Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Warwick Rowers Exposed: Running naked to stop homophobia in sports

Warwick Rower Tristen, my friend Mike & I 
I never thought I would get to interview 3 hot, straight college guys about how they get naked to stop homophobia! Last week three of the Warwick Rowers visited NYC to celebrate the British issue of OutThere/Travel Magazine – and I had the chance to ask them about their work to end homophobia in sports as well as taboos about being naked. 

These sweet, hunky boys with incredibly sexy accents sat with me for a few minutes at the exquisite Marmara Hotel and exposed a lot about who they are (everyone has already seen everything else).

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Even though the boys are (still apparently) not gay, I started off by asking asked each of them what they thought might be their favorite gay destination:

Warwick Rowers pose for OutThere/Travel Mag
WillFor gay destinations I would say Brighton Beach – [which has an awesome Pride event] and great shopping but of course it’s not a beach very rocky, not much sand & the water is really cold.

TristenI went to West Hollywood last year (promoting our calendar) and that was amazing fun so much going on, really a great time. But I also want to plug home, Cornwall, England – big beautiful touristy area [the southwestern tip of the UK].

LucasMykonos – is quite nice – a pretty high standard place – you’ve got quite a good mix of gay culture and more global culture. 

What I quite like about LGBT+ people is they do like to party more than we do and I’ve been to gay clubs not only in Mykonos but in Melbourne and London. 

The atmosphere is crazy; I really like it. I don’t go [to places like that] all the time but it’s always a great experience.

Also, Australia is an amazing place to travel to I’ve lived there for a year and went back since and it’s just beautiful.

Warwick Rowers & Austin, Frank & Alex!
Question 2:  Being naked is taboo in the US. Do you think it’s different in the UK?

Tristen:  It’s more of a big deal in England then the rest of Europe. We had members of the club come over from Germany and France we’ll go for a sauna session and they will come in without wearing anything! We have to tell them, that’s not the rules here.

I wouldn’t say that the UK is that open to nudity.

For example when we went to Spain, we took off our clothes and started running on the beach – and people applauded us. 

How big? Warwick Rowers interview continues...
You do that in England and I don’t think you’d get that response. Definitely mainland Europeans are a lot more accepting.

Lucas [who’s French]:  Coming from France, it’s totally true – when we went to Spain to shoot and guys were like whoa:  Those girls are topless. I [said] ‘its not that big a deal get over it.’

Tristen:  Any country in Europe is quite more relaxed than Britain is UK – Where the US gets it is from the UK – it is the “proper side” of the monarchy. We’re very apologetic as a culture.

Also, that’s why it does work pretty well; the naked calendar is not something common – people really like it people like the fact that you have a bunch of university students out there who are comfortable [being naked] and it works very well.

Question 3:  How do your parents feel about you doing it?

Tristen:  My mom loves it,  at the beginning she was not so thrilled about it. I also told her the documentary which she thought was going a bit too far but now she gets it and really appreciates what we are doing.

Warwick Rowers - clothed version at the Marmara Hotel

Lucas:  My dad [tells me] it’s a great cause, it’s with your mates [friends]; just do it – if u don’t do it now then you won’t do it.

Tristen: His mom sends me emails – she entered a contest we held!

William:  My parents both love it, they are really supportive and really proud of me Grandparents find it a little – bit – too much. Grandma doesn’t quite want to see it!

Tristen:  We originally started the calendar to fund our club. We needed to find a way to make some money – it didn’t really work initially – but when it did we realized that’s where it was from (the LGBT community).

We found out we were gaining from the gay community – so we wanted give back to the community who has helped us so much. 

We started up a foundation and our own organization Sport Allies; it’s really started to shape the values and the ethos of our club.

Question 4: What do you think is different about sports in the UK and in the US?

GAYography Interviews the Warwick Rowers at the Marmara
Tristen:  It’s actually pretty similar. In football {I mean soccer) the professional leagues of UK soccer; in the top 4 or 5 divisions professional leagues there are no out professionals. It’s a big problem. Whenever any sportsman of any type comes out no matter what level, it’s a huge deal in the media.

With Sport Allies – we want to get to a place in the world where sport is a the beacon  of promoting diversity in life.

With sports allies we can get to a place where that’s not a big deal anymore.

It’s a world culture problem – specifically in it’s in team sports. It’s easier to come out in individual sports and there are a lot of professional athletes that come out only after they retire.

Question 5:  Are their many gay members of the club?

Tristen:  Not many but some – not more than in the general population; a few have been in the calendar in previous years.

Warwick Rowers & the OutRight Action gang!
We actively tackle homophobia in the club I’m in charge of inclusivity and diversity. We run talks on how our club wants to act, what our policies are and how we expect our members to behave.

Being involved with the project makes people feel like that being inclusive is important.

Question 6:  What does does the rowing universe look like in the UK?

Tristen:  All the big universities have clubs, about 30-40. It is seen as an elite sport – I would say at Warwick it’s less so because of the calendar, we made it accessible so it’s not as expensive for people who want to participate.

Question 7:  How has being involved in the calendar changed your life?

Lucas:  As a student the calendar it’s made me realize that it’s a big problem – if you’re not gay then you don’t especially feel it or witness it. Getting the support and messages made me realize that nudity is not the big a deal. Now I probably get naked a lot more.

My parents noticed that I was a lot more naked around the house when I was home.

Austin & I look so small!
It was incredible getting to know these young guys – and yes – they are just college kids – even though they are giant guys! It’s clear that they are having a lot of fun – and will do just fine with the ladies (or whomever if they change their mind). They clearly more than tolerate the gay community (it’s mostly the G of LGBT for them) – so it was fun getting to know them & enjoy the event with them the next day at Bene Rialto!

A special thanks to Austin Cartagena, one of our great interns at OutRight Action International who assisted with photography and had the best (final) question for the crew!

Don't forget to follow Tristen, Lucas & Will and the Warwick Rowers on Instagram and...

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