Thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people weren't the only ones celebrating National Coming Out Day on Thursday. A Christian man from Tennessee appeared on ABC News to talk about his own coming out experience but -- he's straight.
Timothy Kurek "came out" to his family and friends and lived as a gay man for a year in order to experience what life is like as an LGB person. The Liberty College graduate told ABC News, "You learned to be very afraid of God [in church]... [And you learned] the loving thing to do is to tell my friend who is gay, 'Hey, listen, you are an abomination and you need to repent to go to heaven.' I absolutely believed in that lock, stock and barrel."
But four years ago a lesbian acquaintance of his relayed the story of how her family rejected her when she came out to them and Kurek was moved to take action.
"I feel God really kicked me in the gut," he said. "She was crying in my arms and instead of being there for her, I was thinking about all the arguments to convert her."
Soon after Kurek decided to go under cover and "come out" as a gay man.
"I came out to everybody! My friends, family, everyone," Kurek told HuffPost blogger George Elerick. "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."
According to the Guardian, Kurek even "got a job in a gay cafe, hung out in a gay bar and joined a gay softball league, all the while maintaining his inner identity as a straight Christian."
The only people that knew the truth about what Kurek was doing were an aunt, a close friend and a gay friend who was recruited to play his boyfriend.
"I needed protection to keep me balanced and teach me the nuances of gay culture and how they flirt, and to give me an excuse when guys hit on me," said Kurek.
While Kurek claims that after he "came out" nearly 95 percent of his friends stopped talking to him, it was his mom who initially took the experiment the hardest.
"I snooped in my mother's journal one day after I had come out and she'd written, 'I'd rather have found out from a doctor that I had terminal cancer than have a gay son.'" But he says she eventually came to terms with his "sexuality" and "went from being a very conservative Christian to being an ally to the gay community."
Kurek used his experience to write a book, "The Cross In The Closet," some of the proceeds from which he says he will donate to LGBT homeless youth centers.
"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,'" Kurek told Elerick. "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."