COOL GAY STUFF is a news-watch hot-sheet of LGBT highlights from across the Net, with thanks to Google, YouTube, & Blogger. It's a sampler of upbeat gay-themed or gay-friendly Web gems, plus links to the originating sources. But they are NOT only for gay guys & gals, so there's no racy porn here nor NSFW stuff to frighten the hets (adapting Oscar Wilde's view on horses).

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Your host, novelist George Gardiner, opens with eye-candy videos plus details of his widely-praised historical crime/romance novel "THE HADRIAN ENIGMA: A Forbidden History". It's a fiction/faction re-imagining of history's real-life m/m romance between ancient Rome's 'good emperor' Hadrian & his renown 'Favorite', Antinous of Bithynia. Paperback or ebook purchase options are listed below. Then follows 30 recent gay-friendly news reports, updated daily, preceding a line-up of LGBTQ miscellany.

Disclaimer: This site makes no claims about the sexual orientation of any person mentioned in text, image, or presumed by inference.

HANUKKAH - A Jewish celebration ...

HANUKKAH, CHANUKAH are ways to the spell the Jewish Festival of Lights, translated from Hebrew. The festival runs 16 December to 24 December 2014. Life got you down? You should be thinking about the miracle of light. Just shake it off... it's Chanukah!

No, they're not gay, but they're happy eye-candy. They're anchored by a strong Jewish identity and driven by a mission to connect Jews around the globe with their heritage through music, professional Jewish a cappella group SIX13 are the bouncy dancer singers. They've performed to rave reviews for millions of people -- at synagogues, religious schools, major sports events, JCCs, fundraising events, B'nai Mitzvah and private affairs alike, received numerous awards for their five best-selling CDs, and been selected as finalists for casting in NBC's "The Sing-Off". To find out more about how to bring SIX13 to your community visit

MEET HISTORY'S FIRST 'OUT' SAME-SEX COUPLE : Hadrian Caesar & his boyf Antinous ...

.... The two pages below are a few words from your host George Gardiner about his recently-published historical mystery/romance/erotica novel "THE HADRIAN ENIGMA: A Forbidden History". However, if you are a returning visitor then you should ...


HADRIAN & ANTINOUS - history's first 'out' lovers ...

HADRIAN & ANTINOUS - history's first 'out' lovers ...
... back & front cover of THE HADRIAN ENIGMA. .. CLICK ON THE PICS for direct link to its Amazon USA page to check reviews, prices, & purchase a paperback or Kindle ebook.

READER'S OPINIONS OF "THE HADRIAN ENIGMA" logged at global Amazon stores, especially the USA ...

"Five Stars ... I loved this book ... If you like mysteries, try this book. ... Lots of fun ... "
Eric Sootin, Asheville, NC (USA) at Amazon USA

"Five Stars ... Excellent ... couldn't put the book down ... one of the most enjoyable novels I've ever read ..."
Lloyd F Adams (USA), at Amazon USA

"Five Stars ... The best book I've read on Hadrian and Antinous."
JANE (Canada), at Amazon USA

"...I recommend it to any historical fiction fan, especially any fan of the redoubtable Mary Renault. ..."
J.R. Tomlin, author of historical fiction, at :-

"Five stars ... a tour de force ..."
Elisa Rolle, Amazon Top 1000 Reviewer, USA & UK, & at :

" ... an absorbing new book ... compelling writing ... action sequences that are brilliantly staged & paced ... on a higher plane than mere homoerotic titillation ... courageous & convincing ..."
Reader Down Under (Australia), at Amazon USA

"... extensively researched picture of life in the Roman Empire ... a mix of mystery, comedy, gay & straight romance - is an entertaining read ..."
Laura Staley, Historical Novels Review, USA, at :-

"... an age-old love story with a twist ... an unexpected delight ... his storyline hooked me immediately ..."
Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson of READER VIEWS, Austin TX, USA

"... You will feel engaged and challenged ..."
Nan Hawthorne, author Beloved Pilgrim, at Amazon USA

"... extremely readable ... it's a page turner ... Gardiner has written an interesting & gripping story ..."
Kim at India

"... Five Stars ... a compelling crime mystery ... a hard book to put down ..."
Terence Charters, Hobart, Australia, at Amazon USA

"... An adventure through Hadrian's world. The story is easy to read and full of the homoeroticism that we love about this era. ..."
P. Novotny, London, at Amazon UK

"... a definitive Five Star read for me ..."
Aleksandr Voinov, UK, reviewer at Speak Its Name

"Five Stars ... A masterful recreation of Ancient Rome ... the historical details are a delight ... characters are outlined in a vivid way which is like meeting old friends ... "
Ernest Gill, Hamburg, at Amazon USA & UK

"Five Stars ... as a reimagining of the Hadrian-Antinous relationship in the context of the age it is fascinating."
Muriel Perkins, Texas, at Amazon USA

" ... this is a novel about the nature of love ... but this is far from just being a gay romance. ..." Kit Moss, historical author, at :-

"A truly exceptional book on 'What Greek Love" is all about ..."
John R. Shelton at Amazon USA

"Five Stars. I so enjoyed this book. Highly recommend it ... "
Stephen Forte, Birmingham, Alabama at Amazon USA

NOTE: ***Amazon USA's book or ebook purchase website with its 18 reader's reviews (nine awarding Five Stars for excellence!) can be read in full by clicking on :-


LUST, LOVE, INTRIGUE, & MURDEROUS REVENGE: challenging romantic fiction suggested by real events - history's most unusual true love story ...

THE HADRIAN ENIGMA: A Forbidden History
A novel
(C) George Gardiner
ISBN13: 978-0-9807469-1-4 (at Amazon USA, UK, Europe, Australia etc) in 498-page paperback or Kindle ebook.
Also iBookstore, iPad, Nook & ePub ebook formats etc available via online sources, including Lulu.

The scene: ancient Rome, 130 years after Christ yet two centuries prior to Christianity being legal. Caesar Hadrian is the popular ruler of a vast pagan empire at the height of its power & wealth.

Hadrian, one of Rome's "five good emperors" searches for & eventually locates the love of his life .. Antinous, an elite Greek athlete, huntsman, & cavalry cadet. They become 'companions' under the ancient Greco-Roman mentoring tradition of an erastes (mentor) & his eromenos (student).

During an imperial pleasure tour of Egypt Antinous is discovered dead in the River Nile. Hadrian is distraught. Is the death a drunken prank gone wrong, suicide, murder, or something far more sinister? Hadrian assigns historian playboy Suetonius Tranquillus to investigate.

THE HADRIAN ENIGMA is the outlawed record of Caesar's investigation into one of history's most suspicious fatalities. It reveals more than Hadrian may want to know, or wants others to know. Set in a society increasingly reflecting facets of our own times, it portrays an era of torrid relationships, raging ambition, wealth inequalities, & uninhibited morals within a severely macho culture of honor, shame, pride & prejudice.

Buy only online (not in street stores), CLICK NOW ON A LINK BELOW to select best delivery options ...

For an Amazon USA paperback :

for Amazon's Kindle ebook or Kindle-For-PC's download :

[If you buy a new print edition of THE HADRIAN ENIGMA, or have purchased one in the past, you can buy a Kindle ebook edition for only $1.99 - saving 80%. Print edition must have been sold by Amazon.]

for Amazon UK :

Plus ...

The paperback is also available via mail-order at Diesel Bookstores, Powell's Books, & Vroman's Books, California. Use each store's online search to locate the title.

COOL GAY STUFF'S important navigation hint !! ...

... if you have arrived at this blog via BING, DuckDuckGo, or an archived link, you may see your chosen post immediately below this message (or be told the post is deleted). However, THE CURRENT MONTH'S 30 OTHER POSTS WILL HAVE BEEN DISPLACED OR REMOVED TO DO SO (making side-column videos & pics way off-topic). To restore things to their proper view, click on this blogspot's url address, in blue here :-

Everything will be magically restored to correct view ...


Saturday, December 20, 2014

HANUKKAH READING | Something on the not-so-wild side?

HEEB Reviews That Gay Erotic Hanukkah Fiction You Were Probably Looking For
----  the provocative opening pars of a seasonal book review posted by David Levy at HEEB Magazine (USA), 19 December 2014 :-

      'Look, I’m a defender of the Chanukkah Bush, the Mench on the Bench, or any other stupid crap that makes our sorry little holidays feel a little more festive. (I mean, I actually think the Mench on the Bench / Elf on the Shelf is the creepiest surveillance state for kids bullshit ever, but you know what I mean.) But you know what exactly zero Jewish people put on their wish lists? Chanukkah-themed gay erotic fiction. And yet, it turns out that Loose Id, a California-based publisher of sexy eBooks, has been churning out exactly that for a number of years, boasting a collection of ten titles that are currently on sale for 18% off (get it?) now through Christmas.
      To be perfectly fair to Loose Id, despite being a gay Jewish dude, I am not the target audience for these books, which were all written by women and seem to be intended for a female audience. So when I tell you that I read all or part of books by five different writers and didn’t so much as pop a boner (do people still say that in 2014?) once, take that in stride. For comparison, I have been known to feel my pants tighten at a well-shot car insurance commercial.
      “But how do you know these stories aren’t intended for gay dudes?” I hear you ask.
Well, take Love Ahead: Expect Delays by Astrid Amara, which chronicles a road trip in which Zachary Roth takes his non-Jewish boyfriend cross-country to meet the folks for Chanukkah. Not only are the sex scenes not at all stimulating – at times they simply happen off-screen:
Austin gave the headboard a yank. He turned and grinned. “Let’s break some Idaho sodomy laws.”
[end of chapter]  .... ' 
----  see more of David Levy's challenging post at at :-

GAY ATHLETES| The count for 2014 has been remarkable ...

Michael Sam and 107 other athletes and sports officials came out as gay in 2014
----  two excerpts from a news report by Marissa Payne at The Washington Post (USA), 18 December 2014 :-

      ' did the math and counted 108 individuals associated with sports, who came out in 2014 as gay, lesbian or bisexual. The list of 80 men and 28 women includes high school, college and professional athletes, as well as coaches, administrators, sports media members and more.
      “All told, 34 sports saw at least one person come out publicly,” OutSports writes.
Swimming saw the most athletes come out with 13. Football saw 11, track & field saw 10 and basketball saw nine. Five other sports saw at least three athletes come out, including soccer (7), diving (6), baseball (3), tennis (3) and volleyball (3).  ....
....  Among those who made headlines was football player Michael Sam, who made history by becoming the first openly gay athlete to be drafted by the NFL, and his boyfriend Vito Cammisano, who was on the diving team at University of Missouri. .... '
----  see more of Marissa Payne's revealing report at at :- 

Friday, December 19, 2014

GAY HERO resolves Sydney siege ...

GAY HERO: Sydney Hostage Siege Hero Gave His Life For Others
----  brief excerpts from a news report by Tom Senzee at Gay Net (UK), 16 December 2014 :-

      'Tori Johnson, a gay man who was one of two people killed during Monday's harrowing hostage situation in Sydney, Australia, is being called a hero for dying while trying to take down the gunman holding him and others hostage, according to multiple media reports.
      Johnson managed the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Sydney, where Haron Monis, a 50-year-old Iranian-born Australian, laid siege for 16 terrifying hours.
      The siege ended early Tuesday morning local time when, CNN reports, New South Wales police stormed the building after hearing gunshots from inside the cafe.  ....
....  Johnson, who is said to have rushed the hostage-taker as he sat fighting to stay awake. According to the paper, Johnson "died during a heroic final standoff with the gunman, attempting to wrestle the shotgun from his hands."
      "We are so proud of our beautiful boy Tori, gone from this earth but forever in our memories as the most amazing life partner, son and brother we could ever wish for," a statement issued by Johnson's family said.
      According to Towleroad, Johnson's partner of 14 years is Thomas Zinn. He issued the statement from the family. .... ' [Zinn's reading of the statement on behalf of the family was screened on several tv news bulletins across Australia. - Ed.]
----  see more of Tom Senzee's report at at :- 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A MALE G-SPOT? ... advice for the adventurous

THE MALE G-SPOT: 5 Steps To Achieving Amazing Prostate-Assisted Orgasm
---- the introductory pars to a simple self-help guide for men and their partners (of either gender) offered charmingly by Carrie Weisman at AlterNet (USA), 11 December 2014 :-
[It is surprising how few people know about this important male-only physiological reality.-Ed.]

      'When most of us were taught about sex, we understood one basic principle: sexual satisfaction for men is delivered through their exterior genitalia, while women achieve it internally. But it looks like men were sold short with that explanation, because another powerful pleasure center exists inside the male body.
      Prostate-assisted orgasms aren’t as widely publicized as the penile version. But there is an enthusiastic community of people who have experienced the wildly intense and lengthy orgasms they can deliver.
      There is a reason, after all, why the sex toy industry seems to be overflowing with prostate stimulators (“progasms” as they’re sometimes called), massagers and plugs.
      For some, this realm remains a largely unexplored, uncomfortable territory. It’s for this group that we bring the five steps to achieving an amazing prostate-assisted orgasm. .... '

----  Read these five important steps towards a comfortable & hygienic approach to butt-play in Carrie Weisman's guide for couples, showing how the human male has his own internal G-spot open to active stimulation. In Carrie's own words : "It can blow you away." Her guide can be found at :- 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

GAY TV | New Russell T Davies ("Queer As Folk") tv series ...

Logo TV (USA) To Premiere Two New TV Series On Gay Life From Russell T Davies
----  a brief excerpt from a post at Deadline (USA), 16 December 2014 :-

      'LOGO TV is co-producing, with Channel 4 in UK, two new series from Russell T Davies (Doctor Who, Queer As Folk) to air in early 2015. Cucumber and Banana are interwoven drama series that explore 21st century gay life through the lens of two disparate generations. The hourlong Cucumber focuses on the lives and misadventures of Henry Best and his long-suffering boyfriend of nine years, Lance Sullivan. The half-hour Banana will follow the individual lives of younger characters orbiting around Henry’s world, telling stories of modern love – the romantic, the obsessed, the hopeful, the lonely, the lost, and the lucky – in an urban Manchester, England, setting.  .... '
----  see more of this report at at :- 

Monday, December 15, 2014

TOP GAY MOVIE FOR 2014? ....

"THE WAY HE LOOKS": The Top Gay Movie For 2014?
----  an excerpt from one review among ten reviews of 2014 movies, by Joshua Bote at The Daily Californian (USA), 15 December 2014 :-

      No. 9 :  Directed by Daniel Ribeiro, this classic coming-of-age tale is about two male teens exploring their infatuation with each other. “The Way He Looks” is wistfully nostalgic in its revision of prototypical rom-com tropes. Ultimately, it is winsomely reflective and elegantly executed, and the chemistry between stars Ghilerme Lobo and Fabio Audi is thrilling to witness.
      Preened to be Brazil’s entry in this year’s Academy Awards, the film’s ordinary representation of gay romance is remarkable in and of itself, especially when mainstream Oscar culture frequently legitimizes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender films through A-list star power and morbidly tragic plot lines (see “Dallas Buyers Club” or “Monster”). “The Way He Looks” is the antithesis to this Oscar-baiting norm of queer tragedy.
      Plus, for the average gay teen merely searching for a heartwarming romance without any nonsensical, Nicholas Sparks-esque fluff, it’s an endearingly realistic joy to watch. .... '
----  see more of Joshua Bote's insightful reviews of this & other top ten movies for 2014 at at :- 
----  and see "The Way He Looks"1min30sec collage trailer in the sidebar here. [This trailer is an non-subtitled collage of the film's general gist; a trailer with English subtitles is available at YouTube.]

Sunday, December 14, 2014

"LOOKING" | The boys return for Season Two ....

"LOOKING" (HBO USA) Season 2 arrives on US television in January
---- eight new episodes of this adventurous HBO series screens in the US from early January

      Looking is an American comedy-drama television series about a group of friends among the gay community living in San Francisco. Its first season of eight programs premiered on select international broadcasters in January 2014.
      Looking has received generally positive reviews from critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 89% of critics have given it a positive review based on 37 reviews, with an average score of 7.6/10. The site's consensus states: "Funny without being obnoxious, Looking provides authentic situations that feel universal with its subtle details and top-notch performances."[19]
      Looking's Season Two premiers on HBO in the US on January 11th and should arrive on Sky Atlantic in the UK shortly afterwards. It is then likely to follow early in the new year on HBO Latin America and HBO Canada, then Australia's Foxtel ShowcaseFrance on OCS City; and the United Kingdom's Sky Atlantic.
---- check the show's Season Two teaser in the YouTube video opposite, or check Looking's HBO website at :- 

Saturday, December 13, 2014


Sex, the Body & Pop Music in Modern Urban Russia
----  brief extracts from an extended conversation with musicologist Stephen R. Amico by Kevin Clarke at OUT Magazine (USA), 12 December 2014 :-

      ' ....  In his groundbreaking study, Roll Over, Tchaikovsky! Russian Popular Music and Post-Soviet Homosexuality, American musicologist Stephen R. Amico analyzes the history Russian rock, pop, and estrada music and how homosexual men's uses of music. Kevin Clarke spoke about how gay men and women are villified in the country, why Tchaikovsky's name has been dragged through the mud, and why Russians love the villainous gay character as portrayed in a St. Petersburg production of Dance of the Vampires.
      In Post-Soviet Russia, homophobia is a phenomenon registered with much bewilderment by LGBT people in the West. Why are religious groups and their anti-gay ideologies so powerful in a country that was officially “atheist” for so many decades?
      Religious belief or practice in contemporary Russia is never only about “numinous” aspects, but also encompasses those more functional or symbolic. Many have suggested that the demise of the Soviet state left an immense vacuum, and it was the Orthodox Church — often working hand in hand with the political apparatus — that filled the void. Additionally, to align one’s self with Orthodoxy is, for some, a way of aligning one’s self with the Russia of the past, and reviving — at the level of memory and/or fantasy — the mighty, pre-revolutionary imperial Russian state. It is also, for others, a ways of defining one’s self in contradistinction to the largely Catholic or Protestant west, a way of highlighting one’s difference, and one’s pride in not being “Western.”  .... '
----  see Stephen's revealing responses to six more pertinent queries by Kevin Clarke at at :-

Friday, December 12, 2014

GAY MARRIAGE | A behavioral experiment with surprising results ...

A 20-Minute Chat With a Gay Person Made People Much More Supportive of Gay Marriage
----  very brief excerpts from a substantial science behavioral report by Jesse Singal at New York Magazine "Science of Us", 11 December 2014 :-

      'There are many reasons to be skeptical of the idea that you can change someone’s mind on a hot-button political issue simply by talking to them.  ....  That’s part of the reason a new study in Science is so surprising: It suggests that gay canvassers were able to significantly influence voters’ beliefs about same-sex marriage with just a 20-minute conversation ....
....   Still, the duration and size of the effects here are really impressive given that the conversations in question were so brief, and they lend support to the idea that the right sort of exposure to folks who are different from us can make us more open-minded. .... '
----  see more of Jesse Singal's fascinating account of this important behavioral experiment at at :-
----  see another report about this unexpected response at Takepart online magazine (USA), 15 December 2014, at :-

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

MALE BELLY DANCERS | Turkey's reviving dance surprise ...

Inside the World of Istanbul's Male Belly Dancers
----  selected opening pars of an extended sociological report by Tara Isabella Burton at The online magazine, 9 December 2014 :-

      'The nation’s shifting views toward homosexuality have opened the market for a centuries-old tradition. Here at Chanta Music, a gaudy, velvet-lined nightclub off Istanbul's high-octane Istiklal Street, belly dancing – and the adulation its admirers confer – is not limited to women. Segah – who performs under his first name only – is a self-described zenne, one of several male dancers in Turkey's largest city to earn his living performing what Turks refer to as “Oriental dance,” adopting traditionally female costume, roles and postures and adapting them to the tastes of an urban, socially liberal audience.

      Male belly dancing is hardly a new phenomenon in Turkey. Most zenne dancers date the practice back to the Sultan's court in the final centuries of the Ottoman Empire, when women were largely prohibited from performing onstage.  ....
....  In traditional Ottoman practice, the terminology of “gay” and “straight” was largely absence from discourse, as explained by scholar Serkan Görkemli. Sexuality was more customarily defined as a matter of status/rank and sexual role. A higher-ranking nobleman would as a matter of course define himself as an active or penetrative sexual partner, one who would under other circumstances sleep with women; a zenne dancer would be expected to take on a more so-caled “feminine” sexual and social role. Regardless of whether or not sexual relations between dancers and their spectators took place, however, zenne dancing (and the watching thereof) was considered part of “mainstream” masculine culture.  .... '
----  see more about zenne dancing - male belly dancing - at Tara Isabella Burton's article at at :- 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

STAR WARS | The next episode shows signs of life ...

----  producer/director J.J. Abrams pulls out all stops for the ultimate blockbuster

      Already seen by over twelve million viewers, the YouTube trailer for a movie which doesn't hit global screens for an entire year yet - "STAR WARS Episode VII The Force Awakens" - shows how the past three generations of the world's movie-goers await with bated breath for hints of its plotline and characters. Just read some of its online comments for hilarious proof.
      OK, so there's nothing especially 'gay' about this seventh contribution to the Star Wars canon, but like almost everyone on earth exposed to cinema and television since the 60's, this will possess echoes of a beloved high-point in six cinema experiences.
      Episode VII in the Star Wars Saga - Star Wars: The Force Awakens, opens in US theaters December 18, 2015, following around the globe everywhere Star Wars remains an iconic memory  ...  which is pretty well everyone.

See the official Site:

Monday, December 8, 2014

GAY JAPAN | Zen temple offers gay weddings ...

GAY JAPAN | Historic Kyoto temple first in Japan to offer gay weddings
----  the opening pars from an illustrated news post by Jessica at Rocket News24 (Japan), 8 December 2014 :-

      'Gay marriage is still not legal in Japan, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t options for LGBT couples dreaming of tying the knot in Nippon. Joining big venues like Tokyo Disneyland, an ancient Zen temple in the picturesque city of Kyoto is offering gay weddings in traditional Japanese style.
      Established in 1590, Shunkoin Temple follows Zen Buddhism and is an important site for a 20th-century school of thought that blends Zen and Western philosophy. They also take a strong stand on human rights, with their website proudly declaring, “Shunkoin Temple is against any forms of ‘Human Rights Violations’ in the world. No religion teaches how to hate others. Religion teaches how to love and respect others.”
      Not only talking the talk, but walking the walk, priest Takafumi Kawakami says of their wedding services, “We welcome every couple regardless of their faith or sexual orientation.  .... '
----  see more about this revolutionary development in Japanese social history at at :- 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

GAY MANGA for Japanese "rotten girls" ...

The Japanese Women Who Love Gay Anime 
----  brief excerpts from an extended article by Brendon Presser at The Daily Beast (USA), 6 December 2014 :-

      'The popularity of anime tales featuring man-on-man passion is burgeoning among Japanese women. “Rotten Girls” say it isn’t gay, but about “pure love.” Rotten girls, or fujoshi in Japanese, is a self-inflicted term used by women throughout the country who fall under a certain category of ardent manga (comic book) and anime (animation) fandom. They’re obsessed with what is called BL, or Boys’ Love—fictional stories that detail the romantic entanglements of two men.  ....
....  “BL is not gay,” she [Hana] begins, “this is the most important thing you need to know.” The cover art of most of the comics, however, depicts two males embracing, which can make it difficult for the foreign eye to separate a homosexual romance from the themes at hand. But to a rotten girl like Hana it’s all about “pure love”.  ....
....  For Hana, the appeal of BL is largely about the beauty of what she calls a “genderless love.” The fact that it’s two males means she can’t consciously or subconsciously insert herself into the narrative and can thus appreciate the growing romance from afar, like watching a flower blossom.  ....
....  “Whether or not we want to acknowledge it, the love between two men has been in Japanese culture for as long as we can remember,” adds Hana. “Boys’ Love is a thing of beauty in the kabuki theatre of the Edo era.”  ....  "It’s also found in the intimate shudo relationships between an older and younger samurai long ago.” (Shudo, practiced well before Edo times, partnered experienced warriors with adolescent males in an apprenticeship and social-learning role that was heavily sexualized.) .... '
----  see more of Brendon Presser's revealing insight into a contemporary Japanese scene at at :- 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

GAYS IN JUDAISM | An eye-opening faith initiative ...

The queering of Leviticus : or how a rabbi permits gay sex
----  selected pars from an extended news report by Greg Tepper at The Times Of Israel (Israel), 4 December 2014 :-

      'The national LGBTQI group Nehirim is hosting a three-day conference in San Francisco on how to ‘queer the text’. That whole thing about Leviticus clearly forbidding sexual relations between two men? Open to interpretation.
      At least that’s what Oregon-based Rabbi Debra Kolodny, Executive Director of Nehirim, the national LGBTQI group, says, based on the idea of “queering the text.” “Queering the text,” Kolodny says, “looks for the chidush [a new idea or way of understanding a text], the innovation, the insight that’s never been imagined before because the lens we’re looking for today never existed before.”
      Kolodny says contemporary liberal Judaism is at an historical moment in which it can combine its knowledge of history, sociology and sexuality to thousands of years of Jewish tradition to reveal “something that couldn’t be revealed even 20 years ago because we didn’t have the experience under our belt.” 
      She cites Leviticus: “A man should not lie with a man.” .... 
....  First, she explains, the Hebrew word “toevah,” used in Leviticus, has been mistranslated as “abomination.” Leviticus, she says, is merely describing a pagan ritual practice prohibited to Jews.
      “In those days there were pagan cults who did fertility rites that were prohibited: a fertility rite that involves two men having sex with each other.”
      So today, she explains, if someone asks if it’s OK for two men to engage in homosexual relations, as a rabbi she responds, “Are you engaging with pagan ritual? If not, it’s not prohibited — the Torah doesn’t speak to it.”
      On December 5-7, queer Jewish history, tradition and ritual will be extensively explored as over 60 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer rabbis, cantors and students gather in San Francisco for the first Nehirim LGBTQI Jewish clergy retreat. (the “I” is a recent addition to the “LGBTQ” acronym, and stands for intersex, the term used to describe those formerly referred to as hermaphroditic).
The three-day event will be the largest gathering of its kind to date. Participants will study queer theology, celebrate LGBTQI Jewish life and create new rituals for the Jewish LGBTQI community.  .... '
----  see more about this adventurous initiative in Judaism as reported by Greg Tepper at at :- 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

LESBIAN COMIC STUFF for the holidays ...

Lesbian Superheroes (And Other Comic Stuff for Queer Lady-Types)
----  the opening pars to a lively gift guide for the holiday season posted by Meya at Autostraddle (USA), 1 December 2014 :-

      '2014 has been a pretty good year for female comic book fans and women in comics. There are a bunch of new female-led titles, some female superhero movies were finally announced, there are some super great women writing and illustrating comics and it looks like the pushback against the whole “fake gamer girls” thing is finally winning.
      It’s also been a pretty good year for queer women. Same-sex marriage and anti-discrimination ordinances are spreading across the nation, we got a second season of Orange is the New Black, Ellen Page came out. So let’s celebrate by buying a bunch of cool lesbian superhero memorabilia and other comic stuff for Queer Lady-Types!  .... '
----  see more of Meya's recommendations for the season at at :- 

GRAHAM NORTON | A Memoir ...

The Life and Loves of a He-Devil by Graham Norton: A Memoir
----  brief excerpts from a lively review by UK television personality Terry Wogan at the Irish Times (Eire), November 2014 :-

      '  ....  For a start, it’s obviously written by the man himself, without the help of a “ghost”. It is full of wicked asides, tart observations and sharp remarks that could only have only have originated in Graham Norton’s witty brain, which, unlike many another, is always engaged before the tongue is set in motion.
      And as ever, behind the roguish response, is a winning smile that takes the curse off any offence and a kindly, even gentle heart that never seeks to hurt.
      Nor is this a paean to the greater glory of Graham, of his fame, his triumphs, his loves, his famous friends. In the well-worn words of Kipling, he “treats triumph and disaster just the same”. In his self-deprecating way, his failures, both personal and professional, are never shirked here.  .... ' 
----  see more of Terry Wogan's review of Norton's book at at :- 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

GAY BERLIN | A new book about an historic city ....

Gay Berlin explored
----  excerpts from a post by Alastair Newton at Daily Extra (Canada), 28 November 2014 :-

      'Robert Beachy's book unravels Berlin's rich queer history. .Imagine a world where glamorous whores dipped rose petals in cocaine and ate them to get high. Where one could pop into the Dorian Gray bar for live lesbian S&M shows on a Wednesday night. A place where a transvestite ball drew massive crowds.
      These were only a taste of a city that once had something to satiate even the most exotic of appetites. Though Christopher Isherwood routinely dismissed the highly romanticized idea of “decadent Berlin,” the portrait painted by author and academic Robert Beachy in his excellent new book Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity makes a solid case to the contrary....
....  Ultimately what makes Gay Berlin such an achievement, is the through-line the author provides by following the development of a definable homosexual identity; the contemporary idea of homosexuality as something one could be, as opposed to something one didGay Berlin’s accessible prose provide an expert balance of titillation, edification, and emotional heft; it is a rare and special accomplishment, and the best survey of the history of queer Berlin currently available in English.'
----  see more of Alastair Newton's report on Robert Beachy's Gay Berlin at :- 

Friday, November 28, 2014

GAY GENES | Are they the issue? ...

Why a Gay Gene isn't Important to the Gay Rights Fight
----  the opening pars from an extended opinion piece by Steve Williams at Care 2 (USA), 25 November 2014 :-

      'Last week there came news that researchers may now be one step closer to finding the genetic basis for homosexuality in men, but something about this attempt needs clearing up: namely, that it should not be something on which we hinge the gay rights fight.
      The study, by researchers at Northwestern University in Illinois, found two possible locations for genes that might be responsible for male homosexuality. The research is being treated as an important advance in the scientific understanding of what makes someone gay and while not conclusive proof, it has excited researchers and sparked new interest in the field.
      Indeed, the theories involved in why homosexuality might occur are incredibly through provoking. A leading theory suggests that homosexuals may serve to strengthen kin relationships, acting as satellite parents and extra guardians for offspring. Another theory currently in the spotlight suggests that a certain degree of homosexual affection may serve to bond family units, decrease infighting and in turn offer more protection and more chance of passing on the family’s genes.
      Indeed, researchers have been keen to stress that these kinds of results ”erode” the belief that homosexuality is a choice. And indeed, discovering a genetic basis for sexuality of any kind should firmly dispel that myth,  ..... '
----  see more of Steve William's informed views at at :- 


WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE: Scholars speculate whether playwright was gay
----  brief excerpts from a newspost by Ella Alexander at The Independent (UK), 27 November 2014 :-
      'A group of scholars have reignited the debate over the sexuality of William Shakespeare.
      Sir Brian Vickers, a visiting professor at University College London, started the academic argument by asserting that a Times Literary Supplement book review was wrong to state that Shakespeare’s 119 sonnet was written in a “primarily homosexual context”. Vickers maintains that his literary material doesn’t confirm his sexuality either way.
      Scholar Arthur Freeman, who described himself as a “friendly acquaintance” of Vickers, said that the fellow academic had presented “presuppositions that many of us would question, if not reject out of hand”.  ....
....  Shakespeare’s sexuality has been discussed numerously within academic circles in the past. The playwright married Anne Hathaway, with whom he had three children, but some have argued that he was bisexual based upon one of his Sonnet 18, a love poem addressed a man, the “Fair Lord”. It also features plays on words relating to sexual desire between men.  .... '
----  see more of Ella Alexander's report at at :- 
----  see too a further report at the Daily Mail (UK), 27 November 2014 at :- 
----  and then read John Sutherland's scholarly response at The Guardian (UK), 28 November at :- 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

GAY ORIGINS | A new biological theory firms up ...

Homosexuality "is an essential part of evolution" say scientists -
in hunter-gatherer days it was an advantage to be bisexual
----  brief excerpts from a science post by Sarah Spickernell at City AM (UK), 24 November 2014 :-

      'Homosexuality has always been a stumbling block for evolutionary biologists promoting Darwin's theory of events.
      His laws of natural selection state that unless a trait is passed on reproductively from generation to generation, it eventually disappears – yet the percentage of the population that is gay, whether female or male, has remained roughly the same.
       To explain this, a group of researchers at the University of Portsmouth has developed the theory that homosexuality helped humans form beneficial relationships with each other in the earliest hunter-gatherer communities, when being close would increase the chances of survival. 
       "From an evolutionary perspective we tend to think of sexual behaviour as a means to an end for reproduction,” explained Diana Fleischman, lead author of the report.
       "However, because sexual behaviour is intimate and pleasurable, it is also used in many species, including non-human primates, to help form and maintain social bonds. We can all see this in romantic couples who bond by engaging in sexual behaviour even when reproduction is not possible.” ....
....  Studies of other members of the great ape family have already shown a link between a need to form intimate relationships and homosexuality, but this was the first time it was revealed in humans.'
----  see more of Sarah Spickernell's report at at :- 
----  see too another version of this science report at Queerty (USA), 26 November, 2014 :- 
----  and see too Andy Coghlan's sober scientific report at New Scientist (UK etc) at :- 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

MALE SEX DRIVE | Is romance a turn-off?

Does Romance Kill Men's Sex Drive?
----  brief excerpts from a controversial 3-page health report by Laura Tedesco at Yahoo Health (USA), 21 November 2014 :-

      ' ....  Watching romantic movies revs women’s sex drives — but it also dampens men’s desire to hit the sheets, according to a new study in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.
      In the world of sex research, there’s a theory about sexual desire called the “incentive motivation model.” That’s a technical way of saying arousal starts with a rewarding stimuli (for example, seeing your partner naked), which automatically leads to a boost in below-the-belt blood flow. .... 
,,,,  As simple as that sounds, the first step — the sexual stimuli that kicks off the whole arousal process — can vary dramatically between men and women. 
      Take porn, for example. “In a lot of research, when women watch porn movies, their body reacts — they’re genitally aroused — but they don’t feel anything,” lead study author Marieke Dewitte, an assistant professor of clinical psychological science at Maastricht University, told Yahoo Health. However, “we know that if you let women watch porn that is more female-oriented, embedded in a story, they respond with more sexual arousal.”  ....
....  What’s going on? Simple: Women may use romantic scenes as a jumping-off point to conjure their own sexual fantasies — say, imagining being seduced by someone like Jack Dawson in Titanic. By contrast, “men need more visual information,” said Dewitte. As a result, guys tend to favor explicit sexual stimuli (like pornography), possibly because they’re wired to reproduce with lots of partners, rather than nurturing a romantic bond with one woman. “For women, the attachment system is more important, so the partner stays with them and raises the child,” she said. “So it makes sense that sexuality is much more related to the relationship.” ..... 
----  see more of Laura Tedesco's report on this challenging concept at at :-

Saturday, November 22, 2014

GAYS AND THE BIBLE | An Evangelical viewpoint ...

GAY EVANGELICALS | The Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality
----  selected excerpts from an extended opinion-piece by Jerome Socolovsky at Voice Of America (USA), 21 November 2014 :-

      ' .... Most evangelical Christians believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. The Book of Leviticus calls male-male sex “detestable,” while in the Book of Romans, one of Jesus’ apostles, Paul, condemns men who commit “shameless acts" with other men.
    But [Matthew] Vines [National City Christian Church in Washington] said homosexuality was seen differently in the ancient world, and believes these passages are about lasciviousness, and do not apply to loving same-sex couples.  ....
....  Most evangelical Christians believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. The Book of Leviticus calls male-male sex “detestable,” while in the Book of Romans, one of Jesus’ apostles, Paul, condemns men who commit “shameless acts" with other men.
      But Vines said homosexuality was seen differently in the ancient world, and believes these passages are about lasciviousness, and do not apply to loving same-sex couples.  ....
....  the gay issue is just another example of biblical distortions resulting in what he calls “un-Christlike” behavior.
      “I think it remains very hard for Christians to say this simple thing: ‘We were wrong,’” he said in the interview. “We’ve been wrong on slavery, on race, on women, on a whole host of issues.”
----  see more of Jerome Socolovsky's report at at :- 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

GAY LIFE | In another place, another time ...

GAY LIFE as lived (legally, ahead of other nations) by the Swiss in the post-War period
----  a precis of a new movie screening this weekend in New York City (USA)

      'Zürich in the mid 50's: The young shy teacher Ernst Ostertag becomes a member of the gay organization DER KREIS (The Circle). There he gets to know the transvestite cabaret star Röbi Rapp -- and immediately falls head over heels in love with him.
      Röbi and Ernst live through the high point and the eventual decline of the organization, which in the whole of Europe is seen as the pioneer of gay emancipation. Ernst finds himself torn between his bourgeois existence and his commitment to homosexuality.  ....
....  While the repression against homosexuals became increasingly more intense in Zurich, two young and very different men fight for their love and -- together with their friends -- for the rights of gays.  .... '
----  though screening over the coming few days at the Quad Cinema, New York City (check the site in the link here), this movie is likely to be available on circuit and/or dvd in the near future :- 
----  and visit the German-language trailer (with English subtitles) in the sidebar. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

GAY GENES | The increasing evidence for biological origins ...

Largest study of gay brothers homes-in on 'gay genes' 
---- the opening phrases of an extended press report by Andy Coghlan at the respected New Scientist magazine (UK), 22 November 2014 :-

      'A genetic analysis of 409 pairs of gay brothers, including sets of twins, has provided the strongest evidence yet that gay people are born gay. The study clearly links sexual orientation in men with two regions of the human genome that have been implicated before, one on the X chromosome and one on chromosome 8.
      The finding is an important contribution to mounting evidence that being gay is biologically determined rather than a lifestyle choice. In some countries, such as Uganda, being gay is still criminalised, and some religious groups believe that gay people can be "treated" to make them straight.
      "It erodes the notion that sexual orientation is a choice," says study leader Alan Sanders of the NorthShore Research Institute in Evanston, Illinois.  .... 
....  The latest study involves about three times as many people as the previous largest study, which means it is significantly more statistically robust.  .... '
----  see more of Andy Coghlan's report at the authoritative New Scientist magazine at :- 
----  see another take on the importance of this discovery by Will Hagle at Opposing Views (USA) at :-

Monday, November 17, 2014

GAY GENE? | New study suggests genetic influences ...

Study suggests genetic link for male homosexuality
----  brief excerpts from a science report by Associated Press (USA), 17 November 2014 :-

      'CHICAGO (AP) — A large study of gay brothers adds to evidence that genes influence men's chances of being homosexual, but the results aren't strong enough to prove it.
      Some scientists believe several genes might affect sexual orientation. Researchers who led the new study of nearly 800 gay brothers say their results bolster previous evidence pointing to genes on the X chromosome.  ....
....  The new evidence "is not proof but it's a pretty good indication" that genes on the two chromosomes have some influence over sexual orientation, said Dr. Alan Sanders, the lead author. He studies behavioral genetics at NorthShore University HealthSystem Research Institute in Evanston, Illinois.
      Experts not involved in the study were more skeptical.  .... '
----  see more of the AP report at the Morganton News Herald (USA) at at :- 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

LESBIAN PARODY | 50 Shades gets an hilarious gender make-over ...

50 Shades of GAY imagines 50 Shades of Grey with Lesbians
----  introducing a post by Arielle Scarcella at SheWired (USA), 14 November 2014 :-

      'What if Fifty Shades of Grey were about a lesbian relationship?
      Our friends over at the Gay Women's channel are back with another hilarious parody. Fifty Shades of Grey is slowly releasing trailers for the February 14, release date, so it was only a matter of time before someone took a shot at it.
      The Gay Women's channel laughs at long-existing stereotypes. .... '
----  see Arielle Scarcella's post and video at the ever-relevent at :-
----  or visit the hilarious Gay Women's video via YouTube in the sidebar (opposite).

Saturday, November 15, 2014

GAY PARENTING | A father's dilemma ...

Read what happened when this dad accidentally discovered that he had a gay son
----  brief excerpts from an extended recollection-piece reported by David Hudson at Gay Star News (USA), 15 November 2014 :-

      'The man, who inadvertently discovered that his 13-year-old son may be gay after borrowing his iPad, turned to Reddit for advice on whether to broach the subject with the boy.
      His first port of call was Google. However, unless someone clears their search history, Google search results can automatically re-appear when you begin to type a similar search term. ‘I'm 38, and a single dad to my 13 year old son,’ wrote HeMeYou. ‘The other day I asked my son if I could borrow his iPad and he gave it to me.
      After my first attempt at Google searching something I noticed that he forgot to delete his history as a lot of the search terms were along the lines of "I'm gay what now?" etc...’ ‘I love him regardless of which gender he loves, in fact when I was slightly older than him I had a few flings with guys, which he doesn't know about, so I am 100% supportive.
       ‘He has seemed slightly down recently, as in, he isn't as cheerful as he once was, and I desperately want to tell him that I love him regardless of which sexuality he is. ‘What are my options? Should I wait for him to tell me? Or should I make a few hints at it?  ,,,,
....  Hundreds of Reddit users responded, with a range of helpful and imaginative suggestions.  .... '
----  see more of David Hudson's report on this challenging issue for a parent at at :- 
----  & see too another coverage of the heartening reader response at Buzzfeed (USA) at :- 
----  and finally, see another heartening report which follows up the dad's plea at the Human Rights Campaign site, complete with readers'opinions, at :-

MALE EYE-CANDY | Charlie Hunnam shows healthy good form ...

Behind-The-Scenes Of Charlie Hunnam's Shirtless Men's Shoot!
----  excerpts from a welcome publicity post by Instinct staff (USA), 11 November 2014 :-

      'He may not have won the lead role in 50 Shades, but former Queer as Folk star Charlie Hunnam has nonetheless remained an object of affection. Men's Fitness thankfully puts that object on its new cover, front and center, and Entertainment Tonight was along for the ride at the photo shoot.
      In this behind-the-scenes video, Charlie, who currently stars in Sons of Anarchy, goes shirtless and tosses around bails of hay.  .... '
----  see more of this Men's Fitness magazine shoot at Instinct at :- 
----  and check the lively video in the sidebar column, with thanks to Entertainment Tonight.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Irish Ad Looks to Inspire Youth to Say 'Yes' to Marriage Equality
----  brief excerpts from a news post by Thom Senzee at Advocate (USA), 12 November 2014 :-

      'A moving new video encourages young voters in Ireland to register by November 25 in order to vote in support of equality in next May's referendum on civil marriage for same-sex couples.  ....
....  Ireland's steady march toward equality for LGBT people essentially began in 1993, when the nation decriminalized being gay.  ....
....  In 2011, the Republic of Ireland legally recognized civil unions for same-sex couples, and earlier this month, one woman finally received a favorable conclusion to her decades-long court battle to secure accurate government recognition of her gender.  ....
....  Watch the inspiring video that hopes to motivate young voters to turn out and support marriage equality in Ireland  [in the sidebar, opposite] .... '
----  & see more of Thom Senzee's well-informed post at at :- 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

LATINO LGBTQ YOUTH | The huge challenge ahead ...

Machismo Culture Could Be Used To Cure Attitudes Facing Latino LGBTQ Youth
---- the opening pars from a revealing article by Nicole Akoukou Thompson at Latin Post (USA), 12 November 2014 :-

      'For many, the anti-LGBT sentiment is connected to religious teachings and upbringings within Latino households. And when deep rooted religious understanding is paired with machismo attitudes and incorrect information about homosexuality, it perpetuates hostility and homophobia.
    Maricon, the Spanish equivalent of "gay" and "faggot," is nonchalantly tossed around in many Latino households.
    And that's paired with negative stereotyping of effeminate men and a continual lack of public and private acceptance of LGBTQ community members. For many, the anti-LGBT sentiment is connected to religious teachings and upbringings within Latino households. And when deep rooted religious understanding is paired with machismo attitudes and incorrect information about homosexuality, it perpetuates hostility and homophobia. ....
....  Along with that mode of understanding, to be a man who exhibits female mannerisms is inconceivable; it's sinful or immoral. Those who fail to conform to heteronormativity lack upward social mobility, so many stifle or hide their homosexual identity. They fear the social ramifications or accusations of perpetuating the "contagious gay agenda." But, it's the assumptions about the "gay agenda" or lifestyle. And presumptions about perversity that threatens housing and financial stability for LGBT youth and ultimately their lives. ....  '
----  see more of Nicole Akoukou Thompson's stimulating essay at at :- 

Now COOL GAY STUFF shifts to mixed miscellany in both columns ...

... the pages below in this column offer trailers of recent gay-interest movies & independent reviews of THE HADRIAN ENIGMA ...

... then follows copyright details & a bibliography of academic literature consulted as research for THE HADRIAN ENIGMA.

The pages in the side-column offer miscellaneous gay or m/m related links & sources.



.... twenty new movies from international sources (below), updated regularly ...

1950's GAY LIFE IN SWITZERLAND ... a reminder of the (relatively recent) difficult past

PIER PAOLO PASOLINI's posthumous return to the screen ...


"THE IMITATION GAME" .. gay cryptologist Ian Turing in WWII

NEW GAY CINEMA | Indie eroticism ...

GAY-THEMED MOVIE with two major artists ...

"FUTURO BEACH" trailer (Portugese language) ...




COOL GAY MOVIE | "BOYS" (Netherlands 2014) ...


COOL GAY MOVIE | "IN BLOOM" now on dvd ...

NEW GAY MOVIE | "Burning Blue" (USA)...

Don't Ask, Don't Tell is recalled ...

BURNING BLUE is a romantic drama which tells the story of two Navy fighter pilots who fall in love while living under the US Military Services' former "Don’t Ask Don’t Tell" policy.

COOL GAY MOVIE at Berlin Film Festival 2014 ...


Gay comedy "LOVE OR WHATEVER" arrives on video in May ...

COOL GAY MOVIE for 2014 ...


COOL GAY MOVIE about high school love ...








Published on YouTube 16 July, 2013 :
Various lives intersect in and around a West Hollywood motel in this kaleidoscopic comedy about sex, love, and the meaning of life.
The characters include a medical student (Matt Riddlehoover), his extrovert boyfriend (Andrew Callahan), an adulterous actress (Starina Johnson), her lover (Heather Horton), and a dutiful husband (Phil Leirness) whose wife (Amy Kelly) wakes to find she has a penis.
Available November 12 on DVD/VOD from TLAgay:


A fair-haired young man, dressed in rich ceremonial armor, is found dead in the Nile River. When he is identified, everyone realizes the dangerous political implications of this death, because Antinous was the eromenos—the lover and protégé—of the Roman Emperor Hadrian.

A grief-stricken Hadrian appoints two members of the court, Suetonius and his patron Clarus, to find out how and why Antinous died. They have two days to find the answer, permission to interrogate anyone except the Emperor and Empress, and the promise that they may forfeit their lives if they fail to satisfy Hadrian.

Failure is a distinct possibility. While Antinous was well-liked and respected, the circle of suspects is wide, as it often will be when the victim is the confidant of an absolute ruler. The two sleuths quickly draft unlikely but able assistants to help them, including a scribe and an observant, multilingual prostitute.

The book offers an extensively researched picture of life in the Roman Empire of 130 AD. Gardiner is equally convincing when writing about imperial politics and succession laws, marriage and sexual customs, philosophy and the theater.

But The Hadrian Enigma—a mix of mystery, comedy, gay and straight romance—is an entertaining read.

(See more at :-

THE HADRIAN ENIGMA - an unedited review by historical novelist NAN HAWTHORNE ...

Gaius Suetonius, a bit of a muckraking biographer, tells this story about an investigation into the sudden and unexplainable death of the youth, Antinous, by apparent drowning in the Nile during an annual festival of the death and resurrection of the god Osiris. The small group of investigators commissioned by Caesar Hadrian has two days to learn how he came to be found in the river dead. The path to this knowledge is difficult, involved, often contradictory and definitely dangerous as the investigators follow leads full of red herrings and mislaid people and things. At the heart of what they learn is how the boy came to be the eromenus to Hadrian’s erastes, a relationship between a mature man and a young one entering his career that was at least mentor-mentee and likely erotic. It seems that Hadrian was looking for such a companion and found it in Antinous, but from there the enigma stretches. A Roman man was not supposed to engage in an equal love relationship but only dominate the eromenus, but from the start the two men’s relationship was much more, and this fact if revealed could damage the Empire.

If you are expecting a nice neat Hercule Poirot detective story, let that go. This murder investigation, if that is the crime that took place, is far more challenging for both the investigators and the book’s readers. The solution does not even come to light until almost too late, during the investigation report. Rather than being a spoiler, I offer you the foreknowledge of a much more skillful mental workout. Perhaps the greater mystery is why the emperor asked Suetonius to lead the inquiries, as the latter is known for leaving no salacious stone unturned in his research and writing. Does Hadrian really want to know what happened to his lover? Does he really want everyone to see the seamy side of his court?

The structure of the novel is a series of interviews with witnesses and suspects about the days before and immediately after the young man’s death. In seeking background about Antinous, Suetonius and his fellows explore his life and relationships before becoming Hadrian’s companion. The individuals who supply this intelligence come at it from a number of quite different perspectives, with enough gaps between them to offer ambiguity. You will find yourself guessing “whodunit” and changing your mind several times as you follow the investigation and meet other players in the story.

I found that starting at the point of the lovers’ first night together I began to feel a sense of the tragic nature of their erastes-eromenus compact. It is understood that it cannot last more than a few years, but since in this case love enters the equation, the tragic nature of Antinous’s life starts to permeate all succeeding events. I found this quite moving and that it added a layer of anxiety as I read. As mentioned above, this is a novel about the nature of love. One aspect of gay male romance is constant threat to happiness and fulfillment, but this is far from just being a gay romance. The central characters are both men, but loves of other kinds make their mark throughout. There is family, marital friendship and sexual love, and the tension comes when the masculinist nature of Roman culture interferes and invalidates it. The subtext, as the author told me, is the same as we face now, when romantic relationships are more broadly defined but still not part of the heart of our societies.

One aspect of this novel I found pleasing was the mix of archaic and modern terms. Readers sometimes balk at modern slang, but when the very essence of a novel is that everything in it is an implicit translation, it is absurd to say that there would not have been a slang counterpart in the ancient language. Further, Gardiner confines his slang to the appropriate witnesses, those who would have used slang. That the words eromenus and boy-toy are in the same paragraph made perfect sense to me.
This novel will stick with readers for some time, its many subtle undertones drifting up and down in contemplation. It is also simply a good mystery novel. You will feel engaged and challenged and you will find you had encountered every little detail at some point in the book. No surprises, that is, if you were paying attention.

---- see more of Nan Hawthorne's work at her blog at :-

Nan Hawthorne, Historical Novelist

THE HADRIAN ENIGMA | A review by historical fiction author J.R. Tomlin ...

An excerpt from a review of August 15, 2011

" .... In 130 AD, while accompanying the Emperor Hadrian on a tour up the Nile, the beautiful youth Antinous plunges into the Nile and drowns. Hadrian, near maddened with grief, declares Antinous a god. However, Suetonius just happens to be along on this imperial tour. Already the author of juicy books on contemporary Roman life, he is perfectly placed to investigate this mysterious death, so Emperor Hadrian commands him to investigate and find the murderer within 48 hours or suffer the consequences.

In the imperial compound on the Nile, Suetonius searches for clues. Here, semi-isolated, the bubbling cauldron of the Roman court has been transplanted to a fabulous tent city. Yet, the mystery of Egypt is an ever present backdrop to this baffling death. .... Why was Antinous clad in heavy ceremonial parade armor and weapons when he died? How did he come by a slit on his left wrist and strange marks on his throat? And how can Suetonius unravel all this when the Emperor refuses to let Suetonius even touch the body to examine it? The characterization is vivid and the historicity meticulous in this novel. I enjoyed savoring the characters and setting as Suetonius unraveled the imperial goings on. .... "

See more of J.R. Tomlin's review at her author's blogsite "Writing & More" at :


Hooray for Hadrian (and for George Gardiner) !, August 31, 2010

By a reader down under (New South Wales, Australia) - See all my reviews

This review is for: THE HADRIAN ENIGMA: A Forbidden History (Paperback)

George Gardiner's absorbing new book, which focuses on the relationship between the Roman emperor Hadrian and his young paramour, Antinous of Bithynia, quite possibly heralds the thrilling emergence of a new Mary Renault. (As uneven as it is in some places, to my mind it is a big improvement on Margeurite Yourcenar's book on Hadrian from the 1950s).

Gardiner begins his narrative with the discovery of the dead body of the beautiful youth, who has apparently drowned in the Nile. He coopts as his central figure cum narrator the actual historical figure of Suetonius Tranquillus, who is charged by the supreme colonial ruler Hadrian Caesar with the urgent responsibility of uncovering the reasons for, as well as the manner of, the death. Suetonius works night and day as a kind of investigator/ prosecutor and his dogged inquiry drives the plot. The narrative unfolds as a kind of antique murder mystery, then, and one of the book's great strengths is in the well-paced twists and turns of the plot, throwing up a number of suspects and scenarios along the way that keep the reader intrigued until the very end. Gardiner's humour shines through this character, who is forced to carry out his investigation under the double pressure of a pressing deadline (why is Hadrian so intent of winding it all up in such a short time, we wonder) and the threat of execution if he doesn't come up with the answers.

This is compelling writing. Suetonius is a good choice, as he is known for his history of a dozen Caesars, and the author brings him vividly and humorously to life. Indeed, Gardiner skilfully and imaginitively re-works established historical figures and creates a cast of composite characters where necessary to serve his narrative ends. The fact that he can do this convincingly, with such an extraordinary mixture of ethnicities and beliefs, is writing of a high order. The mastery of research is remarkable, not only for Gardiner's command of the details of ethnic artefacts, weaponry, costume, architecture and so on, but also for the complex politics of Roman colonial expansionism in its abrasive encounter with other cultures. The era was marked by a complex intermingling of belief systems, and Gardiner's fictional world is woven from a rich and amazingly detailed fabric. Very occasionally the research seems almost oversupplied but for the most part it serves to underpin his imaginative reconstructions with persuasive authenticity.

Also among the book's strengths are the finely imagined conversations between characters, both historical and concocted, that move the investigation so beautifully along. There are certain set action sequences pieces, too, that are brilliantly staged and paced--the boar hunt, for example, when Hadrian rescues Antinous, and the marvellous climactic scene where Suetonius brings his prosecutorial charges home (albeit uncertainly, with some lines of inquiry that don't pan out).

The only thing that broke the spell for me was Gardiner's occasional jarring choices in language idioms. There's no doubt that the language(s) of the time and place would have been salted with colourful vulgarities, and the dialogue should reflect that, but some of the terms chosen have such strong contemporary associations for us, here at the beginning of the 21st Century, that they they jar and jolt in the reading. `Toyboy' is one example, `getting your rocks off,' `muscular stud' and `gaga' are others that don't ring well to my ear. It's a pity, because sometimes they drop the reader right out of the spell he weaves so skilfully, otherwise.

In contrast, many of the scenes and dialogue move with stately Latinate constructions within a convincing and well-sustained narrative voice. Gardiner has set himself the difficult task of creating a hybrid language that can include both convincing formal language, and everyday vulgarisms, that ring true within his own reconstruction, yet sound right to our contemporary hearing. It's a delicate juggling act and sometimes he drops his balls. (If he had perhaps reserved their use strictly in dialogue, say, to help with characterisation? Perhaps some of his choices might be better realised in a second edition.)

Another of the book's great strengths is hinted at by the book's sub-title. It's a `forbidden history' not simply because Hadrian issues an edict that only the official `party line' should be recorded (and by implication, Suetonius' project of recording events for us to read goes dangerously gainst the edict of his Emperor). It's forbidden history too because Gardiner has constructed a counter-narrative to the centuries of heavily judgemental readings of this iconic same-sex relationship. Positive affirmations of same-sex bonding were exiled in silence as soon as the early Christian commentators started to impose their dominant narratives over all acceptable behaviours and ideals.

In Yourcenar's 50s version, Antinous's moody adolescent pouting makes Hadrian looks like a bit of a fool for dallying with the youth, but Gardiner proposes a heroic reading here that highlights the finer elements of the erastes/eromenos partnering, which was not only tolerated but celebrated in ancient times. For me, this moves the book onto a higher plane than a mere homoerotic titillation and places the relationship where it belongs, in the heroic company of Patroclus/Achilles and the legendary band of Theban warrior-lovers.

Gardiner successfully and daringly recuperates the much-despised and consistently misrepresented ideal of man-to-man love, here based on respect, admiration and the inspiration of noble ideals, as much as the undeniable and enjoyable erotic attraction, which we see only fitful glimpses of among sporting figures and others today. During the continuing culture wars of our own times it's a relief to read this inspiring alternative with its healing potential as an affirmative voice emerging from the diminishing, culturally imposed silence.

In a strange way `The Hadrian Enigma' is reminiscent of E.M. Forster's gay-affirmative novel `Maurice', which Forster was unable to publish during his lifetime. Forster's wistful happy ending for a same sex coupling was unthinkable in the mid-twentieth Century, and even today, it's hard to read such partnering as anything other than morally sinful - such is our pervasive indoctrination by churchmen - or psychologically misdirected (`homosexuality' is still construed as a kind of `failed development' in conventional psychological readings). Certainly such a relationship will still be regarded as second best to the pressing imperative of reproduction. Gardiner has struck a blow with this courageous and convincing re-telling.

So, for me this is a 5 star book for the outstanding and detailed research and the creative work that underpins the imaginative reconstructions; at least 4 stars for its plotting, but only 3 stars for the strange inconsistencies in his prose style. This averages out to a solidly earned 4 stars.

I do hope Gardiner is deep at work on his next book of historical fiction. He certainly has all the skills required.

See this review in situ at Amazon at :-


Aleksandr Voinov of Speak Its Name reviews my novel ...

A specialist review site for gay historical fiction, Speak Its Name has reviewed The Hadrian Enigma. I am told Speak Its Name receives 700 hits a day from readers of this genre, making it a prominent source of opinion for readers of gay historical fiction. Speak Its Name pursues a tough line in its reviewing standards. It says it takes gay history, history in general, & the quality of the writing into critical consideration.

Aleks Voinov, an author in his own stead & one of the site's key reviewers, has given the book a satisfaction rating of 4.5 out of 5, by which it defines the book as VERY good in Speak Its Name's eyes.

As a reviewer Mr. Voinov finds a great deal to admire and many things to critique. But that's the way it goes in literary criticism, folks. Check Speak Its Name's fascinating website & review lists, plus read Mr. Voinov's full 2-page critique at :-


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Bye-bye for now from George Gardiner's COOL GAY STUFF ...

Thanks you for visiting my site, even though it's about far more than m/m romance or gay entertainment, isn't it?

Thanks too to those whose texts or visuals have been studied, reviewed, & promoted in the posts. Their item & its link to the originating source remains in the line-up for about four weeks. Comments should be posted at the originating sites. They deserve your feedback.

New entries are posted almost daily. Please come back soon. Immediately below this bye-bye lies the bibliography consulted to research THE HADRIAN ENIGMA, its times, & historical personalities.