When he started condemning a friend who came out of the closet, Timothy Kurek decided to walk a mile in her shoes instead.
Growing up in my legalistic Baptist church, homosexuality was a sin. There were hosts of benign sins that a good Baptist girl like myself could commit on a daily basis, but none of those sins were as grievous as homosexuality, which ranked higher on the “You’re Going to Hell” list even higher than “back-slidden”, an Atheist, or a Democrat.
Timothy Kurek grew up in this same environment. He too was told over and over as a child that these people were sinking to revolting levels in their lives and were perversions and abominations before God. He accepted those beliefs until one of his close friends came out of the closet to him. He pushed her away “like any good Christian should because of her sin”, but he knew something deep down inside something was wrong.
He said that for the first time in his life, he heard a small voice questioning those beliefs he grew up with. After thinking about his friend and realizing that his heart told him that this woman was not abominable, he knew he needed to get rid of his prejudices. As he put it, he needed to “shock it out of himself.”
So what did he do? There’s an idiom that says “Don’t judge a person before you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” In order to awaken compassion and cast off his condescending attitude, he decided to pose as a gay man for a year to try to understand the community that he had written off for so many years.
This is the basis of his new book due out in October, which is tentatively untitled. The book chronicles his coming out to everyone in his life, his experiences in the LGBT scene in Nashville, the incredible people he met, and how this year as a gay man changed his life and understanding of people.
In my opinion, sometimes in life there is a great need for translators: people who we trust that experience things and come back and tell us in our language what they experienced. I know Timothy personally and I truly believe that is what he is ultimately trying to do with this book. I think there is a specific audience who close their ears to the LGBT community when they talk about their pain, so someone like him plays a specific role in translating those experiences. He is able to break through traditional walls and bring the message of pain, suffering, and rejection to the people who often perpetrate it. This important because we often don’t understand other people’s pain until we experience a slice of it for ourselves.
Timothy is quick to remind everyone that he cannot fully understand the pain that the LGBTQ community experiences because he is not actually gay, but he has done his best to get as close to the heart of that community to help tell their story.
What do you think? Are his efforts towards understanding someone else’s journey honorable and worthwhile? If you are a member of the LGBT community, are you appreciative of someone risking everything to understand even a shade of your pain, or do you feel differently about it?
If you appreciate what he is doing and want to contribute, he is currently raising funds to pay for a good PR person to handle the recent burst of attention.
To see Timothy explain his book and reasons in his own words, view the book trailer.
Photo credit: “Jesus in Drag” book trailer, used with permission.