Oscar Wilde – AKA C.3.3.

Imagine being jailed for homosexual offenses. That’s exactly what happened to literary great–and effervescent raconteur–Oscar Wilde.

Now, before I continue, keep in mind that it’s still happening today. Homosexual relationships are criminalized in 72 countries.


C.3.3. served 2 years hard labour for his ‘crimes’. That incarceration has much to do with Wilde dying at such an early age. CELL BLOCK C, LANDING 3, CELL 3. That was Wilde’s name in Reading Prison. That was Wilde’s pseudonym when he later wrote about experiences he had while incarcerated. The Ballad of Reading Gaol was published under this pseudonym and it wasn’t until the 7th edition was printed that C.3.3.’s identity was revealed. The Ballad was a long poem on his experiences in prison. It was also the last thing he ever wrote.

For years I have said I would get a tattoo of C.3.3. I figure it could be a talking point. “Oh that? That’s just a little tattoo to remind people that homosexuality used to be illegal. Let me tell you a story…” Alas, it’s just too depressing…knowing that it still is illegal. IN 72 COUNTRIES. We have come a long way, but not far enough…

Anyway, today is Oscar Wilde’s birthday.

Happy Birthday, Oscar. Pay no attention to the number 72 above. I would not want you to realize how far we haven’t come.


By Kevin Craig

Author, Poet, Playwright. Author of The Camino Club, Billions of Beautiful Hearts, and Book of Dreams, all from Duet Books, the LGBTQ Young Adult imprint of Chicago Review Press. Other books: Pride Must Be A Place, Half Dead & Fully Broken, Burn Baby Burn Baby, The Reasons, Sebastian's Poet, and Summer on Fire.

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