Sunday, May 26, 2024

Oscar Wilde Was Part Of This Gay Secret Society.

October 28, 2020 by  
Filed under Politics, Weekly Columns

( Let’s take a trip back to 1897. Homosexuality is a criminal act – one people are starting to think of as a psychological disorder. A young gay man named George Cecil Ives finds himself constrained by the society he lives in and seeks change. He starts a secret society. 

What is the secret society for? Giving gay people a way to communicate. 

That’s right: Ives believed that gay people couldn’t speak up about themselves without persecution, so needed an underground way to do it. 

He names the society ‘The Order of Chaeronea,’ after the famous Greek battle. For those who haven’t brushed up on their greek history recently, here’s a brief summary. 

The Battle of Chaeronea happened in 338 BC. It saw a conflict between the Macedonians and a group of greek states. Ives chose this battle to name the society after due to the slaughtering of the male lovers of the Theban Band.

Ives formed the Order of Chaeronea after meeting Oscar Wilde. The two were good friends; in Ives diaries, many references to the writer can be found. It is assumed Wilde was one of the early members of the society. 

Within a few years, the Order of Chaeronea possessed upward of two hundred members, though no complete list has survived. It is believed that, alongside Oscar Wilde, Lord Alfred Douglas, Montague Summers and Charles Kains Jackson were members.

Scholar Neil McKenna writes that their, “‘Rules of Purpose’ stated that the Order of Chaeronea was ‘A Religion, A Theory of Life, and Ideal of Duty’, although its purpose was primarily political. ‘We demand justice for all manner of people who are wronged and oppressed by individuals or multitudes or the law.’ […] Members of the order were ‘Brothers of the Faith’, although it seems there were some lesbian members who were ‘Sisters of the Faith.'”

The Order communicated via letters – all of which they dated according to the dates of the Battle of Chaeronea. So, letters written in 1900 were dated C. 2238 and so on. 

Upon joining, members had to take a solemn vow:

“That you will never vex or persecute lovers.

That all real love shall be to you as sanctuary. 

That all heart-love, legal and illegal, wise and unwise, happy and disastrous, shall yet be consecrate for that love’s Holy Presence dwelt there.”

“Dost thou so promise?”

Stories like this make you want to get a group emblem with Challenge Coins Ltd. and run a secret society for yourself. 

The society had their own rituals and codes, but primarily Ives saw it as a joint belief in the same philosophies and as an ascetic movement. He didn’t want the society just to be a place for men to pick up other men. 

In his own words: “We believe in the glory of passion. We believe in the inspiration of emotion. We believe in the holiness of love.”

So never again let people tell you secret societies are just for old, rich, white guys. George Cecil Ives was already breaking conventions back in 1897.

Staff Writer; Fred Jackson

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!