Tag Archives: gay role models



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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We are surrounded by false idols who we unwittingly worship but at what cost?

False idols give us nothing in return for the attention and praise that we give them. They present themselves to the world and tell us that they must be worshipped without considering what they really have to offer or what their followers really want. False idols do not engage with their followers. They yearn to be seen as different, elevated, better and divine. They are disconnected from the rest of us. It is only through this disconnection that their false sense of power exists.

False idols are committed to superficial pursuits and are driven by their egos. They appeal to the negative qualities inside of us such as greed, envy, vanity and feelings that we are not enough. It’s easy for us to be tempted by false idols, because much like the golden calf of the bible, they appear shiney and beautiful which is attractive to the superficial and egoic mind. The superficial mind however is never fulfilled hence why we continually partake in pointless worship.

When we worship false idols, we are left feeling empty, demoralised and worthless.

On the other hand there are role models. Role models contribute to our lives, they inspire us to be better, motivate us to improve and engage in two-way communication with the world. We learn from role models.. Role models appeal to our soul needs and although our soul needs are sometimes muffled by the noises of the superficial mind, they are much healthier and positive and when met lead to true fullfilment. You’ll know when your soul needs are satisfied because you’ll feel uplifted, loved and joyous.

Who are these false idols? They are reality TV stars (and their families), half-naked “Insta-celebrities”, social climbers, the “popular” group at school and anyone else who is worshiped based on superficial qualities.

The choice is yours who to praise but my advice to you is that if you’re not left feeling uplifted by the people who you worship then perhaps it’s time to shift your attention from false idols to role models.

Image Credit: Steven Klein, “Valley of the Dolls”

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Like most gay boys, I went through a period of prolonged confusion during adolescence. I would hook up with girls and try be one of the boys but neither felt right. What troubled me the most was that I didn’t fit perfectly within the gay stereotypes by which I was measuring my own sexuality. Constantly I would debate back and forth as to whether or not I was actually gay. My process went something like this:

I love acting which means I’m gay but Brad Pitt is an actor and he’s not gay.

I play right-mid on the school soccer team and I’m on the swim team which means I’m straight. Gay guys don’t like sports.

I think about other boys on the swim team which means I’m gay but everyone has feelings about the same sex at one point in their lives. Right?

I like fashion but I don’t wear tight shirts or short shorts.

At the time the only gay men that I had access to were those on television; the men of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”, Stanford from “Sex and the City” and that hairy guy who won the first season of Survivor. But I couldn’t relate to any of these men. There was nobody to look up to. I had no gay role models.

In the ’90s the limited gay characters that were portrayed in movies and television always seemed to fit similar molds; the flamboyant and fabulous gay, the bitchy gay, the promiscuous gay, the confused gay or the gay dying from AIDS. There were no positive examples of well rounded, happy gays who just got on with their lives. I never wanted to be like of any of these men nor could I relate to any of them which made my process of self acceptance that little bit more difficult. Beyond the movies there were no gay figures in pop music, business, politics or sport (other than Ian Roberts) or at least none that were actively discussing their sexuality.

Now is the time for the positive gay role model. I believe it is the duty of my generation to show the next generation of young men, struggling with their sexuality, how to be well rounded gay men in the modern world. I am grateful for the generations of men who came before me who fought for gay rights but the next fight wont be political or social but personal. It will be an internal fight. We will need to ask ourselves “now that I have rights, now that the stigma around homosexuality has been somewhat lifted, what does it mean to me to be a gay man?”.

We need as many role models as possible to lead this fight so that young gay boys have positive examples of homosexuality, men from whom they can learn so that eventually there will be less and less boys struggling with their sexuality.

Who are gay men that you look up to?

Photo Credit: Judgment Day by Troy Dunham & Jeff Eason

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