UK rugby star Ben Cohen says he's proud of his status as a gay icon.

On Christmas Day, Cohen posted on his Facebook page a photo of himself donning a rainbow chef's apron with the words “Gay Icon.”

“AND PROUD OF IT …,” he noted.

The openly straight Cohen retired from rugby in 2011 and launched the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation to combat homophobia and the bullying of LGBT teens. Cohen is particularly interested in promoting greater acceptance in the world of sports.

“The time is right now to retire from rugby and follow my new passion,” Cohen said in a videotaped interview with gay glossy Out. “People have the right to be happy and, you know, to be loved and love others.”

The first-of-its-kind foundation raises funds to support those doing real-world work to stop bullying.

The foundation's 2013 calendar features Cohen stripped down to his underwear. (A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the calendar is embedded on this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)