Sports

Straight Rugby Star Attends GLAAD Awards, Unlikely LBGT Ally

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Ben Cohen of Sale Sharks in action during the AVIVA Premiership match between Bath and Sale Sharks at the Recreation Ground on September 25, 2010 in Bath, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Ben Cohen of Sale Sharks in action during the AVIVA Premiership match between Bath and Sale Sharks at the Recreation Ground on September 25, 2010 in Bath, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — At first glance English rugby star Ben Cohen might not seem a likely candidate for LGBT advocacy, but he will be in attendance as San Francisco hosts the GLAAD Media Awards Saturday night.

Cohen, a world-class athlete, will talk about next week’s U.S. launch of his StandUp Foundation that combats homophobia, promotes awareness and opposes anti-gay bullying even though he identifies as straight.

Cohen realized his popularity, amongst gay men, within the last six or seven years, and is now embarking on a tour of major cities to talk about what he considers to be a major issue, both in and out of sports.

“When you’re a sportsman, you have to have a strong body, strong mind. You have to be arrogant and self-confident,” said Cohen.

But he still preaches on the importance of sportsmanship on the rugby field and throughout the world of sports and that he takes respect very seriously.

Cohen said athletes and public figure are seen as role models and that their actions and what they say are a reflection of their team. He was referencing the recent anti-gay slurs of NBA star Kobe Bryant and the controversial actions of Atlanta Braves pitching Coach Roger McDowell at a San Francisco Giants home game.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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