The Boston Globe published a long article on Sunday, titled “A Computer That Thinks Like the Universe,” by Joshua Rothman. It’s interesting—it’s about quantum computing—and along the way to its conclusions, it discusses what the computers we use are and introduced Alan Turing, who is “the father of modern computing” and whose “theory of computability” is the basis for all modern computers. 
This posting isn’t about quantum computing, and it isn’t about Alan Turing and his contribution to the effort to win World War II, but it is about gay people and our tendency to forget our past. Alan Turing was a homosexual and in January, 1952, he picked up a man outside a theatre in Manchester, UK. After several aborted attempts at a date, and apparently one or two successful dates, the man robbed Turing, who went to the police and told them about the robbery and acknowledged his sexual relationship with this man. This led to Turing’s being charged with “gross indecency.” He was given a choice of imprisonment or chemical castration by estrogen injection.  He chose chemical castration. In June, 1954, he killed himself, apparently with a cyanide-laced apple.
But it is not enough to learn and to remember that another one of the great men of the twentieth century was one of us and whose treatment by British culture in 1954, as British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said, was “appalling.” It is necessary also to remember that Alan Turing was only the most brilliant of all those thousands of forgotten men and women who suffered the same consequences of having been picked up by the police. There were thousands and thousands and thousands of men before 1969 who were condemned to “chemical castration” or worse. Allen Ginsberg tells us something about another one in the opening lines of his poem, HOWL, where he declares to Carl Solomon, I am with you in Rockland. We have no way of knowing how many lives have been destroyed by this appalling cruelty. 
At least one of the questions that novels answer is How was it for you there? Our literature is almost entirely devoid of reference to this pain and suffering, much of it government inflicted. Chemical castration! There has been a TV movie about Turing’s life and a Broadway play, and now The Guardian says another movie on Turing’s life is planned with Leonardo di Caprio. But there are others besides Turing who suffered, and gay fiction is the art form ideally constructed for addressing this subject. Until it addresses this subject, the answer gay fiction gives to the question, How was it for you there? will be incomplete.