Ben Cohen: "Gay People Assume I'm in the Closet"

By: Michael Matson

The August issue of Out features Ben Cohen’s fuzzy face beaming on its cover.

The former rugby player is included alongside athletes Nick Youngquest, Hudson Taylor and Michael Irvin as part of the magazine’s look at the growing number of professional athletes who have become straight allys for the LGBT community. But Cohen says his antibullying efforts have some gays assuming he’s a Friend of Dorothy.

“It’s only the gay people who assume I’m in the closet,” Cohen told 2sportsBenCohen3 the magazine. “Do I really have to explain myself? That I want to support antibullying across the board, especially in the LGBT arena? Bullying has to be stigmatized. If my children were doing it, or watching it, I would have a massive problem with that.” Cohen’s father died from injuries caused by trying to intercede in a bar fight and he sees a connection between his father's death and his own antibullying efforts.

It is a bit curious that some believe Cohen is an undercover homo simply because he helps us. Though it's easy to ascribe the orientation assumptions to wishful thinking generated by Cohen’s cuddly good looks, it’s more likely that gay men, especially those born during Harvey Milk’s lifetime, continue to have a difficult time believing a straight jock not only supports us, but is willing to go in the trenches with us, too. Cohen’s supportive behavior is contrary to years of negative experiences many gay men encountered in middle school and high school.

SportsBenCohen_2 It’s important to note that many of the heterosexual men who admire Cohen may rethink their own behavior as a result of his public stance. Ultimately, we may be cutting off our noses to spite our faces by gossiping about Cohen as a closet case rather than celebrating him for being a heterosexual trailblazer.

Still, there's no harm in fantasizing about the guy.

 Watch the video, then read the interview.