The Cross in the Closet: A Review

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About Deanna Ogle

Deanna Ogle hails from the greater Detroit area and her work has appeared in The Good Men Project, The Printed Blog, and Provoketive Magazine. She is studying journalism and religious studies, and writes at her personal blog Soul like a Spider. Loves: carnations, iced espresso, and watching movies with her husband. Find her at Twitter, Google and Facebook.

Comments

  1. HMMMMMM! P^/

    I have been filled with disquiet ever since I first came across this whole media circus and Kurek’s book. There is something about this whole story line – the by line – Spinning a Line which has my antennae twitching in a nasty way! For me – Something is just *NOT* ringing true….. and I’m almost waiting for Kurek to jump out and giggle as he blasts his way out of the closet for real!

    I wonder if Kurek would be seen as such a good fellow if he had spent a year in a wheelchair playing a cripple to find out what it’s like? Would he have gone as far as the enemas – medical interventions – being patted on the head and being told he should shut up because he gets better parking?

    Gay identity cannot and should not be reduced to a mere label that one can wear and take off at one’s own convenience, yet this is afforded to Kurek in his privileged status as a straight, Christian man.

    I think Derek Romney, over on Huffington, hits one issue on the head – over and over:

    While he experienced social isolation and a number of other marginalizing experiences, these were attacks on the false label he wore, not on who Kurek really is.

    Source

    It is easier to cope with negative situations, treatment and even abuse when you know you have the power and opportunity to stop them at any second – but then again as a Gay Teen in a bible thumping zone you may wish for ruby slippers and quick way over the rainbow ….. but there is NO Easy way out!

    For some the Closet is a joke – it is not a reality. As one commentator put it, Kurek didn’t spend each night praying to be either straight or dead because you were taught that the options were straight or hell! That meets the definitions of torture – and I aint sure he has had the pleasure of such experiences.

    The claims of Inspiration just ring false – and the way it has been done and handled just stink of money making venture. It’s as if he came across a copy of “Black Like Me” or “Soul Sister”, wondered if it had been done for the latest high profile abused – and Kurek did not use a college eduction to read either book critically – or read the criticism!

    In any case it’s rather sickening to see him being praised, lauded and interviewed over what It was like to lie and get treated nice whilst the reality of actually being gay is you tell the truth and get treated real bad.

    A Straight Guy Is Lauded for playing gay for a year and writing about it? I do note he claimed to have made sure he had a support network in place;

    The only people that knew the truth about what Kurek was doing were an aunt, a close friend and a gay friend who was recruited to play his boyfriend.

    “I needed protection to keep me balanced and teach me the nuances of gay culture and how they flirt, and to give me an excuse when guys hit on me,” said Kurek. – Source

    Apparently he was worried about how his mother would react – so he had three stooges on standby who could tell mommy it was all a badly considered social experiment. His experience is not as valid as he claims of present it. Real Gay folks don’t get to play with a stacked deck – three jokers in the wild! You play the high stakes game with the hand you have.

    Only certain types (Primarily Middle class, ill educated WASPs) thought that playing black for a year was a good jape and of sociological value …. and I have to wonder if they would be creaming themselves so much and clicking buttons on Amazon if it was “I Played Dyke For A Year”?

    Mr Kurek is being lauded as an allie and hero by Straight People, not gay people.

    ….and still there is a real nagging – nag – nag – nag at the back of my mind that I still aint got to the truth of why Kureks’ whole escapade has such a high Puzza about it all. I’m just waiting for him to come out of the closet for real …. and I even have to wonder which closet is involved.

    • Deanna Ogle says:

      I think we should be careful to question people’s sexuality in situations like this. It’s that same attitude that keeps people in closet longer, I think. That’s just IMO, though.

      I wonder if Kurek would be seen as such a good fellow if he had spent a year in a wheelchair playing a cripple to find out what it’s like? Would he have gone as far as the enemas – medical interventions – being patted on the head and being told he should shut up because he gets better parking?

      That’s why I think this book is particularly for the religious crowd and not the general public. The whole premise of the book relies on the assumption that being gay is a CHOICE. Otherwise, of course, it’s just like he faked having a disability or faked being a black man (which has already happened in an entirely different book). That’s partially why I think it’s a patronizing premise, but if you’re coming from a religious background you don’t have that base understanding that it’s not a choice. Doesn’t make it better, but I can at least see where they might be coming from a little better.

      As one commentator put it, Kurek didn’t spend each night praying to be either straight or dead because you were taught that the options were straight or hell!

      YES. That was something that Justin Lee brought up in the HuffPo Live panel. He said something along the lines of that Kurek never experienced how many LGBTQ people feel like their very existence is in opposition to god.

      Apparently he was worried about how his mother would react – so he had three stooges on standby who could tell mommy it was all a badly considered social experiment. His experience is not as valid as he claims of present it. Real Gay folks don’t get to play with a stacked deck – three jokers in the wild! You play the high stakes game with the hand you have.

      Definitely. Also, to be fair, he does talk about in the book how the only reason his mom found out was because a brother of his told her. Otherwise, he wasn’t planning on telling her to make himself feel better. I don’t know.

      Mr Kurek is being lauded as an allie and hero by Straight People, not gay people.

      That’s why I tried to be careful about which parts I praised. I did not praise his method, or the lying, or think that he should have used a method in the first place. I said I admired his empathy and desire to understand other people. (Which is actually why I took down the links for his book and website–because I just realized that looks weird if I don’t 100% suppor the book.)

      Very good points, MediaHound.

  2. @Deanna Ogle – as someone who has a lived experience spanning 4 decades on the front-lines of Queer Politics….. it’s extremely rare for me to question any person’s sexuality in Public. You seem to have mistaken the idea of coming out as only relating to sexuality. Outing and getting another out of the closet with a crow bar is not just an issue of sexuality.

    £3.18/$5.09 – the biggest waste and mistake I have ever made at the Kindle Store! I can’t figure out why so many are praising this trash – they seem to simply be praising an advertised premise and some quick googling for snippets to look erudite.

    I know many folks in the Kink World who have been most critical of a recent phenomenon caused by some Shades Of Gray – and they have been rather disturbed and even vexed by the portrayal of reality in what can only be called a banal and fictitious manner. Cross in the Closet is as bad, if not worse!

    In so many ways I have never encountered such a stereotypically perfect rendition of existence and the Queer Sensibility! It’s even more exquisitely crafted and unwittingly comical than Maupin’s “Tales Of The City”!

    How anyone can write with any seriousness “.. a handlebar moustache straight out of an ’80′s porn flick” – well it does raise many questions! One being when has the author been watching ’80s porn to note the tashes likeness? …. or is it just a Stereo Trope clattering to the floor.

    From Timothy Kurek’s website “I also want to stress that this is not a book about being gay. I am fundamentally unqualified to write that book. Instead this book is about the label of gay and how the consequences of that label shaped and changed my life.

    Sorry but the labels being thrown about with abandon across the pages are definitely poorly qualified – but not unqualified.

    Pity about how the Stereotypes have shaped the prose! As I wade deeper through the “Purple Prose” I keep having to deal with the Bludgeoning use of Stereotypes, Archetypes and Tropes …. and that is just the Introduction!

    The language used in the validations from supposed other writers and experts is also highly questionable. Apparently Kurek is like a second coming – he has played queer for a year and then is supposedly carrying knowledge about the Queer World that no one before him has ever encountered! …he goes undercover—accepting all the attendant moral and personal ambiguities—and gathers ‘intelligence’ that few heterosexual people have ever had access to.

    WOW! Queer Area 51 is no longer safe!

    I just knew that my straight friends should have copy righted and patented their comments from the morning after! Who was to know that there was such a lack of Intelligence about US Queers that it needed to be smuggled out under sequins, second hand girdles and such bad prose!

    Kurek’s repeated sexualised referencing upon women are …. well…. Uhmmmmm …. forced, as well as rather noxious.

    His comments about how as heat rises skin comes out and how he wishes lesbians would take their shirts off ….. well it will win no friends! But then again It’s impossible to find a single page that is not so forced as to leave the reader in need of Hernia Surgery!

    The Language, images and reported experiences are so formulaic as to be a book by cake mix – budget cake mix laced with vanilla flavour – and less than organic! It’s odd – but Mr Kurek writes about experience of the Gay Community going back 6 years … but seems to have only encountered stereotypes and Caricatures at every step. He does seem to be so Unfortunate in his lack of experiencing and encountering the authentic!

    I have to ask ……. Have they opened Disney Queer yet? I keep wondering if this book is a promo!

    … the prose is so well crafted around the stereotypes and well trodden narrative devices that I do wonder ……. and I have yet to hear of anyone who when they go Gay Clubbing for the first time is immediately set upon by some half naked guy in Baby Oil and Glitter and ridden like Trigger with Roy Rogers on Acid!

    ” Before I can respond, I feel a man’s hand gripping my wrist firmly, and I begin to panic. Adrenaline courses through my body and my legs feel unsteady, like they are about to give out beneath me. I am unable to free myself and the shirtless man aggressively pulls me onto the dance floor in the adjacent room. I never stood a chance”.

    I never even saw that one for real in my mad cap nights of trawling between “Bangs” and “Heaven” (1980′s London at it’s hedonistic best) .. and then on to other global venues over 30+ years! Hell – whoever is doing the marketing for Clubs in Nashville needs to be fired! It’s the best kept secret in Global Pink Tourism!

    As I read on I have to wonder if there is Tipex on my screen covering up scripting instructions – and that’s whilst I battle with induced flashbacks from Passion Of The Christ crossed with The Waltons all in Drag – “Nice Frock there Jim Bob”!

    “….shirtless man aggressively pulls…” What? has Kurek never heard of “Just Say No”? How about “Excuse me”, or is there some implication that the sound system in Gay Clubs break every known sound control audience on the planet so no one can hear you scream!

    Going into a Gay Club/Venue does not magically remove agency or free will! …. and I can’t find anything in The Bible that implies it either! In fact if it was in the Bible IT would just show how wrong God was over Sodom and Gomorrah.

    The poorly written implications of lack of agency Is either a personal issue or a frankly abusive literary device …. like telling GAY people if they enter a church they will be dragged kicking and screaming to the Font and bodily immersed until they are either saved or die by good grace and drowning – water boarding for Jesus.

    Dragged so willingly onto the dance floor – IN ANOTHER ROOM (Couldn’t you manage to grab the door post like Sigorney Weaver in Aliens as she’s sucked out into space … and fighting off the Alien Queen at the same time) -… and if you read on, it just gets better “ …. I feel my body forcibly turned around … I stare at the mirrors on the walls, reflecting an image of utter violation that causes my stomach to turn. ….. The shirtless man now behind me rides me like a cowboy. I struggle to understand why he thought I would make a good horse – or dance partner.”

    And just when you believe it’s impossible to get any more on top of the cake, here’s The Cherry!

    “…. I fell like a Jackass as I loose my precious innocence.”

    WOW – never stood a chance in protecting his precious innocence! It’s just Too Delicious! …. I can see so many salivating as they read!

    He goes out clubbing for the first time and is aggressively pushed about by a shirtless muscle marry …. on the dance floor – with body oil, glitter and all….. what a way to loose your innocence and in such a precious way?

    Evidently us GAY men have mystical powers over Bible Thumpers we just don’t know we have – and we can just lay on hands and mystically steal innocence as we impersonate Roy Rogers! I’m wondering how it will play on Global TV when I manhandle the Pope on the Vatican Balcony – and should I wear me Village People cowboy hat or not – Glitter optional?

    If there was a video of such lost precious innocence it would go Viral quicker than you could imagine! … and if he could get that Oil Covered Glitter Fiend under contract and with glitter on tap, I known many people who would pay good money for the experience! It could be franchised globally!

    The coincidental segues of stereotypes across the page just go on and on! I keep looking for Laurel and Hardy hidden in the punctuation marks.

    … and Kurek even claims a second time that he has no agency or power “… I was pretty aggressively forced into an uncomfortable situation by a guy.”

    Aggressively forced ? … he says to the Pseudo Boyfriend “Shawn” who magically agrees to act as Protector. Shawn is Black – Big – comes with mystical wisdom and is always available by phone – is conveniently single and asexual! Again I can think of many who will want that number …. Shawn’s dance card is to be filled! Who can resist a man of mystery?

    I still just can’t put my finger on why this book leaves me so …… “Uneasy”! Maybe it’s how even the Boyfriend Figure of Shawn is written as such a “Magical Negro” figure, and literary device, that Spike Lee and myself are wondering why he was not just called John Coffey and be damned. I mean it is even commented that it’s The South, so going out with a Black man is killing “..two birds with one stone..”.

    I’m looking for the Mockingbird or some other cute small animal connected to slaughter!

    I do have to wonder at why there are so many comments about what people are wearing – it’s worse than Vogue!

    Is “tight t-shirt” some US centric Jargon for Flammer – Limp Wrist – Social Deviant? Is the Minister having “Spiky Hair” code for some peccadillo – and will some Pouf have to play straight and bible thump for a year to uncover the code and smuggle it out …. maybe get a Pulitzer?

    The Minister has Spiky Hair – what could it possibly mean and why does it have to feature?

    Hmmmmm! I’m still wondering about the root of the disquiet I sense – but the words sham and “Where’s the bloody editor” are ringing so loudly on my ears it makes it hard to concentrate and read further! I’ll let you know If I get to the end of the prose, without either smashing the Kindle or gnawing my own leg off as a way to escape! … maybe a few more pages….

    And I have to wonder at the admission of Blackmail against a Gay man – accusing him is sexual assault – Todd his manager and the supposed admission of Criminal Harassment … “..we urinated on the door handles of Todd’s car and vandalised it with eggs”?

    “Paging the faggot!”?????? ( Location 1246 Kindle ). … and the second one is capitalised for emphasis!

    Sorry, but if he had written I sort of accidentally raped, her I’m sure there would be an outcry … but as a Queer Advocate I’m still wondering when someone admitting hate crime, blackmail and general illegality should be met with untold F###ing Opprobrium! Any ideas what the appropriate response is?

    That admission alone makes the rest of the book, should it even be real and valid, useless until that rather pertinent issue is addressed.

    I keep being shocked by the Gross Banality that is being peddled! …. and I have now started to gnaw my leg off! … I wonder if the book should be re-titled “Chicken Soup for Biggots – served with a side order of deep fried grace-Fil-A”?

    I’m starting to pray that my Kindle will be swallowed by a passing black hole …… and turning to random pages in the vain hope that I will find one that does have merit! I may be some time!

    Turning the page ….. F J H C – …… DO NOT READ THIS TRIPE! This book does not deserve the tolerance it masquerades behind!

    • Deanna Ogle says:

      You seem to have mistaken the idea of coming out as only relating to sexuality. Outing and getting another out of the closet with a crow bar is not just an issue of sexuality.

      Okay, I agree, I must be misunderstanding you. Can you elaborate a little bit more? I’d love to hear more about this. From what you’re saying, it’s an important distinction.

      …he goes undercover—accepting all the attendant moral and personal ambiguities—and gathers ‘intelligence’ that few heterosexual people have ever had access to.

      Yeah… Screw that. I just don’t agree with that. I’ve had plenty of access to that through being an ally and being a damn good friend to my LGBTQ friends. Also, I don’t think goin undercover for 365 days gives you any more access than if you were straight.

      Who was to know that there was such a lack of Intelligence about US Queers that it needed to be smuggled out under sequins, second hand girdles and such bad prose!

      That’s why it felt a few decades late. If this were the 1960′s, then fine. But 2012? When being LGBTQ is growing more mainstream every day? It’s still not perfect and still not widely accepted in many homes, but this has grown dramatically in the last ten years to the point where I think going undercover isn’t even necessary anymore.

      Kurek’s repeated sexualised referencing upon women are …. well…. Uhmmmmm …. forced, as well as rather noxious.

      Are you talking about the being innondated with hot women at the church section?

      His comments about how as heat rises skin comes out and how he wishes lesbians would take their shirts off

      I really thought that was a highly innapropriate comment. Even if you think it, you’re completely detracting from the view point.

      ” Before I can respond, I feel a man’s hand gripping my wrist firmly, and I begin to panic. Adrenaline courses through my body and my legs feel unsteady, like they are about to give out beneath me. I am unable to free myself and the shirtless man aggressively pulls me onto the dance floor in the adjacent room. I never stood a chance”.

      That section bugged me. Don’t show me how freaked out you were by some homosexual male media stereotype. Show me the PEOPLE that broke those stereotypes that changed your life! I’d be more on board if I heard more of those stories. :(

      What? has Kurek never heard of “Just Say No”?

      This is why I feel really weird about that section. That only enforces detrimental stereotypes of gay men –> they are aggressive, overly sexual people that are there to make you uncomfortable. I mean, I suppose that could have happened, but why not learn to interact with them sincerely? That’d be like a lesbian woman going undercover as a straight woman and needing a boyfriend to shield herself from some guy. I don’t know.

      Going into a Gay Club/Venue does not magically remove agency or free will! …. and I can’t find anything in The Bible that implies it either! In fact if it was in the Bible IT would just show how wrong God was over Sodom and Gomorrah.

      Can you expand on this thought a little bit more? Also, as a side note, the condemnation of homosexuality in Sodom and Gomorrah is actually a mistranslation. They weren’t talking about GAY behavior–the original text was talking about inhospitality and RAPE of all visitors to the town. So, if that helps anything…

      with body oil, glitter and all….. what a way to loose your innocence and in such a precious way?

      Exactly. I understand this was at the beginning of the book, but that section DOES NOT help dismantle gay stereotypes. Also, innocence? Sorry, if some guy tries to hump me on the dance floor that doesn’t kill my innocence. That’s just a douche not respecting my boundaries. Also, I should have said no before getting to the dance floor.

      Evidently us GAY men have mystical powers over Bible Thumpers we just don’t know we have

      LOL. I thought your Sigourney Weaver reference was hilarious!

      Shawn is Black – Big – comes with mystical wisdom and is always available by phone

      Another section that doesn’t help stereotypes. Also, doesn’t having a fake boyfriend prevent real interaction with the people he’s going undercover to interact with?

      I still just can’t put my finger on why this book leaves me so …… “Uneasy”!

      I haven’t figured it out either. It’s irritating. It makes me uneasy too for some reason.

      The Minister has Spiky Hair – what could it possibly mean and why does it have to feature?

      I don’t think there’s anything much there… Other than referencing the oft reference stereotype within the evangelical/megachurch culture of the metrosexual worship leader. Which in itself is kind of… I don’t know. Kind of a rude stereotype. Oh! You look slightly like what I imagine to be gay! You must be a worship leader! Bah.

      “Paging the faggot!”??????

      Isn’t that a memory?

      but as a Queer Advocate I’m still wondering when someone admitting hate crime, blackmail and general illegality should be met with untold F###ing Opprobrium!

      Oof. I didn’t think about that. Is this a repentance of his past crime?

      “Where’s the bloody editor” are ringing so loudly on my ears it makes it hard to concentrate and read further!

      Did you notice his use of “dame”? It seems like the heirarchy is woman < classy woman < dame. Lol

      • You seem to have mistaken the idea of coming out as only relating to sexuality. Outing and getting another out of the closet with a crow bar is not just an issue of sexuality.

        Okay, I agree, I must be misunderstanding you. Can you elaborate a little bit more? I’d love to hear more about this. From what you’re saying, it’s an important distinction.

        OK – I have waded through as much of this trip as I could manage – having gnawed off both legs and one arm as the only way to deal with the excruciating horror that has been committed against World Literature. (You may have guessed by now that I am no fan of the book P^).

        When you remove the Steroptypes – remove cliche in all forms ( Image – style – language chosen ) – erase the supposed central premise of the tall tale, you are left with what many would see as Irrelevances – Irrelevant comment and irrelevant observation by the author. They are only irrelevant if you take the claims of the author as true as to the motivations of the escapade and book!

        The Irrelevances are interesting as they are all about Image – body – clothing – appearance – sex – sexuality …. (For heaven sake, even the coffee comes out “Velvet”) and I come to the conclusion that the Author has some rather significant issues about body image which have been hidden under an oversized and highly conflated Rainbow T- shirt.

        Now aint that a kick in the rubber parts – coming out of the closet, when in reality you have closet issues.

        As far as I am concerned this book should not be promoted under any circumstances, as it is fundamentally dishonest, misleading and damaging on more levels than I care to go into!

  3. Jeff Straka says:

    Just wanted to pass on a few details on Tim and his book. He implies that the book came AFTER the “experiment”, just sharing his experience. It seems that the “experiment” was more about writing a book that sells. 2009 was the year that the experiment supposedly took place. His blog on April 9, 2009 seems to tell a different story: http://theevolutionofgod.wordpress.com/2009/04/02/life-update/
    Also, during 2009, it appears that he did not put his “straight” completely in the closet:
    http://timothykurek.wordpress.com/2009/10/13/the-most-important-blog-ever/
    And during 2009, he was already hanging out with a progressive/emergent Christian group called the Outlaw Preachers. Check this 2009 podcast where he sure doesn’t seem to be pretending to be gay:
    http://www.khad.com/post/161278401/precast-tim-kurek-matthew-paul-turner
    Just wanted to give a little insight into the real story.

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