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charlie and nick kissing in heartstopper season 2
charlie and nick kissing in heartstopper season 2
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Style > Fashion

Green and Queer: The Secret of the Green Carnation

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Plattsburgh chapter.

Elliot Page walked the Met Gala’s red carpet in 2021 sporting a green carnation. Here is the hidden meaning behind this peculiar flower.   

In the overdue celebration of LGBTQ+ Pride History Month in October, a flower stands tall in a bouquet as a symbol worn by a great writer, Oscar Wilde. That is his striking green carnation, seen a multitude of times in portraits or pictures, even as far as a satire literature work. The carnation is a symbol for undercover identities and “unique” taste during the Victorian era, a falsely dyed flower tucked in or pinned to the lapel of a jacket. 

The journalist and novelist Robert Hichens’ book “The Green Carnation is a piece that mocks the Aesthetic Movement. This movement is focused on creating art for art’s sake, and Wilde was a big fish contributing to the ecosystem of literary works. The book was put on hold due to Wilde’s scandal of “gross indecency” which meant being gay in 1895, changing the views of the public to be less tolerant of homosexuals and much more harsh attention popped up in response. The author had written in witty attitudes that might add to Wilde’s distress, so the book was pulled from publication for the time being. The need to go underground was prevalent. 

The green carnation took on a new meaning to the LGBTQ+ community through Wilde. Wilde added to the meaning in his own charming way. Wilde had taken this symbol from the everyday streets of Paris — it was fashionable to sport such flowers in specific hues, but only in the right crowd. Distinguish from the rest of people in Paris who wore this fashion was a group of homosexuals, and it’s said that green was the favorite among them.

In the 1890s, on the cobblestone streets of London, a top-secret “trend” was born. Wilde sported this colorful trade mark at the opening of his comedy, “Lady Windermere’s Fan. He then encouraged his inner circle to use these dyed flowers as visual symbols to show his pride and as well as their own. This flower started as a jape, then transformed into a secret sexuality trade mark — the green carnation became a symbol of attraction toward men by men. A flower is more than petals. It’s a form of communication, a language for only the intended eyes to view. 

Graham Robertson, a British painter known for lavish designs who was also a fling to Oscar Wilde, described within his memoir how Wilde allegedly commented: “I want a good many men to wear them tomorrow — [green carnations] will annoy the public… Then they will look round the house and see every here and there more and more little specks of mystic green. ‘This must be some secret symbol,’ they will say. ‘What on earth can it mean?'” 

I love a good mysterious message that is coded just for one audience, and colors and flowers do a wonderful job of subtle hints in grand scheme that is only apparent if the whole picture can be viewed as a perfect glass onion. This is one of those moments that can only be appreciated in full years after, and it’s a flamboyant tale of a society that is cruel to those who are different.

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Skyler Misiaszek

Plattsburgh '25

I am a lover of roller skating and dogs! My favorite breed is mastiff. On my free time I paint and sew, although I wouldn't let me fix your pants for you. I am still learning, but that's okay. Best Wishes & Safe Travels!