Oscar Wilde is Prosecuted on Charges of 'Gross Indecency'

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, like those of Shakespeare and Michelangelo, and those two letters of mine, such as they are. 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 that account of it I am placed where I am now. It is beautiful, it is fine, it is the noblest form of affection. ”

— Oscar Wilde

The first criminal trial of Oscar Wilde opened at Old Bailey on April 26, 1895. Wilde and Alfred Taylor, the procurer of young men for Wilde, faced twenty-five counts of gross indecencies and conspiracy to commit gross indecencies. A parade of young male witnesses for the prosecution testified regarding their roles in helping Wilde to act out his sexual fantasies. Although Wilde was not prosecuted for sodomy, there was little doubt by the end of the trial that he might have been. Almost all of them expressed shame and remorse over their own actions, and Wilde seemed to be left conflicted by their testimony.

His boot on Wilde's neck, Queensberry prepared to deliver the coup de grace. He told his solicitor to send the notes from the libel trial and all of the evidence his private detectives had turned up about Wilde's interest in boy prostitutes to Scotland Yard. This move left authorities with no choice but to arrest Wilde and charge him with gross indecency. Next Queensberry sent word to Wilde alerting him to what he had done. He ended the note with a threat. "I will not prevent your flight, but if you take my son with you, I will shoot you like a dog," Queensberry wrote.