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Seeking Empathy, Straight Christian Posed as Gay for a Year: VIDEO

Kurek

Timothy Kurek grew up a devout Christian, projecting the beliefs he was taught, that homosexuality was a sin, onto others. Until one day a friend confessed to him that her family had disowned her for being gay.

Kurek has written a book about how he "found Jesus" by getting to know what it was like to walk in a gay man's shoes, he tells ABC News:

"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's reaction ate away at him, and he wondered what it felt like to be gay and so alone. So even though Kurek identifies as straight, he embarked on what one religious writer called "spiritual espionage." He would live like a gay man for a year.

"It finally clicked," he said. "I needed to empathize and understand."

Now 26 and no longer homophobic, Kurek writes about his journey -- one that included hanging out in gay bars and facing the disappointment of his family and rejection of his friends -- in his memoir, "The Cross in the Closet."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

There's more of his story at the ABC News site.

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Comments

  1. Excuse me while I do a double-take but what exactly does "live like a gay" mean? I thought we lived like everybody else. We get up in the morning, have a shower, go to work, go home...I mean, what's the difference? Someone enlighten me on what "living like a gay" means.

    I didn't realize that there were shoes specifically for gay men.

    Posted by: jason | Oct 11, 2012 6:34:38 PM


  2. Well, that's covered in the video, so maybe watch before commenting in the future

    Posted by: Cody | Oct 11, 2012 6:36:16 PM


  3. ya know I am not going to judge this guy, he's gone through his own personal journey, and figured out for himself that homophobia hurts. And if he's become an ally (which we need more of) then I say good on him.

    Posted by: Terry P. | Oct 11, 2012 6:41:15 PM


  4. Oh, I don't what the differences may be, Jason. Perhaps, there is the prospect of being denied housing and employment because one is gay. There is the notion that one might be walking hand in hand with his boyfriend and be accosted or murdered because he chose to do so. Maybe there is the stigmatization that SPLC Certified Hate Groups like The Family Research Council, The AFA, NOM, Concerned Women for America, and individuals like Bryan Fischer and Tony Perins inspire in our neighbors, employers and families. It could be the fact that many of us still face being ostracized by our families, our churches, etc. Growing up being bullied for being who you are could be another distinction--how many children on playgrounds shout out, "Eww, you're a total hetero?" Yes, there is a difference in being a gay man in this country, and when you look outside our borders it can be far worse wherein one's life hangs in the balance of loving and dying for loving.

    Posted by: Mike | Oct 11, 2012 6:47:44 PM


  5. If we're denied public housing for being gay, blame Obama. He and the Democrats failed to pass ENDA despite having a majority in Congress.

    Posted by: jason | Oct 11, 2012 6:52:43 PM


  6. Fascinating.

    Posted by: Opinionated | Oct 11, 2012 6:56:42 PM


  7. Jason,

    Wait we should blame Obama for not passing the ENDA because he didn't do it while he had the majority? Think about that. Why does he need a majority in the first place? Shouldn't we be blaming THEM? Sheesh you freaking stone throwers are too much sometimes.

    Posted by: Opinionated | Oct 11, 2012 6:58:20 PM


  8. Jason (Rick) always blames Obama for anti gay governmental policies and behavior, hates women, and loathes femme gay men. He is a pathetic troll who should be ignored.

    Posted by: MateoM | Oct 11, 2012 6:59:06 PM


  9. You're right, Jason. I mean, with pulling the economy out from a free fall and the following, how in the heck did he not have time to pass ENDA and get a housing bill through?

    1. 3,680,000 private sector jobs created since the end of the Bush Great Recession
    2. Expanded government’s fight against fraud in Financial ref, Federal Contractor ref and Health Care areas
    3. $2,000,000,000,000 in deficit reduction
    4. He saved the economy from ruin (until the Tea Party took over Congress) with a stimulus that was as large as possible given the political realities
    5. Saved the US Auto Industry
    6. Health Care Reform
    7. Reduced military spending by $500,000,000,000
    8. Wall Street Reform
    9. Leaned on the banks to recover almost all “bailout money” with interest
    10. Saved the world from global financial collapse
    11. Ordered 65 executives who took bailout money to cut their own pay until they paid back all bailout money.
    12. Killed Osama Bin Laden
    13. Killed a whole generation of al Qaeda leaders
    14. Stopped numerous terrorist attacks in this country
    15. Authorized and oversaw a secret mission by SEAL Team Six to rescue two hostages held by Somali pirates.
    16. Unified the world against Iran and brought unprecedented united international pressure against Iran's nuclear bomb potential
    17. More deportations per year than Bush
    18. Hired more border patrol agents than Bush
    19. Tax rates for average working families are the lowest since 1950.
    20. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, cut taxes for 95% of America's working families.
    21. Reduced Social Security Taxes for 2011 and 2012
    22. Smaller Government
    23. Fewer regulations than Bush
    24. Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; Instituted equal pay for women.
    25. Expanded funding for the Violence Against Women Act.
    26. Support’s states’ right on medical marijuana
    27. Repealed “Don’t ask don’t tell” refref
    28. Appointed more openly gay officials than anyone in history.
    29. Extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.
    30. Changed HUD rules to prohibit gender and sexual orientation-based discrimination in housing
    31. Publicly expressed support for the right to enter into a same-sex marriage.
    32. Implemented much of Dream Act via Executive Order
    33. Appointed two pro-choice women to the Supreme Court
    34. Ended the war in Iraq
    35. Established a date for transferring Afghanistan fighting to Afghanis.
    36. Toppled Gadhafi without an American casualty
    37. Fired the first salvo of the Arab Spring with his address in Cairo no less
    38. Has the Arab League watching Syria
    39. Presided over democratic revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Bahrain
    40. Helped to restore America's reputation around the world as a global leader that does the "right thing" in world affairs, at least according to the rest of the world.
    41. On his second day in office, he signed a detailed Executive Order that banned torture, reversed all Bush torture policies, and put the United States in compliance with the Geneva Convention.
    42. Three new trade agreements
    43. Increased veterans/benefits every year
    44. Along with Congressional Democrats, not only reauthorized families of fallen soldiers to be able to visit when the body arrives at Dover AFB, but also provided funding for it. Ended the media blackout on coverage of the return of fallen soldiers.
    45. Signed the Democratic-sponsored Post-9/11 GI Bill, also known as GI Bill 2.0
    46. Invested in college students: 1) by repeatedly increased funding for student financial aid, and at the same time cut the banks completely out of the process. ref ref ref 2) by reforming student loan program, to make it possible for students to refinance at a lower rate and 3) by overseeing an expansion of the Pell Grants program, to expand opportunity for low income students to go to college.
    47. Invested in primary education: Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act , invested heavily in elementary, secondary and post-secondary education.
    48. Oversaw major expansion of broadband availability in K-12 schools nationwide
    49. Oversaw major expansion in school construction.
    50. Also through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he put $5 billion into early education, including Head Start.
    51. Strengthened environmental protection via new laws and policies.
    52. Fast-tracked regulations to dramatically increase fuel efficiency standards
    53. Strengthened the bond between clean energy and commerce by overseeing establishment of an Energy Partnership for the Americas, to create more markets for American-made biofuels and green energy technologies. Oversaw the creation of an initiative that converts old factories and manufacturing centers into new clean technology centers.
    54. Pushed through a tax credit to help people buy plug-in hybrid cars.
    55. Obama EPA reversed a Bush-era decision to allow the largest mountaintop removal project in US history. ref
    56. Turned America toward native sources of renewal energy Ordered energy plants to prepare to produce at least 15% of all energy through renewable resources like wind and solar, by 2021. ref (As you can see, Republicans are trying hard to kill it.)
    57. Created a program to develop renewable energy projects on the waters of our Outer Continental Shelf that will produce electricity from wind, wave, and ocean currents.
    58. Bypassed Republican opposition in Congress and ordered EPA to begin regulating and measuring carbon emissions.
    59. Oversaw doubling federal spending on clean energy research.
    60. Reengaged in the climate change and greenhouse gas emissions agreements talks, and proposed one himself. He also addressed the U.N. Climate Change Conference, officially reversing the Bush era stance that climate change was a “hoax.”

    What a narrow point of view you carry, Jason.

    Posted by: Mike | Oct 11, 2012 7:08:59 PM


  10. i dont even know where to start....

    Posted by: Homo Genius | Oct 11, 2012 7:17:17 PM


  11. @Jason: You don't live in a world free from prejudice against gay people. Stop acting like you've been insulted. You're missing the point, which seems to be that this guy spent a year identifying as a gay man to try and understand the prejudice and experiences that often come with being openly gay. In doing so he came to empathize and understand some of the things gay men and women have to deal with that straight men and women do not, and it helped him not to be so judgemental.

    Posted by: Djeip | Oct 11, 2012 7:34:17 PM


  12. If we're denied public housing for being gay, blame Obama. He and the Democrats failed to pass ENDA despite having a majority in Congress.

    Posted by: jason | Oct 11, 2012 6:52:43 PM


    ^This explains so much.

    Posted by: Djeip | Oct 11, 2012 7:38:43 PM


  13. Mike,

    That first post was right on, you nailed it!

    The second post, getting a little off topic, but I'm going to copy and paste that one.

    So thanks for that.

    Posted by: Steve Pardue | Oct 11, 2012 7:42:18 PM


  14. And JASON/RICK would be the first one to discriminate against an "effeminate" gay man, a lesbian, or heck any woman in general!

    Posted by: DAVE | Oct 11, 2012 7:52:56 PM


  15. If you read the larger article on ABC news, you see how and why Mr. Kurek did his undercover project, and it is pretty amazing. I can only imagine all the people who rejected him for being gay finding out the truth, and realizing what hypocrites they really are.

    This is basically the same thing depicted in the 1940s film "Gentleman's Agreement," about post-war anti-Semitism. In the film, a journalist played by Gregory Peck goes undercover as a Jew, simply by telling people he is. He changes nothing else about himself or his life, and nonetheless gets a face full of bigotry, including his son getting beat up. I always thought a remake where someone pretends to be gay would be perfect, and I have no doubt that Hollywood will come calling on Mr. Kurek.

    Posted by: CPT_Doom | Oct 11, 2012 7:56:07 PM


  16. @JASON: what does the EMPLOYMENT Non-Discrimination Act have to do with public housing? Am I missing somethng here? What public housing provision is included in ENDA?

    Shouldn't we also blame the past two Presidents and the respective Congress' as this bill has been defeated in some form in every session since the early 90's??

    Posted by: DAVE | Oct 11, 2012 8:02:18 PM


  17. Part of me admires me for taking this on and spending a year doing it. Part of me is a bit disappointed that in 2012, we need straight people to go undercover for a year to get empathy. But, I guess, whatever it takes. Far be it for me to turn on a new ally.

    Posted by: AngelaChanning | Oct 11, 2012 8:05:58 PM


  18. I thought that it was odd too, but then I remembered that most of my straight brothers and all my straight friends have been to gay bars and don't care what people think. Still, a year seems like a long time unless he was just looking for a book deal. But I have no complaints.

    I wouldn't want to pretend to be straight for a year.

    Posted by: Anon | Oct 11, 2012 8:49:04 PM


  19. wasn't this story reported on months ago, early summer?

    Posted by: V-8 | Oct 11, 2012 9:38:39 PM


  20. wasn't this story reported on months ago, early summer?

    Posted by: V-8 | Oct 11, 2012 9:38:39 PM


  21. I hope people will read the entire article on abc.com before they opine here.

    There seems to be some misunderstanding about what this guy did. Just read the article.

    Believe it or not, Christianity is evolving, it always has. Many of the early abolitionists were Christians, NOT atheists. There are many Christian churches that fight for us, some have suffered greatly as a result. The place this guy is coming from is as a Christian heterosexual. If you can't understand and respect that, you aren't really going to "get" it.

    And JASON, if you're even gay, if you don't know what it's like to live as a gay man, if you've never been in a position where you should have spoke up as a self identified gay man, then you're a gay man and a coward. The rest of us have experienced the slurs, being put in a position of it being necessary to confront people for remarks or actions. For you to not have been, I find that almost impossible to conceive.

    How is that possible, JASON ? Are you a twenty something living in a relatively isolated place where there's no conflict at all ? Somehow I find you disingenuous.

    How about you explain yourself here, how is it that you are oblivious as to what it's like to live as a gay man ? What confrontation free paradise do you live in ?

    Personally I think you're just a straight homophobic troll. I'm open to be proven wrong, though. Explain yourself.

    Posted by: "The Gay" | Oct 11, 2012 10:19:22 PM


  22. @ MateoM: Jason (Rick) always blames Obama

    So Jason and Rick are the same person, he's just using alts?

    Posted by: Randal Oulton | Oct 11, 2012 10:36:56 PM


  23. That is nothing new, Catholics, Mormons, Evangelical Christians have been pretending to be gay for years and infiltrating LGBT groups and communities for years now.

    Posted by: Bob | Oct 11, 2012 10:44:48 PM


  24. I'm not sure how anyone could see this as anything other than a courageous journey by someone who truly wanted to UNDERSTAND on a personal level instead of just reading things and pretending to understand.

    Before anyone criticizes what he did, I want them to ask themselves whether they would be homeless for a year, or (if they could) live as an underprivileged minority to further understand their situation and inform what you believe. This guy voluntarily assumed a characteristic that exposed him to a much more difficult life than he would have had if he had just stayed home and read a few articles about accepting people no matter their sexual orientation. Above and beyond is an understatement.

    (Eagerly awaiting someone to twist this into a "that Jack is just a right wing Romney supporting nut")

    Posted by: Jack | Oct 11, 2012 10:45:42 PM


  25. I know nothing about this guy beyond what anyone here who read the article and watched the video does, but he seems legit. I hope so.

    The ONLY reason I am reserving judgement is because there HAVE been "Christians" (Andrew Marin for one) who proclaimed how accepting of gays they are and how they want to act as a bridge between the gay and religious communities, then they use that to get closer to young and vulnerable gays and pull the same old number on them, religious guilt and shame. So while you shouldn't necessarily be cynical a little caution is warranted.

    But there are those who seem to be the real deal like Jay Bakker, the son of Jim and Tammy Fay Bakker. So this guy may be on the level too and if he is I appreciate what he's doing, despite not being a believer myself.

    Posted by: Caliban | Oct 11, 2012 11:16:13 PM


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