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A Word On That ‘Cross In The Closet’ Guy

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Two years ago an evangelical Christian embarked on a quest to live as a gay man for a full year to gain a better understanding of the existence. He had been raised to think that homosexuality was completely wrong, perverted, linked to pedophilia, and a ticket to hell sort of offense. What kicked off his journey was having a female friend come out to him as lesbian. His initial thought was to work on converting her back, because we all know how well that funny business works out. Instead, he took another look at himself and decided to see if his mind could be changed on the matter. As we all would have expected, it did. Just as expected, he took a lot of shit for it.

Timothy Kurek went into this whole hog, or as whole hog as someone actually straight is likely to. He used the total immersion method, told almost no one that he was well, just kind of faking it, and went so far as to come out to his deeply conservative parents, family, friends, and church. Um, holy shit. He got himself a beard fake boyfriend and everything, though stopped short of PDA and other intimate activities. After his year, he came out as straight (much to the relief of his parents), but a very changed man, and wrote a book about it, as people who do something really out of character for a year tend to do, called ‘Cross in the Closet’.

When I said he got a lot of shit for it, I’m not talking about the assumed crowd, his old evangelical buddies. He actually took a lot of beating from the LGBT community as well. “Um, seriously Michelle?” Yes, if you can believe that. A lot of people claimed to feel betrayed, that he was pulling the wool over their eyes, that he acted dishonestly, and was a great deceiver. Sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it? It should come as no great surprise that I’m now rushing to his defense.

We have a guy, who did almost the unthinkable and managed to deeply question beliefs that had been ingrained and reinforced by a very persuasive community, and act upon them. I don’t believe his motive was to write a book, but I don’t really blame him for cashing in on the experience. I think he did something very remarkable and brave. He faced rejection and humiliation by putting himself in the same shoes as those his community scorned and preach against. He did it all to help a friend and challenge his own beliefs; something very rare and beautiful in any population and I think even moreso in the evangelical one. They aren’t afraid to declare you hell bound for any biblical based interpretation of an infraction. That took some serious guts.

For those who feel betrayed that he wasn’t really gay, all I can say is you are going to judge someone now for their sexuality? For trying their best to understand you and break their lifelong training to look down upon you? As a trans* (thanks Becky, now you have me doing it) I would be seriously psyched if someone had the gumption to walk a mile in my shoes. Ok, not so hard in mine because I mostly wear flats, but still. Coming out was hell, even though it went well, and transition has presented more emotional and logistical problems than I can even list out in one post. I have a whole blog about it, just in case you didn’t know. If I found out someone did this, I’d probably cry in gratitude that someone at least tried to do their very best to understand.

In conclusion, many thanks to Mr Kurek, who bravely walked where eagles and angels fear to tread. And look at that, even after a great year spent, he was totally unable to chose being gay for real! Who’d have thunk it?

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About michellelianna

I'm a transgender woman now in the maintenance stages of transition having all the electrolysis and surgery one can reasonably be expected to undertake. While busy exploring my new world, I took to blogging about it with dubiously popular results. I don't have quite as much to say as I used to, but I'm not quite done yet either.

7 responses »

  1. My only real problem with the guy is that probably a lot of people will somehow use the thing to say that being gay/queer/trans* is a choice or that gay people are only faking it, etc. Other than that, I admire the guy.
    Oh, apparently at one time in like the 60s there was this one guy who tanned himself until he passed for black and then went to the south to see how bad discrimination was. He lasted about a week and then chickened out. So the passing as minority thing isn’t entirely new.

    Reply
  2. I wish our fellow man could find a way to not hate someone like this, or for that matter anyone that at least makes some kind of effort to understand someone other than themselves. There has to be something good, you would think could seen in this, I do I wish I knew more people like Timothy, my existence would be made a bit more understood I would reason to say, but not to be in this world. We just seem to be predisposed to hatred, doesn’t that Suck!

    Someone has to love others, it might as well be me, Erin:)

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  3. Hi, this is a really good post. I do want to comment on the LGBT backlash element you describe.

    I think, this sounds like an interesting and worthwhile experiment, and I’m not going to say I’d agree with people bothered he was being “deceptive” or thinking he “should” have been really gay after all, but… I do see something kind of ugly about what he did and I could imagine valid reasons why people might be upset. Myself I have a response kinda like when I heard a story about a friend of a friend who came out to his family at Thanksgiving, only to explain he was actually straight the next day– because he was testing to see who was homophobic. And that response is, well, that’s kind of cool, but there’s also a sort of tourism element here.

    The thing that stands out to me is that even if he does this pretend-gay thing for a year, he still will never really give up straight privilege. Because there is one piece of privilege he doesn’t, and can’t, give up: The privilege to stop. At any point during that year, he could have just called off the experiment. If it got too ugly, if his new life got too hard, he could just stop. And this isn’t even the same as the “passing privilege” of some trans people or some bi people or closeted “straight-acting gays”, because exercising passing privilege feels like crawling under a steamroller. He flat out has the safety net of knowing that this will all stop after a year and if he needs it to, sooner. There’s something that feels squicky about someone getting this Meaningful Personal Experience from spending awhile standing under the cultural homophobia shower but never really having to feel the real pain and sacrifice that having this be your LIFE entails. I wouldn’t say he shouldn’t have done it, but something still feels weird to me about it.

    Reply
    • I see what you are saying… kind of. True, he will never really know what it’s like to be gay because it’s innate, not a choice, and he just doesn’t have that. Think about it this way though. Doesn’t it just bite when people tell us we will never know what it’s like to be “real” women because we will never menstruate or bear children? This isn’t exactly the same thing, but it doesn’t feel quite right faulting someone who is making every attempt within the very real and hard limitations they have.Our situation is different insofar as we are mentally and emotionally there, but dealing with physical limitations coupled with the obvious fact that we are not trying to gain sympathy and understanding for women, but identify as women. Some of our detractors feel very differently and focus on our physical limitations.

      I think if he was from a very liberal background, from a LGBT welcoming religious community and such we could cry “tourism”. Given his enormous potential losses against the backdrop that it would seem far easier to simply do nothing, I have to give credit to his commitment to understand and change his thinking.

      Reply
  4. No real surprise, right?
    It’s the same reason transgender folks aren’t really part of the of the GBL culture.
    I receive more acceptance from the so called hetero normal culture than the gay male one.

    Reply
    • So, So true, many in the LGBT community display this, not all, but way too many. Maybe they don’t really feel all that comfortable themselves, I find it a bit hard to understand, one would think these people would be the last to Judge us.

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  5. Hiya Sis,

    Great post. It really boggles my mind how some people will find something to condemn in anything that others do. The whole world could use more people open minded enough to try to understand that which they don’t.

    I too praise this man for trying to walk a mile in someone else’s very unfamiliar shoes.

    Also, always remember the true value of trying to walk a mile in the shoes of those who would oppose you. When you are done, you will be a mile away from them and you will have their shoes. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

    Love,
    Becky

    Reply

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