World Rugby is the worldwide governing body of the game of Rugby Union. The same Rugby Union that has led to rise of Rugby as one of the most popular LGBTI sports in the 21st century. A rise in popularity that Mark Bingham himself has helped to lead.
If you don’t know the story of Mark Bingham, the openly gay man played and helped found one of the world’s first gay inclusive rugby teams, The San Francisco Fog RFC. He also was working to start another gay-inclusive rugby team in New York City which ultimately became the Gotham Knights RFC. He was known for his tall stature, athletic physique, independent and self-driven personality which made him a very strong athlete. He was also known for his courage, including having foiled several mugging attempts and at one point even being trampled by a bull.
Mark Bingham was one of the passengers on United Flight 93 on September 11th, 2001. When the plane was hijacked, he and all the other passengers were confined to the rear of the plane by the hijackers. Bingham and fellow passengers Todd Beamer, Tom Burnett and Jeremy Glick stormed the cockpit and fought the hijackers in an attempt to take control of the plane which was heading toward Washington D.C. The plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, killing everybody on board with Bingham and the other passengers having prevented further destruction and loss of life on that fateful day.
The documentary, released by World Rugby on their social media channels including Facebook and YouTube offers an in depth look at Mark Bingham’s life and legacy. Including interviews with his family and friends, home videos of Bingham’s life and his experience as an openly gay man in coming out to his family, friends along with his rugby legacy. The documentary also features a dramatic insight into the events on 9/11 and his role in averting the attack planned with Flight 93.
The documentary honors Bingham’s legacy by sharing his story. Recognizing that one of the heroes of 9/11 was an openly gay man. His confidence in coming out and accepting himself is what helped him to find the strength and courage he needed to storm the cockpit and fight on 9/11.
Bingham’s legacy is felt throughout the entire gay sports community. Compete Sports Diversity’s own Athlete of the Year award is named after Mark Bingham. As well, the biennial Bingham Cup, the world gay rugby championships, is named in honor of Mark Bingham. Watch the full documentary right here!
By Dirk Smith