116 years after Oscar Wilde's death, the prison that housed him opens its doors.

Reading prison is one of the most notorious jails in the world.

Located in Berkshire, England, it was built in 1844 and housed inmates and young offenders all the way until 2013, when it finally closed.

Reading Gaol circa 1850. Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images.


On Sunday, September 4, Reading prison will open its doors to the public to pay tribute to one of its most famous inmates: Oscar Wilde.

Wilde was a writer in the 19th century and is one of the most important voices in literary history. Known for his plays, essays, poems, and novels, such as "The Portrait of Dorian Gray," Wilde also lectured in the United States and Canada and worked as a journalist in London.

He also bears an uncanny resemblance to the great Stephen Fry, who portrayed the late-author in a 1997 biopic. Photo by W. & D. Downey/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

In 1895 Wilde wrote "The Importance of Being Earnest," which many consider his masterpiece.

Shortly after, at the height of his fame, a series of libel accusations between Wilde and Scottish nobleman John Douglas revealed that Wilde had been engaged in romantic relationships with men. And one of those men just happened to be John Douglas' son.

Oscar Wilde and Alfred Douglas. Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Wilde was charged with "gross indecency" and months later ended up in Reading prison, where he spent two years in cell C.3.3.

His time there changed him forever. His final piece of writing was "The Ballad of Reading Gaol" — a haunting poem about an execution he witnessed while serving his prison sentence. Once a prolific and energetic author, Wilde spent his final years in exile, writing only sparingly.

A few short years after being released from Reading, he died in 1900 at the age of 46.

116 years after Wilde's death, Reading prison will host an artistic tribute to him called "Inside."

Photo by Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images.

It's a one-of-a-kind art exhibition that will feature works from artists like Steve McQueen, Ai Weiwei, and others.

"The Winter" by Steve McQueen. Photo by Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images.

Visual pieces will be on display in the prison cells, and every Sunday, there will be a guest reading of "De Profundis" — the 50,000-word letter that Oscar Wilde wrote to his lover while imprisoned.

Ben Wishaw, Ralph Fiennes, Maxine Peake, and Patti Smith have all signed on to read the letter, which takes over four hours.

Wilde certainly wasn't the only person of his era to be punished by anti-homosexual laws.

In fact, the "indecency" law that put Wilde in prison remained in effect until 1967. It was the same law that sentenced Alan Turing to chemical castration in 1952 — not to mention the thousands of others history has forgotten.

"The Boy" by Nan Goldin. Photo by Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images.

"Inside" will be as much about remembering the life and career of Oscar Wilde as it will be about acknowledging the events that led to his decline and death.

Just like Turing, Wilde made incredible contributions to culture that still move us and affect us today. Yet, he died in a world that disgraced him for who he loved and who he was.

The door of Cell C.3.3, where Oscar Wilde was held. Photo by Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images.

The exhibition will run for two months.

Even if you can't attend in person, it's worth remembering this piece of history. It's what allows us to keep moving further and further away from it, into a future where people are celebrated and accepted for who they love, not punished for it.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less
via Amelia J / Twitter

Election Day is a special occasion where Americans of all walks of life come together to collectively make important decisions about the country's future. Although we do it together as a community, it's usually a pretty formal affair.

People tend to stand quietly in line, clutching their voter guides. Politics can be a touchy subject, so most usually stand in line like they're waiting to have their number called at the DMV.

However, a group of voters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania received a lot of love on social media on Sunday for bringing a newfound sense of joy to the voting process.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

Former President George W. Bush and current president Donald Trump may both be Republicans but they have contrasting views when it comes to immigration.

Trump has been one of the most anti-immigrant presidents of recent memory. His Administration separated undocumented families at the border, placed bans on travelers from majority-Muslim countries, and he's proudly proclaimed, "Our country is full."

George W. Bush's legacy on immigration is a bit more nuanced. He ended catch-and-release and called for heightened security at the U.S.-Mexico border, but he also championed an immigration bill that created a guest worker program and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people.

Unfortunately, that bill did not pass.

Keep Reading Show less

Ah, the awkward joy of school picture day. Most of us had to endure the unnatural positioning, the bright light shining in our face, and the oddly ethereal backgrounds that mark the annual ritual. Some of us even have painfully humorous memories to go along with our photos.

While entertaining school picture day stories are common, one mom's tale of her daughter's not-picture-perfect school photo is winning people's hearts for a funny—but also inspiring—reason.

Jenny Albers of A Beautifully Burdened Life shared a photo of her daughter on her Facebook page, which shows her looking just off camera with a very serious look on her face. No smile. Not even a twinkle in her eye. Her teacher was apologetic and reassured Albers that she could retake the photo, but Albers took one look and said no way.

Keep Reading Show less