In his Nashville Christian church, Timothy Kurek was taught the lesson of God’s wrath in the Biblical story of “Sodom and Gomorrah,” and he believed that homosexuality was a sin. “You learned to be very afraid of God,” said Kurek. According to the preachings of his church, “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.”
About four years ago, when a lesbian he knew from karaoke night confided to him that her parents had disowned her when she came out, Kurek felt that he failed her. “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.”