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US: Evangelical Christian man fakes being gay for a year as research for a new book

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  1. Honestly I applaud him he has taken the old adage “walk a mile in a man’s shoes” and actually applied it to real life.

    How many allies have actually made this sort of effort to get a first hand understanding of what LGBT people face?

  2. His family were happy to know hes not gay? Wow so they didn’t use that year long period as a chance to reflect on themself or change their way of thinking regarding gay people then.

    Perhaps it shows the limits of ‘pretending’ that you don’t have that NEED to get your family to come around because a year later you can go, “o it was all an act”…

  3. I personally like to always say that I am on the bi now gay later Plan, and I occasionally Dj for a lesbian bar, whic can be a bit daunting as a male in a womans hang out. I will say this… At least he made an effort to understand the lgbt point of view. Instead of hating them for their lifestyle preference. It is kind of sad that the second that the LGBT community found out that kurek was not gay, all the sudden they hated him. I thought that the LGBT community was all about equality, but yet lesbians go around treating most men like their gross because we have an extra appendage. And then gay guys are stereotypicaly Catty toward women.
    either way most of the LGBT community have written this guy completely out of their life, simply because he is straight. not unlike the way his parents wrote the guy off for saying that he was gay. I think that both sides need to do some self reflection on to why they harbor such hate toward the other side. Kurek Is obviously very …..

    1. I think it is because they feel like they have been deceived (which they have) how would you feel if you found out your friend wasn’t who you thought they were and you had spoken to them because you thought that they could truly emphasise and understand your position – I know i would be pretty pissed off knowing that all this time it was a lie and i would have never spoken to them about those kind of things otherwise.

      Its a trust issue and for many people he broke that.

    2. So obviously you didn’t read this paragraph:
      ” LGBT rights advocates were apparently divided on Mr Kurek’s actions, some pleased that it had a positive outcome, others saying that he should not have betrayed the trust of the LGBT community.”

      “divided”. It means that the community had different opinions about what he’d done. Not that every gay person asked condemned him outright.

      Also, noone has criticized him for being straight. Abuse of trust has nothing to do with sexuality.

      Your stereotyping of gay men as “catty” and lesbians as man haters is just as bad as the catholics who call us “… HIV positive, perverts and liberal pedophiles,”

      1. Mister Fister 5 Dec 2012, 5:18pm

        Well said Joel. The ‘catty’ and men-hating comments were unnecessary and inaccurate.

    3. Because stereotypes are a 100% accurate description of every single member of a community?

  4. GingerlyColors 5 Dec 2012, 7:03am

    And yet many gay people have to pretend to be straight in order to get on in the world, particularly in countries where being gay is either taboo or a crime.

    1. Yes, most of us have at one time or another had to pretend to be straight just to make it through the day or to our destination safely.
      I don’t really get this pretending to be gay for a year, it’s a bit like sending an avatar of yourself to infiltrate another group (like in the film Avatar) it’s definitely covert spying.
      I wonder if he’s already written any other books?

  5. Having read the guardian article several months ago this article seems to distort some of the facts. kurek lost many ‘Christian’ friends who he realises are not friends and has made many new friends within the lgbt community. his mother has made a huge u-turn and if memory serves me right joined her local pflag chapter.
    I wish pink news had read the book and commented on it rather than just reporting on an article. can’t wait to read it myself – it’s on my Christmas list

    1. Thank you; I’d wondered what his family and friends reacted like, and if this stunt in any way changed their views.

  6. I’m divided on this. Yes he tried to walk a mile in our shoes, but whilst I applaud him for making the effort I’m also reminded of the lines from Pulp’s “Common people” about the girl Jarvis met at St Martin’s college who wanted to live like common people:
    “rent a flat above a shop/ cut your hair and get a job/ smoke some fags and play some pool/ pretend you never went to scholl/ but still you’ll never get it right/ cause when you’re laying in bed at night/ watching roaches climb the wall / if your called your dad he could stop it all…/ You’ll never live like common people/ you’ll never do whatever common people do/ you’ll never fail like common people/ you’ll never watch your life slide out of view…”
    Try living as gay and confronting the prejudice without the easy get out clause.
    Wouldn’t it have been easier to talk to genuine gay people about their experiences and a little less patronising, or are we all congenital liers?
    As Jarvis said “everybody hates a tourist”

    1. The girl in Pulp’s song could ‘call her dad any time and stop it all’, and so could Mr Kurek. But he didn’t for a whole year – a year in which he tested the relationships of those closest to him and lost the opportunity to date as well – and that is commendable; he is also telling his story. He certainly got to see what it is like, and I hope he will open minds among those in his communities who have been brought up to hear only one version of the truth since childhood. Bear in mind also, in mid America, where you can go for miles without meeting anyone with different opinions, and where you are bombarded with religious radio and TV, you can be hermetically sealed from the outside world. If his book gets talked about and makes people think, then it’s a good thing. Let’s see! (The shop in ‘Common People’ was a sex shop called ‘Sven’ on Devonshire Green in Sheffield, I believe)

  7. Unfortunately this is what every Christian family hopes is happening–and Kurek has given them the formula for Believing. Maybe YOUR son is just pretending! I would feel betrayed if I were the family. And friends. I appreciate his effort, but I too wish he’d done something from within his situation FOR gay people instead of pretending to be gay and then running away from the evangelicals after he comes out. We need people to stand up within the community for us. Not everyone HAS to become gay to understand how it feels. It’s called compassion.

    1. That’s my thoughts on it too. It feeds into the notion that gayness is some lifestyle choice you can turn on and off like a fawcett.
      It’s a bit insulting to those of us who actually live it in the same way as it would be if Al Jolson had said to a black person “yeah, I went blackface for a year and sang some songs about ‘my mammy’, I really feel like I learned some important lessons about the hardship you face”.

      1. But what about if Al Jolson had lived in a poor black community for a year and experienced a different level of racism than, as a Jew, he had until then? Wouldn’t that have been interesting?

        1. I guess I can’t fault his intention which was to gain a deeper understanding of gay people, but going deep undercover to infiltrate ‘teh secret world of teh gays’ is a somewhat misguided approach.
          I mean he could’ve just asked us… we don’t bite. Much.

  8. I think too that it’s terrible that it takes a straight person pretending to be a gay person, to hurt others for his own research, just to speak for gay Christianity. Publishers, please publish gay Christians—not publicity stunts. Women of The View, have more gay christians who write come on your show and talk about their real experiences. We can tell you the real truth, not what we picked up in one year playing the game. As one other commenter said, Does everyone think we’re liars?

    1. I have a blog http://www.gcdiary.com, I would love to write a book…in fact might self publish one or something.

      1. Isn’t that called vanity publishing?
        A lot of people do it.

  9. I have a feeling we might see one more coming out from this man.

  10. Which gay man was he? The black one, the islamic one, the shy one, the closeted one, the beaten up one, the murdered one, the one disowned by his family (For life), the self hating one, the one bullied throughout his entire childhood? Or the one that played gay for a year?

    He must really understand it all now? Now he has his family back and his straight life back and his church back. His family didn’t change and his church didn’t change. He left, shouldn’t he have stayed and changed them?

    Sign my copy of your book please?

  11. Paul in Brighton 5 Dec 2012, 9:15am

    In many ways his book will give an insight into Evangelical Christian lifestyles, and their perepetual lie telling about LGBT people as opposed to the other way around.

    I don’t think anyone in bible belt needs to pretend to be gay to figure out how badly treated you’ll be, soley on the basis of your ‘evil’ sexual orientation.

    1. MerlynHerne 5 Dec 2012, 5:52pm

      I I would certainly hope not. The Religious Wrong makes it pretty damn obvious.

  12. I have read his book and spoken with him. Nice guy and I’m glad for what he has done for us. But I did wonder if he was in fact gay and hiding it.

  13. This article is massively distorted and biased in one direction.

    He has lost many friends and been disowned by parts of his family because he wanted to learn the truth about gay people rather than believing the nonsense from the Christians around him.

    His Mother has since become an advocate for gay rights and his book may go a long way to changing the views of other people who have been raised on religious bigotry.

    A lot of people would say that straight people don’t know what we go through, but when one tries he gets criticised?

    Wake up people.

    1. I agree with you, I don’t think what seems like a serious attempt to challenge preconceptions – his own and others’ – should be criticised, indeed I think it should be applauded.

    2. Mister Fister 5 Dec 2012, 5:29pm

      While having a difficult time trying to decide what to think about this story I must say I was sickened by his mother’s comments. I was gladdened to read your post about his mum’s radical change of heart. I have gone from being disgusted to hopeful within a very short time. It just goes to show that knowledge and understanding can conquer bigotry. If only more people could be like her.

  14. Seems like he did it with the best of intentions and outcomes. Though I find it hard to believe that anyone flirted with HIM.

    1. Hey Joe, you said, “I find it hard to believe that anyone flirted with HIM”
      I find that very interesting. Why and how do you come to such a conclusion?
      Are there ways that homosexuals can differentiate between male behavior?

      1. There’s ways we can all see someone is darn bug ugly.

  15. Paul in Brighton 5 Dec 2012, 10:02am

    How about white people go around and black themselve up for a year pretending to be black and infilitrate London’s black youth, gang culture and write a book about it…

    Or how about, Black people go around and pretend to be white for a year..

    All this is patrionising crap and dangerous rubbish at that.

    We don’t need what appears to be a grossly overweight, fame-seeking Evangelical Christian to come and tell us what it’s like to be queer.

    1. He’s not telling US though is he.

      He’s telling other Evangelical Christians, which is a positive thing.

  16. I dunno, to me it seems like the most elaborate exercise in self-deceit.
    He so wanted to experience the gay “lifestyle” that he constructed this weird framework that let’s him dip his toes in but has a built in ejector seat if it doesn’t quite work out as he had hoped first time round.
    This exercise probably says more about him than either evangelicals or gay people generally so I hope he does some serious self-examination while he’s writing his book.

    1. Hey Pavlos. Do you disagree with serious investigative reporting? Many times the way to find a certain unknown element is to go completely underground and live like the subjects you’re examining/searching out for detailed information.
      Too many times the picture we have is very biased, one-sided and not very deep. So what I would like to see is for a homosexual to act like a “Fundamental Christian” and to produce insight as to their handling of homosexuality. That’s not to say to inflitrate any Christian organization, but a truly Fundamental Christian group who truly follows the teachings of Jesus Christ, because in my opinion too many “Christian” churches/organizations are anything for dedicated followers of Jesus Christ — there’s a world of difference between True Christianity and professing Christian religion – and that’s wherein the confusion and error is obvious.

      1. ‘”So what I would like to see is for a homosexual to act like a “Fundamental Christian”’

        With respect, Hank, I’d hope no gay person would be so cruel as to act like a fundie. Fundamentalism is hardly admirable, and ‘sticking to the bible’ is usually just an excuse for prejudice, hate and downright nastiness.

        And no, I do NOT believe fundamental chiristians “follow the teachings of Jesus Christ”. Most of them are as far away from the teachings of Jesus as it’s possible to be. I find them abhorrent and I’d no more pretend to be one than I’d pretend to be a torturer.

  17. casparthegood 5 Dec 2012, 11:43am

    I doubt if ANYONE will ever fully trust or believe him again. Glad about the unforseen outcome though

  18. I’m horrified with people’s reactions to this. Can’t you just accept that this guy wanted to find out first hand (as close to the truth as he could) what it means to live as a gay man? I want to rail at the screen whenever I see someone saying he has always been gay. Who the hell do you think you are to question someone else’s sexuality?
    Also, I’ve seen a couple of comments suggesting he was some kind of covert spy or something. That is just ludicrous. Lastly, this idea that he has somehow hurt the people he met by lying to them about his sexuality. Seriously? You’re going to play the “We accepted him when we liked his sexuality but now we know it’s different from what we thought we will reject him” card? The same card that we all have to deal with when we come out? When we have to realise that the people who will accept us for who we really are are the ones who matter and those who care about our sexuality are not worth our time.

  19. “He also “came out” to his mother, who once had reportedly written in her diary that she would rather be diagnosed with terminal cancer, and be given three months to live, than to have produced a gay son.”

    That is so, so sick. If that’s the level of ignorance and prejudice amongst some evangelical christians then even if he chnaged the mind of one person, it’d be a help.

    I’m still in two minds about this though. On the one hand, I’m glad he has more understanding and empathy for LGBT people, but on the other I do wonder why he couldn’t just have used his imagination and innate empathy.

    As someone said above, maybe it was a conscious or unconscious testing of people’s reaction to him if he were to really come out.

    But perhaps he thought if someone his family and friends knew to be a good, reliable person (him) came out then they’d realise that what they believe about LGBT people is wrong and prejudiced.

    Hmm…still can’t make my mind up about this.

    1. I think he’d have left himself even more open to accusations of being a ‘tourist’ or of being patronising if he hadn’t gone undercover, as it were. It’s not really that dissimilar to Norah Vincent, is it? And I believe that book had some really interesting aspects to it. (I’ve only read a feature article about it, not the book itself.)

      http://www.amazon.co.uk/Self-made-Man-My-Year-Disguised/dp/1843545047/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354712522&sr=8-1

      1. Thank you for the link, Rehan. I’d heard about her but I’d never seen the book. Reading through the reviews there reminded me that there was a TV programme a while ago where people disguised themselves as a person from various groups that might experience prejudice. One of them was an old person, I think, and a disabled person, but I can’t remember what the programme was called so I can’t look it up. It was on Ch4, I think though.

        I guess I think there might be an element of ‘entertainment’ in all these cases and that makes me cautious. To me, a compassionate human being should be able to use empathy to understand probelms or issues that they personally might not have experienced, and if they can’t do that then that shocks me a little. However, if Timothy Kurek’s book helps those who might NOT be able to properly empathise, or have stopped themselves from doing so because of their own prejudices, then that can only be good. Sad some of his family didn’t get it though.

        1. I know what you mean Iris, but I think to commit oneself to a year-long immersion is on a different level to the C4 series (though the intention there was surely a good one too).

          As an aside, one thing Vincent said in an interview really struck me: that as a gay woman she’d never felt able to stare appreciatively at another woman in the certain knowledge that the attention was welcome, as she was able to do when passing as a man.

          1. Did she say that? Blimey :o I don’t know very many women at all who like being stared at by men, neither straight or gay women. I hate it myself but not because of my sexuality. I always find the way men stare very forward in a somewhat aggressive/possessive way and that’s why I dislike it.

            The ‘doing it for a year’ is a good point and certainly shows commitment, I agree. I still can’t remember the name of that programme – it’s been driving me mad all afternoon :D

          2. I think she meant that, disguised as a man, she was able to show admiration without fearing a disgusted or puzzled (as opposed, perhaps, to just annoyed) reaction: I know what she means.

            Do you mean The Undateables?

          3. Respectful admiration is always OK, I find. Gay women tend to look at attractive women in a very discreet, courteous way (well, most of them) – not just because they’re afraid of giving away their sexuality, but just because they know how it feels to be ‘leered’ at. But, of course, the fear of revealing yourself to be gay to a stranger is always there in the back of your mind. I should read the book myself, I guess. :D It id look interesting and I’d like to know more about why she did it and whether it was as she expected.

            No, it wasn’t The Undateables, but thank you for that suggestion. It was older than that, some years old, and I think it MAY have had some celebrities in (but I could easily be muddling it with something else). My memory is approaching that of a goldfish more and more every year!

  20. “He also “came out” to his mother, who once had reportedly written in her diary that she would rather be diagnosed with terminal cancer, and be given three months to live, than to have produced a gay son.”. Oh! How sweet. Those LOVING Christians. Sorry – but they all need therapy to undo that vile, outrageous brianwashing.

  21. Oh dear. Another ‘gay, in denial’ brainwased nut-job. Religion has a LOT to answer for ….

  22. what’s a “liberal pedophile”?

  23. CreatedGay.Com 5 Dec 2012, 3:21pm

    I encourage people to read the book before judging the man. I cannot imagine how painful it would be to come out twice – as gay and lose friends and then to come out as straight and know that could result in losing friends.

    A book review can be read at http://www.createdgay.com/review/review77.html

  24. Jon "maddog" Hall 5 Dec 2012, 3:22pm

    For those of you who are asking “What if a white man disguised himself as a black man….” one actually did:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Like_Me

    As a white man born in Baltimore, Maryland I read this book in middle school when the civil rights movement started and it had a deep impact on me.

    1. That’s amazing.

      I also remember German investigative journalist Günter Wallraff, who immersed himself in the identity of Turkish immigrant Ali and worked at, amongst others, a mine, simply to find out how immigrant workers were dealt with.

  25. Jim Nashville Tn 5 Dec 2012, 4:08pm

    I am a 65 year old gay man have lived in Nashville for over 30 years …I can understand the statement about his family . ..and I like some of the others applaud him for what he did .. to be gay in a southern city is a unique thing .. there are 1000s of us living in small southern towns . and who are out ..
    for those of us who have negative comments to make . it always seems there are those who see the negative
    so it will always be .. but he changed his views and beliefs and moved to portland or there is more to the story
    I bet .. will be interesting to see

  26. gary r chapman 6 Dec 2012, 5:05am

    good for him!
    he’s taken an approach that not many “christians” would ever try and think possible, or even necessary. after all they’ve been soooooooooooo educated about gays!

  27. Regardless how you may feel about his methods the book would be an interesting read. To see how someone living a gay life from a straight persons perspective really sees lgbt culture and not just the right wing or liberal media that often perceived everything as fine or Hell on Earth.

    Yes he missed out on the aspect of trying to save a family connection however for a year he did have to live with the emotional knowledge and isolation that if he was different theough no choice of his own even though he knows as a person he hasnt changed only very superficial things have that his family cant accept him and his mother would rather die than acknowledge him.

    He may of said now it wasnt real and everythings happy and ‘ normal ‘ but Im not sure a reaction or treatment like that can be forgiven.

  28. Gay Activist Paul Mitchell 8 Dec 2012, 11:28pm

    You can not fake being gay – in much the same way as a heterosexual woman can not fake it!

    I AM NOT BUYING IT!

  29. “As part of convincing people that he was gay…Mr Kurek… found a job as a barista in a café.”

    Is making coffee now gay? Or only instant coffee? What about tea? I guess i can hit on every man i see working in costa now.

    1. Harlequin 1 Feb 2013, 2:14pm

      The original article states that he worked “at a gay cafe.”

  30. Harlequin 1 Feb 2013, 2:26pm

    His ‘The View’ interview is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_7T8F4Diqw and is worth a watch. Interestingly, he also compares his experience to ‘Black Like Me’.

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