Straight ‘gay’ American to speak at Christian conference
SYDNEY: A heterosexual man who controversially spent a year in America living “undercover” as a gay person to experience homophobia and discrimination firsthand will be one of the special guests and keynote speakers at a conference in Sydney later this month that will explore questions of faith, sexuality and life as a spiritual journey.
The Walk Home conference hosted by CRAVE Metropolitan Community Church will take place over the Australia Day long weekend at the Redfern Community Centre.
Its program features a number of LGBT allies including former mega-church pastor and author, Rowland Croucher, Perth peace activist Jarrod Saul McKenna and Melbourne pastor Matt Glover, who was fired from the Baptist Church in December 2011 for publicly supporting equal marriage rights.
Joining them will be US author Tim Kurek, who created plenty of headlines last October when he released The Cross in the Closet, a book that documented his year-long immersion into gay life and culture after being brought up as an evangelical Christian in Nashville, Tennessee.
After a close friend revealed to him that she was a lesbian, Kurek spent 12 months pretending to be gay, including ‘coming out’ to family and friends, getting a job at a local gay café and even enlisting a gay friend to act as his boyfriend.
The publication of the book saw Kurek become somewhat of an overnight media sensation in the US, including an appearance on the high-rating daytime TV talk show The View.
“I came out to everybody! My friends, family, everyone,” Kurek told Huffington Post last year ahead of the book’s release.
“I just knew that I needed to understand, as realistically as possible, how the label of gay might change my life. The social experiment itself demanded all or nothing.
“What I went through is NOTHING compared to the experience of the average gay and lesbian. They were never able to say ‘only 12 or eight or six more months of this before I get to be me again’.
“So what I consider to be the most eye-opening facet of my year was really only a glimpse of how bad the closet really is.”
The Walk Home conference is on January 27-28 at the Redfern Community Centre, 29-53 Hugo St, Redfern. For more information or to register, visit www.thewalkhome.info