While spotlights shine on same sex marriages and homophobia internationally and change is occurring at a reasonable pace, it took over a hundred years for the archaic Victorian law used to prosecute author Oscar Wilde to come under reform. The fact that so much time passed before said reform took effect fuels the flames of veracity as to what is accurate about Wilde, his case and homophobia at the time and from history from then till now. Passions obscure the strongest of historical facts when written through biased lenses and data are not readily available from the subjective parties’ perspective. In Wilde’s case there is ample documentation on his own personal perspective, which lends to a retrospective comparison of his view (his defense while on trial and in his letter to his lover, De Profundis, while serving his prison sentence) and the view of society, including the press.
First, it’s important to understand the history of homosexuality legality in Britain to understand the intensity of scrutiny and bias that Wilde incurred.
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