Straight Christian Timothy Kurek Walks in Gay Shoes for 1 Year

Timothy Kurek’s motivation to spend a year pretending to be gay can be boiled down to a simple conviction: it takes drastic change to alter deeply held religious beliefs. 

The experiment began after a lesbian friend opened up to Kurek about being excommunicated by her family. 
All Kurek, an avowed evangelical Christian, could think about, he says, “was trying to convert her.”
He was quickly disgusted by his own feelings, more pious than humane.

In fact, Kurek was so disgusted by his response to his friend that he
decided to do something drastic. Living in Nashville, Tennessee, he
would pretend to be gay for a year. The experiment began on the first
day of 2009; Kurek came out to his family, got a job as a barista at a
gay café and enlisted the help of a friend to act as his boyfriend in

The experience – which stopped short of Kurek getting physically
intimate with other men – is documented in Kurek’s recent book “The Cross in the Closet
which has received international attention, landed
him on ABC’s “The View” and elicited some biting criticism.


For years, Kurek says, the only life he had was “his church life.” Being an evangelical Christian was his identity.

He was home-schooled until seventh grade, almost all of his friends
were from church and his social life was a nightly string of faith-based
events, from church sports to a Christian Cub Scout troop. “It was the
only thing I was used to doing,” said Kurek, who attended Liberty
University, the largest evangelical university in the world, before
dropping out after freshman year.

Kurek grew up in an “independent Baptist church.” “We were
evangelical,” he said, “but we were more conservative than evangelical,

His churchy lifestyle led to some deeply held views about
homosexuality. Most evangelical churches condemn homosexuality as
sinful. Many rail against certain gay rights, like gay marriage.

It’s no surprise that the “The Cross in the Closet,” has spurred strong reaction, especially from the LGBT community.

“I feel for the gay community of Nashville, and for every person who
trusted Kurek enough to flirt with him, hang out with him, and confide
in him about their lives,” wrote Amy Lieberman on the blog Feministing. “If I were in that community, I would feel so betrayed right now.”

In a Huffington Post blog post titled “Pretending To Be Gay Isn’t The Answer,”
Emily Timbol, a religion blogger, expressed a similar opinion: “What’s
sad is that every interaction Timothy had during his year pretending was

But we are missing the bigger picture here!  Kurek says that that was not his aim. “This isn’t a book about
being gay, I could not write that book, I am not qualified,” he writes.
“What this is about is the label of gay and how that label affected me

Throughout the book, Kurek emphasizes that distinction. While much of
“The Cross in the Closet” is about the struggle to understand the gay
community, which he tries to address by enlisting a friend to act as his
boyfriend, much of it addresses how his former church’s community – and
family – reacted to his new lifestyle.

As for his original goal, to radically change who he was, Kurek says
mission accomplished. He says he has conquered his prejudices of the
LGBT community and is happy with the person he has become.

“If anybody had told me back then who I would be or what I would
believe now,” Kurek said, “I would have thought they were completely

For example, Kurek now thinks homosexuality is completely acceptable.

BUY THE BOOK    The Cross in the Closet