Interviews: Sea Serpents rugby club (2016)

Brighton and Hove Sea Serpents are a gay inclusive rugby team formed in 2015. The players have already become a familiar sight in their brand new blue and green kit on Brighton’s scene, and recently put on a superb evening of music and entertainment to raise funds to compete in Union Cup 2017 in Madrid. We chatted with three of the lads, and here’s what they had to say …

Ian Chaplin

Can you please tell us about yourself and what you do?

I’m the Chairman of the Brighton and Hove Sea Serpents RFC, the city’s inclusive rugby union club. I earn a crust by working for a company that owns an aluminium foundry.

Ian Chaplin

Have you been to any of our events before?

I’ve bought wristbands before, but I’ve never got off my arse to actually attend any of the events. Brighton is so far from home in Hove.

The bear movement began as a non-judgmental community for men of all shapes and sizes; body image and self-esteem are still important issues for gay men. Do you feel that events like ours and others promote this still?

I gravitated to the bear world not because I’m beefy and hairy, but because I came out aged 35. Middle-aged tubby accountants were invisible on the scene otherwise. Now I am married to my own bear. Do we help self-esteem? That depends on how friendly we all are. Wallflowers like me tend to wait for someone to make introductions, so the event as such isn’t the promoter but a catalyst for us to be able to promote ourselves.

What made you want to work with Brighton Bear Weekend, and why do you like to support the bear community and the Rainbow Fund?

If you’ve ever been to a match at Twickenham, the crowd is the same. 🙂 We fit well with our sponsor, the Camelford Arms, and they of course host a weekly Bear Bash on Sunday after lunch. Rugby is an inclusive sport; there’s a position on the pitch (or sideline) for everyone. If you saw any of the press coming out of the recent Bingham Cup, you’ll know how big some of the guys are.

Any exciting plans for the near future?

We are in close season at the moment, a period when on-pitch injuries are given time to recover. Of course we will be at Pride in August, the parade, the park, and out and about around the Camelford as part of the St. James’s Stree party. Rugby starts again in September with a season of matches against local Sussex sides and those from inclusive clubs from around the country.

The Sea Serpents website is at: http://BHSSRFC.com
You can also follow their Facebook page and Twitter account.

Byron Todd

Can you please tell us about yourself and what you do?

I am the captain of the rugby team, and I work for the local council.

Byron Todd

Have you been to any of our events before?

Yes, last year – the bear scene is more comfortable than the gay scene generally.

What events will you be looking forward to at Brighton Bear Weekend?

Uproar at Envy should be fun, but the auction not so much if no one bids for me!

The bear movement began as a non-judgmental community for men of all shapes and sizes; body image and self-esteem are still important issues for gay men. Do you feel that events like ours and others promote this still?

Yes, because it’s a comfortable place for those of us who don’t feel we fit into any other group to spend time without feeling judged.

What made you want to work with Brighton Bear Weekend, and why do you like to support the bear community and the Rainbow Fund?

It is important to me that my team works with the community and is part of it. Brighton Bear Weekend is a good opportunity to be visible and give something back in our own town. The fact that money is raised for the Rainbow Fund is great and a positive thing for the whole community.

Any exciting plans for the near future?

More rugby! We have lots more games and tournaments next season, and we will always be recruiting new players.

To contact Byron about playing for the Sea Serpents, send an e-mail to: info@bhssrfc.com

Ian Shepherd

Can you please tell us about yourself and what you do?

I work as a games animator in Brighton but in my spare time, alongside playing with the Sea Serpents, I run a really friendly life drawing group called Brighton Draws Men. We only have male models, but we are open to artists of all types – experienced and amateur, men and women, gay/straight/trans/bi etc. We now have 220 members and at least three events a month.

Ian Shepherd (Brighton Draws Men)

Have you been to any of our events before?

I missed last year’s as I was up a mountain, but I had been to it the year before. I think it’s great – like the Sea Serpents, it’s inclusive for everyone regardless of body type and age. It’s great to support an event that’s just a bit different to many of the other things In Brighton.

What events will you be looking forward to at Brighton Bear Weekend?

Probably the club night on Saturday – bit nervous about the auction on Sunday, but I’m selling besides myself a life portrait of the winning bidder … whether the bidder wishes to pose nude or not is all part of the fun. 🙂

The bear movement began as a non-judgmental community for men of all shapes and sizes; body image and self-esteem are still important issues for gay men. Do you feel that events like ours and others promote this still?

Very much so, I love that aspect of it – I frequently hire larger models, and I often get feedback from the guys that it’s one of the things they’ve enjoyed trying. At the end of the day, bodies make fascinating subjects to draw, and it’s not long before the artist isn’t even thinking “Oh there’s a naked guy” – they are just seeing a collection of planes, shapes and colours. John, who runs the group with me, likes to say that Brighton Draws Men is part of the solution, not part of the problem, regarding body image. I tend to get my models off Facebook, and it saddens me when I see a really handsome bloke go all bashful – admittedly modelling is not for everyone, but so many of us have been sold the notion that we have to have washboard stomachs etc. I love bigger, hairy guys. I love summer when they get their big asses out in their shorts!

What made you want to work with Brighton Bear Weekend, and why do you like to support the bear community and the Rainbow Fund?

I’m just hoping to support the Sea Serpents and raise our profile, and I think we are a good fit with you guys, plus I’m Scottish, economy-minded and you gave me a free wristband. 🙂

Any exciting plans for the near future?

We have some lovely models coming up this month, and I’m going up to do a touch rugby weekend with the Sea Serpents in July.

The Brighton Draws Men website is at: http://www.meetup.com/Brighton-Draws-Men