That time a “Bible banging homophobe” went “undercover” as a gay man for a year

Timothy Kurek
Timothy KurekPhoto: Screenshot

With Pride festivals around the nation canceled or postponed, LGBTQ Nation is bringing the celebration to you with our new series “Flashes of Pride.” We’ll look back at some of our community’s finest moments from the past few years as a reminder that no matter what life throws our way, queer people will fight our way through it and dance when we hit the other side.

Timothy Kurek was a “Bible-banging homophobe” raised by conservative parents in a strict Christian household in Tennessee, where he was taught that homosexuality was a sin and gay people were not “normal.” But in 2015, he wondered if perhaps he should try “walking in the shoes of the other” in order to gain what he refers to as “intentional empathy.”

Related: Parades might get canceled, but Pride never will be

Kurek decided to try a little experiment: he pretended to be gay for a year.

After “coming out,” Kurek says what shocked him most was not the judgment he received from friends and family, but rather their flat-out rejection of him, which left him feeling isolated and alone.

“Overnight I ceased to exist,” Kurek said. “The vast majority of my community closed their doors on me that day, and it felt as though I had died.”

What happened? During a TED Talk, he gave the audience his insights – and how it changed his life.

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