Welcome to COOL GAY STUFF! ... a thumbnail-sampler of recent gay-friendly reports from across the Net (or simply snippets pointing out sites of interest) selected by the author of THE HADRIAN ENIGMA ... a sensual Roman-era romance & crime-&-mystery novel saluting the diverse varieties of human affection & sexuality.

Your host --- historical novelist George Gardiner ---introduces his highly-praised, erotically-charged, 498-page Roman-era "good read" historical romance-thriller titled "THE HADRIAN ENIGMA - A Forbidden History". It's an intensely romantic tale triggered by history's real-life relationship between the dynamic Roman emperor Hadrian Caesar and his much-admired hunky beau, Antinous of Bithynia (whose more than 120 surviving ancient statues attest to his muscular good looks). Combined with the sheer mystery of Antinous's unexplained death at the River Nile in Roman Egypt in 130CE, this novel has received a top 5-Star rating by more than half of its 23 Amazon-USA & UK online reviewers. (Check via links to Amazon-USA, below.)

COOL GAY STUFF's opening page offers snippets of readers' praises & provides a direct Net link to acquire a low-priced 498-page paperback copy (plus prompt delivery) from Amazon USA or Amazon UK etc. Or you may immediately download a Kindle ebook thrift-copy of the same work via Amazon. (Note: The paperback edition is not available in street book-stores; its only purchase option is via Amazon USA or UK below.)

Then follows a daily-updated COOL GAY STUFF sampler of GLBTQ news & articles, plus promos or reviews of gay-relevant & gay-interest media. Note:- This site avoids saucy NSFW items or explicit porn so as "not to frighten the horses" (Oscar Wilde's cheery 19thCent advice), or frighten straights too. This site's formal Fair Dealing not-for-profit copyright terms are posted near its conclusion. So, welcome everyone, whoever & wherever you are!

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JK ROWLING's NEW GENRE .. which remains thoroughly magical.

HARRY POTTER author J.K. Rowling's newest venture shifts from Harry's British world of youthful student magic & menace to the USA's New York in 1926 ...

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - which opens in cinemas across the globe in November this year – is again set in the magical, wizarding world created so memorably by Rowling, this time for grown-ups. The film is directed by David Yates (who directed three of the Harry Potter movies).

The new film stars Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell, Ron Perlman, Dan Fogler, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Samantha Morton, Gemma Chan, and Jon Voight. Get a taste of it from the latest trailer.


NEXT : DISCOVER ONE OF HISTORY'S MOST-CELEBRATED REAL LIFE ANCIENT-WORLD M/M ROMANCES ...


ONE OF THE EARLIEST RECORDED SAME-SEX ROMANCES OF HISTORY : Hadrian Caesar and his very-fit paramour Antinous of Bithynia amid the Roman Empire (circa 125-130CE) two centuries prior to Rome assuming Christian beliefs.

The two-lined blue URL here is an invitation from your host, author George Gardiner, to explore his 498-page romance/crime/historical erotica/m-m romance "THE HADRIAN ENIGMA: A Forbidden History" at Amazon USA.

Alternatively, a click on the actual book cover-pics (below) will also deliver you to Amazon (USA) to explore purchase details via its Amazon Online link :-


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 23 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 :-
http://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/the-hadrian-enigma-a-forbidden-history/

"... 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
http://www.readerviews.com/ReviewGardinerTheHadrianEnigma.html

"... 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
http://speakitsname.com/2010/04/22/review-the-hadrian-enigma-by-george-gardiner/

"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

" ... I would recommend the book to anyone interested in the Hadrian/Antinous relationship"
Harrison Sheppard at Amazon USA

NOTE: ***Amazon USA's book or ebook purchase site with its 22 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



SYNOPSIS :

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 :
www.amazon.com/HADRIAN-ENIGMA-Forbidden-History/dp/0980746906/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1269738721&sr=1-1

for Amazon's Kindle ebook or Kindle-For-PC's download :
http://www.amazon.com/HADRIAN-ENIGMA-Forbidden-History-ebook/dp/B003LSSEQA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&m=A24IB90LPZJ0BS&s=books&qid=1273695704&sr=1-2

[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 :
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hadrian-Enigma-Forbidden-History/dp/0980746906/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271810088&sr=1-1



COOL GAY STUFF now posts current miscellaneous selections in both columns ...


... this left-side column offers current LGBTQ-news & trailer posts of recent gay-interest movies etc plus, later, independent book reviews of THE HADRIAN ENIGMA ... [.. but except for a single opening post, some syndicating sites exclude the entire month's 25 posts of this column, thus rendering the two columns pointlessly incompatible..]

... finally a full bibliography of the academic literature consulted for research when writing THE HADRIAN ENIGMA ends the blog.

In parallel, the right side column offers miscellaneous gay-interest items or m/m related book info, plus all links or sources (but which will not be visible to mobile-handsets). So, enjoy!! - G.G.
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Friday, August 26, 2016

IS PORN BAD FOR YOU? ..

Porn Isn't Bad For Our Health
----  the opening pars from a personal opinion-piece by Bruno Russell, University of Southampton (UK) at The National Student (UK), 17 August 2016 :-
   
      'Porn isn't bad for our health, it has as many positives as it does negatives. Recent reports that new evidence shows that porn is causing serious health concerns, with porn addictions leading to increased chances of gaining erectile dysfunction or a low libido, are doing nothing more than scaremongering and making it appear that porn is wrong!                                              The report on this site states that, “Increasingly easy access has led to addiction. Porn addiction and the increasing numbers of men suffering from this is unsurprising; research by porn website Paint Bottle revealed that porn sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined. The estimated number of monthly visitors is 450 million!”     But does the evidence really add up, and are there really such ‘dangerous’ repercussions to online porn?  .... '
----  see more of Bruno Russell's challenging view at The National Student (UK) at :- 
http://www.thenationalstudent.com/Opinion/2016-08-16/porn_isnt_bad_for_our_health_it_has_as_many_positives_and_it_does_negatives.html 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

AN OLYMPICS REPORT ...

Reflecting on Rio: The good, the bad, and the ugly
----  two opening excerpts from an LGBT report on the Olympic Games 2016 by Ross Forman at the Windy City Times (USA), 22 August 2016 :-

      'When the caldron was extinguished Aug. 21, culminating the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, a true mix of wide-ranging emotions endured—jubilation, celebration, anger and embarrassment.

      And that was just a start of the look back at Rio 2016, from an LGBT perspective. Rio 2016 was the gayest Games ever, as at least 53 out athletes competed in Rio, according to Outsports and Olympic and LGBT historian Tony Scupham-Bilton. There also were three out coaches. There were 42 lesbian or bi women, 11 gay men and no out transgender Olympians.

      The 2012 Summer Games in London featured 23 out LGBT athletes, it was reported. Others have come out publicly since they competed in London. ....
.... "In a country that typically has a bad reputation for LGBT acceptance, it was beautiful to see the country of Brazil, the Olympics, and the whole world accept these successful and openly gay athletes," said college swimmer Ayrton Kasemets, who attended Mundelein High School in Chicago's northwest suburbs and is openly gay. .... '
----  see more of Ross Forman's report at www.windycitymediagroup.com at :-
http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Reflecting-on-Rio-The-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/56243.html 

Monday, August 22, 2016

BRINGING CAMP OUT OF THE CLOSET ...

Antonio Lopez Brought Camp Out Of The Closet
----   brief excerpts from a New York arts-retrospective opinion-piece by Blake Gopnik at ArtNet.com (USA), 22 August 2016 :-

    'At El Museo del Barrio, Lopez helps gay desire go mainstream.  ....  In the early 1960s, there was the “camp” moment, when a series of coded markers for gayness ­– Tiffany lamps, Mae West, cappuccino – started to be popular among straight culturati.
      But note that it was the code rather than the thing encoded that had made that transition: Art Nouveau fabulousness was “in” but homosexuals could still barely come out.
      As late as 1964, when Hollywood had happily picked up on the camp craze for all things Edwardian, Life magazine could still wax indignant at the fact that “homosexuals are discarding their furtive ways and openly admitting, even flaunting, their deviation.” .... '
----  see more of Blake Gopnik's interesting article about artist Antonio Lopez at ArtNet.com at :-
https://news.artnet.com/opinion/antonio-lopez-museo-del-barrio-615614 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Are there any gay Olympians? ...

These LGBT Athletes Made History at the Rio Olympics
----  excerpts from the opening pars of a news report by Christine Castano at Paste Magazine (USA), 19 August 2016 :-

      'The Olympics hold themselves up to be not only the epitome of sport, but also a unifying cultural event that exemplifies the best the world has to offer in human spirit. As described in the Olympic Charter, “Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.”
      After the launch of the Principle 6 campaign leading up to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the IOC declared sexual orientation is protected as part of their Principle 6 charter statement: Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement. ....
....  Which brings us to Rio and the record number of out LGBTQ athletes competing in the Olympic games. Outsports is currently reporting at least 53 publicly out lesbian, gay or bisexual athletes at the Rio Olympics. Though no transgender athletes are competing this year, the IOC has loosened their guidelines so more trans athletes can compete in the future.
      Out of 11,547 athletes (according to rio2016.com), 53 make up less than half of one percent of all competitors. Naturally, we are to assume there are other LGB athletes competing at the games that have not publicly come out, which would make that number higher.
      Still, the historic number of out athletes makes the Rio Olympics the gayest ever. .... '
----  see more about the LGBT component of Olympic competitors at www.pastemagazine.com at :-
https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2016/08/lgbt-athletes-make-history-at-the-rio-olympics.html 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

WHY GAY MEN LOVE MUSICALS ...

This video may explain why gay men love musicals
---- the opening pars from a substantial opinion-piece by Timothy Rawles at the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News (SDGLN) (USA), 15 August 2016 :-

      'There has been a long-held stereotype that gay men love musicals. For the most part that is a fair assumption. That’s not to say that all gay men love a book filled with song, but for those who do, it may have something to do with Hollywood’s closeted past.
      In a new video called “Musical Theatre is SO gay! – Representation (Part 1)” on YouTube (video of 'Part 1' is in side-column, at right, with thanks), there are some connections that can be made between the LGBT community and the entertainment business which to this day has a stigma about being out in Tinsel Town.  ....'
----  see more of SDGLN Community Editor Timothy Rawles' perceptive report, plus its two hilarious YouTube video demonstrations, at sdgln.com at :-
http://sdgln.com/entertainment/2016/08/15/video-may-explain-why-gay-men-love-musicals 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

CANADA's apology to GLBT Canadians ...

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, Prime Minister of Canada, to apologize for the historic persecutions of gay Canadians
----  three selected pars from a substantial news report by John Ibbitson at The Globe and Mail (Canada), 12 August 2016 :-

      'As early as this autumn, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will apologize on behalf of all Canadians to those who were imprisoned, fired from their jobs or otherwise persecuted in the past because of their sexuality.
      That apology is a key element in a broad range of reforms that will collectively represent one of the greatest advances for sexual minorities in Canada’s history.  ....
....  The government’s planned reforms place Canada at the forefront of countries that are moving to redress past wrongs committed against members of sexual minorities. Germany and Australia are taking similar actions. .... '
----  see John Ibbitson's complete report of these proposed reforms at The Globe and Mail at :- 
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/justin-trudeau-to-apologize-for-historic-persecution-of-gay-canadians/article31376155/ 

Friday, August 12, 2016

"LONDON SPY" / The Beeb shows how it's done in today's complex gender climate ...

Secrets & spies
----  the introductory par of a video review on the occasion of the US dvd release of the BBC's spy thriller "LONDON SPY" (BBC USA/UK 5-part series 2015), a 'spy drama & romance', reviewed by Brian Bromberger at The Bay Area Reporter (San Francisco), 11th August 2016 :-

      '"You either step into the abyss or step back from it. You cannot walk along its edge for long." These ominous words reflect the threatening tone of London Spy, the five-part miniseries first broadcast in the UK last year and on BBC America in January, recently released by BBC on DVD.
      It is a heartbreaking love story disguised as a spy thriller. Even if espionage plots don't entice you, the fact that London Spy has a gut-wrenching gay romance as the center of its story should excite you in a genre rarely LGBT-positive.  ... '
----  see more of Brian Bromberger's fulsome review of this noir British spy drama, which only incidentally possesses a strikingly central gay theme, at The Bay Area Reporter at :-
http://www.ebar.com/arts/art_article.php?sec=dvd&article=617 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

GAY LIFE / Replacing the decline of the queer womens' bar ...

As LGBTQ Culture Becomes More Mainstream, Queer Women Struggle To Find a Place of Their Own
----  the opening phrases of an extended opinion-piece by Hannah Smothers at COSMOPOLITAN (USA), 9 August 2016 :-

      '"Even in female-centric spaces, there are always men."
      Last year, a flurry of articles and documentaries revealed what's been a long, slow phenomenon — lesbian bars are disappearing around the United States. Gay bars and bars that have ladies nights (nights for women who like women, not nights where girls get cheap booze) are still around, but the bars that cater specifically to queer women are shuttering their doors and stacking up their chairs for the last time. ....
Advertisement - Continue Readin             ....   "Even back in the '50s and '60s, which some people consider to be a golden age of lesbian bars,
                                                              it was often community formation as much as it was hooking up," said Jack Halberstam, a professor
                                                              of gender studies at the University of Southern California, in the Last Lesbian Bars, a Broadly documentary
                                                              released last year. For women who identify as gay, queer, or lesbian, places to find a sense of
                                                              community and other like-minded people are disappearing.  .... '
----  see more of Hannah Smothers' opinion-piece at COSMOPOLITAN at :-
http://www.cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/news/a62531/queer-women-lgbt-places/

Monday, August 8, 2016

GAY HATE / The long battle against prejudice ...

Queers Against Hate
----  the opening pars to an extended opinion-piece by Michael Bronski at the Boston Review (USA), 8 August 2016 :-

      'If we seek an explanation for the homophobia that caused Omar Mateen to murder forty-nine at Orlando’s Pulse gay nightclub in June, we should start not with the Islamic State, but rather with the two hundred anti-LGBT bills proposed by U.S. lawmakers in the past eight months alone.
      A longer view would take us back to 1992, when Pat Buchanan was lauded for his Republican National Convention keynote address blaming “the homosexual rights movement”—along with abortion, feminism, secularism, and environmentalism—for everything wrong with America.
      But if the gay movement continues to be punctuated by tragic setbacks, we must acknowledge that there has been a decisive change in the role of LGBT issues in American politics over the last twenty years.  .... '
----  see more of Michael Bronski's revealing essay published at the Boston Review at :-
http://bostonreview.net/books-ideas/michael-bronski-faderman-downs-shepard-gay-liberation 
----  and check the four recommended books on the history of Gay Liberation posted by the author at the Boston Review article's site.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

AN OLYMPICS HISTORY FIRST ...

LGBT history will be made at the Rio Olympics, starting with the first same-sex married couple to compete in the Games
----  an introductory par to a news-report by Neha Thirani Bagri at Quartz online magazine, 6 August 2016 :-

      '.... Kate and Helen’s journey is something of an Olympic love story. They’ve known each other since they were children, played on teams together for over a decade, and made their Olympic debut together in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
      They began to date in 2008 after the Beijing Olympics, after Kate broke off her engagement to Brett Garrard, the former captain of Great Britain's men’s hockey team.
      In 2013, they got married in Oxfordshire, combining their last names, and invited the entire team to celebrate. For the most part, the couple tries to keep their personal and professional lives separate, but when Helen was left out of hockey World Cup in 2014 because of an injury, Kate admitted in an interview with The Telegraph that she had to take her “captain’s hat off” and support her wife. .... '
----  see the remainder of this novel post from Quartz.com at :-
http://qz.com/750577/rio-home-to-rampant-anti-gay-violence-will-host-a-historic-number-of-lgbt-athletes-including-the-games-first-married-same-sex-couple/ 

Friday, August 5, 2016

GUS KENWORTHY / Ski champ & gay icon ...

Gus Kenworthy Talks About His Olympic Village Experience
----  the opening pars of an extended interview with US Winter Olympics skier Gus Kenworthy, written by Richard Lawson at Vanity Fair (USA), 5 August 2016 :-

      'In the lead-up to the summer games, we chat with winter Olympian Gus Kenworthy about life after coming out, enjoying his downtime, and what the Olympic village is really like.
      One perfectly pleasant way to spend a summer Friday at the office is to have Gus Kenworthy, freestyle skiing Olympic silver medalist, come bounding out of the elevators and greet you with a friendly hello. Which is, dear reader, something that happened to me a few weeks ago on a warm July day, as Kenworthy was doing a little round of press in the run-up to last month’s ESPY Awards.               When his publicist reached out asking if we’d like to talk to him, I jumped at the chance, because, yes, Kenworthy, a 24-year-old from Telluride, Colorado, who is now spending most of his free time in New York City, is easy on the eyes, but also because it’s been almost a year since Kenworthy came out as gay on the cover of ESPN magazine, making him the first out athlete in all of action sports. ...'
----  see more of Richard Lawson's disarming, charming interview with ski-sports champ & increasing gay icon Kenworthy at www.vanityfair.com at :-
http://www.vanityfair.com/style/2016/08/gus-kenworthy-interview 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Defining gay cinema / An updated new book

Defining gay cinema
----  the opening pars from a new book review by Brian Bromberger at The Bay Area Reporter (USA), 4 August 2016 :-

      'It is hardly an original observation to note that LGBT cinema has mirrored the community's journey from persecution to liberation to acceptance, shifting through the years from being fringe to independent to mainstream.
      Steven Paul Davies, a gay English film critic and broadcaster at BBC Radio London, wanting to analyze this metamorphosis, has updated and expanded his 2008 popular history of gay cinema, "celebrating films which have defined the genre, " including recent movies such as Carol, released just last year.
      The films are arranged decade-by-decade .... '
----  see more of Brian Bromberger's book review at The Bay Area Reporter at :-
http://www.ebar.com/arts/art_article.php?sec=books&article=1058 
---- book details :-
"Out at the Movies: A History of Gay Cinema", Updated and Expanded Edition by Steven Paul Davies; Kamera Books, USA, $27.95 


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Grindr - right now!

Grindr: The ethics behind the 'right now' culture (Part 1)
----  a selected par from the opening pages of a challenging opinion piece by Bruno Russell [University of Southampton] at The National Student (UK), 2 August 2016 :-

      ' ....  Founded in 2009 to initially mixed reviews, Grindr – the ‘dating’ app for gay men – has quickly become a phenomenon, reporting in 2014 to already have over 10-million active users in over 190 countries, most popularly in the US and UK.
      Any user, however, would tell you that a ‘dating’ app is an insufficient and misleading description of the app. While, admittedly, some men do get relationships and dates off the app (including myself), its primary use has become a means of obtaining ‘right now’ sex: a no-strings-attached sexual encounter where there is no requirement to ring in the morning. One of the most worrying implications of Grindr’s exploding popularity is this promotion of ‘Right Now’ culture, which is a lot more explicitly attained than on straight dating apps like Tinder (where you have to ‘match’ before you can even message someone).
      What exactly are the implications of this “right now” culture? .... ' 
----  see more of Part One of Bruno Russell's thoughtful essay on specialized apps at www.thenational student.com at :- 
http://www.thenationalstudent.com/In_Depth/2016-08-03/Grindr_The_ethics_behind_the_right_now_culture_Part_1.html 
----  see too a related article at Independent.IE at :-
http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/grindr-worlds-largest-gay-dating-app-is-used-in-196-countries-34934149.html

Friday, July 29, 2016

ASIAN HOMOSEXUALITY / The Indonesian experience ...

The Hidden Histories of Homosexuality in Asia
---- a brief excerpt from an extended essay by Johannes Nugroho at Fair Observer ( a US-based nonprofit media organization), 29 July 2016, with thanks ...

      'Despite the commonplace homophobia in Asian societies today, no nation can deny a presence of LGBT practices in its history.
      A few years ago, most Indonesians probably didn’t know what the acronym LGBT—lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender—stood for. And yet for the past few months, it has become one of the most debated topics in the country. Predictably, for a nation that fancies itself religious, a great proportion of the public professes to disapprove of homosexuality.
      The LGBT community is now seen as a national threat by at least one government ministry. At a recent training session of Bela Negara, a new militia group sponsored by the Ministry of Defense to restore nationalism in ordinary Indonesians, Reuters reported that the instructor had exhorted the participants to guard against “evil foreign influences” such as communism, drugs and homosexuality ....
      Conversely, however, homophobia in Indonesia is a recent phenomenon. Sutjipto’s account clearly shows that even in 1920s homosexuality was not seen as a serious social aberration by the natives. By contrast, in countries like Great Britain, sodomy had already been criminalized. ....' 
----  see more of Johannes Nugroho's informative article at Fair Observer at :-
http://www.fairobserver.com/region/asia_pacific/hidden-histories-homosexuality-asia-77120/ 

HILLARY vs. DONALD ... a perceptive assessment

Where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Stand On LGBT Rights
---- the introduction to an extended perceptive essay by Joshua Eaton at Teen Vogue (USA), 28 July 2016 :-

      'Last year, a landmark Supreme Court ruling made marriage equality the law of the land in all 50 states. But fights over transgender bathroom access and last month's tragic shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando showed the nation that the battle for equality is far from over.
      Both presidential candidates have tried to paint themselves as champions of the queer community. But where do they each stand on the issues that affect them the most? Here's a rundown.      Hillary Clinton: "Gay rights are human rights."       Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is a strong proponent of LGBTQ rights, and she has received the endorsement of the Human Rights Campaign, one of the nation's largest LGBTQ advocacy groups. ....
      ......  Donald Trump: "I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens."
      Donald Trump is to the left of many Republicans on LGBTQ rights, but that doesn't necessarily make him an ally of the gay or transgender communities. ....
----  see more of Joshua Eaton's substantial comparative analysis at www.teenvogue.com at :- 
http://www.teenvogue.com/story/hillary-clinton-donald-trump-lgbt-lgbtq-rights-2016-election 

Monday, July 25, 2016

"LOOKING" / the final episode ...

The LOOKING Finale Isn't Good - But the Show Was Great for Gay Art
----  a selected par from an extended review of the final episode of a provocative tv series reviewed by  J. Bryan Lowder at SLATE (USA), 22 July 2016 :-

      '.... with Looking at an end, it’s worth asking what we found. Because precious few examples exist in the world, any art that seriously attempts to represent the gay experience will be asked to do an unfair amount of work, to meet the incommensurable expectations of an innumerable audience. For some, Looking was a gorgeous and subtle portrait of a specific collection of flawed humans by the bay. To others, all those moody hues were imbued with tropes too familiar and grating to ignore. And still others found it, well, boring. Haigh, Lannan, and company could never hope to satisfy us all.  ....'
---  see J. Bryan Lowder's complete appraisal of the final episode at SLATE.com at :-
http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward.html 
----  and visit too the 1'30" trailer for the final episode in the side-bar here (at right, after brief pop-up ad).

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

BERLIN'S GAY & LESBIAN CABARETS PRIOR TO HITLER ...

A Peek Inside Berlin's Queer Club Scene, Before Hitler Destroyed It
----  a very brief excerpt from an exceptional historical account published as the chapter “The Growth of Urban Gay Scenes, Berlin’s Gay and Lesbian Bars,” from Queer Identities and Politics in Germany: A History, 1880-1945, by Clayton J. Whisnantprofessor of history at Wofford College, Spartanburg, S.C. (with thanks to GAY.com (USA), 18 July 2016 :-

      ' .... On the stages of Berlin, the Tiller Girls showed off their legs, dancing a Rockettes-style performance that amazed and titillated spectators. In crowded cabarets, audiences admired “tableaux” of women posing naked or watched actors telling risqué jokes and singing lewd songs.
      Clubs full of men wearing powder and rouge as well as shorthaired women dressed in tuxedoes offered images of a world seemingly turned upside down. For the general public, this world was bewildering—and quite possibly terrifying.
      For Germany’s gay men and lesbians, though, Berlin represented promise. Its gay scenes offered exciting places to hunt for love and happiness. Christopher Isherwood, whose short stories based on his stay in Berlin eventually became the basis for the 1972 film Cabaret, with Liza Minnelli, put it simply enough: “Berlin meant boys.” ... '
---  see more of C.J. Whisnant's colorful pre-WWII history of Berlin's gay-&-lesbian scene at :-
http://www.gay.com/advocate/a-peek-inside-berlin039s-queer-club-scene-before-hitler-destroyed-it 
[Clayton J. Whisnant's book is available August 2016 from Harrington Park Press, USA]

Sunday, July 17, 2016

GAY TV CHARACTERS / A forgotten history ...

The Strange Forgotten History of TV's First Gay Sitcom
----  a brief taste of an interesting recollection of a 'forgotten history', by Matt Baume at Unicorn Booty (USA), 17 July 2016 :-

      '....  This month marks the birthday of a strange, groundbreaking yet mostly-forgotten sitcom: Brothers, the first TV show to have a gay lead character. It premiered in July of 1984.
      Sure, there had been gays on TV before: most notably, Jody on the show Soap, played by Billy Crystal. He was a remarkable character, seen dating and having relationships and even winning custody of his child.
      But he wasn’t a main focus on the show to the extent that the star of Brothers was. There were also gay episodes of shows like Maude, on which characters went to a gay bar — but that was a one-off. More than a decade before Will and GraceBrothers was television’s first gay sitcom.  .... '
----  see more of Matt Baume's perceptive revisit to an historical point in the evolution of television subjects at Unicorn Booty at :-
https://unicornbooty.com/strange-forgotten-history-tvs-first-gay-sitcom/ 


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

READING THE RENAISSANCE ...

The guilty pleasures of historical fiction
----  a selected quote from a sensitive critique by Gabriele Neher [Assistant Professor of History of Art, University of Nottingham], 12 July 2016 :-

      ' ....  Debates about the validity of history in fiction are well rehearsed, but there are few better places to start than Hilary Mantel, who wrote in 2009:
The past is not dead ground, and to traverse it is not a sterile exercise. History is always changing behind us, and the past changes a little every time we retell it. The most scrupulous historian is an unreliable narrator … Once this is understood, the trade of the historical novelist doesn’t seem so reprehensible or dubious; the only requirement is for conjecture to be plausible and grounded in the best facts one can get.
      Mantel here argues for the value of informed conjecture. The medium of the historical novel allows us to think through the human element of history and the ways in which the seemingly fixed narratives we are familiar with might so easily have spun off into an unfamiliar and different direction. ....'
----   see more of Gabriele Neher's reflections on historical fiction (plus brief reviews of recent titles) at the always-interesting The Conversation (UK) at :-
http://theconversation.com/reading-the-renaissance-the-guilty-pleasures-of-historical-fiction-61548 

Friday, July 8, 2016

ANGELS IN AMERICA / A US playwright's creation of a powerful literary masterpiece ...

ANGELS IN AMERICA: The Complete Oral history
----  the opening pars of an extended account by Isaac Butler & Dan Kois of a major 21st Century literary work by US playwright Tony Kushner at SLATE Magazine (USA), 28 June 2016 :-

      'How Tony Kushner’s play became the defining work of American art of the past 25 years:-  Twenty-five years ago this summer, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America premiered in the tiny Eureka Theatre in San Francisco’s Mission District. Within two years it had won the Pulitzer Prize and begun a New York run that would dominate the Tony Awards two years in a row, revitalize the nonmusical play on Broadway, and change the way gay lives were represented in pop culture.
      Both parts of Angels, Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, put gay men at the center of American politics, history, and mythology at a time when they were marginalized by the culture at large and dying in waves. It launched the careers of remarkable actors and directors, not to mention the fiercely ambitious firebrand from Louisiana who wrote it—and rewrote it, and rewrote it, and rewrote it again.
      Its 2003 HBO adaptation was itself a masterpiece that won more Emmys than Roots. But the play also financially wiped out the theater that premiered it; it endured casting and production tumult at every stage of development, from Los Angeles to London to Broadway; its ambitious, sprawling two-part structure tested the endurance of players, technicians, and audiences. Slate talked to more than 50 actors, directors, playwrights, and critics to tell the story of Angels’ turbulent ascension into the pantheon of great American storytelling—and to discuss the legacy of a play that feels, in an era in which gay Americans have the right to marry but still in many ways live under siege, as crucial as ever.
      Tony Kushner (playwright of Angels in America): Around November of 1985, the first person that I knew personally died of AIDS. A dancer that I had a huge crush on, a very sweet man and very beautiful. I got an NEA directing fellowship at the repertory theater in St. Louis, and right before I left New York, I heard through the grapevine that he had gotten sick. And then, in November, he died.
      And I had this dream: Bill dying—I don’t know if he was actually dying, but he was in his pajamas and sick on his bed—and the ceiling collapsed and this angel comes into the room. And then I wrote a poem. I’m not a poet, but I wrote this thing. It was many pages long. After I finished it, I put it away. No one will ever see it. Its title was “Angels in America.” ....'
----  see more of Isaac Butler & Dan Kois's revealing essay about Tony Kushner's inspiration in creating this major theater work at www.slate.com at :- 
http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/cover_story/2016/06/oral_history_of_tony_kushner_s_play_angels_in_america.html 

Monday, July 4, 2016

COMING OUT AS LGBTQ / A testimonial ...

Coming out as LGBTQ:  It's not one moment, but several
----  the opening pars of a personal recollection by Julia Carpenter at The Washington Post (USA), 30 June 2016 :-

      'It can feel like “coming out” is everywhere — people talk about coming as every letter of the LGBTQ acronym, coming out with mental illness. The New York Times has noted that the Orlando massacre has inspired more people to come out as gay.
      But coming out usually isn’t a singular pronouncement — an Ellen DeGeneres moment or a “Glee” moment. Instead, it’s a series of moments.
      For Tia Bryan, a 30-year-old bisexual woman in Dallas, coming out is a process that happens every day. She and her fiancee feel supported by an accepting community, but she still finds herself explaining the ring on her finger to co-workers, strangers and friends. Leading up to their wedding next April, Bryan and her fiancee are experiencing a variety of coming-out moments — big conversations with family members as well as quiet public displays of affection.
       “It’s definitely a lot more than some proclamation,” she says. “Even something as small as holding someone’s hand or kissing someone’s cheek or brushing their hair out of their face can speak volumes when done in public. It’s saying ‘I’m not afraid to be who I am.’ ”  ....
----  see more of Julia Carpenter's personal testimonial at www.washingtonpost.com at :-
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/soloish/wp/2016/06/30/coming-out-as-lgbtq-its-not-one-moment-but-several/?hpid=hp_weekend-chain_soloish-feature2-0703%3Ahomepage%2Fstory 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

GAY PEOPLE IN WESTERN EUROPE / Celebrating Yale's John Boswell ...

John Boswell's Religious Restoration
----  the opening pars of an extended literary review celebrating the 35th Anniversary of the publication of deceased Yale historian John Boswell's (1947-1994) ground-breaking account of the evolution of the Christian world's responses to homosexuality, published at The Gay & Lesbian Review (USA). 1st July 2016 :-

      'IT WOULD BE NO EXAGGERATION to say that in gay historical circles, and more specifically gay religious studies, there is before John Boswell and there is after John Boswell. It can be argued that the 1980 publication of openly gay Yale historian John Boswell’s groundbreaking work, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century, by replacing one conceptual worldview with a radically different one, gave rise to the kind of paradigm shift that Thomas Kuhn talked about in his landmark 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
      By analyzing biblical texts from both the Old and New Testament and the historical record up to the 14th century, Boswell upended the traditional Roman Catholic Church’s understanding of its gay members. And so, on the 35th anniversary of the publication of his magnum opus, it seems the right time to analyze this paradigm shift and explore the impact of such an intellectual and spiritual upheaval in the intervening decades .... '
----  see more.of Brian Bromberger's perceptive historical essay at www.glreview.org at :-
http://www.glreview.org/article/john-boswells-religious-restoration/ 

Friday, June 24, 2016

GAYS / Are they an ancient or modern phenomenon? ....

GAY CULTURE : Ancient Wonder or Modern Creation?
----  the opening pars to an extended essay by Mike Albo at Daily JSTOR (USA), 24 June 2016 :-

      '.... it is Gay Pride month, the LGTBQ community is increasingly visible, and the society at large is slowly embracing new definitions of sexuality and gender. Just this week, Jamie Shupe of Oregon, who prefers the article “they,” is the first American to be granted the legal right to pronounce themself “non-binary” under the law.
      Then, the shooting in Orlando happens, and we are in darkness. What becomes visible is the hate and anger towards sexual identity outside of the heterosexual norm, and once again, questions about the relevance of gay sexuality bubble to the surface, as they have so many times in the past.
      The core issue always seems to boil down to: Should gay people be alive? Are we as “worthy” to humankind as heterosexuality? Are gays ancient? If not, it follows that we gay people are simply modern cvreations. ....'
----  see more of Mike Albo's insightful essay at http://daily.jstor.org/gay-culture at :-
http://daily.jstor.org/gay-culture-ancient-wonder-or-modern-creation/ 

NOW : SELECTED TRAILERS OF RECENT GAY-THEMED (OR SIMPLY GAY-INTEREST) MOVIES ....



.... here are a dozen movie trailers from recent international sources (below), updated regularly ... with thanks to
YouTube & the movies' many international distributors in cinemas & home dvd's ...


Twenty-two year old David has it all – he’s young, hot, and he’s just got into the prestigious dance school of his dreams. But he has a secret: for two years he’s been sleeping with his sister’s husband, Jules.

SOFT LAD is the directorial debut from Leon Lopez, an examination of lust, jealousy and their consequences in contemporary Liverpool. Starring UK artists Daniel Brocklebank (Coronation Street) and Jonny Labey (EastEnders).


Passions ignite and hidden secrets are revealed when a graphic designer in Los Angeles reconnects with an ex-boyfriend he hasn’t seen or heard from in 15 years.

LAZY EYE is a story about roads not taken, unfinished business, and the struggle to adjust to progressive lenses. Written and directed by Tim Kirkman (LOGGERHEADS, DEAR JESSE, THE NIGHT LARRY KRAMER KISSED ME), LAZY EYE stars Lucas Near-Verbrugghe, Aaron Costa Ganis and Michaela Watkins.

BEING GAY IN CUBA .. "VIVA"

"LILTING' - British actor Ben Wishaw tests his range again ...

LILTING ...

"What is like to live in a world where you have no grasp of its language, and your only lifeline to that is lost." In "LILTING" Ben Wishaw, wide ranging UK character actor from Shakespeare to James Bond movies, tests his range even further.

"Best gay-themed movie ever!" ... ?

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 ...

FRENCH MOVIE ABOUT FRENCH FASHION ICON ...

BISEXUAL WOMEN | How to be oneself? ...

CONTROVERSIAL FRENCH MOVIE ...

ONE OF THE TOP TEN FOR 2014 ...

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

COOL GAY MOVIE | "CONCUSSION" (USA 2013)

CANNES 2013 AWARD WINNER ...

HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY review of "THE HADRIAN ENIGMA" ...

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/


AN UNEDITED REVIEW OF 'THE HADRIAN ENIGMA"....

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 :-

http://www.amazon.com/HADRIAN-ENIGMA-Forbidden-History/product-reviews/0980746906/ref=cm_cr_dp_synop?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending#R2SKZXVJX6CTT7



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Bye-bye for now from George Gardiner's THE HADRIAN ENIGMA news site ...


Thank you for visiting my book's information site COOL GAY STUFF.

Please come back soon to note new posts, movie trailers, or publications.

Immediately below this bye-bye lies the complete bibliography consulted to research THE HADRIAN ENIGMA, its times, its historical personalities, & its cultural norms.

GEORGE