Timothy Kurek grew up in a religiously conservative family, and was told that homosexuality was an abominable sin. He regularly counseled friends and families on how to approach homosexuality. “The loving thing to do is to tell my friend who is gay, ‘Hey, listen, you are an abomination and you need to repent to go to heaven.’ I absolutely believed in that lock, stock and barrel,” he said. And then four years ago, a close friend confided that she was a lesbian and that her family had disowned her because of it. Something in him broke.
“I feel God really kicked me in the gut,” he said. “She was crying in my arms and instead of being there for her, I was thinking about all the arguments to convert her.”
Kurek felt he needed to do something drastic to change his ways. So he embarked on a unique journey — as a straight man, he chose to live as a gay man for a year to understand the real-life results of homophobia. He “came out” to friends and family and dealt with the consequences, which included alienating family members.
“Before I came out as gay, I had a very busy social life. After I came out, I didn’t hear from 95 percent of my friends,” says Turek, who clarifies that though he was living in gay culture and perceived as gay, he didn’t actually engage in gay sex.
Turek’s year as a gay man resulted in his memoir The Cross in the Closet.
Since writing the memoir, he says, some of his family and friends have made a turnaround. His mother, who initially wrote in her journal that she would rather have terminal cancer than a gay son, now supports gay rights.
“The transformation in him was life-changing,” said Turek’s friend Rev. Connie Waters, a protestant minister and LGBT ally. “It’s what you hope for — the goal of the Christian walk of faith. It’s enough for me that he transformed, but if others learn from him, what an extra blessing that is.”
Original by Julie Gerstein