For Timothy Kurek, gays were nothing more than "fags" destined to burn in hell. A conservative Christian living in Nashville, Kurek was surprised when a friend came out to him as a lesbian. He was also moved—and decided to spend a year living under cover as a gay man. He "came out" to his mom, recruited a pretend boyfriend, joined a gay softball league, and found himself the victim of the same verbal assaults that he once unleashed on others, the Guardian reports.
Called a "faggot" by a passerby during softball practice, Kurek was so enraged that he had to be restrained—and burst out in tears. "When I was first called that for real, I lost it," he said. "I felt so violated by that word." In the end, he "came out" as straight again and wrote a book about the experience called The Cross in the Closet. He says his experience reaffirmed his faith and converted him into a gay-rights supporter; now he hopes others will follow. "The vast majority of conservative Christians are not hateful bigots at all," he says. "It is just a vocal minority that gets noticed and attracts all the attention."