Q: Who is your favorite LGBT actor/musician/director/artist etc and why?
A: For this question I have two different people who have stuck out in my mind. The first is Alan Turing, who I’m sure many people will know was among other things an instrumental code breaker during WWII. This however, is only one of his many achievements.
- He designed the programming of the world’s first commercial computer – Whilst at the University of Manchester, Alan Turing designed the programming system of the Ferranti Mark 1, the world’s first commercially available electronic digital computer.
- He is the father of Artificial Intelligence – Turing is generally regarded as the pioneer of Artificial Intelligence. He believed that computers would be able to learn and devised the Turing Test, which would text whether a computer was really intelligent. No computer has passed the test, as yet, Not unless you count Eugene, but that’s up for debate).
- Alan was awarded an OBE for his wartime services – He was awarded the OBE in 1945 for services to the country in wartime, despite the fact that most of what he did would not be made public for another 30 years.
- He was the inventor of the Turing Machine – In 1935, Turing invented a device that is now referred to as the Turing Machine. To this day, all stored programme digital computers are modeled on this invention.
- He was integral to the building of The Bombe. – Although Polish scientists had previously invented a device known as a ‘Bomba’, Turing took their early versions and developed it into an electro-mechanical machine which greatly helped in the breaking of the Enigma code used by the German forces.
- His work enabled the Enigma to be decoded – By early 1942, the team at Bletchley Park were decoding up to 39,000 Enigma messages a month. Eventually this number rose to 84,000 or about two messages decoded every minute.
- Alan Turing’s war work is believed to have shortened the war – Many people, including Winston Churchill, claimed that Turing’s work shortened the Second World War by at least two years.
- Alan was a member of the team that decoded the ‘Fish’ cipher – The ‘Fish’ cipher was used towards the end of the war by the German High Command to transmit messages between Hitler and senior officers in the field.
In 1952 Turing was convicted under Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, where he pled guilty to acts of homosexuality, (though it is reported that he felt no guilt or shame regarding his actions (and rightly so)). The judge gave him the choice between imprisonment and probation, he chose probation and was required to take estrogen injections to reduce his libido and make him infertile. Which, in my opinion, unless you’re a male to female transsexual is a horrendously barbaric thing to do to anyone let alone someone who had done so much for his country and the world.
Two years after his conviction Turing would be found dead by his cleaner. It was later revealed that the cause of his death was cyanide poisoning. There are different theories as regards to the motive of his death; it was ruled as a suicide, but others believe that it was accidental.
In September 2009, then Prime Minster Gordon Brown released an official statement apologizing for how Turing had been treated. A portion of which reads ‘thousands of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition of the appalling way he was treated. While Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can’t put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him … So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work I am very proud to say: we’re sorry, you deserved so much better.’
In December 2013 Queen Elizibeth II signed an official pardon for Turing’s conviction.
The second is a person who I have only recently came to know off, is the American sports journalist Mike Penner/Christine Daniels. I became aware of Daniels when I came across an LA Weekly article detailing her coming out, transition and ultimate death. For me the story is an utterly fascinating, albeit a tragic one. My interest in the story can’t be said to be purely innocent, for as I have said before I wish to be a show runner; and the writer side of me kicked in when I read the article (which I recommend everyone do) and realized that her life would make a fantastic television show. Seriously, if by some random happen-stance anyone from HBO reads this post, get in touch we need to talk. I have a show that is begging to be made. Out of respect my show would only use Daniels life as inspiration, but I do think it’s a story that needs to be told, and hey who knows maybe it could do some good, broaden a few minds and what-not.