The Rugby Player: The story of gay rugby advocate Mark Bingham will be told in a documentary celebrating his life. Photo: Supplied
In 2001, only six gay and inclusive rugby clubs existed across the globe. Today there are almost 60, a feat which can be partly attributed to Mark Bingham.
Bingham, a proud gay rugby player and one of the founding players of the world’s first gay rugby team The San Francisco Fog, will be celebrated in a documentary on Wednesday night.
The Rugby Player tells the life story of Bingham, who was born in Phoenix, Arizona and tragically died on United Flight 93 on September 11.
He was reportedly one in a group of passengers who attempted to thwart the hijackers, which eventually led to them crashing the plane into a vacant field in Pennsylvania instead of its target of Washington, D.C.
Bingham’s mother Alice Hoagland said the documentary was a validating way of making sense out of the Mark Bingham story.
“It was my son that taught me that the LGBT community warrants and deserves my support and the support of every set of parents of a gay person,” she said.
When Bingham told Ms Hoagland in his early 20's that he was gay, she said it was to her own shame that she wasn’t very receptive.
“In some ways I felt my life crumbling. I had very ugly stereotypes of what it meant to be a gay person,” she said.
Bingham was a former University of California, Berkeley rugby star who well known within the gay rugby community as being committed to fighting homophobia in sport.
Ms Hoagland said Mark internalised the homophobia that was expressed around him when he first began playing rugby, and yet it was the sport itself which became a “spiritual guide” in his journey to feel accepted.
“His was an important message for people like me with children struggling to come out,” she said.
“But also an important message for straight people to realise what a valuable contribution the gay community has to the world, and in this case to rugby.”
Ms Hoagland is in Sydney to celebrate the 2014 Bingham Cup, the world cup of gay rugby, named in honour of Mark Bingham.
The tournament will be held in Sydney from August 24 to 31 and is expected to host approximately 1000 players and supporters across the week's games and events.
The Rugby Player will be aired on ABC2 on Wednesday, August 20 at 8.30pm.