Friday, April 6, 2012

On This Date: Oscar Wilde

Did you know that on this date in 1895, Oscar Wilde was arrested, basically, for being gay?  True.  As the story goes, Wilde had been engaged to the son of the marquess of Queensberry.
Wilde had been engaged in an affair with the marquess's son since 1891, but when the outraged marquess denounced him as a homosexual, Wilde sued the man for libel. However, he lost his case when evidence strongly supported the marquess's observations. Homosexuality was classified as a crime in England at the time, and Wilde was arrested, found guilty, and sentenced to two years of hard labor.
Two years hard labor.  This just goes to show two things:   1.)  unlike what the extremists want people to think, homosexuality has been around for as long as humanity, itself, has.  Wonder who did the "recruiting" back in those days?;  and, 2.)  the LGBT community has always struggled for acceptance.

A four year engagement!?  That's as long, or longer, than many hetero marriages!!  Just sayin'.  For the record, I will add that one of my best friends as a younger man was with his partner (gay marriage wasn't even THOUGHT about in those not-so-long-ago days!) for 17 years!!  Together, they owned a home, operated a successful business, raised a daughter, eventually raised a grandson.  The only thing that separated them was the death of my friend's partner.  Til death do us part.  Yet, we have to struggle to get equal rights to marry!  Go figure.

What struck me as interesting in Oscar Wilde's case is that he was jailed for being a homosexual, but why wasn't the Lord of Queensberry to whom he was engaged for 4 years?  Ah, the privilege of being royalty.

In a bizarre twist, just last year, March 3, 2011, the son of the marquess of Queensberry committed suicide, throwing himself from a fifth floor balcony.  He had been struggling with the sometimes debilitating mental illness, depression.  That just shows that no one is immuned.

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