Alan was a 40 year old with a bright future. His career was going well, and he had recently started dating a nice guy named Arnold. One night, though, he came home to find his apartment had been burglarized. He reported the crime to the police. And when they learned that he was in a relationship with a man, they arrested him for the crime of being gay. His career was ruined. To avoid jail, he was forced to undergo chemical castration. Shortly after this, at the age of 41, Alan committed suicide.
That was 60 years ago. Alan was Alan Turing, the mathematician who broke the Nazi’s Enigma Code. One of the great heroes of WW2, he is credited with saving countless Allied lives – and very likely saving Britain from a German-speaking future. You’ve already read how quickly England forgot this man’s contributions. Click on the link, below, to read Katie Halper’s excellent piece on this shameful chapter of history.
Yesterday, the Queen of England issued a royal pardon to Alan Turing, erasing the 1952 conviction… that erased the remainder of his life. There are some things that, once taken, cannot be restored. Not even by royal proclamation.
More than 50,000 others were prosecuted by Britain for the same “crime”, their lives left in ruins. And for what? To satisfy the moronic mob mentality that gay is sick, evil and therefore must be criminal.
Sixty years later, and we’ve come so far from those dark days. We dance at the weddings of our gay friends and relatives, and they check the “spouse” box on government forms. The U.K. and much of Western Europe recognize same-sex marriage. America’s states fall like dominos: 18 of 50 now recognize marriage equality (2 more than last week), along with the federal government.
But the same old hatred lingers in the shadows of ignorance and bigotry. As our communities evolve into a more egalitarian and humane society, the haters come out of the shadows and become ever more shrill. The election of a black president brought the most virulent strains of American racism out from under the rug where that had merely been swept, never eradicated. And now, too, the folks who hate “the gays” grow more vocal and visible as they lose every battle on the way to losing the war.
Here come the pseudo-pious douchebags of the American christianist right: from the pulpits to the pols to pathological “God Hates Signs” turds… and these strange duck people who have now crawled out of the swamp. They peddle their noxious, fraudulent “ex gay” persecution of gay kids. As Russia’s economy slumps in the 15th year of Herr Putin’s reign, he turns to the old standby of gay bashing to put a little air under his right wing (and the world rewards him with the Olympics). The murderous anti-gay cabal running Uganda is funded and fanned by the Who-Would-Jesus-Kill wing of the Republican Party. Not to be outdone by the christianists, the Islamic nations keep their people in 14th century chains… and India decides to resuscitate an anti-gay law left behind by its British overlords in the 1840s.
Had Alan Turing lived, he would be 101 years old today. If he could experience the world we live in now, he would likely blink in disbelief at the progress toward racial and sexual equality we have fought so hard to achieve. But he would also be sadly, terribly familiar with the fear and loathing that still exists for sexual minorities, women and people of color.
As hard as it is to take, I prefer the hatred to be forced out into the open, on display, for all to see – because sunlight is the best disinfectant. Disney / ABC / A&E might be confused about whether hate sells… but most people are repelled by it. Especially this time of year. So lather up with the sunscreen, all you duck people, preachers and pinheads. The forecast is for supernova.