SCOTLAND'S biggest festival of gay culture is to hold a photographic exhibition of athletes who have opened up about their homosexuality as part of the series of cultural events surrounding the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Scotland's Glasgay! Festival has announced its line-up for the Glasgow 2014 cultural programme will include "Sporting Heads", an exhibition of some of the 300 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) athletes who have announced their sexuality.
The issue of homosexuality has been controversial for the Games, with some visiting countries facing criticism for their stance on gay rights.
Two-time cycling world record holder Graeme Obree called for Ugandan officials to be banned from the Games because of the state's repressive anti-gay laws.
Glasgay! said its programme is a response to the need for "fellowship" and "positive representation", and a collective response to the "sometimes hostile and negative attitudes towards LGBT persons across the world".
Glasgay's spokesman added: "The exhibition has grown from a wider community response to the Sochi Winter Olympics which effectively raised the awareness of LGBT equality in sport."
The exhibition will feature 50 images of sports stars from around 30 countries including Tom Daley, Justin Fashanu, Matthew Micham and Gareth Thomas alongside a "worldwide roll of honour" and an online blog for athletes who have just revealed their sexuality. It runs from July 1 to December 31.
The Glasgay! cultural programme will also include the staging of a new production of Alan Bennett's Talking Heads monologues at Glasgow'sMitchell Theatre.
The production, directed by Liz Carruthers, will be designed by Jessica Brettle and performed by Ross Stenhouse, Kay Gallie, Jill Riddiford and Kirsty McDuff. It will be staged for a week during the Commonwealth Games.
Maggie Maxwell, portfolio manager for equalities at Creative Scotland, said: "Creative Scotland has been working with partners to ensure that inclusion and accessibility are at the heart of the Scotland-wide programme Culture 2014, and the Games-time celebration that is Festival 2014.
"We are proud to be supporting Glasgay!'s programme celebrating LGB&T culture, supporting the visibility and positive representation of leading LGBT artists and performers."
The Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme is being billed as a national celebration showcasing dance, theatre, music, visual arts, and comedy in the run-up to and after the Commonwealth Games.
It is being run in partnership between the Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee, Glasgow Life, and Creative Scotland through National Lottery funding.
Councillor Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow City Council, said: "The eyes of the world are turning to Glasgow as we prepare to host an outstanding celebration of sport and culture as part of the Commonwealth Games.
"Glasgay! has been a mainstay in our cultural calendar and we're delighted that their creativity will be an integral part of the city's cultural celebrations, Festival 2014."
Jill Miller, Director of Culture at Glasgow Life, added: "The eyes of the world will be on Glasgow and it's important that our commitment to both equality and the arts is at the heart of our celebrations.
"This outstanding Glasgay! programme will entertain and educate audiences as they enjoy the best of our cultural festival."
Caroline Packman, Homecoming Scotland 2014 Director, said: "We are delighted to be supporting Glasgay! Through our Year of Homecoming partnership with CreativeScotland, the events produced for the Festival 2014 programme will help to put equalities at the heart of both Homecoming and the Commonwealth Games, and are a great addition to the wider LGBT Pride activity taking place across Glasgow."