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?