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Founder of Computer Science
The most expensive date I had with Hera was when me and Hera went to meet Daniel Bruvoli and his Sister and a Manchester Humanist Celebrant called Guy Otten and his wife.
We had parked outside a small park in Manchester, a park that’s home to one my heroes.
On the way back she asked me what was up with that tiny park, we saw there was still a few minutes of time left on the parking meter and so we crossed the street. We stood under the rainbow flag that flew there. In remembrance of love and in spite of hate. This little corner of Manchester is an emblem of British Gay Rights and battles fought.
People still lay flowers here to remember the AIDS epidemic’s toll. People still have photos of loved ones. Of gays killed by homophobes. Of lovers, of soldiers, of victims, of victories. I have never seen graffiti here but this is the strong hold of the GLBT. Canal Street and Manchester University. The Gay Quarter and a University. This is a stronghold against bigotry.
I first came here with my gay friend. He had come out but he was my friend first. I am proud of my friends because they stood by a friend and I thought that was something all gay people had in common. I was wrong, we were the weird ones. We behaved strangely and accepted our friend. And part of that was going out in the gay village. In Canal Street. Because it was the one place he wanted to go out in and the one place he felt safe but he still wanted to go with his mates. They young lads who never betrayed him.
Outside of the Manchester War Memorial where I go to remember friends I lost to a pointless war and a family and culture that vanished to warfare, I go here to remember the friends I did not lose. And in this place, here there is a small statue of a hero, nothing heroic in it’s pose. It’s a life sized statue of a man sitting down with an apple in his hand. This man is a hero just as much as the people remembered at the first place. At the time there were no poppies laid to rest for this man.
He is the Father of the modern Computer. And so I told Hera the story, of a man who was a hero. Who fought a war with his brain and saved countless lives through his invention and in his work as a code breaker. A man who lived long enough to turn from hero to villain and a man who was tormented for his sexuality until he took his own life. The line in the sand of a hero abandoned because he was attracted to men that drove the british Gay movement to win it’s hard won fights.
This wasn’t a long story. We spent around 5 minutes and walked back to the car.
We had a parking ticket.
Alan Turing’s pardon is in the news today. Not only was he pardoned but the United Kingdom’s government made an official apology for it’s actions in the past. But just to Turing, there was hope that this would be a general pardon to all of the 50,000 odd men who underwent the same treatment for homosexuality as he did. Many of whom took their own lives. Maybe that’s in the making too so I have my hopes up. But there are still things that need to change.
The Alan Turing Memorial in Manchester did not get any donations from large IT companies. It took years to raise the money for the park and even then it was opposed. Not once did companies such as Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Hewlett Pacard or even Google stand up to do what was right despite standing on the shoulders of this giant. None of the big IT firms donated.
In order to build the statue they had to cut corners and get it cast in China and ship it to Manchester. Had it been cast in Manchester it would have cost £50,000. It cost £15,000 to have it made there. The fundraising fell short of the £50,000 mark due to the complete unwillingness to fund a statue to a homosexual.
Maybe it was because he isn’t American, or maybe it was because he was gay.
The Royal Pardon and Apology may not mean much but Alan Turing and Whitworth Park are a symbol of Gay Culture in the UK and a symbol of a tragic history and of mistakes that we must not repeat again. This may mean little to the family and memory of Alan Turing but it’s a step in the right direction.
Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it. In a world where we listen to bigots who make duck calls we forget the stories of people who were not.
“Father of computer science, mathematician, logician, wartime codebreaker, victim of prejudice”
“Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty — a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture”