Norm Kent

'The Imitation Game' Writer Mirrors Real Life

Filed By Norm Kent | February 28, 2015 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Living
Tags: Alan Turing, Graham Moore, Neil Patrick Harris, Oscars, The Imitation Game

Imitation-Game_72dpi.jpgAh, Hollywood! The Oscars! The excitement, the drama, the competition - and that's just trying to find a parking space within six blocks of the Red Carpet.

Winning an Oscar gives an artist sixty seconds to make a political statement in the international spotlight. Last Sunday was such an evening, with calls for racial equality, pay parity for women, raised awareness for Alzheimer's, and one young man's riveting and emotional call to help end teen suicides.

Screenwriter Graham Moore captured the hearts of the Academy during his acceptance speech for penning the Best Adapted Screenplay for the film 'The Imitation Game'. He used his moment to address young men and women who feel isolated and alone, who feel like they are outsiders. He told them they all would eventually be okay. It was his self-generated version of an "It Gets Better" speech, and it hit a home run at the Oscars.

Moore began in a brutally honest way, saying he attempted suicide when he was 16 because he felt 'weird' and 'different,' adding 'I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she's weird or she's different or she doesn't fit in anywhere.'

To a standing ovation, he concluded with inspirational words. "Yes, you do. I promise you do. Stay weird, stay different." Someday, he said, that same outcast would have a stage of their own.

The LGBT community was once an outcast, even in Hollywood. Many in the audience related well to his talk.

In the media crush that followed, Moore, 34, told interviewers that he has lived with 'depression' almost every day of his life. The young man, who attended the awards ceremony with his mother, then postured that he is "not gay, just different."

Moore, who grew up in a very middle class environment as the son of divorced Chicago lawyers told Access Hollywood he was obsessed with the story of Alan Turing "ever since he was a teenager." But he is not gay, he said. Okay, then.

Regardless, Moore, standing in the Governor's Ball at the close of the Oscar ceremony, told reporters, "Turing was a tremendous hero of mine. Alan always seemed like the outsider's outsider in his own time for so many reasons. Because he was the smartest man in every room that he entered. Because he was a gay man at a time when that was not simply frowned upon, but also illegal. And then, because he was keeping all these secrets for the government."

Moore then added that he admired Turing because "he was a guy who was apart from society for so many different reasons, but because he was apart from society he was able to see the world in a way that no one else had, and I found that incredibly inspirational."

Who was Alan Turing then? He was a pioneering British computer scientist, logician, mathematician, and a remarkable cryptanalyst who developed a machine that deciphered the secret Nazi war code. His discovery and persistence are today celebrated as a critical factor in enabling Allied Forces to defeat Hitler's army.

He was not always so appreciated.

In 1952, Turing was prosecuted in Great Britain for engaging in homosexual acts. It was still a crime, and as an alternative to prison, he accepted chemical castration as a penalty. Along with electroshock therapy, those kinds of penalties were routine. In 1954, at age 41, he committed suicide. As Graham Moore stated in his acceptance speech, Turing never got a stage to speak on; never a medal to hold.

"The Imitation Game" is a powerful movie chronicling the achievements of Alan Turing during his lifetime. Everyone in the LGBT community should see and appreciate the film. Like so many others, Turing lived as a gay man in the shadows, winning credibility for what he did with his clothes on in the daytime. He was not rewarded for whom he slept with at night.

Alan Turing was never recognized for his achievements while he was alive, and was pardoned for his crimes only two years ago, in 2013, by Queen Elizabeth II. A compelling Hollywood movie will now forever give life to his name.

Graham Moore, a Columbia University graduate, used his time as an award recipient on the Dolby Stage to briefly shine a light on teen suicide, depression and bullying. For that, we should all be grateful. That is also a Hollywood moment that will live for ages.

Whether or not he is gay, Graham Moore brought international attention to young and frightened LGBT youth who still struggle daily with alienation and isolation. It should not be that way. We don't want it to be that way. We hope in the future it won't be that way. Look at Neil Patrick Harris, the popular and first openly gay Oscar host. It does not have to be that way.

Being unique, weird, or different should be a cause for celebration. Diversity is the essence of life; to understand that the rubber band expands to include everyone not to tie out anyone. You don't have to fit in. You just need to be as good as you can be.

The America we must work for applauds differences and celebrates all the colors of the rainbow. We respect individuality and foster differences. We don't control or contain them. We create and countenance freedom of the spirit. Being different does not mean you are weird. It means you are you, and nothing can be healthier. What we have in common is that we are all unique.

"This above all," Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, "to thine ownself be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not be false to any man."

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