Monday, May 25, 2009

Today in Gay History

On May 25 1895 -
Oscar Wilde
was sentenced to 2 years hard labor
for being a sodomite

Left, Wilde and Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas

According to his obituary on Find aGrave

He was kept in a 13x7ft cell with planks for a bed and assigned useless work while being ridiculed by guards. He lost custody of his children and the one visit from his wife was to inform him his mother had died. When Wilde was released from prison, he was penniless and in poor health. He began a self imposed exile to the Continent ending up in Paris. He shunned society and artistic circles but his famous poem penned in prison 'The Ballad of Reading Gaol,' was published.
. . . After an operation for ear problems, he became semi-comatose for days, then passed away from meningitis in a seedy Paris hotel at age 46. His remains were buried in Bagneaux Cemetery encased in quicklime so the corpse would decompose to only bones because of the temporary lease on the plot. The lime only tended to preserve the remains instead of skeletizing. Two years later a friend, Robert Ross, had the remains moved to the prestigious Paris cemetery Pere Lachaise. Taking three years, the tomb was sculpt by the famous American Jacob Epstein.
. . . Fifty years later, the remains of his longtime friend Robert Ross, were placed in his tomb. During his life he was a living rebuke to English Victorian hypocrisy. He illuminated Europe and America with his poems, plays and essays. They are still being produced and read 100 years after his death. His quips, quotes and epigrams still sparkle: On a platform, rain pouring down waiting for a train to prison, He uttered, "If the Queen can't treat her prisoners any better than this, she doesn't deserve to have any."

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