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‘The Cross in the Closet’ — A straight Christian lives ‘openly gay’ for a year

Thursday, October 11, 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As the LGBT community marked “National Coming Out Day” this week, there is one story that stands out in its uniqueness.

ABC News Science and Health Editor Susan Donaldson-James reports Thursday that one 26-year-old Tennessee “gay” man came out, but the twist is that he’s actually straight and Evangelical.

Timothy Kurek (center), author of “The Cross in the Closet” is shown here with friends on Gay Pride Day.
Photo courtesy Timothy Kurek

Nashville resident Timothy Kurek said he was brought up to believe that homosexuality was a sin.

“You learned to be very afraid of God,” reflected Kurek. According to the preachings of his church, “The loving thing to do is to tell my friend who is gay, ‘Hey, listen, you are an abomination and you need to repent to go to heaven.’ I absolutely believed in that lock, stock and barrel.”

Kurek said that he had so perfected his “life-in-Christ” that others went to him for guidance and inspiration.

But it was during a period around four years ago, he said, when a friend, a lesbian, came to him shattered after her parents disowned her when she came out.

“I feel God really kicked me in the gut,” he said. “She was crying in my arms and instead of being there for her, I was thinking about all the arguments to convert her.”

Kurek’s reaction to her heartache and distress bothered him to the point he says that he wondered what it felt like to be gay and so alone.

Although he is heterosexual, he decided that he would explore that what it would be like to be a gay man for a year. “It finally clicked,” he said. “I needed to empathize and understand.”

By 2009, the idea to go undercover, as a way of documenting and learning about homophobia, was born. For six months he plotted and planned. “I had to make sure the timing was right,” he said.

But one day, sitting in a café in a part of Nashville where the gay bars and Christian hang-outs intersect, Kurek had his first confrontation. While reading a gay-themed book, he became aware of the “snickers and sneers.”

“A guy came up to me when he saw the cover and said, ‘You know that is fundamentally false — you can’t be gay and Christian,’” said Kurek, who responded, “I am gay and I love God.”

The project to become gay had begun for real.

Kurek wrote about his journey — one that included hanging out in gay bars and facing the disappointment of his family and rejection of his friends — in his memoir, “The Cross in the Closet,” which was released Thursday.

During that year, Kurek got a job in a gay cafe, hung out in a gay bar and joined a gay softball league, all the while maintaining his inner identity as a straight Christian.

“In the end it was a book about prejudice, not a book about being gay,” said Kurek, who added that he chose National Coming Out Day and LGBT National History Month to launch his book, and that he will donate a portion of the proceeds to a charity that helps homeless LGBT youth.

“I want this seen as a people issue,” he said. “When we are shunning people, we are shunning Fred and John and Liz and Mary. These are human people.”

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12 more reader comments:

  1. Applaud!
    I’m an open Gay Christian as well!

    Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 6:01pm
  2. The greatest man who ever lived.

    Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 6:08pm
  3. Well not exactly, but you get the idea.

    Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 6:08pm
  4. It’s a start toward understanding

    Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 6:16pm
  5. So glad there are people like Jim out there !!!!!!

    Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 6:18pm
  6. bought it, cant wait to read it

    Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 6:28pm
  7. I can’t believe some of the responses I’ve seen about this from the gay community. A straight, christian, man goes out to try to understand what it’s like as a gay person and you bash him because he only had to be in the closet for a year?
    I thought the point was to try to help the situation to the point where people don’t NEED to be in the closet in the first place… this man is helping that cause.

    Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 7:05pm
  8. Glutton for punishment, I like it!

    Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 8:35pm
  9. unlike.

    Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 8:40pm
  10. I have really awkward feelings about this. On the one hand, I appreciate the level to which he tried to understand the struggle of lgbt+ people in the US, but on the other hand… he gets to walk away from it and go back to his life as usual. Maybe some things have changed and have been affected by his knowledge, but he has the privilege of being able to “flip a switch” and then his little experiment is over.

    Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 8:43pm
  11. I was hesitant at first, but I believe this was a noble idea. I do think that he should not be making a profit off of pretending to be gay and that proceeds from his book should go towards a gay charity.

    Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 8:47pm
  12. The point wasn’t to pretend and go back to his straight life or to make a profit for you to choose how it’s spent.
    The point was to, hopefully, make Christians aware of the hatred they spew and how it effects others.
    I applaud the effort. Though I’m skeptical out will have a positive effect.

    Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 8:54pm