Ben Cohen, Stuart Milk named honorary grand marshals for Atlanta Pride

“I am thrilled to have been named one of the Honorary Grand Marshals for this year’s Atlanta Pride Parade. As the home of the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation, this city [Atlanta] has special significance, and it will be great to celebrate equality and unity with the community that I consider my home in the States,” Cohen said in a prepared statement.

Added Milk in the statement, “I am thrilled to have been invited and look forward to the privilege of joining the greater Atlanta region in celebrating [your] 42nd Pride!  Atlanta Pride is such a vital venue to showcase a community’s broad and inclusive leadership and at the same time, provide an important and often life changing event that, at its core says to each young person – you are not only valued, but your authenticity is celebrated here – you are not alone.”

Glen Paul Freedman, chair of the Atlanta Pride board, said, “Both of these individuals work tirelessly for our community, both nationally and abroad- it is a pleasure and a privilege for Atlanta Pride to recognize and honor them for that work.”

Last week, the Atlanta Pride Committee named its grand marshals. Read that full list by clicking here.

From the Atlanta Pride Committee’s press release on the selection of Cohen and Milk:

Ben Cohen, MBE, is among the world’s greatest athletes.He is an England Rugby World Cup champion, and second in all-time scoring for his country. He is first among straight athletes to focus his philanthropic efforts for the benefit of LGBT people. In May 2011, Mr. Cohen retired at the top of his game to found the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation.

As Chairman of the Foundation, Mr. Cohen travels worldwide speaking to students and corporations about the importance of character, respect and equality in creating a kinder world. The cause is close to his heart, as Mr. Cohen’s own father was beaten to death when he stood up for an employee who was being attacked.

Mr. Cohen has reached millions of people with his message through global media coverage, films and nearly 300,000 followers on social media.  With his leadership, cities across the United States have passed StandUp declarations, calling for an end to bullying. Working with the UK Home Office, he has led the charge for the StandUp Charter to end homophobia across sports in his country, including broad adoption to date in soccer, rugby and tennis.

Stuart Milk is an international human rights activist, diversity consultant, and LGBT advocate. He is the co-founder and board president of the Harvey Milk Foundation, an all-volunteer run global non-profit. As the nephew of Harvey Milk, the iconic civil rights activist and one of first openly gay elected officials in the world, Stuart has taken his uncle’s message of authenticity, example of courage and the power of collaboration onto the global stage supporting local, regional and national human rights struggles on five continents. He successfully led campaigns for the establishment of the now official annual Harvey Milk holiday in California along with Milks induction into the California Hall of Fame by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and he accepted on behalf of his uncle the highest civilian honor in the US, the Medal of Freedom, from President Barack Obama. He continues to lead efforts to have the diversity affirming legacy of Harvey Milk taught in public schools, memorialized on buildings, LGBT Centers, monuments and parks worldwide.