Welcome to COOL GAY STUFF! ... but please wait a few seconds for its many Net-links to load ...

Here historical novelist George Gardiner explores-&-samples new LGBTQ highlights from around the Net you may have missed. He re-posts brief excerpts from key press reports, & selects new videos to sample, promote, & provide direct links to LGBTQ-interest media (by grace of Google Chrome, YouTube, & Blogger, with many thanks). These sampler-snippets focus on key gay-themed Web selections (or simply gay-interest subjects of note), always pointing via direct links to their sources for your exploration. These occur under obligatory Fair Dealing copyright rules (see policy below). Because these thumbnail excerpts are NOT only for gay gals & guys, there's NO eye-popping porn here nor racy NSFW items to spook straight visitors. Primarily, it's a snap-sampler of the Net's newest cool gay stuff ...

We open with recent videos of LGBTQ interest ... followed by a blurb for my well-regarded, erotically-charged romance & 498-page Roman-era historical crime-mystery novel titled "THE HADRIAN ENIGMA - A Forbidden History". Based on recorded-history's real life romance between the eminent emperor Hadrian Caesar and his much-admired beau Antinous of Bithynia, its paperback or ebook purchase links are shown immediately below.

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

The AB FAB team make their last stand ...

Welcome Brit TV's AB FAB duo Edina and Patsy, fabulous 1970's British fashion-&-lifestyle doyens, to strike again (after all these years, good grief) ...

Appropriately for their forthcoming big screen debut, Edina and Patsy (Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley) are still oozing glitz and glamour, plus living the high life they are accustomed to -- shopping, drinking and clubbing their way around London’s trendiest hotspots.

Blamed for a major incident at an uber-fashionable launch party, the irrepressible duo become entangled in a media storm and are relentlessly pursued by the paparazzi. Fleeing penniless to the glamorous playground of the super-rich, the French Riviera, they hatch a plan to make their escape permanent and live the high life forever more!

It opens in the UK on 1st July, and in the USA on 22nd July.

View here the YouTube 2'30" trailer's chaotic slapstick, but don't forget to return here to Cool Gay Stuff afterwards.


ONE OF THE EARLIEST RECORDED SAME-SEX ROMANCES OF HISTORY : Hadrian Caesar and his very-fit paramour Antinous of Bithynia at Rome (circa 125-130CE) two centuries before Rome adopted Christian beliefs & values ...

.... The two pages below are an invitation from your host, author George Gardiner, to explore his 498-page romance/crime/historical mystery/erotica/m-m romance novel "THE HADRIAN ENIGMA: A Forbidden History".

However, if you are a returning visitor then you should ...


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

HADRIAN & ANTINOUS - recorded 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 of a paperback or instant Kindle ebook download.

OPINIONS OF "THE HADRIAN ENIGMA" - brief excerpts from 21 USA & UK Amazon reviews ...

"Nobody will ever know what, exactly, happened to Antinoos. But this is IMHO the best yet story about what might have been. ...."
David Woodworth (USA) at Amazon's USA sales site

"Five stars ... This is a good & fast read."
Fr Mike Mangoian (USA) at Amazon 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 :- http://jeannetomlin.blogspot.com/

"Five stars ... a tour de force ..."
Elisa Rolle, Amazon Top 1000 Reviewer, USA & UK, & at : http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/1092070.html

" ... 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 http://www.desicritics.org/ 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 :- http://kitmossreviews.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/the-hadrian-enigma-forbidden-history-by.html

"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 site with its 21 reader's reviews (twelve awarding Five Stars for excellence!) can be read in full by clicking on :- http://www.amazon.com/Hadrian-Enigma-Forbidden-History/product-reviews/0980746906/ref=sr_1_1_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1


LUST, LOVE, INTRIGUE, & MURDEROUS REVENGE: challenging suspense fiction suggested by real events in 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 available via online sources. (Not available in street stores.)

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 ONLINE ONLY (not in street stores). CLICK NOW ON A LINK BELOW to select or compare your preferred purchase & delivery options ...

For an Amazon-USA or overseas 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 :


.... (but if your browser only shows a sole news item in the column immediately below, click on this blue url address to instantly summon-up the twenty-or-so others awaiting your view) :-

Sunday, May 1, 2016

HOMOSEXUALITY / Its queer history ...

----  brief excerpts from a well-informed report by Matt Baume at Unicorn Booty (USA), 29 April 2016 :-

      'Imagine if you could cure a disease simply by taking a vote. Well, that’s sort of what happened on April 8, 1974, when the American Psychological Association (APA) announced that it would remove homosexuality from the DSM. Suddenly, all the millions of queer people around the world were freed of a diagnosable illness.
      That homosexuality was even considered a disease was the fault of unexamined prejudices dating at least back to Sigmund Freud, who talked openly about same-sex attraction being linked to paranoia. For decades, it was taken as common knowledge that men who like men and women who like women were in need to treatment. ....
.... Well, it was thanks — at least in part — to the work of researchers like Alfred Kinsey. As early as the 1940s, he was writing about the realities of same-sex attraction: That it is normal, that it is healthy, and that it is something that can be enjoyed.
      In addition, psychoanalysis was falling out of favor by the 1970s, and much of the stigma around homosexuality could be traced back to that style of therapy.
      The 1972 meeting of the APA marked a significant shift from past events. After two years of protests, that year’s meeting featured presentations that highlighted the healthy and affirmative aspects of homosexuality.  ....
----  A new generation of professionals has ascended in a climate where homosexuality has never been a diagnosable illness. Therapists now tend to affirm their patients’ sexuality, and even when patients express discomfort with their sexual orientation, they are guided to come to terms with it rather than change it.  .... '
----  see more of Matt Baume's condensed history of the science of acceptance of homosexuality at https://unicornbooty.com at :-

Saturday, April 30, 2016

LGBT COMMUNITY / A long way to go ...

LGBT community faces issues beyond marriage equality
----  the opening pars from an extended sobering essay by Sarah Vasile at the Daily Collegian (Penn State U, USA), 29 April 2016 :-

      'The White House covered in rainbow lights. Facebook dashboards awash with Pride-flag filtered profile pictures. #LoveWins trending on Twitter.
      These are the things that greeted America on June 26, 2015 following the United States Supreme Court decision that would allow same-sex couples to marry nationwide.
      But now that the honeymoon period is over, Capitol Hill is still making an effort to address the discrimination many members of the LGBTQA community are facing.
      Joshua Rosenberger, a professor in the College of Health and Human Development, said he sees the legalization of same-sex marriage as a “step forward in equality and basic human rights,” but added it has some drawbacks. Many people think marriage equality was the only issue the LGBT community faced, and they believe it has now been solved.
      Rosenberger said it’s important people recognize there are a larger set of issues outside of same-sex marriage legalization, which was just one step toward complete equality.
      To address these larger issues, five members of Congress introduced The Equality Act to both the House of Representatives and the Senate on July 23, 2015. The proposed bill would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to add sexual orientation and gender identity to its anti-discrimination statute.
      Amy Vashaw, chair of the university’s Commission for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer Equity, said it’s “hard to say” whether nationwide legislation such as the Equality Act will diminish discrimination on a person-by-person basis, but noted “having a legal leg to stand on” is important.  .... '
----  see more of Sarag Vasile's challenging report at www.collegian.psu.edu at :-

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Gay-Themed Movies in India Fight Back Against Taboos
----  two brief excerpts from an extended movie news report by Vaibhav Sharma at The New York Times (USA), 26 April 2016 :-

      'MUMBAI — Bollywood has a long history of portraying gay characters with clichés or using them as an ostensibly comic sideshow. Often they are sexual predators whom the male leads, epitomes of heterosexual masculinity, must be wary of.
      But several recent movies have challenged those stereotypes, suggesting that attitudes in India’s movie industry, or at least within an influential section of it, may be changing.
      “Aligarh,” based on the true story of a gay professor who was hounded, possibly to death, opened nationwide in India in February to critical acclaim. (On May 14 the movie will be the closing offering at the New York Indian Film Festival.) It features mainstream actors — with the lead role Manoj Bajpayee in the lead role — a casting approach without precedent in Bollywood and unthinkable just a few years ago.  ....
....  “Aligarh” was based on a 2010 case involving S. R. Siras that made headlines in India. Mr. Siras, a professor at Aligarh Muslim University in India, was surreptitiously filmed while having sex with a male companion in his apartment and later suspended by the university on charges of sexual misconduct.
      The movie narrates his troubled last days, an invasion of his privacy followed by public humiliation and a professional witch hunt that ends in his mysterious death, considered by many to have been a suicide. Through the movie, Mr. Siras, in a widely lauded performance by Mr. Bajpayee, is a socially troubled man under siege in a homophobic society. ....
----  see more of Vaibav Sharma's daunting report at The New York Times at :- 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


In the Age of the Gay Memoir
----  the opening pars of a a colorful, extensive essay by iconic US writer Felice Picano at The Gay & Lesbian Review (USA), March/April 2016 :-

      'AN HOUR BEFORE I was due there, I was surprised to read on my calendar that I was part of a reading group at the Huntington Library in San Marino, part of the hundredth birthday celebration of the writer Christopher Isherwood, born in 1904. I’d totally forgotten. His widower, Don Bachardy, had asked me some months before, and I had long ago found and marked a passage in Mr. Norris Changes Trains (1937), set in Hitler’s Germany, where a homosexual nobleman remembers those wonderfully free days of earlier gay life in Berlin.
      When I arrived, the auditorium was packed, standing room only, with movie and TV cameras scattered about. An usher seated me in the front row, I found my place in the book, and tried to catch my breath after the rush to get there and the hubbub of the event.
      Suddenly I felt an elbow dig into my rib, and a familiar voice said, “Hey kid, do you know where the bathroom is?” I turned. It was the actor Mickey Rooney, and on his other side his wife (number eight?), almost twice his size and resembling a somewhat pulled together Morticia Addams. I looked on my other side: actor Michael York and his wife, then actress Gloria Stuart, and then Don.
      I’d been at the Huntington before and directed Rooney to our left and up the hallway, marveling that I was sitting next to someone whose films I’d seen most of my life, beginning on TV back on Long Island. He was Andy Hardy, boyfriend of Judy Garland, speaker of the line “I have an idea! We’ll put on a show in the barn!”  ....
[Felice Picano’s latest book is a memoir titled Nights at Rizzoli (OR Books, 2015).]
----  see more of Picano's reminiscences at www.glreview.org at :-

Monday, April 25, 2016

INTERMISSION: An exuberant historical salute to dance in the movies ...

....  and now for a change of pace: something special to make you feel good, and to remind us all how Hollywood and movies have contributed to our communal joy across many decades. Some might say this four-minute tribute (in the right-hand column) possesses an especially pronounced 'gay sensibility' ... but what the heck!, it's just good fun and puts a smile on your face plus a tap in your toe ----

"Sixty-Six Antique Movie Dance Scenes Mash-Up" ...
----  edited to the music of Mark Ronson ('Uptown Funk', featuring Bruno Mars), with thanks to YouTube and Nerd Fest UK ...

      "Over 22-million YouTube viewers can't be wrong! Here is a 4-minute 'compile-edit' of moments from a host of  motion pictures, from both the US and UK, to get your foot tapping. It is apparently compiled by Nerd Fest UK, who say :-
      'My inspiration came from What's the Mashup? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmnSm...) but I didn't manage 100! The idea was to do the same for movies from the Golden Age – meaning no title later than 1953 (although there is one at the end.) Oh, and none of these clips was sped up or slowed down.
      If you like the clips, go buy the movies on DVD! And the song on Google Play or iTunes!"

Sunday, April 24, 2016

LESBIAN OASIS / An innovative trader in east Asia ...

Deep Inside Loveboat, Asia's Lesbian Oasis
----  selected pars from a marketing report about an innovative Taiwan trader by Clarissa Wei at Broadly.Vice (Taiwan), 24 April, 2016 :-

      'Peek inside a Taiwanese bookshop and cafe that women quit their jobs to work for and hop on international flights to visit .....
      A year ago, Eve Teo came to Taiwan for a visit and walked into Loveboat because she wanted to buy a rainbow flag. Loveboat is a lesbian specialty store; an eclectic space stocked with clothes, sex toys, and books. A cafe sits at the front complete with a couch flanked by a grand rainbow flag. Little did Teo know, the visit would change her life. ....
....  Loveboat is an oasis in Asia, where LGBT rights are still quite limited. Opened in 2004 by Vivi Lee in Taipei City, it is Asia's first lesbian store. In the beginning, they sold chest binders and clothes. Now there's stacks of gay literature, a haberdashery of men's blazers, cheeky nude art on the walls, and an open cabinet full of sleek sex toys.  ....
....  "In the beginning when we opened, there was quite a bit of hate talk against the LGBTQ community in Taipei. But having the physical store really changed the tide. People have a place to go to now," she says. "Also our neighbors see who we are and realize that we're all ultimately the same."  .... '
----  see more of Clarissa Wei's report on this innovative merchandising project at Taipei at :-

Saturday, April 23, 2016

GAY SHAKESPEARE / Is it true? ...

How gay was William Shakespeare?
----  the opening pars to an extended essay by Kevin Childs at Gay Star News (UK), 22 April 2016 :-

      ''Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?' Kevin Childs writes is the beginning to one of the most famous gay love poems of all time.
      ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day / Thou art more lovely and more temperate
      Some of the most famous lines in all English literature and one of the most quoted love poems ever written, a wedding favorite. But do those blushing brides and grinning grooms simpering at each other in marriage ceremonies from Washington to the Wash know that it was written by one man to another?
      Famous it may be, it’s also one of the most exquisite gay love poems in the English language.
      The writer, William Shakespeare, the 400th anniversary of his death on 23rd April, was both a man of his time and for all time, arguably the greatest poet dramatist who ever lived, whose lines, like those above, are quoted consciously and unconsciously every day in every language. But what was he doing writing in such terms to another man? In the 1590s? Was he gay?  .... '
----  see more of Kevin Childs' fascinating hypothesis at www.gaystarnews.com at :-

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE / Yes, "Look At The Pictures" ...

A generation of artists were wiped out by AIDS and we barely talk about it
---- the opening pars to a substantial review by columnist Suzanne Moore of a new documentary film  at The Guardian (UK/USA), 21 April 2016 :-

      'A new film about the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe is a shocking and brilliant reminder of the devastation HIV and Aids wreaked – and still does.
      There are many shocking images in the brilliant new documentary Robert Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures, made by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato. You probably know many of them already. Some are just seared into our culture and no longer disturb anyone. The cover of Horses with Patti Smith was as much of a statement as her music.
      His celebrity pics of Eurotrash and rich collectors, or actual celebs such as Debbie Harry and Bianca whispering in Mick Jagger’s ear remain fascinating. Their beauty blasted by his light into timelessness; his naked flowers, the sex organs of plants in all their glory. As he said himself, he could perfect a bowl of carnations just as well as “a fist up someone’s ass”.
      Then there was the documentation of his S&M activities and his fetishisation of the black body – so many of these images remain, to use the word du jour, “problematic”. Good. His life was an artwork. He would pick up guys, do drugs, have sex and then get down to work. He would photograph them.
      When you see these pictures, you wonder why – with sexual imagery everywhere all the time – these pictures linger, hanging somewhere in a dark part of the collective memory. You keep looking because he kept seeing.  .... '
----  see more of Suzanne Moore's review of this documentary film as it opens in selected cinemas from 22 April 2016. Her well-framed review is found at The Guardian at :-
----  and visit the 1'30" trailer for the film in the side-column at right.

MYKONOS ROCKS!! / ... and it's not an Aegean earthquake, except in the indulgence sense ...

Why the paradise island of Mykonos rocks the global gay travel scene
----  with the northern hemisphere's summer holiday season approaching rapidly, here are the opening pars from a travel report by a contributor at Gay Star News (Australia) :-

      'Discover the unique gay side of Mykonos, in this guide to the island's best beaches, parties, bars and hotels!
      When trying to define the ultimate gay summer holiday, one place often springs to mind: the world-known destination of Mykonos!
      Even though civil partnerships for same-sex couples has only recently become legal in Greece, this small Mediterranean country and friendly, vibrant and fabulous Cycladic gem is proud to be one of the global landmarks of gay travel.
      But why is Mykonos so popular with gay travelers? Over the past decades, Mykonos has developed a distinctive gay-friendly attitude, that cannot be compared with any other destination.
      The island manages to preserve many of its traditional elements, however the culture of local people has grown to become naturally friendly to any kind of diversity — and of course, to gay and lesbian travelers from all over the world, who choose Mykonos for their summer holidays. ... '
----  see more of Gay Star Travel's encouraging report at www.gaystarnews.com at :-  

Sunday, April 17, 2016

GAY LIONS? / Surely, can't be? ...

These Lions Will Shut Down Any Anti-Gay Arguments
----  the opening pars of a biological news report by Alex Mierjeski at Attn.com (USA), 16 April 2016 :-

      A pair of lions apparently mating in a Botswana safari park has captured the attention of the internet — and has thrown a wrench in the argument that homosexuality is somehow unnatural.
      The photograph is one in a series depicting two male lions in Botswana's Lagoon Camp area, captured last month by Nicole Cambré, a Belgian lawyer and award-winning photographer. Her full photo series can be viewed on her website.
      Cambré said that despite the presence of lionesses, the two males appeared to be engaging in homosexual behavior. She recounted the experience in a statement to the Huffington Post.
----  see more of Alex Mierjeski's report, plus pic evidence (see the side column, right), at www.attn.com at :-
----  and see too the huge range of nature's similar examples offered by biologist Bruce Bagemi Ph.D. in Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality & Natural Diversity (St. Martin's Press USA 1999, 752p).

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

GAY GENES / Heritable genetic factors confirmed in research ...

Half of us have 'gay genes' and the larger a family, the greater the chance of having a homosexual son, controversial study claims
----  the openings pars to an extended science report by Victoria Woolastan for the Daily Mail (UK), 14 April 2016 :-

      Around half of straight men and women potentially carry so-called homosexuality genes that are passed on from one generation to the next, according to new research.
      This has helped homosexuality exist among humans throughout history, even though gay men tend to have fewer descendants who directly inherit their genes. 
      The researchers came to this conclusion using a computational model that, among others, included aspects of heredity and the tendency of homosexual men to come from larger families.
      However, the researchers did not identify any specific genes and instead the conclusions are based on the fact homosexuality must have a hereditary element.
      This idea is reported by Giorgi Chaladze of the Ilia State University in Georgia, and published in Springer's journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour
      According to previous research, sexual orientation is influenced to a degree by genetic factors and is therefore heritable. ....
----  see more of Victoria Woolaston's report at www.dailymail.co.uk at :- 
----  see also a similar news report by Mark Chandler at the Evening Standard (UK) at :-
 ----  and read the original Springer report for those with a formal mindset at :-

Saturday, April 9, 2016

GAY HISTORY / How a 'sickness' became a legit human variable ...

GAY HISTORY: The Removal of 'Sickness' from the APA's Definition of Homosexuality
----  brief pars from a recollection essayed by Dan Heching at OUT magazine (USA), 8th April 2016 :-

      'In 1974, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force celebrated their first victory: Homosexuality was no longer a "sickness."
      1974 was a different time. Homophobic singer and activist Anita Bryant was enjoying the limelight, and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) still considered homosexuality to be a mental disorder. But on April 8 of that year, the APA ratified a change of the definition, thanks to the efforts of a still-nascent National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, which marked this off as one of their agenda's first action items.
      The consequences of this change were empowering and far-reaching. Not only was it more difficult for doctors nationwide to classify sexual orientation as either "abnormal" according to their own personal biases, it also removed an authoritative voice that homophobic platforms had used for decades as a basis for their policies.  ....
----  see more of Dan Heching's well-informed historical article at www.out.com at :-

Friday, April 8, 2016

GAY CULTURE / Its liberating social influence ...

Homintern: How Gay Culture Liberated the Modern World
----  two pars from an extended & perhaps challenging book-review by Duncan Followell at the conservative news magazine The Spectator (UK), 9 April 2016 :-

      'Gregory Woods’s Homintern opens with a bracing demolition of homophobia but rapidly descends into social tittle-tattle.
      The Comintern was the name given to the international communist network in the Soviet era, advancing the cause wherever it could. The ‘Homintern’, a wry play on that, was first coined at Oxford by Maurice Bowra and gladly passed on by Cyril Connolly, Auden and others, inferring an international homosexual network of mutual interest and support. Gregory Woods, in his very first sentence, defines it thus: ‘The Homintern is the international presence of lesbians and gay men in modern life.’
      But the next few hundred pages merely collate writers and artists who happened to be gay. Most of them are from the late-19th to the mid-20th century.
      There is no doubt that the cultural vanguard, from Oscar Wilde onwards, has included a very large number of gay and bisexual people, and not only in Europe and America. Gide, Proust, Cocteau, Diaghilev, Nijinsky, Gertrude Stein, Cole Porter, Strachey, Auden, Isherwood, Thomas Mann, Pessoa, Cavafy, Forster, Virginia Woolf, James Baldwin, William Burroughs, Aragon, Jean Genet, Lorca, Pasolini, Fassbinder, Mishima, Patrick White, Francis Bacon, Benjamin Britten, Aaron Copland, John Cage… one could go on and on. And Gregory Woods does, presenting a hectic parade of major and minor figures, in what amounts to a gay gazetteer divided into geographical regions, supported by literary references and social tittle-tattle.  .... '
---- see more of Duncan Followell's exuberant opinion in his review, posted online this month at www.spectator.co.uk at :-
----  see too an excerpt which spotlights the glorious Parisian nightlife of the 1920's at :-
----  plus check-out HOMINTERN author Gregory Woods' essay on How gay culture liberated the modern world [with thanks to Gay Times (UK)] at :-

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

"BEING 17" / New French movie returns to classic gay themes ...

Strand Releasing Acquires US Rights To Andre Techine's "BEING 17"
----  brief excerpts from a film-biz report by Elsa Keslassy, International Correspondent at VARIETY (USA), 5 April 2016 :-

      'CANNES — Strand Releasing has acquired all U.S. rights to French master Andre Techine’s subtle coming-of-age drama “Being 17,” which world premiered in competition at Berlin.
      Sold by Paris-based Elle Driver, “Being 17” has earned a warm critical welcome, with Variety‘s Peter Debruge describing it as Techine’s most youthful film and his strongest in years.
      Set against the Pyrenees mountains, “Being 17” charts the burgeoning and complex relationship of two young men, 17-year-old classmates Damien and Thomas, who start off as enemies before developing romantic feelings for each other.
      The film was penned by Techine and Celine Sciamma, a talented writer-director who has explored adolescence and sexual identity in her own movies — “Water Lily,””Tomboy” and “Girlhood.” ....'
----  see more of Elsa Keslassy's report at http://variety.com/2016 at :-
----  and visit the 1'55" French language trailer in the side-bar (at right), which reveals the movie's style and content.


The Republicans' gay freakout
----  the introductory par from an extended, challenging political opinion-piece by Frank Bruni (a Columnist with The New York Times), published at The Rutland Herald (USA), 4th April 2016 :-

      'Our infrastructure is inexcusable, much of our public education is miserable and one of our leading presidential candidates is a know-nothing, say-anything egomaniac who yanks harder every day at the tattered fabric of civil discourse and fundamental decency in this country.
      But let’s by all means worry about the gays! Let’s make sure they know their place. Keep them in check and all else falls into line, or at least America notches one victory amid so many defeats.
      That must be the thinking behind Republican efforts to push through so-called religious liberty laws and other legislation — most egregiously in North Carolina — that excuse and legitimize anti-gay discrimination. They’re cynical distractions. Politically opportunistic sideshows. .... '
----  see more of Frank Bruin's challenging opinions of the US Election's circumstances at The Rutland Herald, with thanks, at :-

Saturday, April 2, 2016

SMITHERS IS GAY! .. shock! horror! ...

'SIMPSONS' Character Smithers to Come Out as Gay in New Episode
---  the opening pars from an article by Daniel Kreps at RollingStone magazine (USA), 2 April 2016 :-

    'After 27 seasons of not-so-subtle hints on The Simpsons, longtime Springfield resident Waylon Smithers Jr. will finally come out and reveal to viewers he is gay in an episode inspired by a Simpsons writer's relationship with his gay son.
      In the episode, titled "The Burns Cage" and set to premiere Sunday [3 April], Smithers finally comes to terms that his unrequited love for his boss C. Montgomery Burns will never be reciprocated, so Homer Simpson goes in search of a better match for his supervisor. "We didn't really want to have that big moment of 'I'm out,' you know?" Simpsons writer Rob LaZebnik told the New York Post. "Instead, just have it be a big embrace — like everyone knows it."  ...'
----  read more of Daniel Kreps' article at Rolling Stone at :- http://www.rollingstone.com/tv/news/simpsons-character-smithers-to-come-out-as-gay-in-new-episode-20160402 
----  & visit the 41-sec video from  'THE SIMPSONS' in the right-hand side column.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


Shhh! - China's first big gay movie will hit theaters soon
----  the opening par to a revealing film-biz report by Zheping Huang at QUARTZ online magazine (USA), 29 March 2016 :-

      'China’s first gay-themed commercial movie will hit theaters soon after passing the country’s strict censors—a milestone for the world’s second-largest movie market, which is heavily censored. And the movie’s distributors are not taking any chances.

   Seek McCartney, a romance about a secret relationship between two gay men, one Chinese and one French, released its first trailer last week (link in Chinese). From the trailer, which mostly depicts a one-man road trip in Tibet, it’s almost impossible to tell the story is about same-sex love:  Meanwhile, the film’s official Sina Weibo account (link in Chinese, registration required) describes the film’s theme as “the fourth category of love,” meaning a relationship that is beyond friendship but not yet romance.  ....
----  see more of Zheping Huang's report about Seek McCartney at QUARTZ at :-
---- and view the movie's oblique YouTube Chinese (English-subtitled) trailer at the link published at the same QUARTZ site.

Saturday, March 26, 2016


Taiwanese McDonald's tv-commercial points to the ubiquity of gay life
---- a glimpse into how a global corporation portrays an 'outing' in another cultural environment & language (as reported in the YouTube viewers' comments):-

      Viewed by over 2-million viewers, this McDonald's McCafe tv commercial from Taiwan is a pointer to the rapidly-apparent diversity of gay life across the globe. One YouTube viewer very graciously provided a translation of the Taiwanese spoken-&-written word text :-

      'To the English speakers who are confused: The [Taiwanese script] words written on the boy's coffee cup in the beginning spell "I like boys."
      When the father walks away and comes back, he writes "I accept you like boys." on his son's coffee cup. The commercial closes with the narrator saying "Let there be more warmth in conversations."
----  view YouTube's screening of the 1'30" Taiwan McCafe commercial in the side-column at right.

Friday, March 25, 2016


10 Pieces of Advice From LGBT Millennials to People
----  the opener introductory par of an extended & substantial ten-point essay by Carrie Poppy at attn; (USA), 23 March 2016 :-

      'We’ve all heard a coming-out story: The 20-year-old comes home from college, anxious to tell his parents about his boyfriend. The 16-year-old tells her parents that she’s going to prom…with a girl. As the world has become more accepting, LGBT youth feel more comfortable announcing their sexuality.
      But what about those who come out in their 40s, 50s, or even 60s? Famed magician James Randi came out at age 81, and even Ellen’s celebrated coming-out episode aired when the actress was 39.
      According to a 2011 study, coming out generally decreases anger and depression, and pumps up self-esteem, though these results are limited to those who have a supportive social network. This can leave those in their forties and older in a no-man’s-land, if they're detached from an older community.
ATTN: spoke to ten gay, bisexual, pansexual, and transgender individuals who came out young (at age 34 or before).
      We asked them what encouragement they would give to people who are considering coming out later in life. Here’s what they said.
1. “Don't wait any longer! Might as well live your life the way you were born to live it.”

----  view the full complement of ten useful pieces of advice from Carrie Poppy (@carriepoppyyes) at the www.attn.com site of :-

Thursday, March 24, 2016

TOP LGBT MOVIES FOR 2015/16 .... "Those People" (Wolfe Video 2016)

THOSE PEOPLE trailer: A young gay man must choose between real and unrequited love
----  brief excerpts from a substantial review by Tim Isaac at Big Gay Picture Show (USA), 23 March 2016 :-

'Those People made it into our Top 10 LGBT-Themed movies of 2015  ....  Now Wolfe Video is gearing up to bring the film to DVD and VoD in the US in June. Ahead of that they’ve dropped a trailer, which you can watch in the side column here at right.  ....
....  "Synopsis: On Manhattan's gilded Upper East Side, a young painter, Charlie (Jonathan Gordon), finds the man of his dreams in an older pianist from across the globe, Tim (Haaz Sleiman). If only Charlie weren't secretly in love with his own manipulative best friend, Sebastian (Jason Ralph), who is embroiled in a financial scandal. In the wake of Sebastian's notoriety, their tight-knit group of friends must confront the new realities of adulthood..  ....
----  see more about Those People at Tim Isaac's Big Gay Picture Show site at :-

Monday, March 21, 2016

GAY CURES DON'T WORK / World Psychiatric Association ...

Gay "Cures" Are Harmful And Don't Work, Says World's Largest Body Of Psychiatrists
----  the opening pars from an extended news report by Patrick Strudwick, BuzzFeed LGBT Editor UK, at BUZZFEED, 22 March 2016 :-

      'Exclusive: The World Psychiatric Association has condemned so-called conversion therapy and called on governments around the world to decriminalise homosexuality.
      The largest international organisation for psychiatrists is to publish a statement condemning conversion therapy as unscientific, unethical, ineffective, and harmful, BuzzFeed News can reveal.
      In a wide-ranging call to reduce the stigmatisation, discrimination, and resulting worsened mental health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) will formally announce on Tuesday its opposition to any attempts to turn LGBT people heterosexual – known as “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy”.
      “There is no sound scientific evidence that innate sexual orientation can be changed,” says the WPA’s position statement, which has been supplied to BuzzFeed News.  .... '
----  see more of Patrick Strudwick's report at www.buzzfeed.com, with thanks, at :-

Sunday, March 20, 2016


Sorry, Right Wingers: Kids Raised in Same-Sex Households Are Doing Fine
----  the opening pars of an extended news report by Jennifer Power of The Conversation published at ALTERNET (USA), 17 March 2016 :-

      'Parents' sexual orientation has no bearing on children's development. Few debates have sparked such heated debate as same-sex marriage and the prospect of a national plebiscite on the issue. Much of this argument focuses on child well-being, and whether same-sex relationships are stable and secure enough to provide an appropriate environment for raising children.
      Both opponents and proponents of same-sex marriage regularly cite research evidence supporting their side of the argument. But what is the evidence and why does it appear to be so contradictory?
      Do same-sex couples have (un)stable relationships?  .... (essay continues) at :-

Friday, March 18, 2016

GAY LIBERATION / A fresh vision of its unfolding ...

'STAND BY ME' - The History of Gay Liberation Isn't What You Think It is
----  selected pars from a review by Blake Maddox at ARTery (USA) of Jim Downs book 'Stand By Me', 18th March 2016 :-

      'The 1970s are frequently remembered as years of sexual licentiousness on the part of both heterosexuals and homosexuals. For the former, it is depicted in film, literature and television by key parties and swinging.
      For the latter, it is imagined as a series of nocturnal visits to what historian Jim Downs quotes a source as calling “the three Big B’s — the Bars, Beaches, and the Baths.”
      In his new book “Stand by Me: The Forgotten History of Gay Liberation,” Downs — a professor at Connecticut College who is currently a fellow at Harvard University — offers a new version, a recent history of which the effects are still unfolding.  ....'
----  see more of Blake Maddox's review of Jim Downe's fascinating vision of the advent of 'gay liberation' at http://artery.wburg.org at :- 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

CAROL voted best LGBT movie ever ...

Lesbian love story "CAROL" (USA 2015) voted best LGBT film of all time
----  the opening pars from an extended news item posted by Luke Mintz at Reuters (USA), 15 March 2016 :-

      'LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Lesbian love story "Carol" starring Australian actress Cate Blanchett was on Tuesday named as the top LGBT film of all time by the British Film Institute in what was described as its first major critical survey of LGBT films.
      Decided by a panel of 100 film experts, "Carol" topped a list of 30 films from more than 80 years of cinema history, followed closely by British director Andrew Haigh's "Weekend" and Hong Kong romantic drama "Happy Together".
      The poll, that featured films from 12 countries including Thailand, Japan, Sweden, and Spain, was conducted to mark the 30th anniversary of BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival which is Britain's longest running lesbian and gay film event.
      "Carol's win excites us because it's great to see a film about two women in love enjoy such prominence, particularly given cinema's relative lack of lesbian content," said Tricia Tuttle, deputy head of festivals BFI.
      The film "Carol", is based on the 1952 novel "The Price of Salt" by Patricia Highsmith ....
----   see more of Luke Mintz's report about "Carol" at www.reuters.com at :-
 ----  and visit the 1'40" trailer for "Carol" in the sidebar at right.

Monday, March 14, 2016

GAY ICON / Film-maker Peter de Rome ...

Peter de Rome : Eight decades of gay film-making
----  announcing a new feature-length DVD of an inventive gay movie-maker, 14 March 2016 :-

      'Peter's story spans eight decades of the "gay experience" both in the USA and UK with first-hand experiences from World War II to Stonewall and beyond.
      The film PETER DE ROME (Director: Ethan Reid UK) charts Peter's remarkable journey from cinematic outlaw to celebrated film icon with contributions from collaborators and some of those he has influenced. The film uses extensive extracts from Peter's varied and often explicit work, from his early 8mm experiments in the 1960s to his extraordinary feature films to create a portrait of a true original.

Available on DVD: March 14th 2016 onwards. 
----  See too a review of Peter de Rome (96 mins feature) by gay media stalwart Tim Isaac at :-  
----  http://www.biggaypictureshow.com/bgps/2016/03/peter-de-rome-dvd-review/
---- and/or visit the YouTube page (below) to view the 1'32" trailer, or visit the same in the column here at :-  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K86b9DgZ500 

Saturday, March 12, 2016


Less than half of America's youth are straight, new survey finds
----  excerpts from a news report by Bobby Rae at PinkNews (UK), with thanks, 11th March, 2016 :-

      'A new survey of Americans aged 13-20 has found that only 48% of them identify as “exclusively heterosexual”.
      In comparison with millennials aged 21 to 34, the younger generation – known as Gen Z – were found to be more open-minded and permissive than the group just a few years older.
      The survey found that 65% of that group said they were only straight.
Using a scale of zero to six, where zero represented “exclusively heterosexual” and six “exclusively homosexual”, over a third of Gen Z respondents picked a number other than zero or six.
      According to the report’s author, J Walter Thompson Innovation Group, this meant that they were indicating they were bisexual to some degree.
      Less than a quarter of millennials identified in the same way.  ....
....  Over 70% of 13 to 20-year-olds strongly agreed that public spaces should be required to provide gender neutral bathrooms, which compared to only a little over half of millennials.
      Although the survey only polled a small number from across the country, Shepherd Laughlin from the J Walter Thompson Group was confident the results reflected a national trend.
----  see Bobby Rae's full report & interactive graphic questionnaire at www.pinknews.co.uk at :-
----  and also visit a survey published at Queerty (USA) recently which adds to this perception, at :-

NEW PARIS HOTELS: Seventeen choices for discriminating visitors ...

HOT BEDS: Towleroad's Top New Paris Hotels - Gay Travel
----  the opening pars from a useful traveler's guide to a range of seventeen classy or interesting hotels in Paris today, prepared by Ed Salvato via TOWLEROAD (USA/UK), 11 March 2016 :-

      '....  Paris offers more than 1,500 hotels ranging from tiny family-run businesses to larger convention hotels, but most of the hotels are on the small size. Even the soon-to-reopen Ritz Paris offers only 71 rooms.
      The good news is that even in high season you should be able to find something in your price range, especially if you’re willing to go outside the major tourist areas to the arrondissements like the 9th and 11th that North American tourists generally don’t consider. And with the dollar still trending high against the euro (as we type this), this is a good time to splurge for something a little nicer on your next visit to the City of Light.
      There has been an uptick in the number of new boutique properties that are both stylish and substantial, and an expansion of the ultra-luxe offerings, with Mandarin Oriental, Shangri-La and The Peninsula all establishing residence recently. Herewith our favorite new or newly improved Paris hotel options.  .... '
----  see more of Ed Salvato's report on luxury or unique Paris hotels at www.towleroad.com at :-

Thursday, March 10, 2016


----  a commemorative Net tribute by Silvano Mangana at his multi-cultural blog GAY CULTES (France) 11 March 2016 (as translated from French by machine, with thanks) :-

      'The famous conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt died last Saturday, March 5, at the age of 86. His contribution to the so-called classical music is considerable, as his style was revolutionary. If he often abandoned to the works of the Baroque - Bach are his anthology - playing on period instruments, he never yielded to any snobbery "baroqueux."
      The great musician announced his retirement after an impressive career, and since then, we feared the worst.
      The Concentus Musicus Wien, he created, mourns the death of its founder. This is the whole music is mourning. Above of repetitions Armida Haydn before recording with Cecilia Bartoli and a sacred casting!'

---- see Silvano Mangana's original post in French (with auto-translate available) at his daily-updated, visually-elegant & popular site at :- http://www.gaycultes.blogspot.com.au/?zx=ad9db85c2d32f11 
----  and visit a 7'25" YouTube musical excerpt of Cecilia Bartoli & the Concentus Musicus Wein, conducted by Nicholas Harnoncourt, from "Armida" (Haydn) in 2010. But don't forget to return here to Cool Gay Stuff afterwards ...

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


Eleven K-Dramas that didn't shy away from gay relationships
----  an introduction to the growing phenomenon of gay-depicting South Korean movies & television, as shown in eleven shows selected by AllK_Maknae (All Korea Pop - South Korea), 9 March 2016 :-

      'Korean dramas are famous for their well-written story lines and delightful romances between two beautiful characters! However, with Korea adapting to changes, homosexuality is becoming more openly discussed-- even in dramas. What's more, there are even some dramas that don't shy away from love between all people, including gay couples!
      Whether the show jokingly pushes a homosexual connection, is one elaborate plan to fool another character or even showcases a real on-screen gay couple, after viewing these 12 dramas that dabble with homosexuality you may have some new ships in the making.  ....
[See for example No.11 "The Lover". and All Korea Pop's thumbnail critique] :-
      Takuya and Junjae are probably one of the biggest anticipation builders when it comes to male x male romance! They don't shy away from intense scenes (like the one above) and heating things up on set and in your mind. Although it can be seen as one big tease, Takuya and Junjae definitely make for one cute ship! Their screen time is limited but each moment after becomes more playfully flirtatious! Plus, it is totally refreshing to see the iconic wrist-grab again when it happens between two guys!'
----  see All Korea Pop's ten other gay-influenced movie/tv trailers at www.allkpop.com (with thanks) at :-
----  and check the attractive & sensitive 2min38sec excerpt from K-television' s "THE LOVERS" (2015) in the sidebar at right.

Sunday, March 6, 2016


Sydney Shines For Annual Mardi Gras
----  selections from an AFP news report at The Malay Mail (Malaysia), 6 March 2016 :-

      'Thousands of Australians celebrated Sydney's gay and lesbian Mardi Gras with same-sex marriage and ending-homophobia-in-sport key themes of the glittering street spectacle.
      SYDNEY, March 5 — The 38th annual parade, which grew out of a political protest in 1978, attracts thousands of participants each year while thousands more line the streets to watch the colourful spectacle.
      This year is the first since the New South Wales Parliament apologised for the way those who took part in the 1978 protest were treated — including being arrested and beaten — and the balmy weather saw crowds flock to inner-city Darlinghurst.
       “I think it's a wonderful event in the life of Sydney, and I'm delighted to be here,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said ahead of the parade, adding later he was proud to be the first sitting prime minister to watch the Mardi Gras. The parade set off in early evening, with Oxford Street awash with glitter, rainbow flags and sequins, with more than 170 floats taking part in the street show.  ....
....  Many [of the 200.000+ people] watching the parade were supporters of same-sex marriage, among them Jade Singh and Kirralee Bennett, both 18, who said they were in attendance to show their support. “They (the government) should legalise gay marriage. Everyone has the right to love no matter what gender,” Singh told AFP. .... '
----  see more of this AFP report at The Malay Mail 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 likely to be available on dvd etc, plus independent reviews in full of THE HADRIAN ENIGMA ...

... then this blog's copyright statement follows & a bibliography of academic literature consulted as research for writing THE HADRIAN ENIGMA.

The pages in the side-column offer miscellaneous gay or m/m related links, videos, & sources. Have fun, folks ... G.G.



.... here are ten movie trailers from recent international sources (below), updated regularly ...

A contender for the 2016 Academy Awards ... ?

STONEWALL | The birth of a Movement ...

FREEHELD - A subtle gay rights challenge ...

VENICE FESTIVAL ENTRY: "From Afar" (Venezuela 2015)

Peter Greenaway's EISENSTEIN, Stalin's eccentric filmmaker ...


BISEXUAL WOMEN | How to be oneself? ...



GAY LIFE in Switzerland in the '50's ...


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.

GAY MOVIE about high school love ...



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 :-http://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/the-hadrian-enigma-a-forbidden-history/

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 : http://jeannetomlin.blogspot.com/


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.

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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?

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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.