better 2 b hated for what you are, than to be loved for what you are not.”
French writer André Gide (1869-1951) was the first openly gay man to receive a Nobel Prize, for literature in 1947. Gide’s first publication was a novella in 1891, when he was twenty-two. Great works followed, The Immoralist (1902) and Strait Is the Gate (1909). The publication of Corydon (1920), in praise of homosexuality, sent his reputation into a nosedive, and Gide was almost universally condemned. Five years later The Counterfeiters (1925), considered by many his best novel, brought renewed recognition and acceptance. With the publication of Travels in the Congo (1927), an attack on French colonialism, Gide’s influence took on a new dimension. The publication of his autobiography If It Die (1926) left the reading public in shock with its salacious details of homosexual lovemaking as a teenager under the dining table with the concierge’s son and as an adult atop the sand dunes with an Arab youth in Algeria. Gide met up with Oscar Wilde and his lover Lord Alfred Douglas while in North Africa, and their friendship influenced his subsequent writings, which exalted honesty, openness and sincerity. Gide was one of the few people willing to defend Wilde’s literary reputation in the years after the Irishman’s death. Gide lived in North Africa during WW II and soon thereafter returned from Tunisia to Paris, where he died in 1951 at the age of 81. The following year the Catholic church included all of his literary works on the index of Forbidden Books.