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Alan Turing: a gay hero convicted by his own

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Alan Turing: a gay hero convicted by his own

Allstar/Black Bear Pictures

Allstar/Black Bear Pictures

Allstar/Black Bear Pictures

Movie still from of The Imitation Game.

By Aparna Verma

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People expect heroes to be perfect and charismatic. They should have superpowers, like Superman, or amazing agility, like Batman. Sure, they have their demons–everyone has skeletons in their closet–but heroes are supposed to overcome them. That’s what makes a hero, right?

Wrong.

Welcome to reality, people, where nothing is black and white. It’s twisted and ugly. Heroes are made here, yes, but many fall due to the destructive clutch and ignorance of society. You don’t think that’s true? Look to Alan Turing.

Alan Turing is hailed as the father of the computer, and the man who broke the unbreakable Enigma code, and helped World War II come to a speedy finish. Only computer geeks used to know his name; he was just another guy during the war who served his country, right?

Wrong again. Although Turing may be hailed as a hero, a man whose actions ultimately helped the Allied Powers win World War II, he was a man with a dark secret. It is his personal story that is the most shocking and most interesting, a story that tells of the injustice he suffered from the hands of the very government he served.

Directed by Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game depicts the life of the misunderstood Alan Turing, a genius who served his country and was persecuted by it. During World War II, the Germans sent messages to each other, codes that were intercepted by the Allied Powers but never deciphered. Germany’s enigma code was deemed unbreakable, and as the Allied Powers rushed to find ways to decipher these codes, soldiers died on the battlefront.

While Britain claimed to fight for the freedom of Jews and equality, back at home they turned their backs to their own ideals.”

Alan Turing, played by the talented Benedict Cumberbatch, was hired by the government to break the code. An odd professor who stuttered, Turing was immediately disliked by the cryptography team. However, working together, they achieved the impossible: they created a machine that broke the enigma code. In a sense, they had won the war. Turing’s genius computer impacted the war significantly, letting Britain decipher codes that spoke of upcoming battles, and allowing it to act accordingly.

However, it’s not all sunshine and ringing victory. After WWII ended, Turing split with his wife, to save her from harm. Oh, and for one more reason: Turing is gay.

In a time where gays were persecuted for “gross indecency,” Turing had to keep his true personality a secret. Gays were jailed, beaten, ridiculed for a condition they were born with. While Britain claimed to fight for the freedom of Jews and equality, back at home they turned their backs to their own ideals.

Turing, the genius who broke the enigma code, the man who did the impossible for his mother country, was spurned and beaten for simply being who he was.”

Turing was soon discovered, and was given a choice: for his “gross indecency,” he could either be jailed for two years or receive oestrogen shots (chemical castration) for two years. Turing chose the latter, and within a few years, at the age of 41, committed suicide. Turing, the genius who broke the enigma code, the man who did the impossible for his mother country, was spurned and beaten for simply being who he was.

How can this be a way to repay the man who helped bring an early end to World War II? How can the country–whom Alan served so fervently–betray him?

Turing’s conviction is indeed a dark mark on the consciousness of the British government, if such a thing exists. However, Turing wasn’t the only one who served his country and was persecuted for being who he was. 49,000 other men were convicted by the gross indecency law in Britain, and now a petition is demanding that these 49,000 men be pardoned.

We live in a world where homosexuals are now starting to become recognized, and the stigma is finally being lifted. Although mistakes committed in the past shouldn’t be ignored; it is time to mend them and sincerely work for the justice and the equality for all.

Britain already started by giving Turing a posthumous royal pardon. Now, we need to do more.

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