An anti-homosexual evangelical Christian has spent a year living ‘under cover’ as a gay man in a bid to challenge his faith.
Timothy Kurek grew up in a deeply conservative Christian community in Nashville and was taught that homosexuality was ‘an abomination’ from an early age.
But when a Christian friend told him how she had been shunned by her family when they found out she was a lesbian, Kurek decided to ‘walk in the shoes’ of a gay man in a bid to challenge his beliefs.
The 26-year-old ‘came out’ to his deeply conservative mother, who he later found had written in her journal that she’d rather have terminal cancer than a gay son, and got a job working in a gay café.
One friend, a gay man called Shawn – whom Kurek describes as a “big black burly teddy bear” – pretended to be his boyfriend, and Kurek began spending time hanging out in gay bars and even joined a gay softball team.
Describing an early encounter in a gay disco with an overfamiliar dancer, Kurak said “I want to vomit. I need a cigarette. I feel like beating the hell out of him”.
But Kurek’s attitude slowly changed and he eventually became active in a gay rights group and developed a deep interest in gay culture.
He also discovered gay Christians who he described as “even more devout than me” and described how his once homosexual-hating mother eventually “became an ally of the gay community.”
Having once thought gays nothing more than ”fags“ destined to burn in hell, he also faced the kind of abuse he once doled out to others.
After a passer-by called him ”faggot“ during softball practice, Kurek was so enraged he had to be held back from violent revenge - then broke into tears.
”When I was first called that for real, I lost it,“ he said. ”I felt so violated by that word.“
Kurek eventually ‘came out’ for a second time, this time as a straight Christian who’d been living a secret life.
Although his views on homosexuality had completely changed, Kurek said the experience had surprisingly cemented his religious faith.
He described how the experience could show conservative Christians how to leave their bigotry behind, as well as revealing more a more accepting side of devout evangelicalism to the gay community.
”The vast majority of conservative Christians are not hateful bigots at all. It is just a vocal minority that gets noticed and attracts all the attention,“ he said.
Kurek’s account of his time living as a gay man has been recalled in a book, ‘The Cross in the Closet’, which was released out this month.