Brushing with Pride

16th February 2024

Brushing with Pride

Curling demand skyrockets

Last week, LEAP Sports announced our latest introduction to curling course. The new 3-week course for beginners will take place at the Galleon Centre in Kilmarnock starting at the end of this month. The course is organised as part of the Out and About Ayrshire programme for LGBTIQ+ people in Ayrshire.  

Curling has been a consistently popular answer over the past few years when we've polled LGBTIQ+ community groups about the sports they'd be interested in trying. LEAP Sports ran our first access to curling groups for LGBTIQ+ people in 2022 in Inverness, taking 8 people through initial introductory sessions.

It’s always a bit daunting trying a new sport and meeting new people but that soon passed after I met the other people and the coaches. The coaches were so good and everyone commented on their fantastic approach. I really enjoyed doing an activity with other LGBTQ+ people as it was easy to be myself and not worry about anything LGBT

The experience in Inverness showed us that running short courses that enable folks to build their skills over a few sessions have been more successful than previous one-off sessions that we've organised, and this has provided the model that we've since been using. 

I spent much of the first week sliding on the ice trying to work out how to balance, but it was great to come back each week and get better at it. Even managed to score some points in the last game. I met some really nice people and really enjoyed doing an activity with other people from my community. 

Since our first course, a further Inverness course and a Glasgow course which took place out at Greenacres Curling Club near Howwood have taken place. The Glasgow cohort had the added privilege of curling giant Alan Hannah's expertise.  

Participants having a go at Greenacres 

In the Outsports (2019) research, over 70% of Scottish respondents felt that having more famous and high profile sports stars coming out would make a difference to LGBTIQ+ people in sport and would help tackle discrimination. And so it's safe to say that a significant factor in this surge of interest is down to the outstanding success of Bruce Mouat in recent years which includes an Olympic silver medal and a stunning performance to become world champion in 2023.

 I have never had much interest in playing in team sports before, but this is the first one I have tried that I instantly loved doing. I wanted to try curling after watching the latest Winter Olympics and was inspired by athletes like Bruce Mouat, who is also openly gay. I felt that I improved a lot over the 4 sessions, and would like to continue to develop my curling skills, possibly in the gateway program. It would also be good to connect to other lgbtq+ folk through this sport.

The impact and inspiration provided by Bruce's success is hard to overstate, and is in no small part down to his visibility, his efforts in raising awareness and in sharing his own story where he is happy to speak candidly and engage with many of the difficult issues concerning LGBTIQ+ people in sport, such as at the #AuthenticMe panel event in 2022.  

Bruce Mouat and his partner Craig inspiring young people at Pride Youth Games in Largs 2022

Capitalising on the momentum and enabling participants to continue with their curling journeys has proven to be a little more challenging. Timing courses in line with local Gateway courses enabling folks to continue are an important consideration. Curling itself is facing challenges in a context when local facilities and leisure trusts are under pressure as never before. A course being discussed for Ayr already fell through due to the local rink closure there, and there has been pressure in Perth following the decision of Perth & Kinross to close local facilities there. 

Nevertheless we've seen some participants take those next steps now and continue on their curling journey, and with the course in Ayrshire, a further course in Glasgow, and a potential course in Perth in the pipeline for this year, LGBTIQ+ participation in curling is looking bright. 

The increase in interest has also been noticed by Scottish Curling. "Curling is a fantastic sport for all ages and abilities and can have a huge positive social impact as well as being extremely inclusive. It was great to hear that curling has been consistently popular within the LGBTIQ+ community. Scottish Curling is excited to be working more closely with LEAP Sports to build on the current ongoing work to create more accessible opportunities to not only try curling but to enable the LGBTIQ+ community to join clubs to continue their curling journey."  Eilidh McCall-Lawrie, Head of Sport and Communities, Scottish Curling

LGBT curling teams and leagues have been established in Canada for more than 60 years now, with an explosion in participation from the last 2 decades in particular. Will 2024 be the year that we see the first LGBTIQ+ team in Scotland. Inverness? Glasgow? Ayrshire?  

If you are interested in LGBTIQ+ curling please contact Munro on

Written on 16th February 2024.