Captain of the 2012 Canadian Olympic rhythmic gymnastics team, Rosie Cossar, came out publicly on December 1, to be “true to herself.”
Approaching the 2012 London Olympics, Cossar didn’t reveal her sexual identity in fear of being an outcast among her teammates. She had heard homophobic language throughout her career and wasn’t sure how others would react to her sexuality.
She revealed to OutSports that she was the only team member not interested in “traditional” feminine attire (make up, dresses) – which disappointed her team manager.
“I never dressed ‘butch,’ but people noticed, […] My coach would ask me why I wasn’t wearing a dress. She seemed disappointed. My other teammates would get excited about getting dolled up and I just didn’t care.”
About four years ago, Cossar began revealing her sexuality to her teammates – ones she hoped would be most understanding – and was surprised by the lack of negativity she received. Yet, her coach, Svetlana Joukova, was of a different mindset.
“She would make comments about gay people. She was very convinced it was a choice they made. She would say it’s a curse and you can’t live a normal life.”
Cossar added that the lack of other out lesbians in rhythmic gymnastics left her feeling like an outsider.
“At the time, gymnastics was my whole life. I was usually surrounded by the same people int he gymnastics world. It would have been nice to have someone whom I could relate to in my sport.”
Since retiring at the age of 21 (what?), Cossar has become more heavily involved in LGBT activism. She has become active in The 519, the LGBT community center in Toronto. Since then she’s also joined with the PanAm Games and Pride House Toronto to ensure inclusion when Toronto hosts the Games next year, and the Canadian Olympic Committee in their LGBT inclusion initiatives.
“It’s a huge passion of mine now because I know it can be really difficult and really confusing for people who don’t know what resources are out there, or if you think you’re the only one in your sport. You feel really alone. […] I would love to provide a space in sport for people who want to be themselves. I want to make a difference.”
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