Gay like me

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?

Comments (6)

Over at Huff Post, many commented on the book's appeal because it was written by a straight, white, Christian male while LGBT people telling this same story for decades have been considered less newsworthy. My response for what it's worth:
"Indeed. However, heteros are the best persons to have the conversation with others of their kind. It is not the sole responsibility of LGBT folks to tell the story of how they are being hurt; straights must be willing to talk...straight...to each other. When heteros refuse to engage the conversation among themselves they free themselves to see it as a "Gay Issue" that can be dismissed. Which is a crock. The triumphalist Christians want to remember this: Americans have let laws stand that result in loss of civil rights for some of us, and straights have benefited from an evil straight from the Father of Lies. In a society where this is allowed to stand NO ONE's civil rights are truly safe."

Well sure if you think you have the only possible right answer. But that's not a stance that anyone who is genuinely interested in "conversation" had ever better take. Because if you believe that, there's no point in talking to you at all if you think that we need to keep babbling until I agree with you.

"the book's appeal because it was written by a straight, white, Christian male while LGBT people telling this same story for decades have been considered less newsworthy"

Or, more to the point, less TRUSTworthy.

That's been the dig on Black Like Me, and its ilk: the notion that you need to have a non-member to tell the tale of the marginalized group, because the marginalized group is inherently NON-trustworthy ("Oh, you're just MAKING UP all your discrimination and suffering." Or, "you're imagining it").

In 2012, do we REALLY still need this kind of "I (from the non-marginalized) can prove THEY aren't all lying" memoir? O_o

JC Fisher

Thanks JC. Amen and Amen, again!

I'm really uncomfortable with the idea of pretend gay people, and I have problems with someone making a buck off of it, too.

I also found it odd that he said he needed a pretend boyfriend for "protection" when another man hit on him. He could, of course, just have said, "No, thanks."

Bill Dilworth

The more I think about this, the more uncomfortable I become. It's the lying to his mother bit that really gets me. Coming out is about honesty, not lying to those around you in the pursuit of some "greater good."

Bill Dilworth

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