Pray The Gay Away Didn’t Work: How An Arizona Family Is Now Trying To Change The Mormon Church

“When you go to church everybody appears so fine, but you know underneath in life there is stuff roiling around in there.”

Bryce and Sara Cook were good and faithful Mormons who met while attending BYU. They’ve been together many years, traveled the world, and raised a big family with six kids born in six years.

But life doesn’t always go as scripted, as the Cooks would find out. The very thing they feared the most was about to hit home.

“I had been homophobic and did not have kind or good feelings toward gay people and I hate to confess that,” Bryce Cook says, “and I hate to have to say it.”

The Cooks received a confession from their son written in an email. Trevor, at the time a Freshman at BYU, admitted to “same sex attraction”.

Bryce Cook says it was like a punch in the gut.

Sara Cook felt her son was hurting but had no sense of what was really going on. “I remember one time in particular I went in his bedroom and he sat and tears rolled down his cheeks and he couldn’t tell me.”

But she never imagined Trevor was gay. “He tried his best and it never went away. Like so many gay people it doesn’t go away.”

After writing that letter to his parents, Trevor kept his homosexuality a secret. For eight years he tried to “pray the gay away”.

Finally on a trip to China, Trevor told his parents he was done hiding. So, they agreed it was time to tell the entire family.

And then came another secret.

Tanner Cook says since age 11 he knew he was gay and, like his brother, planned to hide it — until his brother’s courage set him free. “I would have carried the secret to my grave if my brother hadn’t have come out,” Tanner Cook says, “it was something I planned on dying with.”

Only recently a high-ranking Mormon leader said the church policy against same-sex marriage was a “revelation from God”. Still Bryce and Sara Cook, through social media and public outreach, are trying to spread their own Gospel.

The Cooks started an organization called ALL to promote greater love and understanding within the Mormon community.

It has been a long journey to now. The revelations shared by their sons were extremely shocking and painful to this ultra conservative family. But they say one thing was never in question — unconditional love of their sons.