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“We are not looking to change church policy. What we want is to create an atmosphere in the church where gay people no longer feel that they would be better off dead.”
Bryce Cook, by his own admission, used to be homophobic. He was brought up in a conservative LDS family in Mesa, Arizona, and fully embraced traditional church policy.
And then he and his wife Sara received an email that changed their life.
Their son, at the time in school at BYU, wrote to tell them that he was a gay Mormon. “That was a huge surprise, we had no idea that could happen,” Cook says. Later, another admission. A second son came out of the closet.
The Cooks were shocked that two of their six children were gay, but they say, “all came under the microscope of greater understanding.”
It has been a ten year journey for this family. Not only have they worked to seek understanding, but also advocate for grassroots change in The Church of Latter-day Saints.
“I am here today to be an advocate and a voice for those who don’t have a voice in our church,” Cook says.
Sara and Bryce Cook started an organization called ALL, which stands for Arizona LDS LGBT http://allarizona.org/ It is a fast growing support and social group for LDS members who are LGBT, as well as family members and allies who want to support them. They meet monthly and interact on a Facebook forum.
In recent months, the group has gained some high profile support as well. At the upcoming All Are Alike Unto God conference in April of 2016, the keynote speaker and special guest will be former NFL Quarterback Steve Young, a well known member of the LDS Church. Cook says Young and his wife have embraced ALL’s efforts to open dialogue and increase tolerance.
The Cooks say the greater goal is not to change church policy. Rather to spread the message that there shouldn’t have to be a choice between your faith in God and love for the church, and your love for your child.
See Bryce and Sara Cook’s story here: