Heartbreaking Alan Turing letters reveal turmoil over gay ‘cure’ treatment
Heartbreaking new letters from gay codebreaker Alan Turing reveal the trauma he went through while being chemically castrated to ‘cure’ his homosexuality.
Turing, often hailed as the grandfather of modern computing, was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ in 1952 after having sex with a man, and was chemically castrated, barred from working for GCHQ, and eventually driven to suicide.
The mathematical genius previously worked at Bletchley Park to crack the German Enigma codes – which is widely believed to have meant an earlier end to World War II.
New letters shed light on the extent of the horrific treatment he was put through at the hands of the state, in misguided attempts to ‘cure’ his sexuality.
In a letter a friend, dated after his 1952 conviction, he wrote: “I have had a dream indicating rather clearly that I am on the way to being hetero, though I don’t accept it with much enthusiasm either awake or in the dreams.”
Another letter sheds light on his sexual side, adding of a holiday: “I expect to lie in the sun, talk French and modern Greek, and make love, though the sex and nationality.. has yet to be decided: in fact it is quite possible that this item will be altogether omitted.
“I want a permanent relationship and I might feel inclined to reject anything which of its nature could not be permanent.”
A third hints at his family’s reaction to his homosexuality, saying: “Mother has been staying here, and we seem to be getting on a good deal better. I have been subjecting her to a good deal of sexual enlightenment and she seems to have stood up to it very well.
“There was a rather absurd dream I had the other night in which I asked mother’s opinion about going to bed with some men and she said: ‘Oh very well, but don’t go walking about the place naked like you did before’.”
The letters were printed in the Guardian after surfacing through Turing’s nephew, Sir Dermot Turing.
Sir Turing is including passages of the letters in his book ‘Prof: Alan Turing Decoded’, adding: “At the same time that he was having his psychotherapy, and… his hormones taken out… [the correspondence] indicates that he was in a good deal of a turmoil, which… has historically been what everyone had assumed, but now is confirmed.”
Alan Turing was portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch in last year’s biopic ‘The Imitation Game’ – though the film did not portray him showing sexual interest in men.