here’s a toast to Alan Turing
born in harsher, darker times
who thought outside the container
and loved outside the lines
and so the code-breaker was broken
and we’re sorry
yes now the s-word has been spoken
the official conscience woken
– very carefully scripted but at least it’s not encrypted –
and the story does suggest
a part 2 to the Turing Test:
1. can machines behave like humans?
2. can we?
Thank you to my blockmate Jeremy for sending it to me.
I’ve been a fan of OSC since I was very young. I loved the stories of Ender and Bean – stories of children who are different and catch a lot of crap for it, who are tormented by everyone they know but still hold on to their integrity and compassion.
These portrayals resonate with most nerds, who already have “different” and “tormented” on lockdown, and would like to believe – need to believe – that they, like Ender, like Bean, are also special, powerful, and wise beyond their years. At least, I know I did.
Gay nerds, of course, usually get an extra helping of different and tormented, which (anecdotally speaking) seems to cause many of us to identify all the more strongly with OSC’s protagonists. As a seriously miserable middle schooler, I took a lot of comfort in the Ender series. Orson Scott Card was one adult who really got it, who knew what it was to be young and different and at the mercy of your peers.
That’s why it was so jarring when I found out that OSC believes to the core of his being that homosexuality is immoral, and that any institution or government that seek to legitimize it “is [his] mortal enemy“. When I was a young person reading OSC’s books, I assumed that because he had such a deep understanding of the pain of being different, he would obviously support things that would make being different less painful.
But of course, it’s not that easy. There are explicitly queer characters in many of OSC’s novels, most often struggling against themselves, but there is nothing simple or moralizing in his portrayals of these people – and still, he writes these essays condemning gays for, well… existing. And daring to state that our existence is not a crime.
I know many gay people who were huge OSC fans before they found out about his stance on homosexuality, and who are no longer able to enjoy his books as they once were. I understand this – it seems a betrayal of the trust we placed in OSC as teens.
As for me, I still reread the Ender and Bean books from time to time. The themes they deal with still fascinate me, and many of the values they endorse are ones I share. I do wish that OSC’s Mormon viewpoint didn’t function to muddle the message implicit in his Enderverse novels, that people who are different are valuable people from whom we can learn much. I have learned much from the novels of Orson Scott Card – now I wish he could learn something from people like me.