Op de vierde dag van het proces tegen Oscar Wilde vroeg de openbare aanklager hem zijn gedicht “The Love that dare not speak its name” te verklaren. Dit was zijn beroemde antwoord… (Op de foto: Oscar Wilde als Salome in zijn eigen stuk)

“The love that dare not speak its name in this century is such a great affection of an elder for a younger man as there was between David and Jonathan, such as Plato made the very basis of his philosophy, and such as you find in the sonnets of Michelangelo and Shakespeare. 

“It is that deep, spiritual affection that is as pure as it is perfect. It dictates and pervades great works of art. It is in this century misunderstood, so much misunderstood that it may be described as ‘the love that dare not speak its name,’ and on account of it I am placed where I am now. 

“It is beautiful, it is fine, it is the noblest form of affection.  There is nothing unnatural about it. It is intellectual and it repeatedly exists between an elder and a younger man when the elder man has intellect and the younger man has all the joy, hope and glamour of life before him.

“That it should be so the world does not understand. The world mocks it and sometimes puts one in the pillory for it.”

Wilde kreeg applaus, maar ook boe-geroep. Drie weken later volgde de uitspraak:

Oscar Wilde, the crime of which you have been convicted is so bad that one has to put a firm restraint upon oneself to prevent oneself from describing, in terms I would rather not use, the sentiments which must rise to the breast of every man of honour who has heard the details of these terrible trials.

“It is no use for me to address you. People who can do these things are dead to all sense of shame and one cannot hope to produce any effect upon them.

“This is the worst case I have ever tried. I shall, under such circumstances, be expected to pass the severest sentence allowed by the law. It is, in my opinion, totally inadequate for such a case as this.

“The sentence of the court is that you be imprisoned and kept to hard labour for two years.” (On this day)

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