I think the way this blog is going I am going to say its a gay political blog – which would be a shame since we should be inclusive enough not to differentiate.
June 23 2012 will see me in Berlin again, this time with my partner for the Berlin Gay Pride, officially Christopher Street Day, whatever we call it the day will be the same. I haven’t been to a Gay Pride event for at 14 years but I am sure that it will be the same heady mix of outrageous fun and buttocks hanging from Leather Chaps mixing with Drag Queens and the general populace, if London Pride is anything to go by I am looking forward to being a visible majority at the venues. My enduring memory of my last Gay Pride in London was being crammed in a Jubilee Line carriage full of gay men and women with the odd, very nervous looking, straight person wedged between leather and sequins – heady times!
The fact we can be this visible, and this outrageous, makes me feel good – I can demonstrate my sexuality without fear of judgement, and if I am judged, then so what, I am as good as you.
In most of Europe we have won the right to be visible, to hold important jobs and respected for what we do, not who we are, the fact that the Mayor of Berlin is Gay and has held the post for about 17 years make me feel proud as well, whilst I enjoyed the The guardian article about the visit of the Pope in 2011 to Berlin – the fact he had to meet a Lutheran Chancellor, a Gay Mayor of Berlin and a Federal President who was a divorced Catholic made my day – I am aware that a few miles further east life is a lot less funny – Russia is busy re-criminalising homosexuality whilst the West watches.
As usual I have digressed, what I wanted to mention was that 23 June also commemorates the birth of one of the fathers of modern computing – Alan Turing, Cryptographer, Inventor, and sexual deviant, or at least that is what the UK Government called him 1952. After freely admitting that he was gay to Police after a robbery he was tried under Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, commonly known as the Blackmailers Charter, it was passed to prevent underage sex between adults and children, yet perverted to be used against Gays. His admission was due, in effect, to being blackmailed by someone he had ‘picked up’. After his conviction his security clearance was revoked and the UK, and the world, lost so much potential.
Having been part of the team that deciphered the German Enigma machine, ventured to create the worlds first computer, and looked at artificial Intelligence, creating the Turing Test to define if an intelligence was artificial or not, Alan was given the option of either prison or Chemical Castration (in effect an experiment) Turing chose the latter, unable to live with himself he committed suicide, by a poisoned apple (the Apple Logo is an apple with a bite taken out of it, a coincidence, or an homage?).
There are so many lesson we can learn from the Alan Turing, firstly that laws can be perverted to mean anything that State wants, and the proposed Secret Trials Bill, though understandable in its aim is so easy to manipulate, that silly laws create crime and not solve them, and perhaps more than anything that people should be judged on merit, not by their sexuality.
Alan Turing should not be remembered as a Gay Hero, he should be remembered as Hero who happened to be gay.
The British Government eventually issued an apology, part of which read:
The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely. In 1952, he was convicted of gross indecency – in effect, tried for being gay.
There is a call for a posthumous pardon, and knighthood – to be honest I am happy with an apology and the conviction should stand as a testament against injustice a memorial to remind us that it must never happen again.
On 23 June 2012 in Berlin, with asses hanging out and sequins glittering I am going to raise a glass to Alan Turing, Inventor, Philosopher and Diva!