While some may be bundling up in layers this holiday season, The Warwick Rowers are stripping down and baring it all for their calendar shoot, a project they started to combat gender bias in sports.
The calendar, which was launched in 2009, finds the athletes at the University of Warwick in various nude poses as they lounge around together in landscapes across the U.K. and Spain.
All of the proceeds from the calendar go to the U.K. organization Sports Allies, an advocacy group aimed at combating homophobia in team sports.
What started off as a way to raise money for equipment and gear back in 2009 has evolved into a worldwide social justice campaign. In recent years, the team has garnered up more than $300,000 and the calendar has been sold in 77 countries.
When they realized that a substantial number of their audience was the gay community, the team began to realize what kind of impact their calendar could have in bringing awareness to discrimination of gay people in sports.
“A lot of the problems around homophobia in sport come from the enforcement of gender norms… people saying what a man is or what a woman is,” rower Tristan Edwards told HuffPost in a 2015 interview. “We don’t want to be put into a box in terms of what a man ‘should be’ in sport. This is how we think you can act.”
However, Edwards and the players are aware of the thin line they're walking when it comes to these photoshoots and say that the photography is meant to be artistic, not explicit.
“We know our audience, we know our boundaries and we know what we’re trying to achieve. So we’d never do anything that would brand us as porn,” Edwards said.
If you’re looking to put a copy of the hot and steamy calendar under someone’s Christmas tree this holiday season you can visit the team’s website.