Tag Archives: gay. bullying

MEN OF DISTINCTION: BEN COHEN

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The world needs more positive gay role models, homosexual men and women that LGBTI youth can look up to for guidance, hope and direction. The world also needs more straight allies, heterosexual men and women who take a stand against inequality, bullying and discrimination. The world needs more people like Ben Cohen.

Former English rugby union player, Ben Cohen has developed a global gay following thanks to his rustic good looks and well-formed athletic body but it’s his advocacy work against bullying that has earned him the greatest respect.  In 2011, inspired by his father Peter, who was fatally injured while protecting an attack victim, Ben established The Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation Inc., the first organisation dedicated solely to anti-bullying. The mission of the foundation is “to raise awareness of the long-term, damaging effects of bullying and to raise funds to support those doing real-world work to stop it”. As LGBTI youth are often the targets of bullying, the foundation has worked closely with the community by providing grants and assistance to various LGBTI organisations.

On his website Cohen says that “it is time we stand up for what is right and support people who are being harmed. Every person on this planet has a right to be true to themselves, to love and be loved, and to be happy”.

Handsome, distinguished, philanthropic and a straight ally, the world needs more people like Ben Cohen.

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RULE NO.6: HOMOPHOBIA IS GAY (LITERALLY)

Homophobia Teen

Recent studies have shown that homophobic people may in fact harbor homosexual feelings and therefore respond negatively to homosexuality out of fear of their own emotions and impulses.

I believe that this research can be used to fight bullying of gay kids, teens and young men. Let’s dis-empower the homophobes by playing into their fears.

Follow me for a moment. What is homophobia? Homophobia is negative attitudes and feelings towards homosexuality. What are homophobes? Homophobes are people that possess these negative feelings and attitudes. If we can turn the tables around and put the homo onto the homophobes then perhaps they would be afraid of showing any signs of homophobia? If everybody knew that homophobes were actually closet homosexuals then these homophobes would be hesitant to outwardly bully people based on their sexual preference. Through a public awareness campaign in schools, advertisements and social media we have a possible solution to reduce bullying of young gay teens and men.

I honestly believe that bullying is one of the most challenging issues facing gay youth but it’s also one of the most difficult issues facing educators and parents. Bullying has been around for as long as there have been teenagers and it seems that pockets of teenagers will always pick on others no matter what steps are put in place to try prevent it. The approach I’m suggesting plays into teenagers fears, similar to anti-smoking campaigns play into adults fears i.e “If you smoke, you will get cancer” or for the homophobia example “studies show that people who bully gay kids may be gay themselves”. Now, I don’t mean to associate homosexuality with cancer but teenagers are a simple minded group, they just want to fit in and will do anything to do so. If we can exploit this need to be the same as everyone else then I believe we have the first practical solution to fighting gay bullying.

What do you think is the solution to stopping gay bullying? 

(Read this Huffington Post article for more information on the studies of homophobia).

Photo credit: Jean-Francois Carly

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