GUYS. GUYS. GUYS.
I would like to continue the story of Oscar Wilde, evil boyfriend (Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas), and evil boyfriend’s dad (The Marquess of Queensberry).
It’s so great. And also not so great, since it ends super-tragically, forced labor-style. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
In class, I mentioned how Wilde had an evil boyfriend. Both of them are pictured here, being dandy and in (toxic) love.
Evil boyfriend Douglas had an evil dad named the Marquess of Queensberry, who, to put it mildly, disapproved of their relationship – not because it was somewhat dysfunctional, but because it was, well, gay.
So tensions built up, as they do. Things seemed to come to a head with an incident in which Queensbury showed up to a performance of The Importance of Being Earnest with a bouquet of rotten vegetables, which he intended to throw onto the stage. Wilde learned of this plan and barred Queensberry from the theater. Queensberry countered with this tasteful note:
In normal handwriting, this translates to “For Oscar Wilde posing Somdomite.”
Although I can’t find at present a source to corroborate this, I’ve heard tell that Queensberry purposefully spelled “sodomite” incorrectly so that if Wilde sued him for libel, he could argue that he hadn’t actually called Wilde a “sodomite.” Just a “somdomite.” Which means nothing, except for the fact that it’s obviously the word “sodomite” with an extra M in it.
But back to the story. Wilde did sue Queensberry for libel, in spite of the fact that all of his friends (except boyfriend Douglas) told him it was a terrible idea. Queensberry was arrested promptly. The only way he could claim his innocence was by proving that Wilde was, in fact, engaging in sexual relations with other males. This was not terribly difficult to do. Queensberry was acquitted, and Wilde was promptly tried and convicted for sodomy and gross indecency. He spent the next two years doing hard labor. Three years after his release, he died ill and impoverished.
Which is sad, obviously.
I’m sorry if I sound flippant. Like Oscar Wilde, I sometimes pretend that I don’t take life very seriously.
Anyways. My only source for all of this is Wikipedia. I couldn’t make this stuff up even if I wanted to. So ends this tale of sodomy, tragedy, and rotten veggie bouquets.