The strangest bedfellows in Colorado's sexual politics are Colin Cook and Kevin Tebedo.

Cook, after an exhausting lifetime of fighting his sexual desires for men, calls himself "redeemed" and uses pornography to teach gay men to be straight by praying to Jesus for their erections and thanking God for "handsome thighs" and "fleshy balls."

And Tebedo, the former director of the Colorado Springs-based Colorado for Family Values (CFV), which championed Amendment 2 and fights against pornography, is Cook's firmest supporter.

Together last week in southeast Denver, they offered a remarkable performance that illuminates the hate--and passion--bubbling up in Colorado's anti-gay movement. The setting was a press conference called by Cook to denounce the Denver Post.

Cook, who operates a one-man counseling service in Arvada, had been CFV's poster boy for sexual redemption, conducting seminars emphasizing that homosexuals are bred, not born, and advocating therapy to "change" them into heterosexuals. Late last month, however, the Post, with the help of gay activists, dredged up his self-admittedly sordid past.

And that past may not be entirely behind him. Since Cook moved to Denver in 1993, two of the men he's counseled claim he has engaged them in highly erotic conversations about "sucking cock," offered interminable, grinding, full-body sensual hugs and exchanged sexual reveries that included Cook's admission that he once molested teenagers.

At his press conference, Cook declares homosexuality a "moral wrong" and accuses the Post of having "a dirty mind" and of being "scurrilous" in revealing his highly charged sexual conversations. He denies that he currently engages in "grinding hugs."

"I'm not into that anymore," Cook says. "I was, but I'm not now...I'm not a lustful monster trying to get his own jollies satisfied."

He acknowledges, however, that he still has deeply sexual conversations with clients--a "misunderstood" technique of "getting denial out in the open" for gay men.

But it's only toward the end of the press conference, after repeated questioning, that Cook finally details this self-taught "technique" for leading men away from homosexual behavior. Tebedo, one of the few Cook supporters present, listens raptly, nodding his head, as Cook describes a typical pornography session with the gay don't-wannabes he counsels.

"Once every three to six months," Cook says, "I'll say, `Bring a piece of pornography into the office.' We'll talk about it and look at it. And if he says, `I feel an erection,' I'll say, `Stay with it. Let's get all denial out in the open.'"

Well, maybe not all denial.
While poring over the porn, Cook says, he tells his client to "begin to express thanks to God for that man's handsomeness. I tell him, `Be explicit. Now, pray for this man, because this man is damaged.'"

Where does this sex talk lead? Cook calls it "bringing my sexuality before God, which involves openness to God during arousal and orgasm to short-circuit lust and fantasy and open the way to making sexuality an innocent and beautiful part of our Christian walk with Jesus Christ, and a healthy drive towards the development of heterosexuality."

This "recovery," Cook says, has to include "an examination of masturbation habits" and "descriptions of how the mind responds to sexually attractive people and how to retrain that response through praise towards God."

"To do this," he adds, "generalities don't cut it. You can't get at sexual addiction and homosexual orientation without talking about sex."

There are times--past and present--when that talk has gotten Cook into deep trouble.

Colin Cook, now 55, is a slightly built, pleasant-sounding fellow who was born in England and migrated to the States more than twenty years ago. By the mid-Eighties, having worked as a Seventh-Day Adventist minister and founded Homosexuals Anonymous, a twelve-step program aimed at "converting" gays, he was one of the most visible figures in the Christian gay-to-straight movement. An admitted practitioner of anonymous bathroom sex with men while a minister in a denomination that denounces homosexuality, Cook claimed he had put that behind him, devised a counseling method to fight his own and others' homosexual desires, and married a woman named Sharon.

Like others in the "change" ministries, Cook says homosexuality stems from the longing for a close relationship with an emotionally distant parent of the same sex. All men, he maintains, are created as heterosexuals; the ones who practice homosexuality are simply damaged and wounded.

But Cook's Quest Counseling Center in Reading, Pennsylvania, funded by the Seventh-Day Adventists, collapsed after it was revealed that he engaged in erotic hugs, nude massages and mutual masturbation with his clients. It was Ron Lawson, a gay Adventist and sociology professor at Queens College in New York, who investigated and unmasked Cook almost ten years ago. Lawson sent a long letter with his findings to church leaders in October 1986, and Cook confessed. The church withdrew its funding, and the counseling center closed.

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Ward Harkavy
Contact: Ward Harkavy