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Gay rugby players who kiss and dress in drag win at World Press Photo Awards

Gay rugby players who kiss and dress in drag win at World Press Photo Awards
© Giovanni Capriotti – Muddy York RFC’s members perform a drag night as part of their fundraising

A series of images following a gay rugby club has won at the World Press Photo Awards.

Photographer Giovanni Capriotti’s Boys Will Be Boys took first place in the Sports – Stories category.

The photographer, who was born and raised in Rome, followed a number of gay rugby players from Toronto.

They are all members of Muddy York RFC, they city’s first gay-friendly rugby team.

Founded in 2003, it’s basis lies in the players’ discomfort in the locker room.

‘Gay athletes have somehow nearly always encountered resistance, controversy, discrimination, and often humiliation from the sports community,’ the project’s description on the website explains.

‘Stereotypes have typically, and falsely, defined the performance of the athletes as well as their suitability to a specific discipline.’

In the Toronto Rugby Union, Muddy York play against ‘straight’ teams – something Capriotti says ‘unconsciously started the process of describing and deconstructing the idea of performance within masculinity’.

See four of the stunning pictures below:

Muddy York Rugby Football Club’s player Michael Smith carries the ball against the Nashville Grizzlies during the semi final of the Hoagland Shield on Saturday May 29, 2016, at the Ted Rhodes Park, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Nashville beat Toronto 15-0. The Muddy’s boys finished the tournament with two wins and two losses, marking an historical edition of the Bingham cup.

The next goal of the team is to beat, for the first time ever, a straight side.

Muddy York Rugby Football Club’s player Jean Paul Markides (left) kisses his partner and teammate Kasimir Kosakowski during the pride parade on Sunday 3 July 2016, in Toronto, Ontario.

The couple has been together for roughly two years. They joined Muddy York RFC together one and a half year ago.

Markides, out for the season due to an injury, is always around to support the team and his partner, and to take part in the club’s social events.

Muddy York Rugby Football Club players Michael Smith, left, Devin McCarney, centre, and Jean Paul Markides are photographed during a rehearsal for their performance at the annual team’s fundraiser drag show on Saturday 5 November 2016, in Toronto, Ontario.

Fundraisers, along with sponsorships, play a major role for the team’s season budget. Each player pays an annual fee to the club, that covers the uniforms, practice facilities and Rugby Ontario fees.

Muddy Yorks helps or provides players who can’t afford the payment with an exemption.

The New York Gotham Knights players celebrate their Bingham Plate win over the London King’s Cross Steelers on Sunday May 29, 2016, at the Ted Rhodes Park, in Nashville, Tennessee.

New York edged London 14-12. The Gotham Knights were established back in 2001, after September 11, when Mark Bingham, the former gay rugby player after whom the cup is named, and New York Gotham Knights virtual founder, gave his life as a hero on board of the flight United 93.

Muddy York Rugby Football Club looks at the Gotham Knights as a true model in terms of players development, growth and inclusiveness.

For the full Boys Will Be Boys series, and to see his other projects, visit Capriotti’s website.

 

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