Timothy Kurek was once a prime candidate for a first-rate reading from yours truly: a homophobe hiding behind the Bible to justify his bigotry. But after a friend of his came out as a lesbian and was subsequently disowned by her family, Kurek decided to take a different road to enlightenment and empathy: he posed as a gay man for a year.
He came out to his family and immersed himself in Nashville's gay scene, going to bars, bookstores and clubs. In an interview with MSNBC's Tom Roberts--who is gay himself--Kurek, who's also writing a book about his experience, is asked a pertinent question (one that's probably been swimming laps in your mind by now): how can hanging out in the local gayborhood give him a deep, honest understanding of the internal day-to-day reality of someone struggling to understand and accept a part of themselves that has often been maligned and disrespected?
"I will be the first one to say that my experience is severely limited," Kurek said. "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."
Kurek's undercover experiment may rub some the wrong way; after all, he may have been a gay man in name, but he couldn't realistically go "all the way,"as far as having a sexual/romantic relationship with another man, or working to accept his sexual orientation because it wasn't truly his in the first place. And his family may have had to deal with his coming out, but not the subsequent realities such as meeting the boyfriend, having him get married, possibly adopting a child etc. But if his experiment opened his eyes and mind, then more power to him.
So what do you think there's a method to Kurek's madness. Watch the interview below and discuss.