5th Dec, 2016

University rowers calendar prompts touching email from down under

Coventry Editorial 9th Jan, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

ROWERS from Warwick University knew their calendar would make a splash – but they did not expect it to be life-changing for one man.

Warwick Rowers recently released their sixth naked calendar, which adorns the walls of homes belonging to the likes of Stephen Fry and Gok Wan and is on sale in 40 different countries.

While the rowers read through their many emails from fans, they discovered an emotional message from a 17-year-old Australian man called Angus.

He thanked the rowers for the calendar and said the pictures made him realise he was gay and gave him the power to come out to his friends and family.

In his email to the boys he said: “I wanted to say thank you so very much for what you do. Some of the promo shots were some of the first photos of that kind I saw. In fact it was the calendar images that made me realise my attraction and homosexuality.

“I think the most powerful aspects of the images is that they show camaraderie and friendship is still possible when there are accepting people who don’t care about your sexuality. They gave me the realisation that when I came out to my friends they wouldn’t treat me any differently.

“The day I came out I put one of the posters on my phone lock screen as motivation to come out.”

Warwick Rowers have been supported by the gay community from very early on. To show their support, the rowers – who include both gay and straight athletes – have dedicated themselves to fighting homophobic bullying in sport.

Since it began six years ago, the calendar has raised more than £300,000 for various charities, including £50,000 for Sport Allies – a charity standing up to homophobia in sport.

The team were delighted after receiving the email and hope to help even more people.

A spokesman told the Observer: “We receive a lot of emails from supporters about how our calendar has affected their lives, but this one really hit home as it is exactly what we are trying to achieve.

“This makes everything we are trying to achieve with the calendar and Sports Allies all the more worth it and hopefully we can go on to help more people like Angus.”

Visit www.warwickrowers.org/crowdfunder to buy a copy or find out more.