This year we discovered an extraordinary garden in the southernmost part of Spain that was unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Created by a grieving mother to celebrate the life of a daughter who died young, the garden is a testament to what we can achieve with love. What better place, we thought, for us to do our WR18 Spain shoot! With a lot of help from our friends, a total of twelve rowers made their way down to this remote location for a whole week of shooting. Some of you will already have seen a few glimpses of the results on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We are all incredibly excited by the images from this shoot, and we are sure you will be too. It also gave us all more time to sit down in this almost spiritual place and talk about what Warwick Rowers and Sport Allies mean to all of us. What we planned as a shoot became something much more, and a truly magical experience for everyone involved.
This year we shot at two beautiful English country estates that make the most of their natural setting, including one that was landscaped by Capability Brown, the 18th century pioneer of “natural landscaping” who is also known as “England’s greatest gardener”. Nearly thirty Warwick Rowers signed up for this year’s shoot, with quite a few familiar faces and plenty of new boys who are more committed than ever to promoting the values of the Warwick Rowers and Sport Allies.
The 2017 World Pride festival was hosted by the city of Madrid and we were honoured to be invited by the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (www.iglta.org) to participate in various events as their guests, with all accommodation very kindly provided by our friends at misterb&b (www.misterbandb.com).
On Thursday 29th June, we were invited to the home of the Belgian ambassador to Spain for the announcement of Brussels’ candidacy to host EuroPride 2020 and the IGLTA conference 2020 by the Belgian Ambassador and the Belgian Secretary of State for Equal Opportunities.
On Friday 30th June, the IGLTA & Ontario Tourism co-hosted an official event at Cardamomo to promote the 2018 IGLTA Global Convention in Toronto, Canada. We were honoured to be invited to share our message and story as guest speakers. Both Lucas Etienne and Angus Malcolm gave speeches to an appreciative audience of professionals from the tourism industry about the importance of a more inclusive world and the role that allies can play in that – not just in sport but in tourism, too.
At the end of our speech, we issued a challenge to Ontario Tourism! They have accepted, so watch this space. All we’ll say right now is that there’s a certain Canadian we think would look great in a Warwick Rowers onesie…
On Saturday 1st July, it was the World Pride Parade. One of the largest LGBT+ events ever organised with almost 4 million people watching and taking part in the parade. After last year’s success for London Pride Parade, a few of the guys were waving the Sport Allies flags on the New York City float along the music of DJ Hector Fonseca. What an amazing way to end World Pride for us!
On May 11th, a few of the boys went to Soho, London to join Ollie Locke at the launch of Chappy, his innovative new gay dating app. Other attendees included Ella Eyre, Lottie Moss, Jodie Harsh, Joshua Kane & Owen Jones. The rowers got a lot of phone numbers.
On April 26th, the Hon. Damian Collins MP, Chair of the Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport, hosted a reception for around twenty five guests at the House of Commons in Westminster to celebrate the partnership between Sport Allies and Leeds Beckett University, and the tremendous results that this partnership has already achieved, including the Sport Allies report on “Homophobia, Gender and Sporting Culture”, which has encouraged the UK Government to recognise the value of allies to LGBT advancement in sport.
The event was attended by top sporting celebrities, including Lianne Sanderson, former Arsenal & Chelsea football player who also played football for England, and Olympic gold medalists Helen Richardson Walsh OBE & Kate Richardson Walsh OBE – the first single gender married couple to win Olympic gold for Britain! We also welcomed senior academics from the UK & Canada who specialise in examining issues such as patriarchy and heteronormativity, and representatives from both Sport Allies and Warwick Rowers, including names many of you will recall from previous calendars, like Chris Primett, Tristan and Laurie.
A few of us, including Tristan, Laurie and Angus, visited the Palace of Westminster in 2015 to accept our Pink News award from the Secretary of State for Education as Community Group of the Year. It was very nice to be back in this world-famous and historic building!
The UK’s National Calendar Awards at the venerable Stationers’ Guild (founded in 1249!) by St Paul’s Cathedral in London have become an annual outing for the Warwick Rowers since we won Charity Calendar of the Year for the first time back in 2014. We once again turned out in force for the 2017 awards on January 26th, where we added the People’s Choice award to bring our total win to seven NCAs. We’re pretty sure that’s a record!
We wanted to say thank you for the amazing support that you have shown us and Sport Allies again this year. Thank you!
Although we have a lot to be grateful for this season, we have also witnessed growing resentment of minority and LGBT rights around the world. So three of us went to Westminster, the seat of British government, to send a naked Christmas message to world leaders.
Please share this message across all of your social media channels and help us get the message out.
We are the Warwick Rowers.
Cian: And this is Westminster, our country’s main seat of power. It’s London, it’s December and it’s not that warm BUT
Lucas: We are here because we have a message for the new leadership team in the United States and for all leaders around the world.
Tom: As straight allies, we believe that everyone should have the same human rights, regardless of gender or sexual identity.
Cian: And as athletes, we believe that sport can play a vital role in creating an inclusive, healthy and happy world for everyone.
Lucas: This year, as every year, we have shed our clothes as a symbol of breaking down barriers, a demonstration of the contribution that sport can make to health and wellbeing [one or more guys flexes their guns, tenses their abs, etc], and as a reminder that we are all equals in this challenging journey called life.
Tom: So, President Elect Trump and Vice President Elect Pence, we’re sending you our world famous calendar. In it, as here, we stand naked in front of the world to do what we can to make a difference.
Cian: In turn, we call on you, and everyone else in positions of power, to stand before the world and show your commitment to equality, inclusion and human rights.
Lucas: And you don’t even have to get naked. We’ve already done that bit for you.
As some of your may know, YouTube has blocked our latest free promo video from being seen by anyone under 18. Our boys, Tristan and Tom, along with our producer & photographer Angus Malcolm, were invited onto Sunrise, Australia’s most popular breakfast TV show, to discuss our shock and disappointment at YouTube’s decision.
After taking a very candid look at the video, the Sunrise hosts talked to Tom, Tristan and Angus about the challenges of shooting the calendar, its global popularity of the calendar and the importance of our mission to “show young people that team sport should be an inclusive place for everyone.”
Angus made the point that it’s pretty difficult to get that message out to young people when YouTube is blocking them from seeing a video that Sunrise, by contrast, was happy to share with its family audience of all ages.
Since YouTube seems to be stuck in the Dark Ages, we’ve gone back to Vimeo. That way, we can get on with the job of helping young LGBT people to come to terms with their identity in the healthiest possible way.