The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue comes but once a year, and features hot ladies in barely-there swimwear. Over the years they’ve dabbled in representation, but there’s never been a man snapped ass-out on all-fours getting pounded by the surf. Well, 21-year-old Lewis Freese wants to change all that. He’s one of the finalists for Swim Search, the magazine’s open casting call contest, and the first male ever.
Lewis spoke to People about why he entered. He says:
“I really don’t view myself as the first but as the next,” he continues. “The next model to break a barrier, the next model to have these uncomfortable conversations, the next model to be unapologetically myself. I am so grateful to be a part of a group of finalists who all represent completely different messages, yet have the same goal, to further inclusivity.”
Lewis says that when he first applied to Swim Search, he was “dealing with a lot of confusion” about his identity and gender. He says that his message is about gender variety and how every person’s gender presents itself differently. He wants to highlight gender fluidity and nonbinary culture in modeling. On his Instagram, he says:
going through this process i have learned so much about myself and most importantly my identity. to be honest, i have noooo clue where my gender really falls at the moment but all i can do is take things day by day and share every moment with all of you.
Lewis is one of the final 15 finalists; he’ll only appear in the magazine if he makes it to the Top 6 Finalists. People has profiles on all the finalists, so you can clicky clicky and drooly drooly if that’s your thing.
And for those on Team Lewis, here are some more shots from his Instagram:
Note that Lewis is from Minnesota. If he wins, the magazine should do him a solid and do his photoshoot him as close to the Equator as possible. Defrost those buns.