After years of viewing the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community as the "worst of what sin had to offer," Tim Kurek wanted to find out what it was like on the other side. So he decided to wear the label "gay" for a year and is now recounting his journey in a book.
Jesus in Drag is the title of the upcoming book. Kurek, who calls himself a recovering Pharisee, is currently raising money to publish and promote his work.
The book, he says, is not about being gay; he is a heterosexual. Neither is it an exposé or theological treatise. And his aim is not to bash Christians or gays. Kurek says he simply wanted to experience firsthand how the label "gay" would affect his life.
"The book is about my personal journey out of prejudice and the people who taught me along the way," he says on his website.
Kurek grew up learning in the church that homosexuality was the ultimate abomination. From that point on, he looked down on the LGBT community "more than any other" group and treated them "with extreme prejudice."
His yearlong journey as a "gay" man began in January 2009 after his friend revealed to him that she had come out of the closet to her family and was subsequently disowned.
"For the first time in my life, I was moved enough to question that little voice inside my head that told me this precious girl crying on my shoulder wasn't abominable," he says in a video.
After that, the Portland, Ore., native realized he wanted to get rid of the "inner Pharisee" in him.
And the only way he could do so, he felt, was by learning empathy rather than sympathy.
When he "came out" to his family and friends, Kurek told The Huffington Post that his family did not disown him but couldn't accept him as a gay man either. They essentially "operated off the Christian cliché 'love the sinner, hate the sin.'"
"I realized that 'love the sinner, hate the sin' is almost as insidious as being rejected outright," he told the publication.
Throughout that one year, he immersed himself completely in the "small gay scene of Nashville" and participated in pro-gay events.
Kurek says his intentions with the book are not to "tell you what to believe." Nevertheless, today, he shakes his head at efforts to ban same-sex marriage.
In response to a commenter on Facebook who expressed belief in traditional marriage, Kurek argued that marriage "truly isn't a 'christian institution'" and that "marriage was created as a legal contract."
The commenter, Jake Elliot, agreed that Christians should not promote hatred or marginalization but said the LGBT community should not "force their rights on something that the Christians consider to be sacred."