QBits
Lords bill introduced to pardon gay codebreaker Alan Turing
Long overdue.
Q.
by
10 May 2013, 10:37am

A private member’s bill has been introduced in the House of Lords, which seeks to pardon the gay computer genius Alan Turing, who was prosecuted for gross indecency in 1952, after having a relationship with another man.

The Alan Turing (Statutory Pardon) Bill was introduced in the House of Lords for its first reading yesterday by Liberal Democrat peer Lord (John) Sharkey.

The gay mathematical genius and codebreaker was the effective inventor of the modern computer and a key driver behind the victory over the Nazis.

He killed himself in 1952, two years after being sentenced to chemical castration.

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Thelma Houston, gay rights revolutionary (by xtraonline)

Still one of my favourite all time songs.

Q.

"Thelma Houston,the Grammy award winning singer, talks about her role in the fight for gay rights and against HIV/AIDS. Houston, famous for such hits as Don’t Leave Me This Way, was profiled in the recent documentary The Secret Disco Revolution.

34 Years Later, Harvey Milk’s Legacy Lives On (by SFGMCVideo)

Touching tribute, have tissues at hand.

Q.

"The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus honors the 34th Anniversary of Harvey Milk’s and George Moscone’s assassination, at a memorial on the steps of City Hall and a candlelight vigil march to the Castro District, where Harvey Milk operated his Castro Camera shop.

One of the chorus’ founding singers, Robert Rufo, recounts the chorus’ first public appearance, which was at the candlelight vigil on the night when Harvey Milk was assassinated with gunshot to his head. The chorus performed “Thou Lord Our Refuge” that night, and current chorus singer Edwin Morales has since re-arranged the song for the chorus’ Unplugged concert earlier in 2012, which is the soundtrack for this video. Appearing in the video from the memorial service in front of City Hall were Supervisor Scott Weiner, Anne Kronenberg, Mayor Ed Lee, former Mayor Willie Brown, Jonathan Moscone and Stuart Milk.

The chorus in June 2013 will be performing a landmark concert called Harvey Milk 2013; more information can be found at http://www.sfgmc.org/milk2013

In Memory of Matthew Shepard On this National Coming Out Day

A moving letter from George Takai in memory of Matthew Shepard who was brutally tortured, tied to a buck fence, and left hanging there in freezing temperatures for 18 hours before he was discovered. Matthew later died as a result of his injuries.

Q.


In Memory of Matthew Shepard On this National Coming Out Day, I Salute All Who Are Courageous Enough to Stand Up and Be Counted, and Remember those Like Matthew Who Have Suffered Because of the Hatred and Bigotry of Others

Image of In Memory of Matthew Shepard

October 11th is National Coming Out day. It is also one day before a very sad anniversary–the death of University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was beaten, tortured and killed outside of Laramie, Wyoming in 1998.

Matthew was brutally murdered because he was gay. His killers pistol-whipped in the head and tied him to a fence, leaving him to die. Astonishingly, at his trial, one of his attackers claimed that he simply panicked, and was driven to “temporary insanity,” upon learning Matthew was gay. The truth was, the two men premeditated the murder, pretending they were gay in order to befriend Matthew and then rob and kill him. One defended pleaded guilty, and the other was found guilty of felony murder, sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.

Matthew’s death brought about calls for stricter hate crime legislation. Under Wyoming and Federal law at the time, LGBT persons were not included within existing hate crime definitions. The battle to bring about this change was not easy. It took nearly 20 years of lobbying, votes, threats of vetoes, and partisan bickering before a Federal law included LGBT persons within the definition. On October 28, 2009, President Obama finally signed the Matthew Shepard Act into law.

I came out publicly in 2005, though I had been out privately for many decades with friends and family. My decision stemmed from a desire to stand up and be counted, so that I could help people see the human side of how bigotry, hatred and intolerance affects others. Coming out is never easy, and often never ending. If you have gay, lesbian or bisexual friends who have come out to you, take the time to thank them today for their courage, and for helping to make a difference in the lives of others, especially of young people like Matthew Shepard who bear so much of the burden of homophobia, bullying and violence against LGBT people.

Thank you. And Matthew, I promise you, we will remember.

–GT

Top UK spy praises gay World War II hero Alan Turing
Alan Turing has been praised by GCHQ director saying ‘enduring lessons’ can be drawn from his work.
Alan Turing praised by GCHQ director and described as having a 'great mind'.

Alan Turing has been praised by leading British spy Iain Lobban, saying ‘enduring lessons’ can be drawn from his work.

Lobban is director of GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters), Britain’s ‘listening station’ giving ears to its intelligence services.

He said there were ‘many parallels between the way we work now and the way we worked then’ in reference to the World War II hero.

Turing, although virtually unknown to the public at the time, was a homosexual mathematician and a key part of the team that cracked the Nazi Enigma code at Bletchley Park.

There work was a vital part of the allied war effort and may have shorted the war by several years.

Lobban said Turing had played a key part in the ‘irrevocable change’ that eventually led to the development of the ‘highly technological intelligence organisation that GCHQ is today.’

Describing Turing as one of the ‘great minds of the 20th century’ he said that staff at the organisation had demanded that he make ‘a big public deal’ of Turing’s legacy as part of celebrations marking the centenary of the codebreaker’s birth.

Lobban said that the codebreaking work at Bletchley marked a shift to a mindset that ‘started to see technology as something that could be pitted against technology’ which is why Turing is now widely recognised as a computing pioneer, despite his work being kept quiet until 1974.

Lobban said technology lies at the heart of our mission and expressed how engineers and technologists are an essential part of our success.

He added that key skills need to be developed in order for this to be carried out and said: ‘We must inspire school children to study maths and science - we must find tomorrow’s Turings.’

During the rare public speech, Lobban also addressed the well known aspect of Turing’s homosexuality.

'The fact that Turing was unashamedly gay was widely known to his immediate colleagues at Bletchley Park: it wasn't an issue,' he said.

'I don't want to pretend that GCHQ was an organisation with 21st century values in the twentieth century, but it was at the most tolerant end of the cultural spectrum.'

Later in his life, Turing was convicted of gross indecency after an affair with another man.

Instead of enduring a life in prison, he was subsequently obliged to take injections of female hormones in an effort to dull his sex drive and after his arrest he was no longer given an opportunity to carry out work for GCHQ.

He later committed suicide as a result. Attempts to grant him a posthumous pardon for his gay ‘crime’ have so-far failed but former Prime Minister Gordon Brown did make a public apology for his treatment.

Lobban said ‘we should remember that the cost of intolerance towards Alan Turing was his loss to the nation.’

He added that today it remained vital that the agency recruited the best people and did ‘not allow preconceptions and stereotypes to stifle innovation and agility.’

'I want to apply and exploit their talent: in return, I think it's fair that I don't need to tell them how to live their lives,' he said.

Some claim Apple’s logo is in tribute to Turing who apparently committed suicide by eating an apple dipped in cyanide.

Feminist Poet and Essayist Adrienne Rich Dies
Thursday Mar 29, 2012
Adrienne Rich
Adrienne Rich  (Source:AP Photo/Stuart Ramson)

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) - Adrienne Rich, a fiercely gifted, award-winning poet whose socially conscious verse influenced a generation of feminist, gay rights and anti-war activists, has died. She was 82.

Rich died Tuesday at her Santa Cruz home from complications from rheumatoid arthritis, said her son, Pablo Conrad. She had lived in Santa Cruz since the 1980s.

Through her writing, Rich explored topics such as women’s rights, racism, sexuality, economic justice and love between women.

Rich published more than a dozen volumes of poetry and five collections of nonfiction. She won a National Book Award for her collection of poems “Diving into the Wreck” in 1974, when she read a statement written by herself and fellow nominees Alice Walker and Audre Lorde, “refusing the terms of patriarchal competition and declaring that we will share this prize among us, to be used as best we can for women.”

In 2004, she won the National Book Critics Circle Award for her collection “The School Among the Ruins.” According to her publisher, W.W. Norton, her books have sold between 750,000 and 800,000 copies, a high amount for a poet.

She gained national prominence with her third poetry collection, “Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law,” in 1963. Citing the title poem, University of Maryland professor Rudd Fleming wrote in The Washington Post that Rich “proves poetically how hard it is to be a woman - a member of the second sex.”

She was, like so many, profoundly changed by the 1960s. Rich married Harvard University economist Alfred Conrad in 1953 and they had three sons. But she left him in 1970 and eventually lived with her partner, writer and editor Michelle Cliff. She used her experiences as a mother to write “Of Woman Born,” her groundbreaking feminist critique of pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood, published in 1976.

"Rich is one of the few poets who can deal with political issues in her poems without letting them degenerate into social realism," Erica Jong once wrote.

Unlike most American writers, Rich believed art and politics not only could co-exist, but must co-exist. She considered herself a socialist because “socialism represents moral value - the dignity and human rights of all citizens,” she told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2005. “That is, the resources of a society should be shared and the wealth redistributed as widely as possible.”

"She was very courageous and very outspoken and very clear," said her longtime friend W.S. Merwin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet. "She was a real original, and whatever she said came straight out of herself."

As Merwin noted, Rich was a hard poet to define because she went through so many phases. Or, as Rich wrote in “Delta,” ’’If you think you can grasp me, think again.”

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Fry sends poignant message to LGBT children
Stephen Fry would tell 10-year-old self ‘don’t feel guilty about what you feel’
Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry sends a poignant message to LGBT children everywhere in an interview published in the New Zealand Herald today.

When asked ‘what piece of advice would you give to Stephen Fry, aged 10 during a 12-question interview, Fry replies:

‘You’re not alone. Everything you feel is fine. Only feel guilty about things you have done that are mean and cheap and unkind. Don’t feel guilty about what you feel, no matter what the world might think.’

The comedian and Twitter-addict continues with a message about the value of literature. ‘Everyone is scared inside, not just you,’ he says. ‘That’s why reading is so good. Keep doing it. Writers are people brave enough to make you feel better about being human because they’re not afraid to reveal their own frailties, weaknesses, desires, failures, and appetites.’

Fry is currently in New Zealand filming scenes for The Hobbit prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and has recently sided with a Southampton pub in a legal challenge attempting to force the pub to re-name. He Tweeted: ‘Sometimes I’m ashamed of the business I’m in, what pointless, self-defeating bullying’.

In the New Zealand Herald interview Fry’s also asked what he would say to disgraced former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks.

‘You silly, silly thing,’ Fry answers. ‘What a pity. You should have read more plays, poems and novels and fewer cruel, savage columns that you paid for. Then you would have known that cruelty, malice and hubris always lead to terror, pain and loneliness.” Her misfortune gives me no pleasure.’

Petition to feature Alan Turing on next £10 note launched
by
21 March 2012, 1:54pm
 

A petition to put an image of gay computer pioneer and Second World War code-breaker Alan Turing on the next £10 note has been launched, securing over a thousand signatures in its first day.

The petition, published on the government’s e-petitions website, reads: “Alan Turing is a national hero. His contribution to computer science, and hence to the life of the nation and the world, is incalculable. The ripple-effect of his theories on modern life continues to grow, and may never stop.

“The current Bank of England £10 notes are Series E, but Series F notes are already in circulation for some denominations. We therefore call upon the Treasury to request the Bank of England to consider depicting Alan Turing when Series F £10 banknotes are designed.”

Historical figures have featured on the reverse of banknotes since the 1970s and the final choice for whom to represent lies with the Governor of the Bank of England.

The Bank of England’s website says: “It is usual practice to consider a number of probable candidates all of whom have been selected because of their indisputable contribution to their particular field of work and about whom there exists sufficient material on which to base a banknote design.”

The Bank of England publishes a list of public figures whose names have been suggested for inclusion on bank notes, which already features Alan Turing.

Turing died in 1954, ingesting cyanide two years after being prosecuted and chemically castrated for homosexuality.

In 2009, after a campaign led by Richard Dawkins, Stephen Fry, Peter Tatchell and supported by PinkNews.co.uk, 30,805 people demanded that the then prime minister Gordon Brown issue an apology for Turing’s treatment on behalf of the British government. Mr Brown agreed to do so.

A recent petition calling for him to be pardoned was rejected however, as the World War Two codebreaker had been “properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offence”, Justice Minister Lord McNally said, though it “now seems both cruel and absurd”.