Man spent a year pretending he was gay 基督徒扮同志一年 體會同志之苦 學習尊重異己

Thu, Oct 18, 2012 - Page 11

Timothy Kurek grew up hating homosexuality. As a conservative Christian deep in America’s “Bible belt,” he had been taught that being gay was an abomination before God. He went to his right-wing church, saw himself as a soldier for Christ and attended Liberty University, the “evangelical West Point.”

But when a Christian friend in a karaoke bar told him how her family had kicked her out when she revealed she was a lesbian, Kurek began to question profoundly his beliefs and religious teaching. Amazingly, the 26-year-old decided to “walk in the shoes” of a gay person in America by pretending to be homosexual.

For an entire year Kurek lived “under cover” as a gay man in his home town of Nashville, Tennessee. He told his family he was gay, as well as his friends and his church. Only two pals and an aunt — used to keep an eye on how his mother coped with the news — knew his secret. One friend, a gay man called Shawn — whom Kurek describes as a “big black burly teddy bear” — pretended to be his boyfriend. Kurek got a job in a gay cafe, hung out in gay bars and joined a gay softball league, all the while maintaining his inner identity as a straight Christian.

The result was a remarkable book called The Cross in the Closet, which follows on the tradition of other works such as Black Like Me, by a white man in the 1960s deep south passing as a black American, and 2006’s Self-Made Man, by Norah Vincent, who details her time spent in disguise living as a man. “In order to walk in their shoes, I had to have the experience of being gay. I had to come out to my friends and family and the world as a gay man,” said Kurek.

Kurek’s account of his year being gay is an emotional, honest and at times hilarious account of a journey that begins with him as a strait-laced yet questioning conservative, and ends up with him reaffirming his faith while also embracing the cause of gay equality.

Along the way he sheds many friends, especially from Liberty, who wrote e-mails to him after he came out asking that he repent of his sins and warning that he faced damnation. He does not regret their loss. “I now have lots of new gay friends,” Kurek said.

But it was not a straightforward journey. Early on Kurek decided to try to acclimatize to Nashville’s gay scene by visiting a gay nightclub. Entering alone, he soon found himself dragged onto the dance floor by a shirtless muscular man covered in baby oil and glitter. As the pair danced to Beyonce, the man pretended to ride Kurek like a horse to the disco music and called him a “bucking bronco.” It was all a bit too much, too soon. “I want to vomit. I need a cigarette. I feel like beating the hell out of him,” Kurek writes.

But soon things started going better. In order to avoid unwanted sexual passes from men, Kurek recruited Shawn to act as a faithful boyfriend and he rapidly became part of the Nashville gay scene. He explored gay culture and found it to be as diverse and interesting as any other slice of American life. In one gay bar, Kurek was stunned to discover gay Christians earnestly discussing their belief in creationism. “I found gay Christians more devout than me!” Kurek says. He became active in a gay rights group and wound up joining a protest outside the Vatican’s embassy to the UN in New York.

However, there was a cost to the experiment. In order to gauge his mother’s true reaction to the news that her son was gay, Kurek read her private journal. In it he found that she had written: “I’d rather have found out from a doctor that I had terminal cancer than I have a gay son.” But Kurek’s journey also became her own. Eventually she too was won over and changed her views. “My mom went from being a very conservative Christian to being an ally to the gay community. I am very proud of her,” he said.

Kurek also experienced firsthand being called abusive names. Though he himself had once called gay protesters at Liberty “fags,” he found himself on the other side of the fence of insults. During a softball practice session in Nashville, a man walking his dogs called Kurek and his team-mates “faggots.”

Kurek had to be restrained from confronting the man and then broke down in tears at the shock. “When I was first called that for real, I lost it. I saw red. I felt so violated by that word,” he said.

Finally Kurek’s journey ended when he revealed his secret life and “came out” again, but this time as a straight Christian. However, he says that one of the most surprising elements of his journey was that it renewed his religious faith rather than undermined it. “Being gay for a year saved my faith,” he said.

Kurek also said that he felt his experience not only should show conservative Christians that gay people need equal rights and can be devout too, but that it can also reveal another side of evangelicals to the gay community.

“The vast majority of conservative Christians are not hateful bigots at all. It is just a vocal minority that gets noticed and attracts all the attention,” he said.

(The Guardian)

提莫西‧庫瑞克成長於一個仇視同志的環境。身為一位生長在美國「聖經地帶」的保守派基督徒,他從小就被灌輸同志在神面前是令人憎惡的。他在其右翼(固守傳統)教會,將自己視為捍衛神的士兵,並進入素有「福音教派中的西點軍校」之稱的自由大學就讀。

當有一位基督徒友人,在一處卡拉OK酒吧告訴他,她是如何因向家人透露自己是女同志而被逐出家門後,庫瑞克開始對其信仰及教義,提出深刻質疑。令人驚奇的是,這位二十六歲年輕人,決定假扮一位同性戀,融入美國同志生活圈。

一整年中,庫瑞克在田納西州那什維爾的家鄉,戴著同志身分的這個「面具」過生活。他向其家人、朋友,以及教會表明他是同志。知道這項秘密計畫的,僅庫瑞克的兩位好友與一位阿姨─負責細察其母親如何應付兒子出櫃一事。庫瑞克請一位同志友人尚恩 ─庫瑞克稱他為「體型壯碩的黑人泰迪熊族」─假扮成他的男友。庫瑞克在一間同志咖啡館工作、流連同志酒吧,並且加入同志壘球聯合會,同時也保有其異性戀基督徒的真實內在身分。

庫瑞克將這項試驗的結果,結集成這本非同凡響的著作《衣櫃裡的十字架》。該書承襲例如《像我一樣黑》以及諾拉‧文森於二○○六年寫的《自製男人》的寫作傳統。前者描述一位六零年代白人於美國南方變成黑人的歷程,後者鉅細靡遺描述扮裝成男性的生活。庫瑞克表示:「為了融入他們的生活,我必須要有身為同志的經驗。我必須要對朋友、家人以及這個世界出櫃,表示我是一位男同志。」

庫瑞克描述他身為同志的那年,是一段充滿情感、真誠,且時而搞笑的歷程。一開始從一位嚴肅拘謹並質疑成性的保守人士,到後來在樂見同志平權的同時,也深化其信仰。

一路走來,他失去許多朋友,特別是在自由大學的朋友。這些人在他出櫃後寫電子郵件給他,請他懺悔自己的罪孽,並警告他會面臨詛咒。他並不遺憾失去這些友誼。庫瑞克說:「我現在結交許多新的同志朋友。」

這段歷程並未如想像中如魚得水。早先,為了適應那什維爾同志活動場合,庫瑞克決定造訪同志夜店。獨自進入夜店後,他立刻被一位打著赤膊、肌膚塗抹嬰兒油與亮粉的肌肉男拉上舞池。兩人隨著碧昂絲歌曲舞動,那位肌肉男隨著迪斯可音樂節奏,假裝把庫瑞克當馬騎,並還稱他為「彎背躍起的野馬」。開門見山就遇到這些,讓他有點招架不住。庫瑞克寫道:「我想要嘔吐。我需要一根菸。我想要打死他。」

不久後,整個狀況就開始好轉。為了避免其他男性對他示愛,庫瑞克徵求尚恩暫時扮演他的忠貞男友,此後他重複出入那什維爾的同志場所。他探索同志文化,並且發現該文化就像各層面的美國生活般,既多元且有趣。有次在一間同志酒吧,庫瑞克驚訝發現同志基督徒們,正認真地討論他們對上帝創造人類靈魂的信仰。庫瑞克說:「我發現同志基督徒比我還要虔誠。」爾後,他活耀於同志人權團體,甚至還加入一場在紐約從梵蒂岡大使館遊行到聯合國的街頭活動。

然而,這項實驗是要付出代價的。為了揣測其母親對兒子是同志的真實反應,庫瑞克偷看母親的日記。母親在日記中寫道:「我寧可從醫師那兒得知我是癌末,也不要得知我兒子是同志。」不過,因庫瑞克的體驗之旅,母親也親身經歷屬於她個人的一段歷程。最終,母親也被說服,並改變其(對同志)的看法。他說:「我母親從一位非常保守的基督徒,成為一位與同志社群站在同一陣線的支持者。我為她感到驕傲。」

庫瑞克在一開始也經歷他人用辱罵的言語稱呼他。雖然他在自由大學求學時,也曾親口稱同志社運人士為「fags」(對男同性戀的蔑稱),而他現在反過來感受到被污辱的痛苦,因為在那什維爾的一場壘球集訓時,一位遛狗男子就稱呼庫瑞克與其他球員為「faggots」。

庫瑞克當下自我克制不與該名男子當面起衝突,但言語污辱的衝擊,讓他眼淚潰堤。他說:「當我第一次親耳聽到自己被如此稱呼時,我失去自我。我怒火中燒。這字眼讓我感到如此地被侵犯。」

最後,庫瑞克的旅程在他揭露其秘密生活,並再次「出櫃」後畫下句點,只不過這次身分是一位異性戀基督徒。然而,他感到最驚訝的是,這段歷程非但沒有改變其信仰,反而還重建並深化他對基督教的虔誠。他說:「當同志一年,拯救了我的信仰。」

庫瑞克也表示,他認為透過他的經驗,應該讓保守派基督徒知道,同志需要平權,而且同志也可以像異性戀般虔誠;相對地,透過他的經驗,也可以讓同志社群知道福音派基督徒的另一個面向。

他說:「大多數保受派基督徒皆非恐同偏執者。只不過是那些少數愛對外放話的人,其聲音較易被聽到,並且較易受到關注罷了。」

(《衛報》/翻譯:林亞蒂)