glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
social sciences
special features
about glbtq


   member name
   Forgot Your Password?  
Not a Member Yet?  

  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy





social sciences

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-E  F-L  M-Z

Turing, Alan (1912-1954)  
page: 1  2  

In Turing's test, the woman is then replaced by a computer. If the computer can convince the interrogator that it is a woman at the same rate as the real woman did, then the computer can be said to think. Researchers have argued about the importance of gender to Turing's thought experiment, and the relationship of his homosexuality to how he framed the question. What is striking, though, is that Turing replaced the metaphysical question of "Can machines think?" with a practical problem of whether or not a human might distinguish a computer from another human in a conversation.


After pioneering in further work in computer and software design and in artificial intelligence, and after being honored for his war work with an OBE (Officer of the British Empire) in 1946 and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1951 at an unusually young age, in 1952 Turing's life took an abrupt turn for the worse.

Sponsor Message.

In 1948, Turing had accepted a position as Deputy Director of the Royal Society Computing Laboratory at the University of Manchester and moved to that city, where he soon became involved with a young working class man, Murray Arnold, who would later burglarize his home.

After reporting the burglary, Turing was arrested and prosecuted for what was then known under British law as "Gross Indecency," a section of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885 (also known as the Labouchère Amendment), under which Oscar Wilde had also been charged in 1895.

Turing was offered a stark choice: go to prison or submit to the administration of the hormone estrogen. This procedure was known as "organo-therapy," a form of aversion therapy designed to destroy his sex drive. It was a type of chemical castration.

The administration of the female hormone left Turing impotent. He also developed breasts. Two years after his arrest, and one year after this coerced and barbaric "therapy," Alan Turing used cyanide to kill himself.

He left no note, and the circumstances of his death were inadequately investigated and perhaps left deliberately murky to spare his mother anguish. She believed his death to be accidental. Most commentators believe, however, that he committed suicide by eating an apple smeared with cyanide-laced jam.

If one doubted that a homophobic society and the supposedly "neutral" sciences used to enforce its prejudices and expectations can cause great harm, one need only examine Turing's death to understand its eagerness to punish its gay and lesbian members. Notwithstanding the fact that he may have been the most brilliant scientist of his generation, someone whose work in deciphering the German codes during World War II played a major role in achieving Allied victory, Turing was nevertheless sacrificed to the cold war hysteria over homosexuality.

Turing died on June 7, 1954.

Tyler Curtain

  <previous page   page: 1  2    

Contact Us
Join the Discussion
Related Entries
More Entries by this contributor
A Bibliography on this Topic

Citation Information
More Entries about Social Sciences

   Related Entries
social sciences >> Overview:  Aversion Therapy

A form of behavior modification that employs unpleasant and sometimes painful stimuli, aversion therapy was one of the more popular treatments for homosexuality and cross-dressing in the 1950s and 1960s.

social sciences >> Overview:  Manchester

Home to one of England's largest and liveliest glbtq communities, Manchester has hosted EuroPride and the Pride Games and established a popular Lesbian and Gay Heritage Trail.

social sciences >> Overview:  McCarthyism

McCarthyism, which attempted in the late 1940s and early 1950s to expunge Communists and fellow travelers from American public life, made homosexuals the chief scapegoats of the Cold War.

social sciences >> Overview:  United Kingdom II: 1900 to the Present

Twentieth-century efforts to reform British law and public opinions about homosexuality met with mixed results, but at the beginning of the twenty-first century the United Kingdom has emerged as a leader in recognizing the rights of its glbtq citizens.

social sciences >> The Labouchère Amendment

The Labouchère Amendment criminalized all sexual contact between men in Great Britain in 1885 and remained on the books until 1967.

social sciences >> The Legacy Walk (Chicago)

The Legacy Walk in Chicago is an outdoor history museum that reclaims and celebrates glbtq contributions to world history and culture.

social sciences >> National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals (NOGLSTP)   

The National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals exists to empower glbtq careerists and students in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.

social sciences >> Nopcsa, Baron Franz

Transylvanian paleontologist Baron Franz Nopcsa made significant contributions to the fields of paleontology, geology, ethnology, and evolutionary biology, and aspired to become King of Albania.

social sciences >> Tesla, Nikola

Prolific inventor and developer of the alternating current system used in modern electric power generation, Nikola Tesla exhibited no sexual interest in women, which fueled rumors of homosexuality.

literature >> Wilde, Oscar

Oscar Wilde is important both as an accomplished writer and as a symbolic figure who exemplified a way of being homosexual at a pivotal moment in the emergence of gay consciousness.

social sciences >> Wolfenden Report

The Wolfenden Report, a 1957 British government study, recommended that homosexual behavior between consenting adults in private no longer be criminalized in England.


Hodges, Andrew. Alan Turing: The Enigma. New York: Walker and Company, 1983.

____. Turing. The Great Philosophers Series. Ray Monk and Frederic Raphael, consulting editors. New York: Routledge, 1997.

Prager, John. On Turing. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth, 2001.

Turing, Alan Mathison. The Collected Works of A. M. Turing. P. N. Furbank, General Editor. London: North-Holland, 1992.


    Citation Information
    Author: Curtain, Tyler  
    Entry Title: Turing, Alan  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated December 16, 2006  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


This Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc. is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.