Skip to Content
International rugby star Ben Cohen has only been retired six weeks but has already been working hard in his new role as chairman of the StandUp Foundation. He joined The Hour to speak about how a straight sports star ended up fronting a campaign to end homophobia.
Speaking to The Hour’s Michelle McManus and Colin Kelly, he said: “It’s an anti-bullying campaign, it’s called the StandUp Foundation, and it’s across the board but also we concentrate on the LGBT community and homophobia in sports and the bullying that goes on.
“It’s something I’ve been doing for about six years now while I was playing rugby and it’s got to the point now where actually I wanted to start a foundation and do something about it.”
Ben became involved with the gay community when his father was murdered at a nightclub while protecting someone else. He explained to The Hour how he found a release for his anger in the aggression that came with rugby training.
When, six years later, he had become the best player in the world in his position, he said that he had done it for his father and found out that he had a large gay following. As he explored the issues, he realised his new-found fame put him in a position to do something and he started the foundation.
“What these people go through is horrific,” he said. “The bullying, getting outed by their families, they don’t have anyone to turn inwards to, they can’t turn outwards to friends. It leads on to different things like running away or maybe doing the unthinkable, which is terrible. So I was in a privileged position to do something.”
Now with the support of celebrities like Elton John he hopes he can travel the world to get more people involved and to raise awareness of the difficulties the LGBT community face.
MORE ON THE FOUNDATION