As LGBT Pride Month drew to its annual close yesterday, activists and volunteers have again made the community proud in driving awareness and equality issues across Scotland.

In Glasgow, Bill Gardiner is one such activist who encapsulates the dedication that takes place, not just in the month of June... but all year long.

Harnessing his background in theatre with his love of sport, 42-year-old Bill organised a number of events with LEAP Sports Festival Fortnight — Scotland’s largest LGBTI sports and culture celebration.

Celebrating its seventh year, the 14-day festival — which kicked off on June 13 — connects the LGBTI community to grassroots sports, and cultural and academic events.

Among the events organised by Bill was the inaugural Scottish National LGBTQI+ Volleyball Tournament, aka The James Watt Cup.

Titled after the Scottish inventor, the festival was won by a team made up of LGBT asylum seekers.


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Sharing the overall success of the festival, Bill says: “We’ve been really busy... every single night there’s been an event with great public engagement and real success stories.

“People have started playing sports, in some cases, for the first time ever. People who came along to our Out on Sunday’s Walk also came to our pool tournament the following evening.

“You find that... you’ll see new faces at the start of the week and they come back with more friends and it grows from there.”

Over the years, modest Bill has been an actor and newsagent, and currently works in a West End hairdressers.

Shyly, he’ll tell you he also picked up three gold medals at the Gay Games in Paris last August, representing Team Scotland in the 100m, 400m and 800m events.

Bill admits his passion for keeping Scottish grassroots sport inclusive comes from a personal place, as he says: “A lot of teenagers drop out of sporting activities because they are LGBT, believing that sport just isn’t for them.

“Research shows we’re five times less likely to not take past in any sporting activity, and more likely to get involved in drinking alcohol, taking drugs and self-harming behaviour.

“When I hear different people’s stories it reminds me why LEAP Sports and our festival is so important.”


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What makes Bill’s story all the more charming is until just a few years ago he was a self-confessed technophobe and to this day has never owned a mobile phone.

Angharad Englefield Nelson, Volunteering and Youth Project Officer at LEAP Sports, can testify to Bill’s journey from the day a team member helped set up his first email address in the charity’s office to him being viewed now as something of a poster boy for the LEAP Sports annual festival.

Angharad says: “He really has significantly blossomed since then. In terms of his development as a volunteer he’s just come on strides and strides.

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“He’s gone from being an event volunteer helping out, to organising events and finding a real pride in what he’s doing. People see him around all the time in the community... and he is always a happy face for anyone to see.”