[i] This is not to suggest that Turing's conviction was directly responsible for his suicide. In fact it is not entirely clear that his death was a suicide at all. While the hormone treatments he was made to undergo may seem horrific, Turing seemed to take a lighthearted approach to his predicament. While his death by cyanide poisoning – presumably from an apple found on his bedside table – was ruled a suicide, his mother insisted it was a simple mishandling of laboratory chemicals.
[ii] The homosocial environment of British University life is documented in numerous fictional texts of the time, several of which were written by authors of the Bloomsbury group such as E. M. Forster and Lytton Strachey. Perhaps most notable among these is E. M. Forster's Maurice, a love story of two men written between 1912-13 but published posthumously in 1971. Other more contemporary examples include Julian Mitchell's play Another Country (1983), later adapted into a feature length film (1984).
[iii] Sex between men had been illegal in England since as early as the Buggery Act of 1533, but the Labouchere Amendment made all forms of homosexual contact between men a punishable offense.
[iv] Bletchley Park was the estate that housed the National Codes Centre during World War II, and was the site at which the British broke the Nazi Enigma Code with the help of Turing.
[v] He continues, "The most flamboyant case was Angus Wilson – he later became a very successful novelist – and he had a boyfriend called Beverly. Angus was about that high [indicating small] with flowing yellow hair (l remember it went white later) and Beverly (I forget his second name) was very 'weed-like': very tall. They could be seen shambling along the horizon, a daily sight, as they look their walk around lawns alter lunch." Quoted in: Lee, John A. N. and Golde Holtzman, "50 Years After Breaking the Codes: interviews with Two of the Bletchley Park Scientists" IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, Spring 1995, Vol. 17 No. 1, p. 38.
[vi] It seems important to note that, as with much of British society at the time, there is a very particular class dynamic at work here, in which the upper class is often given more leeway with the law and among their peers. Of course this kind of homosexual behavior was not particular to the upper classes, and in fact homosexuality often facilitated a form of cross-class sexual contact.
[vii] Hodges, Andrew. Alan Turing: The Enigma. London: Random House Publishing (1992) p. 35.
[ix] This is not to suggest that Turing's sexuality is not widely acknowledged and discussed. Andrew Hodges – Turing's biographer, archivist, and a renowned mathematician himself – deals with Turing's sexuality explicitly in his writing, going so far as to speculate on the ways in which it may have motivated his personal and professional life. Elizabeth Wilson also deals with Turing's queerness in Affect and Artificial Intelligence (2010), though it is through the lens of affect theory and in regards to Turing's contributions to the field of AI. Turing is dealt with most explicitly as a queer subject in Jeremy Douglass' Machine Writing and the Turing Test which explores the implications of the Turing test in terms of gender "passing."
[x] Many queer women also make up the history of computing, though they are not connected directly to Turing through this particular genealogy. Lynn Conway is one such figure, who was an early pioneer in the American computing industry, studying at MIT in the 1950s and working for IBM in the 1960s. She would go on to make fundamental contributions to the revolution in Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) design in the 1980s, and in 1999 would become an activist for transgender rights and visibility.
[xi] Love, Heather. Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press (2009) p. 32.