Curling a ‘very safe space’ for Mouat

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December 8, 2021
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    Scotland skip Bruce MouatScotland skip Bruce Mouat is the world's most successful curler in 2021

    Curling offers a "very safe space" for gay athletes, says Bruce Mouat, who credits coming out to his team-mates as a defining moment in his career.

    The 27-year-old Scot has enjoyed an incredible year, skipping his rink to European gold and world silver.

    He also landed three Grand Slam titles and became world mixed doubles champion with Jen Dodds.

    "The curling community has always been very supportive. I've never had any issues with anyone," said Mouat.

    "It didn't matter that I was maybe a wee bit different to the other guys I was playing with and against. We're all just athletes at the end of the day trying to compete for the same thing, regardless of sexuality and who we want to spend our lives with."

    • Scotland celebrate double European gold
    • Mouat to make GB curling history at Olympics
    • Dodds & Mouat win World mixed doubles title

    'Great team dynamic is vital'

    Mouat is looking forward to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, where he will lead the men's team and compete in the mixed doubles.

    And he credits much of his success to the life-changing experience he underwent eight years ago, when he came out to his team at junior level after a discussion with a sports psychologist.

    "She was the first person I ever told that being gay was what I was hiding from the sport and from my family and friends," he recalled.

    "She was the one who helped me realise that being gay didn't really matter in terms of a sport, it's not going to affect how I play, but that before I had come out it was affecting how I played.

    "I feel you have to have a great team dynamic in a curling team and to have that you have to be truthful and tell them exactly what you're feeling. I just felt like I couldn't do that.

    "After I managed to tell them we had a great season and ended up winning the Scottish juniors for the first time before going on to win a bronze at the Worlds.

    "The following year we went on to win the World juniors, so for me, as much as I can't say for sure that it was my coming out that helped us to the success, it definitely seems to have some correlation."

    'It is such a freeing experience'

    Mouat would go on to win gold on his senior debut at European level in 2018, picking up a world bronze in the same year, and he reckons other sports can learn from curling's inclusivity.

    "I hope my experience makes it easier for younger players," he said. "Telling my team was potentially one of the scariest things. I relied on them because curling is a team sport and if I told them and they had a bad reaction then I wouldn't be able to play in that team, but I feel that if younger people are wanting to come out in curling it's a very safe space to do it.

    "For me, coming out was such a good experience in terms of the way I did it through sport. It just helped me feel totally at home when I was on the ice with my team.

    "As much as it's scary, it is such a freeing experience and the support you get is always going to outweigh any negativity you might get from a handful of people."

    Source

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