Desire and Longing: Making A Queer Case for ‘The Imitation Game’


*Spoilers abound—take caution and proceed with care!*

I’ve found myself in a compromising position recently: I like The Imitation Game. More than that, I think that The Imitation Game presents a uniquely queer vision of a stuttering, stilted, nearly unspeakable sexuality that is rife with longing.

Most queer film critics would suggest that I am somehow aligning myself with a “safe” or “de-sexed” vision of homosexuality, a representation of Alan Turing—who tragically committed suicide after two years of chemical castration, his punishment under British law for the “gross indecency” of engaging in sex with men—that denies the very sex life for which he faced so much adversity, and eventually death. I believe, however, that the desire which The Imitation Game implies is rich and vital.

There are pieces of the argument against it with which I agree. As a gay film-goer, I find insightful, well-executed queer sexuality an incredibly fulfilling, and admittedly all too rare, on screen experience. I will also say that I have not read any biographies of Turing, and I am not an expert on the history of his mathematic/inventing contributions or his relationships; I understand that there are quite possibly numerous inaccuracies to Graham Moore’s script. I think we can all agree that as accurate a representation of Turing’s life as possible would be the best case scenario. I suppose I differ in that I believe the measured elision of explicit sexuality in this film suggests the tensions of the time in which it is set, offering one version of a historically-accurate, still-fulfilling queer experience.

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