Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Warwick University Rowers Launches 2014 Calendar For Charity

Warwick University Boat Club Launches Calendar For 5th Time In Support of Gay Charity
(photos courtesy: Warwick Rowing)
The men at Warwick Rowing have stripped off for a raunchy new 2014 calendar, their fifth. Last year’s calendar sold out in days following unprecedented demand from over forty countries.  Celebrity fans include Stephen Fry, John Barrowman, Boy George, Gok Wan and Derren Brown. Caggie Dunlop from Made in Chelsea has become one of their keenest supporters on Twitter (where they are the @naked_rowers).

A promotional video for the calendar is now online at http://vimeo.com/77412748.

From a few hundred sales in its first year sold only at the Warwick University campus, the Warwick Rowers naked male calendar has become an international hit with both women and gay men.  The gay community have supported the calendar from very early on and the rowers, who include both gay and straight athletes, have shown their appreciation for this support by dedicating themselves to challenging homophobic bullying in schools.

With the help of funds from the calendar and its associated products (films, downloads, greeting cards) the rowers are working with Educational Action Challenging Homophobia (EACH) a registered charity dedicated to adults and young people affected by homophobia or transphobia.

EACH is helping the boys to develop a programme called Sport Allies that will see them going into schools themselves, as well as making viral videos that will be seen by a wider audience.  The films will be designed to encourage young people in the UK who are being bullied or in crisis about their sexual identity to call a national helpline, while young people outside the UK will be able to visit an international website where they will find details of local support.  The boys hope Sport Allies will stimulate wider support within the sporting community, and will be announcing more details in the next few weeks.

Jonathan Charlesworth, Director of EACH, commented that:

“There can be a reluctance among males to be seen to be too bonded to their male friends in any emotional or physical way. The Warwick Rowers use tongue-in-cheek videos and photographs to challenge this, and in doing so I think they are taking constructive and positive stand against homophobia. We are proud to be the partner agency working with them.”

Top rower, two-time Olympian and World medallist Tom Solesbury, was quick to applaud the rowing team for their plans to tackle prejudice, bullying and homophobia in schools.  Olympian Solesbury said:

“I rowed for Warwick, and am delighted to see my old club doing such great work for charity and for young people.  I think what they’re doing is very brave.  I’ve faced many challenges in my Olympic career, but I have to take my hat off to the boys for this! The hat’s all I’ll be removing, though. “

But Tom wanted to emphasise the serious nature of the campaign, too:

“For the boys, the calendar is just a bit of fun, but I know how seriously they take the work that it enables.  They have embraced their gay following, and learned of how many have struggled to come to terms with their sexuality. Many have wished that there could have been more sportsmen like the rowers, setting an example of acceptance and showing that it really does get better, and Sport Allies is how the boys want to help make that happen.”
As in the four previous calendars, the images have been shot by London photographer, Angus Malcolm, who has also produced a film of the shoot for release in November.  Angus, whose male nudes have featured in various books, magazines and exhibitions around the world, wanted to give this year’s images and film a sexier, glossier look without losing the humour people love:

“Previously we’ve gone for the classic “naked calendar” approach of strategically placed oars and so on.  This year I've aimed to create a lot more "captured moments" that show who the boys really are and how relaxed they are around each other.  It’s very much part of the message we want to get across. And I hope they look good, too!”

The calendar is available now from warwickrowers.org along with a film, a series of image downloads, and a range of greeting cards.  All will be available from warwickrowers.org.

Sport Allies will launch formally later in 2013.

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