Alan Turing, the oratorio – crack the silence here

Alan Turing was the genius who cracked the German Enigma code and helped to win the Second World War. He died by his own hand after persecution by the British authorities for his sexual activities. In this aspect, as in others, Turing was ahead of his time: he saw no issue or shame in being homosexual and took no measures to conceal his encounters which were, at the time, illegal. He was, and remains, by any definition – a hero.


alan turing

James McCarthy’s Codebreaker, sung by Hertfordshire Chorus with David Temple,  premieres at London’s Barbican Hall, Saturday 26th April. Watch, listen, reflect. Just as Turing did at Bletchley.

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    • @Jeffrey E. Salzburg

      thank-you for commenting.

      the word “lifestyle” should only apply to LGBT people when referring to their actual lifestyle choices. Their sexuality is NOT one of the things that falls under the heading “lifestyle”.

      Alan Turing was persecuted for his sexuality, for his identity, for who he was.

      He wasn’t persecuted for enjoying taking afternoons off to have tea at the club.

      He wasn’t persecuted for belonging to a bridge club.

      He wasn’t persecuted for choosing not to use deodorant.

      “Lifestyle”: something you choose to do, to apply to your everyday life.

      “Sexual identity”: immutable nature of your sexuality.

      The word “lifestyle” implies “choice”.

      Implying “choice” borders on the homophobic.

    • But isn’t that the point? Isn’t that what would have been assumed by many of the people of the time? We know that that is balderdash, but isn’t it relevant to why he was treated so badly?

    • @Norman Lebrecht

      that’s quibbling with semantics.

      had he been in a monogamous relationship with one man, he would STILL have been prosecuted.

      He was prosecuted for being what he was: a gay man.

      Using the word “lifestyle” is incredibly insulting. Being LGBT is not a “lifestyle”. That implies that one chooses to be LGBT.

      • I agree. Your sexual orientation isn’t a ‘lifestyle’ you choose, like living near the beach or buying a fashionable new pair of shoes, it is the innate romantic attraction to another human being bestowed upon you by Nature at birth, and discovered by you at puberty, not chosen. The only choice Nature allows is in your partner, and the hope they want you with the same intensity you want them.

          • Apologies. No offence was intended and no element of choice was suggested. Alan Turing was pursued by the authorities for having sex with men. That is the plain truth. It does not, however, adequately describe the underlying reasons or the reality of his persecution. I have written several times of the need to redress this ugly public misdeed.

          • the only problem is the word “lifestyle” which – good intentions or not – still demeans the existence of LGBT people and implies that they choose to be LGBT.

            when people who are allies to the LGBT community nevertheless continue using the wrong words when referring to the LGBT community, the slight is there. the sting is worse when it is from an ally, and worse yet when that ally refuses to acknowledge that they used an inappropriate word. it is not for heterosexual people to tell LGBT people which words are offensive or not. it is for our allies to understand how the simple choice of one word over another can turn a “supportive” phrase into one that continues to perpetuate a myth that LGBT people CHOOSE to be the way they are.

            I think a simple change in the original phrase is all that would be needed for the offense to be expunged. Alan Turing was prosecuted and imprisoned by the British government for his sexual orientation. It’s really as simple as that.

          • To my mind the correct expression to have used would have been ‘sexual orientation’. And by the way, the word then would have been ‘queer’.

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