Commonwealth Games swimmer Martin Cremin has been announced as the first patron of LEAP Sports Scotland, a charity dedicated to breaking down barriers to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people participating in sport.
Cremin, 23, swam in the 1,500 metres freestyle at Glasgow 2014 before retiring from the sport to join the police. He came out last year and said the swimming community has been “very supportive” and “inclusive”.
Speaking to website KaleidoScot, he said: “I really wanted to talk out to end any perception that as a gay person you can’t participate in sport. Being gay has made absolutely no difference to my career as a swimmer.
“If I had a message to young swimmers just starting out who might be gay, I’d say it really doesn’t matter. The experience I had was very positive – never any homophobia or prejudice. It’s a very supportive, inclusive community, and for me being gay and a swimmer have never been an issue. I just hope someone might feel easier about taking part in sport after seeing that I’ve had a really good experience – that would be great.”
For Hugh Torrance, executive director of LEAP Sports Scotland, the need for positive role models is hugely important. He points to British Olympic hopeful Tom Bosworth, a race walker who came out this week.
“The fact that it was a big deal tells you it’s still an issue and people are still looking for role models,” Torrance said. “The day when people come out and it’s not newsworthy would probably be quite a good thing but there is still an issue about people falling out of sport at a young age because of LBGTI issues. So it’s important for people to be inspired and have roel models.”
While Cremin’s experience after coming out was a positive one, other sports seem less inclusive. There are no out professional male footballers in Scotland, for example, and Torrance makes the contrast with the women’s game. “The number of lesbian players at the recent Women’s World Cup was not newsworthy,” he notes.
LEAP, which stands for Leadership, Equality and Active Participation, came into being in Scotland in 2010 and was established as a charity in 2012.
On Cremin’s appointment, Torrance added: “Martin is a great role model for our community and an excellent ambassador for the power and potential that sport has in improving equality in society and changing people’s lives, and we look forward to working with him.”