian-dominated countries – specifically the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and Ireland. Albaro noted the complex relationship between LGBT+ rights and the Christian church, but that opinions in these countries had improved considerably in recent years. He labelled the other two top countries – India and Pakistan – as significantly more anti-LGBT+ at that time, stating you can be “disowned from your family, thrown in jail, and even killed in these countries if you identify yourself as LGBT”.
The reason for this analysis was to reflect the real-life attitudes to the subculture of Club Penguin armies, where people with different backgrounds and cultures have been put together and are able to connect and communicate with each other on a daily basis behind anonymous identities. His article also referenced influential figures of the army community that publicly identified as LGBT+, such as army legends Shaboomboom, Mchappy and Wgfv.
Two Years Ago
As an ambitious Editor-in-Chief for the leading organisation in May 2020, the CP Army Media, I was keen to produce a ‘part two’ to Albaro Lord’s article, just over 5 years on from its original publication. It was met with a mixed reaction at the time, with many praising the fact that it was spotlighting a part of our community that was not commonly discussed in the mainstream. Others, however, criticised its approach to army leaders and the commentary on whether indifference of LGBT+ people is the same as support.
The following passage highlights the notable shift in LGBT+ prevalence and acceptance from 2015 to 2020:
…there is a significantly more active LGBT+ community today. This could be put down to many of the old ‘veterans’ having grown up and “discovering who they are as people”. Not only is this a thing to be celebrated, but it also paves the way for younger members to be confident and accepting of themselves. The power of this community, due to its online nature, means we can escape our real lives and “pretend to be someone we’re not”. This escapism has allowed many to surround themselves and open up to people online before gaining the courage to do so in real life.
The beauty, or perhaps curse, of our community, is that it brings together people from every type of background, culture, religion, and belief. With this, different experiences and the varying levels of education have informed people on how they view others, especially those that are perceived as different to the status quo of a heteronormative society. With that being said, increased levels of education in mainstream media across the last 10 years have definitely helped to improve attitudes and this has certainly been apparent in the army community too.
Where are we now?
Over the last two years, the army community has been through a lot. Not only did the COVID-19 pandemic occur and lead to a ‘second Golden Age’ for the community, but flash-based games ceased and we experienced several months of 2021 without a private server to operate on. More recently, of course, CP Rewritten closed for the final time after police intervention and CP Army Battleground launched. But throughout all of this, members of the army community have aged several years. The option for gender identifying Discord roles has become a common practice within Discord communities, and there has been an even more positive attitude to LGBT+ people. Anti-LGBT+ attitudes have led to disqualifications in tournaments and have been the cause of great conflicts and wars within the community.
In June 2021, a Pride Month celebration occurred here at CP Army HQ and the first-ever Community Pride Parade was held, with every army in the community except for the Templars in attendance. This was a historic community moment as the event even had the approval of CP Rewritten admins, who paused the 1-bar army regulation to allow it to take place.
For the second time in my army career, I took to the Discord servers of the currently active armies in this community to see what the LGBT+ representation was like in the 2022 community. I spoke to troops, army leaders and higher command figures, posing two simple questions: “If a person came out as LGBTQIA+ in your army, would you treat them the same as any other member? And how do you think the prevalence of LGBT+ members has developed in your army over the last several years?”
The Army of CP, Ice Warriors and Lime Green Army all offered a pro-LGBT+ stance, with leader Kally highlighting how her army highlights and promotes inclusivity within the army. It is interesting that Greeny, a veteran from the original-Club Penguin community, comments on how far we have come since then.
The Mercenaries, Rebel Penguin Federation, Help Force, and Red Ravagers also offer pro-LGBT+ statements. BoMoBuddy even says that the Red Ravagers have two transgender leaders and many previous ones have been gay, with the army having an “LGBT” Discord role.
Special Weapons and Tactics leader Legoman stated that LGBTQIA+ people are welcome in his army and would not be treated differently. When questioned about the last army he led, the Night Warriors, he doubled down and made clear his pro-LGBT+ philosophy remains the same no matter what army he is leading.
The Secret Service leader Pandor explained his army is an inclusive community that treats everyone equally. I did question him on recent comments he has made, stating that he did not wish to join in any of the Pride events or projects that CPAHQ were hosting this year. He confirmed this was a personal take. Although many LGBT+ members in the community will be uncomfortable with this, it is great to see Pandor is still promoting an inclusive environment and culture within the Secret Service.
There was one army that I was particularly interested to speak to, as they offered the most unsupportive response two years ago when I last asked this question. In May 2020, Templars creator and leader Xing said he “couldn’t care less” if someone came out as LGBT+, but they would be immediately banned if they “flaunted their gayness everywhere”. When further questioned, he said LGBT+ members must “act like normal people, and not r*****”.”
This shocking response was heavily criticised upon the release of the article, yet over the past two years, his army has continued to grow into the undisputed largest and most prominent army of the present day, with the Templars yet to be dethroned from the number one spot on the weekly Top Ten in 2022.
It does appear Xing has matured over the past two years since our last interview on the topic, with him noting he would not treat anyone LGBT+ differently. It is fantastic to see this progress.
However, it would be disingenuous of me to state that I believe the Templars as an entity should be considered as supportive of LGBT+ people while their leader Pain has spoken so maliciously in the past about LGBT+ people and in particular, gay men. Similarly, another Templars leader, Echo, recently told me that he takes issue with Pride Month as he wishes he “could celebrate the fact that he likes women for a month”.
Do the attitudes of an army’s leadership reflect the views of everyone in that army? Of course not. Not everyone in the Templars will share these views, and it does appear the LGBT+ members within the army have had a positive experience. But it is disappointing to see people in positions of power and influence express these views, and they cannot expect to remain unchallenged.
There is no doubt that the large majority of our community is pro-LGBT+, and it’s fantastic to see the development with each iteration of this article that comes to fruition. There are, however, individuals in the community that perhaps lack the education and compassion that the majority have. This also leads us to the question of if armies and leaders should be actively doing more to push inclusivity in their communities? Groups like the Red Ravagers have gone to additional lengths to create positive and inclusive environments for their LGBT+ members, such as having “LGBT” Discord roles for those wanting to self-identify and celebrate their identities.
As I end this article and sign off, I would like to share with you three statistics that I found truly shocking and make it clear that there is much further for us to go before equality is achieved.
- Same-sex marriage is only legal in 30 out of 193 countries (15% of the world).
- 71 countries have laws that criminalise homosexuality, as well as other members of the LGBTQ+ community.
- Transgender people have an average life expectancy of 30-35, and even lower if they are a transgender person of color.
As the fight continues, remember that you are enough and this month is for you to celebrate who you are. Happy Pride!
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