The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, May 25
May 25th, 2011
Family “Research” Council’s National Pastor’s Briefing: Washington, D.C. The FRC’s Watchmen On the Wall project will hold a National Pastor’s Briefing beginning today and continuing through Friday at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill. Today’s events are fairly low-keyed, mainly registration, exhibits, and “U.S. Capitol Spiritual Heritage Tours” as well as tours of FRC headquarters. The real fun begins tomorrow.
Bloomberg Fund-raises for Marriage Equality: New York. Not that you or I would be able to attend such a high-dollar soiree, but it’s good to know that New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg is joining several other wealthy Republican New Yorkers in helping to bankroll marriage equality. He will host a high-dollar fundraiser at the Upper East Side headquarters of his foundation. The party will feature singer Rufus Wainwright. The New York Times recently estimated that wealthy Republicans are providing about two-thirds of the funds to support marriage equality.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Oscar Wilde Convicted: 1895. In 1891, author, poet and playwright Oscar Wilde was the toast of London. He made his mark in literature in The Picture of Dorian Gray (a new annotated edition with some of the more homoerotic themes restored has just been released) and in other essays made him a man of letters, while his popular plays (Salome, A Woman of No Importance, and especially The Importance of Being Earnest) burnished his reputation for sophisticated wit. But the wild success of Earnest which premiered in February 1895, was quickly eclipsed by Wilde’s conviction and sentencing for homosexuality.
In 1891, Wilde was denounced as a homosexual by the Marquess of Queensbury. Wilde, who was involved with the marquess’ son, Alfred Douglass, sued the Marquess for libel but lost the case when evidence supported the marquess’ allegations. Because homosexuality was still considered a crime in England, that evidence led to Wilde’s arrest. His first trial resulted in a hung jury, but a second jury in 1895 sentenced him, along with another friend by the name of Alfred Taylor, to two years of hard labor. Justice Alfred Wills pronounced the sentence in the harshest of terms. From the court record:
Justice Wills: Oscar Wilde and Alfred Taylor, the crime of which you have been convicted is so bad that one has to put stern restraint upon one’s self to prevent one’s self from describing, in language which I would rather not use, the sentiments which must rise in the breast of every man pf honor who has heard the details of these two horrible trials. That the jury has arrived at a correct verdict in this case I cannot persuade myself to entertain a shadow of a doubt; and I hope, at all events, that those who sometimes imagine that a judge is half-hearted in the cause of decency and morality because he takes care no prejudice shall enter into the case, may see that it is consistent at least with the utmost sense of indignation at the horrible charges brought home to both of you.
It is no use for me to address you. People who can do these things must be dead to all sense of shame, and one cannot hope to produce any effect upon them. It is the worst case I have ever tried. that you, Taylor, kept a kind of male brothel it is impossible to doubt. And that you, Wilde, have been the center of a circle of extensive corruption of the most hideous kind among young men, it is equally impossible to doubt.
I shall, under the circumstances, be expected to pass the severest sentence that the law allows. In my judgment it it totally inadequate for a case such as this. The sentence of the Court is that each of you be imprisoned and kept to hard labor for two years.
[Cries of “Oh! Oh!” and “Shame!”]
Wilde–And I? May I say nothing, my Lord?
The court adjourned.
Ian McKellen: 1939. Actually, that’s Sir Ian McKellen. He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1979 and knighted in 1991. He started out in Shakespearean theater, where he has continued to perform in a number of stage productions in Britain. But beginning in 1969, he branched out in film and television, covering a wide range of genres from drama (And the Band Played On, Gods and Monsters), to mystery (Six Degrees of Separation, The Da Vinci Code), to action and fantasy (X-Men, The Lord of the Rings trilogy). He publicly came out as gay in 1988 when “Section 28”, a bill that prohibited “promoting homosexuality” was being debated in Britain’s Parliament. He went on to become a founding member of Stonewall, Europe’s largest LGBT advocacy organization, and remains active in promoting LGBT equality.
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