Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Oscar Wilde. Wilde and his The Picture of Dorian Gray have been celebrated before on TSM. Wilde’s legacy is being one of the most successful playwrights of the late 19th century and being imprisoned for being gay, expressing “the love that dare not speak its name.” What a mixture of sadness and triumph we have with Wilde. Being sent to prison for being gay, Wilde becomes a type of martyr for the LGBT community. However, his courage, wit, and visibility have now made him a hero to gays around the world.
And where is the reputation of Lord Alfred Douglas today? Douglas is a prime example of what happens when you are on the wrong side of history–take note all of the modern bigots against marriage equality. Douglas’ legacy is that he was the man that seduced Wilde, set him up, used him, and is now only known as a pathetic coward. While Douglas lived off his father’s wealth until he was an old man, Wilde died destitute in Paris.
Wilde’s legacy is that he remains the quintessential wit of the 19th and 20th centuries, and a man of honor and courage. The Importance of Being Earnest remains a much-revered play. I am determined to play Lady Bracknell, Aunt Augusta, as soon as I find a production being mounted here in the Portland area! Earnest is far more clever and witty than most people realize. The word “earnest” was code at that time for being gay.
Wilde is also one of those literary figures who remains quoted by his fans. Here are a few of my favorites:
The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing.
— The Soul of Man Under Socialism
The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast.
To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.
— An Ideal Husband
I applaud Wilde for his courage, strength, and for inspiring generations of gay people who follow after him. To learn more about Oscar Wilde, click here.