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.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

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"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less