Excellent blog post by Matt Houlbrook here. I don’t agree with quite all of this, but it raises some very important points about the complexity of queer history, the popular (and dangerous) desire to perceive our history as one of constant social progression, and the problem of using history to score political points.
It has been a couple of weeks since it became clear that the proposal that Alan Turing receive a posthumous pardon for his conviction for “gross indecency” in 1952 will be passed into law. Despite the flurry of discussion in the media and online I didn’t want to write anything about it at the time. This might be unfashionable, but I wanted to think about exactly what is at stake in this move.
Pardoning Turing might be good politics, but I think it is certainly bad history. Good politics? For David Cameron, giving government support to a private member’s bill to pardon Turing is a neat way of detoxifying the Conservative brand and confirming his claims to be a social liberal. For LGBT organizations and communities it is a welcome gesture—symbolic confirmation of the progressive narrative of social inclusion woven around the campaigns for equal marriage and partnership rights. Stepping…
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