Timothy Kurek used to be a raging homophobe with a strictly religious upbringing. But he was shocked when a good friend of his was flat out disowned by her parents when she came out as a lesbian. Kurek had a come-to-Jesus moment and decided to take an unorthodox approach to understanding what it’s like to be gay.
He posed as a gay man for one year.
MSNBC‘s gay anchor Tom Roberts interviewed Kurek , who is also writing an as-of-yet untitled book on his experience. First he “came out” to his surprisingly accepting family. Then he immersed himself in Nashville’s Gayborhood–at the bars, clubs, and bookstores. The brief interview doesn’t go into detail, but the question is raised how just hanging out at gay places could possibly give heterosexual Kurek an honest sense what it’s like to actually struggle with an unchangeable internal reality.
I will be the first one to say that my experience is severely limited. There is no way I could possibly understand what it’s like to actually be gay. And the book itself is not at all about what it is like to be gay, but only about how the label of gay impacted my external life and how those things kind of altered my faith and challenged my beliefs… I was doing everything I could to understand and going as far as I could, but being I’m straight was obviously very limited in what I was able to do.
Some folks may cry foul, or be insulted by someone using deception to gain access. But if Kurek came out of his experiment with empathy, understanding, and unity with the gay cause, as he claims, then great for him. Everyone has their own road to learning acceptance of all human beings, and Kurek found a method that worked for him, and he became the better for it. The old saying never fades about walking in another man’s shoes.
However, we do have a few unanswered questions:
What did he do when guys flirted with him?
Did he avoid getting intimate with other men?
How did his family and friends react when he came back out as straight?
Liza or Gaga?