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BYU’s dancing gay cougar tops ESPN’s ‘best mascot moments of all time’

Charlie Bird, the gay student who played Brigham Young University’s mascot, Cosmo the Cougar, danced his way into the top slot of ESPN’s ‘10 best mascot moments of all time.’

Cosmo the Cougar, performed by Charlie Bird, leads BYU’s dance team in a spirited routine. His dance made the top of ESPN Top 10 Mascot Moments of All-Time in College Football.
Cosmo the Cougar, performed by Charlie Bird, leads BYU’s dance team in a spirited routine.
ESPN screenshot

This month, ESPN counted down the 10 best mascot moments of all-time in college football, and the number one moment belonged to Charlie Bird, the gay Brigham Young University student, slaying a team dance number as Cosmo the Cougar during BYU’s game against Boise State on Oct. 6, 2017.

Bird shared the ESPN clip of his performance on his Instagram, writing, “Ya boy @cosmo_cougar took the top spot!!”

The original video of Cosmo’s dance netted hundreds of millions of views, snagged Bird a live performance gig at ESPN’s College Football Awards and compelled NBC Sports to dub 2017 to 2018 the “Year of the Mascot” in honor of Cosmo’s viral influence.

In ESPN’s countdown, the commentator says, “He just kills this dance! No violence here, just some moves — shakin’ it! Go Cosmo.”

Here’s the ESPN clip shared by Bird:

Though Bird performed as BYU’s mascot from 2015 until 2018, he came out in a newspaper op-ed after graduating. In the op-ed, he said the costume made him feel powerful despite being fearfully closeted in an NCAA member school with policies targeting LGBTQ students.

“As scary as it seemed to dance in front of 60,000 people,” Bird wrote, “an even scarier thought often crept into my mind — ‘If they knew who I really was, would they hate me?’ ... The same community that made me feel like a superstar often simultaneously made me feel broken, unloved and defective.”

Since graduating, Bird says he’s worked to integrate his sexual identity into his Mormon faith.

You can see Cosmo’s entire dance here or watch ESPN’s countdown of the 10 best mascot moments of all-time in college football below: One of them involves a mascot shooting themselves in the junk with a t-shirt cannon and several others involve rival mascots fighting — good times.