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A Happy Childhood

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
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August 17, 2020 2:00 am

A Happy Childhood

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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August 17, 2020 2:00 am

Becket Cook, author of "A Change of Affection," remembers what it was like growing up as the youngest of eight kids in an affluent family in Dallas. Cook recalls when his same-sex attraction first started, and talks about his pursuit of same-sex relationships in high school and college. Cook tells how his Christian parents reacted when he finally came out to his family, and advises parents on what to do and what not to do when their son or daughter comes out as being gay.

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As a teenager growing up in Texas, Beckett Cook began experiencing an unwelcome desire. I started to sense that I was attracted to the same sex. And that was kind of an odd sensation because it was very much frowned upon. And so I kind of had to lead this double life and had to keep this a deep, dark secret.

So I was very social and very, you know, popular in school and elementary school and high school, but I had this like secret life. This is Family Life Today. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. I'm Bob Lapine.

You can find us online at How did Beckett Cook process this unwelcome desire he was experiencing? How did he handle all of that?

We'll find out from him today. Stay with us. And welcome to Family Life Today.

Thanks for joining us. One of the verses of scripture, I've been thinking about this as I was thinking about our conversation today. A verse that I come back to that I really love. This is from 1 Peter chapter 2 where Peter describes who we are in Christ.

He says, you're a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. And I was thinking about that because we're going to hear a darkness to light story. It's an inspiring story. That passage is the epitome of what happens in a person's life from darkness to light.

It isn't a little bit. It's absolute old life, new life. And yeah, the story today is inspiring in that regard. Beckett Cook is joining us on Family Life Today.

Welcome, Beckett. Thank you for having me. I read your story of your conversion online.

I think it was on the Gospel Coalition website. And I was like, this is an amazing story. Everybody's conversion is an amazing story because all of us dead in our trespasses and sins, made alive in Christ, yours was a unique journey because it involved you being engaged in Hollywood and the entertainment industry, living for years as a gay man, and then a providential, I was going to say a chance encounter, but a providential encounter at a coffee shop where you heard the Gospel for the first time. But let's go back to you growing up as a kid in Dallas, one of eight kids.

I grew up in a large Catholic family, and we were very devout Catholics, and I went to Catholic schools my whole life. But at a very early age, I started to sense that I was attracted to the same sex. Early? How early? Probably sixth, seventh grade. Really?

Maybe. And that was kind of an odd sensation because it was very much frowned upon. And so I kind of had to lead this double life and had to keep this a deep, dark secret. So I was very social and very popular in school and elementary school and high school, but I had this secret life. And you hadn't told anyone about it? I told actually a childhood friend that I had known since we were babies, basically.

Our mothers were best friends. So he was aware of it, but it didn't really get to kind of the next level until high school when I befriended someone who became my best friend in high school. And one night we were out, and we basically came out to each other at this club in Dallas. And there were gay people there, there were straight people there, there were transgender people there.

And so my best friend and I came out to each other, and that's when I really felt like, okay, now I can really confide in somebody. And we just explored gay culture together. We went to gay bars. I mean, I was 15 years old going to gay bars, and I don't know how we got in.

He was 14. Your parents had no idea? No, because I was the youngest of eight, and they had lost track. And little did they know I was going to these clubs and bars. And I just remember going to the start club, for example, or to a gay bar for the first time and just feeling like, wow, these are my people. These people get who I am.

They have the same feelings I have. And it was this huge eye-opening experience. Had you started acting out? Yes. So that started at 12 or 13?

Yes. It started in, like, probably seventh grade I was acting out. Now, you'd had an experience where you had been sexually abused.

Yes. I think I was in fifth grade. I had spent the night at a friend's house, and I had spent the night at his house before several times. But this one particular night, I was asleep in the guest room, and in the middle of the night, I woke up and his father was molesting me. I remember it being very scary, because I thought that if he saw that I was awake, he was going to stab me with a knife.

That was, like, the first thought. And so he ended up leaving the room, and he came back, and then I was kind of sitting up in bed, and he made up some weird excuse and then left the room. I didn't tell my parents, which I wish I had done. My dad was a lawyer, and he would have gone after this guy. But I didn't tell them, because I knew that if I did, there would be so much kind of shame and stigma if it got out. I never thought that it was that big of a deal to me. I mean, it was that night, but I just thought afterwards, I thought, well, that happened, and it's not really going to have an impact on my life. Now, as a man, you look back and think. Oh, yeah, now I look back, and I'm like, wow, that had a huge impact on my life, and it really damaged me in so many ways, just emotionally. What sexual abuse does, I think in almost all cases, is it makes you very promiscuous.

And I was very promiscuous. So I think that sexual abuse has that effect on people, too. It's so interesting when I hear this, because as a mom, my mom's heart gets worried and thinks. No slumber party is burning my kids for the rest of their life.

No, you cannot. That's the thing. It's like you can't trust anyone, because, yeah, slumber parties are dangerous, because you never know what's going to happen. If you were a dad today, your kids wouldn't go to a slumber party. Never.

No. It is interesting. And, you know, as we were raising our three boys, she was that mom. Like, we're not letting them sleep over. Part of it was because I have sexual abuse in my background. And so I'm thinking, it's not just some weirdo, it's people that you know, and it's relatives. And you felt like, oh, you need to trust people. And I was naive. I really was. Again, my wife was right. Yes. Again. Yet again.

Finally, I might. But it's so hard. You know that as parents, because all the other kids are going to the slumber party, and your kid can't. And how do you explain that to whoever? Even your kid. Oh, my kids are mad at me.

I think I'm ridiculous. And they probably would still say, Mom, you were a little ridiculous about that. By the same token, the fact that you're 15 and sneaking out to gay bars and staying out till all hours of the night. Till five in the morning sometimes.

Okay, so. On school nights. And your parents didn't know? No, I remember one night, I was out at the Stark Club till five in the morning. This was like my senior year of high school or junior year. And I came home, and I snuck in the front door, and my dad was coming downstairs to get ready to go to work. And he just looked at me, didn't say a word, and just like walked to, you know, hit the kitchen.

And I walked to my bedroom, and we never said a word about it. Have you talked with your parents about that? Yes. Those days.

Yeah. My parents are physically with Christ right now. They died in 2015, six months apart. But about eight years ago, seven years ago, I had dinner with my dad. And he had already, they had already known, my brother that's closest in age to me, he knew about this whole thing back when it happened. I told him. So he told my whole family, when I moved to L.A. and I came out, like he told my family about that night. And so I just, I sat my dad down and I said, you know, dad, I want to explain to you what happened that night. And I told him every detail of the story. I told him exactly what happened. And I said, dad, if I had told you at the time, what would you have done? And he goes, I would have given him two choices, either turn himself in or dot, dot, dot.

And would that make you feel when he said that? Well, that's the thing. That's one of the things I feared. Another thing, if you're telling them at the time was I was afraid my dad was going to like completely lose it and go kill this guy. And then my dad would go to prison.

We would be raised without a father. And then I would be, I would be responsible. You had the whole scenario in your head. So that's why. And it's like, he told me, I mean, basically he admitted that that's what would have happened.

Exactly what you thought. Yeah. You had planned to go to medical school and or law school, right?

Yes. I was pre-med in college, but after I graduated, which was a shame, I did, I realized I didn't want to be a physician. So in the meantime, I applied to law school and dental school because I already had the pre-med requirement for dental school. And I got into Baylor dental school in Dallas and I got into SMU law school.

And but then then I moved to Tokyo for a year because I was totally freaked out after I was like, what am I going to do with my life? I don't want to be a doctor. I don't want to be a dentist. I don't want to be a lawyer.

What do I do? So I moved to Japan with my best friend and from college and we lived in Tokyo. And but then I ended up kind of scrapping all of that, the lawyer dentist thing. My dad was a lawyer, so he was super bummed out when I told him I had my classes. I was enrolled in law school at my class, like first semester classes. And I said, dad, I'm moving to L.A.

I'm not going to law school. And and he was just kind of like, huh? But again, it was just like, whatever, do whatever you want. And I just loaded up my car and moved to L.A. the next day. I mean, is this a pattern in your life?

Are you the counselor now? It sounds like I had this idea, I had this idea. And at the last minute, I mean, was that something you normally did or were you like, I know what I'm going to do.

And this was. No, I mean, my pattern in my life growing up was I was always just super focused. I was super focused on school. And, you know, I was very social, but I was always like, I loved doing my homework. I loved getting good grades. Like, I was very focused on that. I wasn't kind of like all over the place.

Which is interesting. You were also dating girls, even in high school. In high school, I went steady with three different girls. And I remember one girl in particular.

We're really close still. And one night we were making out and she just was like, Beckett, are you gay? Because I think she was kind of surprised that I didn't try to make more moves on her. And she was like, are you gay?

And I was like, no, no, what are you talking about? And I denied it, denied it, denied it. And I did date girls.

But it was mostly for just kind of the social purposes of it. And in that moment where she's saying, you can tell me, didn't you want to tell somebody? Well, I had already had my best friend in high school that I was, you know, I was telling. So I didn't really need to tell her. And I knew that it was embarrassing.

You know, it was embarrassing to tell her because we were dating. So I didn't. Did you not want to tell the world at some level?

No, I did not. Because in high school and somewhat in college, I felt like my same sex attraction was sort of like a phase I was going through. I never really saw it as a permanent thing of my life. I always thought, oh, I'll eventually get married to a woman and we're going to have family. But it wasn't until after Tokyo, my roommate's friend from Texas came to visit us for a week. And we ended up falling in love. And that was the first time I was really in a relationship with a guy. And after that happened, that's when I felt like I came out to everyone.

I came out to my family, my friends. There was no turning back, you thought. There was no turning back.

It was like I finally felt like, OK, this is definitely who I am. This is immutable. This is never going to change. And I don't even want it to change. I mean, at that point, though, are you like celebrating this?

Are you like excited this is who I am? And is there any fear or shame in it? It's 1992, so it's not like...

It's still pretty early. There's still a stigma. Still a stigma.

It's at the middle or the end of the whole AIDS crisis happening. It was a scary time because it was very dangerous. But I don't know, I guess I was so in love, quote unquote, that I just didn't care. I was just like, this is who I am.

Take it or leave it. And my parents' reaction was so brilliant. They were so kind of cool about it. My parents believed it was a sin.

They were very much opposed to it. And all of my siblings were Christians, and they believed it was a sin, too. But my mother cried when I got back from Tokyo. She started crying in the kitchen, and I said, Mom, what's wrong? And she's like, oh, Beckett, I heard you're homosexual and blah, blah, blah. And I was like, Mom, it's okay.

It's like, this is who I am. It's not a big deal. Don't worry. I'm fine. And then she kind of calmed down after that and was super loving and amazing my whole life after that.

I mean, she just always was. And my dad, I didn't know how he was going to react. I drove up the driveway one day, and he came up, and he drove right in after me.

And he came up to me, and he's like, hey, Beck, so I heard you're homosexual. And are you mad at me about anything? Like, did I do anything wrong as a father? Are you mad at me about not protecting you from your brother, Peter, beating you up?

Are you guys fighting all the time? And I remember saying, it's not your fault. This is just who I am. And they weren't supportive of my being gay, but they were supportive of me, and they loved me. Their reaction was really nice. Well, from your perspective today as a guy who has come to faith in Christ, who looks back on this and identifies it as sin, who is living celibately today, talk to parents who have a 22-year-old who comes home from college and says, hey, Mom, Dad, sit down. I've got to talk to you. And they've wondered for a while if there's something going on, and now their son or daughter is coming out. What's your coaching to those parents?

Well, I go into this in my book about there's a whole section on what to do and what not to do. But this is the thing. When a child comes out to their parents, it's one of the most important moments in that person's life. And it's something you never forget. You never forget that moment when you come out. So I always say everyone needs to have grace and be calm. Like, don't fly off the handle.

Don't freak out. See, this is the problem is when you're growing up gay, you have years and years to wrestle with it and to kind of come to terms with it. And so when you come out, you expect your parents to just be automatically on the same page. And a lot of people don't give their parents the grace to mourn and grieve and go through all that. And so kids need to give their parents grace, and parents just need to go into a closet and cry. But the parents' reaction is so important for parents to have just like a loving kind of reaction to it rather than fly off the handle and go into some sort of rage and start quoting Bible verses. Like, that is not helpful in that situation.

The only thing that, in my opinion, is helpful is for a parent to just listen and to just love their child unconditionally regardless of what's going on. And the parent who's concerned that if that's what I demonstrate, the child is going to think that I'm okay with their gayness. No, I mean, because I knew my parents weren't okay with it. They made it clear, and I think parents should make that.

Obviously, if that's not clear, they need to make that clear first. You can't badger or bludgeon your child into the kingdom of God. That's not going to work. Like, you can't beat them over the head with a Bible and say, you know, well, look at this scripture, look at this. Like, if my parents had done that with me, there's nothing they could have done to stop me from being the prodigal.

There's absolutely nothing. I was on this trajectory, and nothing they could have said or done would have changed that. Beckett, that's really wise because I've had parents call me and say, my child just came out, I need you to meet with them and talk them out of this. Right. It puts me in a spot because I'm saying, I don't think that I'm the one.

I'd be happy to sit down and talk to them and tell them that Jesus loves them, tell them who they are in Christ. But I don't think I'm going to be the one that just within one session together, they're going to say, oh, I guess I'm not gay. I was moving in with that boyfriend that I met in Tokyo. I was going to move in with him. And I think some of my siblings were going to stage an intervention and try to stop me because I was going to move to Austin from Dallas. And I just remember thinking, like, what? Like, you can't stop me from moving.

Thankfully, they didn't try to do that because that would have been really hurtful and painful for everyone involved. And I mean, I'll tell the story of my sister-in-law, who was kind of the epitome of what I see as a Christian who gets it. She knew that I knew that she believed it was a sin.

I mean, it was unequivocal. But she always hung out with me. Every time I would come back to Dallas from L.A., she would want to get together for coffee. And I would talk about guys, she would talk about God, but she never pulled her Bible out and said, Becca, you know you're still sinning, right? She did two things. She loved me unconditionally for years and years and years. And she prayed for me without ceasing. She prayed Acts 26, 18 over me. And it kind of cuts off in the middle of a verse, but verse 18 says, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. And that prayer's been answered, hasn't it?

Yes. I'm thinking of the number of parents I've talked to, the number you guys have talked to, to try to maintain a Christ-like loving demeanor when emotionally you've just gotten punched in the gut. Maybe one of the most challenging assignments any parent ever faces. And this is where we've got to, in that moment, cry out to God to respond as Jesus responded to the woman caught in adultery. I don't condemn you.

And pray for the day when you can say go and sin no more in the right moment. They already know, your kids know. They know what you believe. You don't have to reinforce that. It's not like that's a surprise to them. Yeah, and I don't want to minimize what parents are going through because, and I talk about this in my book, because it is a punch in the gut. I mean, it is harsh. And I've, I mean, I'm not a parent.

I can't imagine being a Christian parent and having your child come out to you. And because it's kind of like, it's like all your hopes and dreams. It's grieving what you thought would be.

Yeah. Your book is so helpful because it provides not only your story, but the kind of insight that we're talking about here. I think a lot of parents, a lot of people are going to want to read your book.

It's called A Change of Affection, A Gay Man's Incredible Story of Redemption. We've got copies of Beckett's book in our Family Life Today resource center. You can order your copy when you go online at, or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to get a copy of Beckett Cook's book, A Change of Affection. Again, our website is, or call 1-800-358-6329, 1-800-F as in Family, L as in Life, and then the word TODAY to order your copy. You know, these kinds of dialogues, this kind of interaction that we have each day on Family Life Today, our goal is to help effectively develop godly marriages and families. We believe godly marriages and families are key to the survival of a culture. We can change the world through godly marriages and families. That's our conviction here at Family Life Today. And you, as a listener, make this possible when you support the ministry of Family Life Today financially.

We're listener supported. Today's program happened because some of your fellow listeners made this conversation available to all of us. We'd like to ask you, if you're a regular listener, will you invest in the ongoing work of Family Life Today so that others can be impacted by what they hear on this program? If you can help with the donation today, we would love to send you, as a thank you gift, a copy of a book I've written recently called Love Like You Mean It.

It takes a deep look at 1 Corinthians 13 and applies that biblical portrait of love to a marriage relationship so that our marriages can have the kind of love for one another that the Bible describes. Again, the book Love Like You Mean It is our thank you gift to you. When you make a donation today, go to to donate or call 1-800-FL-TODAY and request your copy of the book when you donate. And thank you for standing with us. Thank you for your support. On behalf of your fellow listeners, thank you for making future programs possible through your donations today. And we hope you can join us again tomorrow. We're going to hear about a conversation that took place in a coffee shop that was revolutionary in Beckett Cook's life. He explains how that conversation happened and what the results were when he joins us tomorrow. Hope you can join us as well. I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Anne Wilson, I'm Bob Lapine. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life of Little Rock, Arkansas, a crew ministry. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-03 18:06:53 / 2024-03-03 18:17:17 / 10

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