The sport of rowing is already beloved in the LGBTQ community thanks to the annual Warwick Rowers calendar, an annual fundraising publication featuring photos of the team baring it all in perhaps the greatest incentive to look forward to the first day of each new month ever conceived. To top it off, Warwick has openly welcomed their gay fanbase.
Now comes news out of Belgium that one of that country’s prominent gay rowers has spearheaded a new campaign for LGBTQ inclusion in his sport. According to Evie McCullough of The Brussels Times, Ghent Rower Simon Haerinck has launched a new initiative called Same Sport, Different Sexuality and his first Instagram post on the topic quickly went viral.
The post in question features Haerinck standing alongside fellow rowers and straight allies Niels Raoul Boone, Ruben Claeys, and Henri Steyaert. As the above pic demonstrates, it is best described as “Warwick worthy.”
In the photo’s caption, Haerinck describes his compatriots as “Straight guys who don’t have a problem with me being gay and accept everyone for who he or she is.” To demonstrate this solidarity, all four rowers have posted the pic to their respective Instagram feeds. The campaign has already taken off, with over 3,500 likes in just three days.
According to the press release that accompanied Same Sport, Different Sexuality’s launch, Haerinck first conceived of the idea after attending his rowing club’s general meeting and noticing that there were only two LGBTQ rowers on a list of 300 members.
Fearing that this might be a case of LGBTQ athletes fearing to come out to their teammates or even to enter the sport at all, Haerinck founded Same Sport, Different Sexuality “to encourage heterosexual athletes to have their pictures taken with their LGBTQ teammates” as “a clear and strong sign of acceptance.”
Speaking to Outsports, Haerinck added that he hoped to make an easier path for LGBTQ athletes going forward:
“I don’t want to pressure anyone to come out on their team. But if they choose to do so, a sports club should be a place of acceptance. And if they see a lot of straight people take pictures with their queer teammates, maybe they will have the strength to finally be themselves.”
Same Sport, Different Sexuality has further tried to help the queer athlete community by addressing a common homophobic fear in athletics head on, depicting Haerinck and the three straight rowers together in the shower...
As the above photo demonstrates, acceptance of LGBTQ athletes means acceptance everywhere. Same Sport, Different Sexuality shows that there’s room for another great rower photo campaign outside of Warwick. And hopefully, it also becomes just as big of an institution in its sport.
Follow Same Sport, Different Sexuality founder Simon Haerinck on Instagram by clicking here.