Cosmo the Cougar
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BYU Mascot Comes out as Gay in Revealing Op-Ed

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The performer behind Brigham Young University’s mascot, Cosmo the Cougar, has come out as gay.

In a compelling op-ed about his Mormon faith, Charlie Bird, who performs as Cosmo the Cougar, opened up about being gay.

Published in The Deseret News, Bird wrote: “As scary as it seemed to dance in front of 60,000 people, an even scarier thought often crept into my mind — ‘If they knew who I really was, would they hate me?’ I wore another mask while I was at BYU — a mask to cover the shame I felt for being ‘different.’ For years I pleaded with God to change my sexual orientation, but after returning to BYU from a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I began realizing that being gay is an integral part of who I am. As I grappled to develop a better understanding of myself, I felt immense pressure to hide my sexual orientation. I was hyper-aware of what some of my peers said about the gay community, how they viewed same-sex attraction and the often unkind and insensitive words they used to describe LGBTQ people — people like me.”

During a BYU game vs. Boise State, Bird performed as the beloved Cosmo in a viral video.

“The same community that made me feel like a superstar often simultaneously made me feel broken, unloved and defective,” he continued in the op-ed. “There are many people like me who suffer in silence, struggling to reconcile complicated ideas with thoughts, feelings and religious beliefs. There are many who feel misunderstood and heartbroken. We never know who around us might be wearing a mask.”

Although Bird is an active member of the Mormon church, he is advocating for acceptance and inclusivity within the faith.

Related | LoveLoud Festival Challenges Mormon Church on LGBT Rights

Bird concluded: “Everyone deserves a life where exuberant, transformative experiences are not blanketed in sadness like mine often were. By actively showing love and acceptance, we can create a space in which people can remove their masks, no longer subject to the isolation and hopelessness that comes with feeling obliged to hide who they really are.”

Bird took to Instagram to elaborate on his coming out: “I never planned on coming out as Cosmo the Cougar. I never dreamed I would one day have enough courage to come out publicly as gay. Today I did both in an article with Deseret News. I hope that by sharing some of my experience, I can help start conversations that increase empathy and understanding between the LGBTQ community and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Even more importantly, I wish to give hope to other people in my situation that may feel isolated and alone. Please check out the article and let me know what you think! Huge shout out to my teammates, coach, and BYU athletics for their love and support. I will forever bleed blue!”

 

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I never planned on coming out as Cosmo the Cougar. I never dreamed I would one day have enough courage to come out publicly as gay. Today I did both in an article with Deseret News. I hope that by sharing some of my experience I can help start conversations that increase empathy and understanding between the LGBTQ community and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Even more importantly, I wish to give hope to other people in my situation that may feel isolated and alone. Please check out the article and let me know what you think! Huge shout out to my teammates, coach, and BYU athletics for their love and support. I will forever bleed blue! 💙 (link in bio) #byu #gay #lds #lgbt #lgbtq #hope

A post shared by Charlie Bird (@birdmancharles13) on

You can Bird’s emotional op-ed in its entirety here.

BYU Mascot Comes out as Gay in Revealing Op-Ed
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