For sale: UK jail that held Oscar Wilde for gay sex

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10/03/2019

Reading Prison – a forbidding Victorian jail turned LGBT landmark – is for sale, Britain said on Thursday, offloading a deserted site best known for housing playwright Oscar Wilde for the “gross indecency” of gay sex. Campaigners had hoped to turn the austere brick prison, which lies just west of London, into an arts center to preserve a site of gay pilgrimage and honor Wilde’s literary legacy. “It’s a hugely significant space,” said Joseph Galliano, CEO and co-founder of Queer Britain, the national LGBTQ+ museum. “We are losing heritage and cultural spaces to commercial redevelopment which will never be recovered.” Reading jail housed the Irish poet and author – whose homoerotic writing shocked Victorian Britain – for most of the two-year sentence he served for gross indecency. During the sensational trial he was questioned over his relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas, a poet who penned the immortal line: “I am the love that dare not speak its name”. The prison closed in 2014 but has since hosted arts events, including a readings of his work by actors and musicians such as Patti Smith and Rupert Everett.

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