Paul Harris of the Observer of London tells the story of Timothy Kurek, author of The Cross in the Closet. Kurkek, an evangelical Christian and graduate of the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, spent a year pretending to be gay. Kurek grew up believing that being gay “was an abomination before God,” Harris writes. But when
a Christian friend in a karaoke bar told him how her family had kicked her out when she revealed she was a lesbian, Kurek began to question profoundly his beliefs and religious teaching. Amazingly, the 26-year-old decided to “walk in the shoes” of a gay man in America by pretending to be homosexual.
For an entire year Kurek lived “under cover” as a homosexual in his home town of Nashville. He told his family he was gay, as well as his friends and his church. Only two pals and an aunt – used to keep an eye on how his mother coped with the news – knew his secret. One friend, a gay man called Shawn – whom Kurek describes as a “big black burly teddy bear” – pretended to be his boyfriend. 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.
The result was a remarkable book called The Cross in the Closet, which follows on the tradition of other works such as Black Like Me, by a white man in the 1960s deep south passing as a black American, and 2006’s Self-Made Man, by Norah Vincent, who details her time spent in disguise living as a man. “In order to walk in their shoes, I had to have the experience of being gay. I had to come out to my friends and family and the world as a gay man,” he told the Observer.
Read the whole story to find out how his friends and family reacted. What is your reaction to Kurek’s experiment and his current views on LGBT issues?