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Do you remember when you first learned the details of male/female sex? Do you remember what you were thinking as you tried to picture what was being described? I do, because I was way too old to be as ignorant as I was. (My parents couldn’t face handling “the talk.” According to legend, they had done their best to inform my older sister years earlier and were hopelessly humiliated by the results.)
When one of my sisters finally explained the entire process to me, I thought she was kidding. My sweet parents would NEVER do a thing like that! I vaguely remember making an astute comment such as “That’s disgusting!”
Last night, a character in the true-life film The Imitation Game said almost exactly the same words. He was referring to Alan Turing, the Brit whose mathematic genius secretly saved 14 million lives in World War II (according to the film) by breaking a previously unbreakable German military code with a machine he and his team created, a machine that was a forerunner of modern computers. He was referring to a man who was under arrest for indecency, a crime in the UK in those days—a man who was homosexual. The man hadn’t exposed himself to anyone or molested children or done anything publicly that one might find offensive. His crime was his private sexual preference.
Granted, heterosexual people find the picture they imagine as homosexual intercourse revolting. Why wouldn’t they? It’s not the kind of person-to-person contact they have learned to accept. And granted, some religions teach that homosexuality is a sin—in some cultures, a sin punishable by horrific death. But we aren’t talking about forcing anyone to perform acts that person finds inappropriate. We aren’t talking about rape or sexual abuse or even public indecency. Those are crimes for both heterosexuals and homosexuals. We’re talking about people who are born to be different and some who develop differences in response to life.
Some cultures have taken steps away from the blind prejudice depicted in the film, but I don’t know anyone who would say the prejudice is gone in this country or any other. Research indicates that the homophobes who exhibit the most hate may well be reacting to their own uncomfortable–often unrecognized–tendencies. How does the quotation go: “Methinks he protests too much”?
In the film, Alan Turing says he thinks people enact violence against one another because it feels good. In the light of many, many senseless recent killings, perhaps he has a point. The question is, how do we as human beings rise above violence and hatred? Carl Sagan used to say we, as members of the human family, have far more in common than we have differences. How do we humans accept our diverse condition with empathy and compassion?
The Imitation Game is an excellent film. I recommend it highly.