While we continue to witness the ramifications of Kobe Bryant’s “fucking faggot” heard round the world, evidenced by the subsequent $100,000 fine and ongoing PR disaster, I feel compelled to change the tone of the conversation and shine a light on someone slightly more deserving of our collective attention.
In response to Kobe Bryant’s homophobic epithet, UK rugby icon Ben Cohen said, “I understand the heat and passion of competition at the highest levels. But we all must remember that strong bodies must be balanced with strong characters and work towards that end. Our positions as role models demand it.”
Ben Cohen, part-time rugby icon and full-time ally, is taking his message of tolerance and community across the pond to the States.
A long-time proponent of the LGBT rights, Cohen is straight. But that hasn’t stopped him from promoting equality on and off the playing field. “Beer with Ben,” part of The Ben Cohen Acceptance Tour, will visit Atlanta, New York, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., in May and will feature Cohen challenging others to stand up against homophobia and bullying while urging respect and acceptance regardless of orientation.
“If we save one person’s life, or get someone to think different, then I’m doing a good job.”
Asked what prompted him to take a stand, Cohen replied, “For some years now we have been receiving messages and emails from people all over the world with some heart wrenching stories. I really felt that I wanted to do something about it and I felt that I could.”
Cheers to you, Mr. Cohen. Thank you for all that you have and will continue to do. The message of love you bring with you from the U.K. to the U.S. is rich and inspiring, and should spark the attention of at least one sports icon whose pockets are a little lighter tonight.