On This Gay Day: Mathematician Alan Turing died in 1954

Mathematician Alan Turing’s greatest achievements were not recognised until after his death

Alan Turing is credited with being the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. The work of the English mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptoanalyst, philosopher and theoretical biologist was not fully realised until years after his tragic death.

During World War II he was involved in code breaking and was responsible for many important breakthroughs that are credited with shortening the conflict. He went on to work on some of the earliest computers, and his theories are credited with major developments in the field.

In 1952 Turing was prosecuted for gross indecency when it was discovered that he was homosexual. He accepted being chemically castrated rather than being sent to prison. Two years later he died by suicide.

In 2009 following an online campaign, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a public apology for the way Turing was treated.

“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.” the British PM said.

In 2013 Queen Elizabeth II granted him a posthumous pardon. In 2017 the British government issued an apology to all people who had been prosecuted under the previous laws and offered a pathway for their convictions to be removed – the legislation is referred to as Alan Turing’s Law.

Turing will be featured on the new British fifty pound note, and he has been honoured via statues, prizes and portrayals in film and television.

Also on this gay day

Film producer James Ivory is celebrating his birthday, he was born in 1928. Ivory enjoyed a long professional and personal relationship with Ishmael Merchant, their production company created many memorable films including A Room With a View, Maurice, Howards End and The Remains of the Day. Merchant passed away in 2005. One of James Ivory’s most recent successes was Call Me By Your Name, he wrote the screenplay and served as a producer on the film.

Author EM Forster died on this day in 1970, many of his works would later be taking to the screen by Merchant Ivory.

Edward Morgan Foster was born on January 1st, 1879. He would go on to write many best selling novels that often explored themes of class difference and hypocrisy.

His best known works include A Room with a View (1908), Howards End (1910) and A Passage to India (1924). He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 16 separate years.

During his life time Forster was open about his homosexuality to his close friends, but kept it a secret from the public. In 1913 he completed the first draft of his novel Maurice which was a same-sex love story. He revised the novel several times during his life, and left strict instructions that it could not be published until after his death. Forster passed away in 1970 and the age of 91, and the book was released posthumously the following year.  

Author Henry Miller died on this day in 1980. He’s best known for his books Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn and the trilogy Sexus, Nexus and Plexus. Miller was married several times and had a well documented affair with erotic writer Anais Nin. HIs books were often banned in his homeland – the United States and he is credited with creating the genre of semi-autobiographical novels. Scholars have put forward the case that repressed homosexuality was a theme throughout some of this works. The author was married five times.

On this day in 2012 the Danish parliament voted in favour of marriage equality. Denmark became the 11th country in the world to allow same-sex couples to wed, although registered partnerships were previously available.

OIP Staff


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