The reason I haven't posted in a while is because I was nervous about publishing this. It's bothered me right from my first Summer Camp, but I've always felt unable to speak up about it. I don't mean to condemn nor upset any of the adults, I just feel it's about time I showed what my perceptions and opinions were, and still are.
This is me receiving my silver medal for team shooting. >>>
My start at Army Cadets was rather average. I mean, my first camp, I ended up being called Moaning Myrtle because I was told to sit up a tree and surprise people as they walked past on a RECCE.
Christmas Camp 2008 was a bit interesting, as I wore my silver corset to the disco, and has a little crush on one of the Serjeant Major's daughters. Nothing came of it, and I went home after a good camp.
The first major incident was at Spring Camp 2009. I had some of my poetry in a notebook, and would often write when I had free time on camp. One day though, a one of the ranked cadets decided to pinch it, and take a look. After reading it, it got passed around more of the ranked cadets, and then one of the adults spotted them. When they were asked to hand it over, they did, and explained that they found the poetry funny. Cheers, pal. Later that afternoon, the adult returned the notebook to me, and told me not to pass it around. EXCUSE ME! It was nicked from my combat jacket in my billet, stupid! As if I'd pass my notebook around just like that, knowing that the cadets would make fun of the subject matter of my poetry. I hated the fact adults assumed. For the rest of that camp it was all whispers and points amongst the ranked cadets, about the fact that I wrote love poetry about other females. Thankfully, at this point only one adult knew, and the cadets seemed to move on by next camp. I thought it was all good, and that I was completely safe and hidden. Nothing could stop me.
How very wrong I was...
<<< Windsurfing at Summer Camp 2009.
It was Summer Camp 2009 that changed everything. And boy do I mean everything. Summer Camp 2009 was a fairly normal camp for the most part.
The last full day we were at camp, we went to some little Theme Park. Again, I had another fantastic day out, and I was looking forward to the disco in the evening.
When we got back, we had dinner, and then we started to get ready for the disco. I remember I Gotta Feeling by The Black Eyed Peas, playing at full volume in the billet. I wore a black and white polka dot dress, and left for the disco with a couple of friends. We were there for maybe 20 minutes, and then they decided they wanted to go, so I stayed and sat on a table at the side of the hall on my own. I was just enjoying being there.
A girl I had never seen in my life approached me maybe 30 minutes after that, and asked me to dance. She was rather pretty, and of course, me thinking there was no discrimination within Army Cadets, accepted her offer! As we danced, I noticed that quite a few adults were pointing and staring. I remember it, even to this day. I thought that they were just a little surprised at me with another girl, so I didn't think anymore of it. We danced for a good couple of hours, and then the disco ended.
Me as Standard Bearer for our detachment's first standard! >>>
We were talking at the end, and just before we left the hall, we kissed. Yes, that's right: two girls kissing. Big bloody whoop! Time to grow up?
Nobody said anything to me, so I wasn't bothered, and went to line up with my company, and she went back to her company. We marched back to the billet, and got ready for bed. We were past lights-out!
I was just about to get into my bed, when I was taken aside by one of the adults. She took me outside, and with a rather loud voice, told me that I should be more subtle, and that nobody wanted to see it. Well, okay, we could've been a little more subtle, but it was totally spur of the moment. And anyway, I bet half of the lads there were secretly turned on! I wasn't happy with her nasty attitude, but I just accepted it- there's always one! I went back to my bed, and cried myself to sleep, while apparently, one of the senior girls sat on the end of my bed, and watched me go to sleep. It was the same adult that tried forcing me to eat meat soup, even after I told her that I was vegetarian. BITCH. TOTAL BITCH.
The day we went home was an interesting day. Waiting for our coaches in the parade square, me and the girl I met got talking. We kissed again just before we got on separate coaches. All the way back, the adults said nothing to me, except when calling my name on roll call.
I saw her again at one of our service stops, and we spoke briefly, and kissed AGAIN! I was thinking this was fantastic, plus, I wasn't really doing anything that the other cadet couples weren't doing. When I got off the coach, and was loading my Bergen and stuff into my Grandmoff's car, one of the officers gave me seriously disapproving looks. Well, I knew kissing another girl would cause controversy for a little, so it didn't bother me. People are afraid of new things, change.
<<< Me as a cowgirl, Christmas Camp 2010.
When I went into detachment the following Monday, it was a completely different matter. One of the trainee officers, that no-one really liked decided to give me a big lecture in the officer's room. "People don't want to see that", "You shouldn't really continue", "The other adults don't like it" and "It's kind of not right" were all phrases I remember being told. Wow, I was in a serious pile of shit. The adults had obviously discussed me at some point over the five previous days. He came across rather awkward, and somewhat disgusted when lecturing me. Afterwards, I had to go into the toilets for a small cry. I didn't think I was strong enough to take anymore lectures. I was a teenager, I was a fool, and some of the other cadets were doing it too, it's just that no-one else noticed them, because they were straight couples. I could help but think that this wasn't fair. On the other hand, I couldn't go round accusing the adults of homophobia if I wanted to stay in cadets.
Rank or Relationship?
Me receiving my Lance-Corporal, November 2010. >>>
A couple of weeks later, I turned down the offer of a rank. I figured that until I was strong and brave enough not to cry at the lectures the adults gave me, I wasn't ready for a rank. Leading and teaching was no problem, being too emotional definitely was. I was sad to turn it down, but that's the way life seems goes sometimes.
A couple of camps later, and the adults were definitely talking to me strange, and giving me strange looks. Over the course of my entire cadet career, only two adults never looked at me funny, and one other 'tolerated' me only because I was a decent shot.
Also during my cadet career, I turned my rank down three times in total, failed my first aid at least eight times to memory and failed badly at the inter-company cross country.
2010 was an interesting year. I was completely in love with this girl I'd met, and didn't want the adults to stop me from what I wanted. I saw her several times before Summer Camp, all of which were awkward meetings. I only met her outside the boundaries of cadets twice while we were dating. Sad really, but that's long distance relationships for you!
I met up with her at the Queen's parade, and twice to go shooting. I didn't know what was happening between us, all I knew was, the adults continued to give me disapproving looks that made me upset. I also saw her at the County Show, when we stayed the night. It was rather interesting, because she wasn't ready to tell her parents, and her parents were adults. You could see the glares we got down the table at breakfast, and one of the cadets whispered at us: "When are you gonna tell your parents?". Good bloody question. How long could we hide? I wasn't even sure that the other adults hadn't already told them, but her parents did seem oblivious to us.
<<< Me in a Fireman's suit, January 2011.
She didn't tell them until just before Summer Camp. In the mean time, I watched as all through the camps, my radio course, my shooting days and at detachment, the adults seemed wary of me, annoyed, disgusted, pissed off or just plain awkward. A lot of them seemed to talk down about us being together, and especially about her being weird. I never thought she was weird...
Summer Camp 2010 arrived quicker than I expected, and this was to be the real challenge. This would make or break me, literally. Why should I hide my relationship with her, when some of the straight couples were virtually eating each others faces off, and having sex in the laundry room? Unfair much? We only wanted to be normal teenagers, but apparently we weren't 'normal'. Seriously? Were weren't doing anyone any harm!
No, I was going to be me.
I'm not going to lie, that Summer Camp was probably the toughest camp I'd ever been on. Thankfully, her parents had no problem with me, so it's not like were sneaking around. We met up with each other every evening, and often had dinner together. So, the adults were still talking to me funny, and pulling faces when they thought I wasn't looking, but I was in love and felt so happy!
One particular night has stuck in my mind though. She'd been put on punishment parade, and came to me crying, one of two times I had ever seen her cry. Naturally, I hug her, and hold her close for a few minutes. That's when one of the adults comes across, and starts telling us that there was a no hugging rule. Well, last time I checked, there certainly wasn't one of those! Apparently, it was the same for straight couples too. When she asked the next day, apparently it was a new rule they bought in. Obviously because they didn't like us together.
Well, Alton Towers with her, and the last night were both so magical! Plus, none of the adults bothered us! As far as Alton Towers is concerned, it would look bad if they lectured us in the public eye! I went home from that camp exceedingly happy, not giving two shits what they all thought.
Me in Los Picos, Spain, September - October 2010. >>>
I went to Spain with Army Cadets. I was dreading being stuck with adults that disliked me for another week, and stuck abroad. On the other hand, I was going with some awesome people from my detachment, to do some amazing activities.
I text her everyday. Even the adult from her company who knew about us didn't seem to have a problem with the idea of use being together. None of the adults seemed to mind, and I managed to confess some of my fears and worries to a very friendly gay Air Cadet that was also there. I had finally been on a trip with cadets where I had no funny looks or lectures, or people speaking to me awkward.
A couple of weeks after I got back, my Grandpa and one of his friends managed to arrange for my detachment to get its first standard, and I was chosen to be the standard bearer. Yes, me being 5'1 was a bit tricky, but I was going to do it. I was going to show my face to the world, and show that I wasn't afraid anymore. I'm am perfectly within my right to be proud of being an Army Cadet. That evening, I asked for an interview with a Major for my rank.
<<< My brassard, November 2010.
A week later, I received my Lance-Corporal. I knew I was no longer afraid. I was always going to get funny looks, disapproving glances and the odd stupid mindless lecture. These are the things you have to live with. It's a military based institution after all, so I got it good. I was lucky.
Only two days after getting my rank, we broke up. I was devastated, because I viewed my rank as a mere consolation prize, as I felt that I'd been through so much. Looking back now, it was just teaching me to be resilient, and fight for what I want and believe. Be brave. I didn't stay in Army Cadets for long after that, as I missed her, and really couldn't face my rank. I refused to take certain privileges like instead of delegating a particular task, I would do it myself. I taught and lead parade though. I just couldn't face giving the crap tasks to baby cadets. I too was a baby cadet doing shit tasks once!
My conclusion is though, Army Cadets is going to have a slight homophobic edge to it, whether you like it or not. Even the most well-meaning of people are often unsure of how to deal with you after they find out your gay/lesbian. Even if it's not malicious, there will be awkward looks. When it is disgust, there will be lectures, and angry glances. On rare occasions they may stop you from being together. It will either make or break you. But if you think about it carefully, the opportunities that the cadet forces will give you are incredible and will make you into the person you were meant to be. Never turn down a chance to go to a cadet force, it's a crazy, fantastic experience!
Hello! I'm eighteen, I live in England, and I'm a vegetarian. No matter how hard I try, my life never seems to run smoothly! My life consists mainly of college, languages and music, and I want to be a translator for the United Nations. It's my dream to live in a city called Espoo, in the south of Finland. I've finally got my education back on the right track. Hopefully it'll be third time lucky, yes?