Thirteen-and-a-half years ago, I was a gay man and an atheist living in Hollywood. But then I had a radical encounter with God, and my life changed in an instant.
When I was very young, I started to realize that I was attracted to the same sex. Growing up in 1980s Dallas, homosexuality was still taboo, so I found myself in a dilemma—internally I was struggling with same-sex attraction, but externally I had to pretend I wasn’t. It was a difficult position to be in.
In high school, I became best friends with a guy who was dealing with the same feelings. A few months later, we came out to each other. I now had a “partner in crime,” and we were eager to begin exploring gay culture in Dallas. We started going to gay bars. I remember my first time at a gay bar thinking: Wow, these people, these are my people! They get what I’m feeling. They understand.
A real turning point happened after college. I moved to Tokyo with my best college friend, who was also gay. Tokyo seemed like the place to figure out what we wanted to do with our lives. I had gotten accepted into law school, but I really wasn’t interested in going.
While in Tokyo, my best friend invited his friend Adam from Texas to come visit us. Adam stayed with us in our shoebox apartment for a week. By the end of his stay, we had “fallen in love,” which emboldened me to come out to my family and friends. This is when homosexual behavior became my identity.
After a year in Tokyo, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue writing and acting. I had some success in both, but not enough to sustain me. Eventually, I became a production designer in the fashion world, working on shoots for Vogue and brands like Nike, Gap and YSL.
I quickly got plugged into a group of friends—writers, actors, directors, producers who were smart, funny and wildly ambitious. We were part of Young Hollywood, attending movie premieres and all the big awards shows and all the notable after-parties. During that time, I had dinner with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. I hung out with Paris Hilton, was good friends with Minnie Driver (“Good Will Hunting”), and best friends with Mariska Hargitay (“Law and Order: SVU”).
But after 15 years of living this “fabulous” life, the law of diminishing returns set in. It all came to a head at Paris Fashion Week in March 2009.
I was at a club for a fashion after-party. Everyone from the fashion world was there, but suddenly, I had this overwhelming feeling of emptiness. All these shiny objects had sustained me, but now I felt lost. What am I going to do for the rest of my life? God was certainly not an option because I was gay. I was keenly aware of what the Bible says about homosexuality.
I caught a taxi back to my hotel and was up all night in a panic about the future.
Six months later, I was with my best friend at a coffee shop. We noticed that sitting at a table next to us were some young people with their Bibles. We wondered: What’s going on? We had never met Christians in L.A., especially with Bibles. We wound up talking to them. They were evangelical Christians and members of a church on Sunset Boulevard. Eventually, I got to the big question: “What does your church believe about homosexuality?” They said very bluntly, “Well, we believe it’s a sin.” That didn’t shock me. What shocked me was that I didn’t throw my coffee at them. Because of that night of panic in Paris six months earlier, I was open to hearing something else. What if there is a God? What if homosexual behavior is a sin? And what if I built my entire life on a false foundation and I didn’t know it?
They invited me to church. It was a scary decision, but I agreed to go. The pastor that Sunday preached on Romans chapter 7. As he preached, it seemed every word, every sentence, started to ring as true in my mind and heart. I was literally on the edge of my seat. I had never really heard and understood the Gospel. It turned everything I had thought about Christianity on its head. This is good news!
As the service wound down, the Holy Spirit flooded my soul. In that moment, it was as if God revealed Himself to me and said, I’m God, Jesus is my Son, Heaven is real, hell is real, the Bible is true, welcome to my Kingdom. Bam! I started bawling uncontrollably—crying over conviction of sin and the joy of meeting Jesus. The curtains had parted. I could finally see the meaning of life. I knew where I came from, what I’m doing here, and where I’m going. I was stunned.
That was Sept. 20, 2009. That day, I completely surrendered my life to Christ. I knew in that moment that homosexual behavior was sinful. I knew it was no longer my identity. I knew that dating guys was no longer part of my future. I didn’t care—I had just met Jesus!
I’m still in awe of God’s grace. Over the years, I have lost many friends and even my career because of Jesus, but as the Apostle Paul says, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8, ESV). ©2023 Becket Cook
Becket Cook is a frequent speaker at churches, universities and conferences, and he hosts “The Becket Cook Show” on YouTube.
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