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Homophobia still accepted in pro sports?

International rugby superstar Ben Cohen

Ben Cohen is a ruggedly handsome man who is not afraid to pose shirtless — thrilling many gay men around the world who may not know anything about rugby, but do admire a beautiful body.

Cohen, a U.K. rugby champion who is straight, married and has twin daughters, said he has no qualms with being a “gay icon.”

“That’s fine by me,” he said in a telephone interview from his home in Northamptonshire, England.

But Cohen wants to use his notoriety in a way other professional athletes have not. His main cause off the pitch is helping LGBT youth, as well as eliminating homophobia from athletics.

“I’ve never seen a straight athlete do this before. I’m really passionate about this,” he said.

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Podcast: Homophobia in sports

GA Voice editor Laura Douglas-Brown was featured on AM 1690 | The Voice of the Arts this week in a new bi-weekly interview segment highlighting upcoming arts and entertainment events and LGBT community news featured in our print issues.

In this week's segment, Laura discusses homophobia in sports, rugby star Ben Cohen's Acceptance Tour, where to buy your chicken sandwiches if you're boycotting Chick-fil-A and upcoming Memorial Day weekend events.

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Gay icon and rugby stud Ben Cohen announces Atlanta events for launch of Acceptance Tour

Tickets are now on sale for a chance to meet international rugby star — and gay icon — Ben Cohen when he launches his "Acceptance Tour 2011" with the Atlanta Bucks Rugby club in May.

Cohen is a former World Cup winner with his home country England and will tour the United States as part of the Acceptance Tour 2011 to raise funds for LGBT organizations.

“I am proud to launch my first U.S. tour in the city of Atlanta. We must stand up together against bullying and support young people who are being harmed," Cohen said in a statement. "As athletes, it is not enough just to have strong bodies. We must have strong characters and use our voices to support those who need and deserve it. It is right to stand up for equality and acceptance.”

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UK rugby stud Ben Cohen to launch American acceptance tour with Atlanta Bucks

Ben Cohen, an England World Cup winner and athletic star, teams up with gay rugby team the Atlanta Bucks to launch his "The Acceptance Tour 2011" to fight homophobia.

Cohen, who is straight, is considered a gay icon and has thousands of gay fans. He is the first straight professional athlete to make LGBT equality his top public priority and has recently spoken out against bullying as part of the "It Gets Better Campaign."

"The Acceptance Tour 2011" is in support of GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.

“We are incredibly honored that Ben has chosen Atlanta to launch his first US tour,” said Gary Durden, president of Atlanta Bucks RFC, in a statement. “As one of the first gay rugby teams in the US, we have long advocated for more inclusion in the world of sports. Having a champion like Ben Cohen stand up with us and for us is amazing.”