Two years ago, Brigham Young University went viral because of its mascot Cosmo the Cougar. Cosmo, and the school’s cheerleading team, danced to our hearts and across thousands of computer screens.
And now, the man behind the mask is not only revealing himself to the world, but also writing up an open-editorial about his sexuality and faith.
Writing for The Desert News, Charlie Bird, who wore the Cosmo costume during that sensational performance but has since graduated, says that he struggled with his sexuality while growing up.
“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”
But he notes that after accepting himself, he began to work on helping others to do the same.
“When I wasn’t training, performing, washing giant cougar suits or locking myself in the library to study, I began spending an increasing amount of time working with a small group of students and members of the university administration to cultivate a more inclusive campus environment. I felt an enormous sense of accomplishment when our group received permission to hold the first ever public discussion panel regarding LGBTQ issues at BYU. Since then, LGBTQ inclusion has been highlighted in multiple addresses given by campus faculty and visitors. Most notable was Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who charged everyone to ‘listen to and understand what our LGBT brothers and sisters are feeling and experiencing.’”
He also notes the importance of recognizing that LGBTQ people are everywhere. In religious communities, athletic environments, academic institutions, and more.
“We must recognize that members of the LGBTQ community are present and participating in both academic and religious discussions,” he said.
If you want to read Charlie Bird’s whole editorial, you can click the link here.
h/t: Desert News