Gay History Month – October 16th: Oscar Wilde, Paragraph 175, The Boy From Oz and Another Politcal Weiner
Did you know that on October 16th……….
1856: Oscar Wilde is born in Dublin, Ireland.
After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, Oscar Wilde became one of London’s most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. Today he is remembered for his only novel (The Picture of Dorian Gray), his plays, wit, and the circumstances of his imprisonment and early death.
At the height of his fame and success, while his masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), was still on stage in London, Wilde had the Marquess of Queensberry prosecuted for libel. The Marquess was the father of Wilde’s lover, Lord Alfred Douglas. The charge carried a penalty of up to two years in prison. The trial unearthed evidence that caused Wilde to drop his charges and led to his own arrest and trial for gross indecency with other men. After two more trials he was convicted and imprisoned for two years’ hard labour. In 1897, in prison, he wrote De Profundis, which was published in 1905, a long letter which discusses his spiritual journey through his trials, forming a dark counterpoint to his earlier philosophy of pleasure. Upon his release he left immediately for France, never to return to Ireland or Britain. There he wrote his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), a long poem commemorating the harsh rhythms of prison life. He died destitute in Paris at the age of forty-six.
1929: The Reichstag Committee voted to repeal Paragraph 175. The Nazis’ rise to power prevents it from being removed from the books and they in turn use it as the tool to persecute hundreds of thousands of gay, lesbian and transgender German citizens which they beat, torture and kill, sending many to concentration camps from which they will never return.
1975: During a raid on a Hollywood gay porn theatre the Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles Maurice Weiner is arrested. Weiner was a great progressive – a devoted advocate for racial justice, gender equity, and the rights of working women and men serving under Mayor Tom Bradley Weiner later resigns from office because of the scandal
1987: AIDS quilt organizer and LGBT activist Cleve Jones was named “Person of the Year” by ABC anchorman Peter Jennings. (And rightfully so)
2003: The Boy From Oz, starring Hugh Jackman, opens on Broadway starring Hugh Jackman. Oz is a jukebox musical based on the life and death of singer/songwriter Peter Allen featuring songs written by him.