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  • My unsent letter to my literary hero, Oscar Wilde.

    Dear Oscar:

    I fear that our victory will eventually result in our ultimate demise. Extinction.

    I shall not make the mistake of nostalgia, reality in sepia-tone, suffused by a
    numinous nimbus, a world that always appears with supple grace, the piano
    playing Chopin, the bouquet of irises that never wilts.

    But there was nothing charming about imprisonment for sodomy. There was nothing
    lovely about chemical castration. Shock therapies.

    Unpardonable, how they humiliated you, paraded you in front of the press, for the mob
    to heckle, a state-sanctioned calumny, they wanted to destroy Beauty, to lower you
    into their mucky-muck mire of infamy.

    Just as the Catholics have saints for thieves and sailors, you are our martyr, the
    gay saint with the Green Carnation, with the Sky-blue Cravat.

    When I first read A Picture of Dorian Gray, it was a revelation, it was as if i had been
    an orphan, and now recovered a trove of yellowed photographs of my ancestors, you
    spoke a primeval poetry that I recognized as my own--my mother tongue.

    The rhythm of your sentences, the elegiac elegance of your phrasing, I imbibed, with
    delirium, I had found someone whose words gave songs to my inchoate yearnings
    my murmured dreams. I bow to you then, and I bow to you now.

    The world has indeed change since your death of meningitis in that dingy hovel of a
    hotel in Paris.

    The love that dare not speak its name, nowadays, as they say, has become the love
    that won't shut up.

    More than a hundred years after your death, we have made great strides towards equality.
    Nowadays, in New York, in Denmark, in Spain, and a few other places, two men are
    permitted to marry each other.

    It is all marvelous. Yet, I fear that as we become more and more like them--assimilated.
    and indistinguishable--we will efface our own unique genius.

    I fear that we will become banal, that we will surrender to consensus, with unexamined
    lives, we will march, solemnly, down the rote path of respectability, in search of
    security and comfort.

    Being gay taught us art. We learned to be vigilant, to scrutinize the world. At first, we did
    it out of fear, fear that our shame, that knot, would become unraveled, and so we began
    to spy, to mimic and mime. In order to survive, we learned the craft of camouflage. We observed
    how other boys behaved and diligently we performed. Later, our talent for espionage will
    become the fuel for our art.

    Being gay taught us freedom. We were pariahs, social lepers, and so we were free from
    all the conventions that strangled our straight counterparts--moral, aesthetic, spiritual. We
    mingled with the minorities, mixed with the bohemians, allied with other queers, who, like us,
    lived on the fringe, who because they had nothing to lose, could risk. Everything.

    Being gay taught us courage. The churches labeled us sinners. The state branded
    us criminal. Our own families betrayed us. Alone, against all that enmity, we not only
    survived, we flourished. We learned to overcome fear, to interrogate all those who claim
    authority over our love. We learned that it was possible to love--even when the world
    says no, even when your heart is stuttering, and your palm is sweaty. We learned that even
    in the bleakest, blackest night, that our love could still burn, glowing, like a diamond on fire.

    Your life demonstrated all these virtues--art, courage, and freedom. For me, you became
    a beacon of what was possible, you inverted the world, reclaiming the center for those who
    had for so long had been relegated to the margins. In a Victorian world of somber onyx,
    you reveled in fuchsia.

    In the end, you were victorious, the society that condemned, imprisoned you for your affair
    with Lord Alfred Douglas is now judged as barbaric, while you are wreathed with laurels,

    Your enemies died in ignominy while you are resurrected as a Genius.

    In the end, Beauty triumphed over all those mediocre mendicant minds.

    I will end this letter with the words on your tombstone:

    For his mourners will be outcast men,
    And outcasts always mourn.

    May your rest in peace, and may there always be outcast men to mourn your passing.

    With love,

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