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EXCLUSIVE: A Music Homage to Gay Icon Alan Turing

By Andrew Villagomez

Photo Credit: National Portrait Gallery, London

London's electric, indie band Fiction is releasing its debut album, The Big Other, this March, and the final track, "The Apple," pays a modern musical homage to Alan Turing—whose tragic demise inspired band member Mike Barrett to write the song. "'It's one of the oldest songs on the album and has always been a favorite to play live," Barrett explained.

Turing was a brilliant UK mathematician during the 1930s-1950s, who was found guilty of "gross indecency" with another man back when British law condemned homosexual activity. He was given the difficult choice between being sent to prison or chemical castration. "He chose the latter and was forced to take female growth hormones, which inevitably had a grave effect on his body and mind," Barrett explained. "When he died two years later from cyanide poisoning, a half eaten apple was found next to his bed. Some suspect his suicide was a recreation of a scene from his favorite fairytale, Snow White."

Barrett shared that he first learned about Turing from reading his work on algorithms and his contribution at Bletchley Park—which during the WWII was the site of the UK's main decryption establishment, the Government Code and Cypher School. "[I] subsequently read about his trial, and the circumstances of his death came as a bit of a surprise... Here’s a genius—a man that arguably invented the computer, who made a priceless contribution to defeating the Nazis—put on trial for his sexuality. Of course, countless others were tried in the UK, and continue to be around the world, but Turing’s story illustrated to me so graphically the sheer absurdity of prejudice, and 'The Apple' is a small attempt at understanding his personal torment at that time."

Barrett went on to explain: "It seems ironic that, in a country so scientifically advanced, the law that kept homosexuality a crime until the late 1960s served to ruin the life of one of Britain’s best scientific minds. Even today, as a bill legalizing gay marriage is passed through Parliament, we see half the government in uproar, talking in sound bytes about marriage being ‘between a man and a woman’. I’m generally more into women than men—and I’m not particularly inclined to get married yet!—but, like Turing’s story, it reminded me that for all [Western Europe's] social progress, small-minded conservatism still exists and should be exposed as such wherever possible, whatever your sexuality."

Listen to tribute song below and read the lyrics under:

11. The Apple - For Alan Turing

They said Alan
they said listen, Alan
they said listen, Alan
you’ve got a simple decision
a simple choice
but it’s one or the other

so I had a choice
I had a choice
I had a choice

but they’ve been making my mind up
they’ve been making my body
into something it’s not

the algorithm was nothing special
I just took a bite
the code was really nothing much
and I just took a bite

they said it’s not right
they said it’s not right
they said it’s not right
and we can’t let you do that
we can’t let you get away with that

so I took a bite
I took a bite
I took a bite

because they’ve been making my mind up
they’ve been making my body
into something it’s not

the algorithm was nothing special
I just took a bite


Lyrics by Mike Barrett (blonde band member in the photo above)

'The Big Other' will be released on March 4, and Fiction will be on tour throughout the UK the month of March. Visit here for dates and locations. Listen to more music from the band on YouTube.

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