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Straight Christian Author Pretends to be Gay for New Book


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Sounds interesting, sort of like Gentleman's Agreement or Black Like Me for a new generation:

Raised and educated in the heart of the Bible-belt, I didn’t look at certain groups of people as valid or respectable. Liberals, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, I was taught to convert them all. But there was one people group I looked down upon more than any other. For me the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community represented the worst of what sin had to offer, and I treated it and them with extreme prejudice. I was a bully, a bigot, and a modern-day Pharisee.

After an acquaintance came out of the closet, and was kicked out of her home and cut off from her family, something unexpected happened. For the first time in my spiritual life I began to question why I believed what I did about homosexuality. Were the warnings we always got about gays and lesbians based off of theological fact, or conservative, social stereotyping? And the voice inside of me judging my poor friend for coming out, was that “the Spirit†inside of me, or something else entirely?

I had to find out for myself.

I had to learn empathy because sympathy simply wouldn’t be enough to challenge my years of programming.

I needed to see how the label of gay would change how I was viewed by everyone around me, and if people would treat me like a second-class citizen for no other reason than that they believed I was gay.

And I needed to feel the isolation and repression of the closet… as much as I would be able.

In January 2009 I entered the closet a straight man and came out to my friends and family as a gay. I lived with the label for an entire year. After my life as I knew it had quickly unraveled into nothing, I began building a new one. I became a barista at a gay café. I played in a LGBT softball league. I protested in New York City with a group of gay activists that I had encountered years before while I studied Liberty University. And I even participated in a marriage equality event with the son on Jim and Tammy Faye, Jay Bakker. For a year I immersed myself, completely and utterly, in the small gay scene of Nashville, Tennessee, and experienced firsthand the agony of being isolated, repressed, and alone.

My book is the result of that year and it tells the story of the men and women that challenged, and ultimately changed my life’s path. It is a book about faith, and a book about doubt. But mostly it is a book about people, and how the men and women I’d always been taught to shun ended up saving my life.

http://www.indiegogo.com/timothykurek

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-elerick/jesus-in-drag-straight-christians-comes-out-for-book_b_1569051.html

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My first thought was a sort of "is this Grey Owl thing where he just wants to screw with people?" but it sounds like an interesting experience and that he's done it to learn more, grow as a person and hopefully help change the minds of people like the ones he was raise around.

Also I love the trailer where he tags himself as "writer, recovering pharisee".

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I'm cynical about Christianity in general so I'm not holding my breath for a real change of heart, but I give the guy mad props for actually trying to understand a maligned segment of the population.

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I'm a gay Christian and while I appreciate his efforts to understand LGBTQ folks, it still feels...I don't know. Christian groups need to let LGBTQ people speak for themselves, and I also dislike that to be 'gay' he felt he had to do 'gay lifestyle' stuff. I go to church more than I go to gay bars, but it doesn't mean I'm not properly gay. Even straight people who are identifying as gay cannot understand the experience of LGBTQ people because the internal stuff is as important as the external. While I appreciate the sentiment behind his actions, it seems incredibly heterosexist and self-centered of him to think that his experiences are what matter when he could have just interviewed actual gay people. Could he not have found any gay people at his church? There must be some even if they're in the closet, and he could have done it anonymously.

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I find this author's idea rather dickish. "I think I'll pretend to be gay so I can write a book about it that ends up defending my position of white, male, hetero privilege!" There is no way he can understand what it's like to be gay- since all along he knew he could have his prized position back the moment he came back out of the closet and said, "Psych! Just kidding! Won't this make an awesome book?"

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This guy wants to be such an upstanding citizen that he lies to everyone he meets for an entire year because it's somehow impossible to get this info by any other means such as, I don't know, maybe being honest and actually having the balls to simply be open about what he wants to know and bring his questions to those in the LGBT community? So much fail.

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eh....doesn't totally sit well with me. Maybe next year he can be a fake jew?

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The LGBT community doesn't need a faux gay xtian speaking for them. The discomfort the author felt at coming out to his parents, i.e. lying, has little to with the real experiences of millions of people in this country. Discomfort is far from the toxicity that families impose on their LBBT relatives when they come out. This 'discomfort' isn't something that will only last a year, because he has the option of saying 'just joking'. Many LGBT individuals find after time that no matter how hard they try they sometimes must sever some family relationships as a matter of their own mental health.

The man played with being queer for a year. BFD

I wouldn't read this book if it were free.

riffle

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snipI wouldn't read this book if it were free.

This book, no. I am, however, curious about what happened when (rather, if) he came clean to all the people he lied to for a year. I can't imagine everyone in the LGBT community he feigned to be a part of for a year thought what an awesome thing it was that he took what can be such an incredibly difficult experience for so many people and essentially turned it into a mock-u-mentary for his own gain. Hmmm, I won't buy the book, but I would love to know if he ever broke the news to the LGBT community that he'd been lying or if he simply left the community never to be seen from again. Clearly I haven't read the book - for all I know it ends with him coming clean. Even if he did, it's an incredibly douchebag thing to do.

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The LGBT community doesn't need an xtian speaking for them. The discomfort the author felt at coming out to his parents, i.e. lying, has little to with the real experiences of millions of people in this country. Discomfort is far from the toxicity that families impose on their LBBT relatives when they come out. This 'discomfort' isn't something that will only last a year, because he has the option of saying 'just joking'. Many LGBT individuals find after time that no matter how hard they try they sometimes must sever some family relationships as a matter of their own mental health.

The man played with being queer for a year. BFD

I wouldn't read this book if it were free.

LGBTQ people DO need Christians who are also LGBTQ speaking out. Being gay and being a Christian (or from any other faith group) aren't mutually exclusive.

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There is a strong literary history of writers assuming roles. One of the most recent is the Roose work: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/2 ... 90124.html.

What I think we might look look at is the difference in perspective between Roose and Keurek. Roose very clearly entered Liberty as an objective participant-observer whose goal was to produce a publication from the perspective of an insider. I have read Roose, and found it acceptable.

Keurek, on the other hand, while also a participant-observer, was not the objective observer. Rather, he appears to have wanted to experience what it felt like to be an outsider. I have not read Keurek, but surmise it to be more along the lines of Black Like Me. If he is legitimate, Keurek assumes a much more challenging role than did Roose. I'd like to read it.

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Personally I think the LGBTQ community could use as many people speaking out for them as possible, people from every walk of life.

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LGBTQ people DO need Christians who are also LGBTQ speaking out. Being gay and being a Christian (or from any other faith group) aren't mutually exclusive.

I forgot to add faux gay. I swear I proofed it six times.

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Guest Anonymous

I am a bit wary about the idea of a person in the position of privilege (in the majority, etc.) "dipping their toe into the waters" like this. Let's be honest, this for solely for his own personal benefit both in terms of getting a book out of it and as a growing experience for himself.

Also, this quote bugs me:

I had to learn empathy because sympathy simply wouldn’t be enough to challenge my years of programming.

Why? Why? I truly cannot stand this idea that something has to effect you personally before you have any responsibility to face it like an intelligent, grown human being with feelings. It's like those conservative politicians who don't give a damn about gay rights until their child or their sibling comes out to them (and then gay rights is the only civil rights issue that they give a damn about because, hey, it's not like their kid is an immigrant or an ethnic minority or whatever!)

One of the worst things about this kind of topics is that it takes the voice away from the group involved by giving that voice to the person belonging to the majority. It's like that white German guy who pretended to be a Turkish Gastarbeiter back in the '70s. He became the go-to guy for information on the migrant worker experience because it was more comfortable for people to look to him, heaven forbid they ask an actual Turkish person!

OK, I've rambled long enough.

ETA: There are quite a few riffles in this but it's been quoted in full now so there's no point in changing them.

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I am a bit wary about the idea of a person in the position of privilege (in the majority, etc.) "dipping their toe into the waters" like this. Let's be honest, this for solely for his own personal benefit both in terms of getting a book out of it and as a growing experience for himself.

Also, this quote bugs me:

Why? Why? I truly cannot stand this idea that something has to effect you personally before you have any responsibility to face it like an intelligent, grown human being with feelings. It's like those conservative politicians who don't give a damn about gay rights until their child or their sibling comes out to them (and then gay rights is the only civil rights issue that they give a damn about because, hey, it's not like their kid is an immigrant or an ethnic minority or whatever!)

One of the worst things about this kind of topics is that it takes the voice away from the group involved by giving that voice to the person belonging to the majority. It's like that white German guy who pretended to be a Turkish Gastarbeiter back in the '70s. He became the go-to guy for information on the migrant worker experience because it was more comfortable for people to look to him, heaven forbid they ask an actual Turkish person!

OK, I've rambled long enough.

Um, doesn't empathy come from genuinely experiencing something? How does lying = developing true empathy? :doh:

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Um, doesn't empathy come from genuinely experiencing something? How does lying = developing true empathy? :doh:

When everyone thinks you are gay they treat you like your gay, including the homophobes. Is it exactly the same? No, but this guy probably knows more about what LGBTQ people go through on a daily basis than your average heterosexual person who decries the mistreatment of LGBTQ people.

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When everyone thinks you are gay they treat you like your gay, including the homophobes. Is it exactly the same? No, but this guy probably knows more about what LGBTQ people go through on a daily basis than your average heterosexual person who decries the mistreatment of LGBTQ people.

Point taken. Clearly I'm stuck in the "he lied to everyone for an entire year!" mode. ;)

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Guest Anonymous

CrazySister, I think that you were right first time. While he would experience the same things as a real gay person, including homophobia, he would always know that this was a learning experience that would end soon. That's a different experience than knowing that this is your real life and you might always have to deal with this stuff.

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The whole thing seems off to me as well. He might have had good intentions, but there was also the motive of the book and the publicity/money from it.

Also, he might be able to talk about how he perceives himself as being treated when people assumed he is gay, but it seems like he'd miss a lot of the stuff people who are really gay would experience - figuring out their sexuality if they are unsure or pressured to be straight, worrying about when to come out and who to, etc. Also, just knowing it was a project in he was gonna be all "lol, jk" in a year is totally different than someone who is going to be gay their entire life doesn't have that trump card to pull if/when family or friends are not accepting. It just seems wrong in ways I don't really know how to put into words.

Also, there are gay Christians out there speaking out and sharing their actual life experiences, and it seems like a stunt like this could detract from that. I could totally see people going to this guy for answers instead of bothering to read or talk to actual gay Christians about their own experiences, and that's screwed up because it's just another way of silencing a minority group and letting some dude from the majority claim to speak for them.

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The whole thing seems off to me as well. He might have had good intentions, but there was also the motive of the book and the publicity/money from it.

Also, he might be able to talk about how he perceives himself as being treated when people assumed he is gay, but it seems like he'd miss a lot of the stuff people who are really gay would experience - figuring out their sexuality if they are unsure or pressured to be straight, worrying about when to come out and who to, etc. Also, just knowing it was a project in he was gonna be all "lol, jk" in a year is totally different than someone who is going to be gay their entire life doesn't have that trump card to pull if/when family or friends are not accepting. It just seems wrong in ways I don't really know how to put into words.

Also, there are gay Christians out there speaking out and sharing their actual life experiences, and it seems like a stunt like this could detract from that. I could totally see people going to this guy for answers instead of bothering to read or talk to actual gay Christians about their own experiences, and that's screwed up because it's just another way of silencing a minority group and letting some dude from the majority claim to speak for them.

I think you hit the nail on the head. That's why this has rubbed me the wrong way.

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So instead of mansplaining, we have straight-splaining? Frankly, this is just gross on a lot of levels. A straight, white, christian, male is going to explain what it's like to be LGBT? Because he's dealt with a bit of homophobia, he can tell me what it's like? Call me when he's dealt with through the inner torment. The self loathing. The fear. When he's watched the younger members of his community made to feel so bad they don't think it's going to get better. Watching those kids and knowing how close it was to being you. Fuck that shit.

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So instead of mansplaining, we have straight-splaining? Frankly, this is just gross on a lot of levels. A straight, white, christian, male is going to explain what it's like to be LGBT? Because he's dealt with a bit of homophobia, he can tell me what it's like? Call me when he's dealt with through the inner torment. The self loathing. The fear. When he's watched the younger members of his community made to feel so bad they don't think it's going to get better. Watching those kids and knowing how close it was to being you. Fuck that shit.

If I had ten thumbs, they'd all be up. Very well said! :clap:

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From the author:

This is not a book about being gay. As a straight man I am fundamentally unqualified to write that book. Instead this book is about what I could experience firsthand, and that is to feel for myself how the label of gay would affect both my external and internal life.

This book is the story about my personal experiences immersed in the gay scene of Nashville. And while I was befriended by a wide variety of individuals, I would never consider myself an expert in gay, bisexual, lesbian, or trans issues. The book is about my personal journey out of prejudice and the people who taught me along the way.

I can see how it can all go terribly wrong if he tries to become the spokesperson for a group he has no right to speak for. But it sounds like he's trying to address the direct effects of Christian homophobia to the best of his ability. Yeah, it would be a realer experience if a Christian gay person wrote about being gay and a Christian. Or if a non-Christian gay person wrote about dealing with Christians. But I don't understand why this guy shouldn't try to experience as much of the hate as he can, even if his experience is limited, in order to try to convince homophobic Christians to be less homophobic. Can't all three books happen?

I thought Ehrenreich's "Nickle and Dimed" was worthwhile, even though she was white and well-educated and had a time limit to her experiment, as well as a book deal before she started. She stated the limits of her experience at the start and interviewed people who were in real financially-unstable situations. Seems similar.

I mean, the book could be terrible, and the guy could be all like, "Whoo! I'm white, male, and middle class, suckas!" but I'd read it before deciding that.

ETA: Too wordy.

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Also, he might be able to talk about how he perceives himself as being treated when people assumed he is gay, but it seems like he'd miss a lot of the stuff people who are really gay would experience

But, but, he worked at a gay coffee house and played on gay sports teams. Two things my gay ass has never done.

If he really wanted the 'gay experience' he would have had sex with a dude and liked it. That's pretty much the only requirement. Would've only taken a hour or two.

I thought Ehrenreich's "Nickle and Dimed" was worthwhile, even though she was white and well-educated and had a time limit to her experiment, as well as a book deal before she started. She stated the limits of her experience at the start and interviewed people who were in real financially-unstable situations. Seems similar.

Ehrenreich wasn't on religiously motivated quest. This guy was.

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