SALT LAKE CITY -- On Fox`s hit TV show, The Masked Singer, the crowd cheers when the person behind the mask is revealed, but for the man behind BYU’s Cosmo the Cougar mask, removing the mask was terrifying.
“I grew up in the LDS church, with an LDS community, and I have a strong faith but I`m also gay,” Charlie Bird said.
In an opinion piece for the Deseret News, Charlie Bird revealed to the world that for three years, the man behind Cosmo the Cougar was gay, something he hid for a long time.
“Those were the most difficult years when I felt like I didn`t have anyone to turn to because I didn`t think there would be anyone,” Bird said.
As Cosmo, Bird felt invincible.
“I could take on this persona, this character, and I was 100 percent confident. There was this one mask that I wore and I couldn`t tell anybody about it right? I was sworn to secrecy. I could tell no one that I was Cosmo and it was the thing I was most proud of. It was my life`s greatest accomplishment,” Bird said.
While he hid his greatest accomplishment, he was simultaneously hiding his greatest fear.
“As I was masking the best version of me I was also felt like I had to mask this version of me that I felt would never be accepted and was very hard for me to accept with the way that I had been raised,” Bird said.
Realizing along the way, masks aren't so uncommon.
“I realized there is a whole community of people like this and I want people to know they`re not alone."
Once a proud mascot, now Bird holds his head high, without the mask.
“I feel really blessed and I feel free," Bird said. "I feel so free and it feels good."