COOL GAY STUFF (aka : "M/M Romance Novels") is a news-watch sampler of LGBT highlights from around the globe, with thanks to Google, YouTube, & Blogger. They're quick-read morsels of gay-themed or gay-interest Net selections you possibly missed, with links to the originating sites. But these LGBT snippets are NOT only for gay gals & guys, so there's no eye-popping porn here nor racy NSFW items likely to frighten 'the hets' (paraphrasing Oscar Wilde re horses).

***NOTE : Allow A FULL 30 SECS for the entire complement of Web sources to load properly. (This homepage is likely to stay firmly 'frozen' until that damn revolving circle-thingy quits whirling.) Columns may align slightly differently, depending on your browser.

Submit comments at the originating sites, they'd welcome your thoughts or Likes/Dislikes. (Links provided, but don't forget to come back.)

Your host novelist George Gardiner opens with current eye-candy videos plus blurbs for my widely-praised historical-romance/crime/erotica novel "THE HADRIAN ENIGMA: A Forbidden History". This is a fiction/faction re-imagining of history's real-life m/m romance between ancient Rome's 'good emperor' Hadrian Caesar with his famously-hunky 'Favorite', Antinous of Bithynia. The 500-page paperback or ebook options are listed below. Then follows an array of 30 recent gay-friendly media reports, updated daily, preceding two columns of interesting LGBTQ miscellanies.

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


Hey!, if movies can have multiple baddies to confront in your comic-book fantasy cinema world, why not have multiple superheroes too? The more the merrier, and maybe the more the sassier? Those sculpted body suits sure look fit.

Based on this deep-&-rich philosophy, meet Zack Snyder's "BATMAN VERSUS SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE".

Though you won't be seeing BVS:DOJ until March 25 2016, here's the recent trailer which has already been viewed by over 30-million YouTube visitors since April. Join the crowd to experience a dark, mystical world of Messiah-like superheroes. SOUND OF MUSIC it ain't, folks.

Savour the 2-minute video, but don't forget to come back to Cool Gay Stuff afterwards ...


THE FIRST RECORDED REAL-LIFE 'OUT' SAME-SEX COUPLE OF HISTORY : Rome's Hadrian Caesar and his famously-hunky boyf, Antinous of Bithynia ...

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


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

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

OPINIONS OF "THE HADRIAN ENIGMA" - eighteen excerpts from global Amazon stores ...

"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 suspense fiction suggested by real events in history's most unusual true love story ...

THE HADRIAN ENIGMA: A Forbidden History
A novel
(C) George Gardiner
ISBN13: 978-0-9807469-1-4 (at Amazon USA, UK, Europe, Australia etc) in 498-page paperback or Kindle ebook.
Also iBookstore, iPad, Nook & ePub ebook formats available via online sources. (Not available in street stores.)

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

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

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

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

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

For an Amazon-USA or overseas paperback :

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

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

for Amazon UK :

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.


Saturday, April 25, 2015

GAY LEATHER | The phenomenon of San Francisco's Folsom Street scene ...

"FOLSOM FOREVER" - Looking at the history of the gay leather scene's Folsom Street Fair
----  a brief excerpt from a video trailer report by Tim Isaac at Big Gay Picture Show (USA), 25 April 2015 :-

      'San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair is one of those things that many of us have heard of, but the closest most of us are likely to have gotten were the scenes in the first season of Looking, or certain naughty videos that pop up online from the goings on there.
      Even those who’ve attended probably know little about the history – and that’s where Folsom Forever comes along. It’s take a look at the annual event and where it came from, which has its roots in the AIDS epidemic and the need some in the gay S&M community had to say it wasn’t their fault, and that they should be able to be proud too.  .... '
----  see more of Tim Isaac's report (plus a whole lot more) at at :- 
---- and/or check the Folsom Forever trailer in the sidebar here.

Friday, April 24, 2015

QUEER AUTHORS | A useful collection of 25 queer titles for your personal library ...

25 Queer Authors You Absolutely Should Be Reading, If You're Not Already
---- an extract from a post by writer Ilana Masad at Bustle (USA), 24 April 2015 :-

      'Take a look at your books and count how many of them were written by straight dudes. Now, how many were written by queer authors? Fewer, I’m sure.
      The fact is that we need diverse authors as much as #WeNeedDiverseBooks. But authors who fall under the LGBTQIA umbrella are often stuck in the LGBT section in the bookstore. That means they’re pigeonholed for their sexuality, instead of being embraced as writers whose stories can teach us about the world we live in, our history, and the diversity that is all around us even when we’re unaware of it. 
      A writer’s queerness is not necessarily the central part of who he or she is. Yet this identity did (and still does) carry a stigma, and struggle of any kind inevitably affects the way a writer writes, the way she pours her soul out onto the page, or the way he chooses to spin a story. This collection of incredible queer writers (definitely not definitive — I could have gone on and on!) is an acknowledgment that they exist and that their writing endures.  .... (Then follows cover shots and brief appraisals of Ilana's special selection of 25 gay-influenced books. And no, it doesn't include your host's historic romance The Hadrian Enigma; though maybe someday it shall.)
----  now see Ilana Masad's recommendations of 25 queer-oriented fiction to grace your bookshelves and your brain at :- 
----  but don't forget to come back to Cool Gay Stuff  afterwards

Thursday, April 23, 2015

GAY CULTURE | A new online initiative ...

The Gay Culture Every Queer Should Know
----  an excerpt from an invitation by writer/photographer Matt Baume published at HuffPost Blogs (USA), 22 April 2015 :-

      'Has a book, movie, TV show or song ever changed your life? For me, it was a late-night showing of The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert on VH1, hosted at commercial breaks by RuPaul. I was 15, shy and growing up in a small Connecticut town; this was the first time I had ever seen queer men together, rather than popping up as villains or punch lines. "Is this what it's like to have gay friends?" I thought.
      Priscilla gave me the confidence to come out, and to start wearing some insanely garish bright yellow and purple outfits. Hey, if it worked for Mitzi, Felicia and Bernadette, I figured I'd have to do the same. And it worked! Before I knew it, I was dating a boy with similarly gaudy taste, and getting up to no good on the bench seat of his pickup truck.  .... '
....  Welcome to The Sewers of Paris! My (Matt Baume's) new podcast about entertainment that has changed the lives of gay men.
      We all have a story to tell about the book, the show, the song, the film that made us who we are. And that’s what this podcast is about. Each week, My guest plucks a piece of entertainment from their past, and answers the question: how did it change your life?
      Subscribe, rate, and review at And drop me a line on Twitter to let me know what you think: ....
----  see the full HuffPost story about Matt's new initiative at :- 
----  and check his 5min video invitation in the sidebar about The Sewers of Paris.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

CHINA'S GAYS | A forthcoming market phenomenon ...

CHINA'S LGBT CONSUMERS: How luxury can tap into a $300 billion market
----  brief excerpts from a news post by Charlie Gu at JING DAILY (Beijing, China), 22 April 2015 :-

      'Long an important target for marketers in the West, LGBT consumers often have higher disposable incomes and lead consumer trends. With public acceptance of LGBT people continuing to grow worldwide, it’s time for brands to think global when developing their marketing strategies to this community.
      Case in point: as the second-largest economy—and home to the largest LGBT population—in the world, China deserves serious attention.
      According to Hong Kong-based venture capital firm LGBT Capital, the annual purchasing power of China’s 70 million-strong LGBT population amounts to $300 billion, compared to $870 billion for Europe and $750 billion for the United States  Despite its size and huge potential for growth, virtually no Western brand has formally engaged this community, mainly due to its invisibility in public and in the Chinese media.
      But that’s quickly changing.
      In February, Chinese tech giant Alibaba launched a Valentine’s Day contest in partnership with several Chinese non-profit LGBT organizations, including PFLAG China and the Beijing LGBT Center, to sponsor 10 gay and lesbian couples for a trip to Los Angeles in June to get married. Although these marriages are largely symbolic for now, the campaign has ignited enthusiastic discussions about the acceptance of LGBT people in China, as well as the potential of China’s “pink economy.”  ....
....  China’s statistically astronomical—but largely untapped—LGBT market presents a highly lucrative growth opportunity for brands and travel destinations that have long benefitted from LGBT consumers around the world.  .... '
----  see more of this brief but persuasive report by Charlie Gu at at :- 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

GAY RIGHTS | The tortuous path towards legitimacy ...

The US Supreme Court's Unconscionable Slow-Walk Towards Gay Rights
----  brief selections from an extended opinion piece by Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress (USA), 20 April 2015 :-

      'In 1965, the same year that President Lyndon Johnson signed what may be the most important civil rights law in American history, an early gay rights group known as the Mattachine Society of Washington asked the United States Civil Service Commission to rescind a policy declaring openly gay individuals “unsuitable for Federal employment.” The Commission’s response to the Mattachine Society reads less like a government document and more like an tract from an anti-gay hate group. It explained that the policy would remain in place due to
the revulsion of other employees by homosexual conduct and the consequent disruption of service efficiency, the apprehension caused other employees of homosexual advances, solicitations or assaults, the unavoidable subjection of the sexual deviate to erotic stimulation through on-the-job use of the common toilet, shower and living facilities, the offense to members of the public who are required to deal with a known or admitted sexual deviate to transact Government business, the hazard that the prestige and authority of a Government position will be used to foster homosexual activity, particularly among the youth, and the use of Government funds and authority in furtherance of conduct offensive both to the mores and the law of our society.  ....
....  Next week, the Supreme Court will once again hear oral arguments in a group of cases that seek to extend full marriage equality to all 50 states. In the lead up to these arguments, the Court has appeared to telegraph its intention to back equality so loudly that one of the Court’s conservative members complained in February that his more liberal colleagues seemed to be showing their hand too soon. It is very likely that five justices will join together to declare marriage discrimination unconstitutional this June.'
----  see more of Ian Millhiser's interesting perspective at at :- 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

GAY RIGHTS | Is the battle over? ...

Struggle for gay rights isn't over : Author Michelangelo Signorile
----  the provocative introduction an extended opinion piece by Tre'vell Anderson at LA Times (USA), 18 April 2015 :-

      'The gay rights movement is undoubtedly experiencing its most successful years: bans against same-sex marriage continue to fall; men and women have come out of the closet in business, entertainment and sports; and LGBT characters are mainstays on television.
      Anderson: Gay rights seem to be at the best point ever in our nation, but you assert the result of such progress is "victory blindness." How does this affect the current status of the movement?

Friday, April 17, 2015

GAY DEBATE | Is full acceptance approaching? ...

How do you change the deeply held beliefs of a nation? Here's one strategy.
----  selected opening pars of an opinion piece by Evan Wolfson (President of 'Freedom To Marry') at Reuters (USA), 17 April 2015 :-

      'The transformation over the last 20 years in how Americans view gay people is the result of one of the most successful social justice movements of modern time.
      The stunning shift has taken place because we have shown Americans who gay people are — that we are family members, neighbors and co-workers. With this awakened understanding, public support for the freedom to marry has now increased to 63 percent from 27 percent in 1996. There is majority support in every region of the country.  ....
....  Same-sex couples were unable to marry anywhere 15 years ago, but today gay couples can officially marry in 20 countries across five continents, and in 37 states here in the United States.
The freedom to marry is now before the U.S. Supreme Court, and we are hoping for our hard-fought nationwide victory as soon as June.  .... '
----  see more of Evan Wolfson's ambitious strategy at at :-

GAY TV TODAY | A view from a tv innovator ...

The State of Gay Television : Russel T. Davies
----  opening pars from an extended interview with Russell T. Davies, writer/producer of "Cucumber" & "Banana", reported by Zack Ford at Think Progress (USA), 13 April 2015 :-

      'Two new gay-focused television shows from creator Russell T. Davies, Cucumber and Banana, will premiere Monday night on LOGO TV, USA (April 13). The two shows originally aired on Britain’s Channel 4 earlier this year, alongside a web series called Tofu.  ....
....  Davies is perhaps now best known in the U.S. for devising the 2005 reboot of Doctor Who and its spin-off, Torchwood, but he is also responsible for the original Queer As Folk that aired in Britain before being adapted into the U.S. version. He spoke with ThinkProgress Thursday about the current state of gay television, how attitudes about sex are changing, the visibility of intersecting identities, and his next big project.

      Ford: I want to start by asking you about a different show, HBO’s Looking, which was just canceled here in the states. Many said it was boring or unrepresentative of the experiences of gay men. How would you describe the current state of gay television?
      Davies: I loved Looking… It was a subtle piece of work, and I think, frankly, now that it’s over I can just be blunt and say that it went over people’s heads. And if you didn’t get it, you’re a bit dumb. Because it was really subtle, really beautiful, really cleverly written, and seriously, I would suggest that if you didn’t get it, take a deep breath, go back and watch it again.
      You know, if you’re looking for cliffhangers and great big chase scenes and explosions, you’re not going to get it. It’s a story in which if someone chooses to have mac & cheese instead of a salad, they’ve just made a very big decision in their lives. I thought it was brave and beautiful and wonderful and beautifully acted and written and I’m so glad they’re going to close it up with a movie. .... '
----  see more of Russell T. Davies' responses to Zack Ford at at :-

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

HOLLYWOOD'S 2014 GAY ROLES | GLAAD reports ....

Hollywood Has More Gay Characters, But Still No Transgender Roles
----  brief opening & selected pars from an extensive report by Natalle Robehmed at Forbes Magazine (USA), 15 April 2015 :-

      'Studios still aren’t doing enough to show lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters on screen, according to the annual Studio Responsibility Index released today by media monitoring agency GLAAD.
      GLAAD’s 2015 report found that just 17.5% of the 114 major studio releases it tracked last year contained characters that identified as either lesbian, gay or bisexual. The vast majority – 65% – of these inclusive films feature gay male characters, many of them white.
      Less than a third of the 20 films that contained LGBT characters featured bisexual roles and just 10% had lesbian characters. According to the study, there were no characters GLAAD determined to be identifiably transgender among any films tracked this year.  ....
----  Not one of the three domestic highest-grossing films of last year - American Sniper, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and Guardians of the Galaxy - featured an LGBT character. Indeed,  82.5% of major studio releases in 2014 did not include LGBT roles. .... '
----  see more of Natalle Robehmed's report at at :- 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

GAY NATURE | Not only humans display a gay dimension to sexuality ...

The 8 Cutest Animals That Like To Go Gay
----  the introductory pars to a revealing insight into eight members of Nature's animal kingdom (with suitable pics) by Allegra Ringo at The Advocate (USA), 13 April 2015 :-

      'If homosexuality is so abhorrent, how do you explain all this wild same-sex action?
      It seems pretty fun for gay animals. There are no laws drafted to strip them of rights; no one judges them; they can run around naked. Sure, (most) gay animals can't march in Pride parades or throw over-the-top weddings, but they still have it pretty sweet. If you don't believe us, check out this list of animals who are known to pair off with same-sex companions, raise families, and retire to a nice zoo together.
      Male penguins occasionally form a pair and raise a chick together, both in the wild and in zoos. You may remember the two gay penguins in Britain who were famously dubbed the “best penguin parents” in the Kent Zoo. The two male penguins, Kermit and Jumbs, teamed up to raise a chick after its birth parents abandoned it. According to zoo staff, Kermit and Jumbs did a stellar job. 
      Bonobos, the famously frisky relatives of humans, engage in frequent sexual activity with members of both the opposite sex and the same sex, according to the BBC. This goes for both males and females. Researchers believe that bonobos use sex as a way to bond with each other. Sound familiar?  .... '
----  and then follows similar revelations about six other creatures of the animal kingdom who will give many an anti-gay homophobe food for thought, perhaps. See more of Allegra Ringo's post at at :- 

NEW GAY TV | "Cucumber" & "Banana" make themselves known at last ...

CUCUMBER and BANANA get queer life right
----  the opening pars from a substantial review by J. Bryan Louder of the two newest gay-themed tv shows to enter US & UK lives (from 13 April for US viewers at LOGO), published at (USA), 13 April 2015 :-

      'Russell T. Davies (writer/producer of  'Queer As Folk'  and 'Dr. Who' ) has created the first great "Gay Show" of the Equality Era.  
      Though the most I could ever muster for Looking, HBO’s recently canceled show about a handful of uninteresting gay guys in San Francisco, was a grudging tolerance, I'll agree with its mourners on one point: Patrick and company’s departure leaves television lacking a committed gay show, and, worse, may discourage executives from finding a replacement.
      Lucky for us, however, the Brits might have already created the rebound we need in Cucumber and its companion show Banana, which sashay across the pond to Logo on Monday following RuPaul’s Drag Race.
      Having seen the first two episodes of each, I feel confident to say that, taken together, the series are as insightful about modern gay life (albeit in Manchester, England) as Looking tried to be, but with an important difference—they also happen to be consistently surprising and entertaining. .... '
----  see more of J. Bryan Louder's stimulating review at at :-

Saturday, April 11, 2015

TV's FIRST GAY KISS | An historical moment in international television ...

Fifteen Years Ago 'Dawson's Creek' Gave Us TV's First 'Passionate' Gay Kiss. How Far Have We Come?
----  brief opening pars from an extended tv-history report by Lauren Duca at Huffington Post (USA), 10 April 2015 :-

      'Fifteen years ago, in an episode entitled "True Love," "Dawson's Creek" featured the first "passionate" kiss between two men on primetime television. Marked primarily by the Joey-Pacey-Dawson love triangle, the Season 3 finale showed just seconds of kissing as part of secondary plot point for Jack. Still, the episode is a milestone in the timeline of gay representation in pop culture -- one worth talking about in the context of the current state of acceptance surrounding same-sex love and the progress that still needs to be made.  ....
....  The episode's director, James Whitmore, told The Huffington Post that he didn't push for anything specific, opting to let Kerr Smith (Jack) take control of the character in that defining moment. "With the kiss, the actors committed," he said. "I left them alone and I wanted to see what it would end up being. It was quite extraordinary." .... '
----  visit the YouTube video in the sidebar, & see more of Lauren Duca's report on tv's first gay kiss at at :- 

Friday, April 10, 2015


Larry Kramer's long-awaited gay-related take on US history
----  the opening pars from a 5-page account by John Pope at (USA), 8 April 2015 :-

      'Thirty years after the author, playwright and gay-rights activist Larry Kramer started working on an exhaustive history of the United States from a gay perspective, the first volume will be published Tuesday April 14, the New York Times reported Wednesday (April 8).
      The 775-page tome, "The American People, Volume I: Search for My Heart" (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), will be the first of a two-volume set, according to the article. Kramer, 79, is working to finish the second, which is scheduled for publication in 2017.
      Kramer, who is HIV-positive, was one of the earliest AIDS activists. In addition to writing articles and plays ("The Normal Heart" and "The Destiny of Me") about the epidemic, he was a co-founder of Gay Men's Health Crisis to help infected people and, later, ACT UP to speed up production and approval of anti-HIV medication.
      In his book, Kramer, describes Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain, among others, as gay, the reporter said.
      He told the reporter that his publisher is referring to it as a novel to avoid legal problems. "But I believe everything in the book is true," he said. "It may look like fiction, but to me, it's not."
In the story, Kramer said, "he was driven to write the book because he had long felt that gays had been excluded from history books, written out or ignored. .... '
----  see more of John Pope's 5-page article at at :-
----  and note the web addresses relevant to the author and others at

Thursday, April 9, 2015

GET OVER IT! | US Republicans and the Culture Wars ...

'The Culture War' --- a battle the GOP can't win
----  a brief excerpt from an extended opinion piece by Leonard Pitts Jr. at The Baltimore Sun (USA), 9 April 2015 :-

      '....  Twenty years ago, you recall, we were essentially arguing over the right of gay people to exist. The debate then was over whether they could serve in the military, adopt children, be fired or denied housing because of their sexuality, Ten years ago, public opinion on most of those issues having swung decisively, we were fighting over whether or not they could get married. Ten years later, that point pretty much conceded, we are arguing over who should bake the cake.
      The very parameters of the debate have shifted dramatically to the dreaded left. Positions the GOP took proudly just 20 years ago now seem prehistoric and its motivations for doing so, threadbare. This is not about morality, the constitution or faith. It never was.
      No, this is about using the law to validate the primal sense of "ick" that still afflicts some heterosexuals at the thought of boys who like boys and girls who like girls. And the solution to their problem is three words long: Get over it.  .... '
---- see the entire challenging essay by Leonard Pitts Jr at at :-

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


Austrian Drag Queen's Book Picks Up Sales
----  an excerpt from a publishing trade announcement by Francis Hoch at PW (Publishers Weekly, UK), 7 April 2015 :-

      'Conchita Wurst', the Austrian bearded drag queen who won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2014 (which took place in Copenhagen and featured entrants from 37 countries), will be on the show floor at next week's London Book Fair.
      "Wurst", the pop singer alter ego of Thomas Neuwirth, will be signing copies of her buzzed-about forthcoming book Being Conchita: We Are Unstoppable, which John Blake Publishing controls world English language rights to, and will publish in May 2015.
----  see more of Publisher Weekly's announcement at at :- 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


A Majority of Americans Really Do Support Gay Marriage
----  excerpts from a revealing essay by Whet Moser at Chicago Magazine (USA), 7 April 2015 :-

      ' From 2002-2012, momentum for it was steadily building—but few could have predicted what would happen afterwards.  ....
....  Behind that is some math. The General Social Survey, run for decades by NORC at the University of Chicago, has been keeping tabs on what its name suggests—what Americans think about stuff, generally stuff that’s important on a national level. When a topic becomes high-profile enough for social scientists, journalists, and the general public to care what their countrymen think, NORC will often add a question about it.
      In 1988, one of those questions was whether Americans supported same-sex marriage. Support hovered around ten percent; NORC didn’t ask the question from 1990 to 2002.
      When NORC reintroduced the question in 2004, support had risen to around 30 percent, but was still low in certain age groups: under 20 percent among the 65+ age group, under 30 percent for ages 35-64, and up to around 40 percent for 18-34.
      Today? 72 percent of those 18-34 support the right; 56 percent from 35-49; 50 percent from 50-64; and 42 percent of those 65 and older. All told, the most recent GSS found that, for the first time in its reports, a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage. In fact, it’s 56 percent.  .... '
----see the entire report by Whet Moser which substantiates these stats at at :- 

Monday, April 6, 2015

SEX BY NUMBERS | What Statistics Can Tell Us ...

Is 10% of the population really gay?
----  very brief excerpts from an extended essay by a professor of statistics, David Spiegelhalter, at The Guardian (UK/USA), 5 April 2015 :-

      'Drawing on the widest survey of sexual behaviour since the Kinsey Report, David Spiegelhalter, in his book Sex By Numbers, answers key questions about our private lives. Here he reveals how Kinsey’s contested claim that 10% of us are gay is actually close to the mark.  ....
....  For a single statistic to be the primary propaganda weapon for a radical political movement is unusual. Back in 1977, the US National Gay Task Force (NGTF) was invited into the White House to meet President Jimmy Carter’s representatives – a first for gay and lesbian groups. The NGTF’s most prominent campaigning slogan was “we are everywhere”, backed up by the memorable statistical claim that one in 10 of the US population was gay – this figure was deeply and passionately contested.  ....

....  Where did Bruce Voeller, a scientist who was a founder and first director of the NGTF, get this nice round 10% from? To find out, we have to delve back into Alfred Kinsey’s surveys in 1940s America, which were groundbreaking at the time but are now seen as archaic in their methods: he sought out respondents in prisons and the gay underworld, made friends with them and, over a cigarette, noted down their behaviours using an obscure code. Kinsey did not believe that sexual identity was fixed and simply categorised, and perhaps his most lasting contribution was his scale, still used today, in which individuals are rated from exclusively heterosexual to exclusively homosexual on a scale of 0 to 6.
      Kinsey’s headline finding was that “at least 37% of the male population has some homosexual experience between the beginning of adolescence and old age”, meaning physical contact to the point of orgasm. He claimed that 13% of males were predominately homosexual for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55 (scoring at least 4) and that 4% of males were exclusively homosexual all their lives (scoring 6). ....
....  Identity aside, ten per cent of the population, it seems, could well be involved in same sex behaviour after all.'
----  see more of this fascinating statistical analysis & its summaries by David Spiegelhalter at :- 
----  and/or purchase Spiegelhalter's new book :-
David Spiegelhalter’s "Sex By Numbers: What Statistics Can Tell Us About Sexual Behaviour" is published by Profile UK (£12.99). 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

ANTI GAY LAWS | Generational gap persists ...

Generational Gap Over LGBT Issues Persists As More Young People Embrace Queer Rights
----  excerpts from a politics report by Tim Marcin at International Business Times (USA), 2 April 2015 :-

      ' ....  For families across the United States, conversations about LGBT rights are often shaped by generational divides, a fact underscored Wednesday after Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he would not advance his state's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act after his son petitioned against the law. The measure, portrayed by critics as an anti-LGBT effort, showed an issue in which "clearly there is a generational gap," Hutchinson said.
      The data seems to back up his assertion. A 2014 Pew Research Poll indicated that 54 percent of people support same-sex marriage, as opposed to 31 percent a decade earlier in 2004. A hearty 68 percent of millennials supported same-sex marriage, but that number steadily dropped as age rose.              Roughly 55 percent of Gen Xers, 48 percent of Boomers and 38 percent of the Silent generation supported same-sex marriage, according to Pew.
      A 2010 poll from NORC at University of Chicago indicated that just 26 percent of people 18 to 29 disapproved of homosexual behavior. The disapproval number steadily rose to 41 percent for people 31 to 39, 41.6 percent for age 40 to 49, and 53.5 percent for age 50-59. .... '
----  see more of Tim Marcin's analysis at at :- 

Friday, April 3, 2015


Millennials Are The 'Gayest Generation' : 7% Of Young Adults Identify As LGBT
----  brief excerpts from a statistical report by Lecia Bushak at Medical Daily (USA), 2 April 2015 :-

      'Millennials are considered the gayest generation now that a recent report has found that seven percent of them identify as LGBT.
      Millennials may be branded as lazy, spoiled, entitled, self-centered, selfie-obsessed, and technology-dependent by the elder generations. But whether or not these stereotypes are true, there’s one thing about us millennials that’s fairly certain: We’re the most progressive and open-minded generation in America.
      And it turns out, perhaps because of this mindset of tolerance, that millennials are the “gayest” generation. According to a new report from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), seven percent of U.S. adults aged 18 to 35 (millennials) identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). A previous study found that 3.5 percent of American adults identify as LGBT, meaning millennials are twice as likely to identify as gay compared to adults of all ages. ....
....  But the question remains as to why more millennials are identifying as gay. Is it because more of us are open, forthcoming, and confident about coming out in this day and age compared to past decades, when being gay was stigmatized and never spoken about? This is possibly the most solid answer, but demographers are still trying to pinpoint it.  .... '
----  see more of Lecia Bushak's informative article in at :-

Thursday, April 2, 2015

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE | The Florida experience ...

Gay Couple Stars in AETNA Commercial
----  a brief extract from a substantial post by Jonathan Kendall at New Times (USA), 2 April 2015 :-

      'As an athletic teenager living in Homestead in the early ’90s, Vanessa Alenier had a secret she held on to tightly, scared she might be rejected by her friends, and even family, if it were discovered. She was same-sex attracted.
      Though Alenier attempted to fit into the social molds of the day by dating boys, she quietly suffered, pining for an idea of love she believed would never lead to matrimony and that fabled “happy ending.”
      Though Alenier felt alone, her feelings were shared by thousands of other LGBT Floridians across the state who similarly yearned for their love to be dignified in the same ceremonial and legal fashion as that of heterosexual couples.
      Despite Alenier's enduring decades of a nationwide fog on whether gay couples should be legally recognized, just this year, due to the lifting of a stay, she and the love of her life, Melanie, became one of the first same-sex couples to obtain a Florida marriage license.
      On January 9, Vanessa wore a fitted white suit, Melanie an equally stylish white dress, as they headed to the Broward County Courthouse to be married by Judge Lisa Porter. With their 6-year-old adopted son, Ethan, by their side; Melanie’s mom, Jan Nickel; and their close family friend Veronica Stanfield in attendance, the Hollywood couple officially tied the knot.
----  see more of this extended reflection on aspects of Florida same-sex marriage legislation at New Times at :- 
----  and check the 2'30"video in the sidebar which recounts the personal struggles of those involved.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

LGBT TRAVEL | Displays of affection OK?

LGBT travel: Still a long way to go
----  excerpts from a news report by Simon Forrester at The Independent (UK), 1 April 2015 :-

      'A recent survey asked gay and lesbian travellers if they feel more able to be romantic in public since the introduction of same-sex marriage in England and Wales.
      But whether you are in the first flush of romance, honeymooners, or looking to rekindle an old flame, everyone should feel free to show affection on holiday.
      To mark the first anniversary of same-sex marriage in England and Wales this week, Further Afield, the gay-friendly accommodation website that I launched five years ago, carried out a snap survey of its gay and lesbian subscribers. We asked them whether they would now feel more able to be romantic in public on a honeymoon in the UK.
      More than 90 per cent said they would not, with many respondents explaining they were still very cautious about kissing and cuddling in public. So, while the change in English and Welsh law is welcome, there's still a long way to go to shift social attitudes.  .... '
----  see more of Simon Forrester's revealing report at at :- 

Monday, March 30, 2015

GAY HISTORY | Europe's leading gay magazine 1932-1967 ...

THE CIRCLE (Der Kreis, Switzerland 2014) (via Wolfe Video USA)
----  excerpts from a video sales review by Matt Hinrichs at DVD Talk (USA), 31 March 2015 :-

      'Switzerland's official selection for the 2014 Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award, The Circle (Der Kreis) deftly mixes drama and documentary to shed some light on the reality of gay life in the '50s. The movie delves into the operation of the Swiss magazine Der Kreis (a.k.a. "The Circle"), an underground prose-and-erotica publication made by and for gay men from 1932 to 1967 - and the enduring relationship that emerged from that far from out-and-proud scene.
      The Circle illuminates a part of LGBT history that's often forgotten by today's gay youth. Astonishing as it might be to consider it now, just a generation or two ago being gay meant living in a coded, secret world of passwords, covert meetings, underground parties and the constant fear of being arrested and exposed.  ....
....  Opening in 1956 Zurich, Switzerland, The Circle dramatizes the hopes harbored by that era's LGBT people, despite their repressed environment. Director and co-screenwriter Stefan Haupt frames the story of influential Swiss gay magazine Der Kreis around two young men brought together by the magazine's underground social circle.  .... '
----  see more of Matt Hinrichs' review at at :-
----  and check the trailer video in the sidebar opposite.
----  Buy the VOD and DVD from! at:

Sunday, March 29, 2015

GAY TV | Enhancing a too-specialized audience ...

'LOOKING', 'GLEE', And The End of Television About Gay White Men
----  the opening pars of an extended opinion-piece by Zack Ford at Think Progress (USA), 27 March 2015 :-

      'HBO announced this week that it would not renew Looking for a third season, but would allow for one more special to wrap up the series about gay men in San Francisco.
      The show had a small group of devoted followers, but has also been panned by many in the gay community for being boring and nonrepresentative, despite having some Latino characters. Arguably, it was serving its purpose of showing the challenges of what somewhat-post-political gay life might look like, where character conflicts arise from “bottom shame,” HIV and PrEP, ageism, monogamy vs. open relationships, and the overall importance of sex in relationships — not from homophobia, bullying, and the fight for marriage equality.
      If a deep, focused look at the lives of gay white men is no longer of interest to a wide-enough television audience, it may in fact be an indicator that the era of such prominent shows is over — having completed its Will & Grace-Queer as Folk-Looking arc.
      Looking‘s cancellation coincides with the recent series finale of Glee, another show that also emphasized its gay characters from the start, but relied on more traditional coming out stories. Arguably, one of the only other gay-focused shows left is ABC Family’s The Fosters, which features a lesbian couple’s family  .... '
----  see more of Zack Ford's challenging opinion-piece at at :-
----  [Editor: With LGBTQ characters everywhere on global television from Empire to Modern Family, plus occasional mainstream cinema, there is still nothing that really encapsulates the modern gay experience as Looking has done. I predict its stance will revive again in some more compatible format suited to societies which endorse social diversity.]

Saturday, March 28, 2015


7 New LGBT Films To Watch On-Demand Now
----  visit a specialized site introducing seven new LGBT titles

      'This past week, launched as LGBT distributor Breaking Glass’ first direct-to-audience VOD store -- and with it comes a collection of their most popular LGBT and indie titles  ....  The following films are now available for rent or purchase on Breaking Glass’ VOD store:4 Moons : 4 MOONS tells four stories about love and self-acceptance.
Last Summer :
LAST SUMMER tells the story of two high school sweethearts, Luke and Jonah, who spend their final months together over the course of a long, quiet summer in the rural South, contemplating their uncertain future and the uncertain future of America. 
Breaking Through :
 BREAKING THROUGH - A documentary on confronting the demons that stand in the way of living life fully, told by those who ran openly LGBT campaigns - and won. 
Campaign of Hate :
 As most of the world moves forward toward gay equality, Russia is seemingly heading backward.
Plus: The Dark Place, Mr. Angel, & UnHung Hero.
----  see more about these seven LGBT-interest titles at at :- 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

GAY DIPLOMATS | The USA's top six ...

----  excerpts from a substantial news report by Colby Itkowitz at The Washington Post (USA), 25 March 2015 :-

      'There was a time when you could be thrown out of the foreign service for being openly gay. In 1997, when the first gay U.S. ambassador, James Hormel, was nominated, many senators opposed him because of his sexuality.
      Less than 20 years later, six gay U.S. ambassadors gathered to celebrate progress –but also to underscore the work ahead.
      They discussed how far the foreign service, the nation and the world has come on the issue of equality. They discussed their varied experiences around the world being representatives not only of America, but the gay community.  ....
....  Also in the audience was the State Department’s new LGBT envoy, career foreign service officer Randy Berry, who officially starts the job April 13.
      After the event, we asked him how it feels to be the first ever tasked as the point person on gay issues around the world.
      “It is huge … even just hearing you say that makes me a little nervous,” Berry said. “I think I’m probably more nervous about this job than any I’ve ever done because I think the stakes are very, very high. I think the need is immediate in places … but I am also very confident about making tangible progress.”
----  see more of Colby Itkowitz's report at at :-

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

"GLEE" | The party is over ...

"GLEE": The song is over as it ends its tuneful 6-season run
----  brief excerpts from an extended salute by Frazier Moore (Associated Press) at LGBTGQ Nation (USA), 20 March 2015, celebrating 121 episodes (2009-2015) of a popular social influence :-

      'NEW YORK — The “Glee” series finale delivered glorious news that William McKinley High School is being turned into an arts school and that Will Schuester, who started its glee club way back in 2009, will become its principal.
      Oh, and that wondrous show choir, New Directions, won the national championship.
      But “Glee” always had the underlying message: With a song in your heart, dreams do come true.  ....
....  That’s how it went – happily ever after – as the Fox song-and-dance show concluded its six-season run Friday night.  ....
....  For the characters at McKinley High, as well as the audience that has followed them with every note, graduation day has come.'
----  see more of this 2-page salute to a six-season international audience-winner at at :-

Monday, March 23, 2015

SAPPHO | Who was she? ...

----  brief excerpts from a questioning piece by Daniel Mendelsohn at New Yorker Magazine (USA), 16 March 2015 :-

      '.... One day not long after New Year’s, 2012, an antiquities collector approached an eminent Oxford scholar for his opinion about some brownish, tattered scraps of writing.  ....  When pieced together, the scraps that the collector showed Obbink formed a fragment about seven inches long and four inches wide: a little larger than a woman’s hand. Densely covered with lines of black Greek characters, they had been extracted from a piece of desiccated cartonnage, a papier-mâché-like plaster that the Egyptians and Greeks used for everything from mummy cases to bookbindings. After acquiring the cartonnage at a Christie’s auction, the collector soaked it in a warm water solution to free up the precious bits of papyrus.
      Judging from the style of the handwriting, Obbink estimated that it dated to around 200 A.D. But, as he looked at the curious pattern of the lines—repeated sequences of three long lines followed by a short fourth—he saw that the text, a poem whose beginning had disappeared but of which five stanzas were still intact, had to be older.
      Much older: about a thousand years more ancient than the papyrus itself. The dialect, diction, and metre of these Greek verses were all typical of the work of Sappho, the seventh-century-B.C. lyric genius whose sometimes playful, sometimes anguished songs about her susceptibility to the graces of younger women bequeathed us the adjectives “sapphic” and “lesbian” (from the island of Lesbos, where she lived). The four-line stanzas were in fact part of a schema she is said to have invented, called the “sapphic stanza.”  .... '
----  see more of Daniel Mendelsohn's report on this interesting historical conundrum at at :-

CHRISTIAN CHURCHES & marriage equality | A rapidly growing majority ...

For Christians and gay marriage, it's culture not doctrine
---  the opening pars from a substantial piece by Ross Murray at The Daily Beast (USA), 22 February 2015 :-

      ' ....  Last week, the Presbyterian Church (USA) became the latest Christian denomination to affirm marriage equality, after a ratification vote in the Palisades presbytery on Tuesday night pushed the number of affirming presbyteries over 51 percent—thus making marriage equality official doctrine. With this move, the PC (USA) joins the Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, United Church of Christ, Conservative and Reform Judaism, Quakers, and Unitarian Universalists in affirming and supporting LGBT people.
      The Presbyterians bring us ever closer to the tipping point of a majority of mainline Christian churches affirming LGBT people, including marriage equality. In fact, even those denominations that have not affirmed marriage equality all have strong, vocal minorities, advocating for change within them. But while observers might be asking themselves “Who’s next?” the changes to come will likely be more cultural than doctrinal.  .... '
----  see more of Ross Murray's report at at :-

Saturday, March 21, 2015

NAKED GREEKS | A review of a major historical exhibition ...

NAKED AMBITION: When the Greeks first stripped off
----  selective excerpts from an informed review of an exhibition of major archaeological artifacts by noted British historian James Davidson at The Guardian (UK), 20 March 2015 :-

      '....   The Greeks could see their nudity was a bit odd, and wondered how it came about. One theory was that an early competitor at the Olympics had accidentally or deliberately lost his loincloth and went on to win the 200m sprint, thanks to some aerodynamic advantage. Not to be outdone, the other competitors copied him. More likely it has something to do with primitive rituals of “stripping off” one’s childhood cloak and “running out” into the ranks of citizens at the age of 20, practices still going on in Sparta and Crete in the historical period.  ....
....  The gymnasium was criticised by both Plato and the Romans for promoting Greek homosexuality and it certainly seems to have been where much of the action took place; and not just looks and stares and love affairs but the homosex itself, mostly frottage in a standing position which they called diamerion “between the thighs”. Doubtless chemical analysis of ancient boy gloop would be found to reveal traces of sperm almost as frequently as do swabs of modern computer trackpads.
      The gymnasium also seems to be the setting for a unique scene on a vase in the British Museum in which a handsome ephebe climbs on to the erect penis of another ephebe sitting on a chair, while a trainer (perhaps) and a woman wait outside: Life in the Socratic Circle is how Sir John Beazley, the great pioneer of the study of Greek vase-painting, described it, tongue not entirely in cheek.
      Life in the Socratic Circle has a place in the stunning new exhibition at the British Museum, Defining Beauty, but its mind is mostly on higher things.  ....
....  When first reading about this exhibition, I had my doubts about it. There are some fabulous loans from abroad, a multi-veiled bronze dancer from New York, a lifesize bronze athlete discovered only in the 1990s in Croatia, a reclining Hermaphroditus from the Borghese. But the stars of the show are undoubtedly the museum’s own masterpieces and in particular the Parthenon sculptures  ....
....  Defining Beauty opens at the British Museum, London WC1B, on 26 March and runs until 5 July. James Davidson’s books include The Greeks and Greek Love.'
----  see more of James Davidson's substantial commentary about this British Museum exhibition at at :- 
----  see too another Guardian review of the exhibition at :-

Friday, March 20, 2015


San Francisco has the most gays
----  the opening pars from a statistically controversial post by Emily Badger (The Washington Post) at The Columbian (Vancouver), 20 March 2015 :-

        'WASHINGTON — The San Francisco area, with its long history of gay rights and progressive politics, has the highest share of LGBT adults of any large metro in the country, according to a massive new Gallup survey out Friday that included interviews over the course of two years with 374,000 people. More than 6 percent of adults living in the Bay Area identify themselves this way. And San Francisco is followed, perhaps unsurprisingly, by Portland, Austin, New Orleans and Seattle.
      San Francisco's lead isn't, in fact, enormous, nor all that far from the national average (about 3.6 percent of adults identify as gay). The difference between the largest and smallest gay populations among the 50 largest metros in the country is only a few percentage points - Birmingham comes in at at the bottom at 2.6 percent. But the list of cities that appear the least gay-friendly here is noticeably full of Southern and Midwestern cities in parts of the country where gay rights have not yet expanded as fast as they have in places like San Francisco. Birmingham's appearance at the very bottom is notable given the very public intransigence of public officials in Alabama lately on marriage equality.
      This is a lot less geographic variation than we see with other demographic groups, a pattern mirrored at the state level too. But these modest metro-level differences may matter to you even if you don't identify yourself as LGBT - or even know anyone who does - because acceptance of gays is a good stand-in for the broader degree of tolerance in a city.  .... '
----  see more of Emily Badger's post 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 likely to be available on dvd etc, plus independent reviews of THE HADRIAN ENIGMA ...

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

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



.... twenty-five new movie trailers from international sources (below), updated regularly ...

BISEXUAL WOMEN | How to be oneself? ...


BEST GAY MOVIES FOR 2014 | The winner is ...

How bad hair days can signify something important ...


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

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.


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

COOL GAY MOVIE for 2014 ...

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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