Saturday, July 03, 2010

Ben Cohen: 'I Embrace Diversity... We [Don't] Have The Right To Judge What Is Right And Wrong.'

Ben Cohen is one of the most well-known names in the sport of rugby. He is a winner of both the Rugby World Cup and England’s Heineken Cup. Compete Magazine recently interviewed Cohen and chatted with him about tolerance in sports and being a gay icon.

Compete Magazine:
COMPETE: What do you think of the term “gay icon”?

BEN COHEN: It is not something I associate with myself really. I can only go by the response I see from the Web and articles. It is flattering of course. It’s nice to be appreciated. Everyone likes that.

COMPETE: I’ve been told before that – simply by the nature of the sport – rugby is much more tolerant and accepting of all people. Do you find this to be true?

BEN COHEN: I can’t say if it is more tolerant than other sports, although this is something that interests me. What I can say is that in my experience, there is no pressure one way or another for men to come out and say they are gay. We don’t really see it as a problem either way. You are more likely to get a hard time over dropping a catch or having a kick charged down than anything else. Rugby is pretty straight forward really and as far as I can see, there is a good deal of acceptance all round.

COMPETE: What can say about acceptance of homosexual athletes in Europe compared to acceptance of homosexual athletes in the U.S.?

BEN COHEN: As I said, although it is something I am interested in, it is not something I know anything about, apart from what I read in the press. When I get more time after my rugby career is over I would like to learn a bit more about acceptance in sport generally on both sides of the Atlantic.

COMPETE: It’s still very taboo in this country for a professional athlete in a team sport to “come out” while still playing the game. If one of the top current players in your rugby union were to do so, what do you think the reaction would be?

BEN COHEN: When Gareth Thomas, a Welsh International, came out a few months ago, it was in the paper and on the Internet for a while and then everyone just got on with their lives. He seems happy and is still playing so he has led the way for more to come out if they want to. I haven’t noticed any homophobia in rugby in the UK and I think the reaction to Gareth has been nothing but supportive so maybe it is time for other sports to follow suit.

Read full interview here.
MORE Ben Cohen posts!

  • Ben Cohen's 2010 Calendar
  • Ben Cohen covers Attitude Magazine
  • Rugby Superstar Ben Cohen is Gay Cool
  • Rugby Star, Ben Cohen, Recreates Iconic Poster With His Five-Month-Old Twin Daughters