As part of our evolving initiative to address visual learning in the classroom, TEACH is collaborating with a group of talented, young, photojournalists to showcase their work throughout the year. Delivering content that's stunning, complex and nuanced, we hope that the themes explored through this project will spark discussions, research and projects in schools.
BOYS WILL BE BOYS
by Giovanni Capriotti
Toronto, Canada is considered one of the world’s most diverse cities, attracting migrants from distant corners of the globe. The city also brings in those from closer by—rural, suburban, and interurban migrants seeking changes to their economic or social circumstances.
Those in the LGBTQ+ community often flock to urban centres like Toronto in search of belonging or acceptance not found in their home communities. They have typically experienced high rates of discrimination, suicide, mental illness, and other negative outcomes.
Team sports and recreational activities also provide opportunities for camaraderie, but the notion of gay athletes has always encountered resistance and controversy. Gender roles are constructed and performed within society. The binary code is widely imposed by tradition and, in the worst case, is the only one allowed by law.
In rugby, often considered a “manly” and hard contact game, the pervasive stereotype of homosexual men as weaker than “straight guys” contradicts the prototypical player. Until recently, the possibility of gay players on the pitch was not even contemplated, and the locker room was considered a sacred space devoted to pure masculinity.
However, it was these multiple layers of exclusion and discomfort that led a few gay rugby players, pushed to the margins of the quintessential gentlemen’s sport, to form Muddy York RFC—Toronto’s first gay-friendly rugby team. They unconsciously started the process of describing and deconstructing the idea of performance within masculinity.
More than just a sports team, the club brings together a small community of players and their partners, supporters, and fans. They primarily compete against “straight” teams in the Toronto Rugby Union. The club also travels for exhibition matches against other gay teams, hosts the annual Beaver Bowl Tournament, and participates in the Bingham Cup—a bi-annual, international competition often labelled as the LGBTQ+ Rugby World Cup.
About The Photographer
Giovanni Capriotti is an independent documentary photographer and videographer pursuing long-form visual narratives with a focus on unique and intimate stories exposing how time and inevitability of compromise affect individuals, communities, history, and the human condition. In addition to his documentary practices, Giovanni deals with brand visual journalism as a Multimedia Image/Video Producer at University of Guelph-Humber, and continues to accept commissions. He is on the Advisory Board of the Loyalist College Photojournalism Program and runs photography workshops, lectures, and talks. Among several accolades that his work has earned him, Giovanni’s long-term project “Boys Will Be Boys” gained 1st Place Sport Stories at the 2017 World Press Photo. While recently, the Italian Institute for the Middle and Far East (ISMEO), awarded him a $20,000 grant to follow the footprints of its former president and early Tibet explorer, Giuseppe Tucci. Giovanni’s projects have been shown in exhibitions and installations at venues around the world, including the World Press Photo Foundation, Contact Photography Festival Toronto, NPAC, Italian Institute of Culture Montreal, DDProject Trieste, Tokyo International Foto Awards, IGR Bingham Cup Amsterdam 2018, and PX3 - Prix De La Photographie Paris. Wopzines, an indie publishing house, is his latest ambitious endeavour.