UK rugby star Ben Cohen helped kick off the Gay Softball World Series in Chicago.

The 35th annual NAGAA Gay Softball World Series kicked off on Monday at the city's Navy Pier.

The week-long tournament was last hosted by Chicago in 1983, and is considered the largest annual gay and lesbian sporting event in the world. More than one-hundred-and-seventy teams from forty-three different cities are expected to descend on the Windy City. Play begins on Tuesday at three separate venues.

The 32-year-old Cohen retired from rugby earlier this year to work on eradicating homophobia and bullying in sports. The Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation is based in the UK with an office in Atlanta.

During an appearance on Chicago's Fox News affiliate, Cohen said gay athletes should be judged on their ability.

“You should be judged on your sport,” the openly straight Cohen said. “It's a shame that people can't really be judged just on that.” (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page.)

Other celebrities appearing at the tournament's opening ceremony included comedian-actor Leslie Jordan (Will & Grace) and Pandora Boxx, a former contestant on RuPaul's Drag Race.