Friday, August 27, 2010

Crispin Blunt Comes Out

Well, I hadn't seen this one coming.



"Crispin Blunt wishes to make it known that he has separated from his wife
Victoria. He decided to come to terms with his homosexuality and explained the
position to his family. The consequence is this separation. There is no third
party involvement, but this is difficult for his immediate and wider family and
he hopes for understanding and support for them.

The family do not wish to make any further public comment and hope that their privacy will be respected as they deal with these difficult private issues."

When David Laws came out, I wrote this in a column in the Mail on Sunday...


... It’s healthy to be open and completely transparent, and I am sure that
now David Laws has taken that massive step to ‘out’ himself, he will wonder why
he didn’t do it years ago. But we need to understand why he didn’t before we
rush to judge him. Intensely private people - and yes, some politicians are just
that – recoil from talking about their sexual proclivities. There are some
things you just don’t do. We’re not Americans. We don’t like baring our souls.
And most of all we don’t like hurting our families. I know. I have been there.

I have wanted to be an MP all my adult life. But the thing that stopped
me going for it was my own homosexuality. I grew up in a small village, among a
community with very conservative views. Despite attending a left wing university
in the early 1980s, I did nothing to act on my ‘inner gay’. I went through most
of my twenties not acknowledging my own sexuality to anyone but myself, let
alone my own family.

In the mid 1990s I started a relationship with my now civil partner, John.
He would often visit my parents’ home and they all got on like a house on fire.
To my family he was my ‘friend’. Nothing more. But when I reached the age of 40
and decided I wanted a political career I knew I would have to be open. I
certainly didn’t want anyone to ‘have’ anything on me. Everyone told me that my
parents would already know. But they didn’t. It proved to be one of the most
difficult conversations of my life. I then told several long standing friends,
all of whom I felt I had let down by not having said anything before. No one who
hasn’t been through that experience can comprehend the trauma I went through
through. The same trauma David Laws is going through this weekend.

So I understand David Laws wish to remain private and not have to tell his
family. But in this age of transparency, openness, blogs and Twitter it is
simply not possible to maintain that veil of secrecy over such an intensely
personal part of your life.

It’s all very well for people to assert that times have changed and there
is a greater acceptance of different lifestyles in society. Of course that is
true, but it doesn’t make it any easier for family members with devout religious
beliefs to accept a lifestyle they have been taught is both wrong and will
result in eternal damnation. And that’s the same whether you’re a gay
politician, gay welder or a gay chairman of a FTSE 500 company. Just saying that
‘time have changed’ is over simplistic and ignores personal realities.




All of that and more applies to Crispin Blunt today. I'd love to think that this will not be a big story in the media, but I suspect my hopes are whistling in the wind. Quite understandably, many people will be thinking of Crispin's family, and the undoubted trauma they are going through. There will be a profound sense of shock.



But I hope people will also be able to understand and empathise with Crispin. Yes, there will be those who condemn him for doing this. They will ask why, if he has managed to suppress his feelings for all these years, why has he felt the need to 'come out' now? The answer is simple. Because he at last decided to be true to himself and face up to the man he is. For anyone to do that at the age of 50 is a very big deal. I did it at 40, and I can tell you that it was the most traumatic thing I have ever done - and I wasn't married with children.

There will be those who ask why, in this day and age, didn't he do it before. They forget that it's really only in the last decade that homosexuality has become almost totally accepted in this country. For those who have had a rural upbringing, or in Crispin's case come from an army family, it is just not the same as for those who have lived all their lives in metropolitan centres.

As the years pass, it becomes easier for everyone, but for those who are no longer teenagers, or even in their twenties, the longer time goes on, the more difficult it gets. You know you're living a lie, you know in your heart (but not always your head) who and what you are. You aren't ashamed of it, but none of your friends know. You feel you have lived a lie, and the longer that lie goes on, the more difficult it gets to do anything about it. You think if you suddenly announce it, you'll lose some really good friends. You don't, of course. Real friends stand by you and help you through it. If Crispin Blunt doesn't know this already, he will find out very soon.

Today will be the most difficult day of his life. For his wife, it will be the second worst day of her life. The worst will have been the day Crispin told her. I hope that the media will treat this story with a huge shrug and move on. But I wouldn't bet my mortgage on it.

43 comments:

jane said...

Friday afternoon, huh? One of the Sundays is after him then. That's how they do it. Poor Crispin. We were colleagues though did not really know each other, but I always thought he was rather a good egg. I hope he and his family come through this. I think of his wife too. Because I once nearly... oh, never mind.

The Duke said...

Of course it will be a big story, for at least a day or two. No voter cares in the slightest, to be honest I think most of us don't want to read stories like this anymore.

This will garner most interest in the political press, to be read by politicians.

Dull story, even the cat-in-a-bin lady is more interesting than this.

neilreddin said...

So he's gay.

So what?

Do people really still buy newspapers for this sort of stuff?

JuliaM said...

"For his wife, it will be the second worst day of her life. The worst will have been the day Crispin told her."

Let's hope, then, that it wasn't the same day!

Minnie the Minx said...

The fact that he's gay is not an issue. The fact that gays are massively over-represented in parliament is.

Gallimaufry said...

I have deep sympathy for his wife and children. I hope he is treated better than he treated Ian Duncan-Smith.

David Chiverton said...

How long do you think it will be before self-appointed 'homosexuality czar' Ben Bradshaw tweets commenting on it. Probably implying Blunt's phrase 'having to come to terms' shows how gay-unfriendly the coalition is?

Unsworth said...

I couldn't care less about Blunt's personal circumstances, they're entirely irrelevant. Naturally one has sympathy for anyone who is going through emotional upheavals, but we all do in one way or another. It's the human condition.

Much more importantly, is he doing a good job and is he compromised by this announcement? If the answers are yes and no respectively then who gives a stuff about the rest of it?

I think newspapers are beginning to understand that this is dross and nowadays really doesn't boost circulations as it used to. The Telegraph got it right - money is generally more interesting than sex.

Hayekian said...

Iain, whilst I agree with the majority of what you have said, especially in relation to the sympathy that should be accorded to his family, I can't help but bring up his record on gay rights.

The Public Whip has his "ambigious" record on gay equality legislation - http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/mp.php?mpid=40496&dmp=826


I think it's that kind of moral hypocrisy that puts many off the Conservative Party.

The Purpleline said...

Iain - once again you come at this sorry story with a bias, which is natural.

'There will be those who ask why, in this day and age, didn't he do it before. They forget that it's really only in the last decade that homosexuality has become almost totally accepted in this country.'

Totally accepted, in the media and politics it is almost compulsory now, there is definately an element of it being fashionable now to be Gay in certain industries to get promoted.

However, why I think you are 100% wrong is for the fact at the General Election he ran on a ticket as a family man. This was an obvious lie now, he was lying to his wife, children and more importantly the electorate who voted for him.

If you can be so secret about sexual preference then why not extrapolate that to lying to the public.

There should be an amnesty let all MP's come out and be counted. It will not hurt them but it will be an honest approach.

Iain- here is your great chance to usurp the Telegraph out every 'GAY MP' it will not affect how they do their job but it will stop parliament, the people's palace being perceived as some weird sexual deviant club.

P.S. I like Crispin i just do not like being lied to.

rob's uncle said...

Who is Crispin Blunt?

Macha Maguire said...

DO you suppose he'll read Spirit Level now and find his inner Lib-Dem? Can people defect within a coalition?

Always room for hope...

tapestry said...

Blunt was not loyal to IDS, openly attacking him in 2003 in favour of Portillo. Disloyalty is his special suit. I don't see why he deserves any sympathy. You get what you give.

Unsworth said...

@ Minnie the Minx

"gays are massively over-represented in parliament" Source, please?

Richard Baron said...

The good of society won’t be uppermost in Crispin’s mind today, but I, a straight man, still want to shake his hand and thank him. Those brave souls who, in the early days, fought for gay liberation, did the whole of society, and not just gays, a very good turn, by creating an acceptance of difference. Even today, those in public life who come out help to keep that acceptance alive.

Peter said...

This is a totally private matter unless he is unable to continue to do his job as a Minister and MP.
He should take a few weeks off to consider his position and then commit himself to his career or resign.

Libertarian said...

@purpleline

Sorry you lost me there, please explain why he can't be a family man because he has admitted he likes a bit of man on man ??

What has you sexual proclivities got to do with loving your family or not?

tapestry said...

I have no interest one way or the other in the sexuality of politicians, or others. It is private business. Gay is fine. Hetero is fine. No problem.

But in asking for loyalty or sympathy for such a matter as sexual orientation, I would demand first that the person requiring such support, should be able to demonstrate that they were loyal to their party.

I see that Blunt was disloyal. I really have no interest in his private life. But in his public life, in my opinion, he was an abject failure, and we could have well done without him.

Why emphasise his sexuality, when it was his serial disloyalty which mattered as far as his job was concerned.

Dick Puddlecote said...

He was campaigning with Philippa Stroud in Sutton prior to the election. Which paper will put the two news items together first? ;)

philfleet said...

Another good reason to reprint Ian Harvey's book which I have just read...and it is well worth reading

trevorsden said...

'He ran on the ticket as a family man'? He was a family man - a wife and children. He still will have his children.

We and you have no knowledge of anything else. I certainly have no idea how his sexuality was affecting him.

The plain fact is that if there is one subject which no one should risk pontificating and moralising on - its sex. Its ripe for turning hypocrites of all of us.

We are told no one else is involved. i guess we take that at face value, but I wonder if there have been homosexual relationships, just where we stand on the question of infidelity where it involves someone torn by sexuality rather than sex. In any case infidelity did not cost Paddy Ashdown his job or Robin Cook his, or Lloyd George his for that matter.

philfleet said...

Oh Lord - what must Cripsin Blunt have been thinking when he read this in The Guardian in 2002? For people saying he should have come out earlier, yes that's easy to say - but just imagine what must have been going through his mind when he read this...


The Conservative party's leadership may have been supportive of Alan Duncan but at grassroots level yesterday there was bewilderment and anger.
In the true blue Surrey town of Reigate, for instance, many Tories had harsh words for Mr Duncan and said they would not be happy to have an openly gay MP represent them.

Tony Collinson, chairman of the 1,400-strong Reigate Conservative Association, led the chorus of disapproval.

"I would not be happy if we had a gay candidate here - I would always go for a candidate who had a normal background," he said. "Our current MP [Conservative Crispin Blunt; majority 8,000] is happily married with two children."

He added that he thought Mr Duncan's announcement would "shock" a lot of people, especially older ones.

Many thought Mr Duncan should have kept quiet.

Association member Priscilla Rhodes said: "He should not have said it. He should have been gay and that's it. They all seem to have to come out - it's ridiculous. People know who they are, most men recognise who they are. I think it's drawing attention to yourself."

Another member of the association, retired surveyor Colin Vaughan, 55, said: "I come from an older generation where this sort of thing was deemed unspeakable. I think people will see it as unfortunate."

Conservative voter John Andrew, 75, a retired chemist, said: "If he's practising then it's unacceptable. If he's non-practising he's made a mistake in bringing it up. The Conservatives must have more people around that they can choose from to be MPs."

killemallletgodsortemout said...

Crispin, dear?

Gay, dear?

You don't say, dear?

Treacle said...

Like Iain, who is about the same as me, I’ve been there too. Remote rural upbringing in the 60s and 70s (universal denigration of “queers” in formative years), remote rural boarding schools, university, no girlfriends or boyfriends, not obviously gay, never married, unable to tell anyone I was gay until after the death of my mother in my 30s, and finally came out when I got to the point when I felt unable to carry on living. My plan had been to get through my whole life without anyone ever knowing. I only got half way.

When I came out, my father’s reaction was “Thank God your mother is dead.” He was right about that. He then became obsessed with the mechanics of gay sex. Not only had I never had sex myself, I had never so much as hugged another person in my life. I lost many of my friends (I had tended to associate with people who were themselves repressed, though not gay). One denounced me as sinful. To this day I still feel guilty and foolish at not having said anything for so long, and I particularly can’t face the gay people I had known but had not come out to. I don't think I will ever have a full relationship. The years when I would most natually have found someone were my 20s, when the self-denying ordinance was in place. It is difficult even for straight people to find a partner in middle age.

There is no way someone who is not both gay and over 40 could possibly understand what that experience does to you. People who say “But it’s OK to be gay these days” are missing the point. You have been formed at a time when it wasn’t OK, and that experience (whether gay people will admit it or not) does permanent damage. Crispin Blunt will have years of adjusting to do, to overcome the damage that has been done to him. He will blame himself, particularly as he has been married. But it isn’t his fault. For once, society really is to blame.

Iain is right when he says that the longer you are in the closet, the more difficult it is to come out. It’s relatively easy for gay teenagers to come out today. Much more difficult for men in their fifties. And men in their sixties and seventies conclude that freedom came too late for them. At their time of life, it is even harder to come out, and they conclude that it just isn’t worth it. When you think of the gay people you know, and wonder why they tend to be relatively young, that is the reason why. There are just as many old gay people as younger ones; but they have considered the time they have left and made their calculation.

Fausty said...

Perhaps his wife already knew?

I couldn't care less about Blunt's sexual preferences, but I feel for his family. These days, being gay is not a blackmailable issue, so it shouldn't affect his political life

But I am curious as to why there are such large numbers of gays in politics. It appears (to me) to be disproportionate.

Maybe you have some insight into this, Iain?

Norfolk Blogger said...

Crispin Blunt's Voting Record on Gay issues is not good.

Hypocrite ?

http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/mp.php?mpid=40496&dmp=826

lilith said...

Er, how many straight men are called "Crispin"? I blame his parents.

javelin said...

So what. Those days have passed. The only story is the gay people jumping up and down still trying to get attention and play the victim.

A straight bloke pretending they're gay mightbe more interesting.

suatelm peter said...

big shame again to men and women who think they are brilliant for accepting what is below normal. how can a man think its within the confines of proper human behaviour to act in this manner. This are just creatures that burn with passion for what is totally out of order. Their associations with the people of like mind breeds the support of this dis-speakable behaviou....it won't belong in this country and the western world for paedophilia to be normal...it won't be long, with the numerous cases around and the liniency in judgements...the high profile from the west are already abusing children in other parts of the world...thailand, romania, africa etc..A person who's grown up and has been taught of moral relativity will certainly be washed away by this mess. you can approve of it or not..but its likely most commentators are gay and gay sympathisers, and the blog author thinks its clever to twitch the appearance of the comments..no one is fooled.

suatelm peter said...

more of the despeakable rotten elements of the morally corrupt society...so evident in this page comments. people who think they are brilliant for accepting such de-basing behaviour attributes.

Steve H said...

Anyone whose vote would have been in the slightest bit influenced by whether or not he was "a family man" deserves to be lied to.

Glyn H said...

If we did not have the flaming church telling us for 2000 years that sex was only for procreation within marriage and a host of other such bollocks, whose hand he had on his willy would not matter - as it does not. Huge numbers if marriages break up quite unnecessarily due to utter humbug about 'fidelity'; and the more common and vulgar the newspaper the more vile the hypocrisy.

Sally Roberts said...

Courageous and sensitive post, Treacle! So is Iain's original one.

If there is any lesson to be learned from this, it is that politicians should steer clear of promoting themselves on "the family ticket". Preferably no photos of wifey and family on literature or website unless they can look deep into their heart and say without equivocation that they ARE "happily married"!

Victor, NW Kent said...

Perhaps in 20 years time we will have headlines like "Tory MP outed as heterosexual".

The Purpleline said...

@Libertarian

What I am referring to is the fact he stood at a general election not more than 4 months ago on a ticket of a happily married man of 20 years .

This was obviously a sham.

He should have had the courage to come out before the election and stand in front of his local party to seek their approval to stand as a Tory at the election.

The only way to normalise the situation is now it is acceptable, not illegal is for Gays to come out when seeking public office.

In actual fact I think my gaydar is quite good except on spotting dick vans. I might publish a blog with a Gayometer grading all politicians as to how gay they are, in policy, voting, attitude,status of relationship, seen at.

The Purpleline said...

@Steve H People take great store in the values the look of a candidate to see if there is any connection between them.

It is not all about political ideals some element of likeability and empathy to the same situation as the voter must come into it.

So, I think you are wrong misinformed about local party level and constituency politics.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

There's a double entendre in this somewhere about Peter Mandelson enjoying a Schnitzel in the Gay Hussar.

Lord Palmerston said...

Minnie the Minx said...
"The fact that he's gay is not an issue. The fact that gays are massively over-represented in parliament is."

I was interested by this, so decided to do some research. Immediately after the election, there were 10 openly gay Conservative MPs*, 8 openly gay Labour MPs**, and 2 openly gay or bisexual Liberal Democrat MPs***.

This gives a total of 20. Crispin Blunt and David Laws make it 22.

There are currently 650 members of the House of Commons. This means that just under 3.4% of the members of the House of Commons are openly gay or bisexual. I don't know how many people in Britain are gay, but it's often said that around 5% of them are. If so, there are either just enough or slightly too few gay MPs in parliament. They are not 'massively over-represented'.


*Alan Duncan, Greg Barker, Nick Herbert, Stuart Andrew, Nick Boles, Mike Freer, Margot James, Iain Stewart, Conor Burns, Eric Ollerenshaw.

**Clive Betts, Ben Bradshaw, Nick Brown, Chris Bryant, David Cairns,
Angela Eagle, Gordon Marsden, Stephen Twigg.

***Simon Hughes, Stephen Williams.

Dick the Prick said...

@Treacle - all the best, man.

Pilgrim said...

Much better to 'live a lie' than to break ones vows - especially marriage vows which involve commitments to other people.

Goodwin said...

Wee Willy Hague is next?

Craig Ranapia said...

@Goodwin:

Not at all, if today's rather feeble effort in The Telegraph is any indication:

The Foreign Secretary took the extraordinary step of issuing a statement about his links to Chris Myers, one of his special advisers, after a well-known political blogger claimed the pair had spent the night together in a hotel room during the election campaign.

Hey, Guido, you fag-baiting idiot: I "shared a room" with between 25 and 32 virile, strapping young lads for five years. It was called boarding school, and contrary to popular opinion the never-ending homoerotic ferment didn't even come up to a slow simmer. Worse luck.

Craig Ranapia said...

@The Purpleline: The "common people" you're so fond of speaking for also, I submit, know what unhappy marriages are like -- and how often you hope things will change for the better without washing your dirty linen in public.

Meanwhile, if the good electors of Reigate share you disdain for Blunt then they're perfectly free to try and deselect him (if they're Conservative Party members), or vote for another party's candidate. I believe that's still how elections work in the United Kingdom.