Charlie Bird is an award-winning author, podcaster, therapist, and social media influencer based in Utah. He is known for playing the role of Cosmo the Cougar at Brigham Young University from 2015-2018, where he received national acclaim for his dance performances and viral mascot videos. Bird was born and raised in Southwest Missouri, and served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Redlands, California. He is a CSW, and recently obtained his Master’s in Social Work from Brigham Young University. Charlie is passionate about bridging the gap between LGBTQ+ and religion, evident by his frequent work nonprofit organizations and weekly involvement with the ‘Questions from the Closet’ podcast. When he isn’t writing, speaking, or advocating, Charlie can be found hiking the Wasatch mountains, traveling with friends, or tumbling at local gymnastics gyms.
Bree experienced gender incongruence for about fifty years, then an experience in November 2019 caused a “coming out.” This has led her to take a more active role in the LGBTQIA community with a focus on transgender issues. Through this experience, Bree has come to realize and accept who she really is, the love of our Heavenly Parents and our Savior, and to appreciate and love the diversity of all people. Bree found a lifeline through the love and support of her spouse Kitt and the wonderful people in the LGBTQIA community.
Olivia Lewis is a native of Northeastern Arizona from the town of Snowflake. She graduated from BYU Hawaii with a B.A. in History and a Certificate in Intercultural Peace Building. She also served in the South Carolina, Columbia Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Olivia served in the Hawaii and Arizona Army National Guards. She previously worked with the Anasazi Foundation and that experience led her to her current position in the U.S. Forest Service.
A lover of research and the world of advocacy, Olivia is making up for lost time understanding and living in the queer community. She likes to take time to hear others, not just in words but in true empathy. Olivia tries to celebrate the middle of her and others’ journeys, understanding that the richest of celebrations aren’t from the end product, but from the building of them.
Michael Soto is a transgender man who grew up a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mesa, Arizona. He credits his family and the Church for setting an example of being a man of value, character, integrity, and being a leader in a challenging world. Michael grew up in the 1980s and 90s and at that time he and his family did not even know transgender people existed, nor that gender affirmative medical care and support were an option. From his earliest ages, Michael knew he was a boy. After years of struggle, learning, and prayer, Michael received personal and overwhelming revelation from God that his life has purpose, that there is much work for him to do, that he is a child of God no matter his sexual orientation or gender identity, and that this is a part of his purpose. He believes his queer transgender identity is one of life’s greatest blessings and he is dedicated to loving and supporting his fellow human beings along their journey toward authentic and purposeful lives.
Today, Michael is a leader in the U.S. LGBTQ+ rights movement and for the past 25 years he has committed his life to this work. Recently, he has worked closely with leaders of the Church in Arizona and Salt Lake City on anti-discrimination legislation, where he has built long-lasting relationships of goodwill and trust.
Michael is Co-Founder of the Equality and Fairness Coalition and the Chief Advocacy Officer for One Community. He holds two degrees from Arizona State University—a B.A. in Women and Gender Studies and a M.S. in Justice Studies. He is currently a PhD student in Justice Studies. He is also a proud dog dad and caregiver for his mom—his living example of unconditional love.
Voices of ALL
Speaker: Olivia Lewis
Speaker: Michael Soto
Voices of ALL Panel Discussion
Speaker: Bree Borrowman
Speaker: Charlie Bird