Living Openly Gay As A Closeted Straight Man
reports Thursday that one 26 year old Tennessee "Gay" man came out, but the twist is that he's actually straight and Evangelical.
Nashville resident Timothy Kurek was brought up to believe that homosexuality was a sin. In his interview with ABCNews, Kurek reflected:
"You learned to be very afraid of God," said Kurek. According to the preachings of his church, "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."
Kurek said that he had so perfected his "life-in-christ" that others went to him for guidance and inspiration. It was during a period around four years ago he says that a friend, a lesbian, came to him shattered after her parents disowned her when she came out.
"I feel God really kicked me in the gut," he said. "She was crying in my arms and instead of being there for her, I was thinking about all the arguments to convert her."
Kurek's reaction to her heartache and distress bothered him to the point he says that he wondered what it felt like to be gay and so alone. Although his sexual orientation is heterosexual, he decided that he would explore that what it would be like to be a gay man for a year. "It finally clicked," he said. "I needed to empathize and understand."
~By 2009, the idea to go undercover, as a way of documenting and learning about homophobia, was born. For six months he plotted and planned. "I had to make sure the timing was right," he said. But one day, sitting in a café in a part of Nashville where the gay bars and Christian hang-outs intersect, Kurek had his first confrontation. While reading a gay-themed book, he became aware of the "snickers and sneers." "A guy came up to me when he saw the cover and said, 'You know that is fundamentally false -- you can't be gay and Christian,'" said Kurek, who responded, "I am gay and I love God." The project to become gay had begun for real.~ ABCNews Cross In The Closet:Straight Christian Lives a Year as Gay Man
Kurek wrote about his journey -- one that included hanging out in gay bars and facing the disappointment of his family and rejection of his friends -- in his memoir, "The Cross in the Closet," which was released today.
According to Kurek, 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 youth who are homeless. In his book, Kurek stays away from theology.
"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."
James Clementi & Off-Broadway's Cast of 'Bare' Encourage Gay Teens To Come Out
NEW YORK, NY -- Speaking to a small audience at the Snapple Theater Center in Manhattan Thursday, James Clementi encouraged other young people struggling with their sexual identity to come out. Clementi told the audience that as he grew up in Ridgewood, New Jersey, he did not know any gay people. He did allow that he suspected that his younger brother Tyler might also be gay but for himself, it took a while for him to accept himself.
While he was in college Clementi told the audience, he did come out to close friends, but he kept it a secret from his family for another seven years — even during the months after his brother's well publicised suicide two years ago.
"That was a very scary and difficult thing to do," he said. "I grew up in a very conservative evangelical Christian family. I always thought that my mom and dad would not accept my sexuality."
In an interview with the New Jersey Star Ledger, Clementi said he was often overcome with guilt after his brother's death, and often wondered what role his inability to come out might have played in it.
"At the time, of course I was thinking maybe if I had stepped up as an older brother and had been the one to do it first, it could have changed everything," he said.
While he now describes those thoughts as "irrational," he is determined to encourage all young gays to come out, not only for themselves but to support one another.
Since revealing his sexuality to his parents, they have left their longtime parish in Ridgewood, citing conflict with its views on same-sex lifestyles and relationships.
"Coming to people in your life, even with the fear that they may not accept you, that's the thing that actually changes people's minds, and I've seen that at work in my own family," Clementi said.
Clementi and his parents are now working full-time with their charity, The Tyler Clementi Foundation, to help prevent bullying, cyberbullying and to prevent suicide among young, gay people.
Clementi was joined in celebrated National Coming Out Day with the producers and cast of the upcoming off Broadway musical play, "Bare," which is about a secret love affair between two teenage boys at a Catholic boarding school.
"National Coming Out Day is so important to Bare and to our allies in the fight for LGBT equality," said producer Paul Boskin.
The musical, featuring music by Damon Intrabartolo and book and lyrics by Jon Hartmere, will begin performances Nov. 19, prior to an official opening Dec. 9, at Off-Broadway's New World Stages.
Today's event also featured speakers including former NHL star Sean Avery on behalf of Athlete Ally; activist Fiona Dawson on behalf of HRC; executive director Brent Childers and LGBT and women's rights advocate Roberta Sklar on behalf of Faith in America. In addition to James Clementi, Executive Director Steven Guy of the Tyler Clementi Foundation- was also included in the event- told the Star Ledger;
[...] "Acts such as Gov. Chris Christie's veto of a law that would have permitted same-sex marriage in New Jersey send a powerful message to kids — one that laws aimed at bullying or other discrimination can not easily undo. "When we talk about issues of bullying, it's really broad based, and you have to approach it as a societal issue," he said. "It's really about inclusion and recognition."
Clementi agreed, and noted that he nor his brother had any gay role models to help them through their transitions. Despite the tragedy of Tyler's suicide, he believes it could ultimately change the course for those facing similar adversity in the future. "Kids are taking their lives every day. Most of them don't have a voice or a face," he said. "Maybe he was the impetus to make change."