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bejjinks
Things change. It's inevitable. Hearing that Warwick University has been actively distancing itself from Sport Allies is disappointing but not unexpected. We've been dealing with a puritanical push for centuries. I put this in "Your Story" because it's mostly my perspective but I also offer this as a guide for how to handle changes that may become necessary.

I grew up in a hyper-religious home, mostly because of my dad. He is extremely homophobic. I don't know if I'm gay. I don't seem to have much libido at all, have zero interest in gay porn, and haven't enjoyed sexual experiences with either gender. However, homophobia hurts all people not just homosexuals. I feel like an orphan because my dad was so terrified of the slightest hint of affection for his own son. I was also strongly discouraged from joining the Boy Scouts, engaging in athletics, or joining the army because my parents wanted to protect me from the evil influence of the kind of guys that hang out together. The unspoken message was that men must avoid all relationships, all socializing, except with the wife. Even then, the unspoken message was that men only have sex with the wife and don't enjoy any evil affection or evil socializing at all.

I am too social by nature and couldn't handle such an isolated life. I need hugs but I found that nearly all men fall into two categories. Either they won't hug because they are homophobic, or they won't hug because they would rather f___. Either way, I can't get the hugs I need.

So I personally have been on a crusade trying to end homophobia. I hate homophobia. I try to find others like myself, others who aren't looking to f___ but are looking for freedom from homophobia.

2SCM was one of the first things I found. 2SCM was a gay man who paid straight men to see how far they would go. During their early years, 2SCM was great because these straight guys were being affectionate but as 2SCM continued, they continued to become more and more sexual and less affectionate. Please do not let Warwick follow the pattern of 2SCM. I'm not here for porn. I'm here to end homophobia.

I never got into Dieux Du Stade. Their work is interesting occasionally but they aren't about ending homophobia. They are about making glossy nudes. Please do not let Warwick follow the pattern of Dieux Du Stade.

I could list one after another of productions that I do not want Warwick to imitate. Warwick is unique in the way it focuses on ending homophobia. This is why Warwick is the only one I'm willing to support.

So keep it straight mostly. Show gays and straights getting along with each other. Don't make it just about gay people being gay. Homophobia teaches that gay people are so obsessed with sex that straight men dare not let their guard down lest the homosexual might jump their bones. Make sure there are always straight men letting their guard down and trusting that gay men can and do make good friends.

Keep it relationship focused. I don't necessarily need nudity and don't want glossy nudity. The nudity for me is more a sign of trust, of lack of fear. That is, I don't necessarily need nudity but I get tired of seeing men who are afraid of nudity. Nudity should not be the focus of Sport Allies. So with Robbie, if he is uncomfortable with nudity, let him wear a speedo. It's more important to me that he not be afraid than it is that he be naked. So have some shots with Robbie in a speedo while another guy is naked so that Robbie is still showing a willingness to face his fear of nudity and to try to eliminate fear.

This concession may get more people willing to participate if they don't have to be naked themselves but just be willing to face their fear of nudity. One of the greatest events in history was when Eric Estrada visited a nudist camp. Eric Estrada didn't get naked himself. He remained fully clothed the entire time. But he helped prove that nudity isn't something to be afraid of.

But nudity is only one aspect of fearless relationship. I also want to see the guys be affectionate, playful and/or friendly toward one another. Nudity isn't something to be afraid of and hugs also are not something to be afraid of. Water fights, playing chikun (shoulder riding and trying to push each other off), taking a shower, carrying a boat, rowing together, being a team, spotting each other while exercising, sleeping in the same bed, . . . these are all things that we shouldn't be afraid of. So rather than seeing glossy images of guys POSING, I would much rather see two guys sharing a hammock while wearing swim trunks. A picture of two guys sharing a hammock would do more to end homophobia than a picture of one naked guy striking a heroic pose.

So, if you have to abandon Warwick and be just Sport Allies, I'll still follow and support you but only if you remember that the goal is to end homophobia, the goal is not to show glossy nudes or glossy porn. If anyone on this forum tries to encourage Sport Allies to become just another porn or glossy nude production, tell them no. If that's what they are looking for, send them to 2SCM, My Straight Buddy, Pornhub, XVideos, XHamster, Dieux Du Stade, or any of the millions of porn/glossy nude productions. Keep Sport Allies unique, a trailblazer, a crusader for ending homophobia.
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Johannes Swagers

Thank you Bejjinks for sharing your impressive personal story. I sense your concerns for this project. My response is not so much a personal story, but more an addition from a professional point of view, because I too share your concerns. A big hug for you!

Bejjinks makes a strong appeal to the people, who’s hands are on the helm of this project and decide on its future direction. By the way, it is not clear to me who officially runs this project: the University of Warwick Boat Club, Sport Allies, some other legal entity (foundation or trust) or a person? Whoever is or should be involved in the decision making process must be aware that there are serious concerns in your fan base about an apparently unavoidable transition into a new era. Bejjinks is one of them, who happens to be able to put them to words in a very appealing manner. The one-liner “people are always afraid of changes / reluctant to changes” would be an easy reply, but that is not a justified response to these concerns. If we communicate in one-liners I can add one myself: Every improvement started with a change, but not every change led to an improvement. Back to square one then? No, not entirely. It just learns us not to think too light-heartedly about a process of change. Just as the principle of diversity in a sporting environment can enrich the team and lead to better results, the same principle applies to an executive board  and that is not restricted to just corporate executive boards. Consensus amongst the majority of the various stakeholder improves the chances of success significantly. This requires clear planning and communication of the transition and its objectives. The planning may include acknowledgement of hazards and not just of opportunities, scale of production, differentiation of product lines, decisions on outsourcing, staff numbers, relocation, (provisional) limits on the (international) expansion of activities or markets, distribution channels, client communication, improving IT facilities, financial impacts, tax implications, further professionalization of staff and board members, clear division of responsibilities and tasks of both staff and board members, introduction of certain procedures, an adapted public affairs approach and possibly acceptance of a partial loss of the original fan base, to name just a few L. Such a plan can include process monitoring, feed-back and process control measures, that just may exceed the skills and/or available (spare) time of the current staff  and board members. Don’t let all this discourage you from doing what is necessary. Many boxes can be ticked off by “No” or “Not applicable” once given serious consideration. That too adds to a clear plan. It can all be done. I am not a pessimist by nature and I do speak from experience. I have been chairman (unpaid) of a small but officially recognized charity for the last 14 years and have been able to put my professional experience and formal education (MSc in business economics and management) to good use there. I would like to encourage you therefore with another one-liner: Perfect Planning Prevents Pathetic Performance J !

Just one last spontaneous suggestion: if all this becomes way too complex, you can franchise the WR concept step by step to other sports and work together under the common umbrella of the Sport Allies brand. Warwick Rowers can keep their own identity and fan base next to the hockey players, rugby players etcetera. It can be worthwhile exploring this idea, because there is a number of other potential advantages too.

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Angus_wr
Hi, Guys. 

Thank you to Beijinks for your personal story - there is a lot in there that I can relate to personally.  This project began because of my own experiences with homophobia in sport and at the hands of sportsmen, and I am sure that a lot of us who can relate to the project can relate to this experience.  It is at the core of why this project exists and why it continues, and I think that will always be true, or at least for as long as I am involved!
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fqoabny
Am a great fan of the Warwick Rowers films. Have them all since 2013 and like them all - each in a different way.

Angus and boys, you've created a magical world where we too are Warwick rowers, and these are our friends, and this is our boathouse . And we are all young and beautiful and comfortable being naked with one another. And homophobia has been eliminated.

We know it's a fantasy world, but that doesn't make it less important.

Sounds like changes are in the air and the project will no longer be so rooted in the Warwick rowing club. This worries me because the club and the rowers have given a realness to the fantasy but I also have confidence that you know what you're doing and will continue to create the magic.
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Ricky
Hi, what Angus and Warwick Rowers have created over the years is amazing and has helped many gay people like myself and I cannot thank them enough. I have supported Warwick Rowers from the start as I felt I could relate to them even though I am not into sports as they came across as natural, caring and making you feel it was ok to be gay and be proud of your body, whatever it looked like! Over the last couple of years though and particularly this year I feel the project has taken a turn for the worse and I have become disillusioned. Professional sportsman, exotic locations etc just don't do it for me as I cannot relate to that in the same way.  There is also far too much content on social media I used to look forward to getting the calendar, now most pictures have been tweeted out or sent via other means and there are little if no surprises in the calendar. These comments are not meant as criticism I admire what you do but they meant in a constructive way. Unless things change sadly I do not feel I can support the project in future years. Not because they do a bad job like I say I admire them for what they do. I still treasure the pictures I have that Angus took a few years ago when I met the rowers twice, to stand there naked with them and be photographed meant so much.  It really helped me to feel it is ok to be gay and be comfortable with my body and be naked around straight guys.  If Warwick rowers didn't do full frontal it would not be a problem, however because they do and Robbie didn't and I respect his wishes it almost sends out a negative message where there is a shame around the male body and being gay. I am sure this isn't the case but it's my personal opinion and I cannot help how I feel, sorry! As I said earlier in the post professional sportsman and exotic locations and sets just don't do it for me. My reasons for not supporting further is purely if it continues down this route as already it has is diversified too much and has gone away from that initial naturalness and feeling that I can relate to, real people in a real settings. Whatever happens though keep up the good work guys and promoting such a great cause and thank you for what you have given us thus far. 
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Jean
Ricky,
you managed to express mostly how I feel, but that I had difficulty to express in words.  It made me feel good to read your post.  Thank you so much!

fqoabny,
you express exactly what I meant by my "gay dream mood" in my feedback on the WR19 Film Preview, and that could be misinterpreted because poorly formulated...  So, thank you so much to you too!
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Amir
Hey Ricky, 

Thank you so much for your feedback, I completely understand with how you may feel, the past is certainly why we are in a position that we are today. But as one of the rowers, I can definitely tell you that a lot goes on behind the scenes. We have had a privilege to be able to shoot in such beautiful locations, but a lot of hard work goes into it, we were invited to both Australia and Italy. In Australia, we worked hard at promoting the cause, making sure we met with fans, building relationships with rowing associations. A lot of what we had was fully credited to the kindness of people who allowed us into their properties, allowed us to use their items. In Italy, we were invited by Alessandro, and ally of the calendar for a number of years, there we also spent a lot of time meeting with people, speaking about inclusivity and making sure that it was recognised and encouraged across the globe. Personally, I would say that this year is a complete celebration of how the kindness of the many can have a huge impact on society. As a project we have our values, we have our voice, and these people have given us a platform. Because of the hard work that we, you and everyone who has ever engaged with the project, we now can proudly say that we have reached communities across the globe and have made a difference to people that didn't even know we existed last year. Now it may seem luxurious, but I can vouch for all of us here at WR, it is not, its blood sweat and tears. But on the other hand, its compassion, love and the sense of belonging that drives us to do this year on year. If it wasn't for long term supporters like yourself, we wouldn't be where we are today. So thank you for everything that you guys have done for us, as we continue to share our message with the world. If there is one thing that hasn't changed, its the values that we have cherished since the project started.

Lots of Love, 

Amir 
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