Robinson now has two children and has been married to a woman for decades.
Tom Robinson was born into a middle-class family in Cambridge on 1 June 1950. He attended Friends School Saffron Walden, a co-ed privately funded Quaker school, between 1961 and 1967. Robinson has two brothers and a sister: Matthew (former executive producer of BBC One's EastEnders and Byker Grove, currently running Khmer Mekong Films in Cambodia), George and Sophy.
At the age of 13, Robinson realised that he was gay when he fell in love with another boy at school. At that time, male homosexual activity was still a crime in England, punishable by prison. Wracked with shame and self-hatred, he had a nervous breakdown and attempted suicide at 16. A head teacher got him transferred to Finchden Manor, a therapeutic community for disturbed teenagers in Kent, where he spent his following six years. At Finchden Manor, Robinson was inspired by John Peel's The Perfumed Garden on pirate Radio London, and by a visit from Alexis Korner.
The legendary bluesman and broadcaster transfixed a roomful of people
with nothing but his voice and an acoustic guitar. The whole direction
of Robinson's life and career became suddenly clear to him.
In 1973, Robinson moved to London and joined the acoustic trio Café Society. They impressed Ray Davies of The Kinks enough for him to produce their debut album, though it sold only 600 copies.
The working relationship with Davies supposedly ended when, infuriated by Davies' lack of punctuality, Robinson sarcastically performed The Kinks' hit "Tired of Waiting for You"
to him when he finally arrived at the studio. Davies retaliated with the less-than-complimentary Kinks single "Prince of the Punks", about Robinson. In London, Robinson became involved in the emerging gay scene and embraced the politics of gay liberation, which linked gay rights to the wider issues of social justice...
A longtime supporter and former volunteer of London's Gay Switchboard
help-line, it was at a 1982 benefit party for the organisation that he
met Sue Brearley, the woman with whom he would eventually live and have two children, and later marry.
In the mid-1990s, when Robinson became a father, the tabloids
ran stories about what they deemed as a sexual orientation change,
running headlines such as "Britain's Number One Gay in Love with Girl
Biker!" (The Sunday People). Robinson continued to identify as a gay man, telling an interviewer for The Guardian: "I have much more sympathy with bisexuals now, but I am absolutely not one. Our enemies do not draw the distinction between gay and bisexual", he added.
In a 1994 interview for the Boston Globe
newspaper, Robinson asserted: "We've been fighting for tolerance for
the last 20 years, and I've campaigned for people to be able to love
whoever the hell they want. That's what we're talking about: tolerance
and freedom and liberty—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So
if somebody won't grant me the same tolerance I've been fighting for
them, hey, they've got a problem, not me."
In 1996, Robinson released an album Having It Both Ways.
On it he added a verse to "Glad to Be Gay", in which he sings: "Well if
gay liberation means freedom for all, a label is no liberation at all.
I'm here and I'm queer and do what I do, I'm not going to wear a
straitjacket for you."
In 1998 his epic about bisexuality, "Blood Brother", won three awards
at the Gay & Lesbian American Music Awards in New York.
Peter Tatchell criticised Vanessa Thorpe's "Glad Not to Be Gay" article about Robinson in The Independent
newspaper for suggesting the LGBT community would be "shocked and
angered" that a gay man would "go straight". He stated: "Tom Robinson
has behaved rather commendably, in my view. Ever since the beginning of
his relationship with Sue, he has continued to describe himself as "a
gay man who happens to be in love with a woman". Who could quarrel with
that? I can't."