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Mark Bingham

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The following is from the Washington Post 9/13/01.

Mark Bingham

San Franciscan Mark Bingham, 31, struggled for years to integrate two aspects of his life, his friends said: He was a physically robust man who delighted in the rough-and-tumble sport of rugby, and he was gay.

In the last few months of his life, he had finally put those halves together, joining a gay San Francisco rugby club. He played in a tournament in Washington this spring, where ruggers from this city's gay team got to know him a bit. He found out a few days before his death that his young team, the San Francisco Fog, had been accepted as a permanent member of a Northern California rugby league involving mostly straight teams.

"When I started playing rugby at the age of 16, I always thought that my interest in other guys would be an anathema -- completely repulsive to the guys on my team -- and to the people I was knocking the s--- out of on the other team," he wrote to his teammates in a celebratory e-mail.

"I loved the game but knew I would need to keep my sexuality a secret forever. I feared total rejection. As we worked and sweated and ran and talked together this year, I finally felt accepted as a gay man and a rugby player. My two irreconcilable worlds came together."

Friends said Bingham owned a public relations company with offices in San Francisco and New York and traveled frequently. He called his mother before his plane crashed in western Pennsylvania to tell her he loved her.

-- Justin Gillis

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