This post is part of a series of articles on the life of Captain Robert Nairac. For more information see The Secret Life Of British Captain Robert Nairac.
During the research for my novel The Bleeding Hills I stumbled upon the intriguing story of one charismatic character, British Captain Robert Nairac, an undercover agent active during the Irish troubles, and in May of 2009 I wrote a post titled Robert Nairac – Hero, Butcher, Homosexual…?
The interest in Captain Nairac was sparked by an article titled Shadow Man and written by Eamonn O'Neill for the Esquire Magazine. Let me quote:
British Army Captain Robert Nairac fought his own war on the streets of Seventies' Belfast, heading out on patrol with a cowboy hat, trainers and a pump-action shotgun. His undercover activities won him both the George Cross and accusations of treachery, but doubt surrounds almost everything he did.
Captain Nairac is generally described as charismatic and brilliant, but there was also a dark side to him, something that most of his contemporaries were unable to interpret.
"It's simple: Nairac didn't just stick his head in to the lion's mouth - that wouldn't have been enough for him. Instead, he had to go and stick it right up the lion's arse."
Almost immediately after reading O'Neill's fascinating article the thought came to mind that Captain Robert Nairac, in view of his tendency toward flamboyant appearances, might have been gay. The initial premonition was substantiated by further research represented, among other resources, by articles of which some hinted and others openly addressed his homosexuality.
There was also the topic of unexplained behavioral patters that some described as a death wish, a view that is reinforced by accounts of his irrational, and in some cases outright suicidal activities, and this is not a typical gay feature. However, Captain Robert Nairac was also a devoted Catholic, and in Roman Catholicism, homosexual acts are considered contrary to natural law and sinful, while homosexual desires are considered "disordered" but not themselves sinful. For me, the conflict between being Catholic and being gay was sufficient evidence explaining his suicidal tendencies, and I left it at that.
Case closed; or so I thought. As of lately I have received information that provided a much more sophisticated insight into Nairac's psyche, namely the "death wish" theory. I am at a point where I distance myself from that assessment. Yet still, in my very personal opinion, Captain Robert Nairac was gay.
Before I go into further details let me make a statement to counter potential accusations such as smearing the memory of a British soldier on one end or discrimination of gay rights at the other. I strongly support the view that homosexuality is not a mental disorder. In the same sense, a person’s sexual orientation is not a matter of choice; individuals have no more choice about being homosexual than heterosexual. I am heterosexual, but I accept homosexuality as a different form of life style.
My conclusion that Robert Nairac was gay is still a theory, and I am far from trying to cast a blame of any sort; my mere intention was to find an understanding of what was described as irrational behavior, a behavior that eventually led to the slaying of Captain Robert Nairac, a British officer with a bright future.
I am aware of the concerns and complaints from people who knew him and their demand to respect the Nairac family's right to privacy. It is my belief, though, that everybody loses that privilege as soon as they happen to stand in the limelight, voluntarily or not. The question is, what exactly put him in into that position? I believe, it was his violent nature, or at least the records - right or wrong - thereof. As a friend put it, "...the fact remains that he is now, for tragic reasons, public property and therefore arguably a legitimate subject for research."
Everything I write about British Captain Robert Nairac on this website represents my very personal view and research on the topic. If you deem my findings objectionable or in err, please feel free to leave a comment below or write to me directly by using my website's contact form. The same applies for any comments, in favor or not, and for information you would like to share. All I ask, is to keep a professional attitude on the subject.