Oscar Wilde Slept Here – & Arrested

Another week is here, bringing another chance to meet individuals holding a place in the Gay History timeline and talking with other people who share my passion for acceptance of all citizens of our world.

First thing this morning was a meeting with Simon Fielder of Sounds and Images, who is composing music for the opening and closing credits of my documentary. Below is a video of his wonderful photography and original music:

Today was very special indeed, as one of my years-long favourite artists and entertainers agreed to take part in my documentary: Holly Johnson.

I first heard ‘Relax’, released in 1983 by his band, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, shortly after I decided to come out to all of my family, friends, and associates. I knew then that I was not ashamed of my sexuality, and his position of an openly gay man in this world was something unheard of in my little corner of Alabama in the United States ‘Deep South’, an area known for intolerance to diversity.

After going solo, Holly recorded Legendary Children in 1994, featuring names of gay celebrities and other public figures throughout history and present day who are gay, and mentions Oscar Wilde.

We met in Langtry’s, the wonderful restaurant in London’s Cadogan Hotel.

Lillie Langtry lived at 21 Pont Street, London from 1892 to 1897. Although from 1895 the building was actually the Cadogan Hotel, she would stay in her old bedroom there. A blue plaque on the hotel commemorates this, and the hotel named its restaurant Langtry’s in her honour. Shortly after opening, the hotel became infamous for the arrest of Oscar Wilde on 6 April 1895, in room no. 118. Police charged Oscar with “committing acts of gross indecency with other male persons” (a euphemism for any sex between males) under Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885. Despite pleas by friends to flee the country, Wilde chose to stay and was found guilty and served two years hard labour. The poet laureate John Betjeman, in his tragic poem The Arrest of Oscar Wilde at the Cadogan Hotel, immortalized the events in the room, pictured below.

This meeting was especially poignant for me: I was actually in a place of significant importance in Gay History, as Oscar Wilde has always been an idol of mine. I sat in front of a window, once looked out by Wilde himself, perhaps pondering his future. More than one tear was shed.


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