Yesterday, ConHome reported the Crispin Blunt story, but instantly disallowed comments on it. I suggested at Political Betting that they were probably more afraid of comments from their own side than from political opponents, and I think that suspicion has now been borne out by an extraordinary post from 'libertarian' (ahem) blogger Anna Raccoon entitled 'In Praise of Real Women'. Nobody could argue with the ostensible point that Blunt's wife and family have been treated cruelly and are deserving of huge sympathy - but has that sympathy really been so lacking? The post is laced with not-very-subtle homophobic language, relating as it does the story of a married woman who made a similar 'lifestyle choice' to Blunt, and confused her children with her 'rejection of men' and by bringing home a 'muscular female friend' - leading, we are told, to her daughter's suicide. Even the phrase 'real women' in the title of the post carries some fairly obvious connotations.
In truth, if a gay man suppresses his sexuality by getting married, and if there are children involved, something tragic has already occurred, and from that point on there is no 'default course of action' that a 'real man' would take. There are only a series of options which would all cause hurt to someone. Yes, the man in question has to take full responsibility for the hurt caused by whatever option he chooses, but there's no point in onlookers pretending that there's some magical, noble path that would hurt no-one. Anna Raccoon doesn't spell out, for instance, whether she thinks Blunt should have continued lying even to his wife about his sexuality. That's a perfectly arguable proposition if the welfare of the children is considered paramount - but, if so, he'd have been intensifying the pain that would have been caused to his wife if she'd eventually discovered the marriage had been a sham all along. Or is Raccoon suggesting he should have told his wife, but invited her to live out the sham for several years more for the sake of the children? It's not hard to see the unhappiness that could have been caused by that option, and it may not even have ultimately protected the children, if one or other partner had been unable to maintain the facade once the truth had come out.
Blunt didn't take either of those options - he took one which he knew for certain would hurt his children. Yes, he can reasonably be criticised for that, but for better or worse we live in a society where it's considered acceptable to risk that kind of harm to children in bringing unhappy marriages to an end. What the likes of Anna Raccoon have got to explain is why Blunt has somehow committed a graver crime simply because the marriage ended due to him facing up to his sexuality, rather than because he'd run off with his secretary.
Actually, what she's really saying is that it's (just about) acceptable to be gay as long as you don't broadcast the fact, and don't confuse children with it. But, in truth, the more that children come to see that homosexuality is not a matter of shame and secrecy, the less likely these tragedies are to occur in the first place. Few will feel the need to 'live a lie' if they've grown up in a society that values and accepts the person they truly are, rather than demands they keep it to themselves.