Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Queer News of The Week

I realize that I do end up collecting those bits and pieces of Queer News throughout the week and I decided it'd be a good thing to share them. Many of them may fall into the (not-so-total)-trivia category, but fragments are always worth keeping in ones pockets, purses and hats, isn't it?

Queer News 1: Do you know who Alan Turing was?

[Thanks Blair, for triggering the interest!]

I was somehow surprised (since I had never heard about it before) and excited to learn that the father of the modern computer was homosexual. Indeed, Andrew Hodges, who wrote Alan Turing's biography Alan Turing: The Enigma (Vintage books: 1992) describes Turing as "founder of computer science, mathematician, philosopher, codebreaker, visionary and gay man before his time."

Turing is often described at the father of modern computer for having formalized algorithms and computations with the Turing Machine. As rightly pointed out by Paul Gray in an article in one of the edition of The Time (March 29th, 1999)-- as part of The Time's project to list the 100 most important people of the 20th century: "But the fact remains that everyone who taps at a keyboard, opening a spreadsheet or a word-processing program, is working on an incarnation of a Turing machine." Turing was such an optimistic believer of artificial intelligence that he was believed to have said that "one day ladies will take their computers for walks in the park and tell each other, 'My little computer said such a funny thing this morning!'"

In 1952, Turing was convicted for gross indecency after telling the police (who were investigating a case of robbery at his house) that he was having an affair with a young man who might have known the burglar. Surprisingly enough, Alan Turing was always explicit about his sexual orientation. While he was spared prison, he was subjected to the injection of female hormones intended to reduce his lust.

On June 7, 1952, Turing was found dead. The causes of his death are still blurred, some suggesting an assassination, others an accident, but it is widely believed that Turing actually killed himself by eating an apple laced with cyanide. The death was officially ruled as suicide. Why an apple? Is it to be seen as ironical that it is the same fruit of knowledge that adorns the Mac products? It is widely believed though, that Alan Turing was re-enacting the scene from Snow-White, his favorite fairy tale.

[For those interested, Herbert Wise's 1997 film, Breaking the Code starring Harold Pinter is based on Alan Turing's life.]

Queer News 2: Lady Gaga comes out as intersexed?

Lady Gaga who came out as bisexual, has queer fans all over the world and also graced Toronto Pride 2009 with a superb concert has allegedly come out as intersexed. I found this fascinating: We are all queer, gay marriages is the hot topic of the moment all over the US, we are talking queerness and ethnic minorities, we are shouting at each other at the intersections of queerness and disabilities, I am so obsessed with transitioning and trans-issues that I am writing an entire thesis on it but: What about the intersex? How come we never speak about them? Where do they fit in the bigger queer picture?

Anyway, the post by Mark D. Snyder is available on QueerToday, here: It seems Lady Gaga confessed to having both male and female genitalia and said "It's no big deal!" Now, that's what just the kind of attitude I love and admire!

[As an aside, for the French readers out here, this book recently came out: Ni Homme, Ni Femme: Enquete sur L'Intersexuation by Julien Picquart (La Musardine: 2009) If any of you wakes up one morning with the wild desire to gift me something, you know what to do! Or at least, buy it for yourself, read it, and let me know how it is!]

Queer News 3: Tim Hortons comes out for an LGBT cause!

I once said here that Tim Hortons represented the epitome of my assimilation into Canadianness. Well Tim Hortons, Canada's largest coffee chain (that you can also find in Afghanistan: link here) and the Queer population were at odds for some 24 hours or so at the beginning of this week! Tim Hortons had in fact decided to co-sponsor a rally in Rhode Island hosted by the American National Organization for Marriage (NOM). Now, there's nothing wrong with that, since the event was a family day event. But, it just so happens that NOM is also the group currently leading campaigns to fight marriage equality in Maine, Washington, D.C., New York, New Jersey and elsewhere. Ouch!

So now, the question was immediately raised as to how a chain that purports to support 'local initiatives that make a difference' would support an event by such an organization as NOM? It looks like the queer community got angry and that the very Tim Hortons-loving LGBT community decided to take action. A petition, here, was immediately set in place to demand that Tim Hortons stops supporting NOM and other anti-LGBT group.

I once dated a French boy who very bitterly discarded all my ideas of political action and thus made fun of my view that petitions can always trigger a beginning of that process called change. Well, here is the proof that I may not have been totally wrong: Just 17 hours after the petition was launched (yes, just 17 hours and a couple of thousands of letters sent!!) Tim Hortons pulled its sponsorship from the event stating:

"For 45 years, Tim Hortons and its store owners have practiced a philosophy of giving back to the communities in which we operate. As a company, our primary focus is on helping children and supporting fundraising events for non-profit organizations and registered charities.
For this reason, Tim Hortons has not sponsored those representing religious groups, political affiliates or lobby groups.
It has come to our attention that the Rhode Island event organizer and purpose of the event fall outside of our sponsorship guidelines. As such, Tim Hortons can not provide support at the event."
Now, that's what I call action and that's what I call good and efficient political action. One small battle won, and there's still a long way to go. (Grin!) I think I do feel a deeper connection with a larger LGBT community after this event, and I do feel a certain connection to Tim Hortons and I do feel that maybe, nationalism in its various expressions and discourses could be reclaimed by queer movements: What do you think?

1 comment:

Yani said...

yay! now we can drink Tim Hortons coffee with all the pride we can muster! I am back in pboro. You call me when you return...