COOL GAY STUFF is a news-watch hot-sheet of LGBT highlights from across the Net, with thanks to Google, YouTube, & Blogger. It's a sampler of landmark gay-themed or gay-interest Web news, with links to the originating sites. But these are NOT only for gay gals & guys, so there's no eye-popping porn here nor NSFW items to frighten the hets (adapting Oscar Wilde re horses).

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Your host, novelist George Gardiner, opens with current eye-candy videos plus a blurb for his widely-praised historical/crime/gay-romance novel "THE HADRIAN ENIGMA: A Forbidden History". It's a fiction/faction re-imagining of history's real-life m/m romance between ancient Rome's 'good emperor' Hadrian & his classically-formed 'Favorite', Antinous of Bithynia. Ebook or paperback options are identified. Then 30 recent gay-friendly news reports follow, updated daily, preceding a list of LGBTQ miscellany.

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

COLIN FARRELL speaks for gays ...

Irish actor COLIN FARRELL (Alexander, In Bruges, & many other movies) - who is believed not to be gay himself - reflects on the life & vicissitudes of his brother in Dublin who Colin reveals is 'out' as a gay man. Colin speaks out in favor of same-sex marriage and other aspects of gay life today in a recent edition of RTE's CLAIR BYRNE LIVE. (With thanks to RTE, Eire, & YouTube.)


HISTORY'S FIRST 'OUT' SAME-SEX COUPLE : Rome's Hadrian Caesar and his famously-handsome boyf, Antinous of Bithinia ...

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

THE HADRIAN ENIGMA: A Forbidden History
A novel
(C) George Gardiner
ISBN13: 978-0-9807469-1-4 (at Amazon USA, UK, Europe, Australia etc) in 498-page paperback or Kindle ebook.
Also iBookstore, iPad, Nook & ePub ebook formats 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 only online (not in street stores), CLICK NOW ON A LINK BELOW to select best delivery options ...

For an Amazon USA paperback :

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

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

for Amazon UK :

Plus ...

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

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

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

Everything will be magically restored to correct view ...


Saturday, January 24, 2015

HOOK-UP APPS | Security issues ...

Federal US government spends $432K studying effects of gay hook-up apps
----  brief excerpts from a news report by Staff at LGBTQ Nation (USA), 24 January 2015 :-

      'High-tech gay dating apps and social media services have enabled countless men to expand their circles of friends and partners in settings that are hostile to any overt trace of homosexuality. Yet the same technology that they gratefully embrace exposes them to the risks of blackmail, arrest and violence. ....
....  Grindr’s CEO, Joel Simkhai, says his Los Angeles-based company strives to maximize security and privacy for all its users, yet he cautions that governments hostile to gays can muster powerful surveillance resources.
      “They have a lot of control and smarts on their side,” he said. “We try to use the latest technologies on our end, but so do they, so this tension will continue.
      “If your security is a big issue for you,” he added, “a location-based service might not be the best option.”  .... '
----  see more of this timely post at at :- 

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Twins Aaron & Austin Rhodes Meet Ellen
January 21 2015 :-

After receiving over 14 million hits on YouTube in a matter of days (see that original very-touching post of January 14th five Cool Gay Stuff items below), Ellen DeGeneres had the fraternal twins Aaron and Austin Rhodes on her daily tv show.

The original deeply-moving YouTube video of a week ago of Aaron and Austin 'coming out' to their father via mobile phone made its way around the world and back again. Ellen brought the brothers to her studio to meet them in person, as well as meet their inspiring father.

See the outcome for yourself in the video in the sidebar. (With thanks to The Ellen Show, USA.)

GREEK IDEALS & QUEER CULTURE | The naked truth ... |

Sexual Freedom and the Classical Ideal
(Classical Nudes and the Making of Queer History)
----  the opening pars of an extended review by George Queral at The Gay & Lesbian Review (USA), 2 January 2015 :-

      'THIS AMBITIOUS EXHIBITION, Classical Nudes and the Making of Queer History, [Leslie-Lohman Museum, New York, ended 4th January] sets out to show how the Greek depiction of gods in their natural state, naked but for the tools and accessories of their trade, gave queer sensibility’s homoerotic desire a vehicle for expression, a vehicle with historical cachet. The naked figure of the Greeks was transformed into the historic nude and, as such, became respectable in the more prudish Judeo-Christian world. The exhibition also shows how a queer sensibility either surfaces or goes underground as it travels through Western cultural history.           More importantly, it shows that this sensibility is integral to that history as we rush into the 21st century and perhaps move closer to the natural state of Greek society, where it was an unnamed and normal state of being.
       Clearly the Greeks were not hung up on the homoerotic image, or saw same-sex love as a moral failure, or even identified it as a sexual orientation. All heroic depictions of gods, demigods, heroes, and athletes were as naked bodies except for the accessories they wore to represent the realm they ruled or the feat they performed: helmets, shields, boots, garlands, laurels, disks, and spears. .... '
----  see more of George Queral's revealing essay at www.glreview.or at :- 

Monday, January 19, 2015

GAY BERLIN | The rise & fall (& rise again) of a major social phenomenon ...

Berlin Story : How the Germans invented gay rights - more than a century ago
----  three selective extracts from a striking 12-page essay by Alex Ross at New Yorker Magazine (USA), 26 January 2015 Issue :-

      'On August 29, 1867, a forty-two-year-old lawyer named Karl Heinrich Ulrichs went before the Sixth Congress of German Jurists, in Munich, to urge the repeal of laws forbidding sex between men.       He faced an audience of more than five hundred distinguished legal figures, and as he walked to the lectern he felt a pang of fear. “There is still time to keep silent,” he later remembered telling himself.  ....  He told the assembly that people with a “sexual nature opposed to common custom” were being persecuted for impulses that “nature, mysteriously governing and creating, had implanted in them.” Pandemonium erupted ....
....  The first chapter of Robert Beachy’s “Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity” (Knopf) begins with an account of Ulrichs’s audacious act. The title of the chapter, “The German Invention of Homosexuality,” telegraphs a principal argument of the book: although same-sex love is as old as love itself, the public discourse around it, and the political movement to win rights for it, arose in Germany in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
      This message may surprise those who believe that gay identity came of age in London and New York, sometime between the Oscar Wilde trials and the Stonewall riots. The brutal repression of gay people during the Nazi period largely erased German gay history from international consciousness, and even from German memory.  ....
....  I closed “Gay Berlin” with a deepened fondness for Hirschfeld  .... The good doctor had a vision that went far beyond the victory of gay rights, narrowly defined; he preached the gorgeousness of difference, of deviations from the norm .... '
----  see more of Alex Cross's 12-page essay on the rise & fall of gay Berlin at at :- 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

TOP PORN SEARCH NATIONS ... an unexpected statistic

Why porn is exploding in the Middle East
----  selected pars of a substantial report by Carrie Weisman, Alternet, at (USA), 16 January 2015 :-

      'Data reveal six of the top eight porn-searching countries are Muslim states. It's not as surprising as it sounds.
       The world is a big place, and cultural gaps are vast. But there are a few things that connect people across borders. Some people argue food is the best glue while others say it’s education. But there’s a new contestant: online porn.
      Porn is being made and watched in the Middle East, and millions more are watching it around the planet. In fact, some of the world’s top porn consumers come out of the Middle East. 
      According to data released by Google, six of the top eight porn-searching countries are Muslim states. Pakistan tops the list at number one, followed by Egypt at number two. Iran, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Turkey come in at numbers four, five, seven and eight, respectively. Pakistan leads the way in porn searches for animals like pigs, donkeys, dogs, cats and snakes.  .... '
....  Many Muslim states declare that cemented social morals should not be violated. The data out there, however, suggest their public may feel otherwise.'
----  see more of Carrie Weisman's report at :- 
---- or see a Muslim perspective corroborating this matter in Muslims & the World at:- 

Friday, January 16, 2015

GAY-THEMED TV | A first look at a new concept in British television ...

REVIEW: Cucumber, Banana, Tofu
----  brief excerpts from a substantial first review of a new concept in gay-themed British tv - a multi-platform programme initiative - by The Gay UK (UK), 16 January 2015 :-

      'He’s a clever bugger that Russell T. Bloke – you know the one who is basically is the godfather of Gay TV. ....  Russell T Davies’s Queer As Folk broke terrestrial television with many asses back in 1999, and it looks as though he’s about to do it again with a brand new interwoven, multi-platform series that celebrates sexual and gender diversity, like no other writer or broadcaster for that matter has ever done before. ....
....  Cucumber isn’t Queer As Folk 2.0. It’s a different story, a different set of characters. It’s gay centric, but packs huge laughs, sex and asks the big questions: What do ‘WE’ want? That’s the big ‘WE’ of course – and while Cucumber focuses mainly on a gay man, Banana delves into the world sexuality and gender and rips it open in away that could break the digital channel.
      Banana is the other side of the story. The young guns with their apps and their multi sexual and gender identities and how these can collide. If Cucumber is generation gay, Banana is generation ‘Whatever’. .... '
----  see more of The Gay UK's review of the first episode of this trio-based project at :- 
----  & see Cucumber's trailer a little further down this text scroll. For UK readers of this site, Cucumber premieres on Channel Four (UK) at 9pm Thursday 22 January.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

COMING OUT TO YOUR DAD .. one of life's most painful moments .. see for yourself

US twins Aaron and Austin Rhodes 'come out' to their father, 14 January 2015 ...

The Rhodes Brothers : "With 2015 now here, we think it is time to finally just be ourselves. We hope by our actions today you can finish watching this video feeling encouraged and inspired. Thank you for all the support. We love you. ... "  [Ed.: See their heart-breaking video & hear their Dad's gracious cruncher moment at 5'50" : "... You are normal ..."]

Follow the Rhodes Brothers on social media at:

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

GAY SAN FRAN | Them times they're a-changing, folks ...

This Old Sex Dungeon: Queer S.F. Is Vanishing
----  opening pars from a candid observation of a fading reality by Siouxsie Q. at SFWeekly (Calif, USA), 14 January 2015 :-

      'Sucking on my girlfriend's nipples in the bathroom of the Lexington Club is exactly how I wanted to ring in the new year. DJ Durt was spinning '90s R&B and we had only run into one of our exes so far. It was shaping up to be a wonderful, if bittersweet, night. We took explicit selfies up against the bright blue, graffiti-covered walls and necked until someone banged on the door — the dance that many dykes had done before us, but very few will do ever again.
      I've been a topless mermaid atop the pool table stage at the Lexington. I've gotten laid at the Lexington. It's a place for falling in love with strangers, breakups, makeups, makeouts, and magic. The Lexington Club has been the Cheers of dyke bars in San Francisco for the past 18 years. It's where everybody knows your name and what you look like naked, but this little slice of lesbian paradise will close in the coming year, another victim of San Francisco's rapidly changing landscape.
      Owner Lila Thirkield released a statement on the Lexington's Facebook page last October, announcing, with a heavy heart, that she was selling the beloved bar in the heart of the Mission District: "When a business caters to about 5% of the population, it has tremendous impact when 1% of them leave. When 3% or 4% of them can no longer afford to live in the neighborhood, or the City, it makes the business model unsustainable."
      She was referring to the many queers who once called the Mission home and made up the Lexington's regular clientele, but have since migrated across the bay to sunnier skies and more reasonable rent, making room for wealthy tech industry workers.
      "Eighteen years ago I opened The Lex to create a space for the dykes, queers, artists, musicians and neighborhood folks who made up the community that surrounded it," Thirkeild wrote. "Eighteen years later, I find myself struggling to run a neighborhood dyke bar in a neighborhood that has dramatically changed."
      The Lex is not alone. Queer spaces are disappearing from the city right and left.  ... '
----  see more of Siousie Q's colorful reminiscences of San Fran's gay culture at at :- 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

MATT BOMER | Golden Globe recognition for The Normal Heart (HBO USA)

Matt Bomer Wins At The Golden Globes
----  excerpts from a showbiz report by Tim Isaac at Big Gay Picture Show (USA), 12 January 2015 :-

      'Matt Bomer is certainly having a great week. Just a few days after picking up a People’s Choice award he’s won himself a Golden Globe for his excellent performance as an HIV+ man in The Normal Heart.
      That wasn’t the only LGBT interest at the Globes, as Amazon’s original TV series Transparent did well, picking up both Best Television Series – Comedy Or Musical, and Best Actor In A Television Series – Comedy Or Musical for Jeffrey Tambor. Transparent creator Jill Soloway dedicated the show’s award to Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teen who recently took her life, leaving a heartbreaking suicide note online. Tambor meanwhile dedicated his win to the transgender community. ....
....  Despite numerous nominations, The Imitation Game, about gay hero Alan Turing, walked away with nothing, while Pride, which was a surprise nominee in the Best Picture – Musical Or Comedy race, couldn’t continue to surprise with a win. Matt Bomer was the only win for the acclaimed Normal Heart .... '
----  see more of Tim Isaac's report & awards list at www.biggaypictureshow at :- 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY | US rates movie as "R" ...

Fifty Shades of Grey Has Officially Been Rated
----  excerpts adapted from a post by Silas Lesnick at (USA), 7 January 2015 :-

      'A global phenomenon, Fifty Shades of Grey was first published in 2011 and follows the relationship of 27-year-old billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and college student Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson).  ....
....  The trilogy has been translated in over 50 languages worldwide since its release. To date, the “Fifty Shades” trilogy has sold over 70 million copies worldwide in e-book and print, making it one of the fastest-selling book series ever.  ....
....  The E L James adaptation has officially been rated R by the MPAA for, in their own words, “strong sexual content including dialogue, some unusual behavior and graphic nudity, and for language.”  .... '
----  see more of Silas Lesnick's informative post at at :- 

GAY PORN | Porn stats to surprise you ...

MILFs, butts, and threesomes: This was the year in porn searches
----  a brief excerpt from a well sourced analysis summary by Tracy Clark-Flory at (USA), 7 January 2015 :-

      'PornHub releases the most popular search terms of the year, revealing 2014 was all about girl-on-girl.  ....  
....   The world’s most popular porn site, PornHub, just released its “2014 Year in Review,” an in-depth report on X-rated search trends that turns the deepest, darkest recesses of the human sexual psyche into colorful little bar graphs.
      In the U.S., the No. 1 search term was “lesbian,” a leap from 15th place the previous year. Among women, this trend hold even stronger: “For instance, ‘eating pussy’ is over 900% more likely to be searched by a woman than a man, as are terms like ‘tribbing,’ ‘lesbian scissoring’ and ‘ebony lesbians’ which on average are over 600% more likely to be searched for by ladies,” explains the report.
      Women were also more likely to seek out female reality-TV stars like Kim Kardashian, Mimi Faust and Farrah Abraham.
      How, exactly, to make sense of the sapphic boom? PornHub notes, “Incidentally, 2014 was also a huge year for gay marriage in the States, with 19 states having ruled in favor of legalizing gay marriage.” It’s quite possible that the increasing acceptance of same-sex relationships has something to do with it — but I also suspect that anxiety around that increasing acceptance plays a significant role.  .... '
----  see more of Tracy Clark-Flory's revealing & provocative report at at :- 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

GAY MARRIAGE | Majority of US citizens support legalization ...

Gay Marriage Gains Support, But It's Still a Partisan Issue
----  summarizing excerpts from a news report by Katherine Grace Carman & Michael Pollard at Newsweek Magazine (USA), 5 January 2015 :-

      'On Oct. 5, 2014, the Supreme Court announced that it would not review several federal appeals courts decisions against bans on same-sex (“gay”) marriage, which effectively meant same-sex marriage would be legal in 24 states.
      Overall, the majority of the country supports the legalization of gay marriage: 62.4 percent (margin of error +/- 1.2 percent). We present the support for legalization of gay marriage in Figure 1 for the country as a whole, as well as by the current legal status of gay marriage in the respondents' states. [See stats graphs at site] ....
....  The majority of respondents—54.9 percent (+/- 2.6 percent)—also feel that laws regarding same-sex marriage should be decided as a federal matter based on the U.S. Constitution, rather than on a state-by-state basis.  ....
....  Overall, the survey provides evidence that the majority of voters support the legalization of gay marriage and a majority believe it should be decided at the federal level.  .... '
----  see more of K.C. Carman & M. Pollard's report, complete with stats, at at :- 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

GAYS IN POP CULTURE | Changing society's minds ...

Pop Culture helps change minds on gay rights
----  brief opening excerpts from an extended essay by William Douglas & Lesley Clark at The Seattle Times (USA), 2 January 2015 :-

      'Today, gays and lesbians are the folks next door, brought to the nation’s living rooms through the force of popular culture. Whether fictional characters or the performers themselves, they’re on TV, in movies, in music, even in comic books.
      Popular culture is a key to the broad and rapid shift in the nation’s politics as the country has turned rapidly from long opposition to gay rights toward support for gays, including same-sex marriage, acceptance of a gay child and willingness to vote for a gay politician.
      Millions watch Cam and Mitch, a married male couple raising a daughter on “Modern Family,” ABC’s five-time Emmy award-winning sitcom. “Same Love,” a marriage-equality anthem by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, jumped to the Top 5 on Billboard’s rap-music chart last year.  ....
....  There are 33 recurring lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters on prime-time shows and 64 on scripted prime-time cable-television programs in the 2014-15 season, up from 42 in 2013-14, according to GLAAD, a gay-rights group.
      It’s a long way from 1999, when the Rev. Jerry Falwell derided the children’s TV show “Teletubbies” because “Tinky Winky,” a purple character who carried a red handbag and had a triangular-shape antennae on his head, appeared to be gay.  .... '
----  see more of William Douglas & Lesley Clark's provocative essay at at :-   

Friday, January 2, 2015

A GAY GOSPEL, according to Justin Luke Zirilli ...

Author Justin Luke Zirilli on Surviving Your Twenties
----  brief excerpts from a substantial gay author's interview by Michael Graves at Lambda Literary Review (USA), 28 December 2014 :- 

      'Justin Luke Zirilli is an author, a club promoter, a social media consultant and a New York nightlife staple. ....  His newest literary offering, The Gay Gospel: A Survival Guide for Gay 20Somethings in America Today, is a self-help manual for twenty-something gays. Here is a glimpse into what a fella of the night—not to mention, one who perpetually dons pink glasses—can teach our burgeoning youth.
      MG: Congratulations on the publication of The Gay Gospel. What prompted you to write a self-help book?  ....  Is there any sole nugget of advice that you wish you had received in your twenties?
      JLZ: I wish someone had told me that none of it really mattered all that much. The twenties are an era of discovery and experimentation. Everything seems so serious and so important and so final.       Having reached my thirties, though, I can happily report that this is not true whatsoever. Guys who broke my heart are now my closest friends. My failures have been forgotten by everyone.
      My twenties helped to lead me to where I am now, but nothing in them was so earth-shattering as to have long-lasting, regrettable effects on me to this day.  .... '
----  see more of Michael Graves' interview of the wisdom of The Gay Gospel at at :- 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

GAY ITALY | Rome & Vatican history from a gay perspective ...

Vatican Art in a Gay Light
----  brief excerpts from a travel post by Michael T. Luongo at The New York Times (USA), 31 December 2014 :-

      ' ....  Alessio Virgilli, 30, is the chief executive of Quiiky, a division of the travel company Sonders and Beach. A native of Rome, he also heads the Italian Association of Gay Tourism, which he helped start in 2010. Following are edited excerpts of a conversation with Mr. Virgili.
      Q. What gave you the idea for these tours and who is taking them?
      A. ....  In ancient Greece and Rome homosexuality was practiced openly, but my investigation led me to discover the facts of which I was unaware [for the Renaissance]. I decided with our tour guides and some historians and art critics to create routes that would reveal those aspects often omitted in traditional tours. Most participants in our tours are L.G.B.T. people, often foreign tourists who know more than the Italians about these issues.
      What are some of the secrets people learn?
      To understand heroes of antiquity or works of artists it is necessary to know them thoroughly, omitting nothing of their private life. For example, we tell of Michelangelo. He was a devout Catholic and at the same time a homosexual, with a constant feeling of guilt and inner conflicts reflected in his works. When we look at the Sistine Chapel’s “Last Judgment,” our guides do not fail to show at the top right two male figures who kiss to celebrate the ascent into heaven. In Milan, we retrace Leonardo da Vinci’s affair with his disciple Salai, who maybe inspired the depiction of St. John the Baptist alongside Jesus in “The Last Supper.”
      Technically, these tours do not have formal Vatican approval?
      It’s true. Our tours are made with recognized guides but without formal agreement of the Vatican. 
....   What are some of your favorite gay recommendations in Rome?
      Rome has begun to offer a lot for the L.G.B.T. community, like the gay street in front of the Colosseum [Via San Giovanni in Laterano], and the disco Cow Killer [Muccassassina]. In summer there is a big event, which welcomes more than 4,000 people every night Thursday to Saturday from June to September, the Gay Village.  .... '
----  see more of Michael T. Luongo's revealing insights into Italian LGBT life at at :- 
----  and visit travel company Quiicky for further info about these Italian LGBT specialities at :-

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

LOOKING, Season One (HBO USA) comes to dvd ...

LOOKING : Season One [UK DVD Release]
----  For non-USA readers who will have missed viewing this HBO (USA) series about gay life today in San Francisco, a dvd or Blu-ray set is now available. Here are excerpts from a detailed review BY Matt Peake published at The Gay UK (United Kingdom), 30 December 2014 :-

      'The search for happiness starts with LOOKING. Rumoured as the gay version of ‘Sex and the City’, LOOKING is not your typical gay drama.
      Usually gay dramas tend to include either drug-fuelled sex orgies with someone eventually dying of AIDS or ridiculously good looking men just sleeping with each other in unbelievable circumstances and situations.
      However, LOOKING is none of this; it is refreshingly unique in its portrayal of modern gay culture. Yes, there are good looking men but they are not ridiculously hot. They are typical gay men who live in San Francisco, and are trying to figure out what it is to be gay in the 21st century; including the blurring of relationships, ageing in the gay world and the question of monogamy versus polyamory.
...... LOOKING offers an unfiltered look at three friendships in one of America’s most iconic cities.  ....  The complicated, funny and romantically charged lives of three friends living in San Francisco takes centre stage in the sexy and lyrical LOOKING: Season One which comes to Blu-ray and DVD on 12th January 2015 courtesy of HBO Home Entertainment.  .... '
----  see more from Matt Peake about this Blu-ray/DVD release at at :- 
----  check also: Why LOOKING's second season if wortyh watching at :-
----  ***Season 2 kicks off on HBO in the US on January 11th and should arrive on Sky Atlantic in the UK shortly afterwards.

Monday, December 29, 2014

GAY VACATIONS | The rise of Fort Lauderdale ...

Go Gay at Fort Lauderdale [Florida, USA]
----  the opening pars of an extended, informative post for the holiday season by Andrew Collins at The Rainbow Times (USA), 29 December 2014 :-

      'Since its rapid transformation in the early 1990s into one of the world’s leading gay vacation destinations, Fort Lauderdale has continued on a steady path of exciting new developments. Swanky contemporary hotels have risen along its neatly manicured beachfront, which is within a short walk of several excellent gay resorts.
      The small city of Wilton Manors, which fringes Fort Lauderdale to the northwest, has become a vibrant hub of LGBT-popular nightlife, dining and shopping. And a growing number of impressive arts and historic attractions have helped turn Fort Lauderdale into one of Florida’s premier arts and cultural hubs.
      High season in Fort Lauderdale ( spans from late autumn to early spring, but Broward County is more of a year-round destination than you might think. As the region has become a top getaway among LGBT travelers, many gays and lesbians of all ages—from recent college grads to retirees—have moved here full-time.
      The acclaimed gay men’s resort Pineapple Point is currently developing an upscale retirement complex in an up-and-coming corridor of downtown Fort Lauderdale—plans are for this flagship residence to serve as a prototype for similar communities throughout the country. And throughout the city, neighborhoods, businesses and hotels tend to draw a diverse crowd. .... '
----  see more of Andrew Collins' interesting insight into an LGBT growth phenomenon & US holiday playground at The Rainbow Times at :-

GAY HISTORY | Warren of the Warren Cup ....

GAY HISTORY: E.P. Warren, USA 1860-1928, collector of The Warren Cup
----  very brief excerpts from a substantial memorial account at Antinous The Gay God (USA/UK), 29 December 2014 :-

      'On December 28th the Religion of Antinous celebrates the life of Saint Edward Perry "Ned" Warren, who died on this day in 1928.
      Estranged and ostracized by "decent" socialites, Saint Ned Warren was a famed gay Bostonian art collector who virtually single-handedly built up the collections of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and Boston Museum of Fine Arts through his passion for Classical art.  ....
.... But Warren was so fabulously rich, and museums depended on him  so much, that nobody dared say anything to his face about his blatant homosexuality. His gifts to the Boston MFA made up 90 per cent of its Classical collection, one of the finest in the world.  .... The famous Warren Cup and Rodin's statue The Kiss are just two of the most well-known objects he rounded up -- both of which were rejected by museums in Britain and America as being too raunchy.  .... 
....  The Warren Cup is a solid silver goblet which dates back to the 1st Century CE/AD and was found near Jerusalem.  ....  As the photos demonstrate, the Warren Cup shows two scenes (one on each side of the cup) of a man and a youth having sex on a couch. The silverwork is exquisitely done and the hair and draperies and facial expressions are beautifully rendered. It also reflects a bit of tongue-in-cheek wit by showing a servant boy peering curiously around a door frame at the lovers.  ....
....  The British Museum finally purchased the Warren Cup for a large sum in 1999 -- and even then there was much titillation in the tabloid press.  .... '
----  see more of this remembrance of E.P. Warren at at :- 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

BEST GAY MOVIES | NewNowNext's checklist for 2014 ...

The 14 Best Gay Movies of 2014
----  a single review excerpt from a list of 14 reviews with their trailers, devised by the NewNowNext staff (USA), 26 December 2014 :-

      'It was a good year for queer film: From comedies and biopics to documentaries, our lives were presented on screen in ways we’d never seen before.  ....
....  1. Pride
      A sort of Stonewall meets The Full Monty, Pride tells the real-life story of a group of queer activists who decide to help striking miners in 1980s England—whether they want it or not.
      Yes, it’s somewhat predictable—and likely stretches historical facts—but Pride‘s humor and emotional resonance is strong enough to see it through to the Number One spot on this list. .... '
----  see all of NewNowNext's fourteen recommendations at at :- 

Friday, December 26, 2014


Religion's smart-people problem: The shaky intellectual foundations of absolute faith
----  two excerpts from a substantial, timely opinion piece for the global festive season, by John G. Messerly at (USA), 21 December 2014 :-

      'Religious belief the world over has a strenuous relationship with intellectualism. But why? Should you believe in a God? Not according to most academic philosophers. A comprehensive survey revealed that only about 14 percent of English speaking professional philosophers are theists.  
      As for what little religious belief remains among their colleagues, most professional philosophers regard it as a strange aberration among otherwise intelligent people. Among scientists the situation is much the same.
      Surveys of the members of the National Academy of Sciences, composed of the most prestigious scientists in the world, show that religious belief among them is practically nonexistent, about 7 percent. ....
....  Genes and environment explain human beliefs and behaviors—people do things because they are genomes in environments. The near universal appeal of religious belief suggests a biological component to religious beliefs and practices, and science increasingly confirms this view.
      There is a scientific consensus that our brains have been subject to natural selection. So what survival and reproductive roles might religious beliefs and practices have played in our evolutionary history? What mechanisms caused the mind to evolve toward religious beliefs and practices?  .... '
----  see more of John G. Messerly's challenging essay at at :- 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

GAYS & POP CULTURE | The Rainbow Revolution ...

Rainbow Revolution: Pop culture helps change the US's mind on gays
----  as a Christmas present to readers, see opening excerpts from William Douglas & Lesley Clark's revealing report at McLatchyDC (Washington DC) on the strong influence of the media in changing social attitudes to same-sex relationships, 23 December 2014 :-

      ' ....  When her own son, who was 15 at the time, came out. “I felt like he was entering a whole new world, where I couldn’t follow him,” Mesirow recalled of her struggle to adapt.
      Eventually, she found reinforcement in an unexpected place – television. “A year later, ‘Modern Family’ premiered,” she said of the hit show featuring a gay couple, “and changed my vision.”
      Today, gays and lesbians are the folks next door, brought to America’s living rooms through the force of popular culture. Whether fictional characters or the performers themselves, they’re on TV, in movies, in music, even in comic books. And many are in positive roles, not the often derisive stereotypes of a just a generation ago.
      Popular culture is a key to the broad and rapid shift in the nation’s politics as the county has turned rapidly from long opposition toward support for gays, including same-sex marriage, acceptance of a gay child, and willingness to vote for a gay politician.
      Many forces are coming together to redefine the political landscape, including a new generation dramatically more open-minded, families accepting new lifestyles, businesses working to attract employees and customers regardless of orientation, politicians changing course. All reinforced by the messages in entertainment.  .... '
----  see more of Douglas & Clark's report at at :- 

Read more here:

Read more here:

Monday, December 22, 2014

GAY BERLIN | A pre-War cabaret of fun ...

A gay utopia in Weimar-era Berlin: Book review
----  the opening pars from a book review by Emma Teitel at Macleans (Canada), 21 December 2014 :-

      'Author Robert Beachy explores Berlin’s gay culture and sexually liberal history. German history is not a place one usually looks for evidence of unprecedented tolerance toward minorities. The atrocities of the Second World War, committed under a Nazi regime that murdered six million Jews and sent up to 15,000 homosexuals to concentration camps, have permanently altered the German sensibility; today, despite living in a socially liberal country, many Germans tend to walk on eggshells where issues of cultural diversity are concerned.
      But, according to Beachy, a historian, Germany—and Berlin, in particular—was a surprisingly sexually liberal place shortly before Nazism took hold. Beachy’s book is an exhaustive history of gay culture there from the mid-1800s, when prolific author Karl Heinrich Ulrichs published his groundbreaking and controversial pamphlets on same-sex love  ....
Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a modern identity, by Robert Beachy
----  see more of Emma Teitel's revealing review at at :- 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 15, 2014

TOP GAY MOVIE FOR 2014? ....

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

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

Saturday, December 13, 2014


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

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

Friday, December 12, 2014

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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


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

NEW GAY CINEMA | Indie eroticism ...

GAY-THEMED MOVIE with two major artists ...

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




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


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

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

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

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

COOL GAY MOVIE at Berlin Film Festival 2014 ...


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

COOL GAY MOVIE for 2014 ...


COOL GAY MOVIE about high school love ...








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


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

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

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

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

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

(See more at :-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nan Hawthorne, Historical Novelist

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

An excerpt from a review of August 15, 2011

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See this review in situ at Amazon at :-


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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