A devout Christian who changed his views on homosexuality after spending a year living as a gay man has released his book, The Cross in the Closet.
Timothy Kurek, 26, began to question his beliefs when a lesbian he knew from karaoke night confided in him about her sexuality, reported ABC News.
Kurek claims to have reacted in the same disapproving manner as her family and felt afterwards that he had failed her.
He then made a decision to ‘listen to how she had been excommunicated from her entire family and everything that she knew’, in which he said he felt ‘moved enough to question that voice in my head.’
Kurek wondered what it felt like to be gay and alone, leading him to embark on a ‘spiritual espionage.’
He said: ‘It finally clicked. I needed to empathize and understand.’
No longer a homophobe, Kurek’s book unearths the journey that he undertook hanging out in gay bars, facing the disappointment of his family and the rejection from his friends.
Kurek claims the initial ‘revulsion’ wore off.
‘Early on if a guy pinched my ass, I would have punched someone in the face, ‘ but the hardest part he said was facing his parents, who were divorced.
‘There was always an elephant in the room. I snooped in my mother’s journal one day after I had come out and she’d written, "I’d rather have found out from a doctor that I had terminal cancer than have a gay son."
‘The thing that struck me most was the isolation. Before I came out as gay, I had a very busy social life. After I came out, I didn’t hear from 95% of my friends.’
Kurek who was raised to believe that homosexuality was a sin, unintentionally kept a diary in 2009 about his undercover year which only three people knew about.
These included his closest friend, his aunt and a male gay confident who he met at a Karaoke bar.
Kurek was taught the lesson of God’s wrath in the Biblical story of ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’ at his Nashville Christian church and said that years of instruction created an ideology in his mind.
According to the preachings of his church, Kurek said: ‘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.
‘You learned to be very afraid of God.’
Kurek wants to raise this problem as a social issue, one which is gradually becoming more accepted by the younger generations.
‘I want this seen as a people issue,’ he said.
‘When we are shunning people, we are shunning Fred and John and Liz and Mary. These are human people.’
He chose today, National Coming Out Day and LGBT National History Month to launch book sales and has pledged to give some of the proceeds to a charity that helps LGBT youths who are homeless.
Kurek says he hopes to change minds, not just in the Christian community but in the LGBT one as well, and to bridge the divide in the debate over gay rights.
You can view ‘The Cross in the Closet’ book trailer below: