May 30th, 2011
Northampton-based Ben Cohen, one of the heroes of England’s 2003 world Cup triumph, is currently in the USA launching his campaign for gay rights, The Ben Cohen Stand Up Foundation.
After an outstanding 15 years of top flight rugby, with 57 caps for his country and 31 tries, he is joining that global groundswell against gay-bullying that originated in 2010 with the spate of American suicides. These were the key events.
9, July 2010: Justin Aaberg of Anoka, Minnesota commits suicide.
1, September 2010: Dan Savage forms It Gets Better Project.
9, September 2010: Billy Lucas of Greensberg, Indiana commits suicide.
21, September 2010 Dan and partner, Terry, post their first video on YouTube; Perez Hilton records It Gets Better Project video.
22, September 2010: Tyler Clementi from Rutgers University commits suicide.
30 September 2010: Ellen de Generes speaks out on her show.
The wave of media attention and the flood of celebrities that spoke out are now part of gay history. What makes Ben’s initiative special is his plan to use rugby a vehicle for his campaign. His tour will focus on gay or gay-friendly clubs trying to expand membership of the clubs with non-gays.
“I am very proud of rugby”, he told the Sunday Times. “Maybe racism and homophobia exist in rugby, but I can honestly say that I’ve never come across it.
In my view, rugby is a very inclusive sport. Everyone can get involved in one way or another, so I will be using it as a vehicle to drive my message of acceptance out to people from all walks of life, everywhere. There is a lot of work to be done. Attitudes need to change. Young people should not be bullied into taking their own lives. That is what is happening and it needs to stop”.
This happily-married family man, completely secure in his own sexuality, will bring a whole new dimension to the continuing campaign to make the world an equal playing field for gays. After all, if anyone ever had a safe pair of hands, it was surely Ben Cohen.
At Lustralboy we offer our support and congratulation on a decisive new initiative.
And Anton Hysen, going boldly too.
Hysén, the son of former Liverpool defender and Swedish international Glenn Hysén, is currently walking very much alone. This month, the left-sided midfielder came out as Sweden's first openly gay male footballer. He is only the second high-level footballer to come out in the world, ever. The first, Justin Fashanu, revealed he was gay in 1990, found himself shunned by the footballing world, including his brother, John, and hanged himself eight years later. John later expressed his remorse.
Hysén's family and close friends have been completely supportive since he revealed his sexuality to them a few years ago; he figures he was born this way. Which could easily bring us to Lady Gaga. But that’s another angle altogether.
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