For the last seven years, the Rowers, who study at Warwick University Coventry, England, have stripped down to pose for the calendar. But, it wasn’t always for charity. When they started, the calendar served as a fundraiser for the boat club.
However, the annual calendar amassed an enormous following of queer men (big surprise), which resulted in the formulation of Sport Allies, a charitable organization against homophobia, especially in sports.
In the wake of the Brexit vote and surprising election of Donald Trump, the Warwick Rowers released their 2017 charity calendar and it’s better than ever. In a recent behind-the-scenes video, the Rowers spoke openly about their mission and its reinvigorated purpose.
In the video, one of the Rowers says, “We’re here with our boats, our oars and no clothes to show that your true identity is the best way to be,” and another, named Cameron, added “I’m naked for equality!”
Following Brexit, the U.K. saw a 147 percent increase in homophobic-related attacks and the United States could see a similar rise in hate crimes following Trumps’ election. As the world wrestles with Brexit and the President-elect, the calendar serves as a reminder that their’s still work to be done.
Photographer Angus Malcolm, who produces the calendar, told The Huffington Post, “These votes give bigots permission to dismiss the rights of anyone they see as outsiders. Never before has the LGBT community had greater need of its straight allies.”
He continued, “Only they can prove beyond question that the battle for LGBT rights comes not from self-interest, but from a belief in justice and human rights. And that we are not outsiders, but part of every family and every community.”
Although the future of LGBT rights seems uncertain, the Warwick Rowers demonstrate that love trumps hate and that’s an important message. If you’d like to order a calendar, click here. Enjoy the screengrabs below!