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|Rugby star and gay icon Ben Cohen selects Atlanta as home for his StandUp Foundation|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|May 20, 2011 16:57|
Atlanta will be the home for Ben Cohen's StandUp Foundation as well as his StandUp brand, it was announced today.
Cohen, the hunky — and straight — rugby star (now retired) from England, has been in Atlanta this week as part of his “Acceptance Tour 2011” to bring awareness about bullying against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people and to find ways to stop it.
Making Atlanta the home base for his foundation was a simple choice, Cohen said in statement released late Friday. Because Atlanta has been dubbed in the past as the “gayest city” in America by The Advocate and is home to the civil rights movement, the city "too busy to hate" was the best place.
Cohen said he is also the first straight athlete to focus his energy on LGBT causes and anti-bullying measures.
“The Foundation is believed to be the world’s first organization dedicated solely to the cause of anti-bullying, wherever and to whomever it occurs,” states a press release from the StandUp Foundation.
Cohen, who is in Atlanta working with the gay Atlanta Bucks Rugby Club, makes an appearance tonight at the Livingston Hotel inside the Georgian Terrace beginning at 8 p.m. for a private reception. Cohen continues his Atlanta stop on Saturday with a “Pitch-Nic & Auction” at Oglethorpe University where the Atlanta Bucks join with Cohen for an exhibition day of rugby. He then travels to New York, Washington, D.C. and Seattle as part of his tour.
“Due to recent high-profile instances of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) bullying, the Foundation gives particular focus and attention to this community,” according to the announcement.
“If people find me attractive and that helps them pay attention and hear my message of acceptance, then I am honored by it,” said Cohen, who is chair of the foundation, in a statement. “Every human being has the right to love and be loved, and I want to be a bridge between LGBT and straight communities to create a kinder world.”
Cohen’s decision and drive to stop bullying stems from when he lost his father in 2000 when he was beaten to death trying to break up a bar fight.
The StandUp social-commerce brand is managed and licensed by Ben Cohen USA, Inc., his commercial enterprise.
"Like (RED), focused on AIDS, or Livestrong, focused on cancer, the StandUp brand engages the consumer marketplace to fund social change. StandUp is the first social-commerce brand developed for the benefit of LGBT people and the anti-bullying cause. Its profits will be shared with the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation,” according to the release.
Patrick Davis, a member of the Atlanta Bucks and also president of Ben Cohen USA Inc., said there is incredible interest from corporations and businesses who want to strike up partnerships with StandUp and Cohen.
“This is the right message and the right brand at the right moment in our culture. The anti-bullying platform is universal, and people will be able to support it in a number of ways, from donating to shopping” he said.
Cohen today also announced the “StandUp Network” of partners in the United States. The StandUp Network in other countries will be announced later. The U.S. partners are:
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