Alan Turing Was Gay

alan-turing-centenary-justiceI liked The Imitation Game. I wasn’t going to alert you to the spoiler of his being gay because I don’t think it should be a spoiler. And hell, I didn’t see any trailers for the movie so maybe it wasn’t, but there was some coyness early in the script about Turing’s secret, and my parents had never before this Oscar season heard of Alan Turing, so I’m glad for the movie for letting everyone know that one of the most important geniuses and war heroes of the 20th century was?to let history spoil the film’s end?a gay man whose government forced him to take hormone treatments that destroyed his mind and body so much it led him to end his own life at age 41.

Also, the movie is crafty in how it leads its characters to talk about what’s normal for human beings. Here’s the speech culled unverifiedly from IMDB. It’s the lead actress role talking to Turing after his mind has gone and he admires the normal life she’s been able to build since the war:

No one normal could have done that. Do you know, this morning… I was on a train that went through a city that wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for you. I bought a ticket from a man who would likely be dead if it wasn’t for you. I read up on my work… a whole field of scientific inquiry that only exists because of you. Now, if you wish you could have been normal… I can promise you I do not. The world is an infinitely better place precisely because you weren’t.

I read David Leavitt’s impressive biography of Alan Turing when it came out because I’d just come out, and I needed help. How am I supposed to be? One way we humans have answered that question is by looking to how some of us have been. The Imitation Game does everything every Hollywood biopic always does, and I’ve blathered before about my feelings on biopics. What made this one different, though, is how it presented this man’s achievements as possible not despite his being gay but because he was. And those are the kinds of heroes we need.

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