When the above memorial was revealed at Bletchley Park there was some controversy focusing on the lack of information regarding Alan Turing’s homosexuality with calls from various activists to augment the text accompanying the memorial to properly place Turing in ‘gay history’.
Whilst browsing the various posts on Turing it is interesting to note that the level of detail regarding his sexuality varies greatly. Some say “he was believed to be homosexual” others refrain from commenting on the nature of Turing’s personal life and death at all. Do these omissions represent a version of homophobia?
It’s tempting to believe that the reason for this partial cultural invisibility is in part due to Turing’s sexuality; a heteronormative society promotes and celebrates a particular version of masculinity. A brilliant scientist and thoughtful gay mans contribution to the war effort doesn’t tally with the traditional viewing of a macho war hero.
Though I believe there is a responsibility to celebrate the great in all fields irrespective of sexuality. It is interesting to note that a recent poll of gay men and their heroes neglected to mention Alan Turing at all, instead the majority of ‘heroes’ focused on popular culture ‘icons’, for more read here. This perhaps reveals as much about gay culture as it does a wider societal disinterest in politics and history. My research continues.