OutUK for more than 20 Years
All Photography: Angus Malcolm

We've featured the naked bodies of the guys in Worldwide Roar on OutUK for quite a few years now. Their annual calendar is one of the most popular of the Christmas fundraisers. We're glad these very fit sportsman want to show off their fantastic physique because there's a serious message behind their nudity. They raise money for Sport Allies, a charity that helps to make sport more inclusive and open a global, mindful conversation with everyone affected by male mental health.

They used to be called the Warwick Rowers but changed the name so those from a broader range of backgrounds could come together and share new ways to experience life as men. They wanted sportsmen everywhere to feel that they can truly be a part of the project and so they found a new more inclusive name. This year they have expanded their focus even more to highlight the distinction between how men and women are treated in the society. The brutality that led to the #BLM movement, the rise of domestic abuse during lockdown and the recent murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer, have all shown again what a crucial role men must play in exploring and promoting new, healthier versions of masculinity.

You can purchase a Calendar direct from the Worldwide Roar Website for just £16.99. On the site you'll also find loads of other items including photo sets, film downloads, signed limited editions and picture profiles of some the guys. There's also their Worldwide Roar coffee table books like X and Manifesto, which feature exclusive pictures from previous years.
The Warwick Rowers first released a calendar in 2009 to raise funds for the university boat club. The shoot took place in one day, in the freezing cold, and it raised a lowly £300. Now it raises a six-figure sum every year and the calendar goes to around 80 countries with their viral messaging reach about twice that. They have won a large number of awards for excellence, innovation and social impact, including twice being voted the UK Charity Calendar of the Year.

In our own OutUK exclusive interview we've been talking with Photographer and Founder Angus Malcom and Lucas - one of the guys who's been stripping off for more than 5 years.

So Angus, the first calendar came out in 2009. How did the project start?
Gosh. Well I've thought about this a lot over the years, because I think sometimes we start things, particularly creative things, and we don't really know where they come from when we start them. My photography came from a big bang moment in my puberty adolescence, where I'm in a changing room at school. This very hot guy takes his clothes off in front of me, and I realized that I'm really loving this moment.

I grew up in a very conservative place, Northern Ireland. And so the idea that I would get to see somebody sexually attractive taking their clothes off in front of me was really a way of telling me that my sexual identity was being cancelled or had been cancelled. I could not say to the guy, "Oh, that's really fun. I'm loving this," because first of all, he might kill me... and secondly, everybody would then know my shameful secret. So there was a question over consent in that moment.

To bring it up to 2009, I think that when I wanted to start photographing men, it was to go back to that moment in a healthier way. Our first sexual awakening comes with so much baggage that we spend the rest of our lives trying to unpack it and trying to get rid of it.

Lucas, what made you get involved with the calendar shoot?
Well, the initial reasons are very different to the reasons I'd still do it. I originally joined because I was part of a rowing team at university, and it was very much a tradition for us to get involved. I felt very close to the cause that we were fighting, which originally was homophobia in sports. I had grown up in a very embracing environment because I grew up with two gay uncles. I also had a gay host dad when I was in Australia. So I felt very close to what the calendar project was doing and I stuck around because I've learned a lot from it.

I grew up in a family that was embracing of everybody's differences, actually. A lot of how I was brought up was because I was a straight white man and I had to confront my privileges. I had to realise that not everybody has the chances or the luck to have grown up with so many privileges as I have. My identity is not a straight white man, and I don't have to do sports in a certain way. I don't have to speak in a certain way. I don't have to dress in a certain way. Actually, I want to dress differently. And everybody's identity shouldn't be restricted because of agenda or because of their sexuality. So for me, it's very much of a personal development journey and I'm loving it and I'm embracing it.

In those five years Lucas, you've gone from a shaved chest to a more natural look. Was that a conscious decision?
It's quite hilarious when I hear about certain supporters who just notice my physical development. And also at the time I was shaving my hair because I did swimming when I was younger and there was a no hair policy enforcement. Actually in terms of body confidence, the project has enabled me to look at myself and be who I want to be. It's enabled me to be a bit more confident with my own self, with my body, with my tastes. I think this project is about every man trying to own their identity and find their identity. That's why I'm still involved 5 years after my first ever pictures.
Angus, this year you have expanded your focus so you can highlight the distinction between how men and women are treated in the society. Why?
Well, itís easy for men to blame problems like misogyny, homophobia, racism, abusive pornography and male violence against women on Ďa few bad guysí. The reality is that men who arenít actively working to change things are complicit in maintaining a world where bad guy behaviour is still ok.

It is not about where you put your penis, or what colour it is, or how politely and consensually you introduce it to the world. The clue is that you have one. Men live in and help to maintain a system that has benefitted them at the expense of others. It is only by acknowledging our privilege as men and the damaged version of masculinity that has poisoned the lives of many, including men themselves, that we can escape this legacy. We can find our own freedom by helping others to find theirs. As allies.

The environments and poses that you choose for the guys can get intimate. They are naked and more often than not touching or holding one another.
Yes. I think quite naturally, this is quite a strange situation for them to be put in. In the early days of the project, the guys would say, "Oh yeah, but we're used to this because we're naked in the changing room all the time. And so this is no different." And that was what we used to say in our films. We've evolved from there, because what we've understood is that there are so many rules in the straight male sports world around nudity. The fact that someone might be briefly naked in the changing room is very different from the way in which guys model in our shoots.

And it's one of the reasons why we've now been able to evolve from being a fundraising project that sells imagery of beautiful men naked to raise funds, to actually being a project that enables the men who take part to go on a journey that is transformative in the way that Lucas has been talking about. There is an element of nerves with some guys, but they also have to confront all these unspoken rules that they were not aware of around how intimate they could be with each other. Historically there was no sexual tension, but now that we've mixed things up we've got a lot more gay men taking part alongside straight men. I think that's part of admitting that sexuality runs through male culture, even when it's not supposedly there.

Do you agree, Lucas?
I think male intimacy is very important. It's a very important part of our project. And the problem is male intimacy has been associated with homosexuality for way too long. And it's time we change that because all men should be intimate with each other. And the project has made me learn a lot about this. Not long ago, I was listening to a podcast. It's a French one and I can't name it, but basically it was this teacher and she did this empirical study on men from the age of four or five years old until they get to 25. Basically there's a time at the age of 13 or 14, when they start hitting puberty, they stop being intimate with their friends. They do all sorts of things together and they're actually quite physical with one another.

Then by the age of 13, 14, people start telling them that it's not okay. And they feel like they have to prove that they're not gay because being close to your friends is associated with homosexuality. Then they're being told that they have to be more physical with one another, and they start fighting and doing all sorts of things that they hadn't done before. Actually intimacy is healing. Intimacy is a very much part of having a good mental health. I enjoy being intimate with both my male and my female friends, and it's a massive part of my life.




More of our Interview about Worldwide Roar

You can purchase a Calendar direct from the Worldwide Roar Website for just £16.99. On the site you'll also find loads of other items including photo sets, film downloads, signed limited editions and picture profiles of some the guys.

A proportion of every sale is donated to Sport Allies, a charity that aims to combat homophobia in team sports.

See the Sport Allies website: sportallies.org
Tweet Sport Allies @SportAllies: twitter.com/SportAllies
Find Sport Allies on Facebook here: facebook.com/SportAlliesCharity

 

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