Today in Gay History

RSS  FEED OF October 22

October 22

Born
Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas
1870 -

LORD ALFRED DOUGLAS, British trust fund baby and dilettante, born; Forever known as “Bosie” to the world, the boy lover of Oscar Wilde, the son of the 8th Marquis of Queensberry, who was so enraged by his son’s cavorting with the notorious dandy that he couldn’t even spell the word properly when he labeled Wilde a [sic] “Somdomite.”

In 1891, Douglas met Oscar Wilde; they soon began an affair, though, according to Douglas, they never engaged in sodomy. Right. Though Douglas consented to be the lover of the older Wilde, he shared Wilde's interest in younger partners. Of the two, Douglas was known for preferring schoolboys, while Wilde liked older teenagers and young men. When his father, Lord Queensberry, suspected that their liaison may have been more than a friendship, he began a public persecution of Wilde. In addition to invading the playwright's home, Queensberry planned to throw rotten vegetablesat Wilde during the premiere of The Importance of Being Earnest. In 1894, the Robert Hichens novel The Green Carnation was published. Said to be based on the relationship of Wilde and Douglas, it would be one of the texts used against Wilde during his trials in 1895.

When Lord Drumlanrig (Douglas' eldest brother and the heir to the marquessate of Queensberry) died in a suspicious hunting accident, rumors circulated that Drumlanrig had been having an affair with the Prime MInister, Lord Rosebery. As a result, Lord Queensberry began a crusade to save his youngest son.

That his life was ruined by the celebrated trials of his lover, Oscar Wilde is hardly debatable. Still, Bosie was as thoroughly unpleasant as a grown man as he was when he was young. A snob, an anti-Semite (Douglas translated The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in 1919, one of the first English language translations of that anti-Semitic work), and a bit of a liar too, Douglas, who never had to worry about money as do us lesser mortals, published tolerable poetry. Douglas's 1892 poem "Two Loves", which was used against Wilde at the latter's trial, ends with the famous line that refers to homosexuality as "the love that dare not speak its name." He went on to crank out reminiscences that vilified almost everyone from the Wilde circle, eventually married, and declared to the world that he had long ago thrown off his childhood vices. That the latter was a lie may be seen in San Steward’s indelible portrait of him in Chapters from an Autobiography.


Derek Jacobi
1938 -

DEREK JACOBI, English actor, born; An actor and director, Jacobi was knighted in 1994 for his “services to the theater.” Like Olivier, he bears the distinction of holding two knighthoods, Danish and British. At 18, he won a scholarship to the University of Cambridge, where he studied history. Other younger members of the university at the time included Ian McKellen (who had an "undeclared and unrequited" crush on him) and Trevor Nunn. During his stay at Cambridge, he played many parts including Hamlet, which was taken on a tour to Switzerland where he met Richard Burton. As a result of his performance of Edward II at Cambridge, he was invited to become a member of the Birmingham Rep immediately upon his graduation in 1960.

Jacobi quickly came to the fore, and his talent was recognized by Laurence Olivier, who invited him back home to London to become one of the eight founding members of the new National Theatre, even though at the time he was relatively unknown. He played Laertes in the National Theatre’s inaugural production of Hamlet opposite Peter O’Toole in 1963, and Olivier gave him the role of Cassio in his 1965 film of Othello and of Andrei in Three Sisters in 1970.

Although Jacobi's name was becoming well known and he was increasingly busy with stage and screen acting, his big breakthrough did not come until 1976. It was the title role of the BBC's blockbuster series I, Claudius that finally cemented his popular reputation with his performance as the stammering, twitching Emperor Claudius winning him many plaudits and huzzahs.

In 2001, he won an Emmy mocking his Shakespearean background in the television sitcom Frasier episode "The Show Must Go Off", in which he played the world's worst Shakespearean actor: the hammy, loud, untalented Jackson Hedley. This was his first guest appearance on an American television program. His TV career includes Inside the Third Reich (1982), where he played Hitler; Mr. Pye (1985); Little Dorrit (1987), from Charles Dickens’s book; The Tenth Man (1988) with Anthony Hopkins and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Jacobi continued to play Shakespeare, notably in Kenneth Branagh’s's 1989 film ofHenry V (as the Chorus) and as Branagh's director in the Renaissance Theatre Company’s production of Hamlet. The 1990s saw Jacobi keeping on with repertoire stage work in Kean at the Old Vic, Becket in the West End (the Haymarket Theatre) and Macbeth at the RSC in both London and Stratford.

He was appointed the joint artistic director of the Chichester Festival Theatre, with the West End impresario Duncan Weldon in 1995 for a three year tenure. As an actor at Chichester, he also starred in four plays, including his first Uncle Vanya in 1996 (he took a second run in 2000). Jacobi's work during the 90's included the 13 episodes series TV adaptation of the novels by Ellis Peters Cadfael (1994-1998) and a televised version of Breaking the Code (1996). Film appearances included performances in Branagh’s Dead Again (1991), Hamlet (1996) as King Claudius, in John Maybury’s Love Is The Devil (1998), a portrait of Gay painter Francis Bacon (with lovely frontal nudity of Daniel Craig in the role of Bacon’s boyfriend), and as "The Duke" opposite Christopher Eccleston and Eddie Izzard in a post-apocalyptic version of Thomas Middleton’s The Revenger’s Tragedy (2002).

In March 2006, after 27 years together, he registered his civil union with long-term partner Richard Clifford, four months after such unions became legal in England and Wales.


Marc Shaiman
1959 -

MARC SHAIMAN, American writer, stage, screen and TV director, born; It would be easy to hate the prolific, charmed, music genius Marc Shaiman if it weren’t impossible to dislike him. He wrote Uncle F***a! He played Skip St. Thomas, the Sweeney Sisters’ pianist on SNL. He’s produced hit songs (Wind Beneath My Wings, From a Distance) written the music and lyrics for fifty-one movies (Broadcast News, When Harry Met Sally, The Addams Family, South Park, Bowling for Columbine, Team America) and fifteen theater shows (Bette: Divine Madness, The Odd Couple, Hairspray). He’s won a Tony, a Grammy, and an Emmy, and has been nominated for an Oscar five times.

All that, and he has been with his music collaborator and former partner Scott Wittman, since 1979 when Shaiman was 20. They have never, ever lost their sense of fun, as their music and their wardrobes attest. Their next two projects: The unforgivable Jack Nicholson mawkfest The Bucket List and the Broadway musical version of Catch Me If You Can.

Shaiman married Lieutenant Commander Louis Mirabal on March 26, 2016


Noteworthy
1692 -

Last hanging for witchcraft in the United States. Texas, North Carolina and Oklahoma are still bitter about it.


Subscribe to Gay Wisdom

Would you like to have Today in Gay History (aka Gay Wisdom) sent to you daily?

Building Connections & Community for Gay Men since 1989