This gay-friendly rugby team took it all off to make a big point about acceptance.

World, meet the Nashville Grizzlies.

All photos courtesy of the Nashville Grizzlies. Used with permission.


They're a rugby team out of Tennessee, but ... they're a bit different from a lot of other squads.

The Grizzlies are a gay and inclusive team, which means they make a point to accept every player, regardless of sexual orientation and skill level.

"Team sports can be intimidating, especially if you've faced negative stereotypes about your [sexual] orientation for your entire life," Tom Hormby, team secretary for the Grizzlies, told Upworthy. "We will work with anybody to help them develop their rugby skills and get into excellent shape."

To help fight for sports inclusiveness, they created a calendar. And they're not exactly ... fully clothed in it.

NSFW WARNING: If you choose to continue scrolling right now (and you should — oh gosh, you so should), you WILL see some not-so-fully clothed men.

The team — a registered nonprofit — wants to make sure every guy in Nashville with an interest in rugby feels welcome to play, regardless of who he's into off the field or his financial status. So, considering the sport can get pricey, the team created a 2016 calendar to sell to help cover participation costs, like tournament registrations, transportation to and from games, and field rentals.

Aaaand the guys generously decided to show some skin to make your 2016 a little more satisfying.

Calendar photos by Chris Malone, used with permission from the Nashville Grizzlies.

Homophobia still exists in the sports world, so it's important when teams like the Grizzlies take a stand.

Anti-gay attitudes are still widespread in sports, but organizations like Athlete Ally — a nonprofit that encourages straight athletes to speak up against homophobia — have gained thousands of supporters in their fight for inclusion.

It's a fight the Grizzlies know all too well — especially considering where they live and play in Tennessee.

"Tennessee has a reputation for not being gay-friendly," Hormby explained to Upworthy. "We want to show everybody in this state that being gay is nothing to be ashamed of and that we're not going to let homophobic attitudes hold us back from playing a tough sport like rugby."

The Grizzlies are gearing up to host the biggest gay and inclusive rugby tournament in the world next year.

Yeah, that's pretty huge. The Bingham Cup is coming to Nashville next May (the very first time it's come to the South) and is expected to draw about 1,500 players from around the world. Teams across North America, Europe, and Australia have already signed up.

To prepare to play in the tournament, the Grizzlies decided to go up against some tougher teams in their local rugby union this year. That meant playing mostly straight teams for the first time in several seasons...

And it's been great!

"Rugby has an accepting attitude toward players of different backgrounds," Hormby said. "No matter what you might think off the field, you always treat your opponents with respect on the field and you almost always have a post-game party where you can meet players from the other team and make new friends."

The Grizzlies may just be one team, but they're one team making a big difference.

"This will be a great opportunity to show that gay and inclusive sports teams can thrive, even in the South," Hormby said of the upcoming tournament in a press release.

"We don't let negative stereotypes about gay men prevent us from playing a game we love."

You can preorder the calendar and support the Grizzlies here.

Photo courtesy of Capital One
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