LETTER : Celebrate Wilde's sexuality, not wit

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The Independent Online
From Sir Peregrine Worsthorne

Sir: The Weasel (Magazine, 3 June) is being disingenuous in supposing that a statue to Oscar Wilde, the man - over and above the already existing Westminster Abbey panel to the writer - would not be intended to celebrate him as a homosexual martyr. Apart from the martyr element, there was nothing about Wilde, the man, meriting a pedestal.

He was memorably witty, marvellous company and genial to a fault, but also weak, hedonistic, deplorably and squalidly self-indulgent and, towards the end, self-pitying. It is not I who am ridiculous, as the Weasel alleges, in doubting the need for a statue to such a tragically flawed character but rather those who are blind enough to propose it.

Now, if the proposers were honest and said plainly that a statue to Wilde, the man, would be a way of symbolically atoning for all the injustices perpetrated against homosexuals in the past, and of marking our determination to make amends in the future, then that would be another matter. Wilde would indeed be the ideal homosexual icon. The Weasel disagrees. "It is as an icon of single-minded, coherent, unsinkable, passionate sensibility that Wilde survives in the public mind," he writes, going on to argue that Wilde is celebrated today not because of his sodomy but in spite of it. With some that may be true but not with most, as the almost certain defacing of any such statue of Wilde would soon make all too clear.

The statue idea is part of a campaign to legalise and normalise homosexuality and cannot seriously be discussed on any other basis.

Yours etc,




6 June