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Oscar Wilde was a celebrated writer. Robert Baden-Powell a war hero and founder of the Boy Scouts. Their sexuality informed and shaped their lives in remarkably different ways. Dick Burns compares their fates and reflects on how they influenced his own life’s journey.

THEY WERE TWO DISTINCTLY different men, and each came to be symbolised by a different flower: Oscar, the green carnation, and Robert the fleurde-lys. Their lives and careers took different paths but, in common, their homosexuality shaped their destinies and influenced the conventions and values of the 20th Century. One, a mediocre student, became a decorated war hero. The other, a literary genius, was ruined by scandal.

Robert Baden-Powell excelled at both war and bushcrafts.

The green carnation is associated writer Oscar Wilde (1854-1900). It was originally a symbol of his homeland, Ireland, but, as he wore it during his trial for “gross indecency”, it was soon adopted as an easy visual signifier among homosexual men in repressive, secretive Victorian-era Britain.

Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas perfect their resting bitch face.

Lord Robert Baden-Powell (1857-1941), Boer war hero and founder of the Boy Scouts movement is associated with the more regal fleur-de-lys, the emblem of the Scouts to this day. He founded the Boy Scouts organisation in 1908. One aim of its formation was to help get innercity London boys into the outdoors.

As an inner-city boy growing up in urban Sydney, New South Wales, this resonates for me. The Boy Scouts were among the greatest influences on my life. I learned independence and a diversity of skills (among them the pleasures of skinny dipping and mutual masturbation). My scoutmaster introduced me to bushwalking and Tasmania, as well as indirectly leading me into my future career. On becoming a Queen’s Scout (the highest possible award for a Scout of the British Commonwealth), he gave me a congratulatory gift: a leather-bound, gilt-edged edition of the works of Oscar Wilde. He would not have known that Wilde was gay. My father tripped up with a similar lack of knowledge; he named me after Richard The Lionheart, not knowing that King Richard I was one of the queer monarchs of England.

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About DNA Magazine

DNA #191 is our Annual Swimwear Edition. Our cover model this month is Quinton Wynn. Check out his fun shoot with Hayden Su inside. For more fellas, check out the guys of Luke Austin’s new Beau Book, we have a Fire Island fling with Brandon Cole Bailey, beach boy Cory Frederick hits the seashore with Jorge Rivas, tattooed model Vince Ramos poses for West Phillips and beach bear Risan works his magic with photographer Leo Castro. There’s plenty of swimwear inside this issue. Check out the season’s hottest trends in our Swimwear Review of 2016. Our Grooming Guru Will Fennell is back and this month with a focus on monogamy and coconuts, we take a look at Cate Blanchett’s new film Carol, check out exciting new travel bookazine Elska, Siki Daha chats to us about his new music, we’re on the search for a folk hero and see awarding winning play Buyer and Cellar. For your serious reads, we meet a man who escaped certain death from ISIS and is now helping to save others from the brutality, check out indie flick Kiss Me Kill Me and how the 20th Century was influenced by Oscar Wilde and Robert Baden-Powell. We also check out why being intimate is healthy for you, Josh Piterman is our Straight Mate, plus all our regular favourites including Boys Toys, Month in a Minute, Loving, Dear Diva and Burntoast.