Cycling legend Philippa York will be the first guest in a new series of interviews organised by LEAP Sports Scotland to raise awareness of LGBTIQ+ issues in sport.
The Pride Active Conversations will run over the coming weeks with guests already confirmed from the worlds of cycling, football and golf serving as an online alternative to their usual calendar of Pride festivals and sports events that had to be cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Broadcaster Emma Dodds, known for her work on Olympic Games, World Cups in both rugby and football and most recently presenting on BT Sports and Premier Sports, will host the series and take guests through the impact that being in the LGBTIQ+ community has had on their individual lives and careers, as well as the wider issue of acceptance and inclusion in sport.
Viewers will have the opportunity to ask their own questions as part of an interactive Q and A element too, by either registering to join the interview on Zoom or commenting on the social media stream.
“Much of our work has been moved online this year already, and with Pride events and most other summer events cancelled we wanted to make sure that we still raised awareness and profile of these issues,” LEAP Sport Scotland’s executive director Hugh Torrance said.
“We also know from our work within the sports sector that the most powerful learning is often personal experience and testimony from individuals whether they are athletes, coaches or managers and so we thought this might be a great opportunity to bring those experiences to such events.
“We are thrilled at the people who are already on the schedule. We’re starting the series with Philippa York, the former road-racing champion cyclist who is now a journalist and Equalities Champion for Scottish Cycling.
“We’ve also got Hibernian Football Club chief executive Leeann Dempster, former Ladies European Masters Champion golfer Beth Allen, Olympic and European Championships gold medal-winning cyclist Callum Skinner, manager of the women’s section at Rangers Football Club and former national team player Amy McDonald – and we still have a couple of other exciting names to announce.
“We’re also really looking forward to working with sports broadcaster Emma Dodds who as an openly lesbian woman and sports enthusiast herself, is a perfect choice to lead the interviews.
“The interviews will range from personal individual experiences as a player or professional in the world of sport, to views and opinions about LGBTIQ+ issues in sport, and with such a varied line up, we’re looking forward to hearing a good range of perspectives.”
LEAP Sports aims to break down barriers for LGBTIQ+ people in sport, and Pride Active Conversations will be highlighting some of the people who have been trailblazers in their disciplines.
With participation rates for LGBTIQ+ people much lower than the general population and negative comments still disappointingly common, education and visibility are two of the key elements in changing perceptions.
Torrance hopes that this interview series can have an impact by telling stories that are often overlooked.
“We want to provide an opportunity to talk about LGBTIQ+ issues in sport, to raise awareness and to inspire others,” he explained.
“We also know that many of our LGBTIQ+ role models in sport are our role models simply because they are visible and are not always asked about or have opportunities to talk and reflect on their own identities and journeys, and so we’re excited that this series will provide an opportunity for that to happen.
“LGBTI-phobia is still a regular issue – research released last year showed that almost 90% of people in Scotland saw homophobia and transphobia in sport as a problem – but we also know that many of the barriers that prevent people from accessing or participating in sport can be addressed by improving knowledge, education, policy and practice. By continuing to talk about this, we can inspire actions in these areas, which in turn can have a significant impact on people’s actual experiences in sport.
“By hearing these discussions, and by seeing people with LGBTIQ+ identities already playing or working within sport, we know our community will be more inspired to participate and recognise that there is a place for them within sport.”
The first interview with Philippa York will take place on Wednesday, July 8 from 2pm. See the full schedule of Pride Active Conversation guests and register to watch their interviews here.