Stephen Hawking gave more to humanity than science – changing perceptions of LGBTI and disabled people

Stephen Hawking gave more to humanity than science – changing perceptions of LGBTI and disabled people

Stehpen Hawking has died aged 76 | Photo: Lwp Kommunikáció

Stephen Hawking, the physicist whose theories changed the world and actions that inspired millions, has died.

He passed away peacefully in his sleep at his home in Cambridge overnight on Wednesday. He was 76.

In a statement his children, Lucy, Robert, and Tim, say:

‘We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years.’

They also praised his courage, persistence, brilliance, and humor.

‘He once said, “It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.” We will miss him forever.’

The British scientist is infamous not just for his work on black holes and relativity – but for becoming a household name featured on popular TV shows even including the Simpsons.

In a testament to his legacy, where he will undoubtedly join the ranks of scientists as revered as Newton and Einstein: Not only was Hawking was born on the date of Galileo’s death, 8 January – his death coincides with Albert Einstein’s birthday, 14 March.

But to limit his achievements to those in the field of science would be an injustice. He changed perceptions about disability and was a supporter of LGBTI rights.

During the campaign to pardon Alan Turing, Stephen Hawking wrote a letter to the Daily Telegraph in support.

Alan Turing is the father of computer science. But also the codebreaker that helped win World War Two. He was tortured by the state for being gay, is to receive a pardon nearly 60 years after his death.

Haking called on the then Prime Minister David Cameron to ‘formally forgive’ the mathematician. A battle that was eventually won when, in July 2013, the government said they were prepared to support a backbench bill pardoning the war hero.

And LGBTI voices are now paying tribute to the world-renowned scientist.

Entertainer Sue Perkins tweeted ‘RIP Stephen Hawking’ along with his famous quote:

‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’

Changing perceptions of disability – defying doctors who told him ‘you have two years to live’ at 22

At the age of 22 Hawking got the diagnosis for his rare form of motor neuron disease. The debilitating illness affects the brain and nerves – causes your muscles to get weaker over time. Given only a few years to live, he set into action some the foundation of work – that would then go onto to be an over 50-year career.

He did all of this with an illness that left him in a wheelchair while largely unable to speak except through the now famous voice synthesizer.

His several popular science books including A Brief History of Time, are now well known for inspiring generations of scientists.

And he did all of this, for the majority of his life, in a wheelchair with a severe disability.

 

Read more on Gay Star News:

When Britain made gay men lie in their own vomit for days on end to try to ‘cure’ them

This is why young people need to learn their queer history

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