A conservative Christian man who attended Liberty University and protested vehemently against homosexuality was suddenly confronted with doubts and questions about his evangelical upbringing when a dear friend of his came out as a lesbian and was disowned by her family. The best way he knew to respond–and gain understanding and empathy at a deeper level–was to spend a year as a gay man. The tangible result of this experiment is Timothy Kurek’s The Cross in the Closet.
Kurek began the year coming out to his family, who had mixed reactions. In general, they were loving and supportive–trying to seek understanding given this sudden turn of events for their brother/son. Kurek also came out to people at his church and the response there was very different. He learned for himself what an act of courage it is to come out of the closet, saying that very act is one worthy of respect. Kurek also spends the year becoming part of the local gay/lesbian community, getting a job as a barista at a coffee shop and spending time at a gay bar and bookstore. Some of the experiences he has in these places are at times humorous and often heartwarming. Other times, Kurek learns what it means to be cast off or be seen as an abomination. He developed relationships he probably never thought he would–and learned that love is bigger than he’d originally imagined. Not only was he, as a Christian, called to love those he’d been taught to hate or condemn previously, Kurek also realized that the kind of love to which God calls us requires us to love people we may not like or agree with. He had to find love for the church he’d felt pushed out of as well as a church the likes of Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas.
This book was an eye-opening account of what it means to truly walk a mile in someone else’s shoes and the lessons that can be learned in doing so. It also challenges the reader to love–really truly love–others. To find the part of God that exists in every other person on the planet and love him or her for that alone. This book can also make you more sensitive to the experiences of our gay brothers and sisters–as well as anyone else on the margins–and hopefully, make you more compassionate. For none of us has a corner on the market of love.
Note: Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.