Anti-homosexual Bible-belt Christian lives 'under cover' as a gay man for a year in a bid to challenge his bigotry

Timothy Kurek grew up in a deeply conservative Christian community in Nashville and was taught that homosexuality was ‘an abomination’ from an early age.

An anti-homosexual evangelical Christian has spent a year living ‘under cover’ as a gay man in a bid to challenge his faith.

Timothy Kurek grew up in a deeply conservative Christian community in Nashville and was taught that homosexuality was ‘an abomination’ from an early age.

But when a Christian friend told him how she had been shunned by her family when they found out she was a lesbian, Kurek decided to ‘walk in the shoes’ of a gay man in a bid to challenge his beliefs.

The 26-year-old ‘came out’ to his deeply conservative mother, who he later found had written in her journal that she’d rather have terminal cancer than a gay son, and got a job working in a gay café.

One friend, a gay man called Shawn – whom Kurek describes as a “big black burly teddy bear” – pretended to be his boyfriend, and Kurek began spending time hanging out in gay bars and even joined a gay softball team.

Describing an early encounter in a gay disco with an overfamiliar dancer, Kurak said “I want to vomit. I need a cigarette. I feel like beating the hell out of him”.

But Kurek’s attitude slowly changed and he eventually became active in a gay rights group and developed a deep interest in gay culture.

He also discovered gay Christians who he described as “even more devout than me” and described how his once homosexual-hating mother eventually “became an ally of the gay community.”

Having once thought gays nothing more than ”fags“ destined to burn in hell, he also faced the kind of abuse he once doled out to others.

After a passer-by called him ”faggot“ during softball practice, Kurek was so enraged he had to be held back from violent revenge - then broke into tears.

”When I was first called that for real, I lost it,“ he said. ”I felt so violated by that word.“

Kurek eventually ‘came out’ for a second time, this time as a straight Christian who’d been living a secret life.

Although his views on homosexuality had completely changed, Kurek said the experience had surprisingly cemented his religious faith.

He described how the experience could show conservative Christians how to leave their bigotry behind, as well as revealing more a more accepting side of devout evangelicalism to the gay community.

”The vast majority of conservative Christians are not hateful bigots at all. It is just a vocal minority that gets noticed and attracts all the attention,“ he said.

Kurek’s account of his time living as a gay man has been recalled in a book, ‘The Cross in the Closet’, which was released out this month.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all