The Barefoot Way

The Barefoot Way


If you’re new to WR, here is a quick recap on the story so far!

It started with a calendar

We began in 2009 as Warwick Rowers, a naked calendar featuring male rowers from one university boat club.

The calendar came out of a chance encounter between a straight athlete and an LGBT photographer. The photographer spoke about how many men felt like him – excluded from sport on the grounds of their sexuality or because there seemed to be no place for them within sport’s deeply masculine culture.

Following on from that conversation, a group of mainly straight athletes committed to getting naked for a calendar with a specific message for LGBT+ men: we want to celebrate your sexuality and prove that you are welcome on our team!

Over time, as people around the world began to hear about our unique approach, we expanded beyond our original calendar, adding films, digital downloads, art prints, clothing and luxurious coffee table books to the range of products you can buy from us today.

For ten years, our project grew in popularity. With the support and encouragement of leading celebrities, politicians and activists, including Sir Ian McKellen, Stephen Fry, Kylie Minogue and many more, WR went on to become one of the leading voices in the “straight ally” movement.

The Importance of Being Allies

In 2014, our growing sales funded the establishment of registered charity Sport Allies, which works to make sport a more inclusive environment for everyone. The Worldwide Roar remains the charity’s key funder, as part of a continuing commitment to promoting inclusion through sport.

The WR story has been covered by the New York Times, the London Times, the Daily Mail, Good Morning America, The Jonathan Ross Show, Sunrise Australia, Good Morning Britain, What Happens Next, Heat magazine, Billboard magazine, The Advocate, Out, Gay Times, Attitude, DNA and many other tv and print media, as well as Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and countless other digital media outlets.

Becoming the Roar

Project founder and creative director, Angus Malcolm, explained why the Warwick Rowers had to become the Worldwide Roar:

“We started Warwick Rowers to challenge homophobia. But research at Sport Allies (the registered charity that now receives all WR profits) shows that homophobia is part of a bigger problem: hegemonic, heteronormative masculinity. I know that’s a bit of a mouthful, but what it boils down to is that economically-privileged straight white men still get a different deal to everybody else. That has got to change. Of course we need to keep challenging homophobia and promoting LGBT rights, but we also need to address gender inequality and structural racism.

“Part of what perpetuates hegemonic masculinity is the lack of diversity in leadership in most areas of our society. We could not stand in front of the world as one small group with a relatively similar lived experience and ask the world to take advice from us. That’s exactly what’s been going on for much of history, and we don’t want to be a part of that.

“We started from an authentic desire as a very small group of men who wanted to tackle the homophobia in sporting culture, which by the way remains a problem. But we have been on a journey of our own, and we have come to see that truly healthy versions of masculinity MUST embrace a broader range of more diverse perspectives. In particular, we must hear the voices of BIPOC, queer and trans communities. We could only do that by becoming the Worldwide Roar, so that men from all lived experiences could come together and share new ways to experience life as men.”

Working Collaboratively

WR has always been about allies. We believe there is a lot that each of us can do to create a society that works equally for everyone. We are honoured to stand beside the many people who are already engaged in that struggle.

Malcolm understands that many may find it hard to trust men as allies, and it is something he is particularly keen for WR to address:

“If there is one thing more deeply entrenched than the old rules of masculinity, it’s the idea that it’s in men’s interests to maintain them. But it’s just not true – look at male suicide rates and the growing problems with male mental health.

“We aim to enable men to see that the rules that seem to favour them also work against them. The model of masculinity that is still being sold in too many places affects men’s self-esteem, their sense of well being and their ability to form satisfying relationships.

“Equally, I think the rest of us must be open to the idea that the people we see as the problem to be solved could become the allies who help us to find the solutions we need.”

Changing How We Look At Men

We support men to break free of outdated relationships with their masculinity by posing nude. The men find it liberating. Over the course of our shoots, they come to recognise how many rules and boundaries there are around the way we look at men and around any kind of intimacy between men.

We believe the WR project is a relevant yet engaging way to confront how we feel able to look at men, and how men see themselves. Happily, both our participants and our supporters around the world seem to agree!

Athletes for Action

Long-time project contributor Lucas has been involved in the project for five years, on both sides of the camera. He talked about how the project has changed over the years:

“We have evolved into a process that enables men to challenge assumptions around who men can or should be and to recognise that the world needs healthier versions of masculinity. I see the impact it has on the new guys who are joining the project as the Worldwide Roar.”

He went on to talk about a historic new development in the project, about which the entire team is excited:

“Taking our clothes off doesn’t just give us a new life experience and fresh perspectives on the rules we live by.   As well as supporting Sport Allies, we have been able to begin funding an international academic research programme into how men can achieve healthier masculinity and the social impact this can have.”

The study, Athletes for Action, is being conducted by Leeds Beckett University in England and the University of Calgary in Canada and will run until 2022. You can read more about the study on our Mission page.

Our Future

The Worldwide Roar continues its naked tradition with athletes from different sports and countries around the world, in an ever-growing range of products.  

Since 2020, alongside our calendar and a range of five incredible books to collect, we have been serving ROAR Portfolio to our subscribers, a monthly update of still images and video.

We also produce films about our shoots and have begun work on a feature-length documentary that will take the project as a starting point to tackle wider issues about race, gender, sexuality and sport, and how healthier masculinity can be part of the change we all want to see.

Watch this space. This page is not just about history, but about history in the making.

Be Part of a More Inclusive Future

Our calendar has long been seen as a mental health and human rights campaign, and now we want to make it more inclusive. The Worldwide Roar will enable sportsmen everywhere to support LGBT rights, gender equality and better male mental health.

We have learned a lot from our calendar over the last ten years – about diversity, equality and how to be better men. We have also had a lot of fun, and we want to share all of this with men around the world. Men like us, men like you, men who want to make the world a fairer place and who understand that sport can play a leading role in making that happen.

We want you as sportsmen to take part in large scale shoots that will show the diversity of men who take part in sport, regardless of age, ethnicity, sexuality, birth gender or physical ability.