Honor Moore has a memoir coming out in May called The Bishop’s Daughter, which was excerpted recently in The New Yorker. It tells the story of her father Paul Moore, a prominent, progressive Episcopal bishop in New York who passed away in 2003, and it reveals what had been a personal and family secret: that this father of nine children and sitting bishop had many homosexual liasons and apparently at least one long-term relationship with a man.
Although Honor Moore’s account is understated, and written with remarkable compassion for her father, this story disturbs on so many different levels I’m not sure I can count them. It raises the spectre of the Episcopal Church’s deep division over the installation of an openly gay man, Gene Robinson, a few years ago. It reminds us of the destructive power of the closet. It begs the question of how Paul Moore managed this falseness and somehow kept his world from absolutely crumbling. And, it surfaces another in a fairly remarkable recent string of revelations about sexual secrets in the lives of powerful and famous men — men, in particular, for whom keeping such secrets had extraordinary and inevitable consequences.
Adding to the pathos, a letter from three of Honor Moore’s siblings in this week’s New Yorker questions the ethics of her posthumously outing her prominent father. Certain to sell books, but what are we really learning (anything?) about spirituality and sexuality, and secrets?