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

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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". It's 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 Kindle ebook buyer's options are listed below. Then follows 30 recent gay-friendly media reports, updated daily, preceding a range of LGBTQ bookish miscellanies.

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


Though not possessing a gay theme, some of the top younger lads of British movies assemble to display their "posh" credentials in "THE RIOT SQUAD" (UK 2014).

Filthy rich & spoiled rotten, two first-year students at Oxford University join the infamous Riot Club, where reputations can be made or destroyed over the course of a single evening. Stars: , ,

Already well-received elsewhere around the globe for its up-&-coming Brit talent, the movie opens in the USA & Canada in late-March.


HISTORY'S FIRST 'OUT' SAME-SEX COUPLE : 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 suspense/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.

OPINIONS OF "THE HADRIAN ENIGMA" - excerpts 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 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 ONLY ONLINE (not in street stores). CLICK NOW ON A LINK BELOW to select your best 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.

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

... if you have arrived at this blog via a BING, DuckDuckGo, or other archive 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 MAY HAVE BEEN REMOVED TO DO SO (making all side-column videos & pics way off-topic). To restore things to their proper parallel view, click on this blogspot's url-address, in blue here :-

Everything will be magically restored to correct view ...


Monday, March 2, 2015

MAGIC MIKE | Korean gals get all hot & bothered ...

"MAGIC MIKE"| Watch These Korean Gals Get All Hot And Bothered While Watching 'Magic Mike'
----  excerpts from a hilarious showbiz post+video placed by Andrew Roberts at Upproxx Movies (California), February 2015 :-

      '....  Now they’re back [the two young Korean gals] to give their thoughts on another American export: Channing Tatum. Namely his showcase in Magic Mike and its upcoming sequel. The response was much different this time around and I’m pretty sure you could force feed them an entire box of Pop Tarts if it meant that a shirtless Tatum would slide his way into the room.  .... '

----  now savor a few minutes of the ten-minute YouTube video in the sidebar opposite to be charmed by the cultural chasm confronting these young Korean ladies, and see more of Andrew Roberts' post, with thanks, at at :- 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

PANSEXUALITY | An introductory report ...

The Brave New World of Pansexuality
----  brief excerpts from a substantial report by Mel Evans at Sunday Style magazine in the Sunday Telegraph (Australia), 1 March 2015 :-

      'Sexual orientation isn't as simple as it used to be. Heterosexuals, homosexuals, bisexuals, oh my! There can’t possibly be another sexuality to talk about? Think again.
      Last year Shailene Woodley, star of the wildly popular dystopic movie franchise Divergent, was incorrectly labelled bisexual when she said she “falls in love with human beings based on who they are, not what they do or what sex they are”.
      Josh Hutcherson expressed similar views in Out magazine. The 22-year-old Hunger Games actor said, “Right now I’m 100 per cent straight. But who knows? In a year I could meet a guy and be like, ‘Whoa, I’m attracted to this person.’”
      Research published in The New York Times found “an increasing number of guys [Hutcherson’s] age identify as ‘mostly straight’”  ....
....  Interesting words, and ones that usher in a brave new world of pansexuality.  ....  A pansexual is someone who can be attracted to males, females, transgender people and those who identify as non-binary (not female or male).  .... '
----  see more of Mel Evans' eye-opener report on this social phenomenon at www.daily, with thanks, at :-

Friday, February 27, 2015

GAY BEST FRIENDS | The passing of an era? ...

Why it's time to rename 'the gay best friend'
---- the opening pars of a speculative essay by Daniel Scheffler at Connections.Mic (USA), 26 February 2015 :-

      'First, there was My Best Friend's Weddingthen came Sex and the City and, of course, Will & Grace. Jump ahead a few years, and it's even cropped up in Lena Dunham's Girls. The trope is officially and stubbornly solidified in pop culture.
      It's the Gay Best Friend — the paradigmatic relationship between gay man and a straight woman — that has swept thoroughly through our culture, becoming a classic character on screens and in real life. It's a rise that is possible in part because of an increasingly accepting society, one that's open to visibility for gay men, validates their orientation and recognizes their contributions.
      But it's exactly that positive progress that makes one thing clear today: The Gay Best Friend has got to go. In an era when marriage equality is sweeping the nation and acceptance is on the rise, it's a dated stereotype that, ultimately, does more harm than good. That's why it's time to replace the nonsensical "Gay Best Friend" with a more accurate term: friend.  .... '
----  see more of this propositional opinion by Daniel Scheffler at at :- 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

STEM CELL BABIES for same-sex couples? ...

STEM CELL BREAKTHROUGH opens door to biological children of same-sex couples
----  the opening pars from a speculative medical science report collated by staff at LGBTQ Nation (USA), 26 February 2015 :-

      'Same-sex couples are a step closer to having their own biological children thanks to breakthrough stem cell research by scientists at Cambridge University (UK) and the Weizmann Institute in Israel.
      The international team of scientists have shown that it is possible to create human sperm and eggs from stem cells derived from adult skin, regardless of the donor’s gender, reports Medical Daily.
      “We have succeeded in the first and most important step of this process, which is to show we can make these very early human stem cells in a dish,” said lead researcher Dr. Azim Surani.
      While this breakthrough could help men and women who have been rendered infertile by disease, gay groups have also expressed hope that this project will eventually lead to the creation of children made from stem cells derived from same-sex parents.
      The researchers published their findings in the journal Cell earlier this week, stressing that it’s early days for this type of research.  .... '
----  see more about this controversial development at at :- 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

SIGMUND FREUD | Thoughts on gay people ...

FREUD LETTER | Unearthed letter from Sigmund Freud reveals his thoughts on gay people
----  two brief excerpts from a substantial article by Cavan Sieczkowskie at The Huffington Post (USA), 19 February 2015 :-

      'In 1935, Sigmund Freud penned a response to a mother who had asked him for help with her gay son. Despite the broader perceptions of homosexuality at the time, Freud took a different approach, telling the woman it's "nothing to be ashamed of."
      "I gather from your letter that your son is a homosexual. I am most impressed by the fact that you do not mention this term for yourself in your information about him. May I question you why you avoid it?" he wrote. "Homosexuality is assuredly no advantage, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation; it cannot be classified as an illness; ....
....  [Page One of the letter includes the following paragraph, with a more expansive assessment following :- ]
      'By asking me if I can help, you mean, I suppose, if I can abolish homosexuality and make normal heterosexuality take its place. The answer is, in a general way we cannot promise to achieve it. In a certain number of cases we succeed in developing the blighted germs of heterosexual tendencies, which are present in every homosexual in the majority of cases it is no more possible. It is a question of the quality and the age of the individual. The result of treatment cannot be predicted.  .... '
----  see more of Sigmund Freud's 1935 opinions about gays in Cavan Sieczkowskie's revealing article at at :- 

Monday, February 23, 2015

INSPIRED OSCAR'S SPEECH by screenwriter of "The Imitation Game" ...

INSPIRING OSCAR SPEECH: Screenwriter Graham Moore
----  excerpts from a news report by Hayden Manders at Refinery 29 (USA), 23 February 2015 :-

      'Some of the speeches at the 87th Academy Awards have been short, sweet, and insider-y. Others, like Graham Moore's for Adapted Screenplay, speak to a larger, more universal topic.
      Moore scored the Oscar for his work on The Imitation Game, the movie that, on the surface, deals with Alan Turing's quest to crack the Nazi enigma code during World War II. The Imitation Game, however, was more than just a war film; it explored Alan Turing's personal trials as a homosexual living in Britain at a time when homosexuality was considered a crime. Turing's story was, for whatever reason, widely unknown to popular culture until Moore's film hit Hollywood.       [Turing was posthumously pardoned by the British government for his "crime" in 2013 - sixty-eight years after its supposed committal.] So, when Moore won this evening, he used his time in the spotlight to inspire weirdness.  .... '
----  see Graham Moore's inspiring show-stopper Oscar speech in the sidebar, & read of its background in at :- 

M/M ROMANCE | The fascination women have with two guys falling in love ...

M/M ROMANCE | The new 'old' love stories
----  the opening pars of a popular-literature report by Victoria Sue at USA Today (US), 23 February 2015 :-

      'Victoria Sue, author of Pure - Indulgence, talks with Damon Suede about why male/male romance is so dang appealing to so many romance readers.
Victoria: So what is it? This complete fascination women have for reading about two guys falling in love? (And often having lots of really hot sex.)
      In 2009 on Goodreads, a book discussion group formed to discuss M/M (male/male) romance beginning with 11 members. That community has grown to almost 17,000 members and has become the fifth-most-popular group on Goodreads. A staggering expansion. ....
....  Published in 2011, Hot Head by Damon Suede showed two firemen falling in love in the aftermath of 9/11 and became a watershed novel for gay romance. It spent six months at No. 1 on Amazon's gay romance list and remains a perennial bestseller.
      Since that first novel, Damon Suede has become a hugely popular author, and I couldn't resist firing a few questions at him. (Actually, I was squealing in excitement and busy trying not to fall off the chair.)  .... '
----  see more about the publishing phenomenon of 'm/m romance' by Victoria Sue at www.usatoday.comat :- 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

THE OSCARS & Gay Rights ...

'THE IMITATION GAME' isn't really about gay rights. But its Oscars campaign is.
----  the introductory pars from an Oscars report by Hunter Schwartz at The Washington Post (USA), 21 February 2015 :-

      'In the campaign for this year's Oscars, a vote for "The Imitation Game" is a vote for gay rights and justice. At least, that's how its backers are framing it.
      The film is about Alan Turing, a British man who cracked a Nazi code during World War II and was later prosecuted because of a relationship he had with another man. It's up for eight awards at Sunday's Oscars, including Best Picture.
      As Charlie Rose said on "CBS This Morning" last month, if you poll 100 people in Hollywood about who's the most effective at getting their film's an Oscar win, it's Harvey Weinstein, whose company produced the film. And he's making a political argument for why the Academy should consider "The Imitation Game."
      A Weinstein Company video about the film posted online last month ties it closely to the gay-rights movement, with black-and-white photos of Turing interspersed with color photos of gay-rights demonstrations today.
      And then there's the quotes used by people like Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin ("Alan Turing is a hero to the LGBT community"), GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis ("'The Imitation Game" is an important film that preserves LGBT history"), Michael Kors and Anderson Cooper.  .... '
----  see more of Hunter Schwartz's observant report about the Oscars molvie candidate "The Imitation Game" at at :- 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

COMING HOME | A Chinese outreach to gays & their parents ...

"COMING HOME":  Celebrating a touching (gay) Chinese New Year
----  introducing a very heartening seven-minute crowd-sourced movie to touch the heart

      Over 700 million migrant workers from across China return to their parental homes this weekend with their families to celebrate the start of the Chinese Year of the Ram, which begins Thursday 19th February. This very simple but very affecting 7-minute (English-subtitled) movie made by PFLAG China really hits its mark and shows us something about China we may have never guessed.
       #PFLAG organizations all over the world do wonderful work, but this Chinese 'commercial' is particularly awesome :- it's PFLAG China's video urging people to embrace their queer children.
      It's a beautiful, sincere, heart-warming short video that all parents of LGBTQ people should see.
----  check it out in the sidebar opposite; or visit YouTube (with thanks) at :- 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

CLASSIC EROTICA in the 'Fifty Shades' era ...

Eight Classic Erotic Books That Aren't 'Fifty Shades of Grey'
---- the introductory pars of an essay about selections by Kathleen Wong at (USA), 11 February 2015 :-

      Defined as : "works of art or literature that deal with sex and are meant to cause sexual feelings" by Merriam-Webster, erotica's history dates all the way back to antiquity. The ancient Greek lyricist, Sappho, who inspired the term "lesbian" wrote erotic poems. Even Shakespeare wrote an erotic version of Venus and Adonis in the 16th century before Romeo and Juliet hit the scene.
      In the past century, erotic writings faced censorship, or at least were considered highly controversial. But these days, erotica has been popularized in big thanks to fan fiction outlets, which have a strong online presence.
      In 2012 half of Amazon's top-selling books were of a romantic nature. As for No. 1 — congrats, E. L. James. We compiled a list of significant works in erotica literature — because there is life outside of Fifty Shades of Grey. ( Note: Maybe don't read these while riding the bus.)  .... '
[Kathleen Wong's list of eight internationally-renown classics of erotica are :-
1. Kama Sutra by Vatsyayama.  2. Bared To You by Silvia Day.  3. Vox by Nicholson Baker.  4. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.  5. Fanny Hill by John Cleland.  6. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller.  7. Delta of Venus by Anias Nin.  &  8. The Story of O by Eurotica. - Ed.]
See Kathleen's list & descriptions at at :- 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

GAY ISSUES | GLAAD reports on increasing gay acceptance in US society ...

LGBT ISSUES | 'Accelerating Acceptance' Report Reveals Path Ahead
----  the opening pars from a news report by Curtis M. Wong at Huffington Post (USA), 14 February 2015 :-

      'While there have been some impressive gains in the fight for marriage equality as of late, acceptance of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community remains a divisive topic nationwide, according to a new report.
      Released Feb. 9, GLAAD's "Accelerating Acceptance" report found that 36 percent of respondents were still uncomfortable seeing a same-sex couple hold hands in public, while 34 percent said they would be uncomfortable attending a same-sex wedding.
      Meanwhile, 43 percent said they would feel uncomfortable bringing their child to a same-sex wedding, and 32 percent said they would feel uncomfortable learning that a family member identified as LGBT.
      Using research created by Harris Poll, the "Accelerating Acceptance" survey polled a total of 4,000 American citizens who identified as heterosexual.
      GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement that the report was indicative of the fact that LGBT acceptance "will not come from legislation or judicial decisions alone, but from a deeper understanding and empathy from Americans themselves."  .... '
---- see more of Curtis M. Wong's report at at :- 
----  and see too GLAAD's complete eight-page report at :- 

Friday, February 13, 2015

GAY BEARS | A look at a growing trend ...

The Bear Necessities
----  excerpts from a post by Alex V. Cipolle at Eugene Weekly (USA), 12 February 2015 :-

       'For a Wednesday night, it’s a good scene — a burly, handsome scene. I may be recently hitched, but I still get a little hot and bothered at the sight of some 30 men fraternizing in the dim light of Jameson’s, carousing at the long wood bar and slapping each other heartily on the back.
      And by bear hug, I mean both in the sense of big, beautiful embraces and bear hugs — as in the subculture in the gay community of men who embrace a more conventional, rugged masculinity, at least as far as appearances go. The terms “lumberjack” and “biker” are a good place to start; however, the community, I find, is much more nuanced.
      “For whatever reason, gay people like to create their own boxes within boxes,” says Marshall Collins, my bear ambassador for the night. “A bear is traditionally a gay guy who is of larger stature, hairy and just doesn’t fit the mold of what the media and news publications tell us a gay guy is supposed to look and act like.” .... '
----  see more of Alex V. Cipolle's insider's post about today's bears at :- 

Thursday, February 12, 2015


LOVE IS STRANGE review: A same-sex marriage sucker-punched by catastrophe
----  on the advent of St Valentine's Day, movie critic Peter Bradshaw at The Guardian (UK) endorses Ira Sach's new movie. These are the opening pars ...

      'John Lithgow and Alfred Molina star as a gay couple forced to live apart in Ira Sachs’s film composed in a minor key. [Ed.: Both actors are heterosexual, incidentally.]
      There is such unassuming artistry and maturity in this sweet, sad, wise movie by Ira Sachs, who has shown a flair for relationship nuance in films such as Keep the Lights On (2012) and his noir drama Married Life (2007). This is his best work yet: a wonderfully acted study in intimacy and the mystery of how much of our identity is invested in coupledom, especially in the long haul of marriage.
      Love is strange, says the title. Perhaps it gets stranger the longer you stay in love.
      John Lithgow and Alfred Molina play Ben and George, a gay couple in late middle age who live in New York City. Ben is an artist who is the financially dependent one; George is a music teacher at a Catholic school who pays the bills on the apartment they have recently bought.
      After living together for 40 years, Ben and George take advantage of recent changes in state law and get married. The exuberant reception at their place for a wide, loving circle of friends and relatives is a happy affair, more an anniversary party than a wedding. It reminded me, perhaps oddly, of the family parties in Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), in which the characters played by Lloyd Nolan and Maureen O’Sullivan start singing boozily – but those traces of melancholy and regret are absent here. Later, Ben amiably says he spent the afternoon at the cinema, seeing a revival of Busby Berkeley’s The Gang’s All Here. Another very Woody Allen moment.  .... '
----  see more of Peter Bradshaw's insights into 'Love Is Strange' at :- 
----  see another review of this new movie at The Independent (UK) at :-
----  and see the movie's UK trailer in the sidebar, opposite.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

STEPHEN FRY applauds Her Majesty's gesture ...

---- as widely reported in the global press

      British actor, comedian, quiz-master & adorable raconteur Stephen Fry reports he believes his recent marriage (under new UK Law) to Elliot Spencer was cheerfully endorsed by no less a personage of regal countenance than Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
      Or so says Stephen Fry.
      Appearing as a guest on the Jonathan Ross Show (7 February UK) to speak about his recent very private wedding to Elliott, Stephen revealed that the Queen, though officially politically neutral, is delighted with the turn of events in same-sex equality:
"It was only last summer that Her Majesty gave official Royal Assent. When the Queen signed the Royal Assent for British Parliament's 'Equal Marriages Act', allowing gay people to marry for the first time in British history, she put it down and said 'Well, who’d have thought 62 years ago when I came to the throne, I’d be signing something like this? Isn’t it wonderful?"
----  check the YouTube video in the sidebar of the 48-minute The Jonathan Ross Show of 7th February & select the relevant 5-min segment with Stephen (at 5.40-to-10.20) to hear it for yourself.

Monday, February 9, 2015


UNC writer Correll Comer explores the history of Valentine's Day from ancient Rome to present day. Excerpts from a post published at The Mirror (USA), 8 February 2015 :- 

      Valentine’s Day is all about roses, heart-shaped candies, boxes of chocolates, romance and animal sacrifices – yes, animal sacrifices. While the international holiday of love and romance is now what some call a massive consumer holiday, during which new and seasoned couples have an excuse to indulge in the name of love, it is a far, far cry from what Valentine’s Day looked like back in the third century A.D.
      While the actual history of Valentine’s Day is riddled with mystery, there are a few things historians do know. The association between romance and mid-February can be traced back to the 3rd century A.D., when a Pagan, ancient Roman fertility festival called Lupercalia took place in mid-February. However, these festivities were nothing like any sort of festival one might attend today.
      Their party started with an animal sacrifice, followed by the ritualistic slapping of women with strips of the animal’s skin and blood, which was believed to bestow fertility on them for the coming year. Not the most romantic of activities.
      In the 5th century A.D., Pope Gelasius declared February 14th as Saint Valentine’s Day as a means to “Christianize” the events. But who was Saint Valentine?  .... '
----  see more of Correll Comer's brief history of Valentine's Day at :- 

Sunday, February 8, 2015


Pope Endorses Referendum Denying Marriage and Adoption Rights To Same-Sex Couples
----  selected pars from a news report posted by J. Lester Feder, Buzzfeed's Foreign Correspondent, at Buzzfeed (USA), 5 February 2015 :-

      'Pope Francis encouraged “everyone to continue their efforts in defense of the family” ahead of a vote Saturday on an anti-LGBT referendum in Slovakia. Pope Francis gave his blessing on Wednesday to a referendum that would ban marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples in Slovakia, which will be voted on this Saturday.
      “I greet the pilgrims from Slovakia and, through them, I wish to express my appreciation to the entire Slovak church, encouraging everyone to continue their efforts in defense of the family, the vital cell of society,” Francis said during Wednesday’s general audience in Rome. ....
....  “For first time in Slovak modern history the Catholic Church is heavily involved in political campaign,” said Martin Macko, executive director of the LGBT rights group Inokost. The Slovak referendum follows the success of a similar ballot measure in another Catholic-majority Eastern European country, Croatia, which adopted a ban on recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples in December.  .... '
----  see more of J. Lester Feder's report at at :-
----  UPDATE 9 Feb: See "Low turnout stops Slovakian anti-gay vote" at The Scotsman (UK) at :-

Thursday, February 5, 2015


INDIA: Despite Social Turmoil, Mumbai's 7the Pride Parade Sees Record Turnout
----  the opening pars from a substantial news post by Charles Pulliam-Moore at Towleroad (UK), 5 February 2015 :-

      'Mumbai’s seventh annual Pride Parade brought together hundreds of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered members of the city’s queer community. The overwhelming joy and irreverence of the most recent parade belies the Indian government’s recent trend of backsliding on LGBT rights in the country.
      In 2009 The High Court of Delhi ruled that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalized homosexuality, was unconstitutional. The law had been in place since 1860 when it was first implemented under the British occupation of India. In 2013, however the Indian Supreme Court overruled the decision, stating that repealing the Penal Code was a decision best left to the country’s Parliament, rather than its Judicial body.
      Since then the Indian government has slowly continued to chip away at the rights of its queer citizens by denying same-sex couples equal adoption rights and going so far as to suggest state-backed initiatives to “cure” queer youth.  .... '
----  see more of Charles Pulliam-Moore's report, & the accompanying video, at the always-interesting site at :- 

Monday, February 2, 2015

GAY MANGA | Nine manga artists on the vanguard ...

MASSIVE: Gay Erotic Manga And The Men Who Make It
----  excerpts from a YouTube post by Graham Kolbeins about a new direction on the Japanese art form 'manga', 5 January 2015 :-

      'Two years ago, Anne Ishii and I visited Tokyo and Sapporo to meet and interview nine artists on the vanguard of gay Japanese comics, including Gengoroh Tagame, Jiraiya, Takeshi Matsu, and Seizoh Ebisubashi. What these masterful artists had to say provided the foundation for the first English-language primer on the subject, "Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It," published by Fantagraphics Books and designed by the legendary Chip Kidd.

      To celebrate the release of "Massive," we threw a party at DOOP in Tokyo's gay district, Shinjuku Ni-chome. See the 5-minute YouTube video in the sidebar.
      Get more about MASSIVE at
      ----  and see another report about MASSIVE at Den of Geek (USA) at :-

Saturday, January 31, 2015

HALLMARK's lesbian ad campaign goes mainstream ...

HALLMARK tries out gay ads
----  a news report by Niko Bell at DailyXtra (Canada), 30 January 2015 :-

      'Hallmark tries out gay ads.
      Saccharine love notes aren’t only for straights anymore. While the greeting card company has been making gay-marriage cards since 2008, Hallmark is really diving into the gay pool with a new ad campaign featuring a lesbian couple. “You know gay ads have gone mainstream when even Hallmark is making them,” writes Adweek.  ... '
----see Niko Bell's report at at :- 
----  & check-out the 2-minute video in the sidebar opposite.

Friday, January 30, 2015

GAY GENES | Nature or nurture? 20-Year Old Gene Research Confirmed: It's Nature ! ...

Gay gene study replicated more than 20 years later
----  brief excerpts from a video news report by Andrew Pereira at KITV (Hawaii, USA), 30 January 2015 :-
      'Mention this topic in almost any setting, and you're sure to spark a debate. Are you born gay, or is it simply an alternative lifestyle?
  • More than 20 years ago geneticist and National Institutes of Health researcher Dean Hamer made a splash and created controversy when he released a study that pinpointed two chromosomes where a gay gene or genes could be located. But it was one chromosome in particular, Xq28, that held the most promise.
          "And that indicated there was something in there, some gene or genes that was somehow tipping the balance for people being gay as opposed to heterosexual," Hamer said in an interview with KITV4. Hamer’s 1993 study examined about 40 pairs of brothers who were both gay and found many of them shared genetic material in the Xq28 chromosome. Although the study was peer-reviewed, the sample size left some critics wondering whether it was valid.         "Most of the scholarly research for a generation now has indicated that sexual preference is a genetic issue, it's not a personal choice issue,” said John Hart, chair and professor of Hawaii Pacific University’s Department of Communication. “Now what we're doing is chasing down exactly what is that genetic cause."  .... '
----  see more of KITV's report in both their video link (above) or in text at :- 

BISEXUAL WOMEN | "The right way to act"...

Yes, Bisexuality Is Real
----  three selected pars from a revealing extended post by Rachel Kramer Bussell at Alternet (USA), 19 January 2015 :-

        'In the new film Appropriate Behavior, bisexual protagonist Shirin—played by writer/director Desiree Akhavan—has a conversation with her brother about her romantic life that goes like this:
“Maxine and I were in a relationship.”
“So you’re a lesbian?”
“I was pretty into all the guys I was with so I think I’m bisexual.”
“And that’s a thing?”
      Yes, it’s a thing; but it’s also many different things. In the film, Shirin’s brother goes on to ask whether she needs to come out to her parents, now that her lesbian relationship is over. But his fictional ignorance reflects so much real-life ignorance. Last year, in Slate’s Dear Prudence column, Emily Yoffe advised a bisexual woman in a monogamous marriage to a man against disclosing her sexual orientation—apparently bisexuality should only be made public when it’s being “acted on”—in bed.  ....
....  The bottom line is there’s no one “right” way to be or act or love or be out as bisexual. Andre says, “One of the best things a woman can do, if it is safe for her to do so, is to come out and be out, to be a role model for others and show them that bisexuality exists and is valid and something to be celebrated.” Of course, in doing so, you may be taking a risk, because you will almost certainly find yourself contending with other people’s ignorance, their confusion, and the assumptions they make about what your sexuality means, because of the way people have been socialized—both by the mainstream straight world and the queer world—to regard bisexuality. .... '
----  The full-length original of this piece first appeared in DAME. The entire essay by Rachel Kramer Bussell was republished in at :-
----  the trailer for the movie Appropriate Behavior can be viewed in the sidebar, opposite.

Thursday, January 29, 2015


Stephen Fry & Benedict Cumberbatch campaign to pardon gay men convicted with Alan Turing, "Imitation Game"codebreaker
----  as the new Alan Turing biog movie circulates the globe, we introduce brief excerpts from a news item reported by Helen Nanias at the Belfast Telegraph (Northern Ireland), 27 February 2015 :-

      'Stephen Fry and Benedict Cumberbatch have joined the campaign to rewrite history for the 49,000 British men who were persecuted for being gay along with Enigma codebreaker Alan Turing.
      Turing was convicted of gross indecency and sentenced to chemical castration in 1952, for the simple fact that he was gay. Homosexuality was only decriminalised in 1967, but which point Turing had already died of [self-administered] cyanide poisoning. In 2013, the Queen issued a pardon for his "crime", finally wiping clean his record.
      Cumberbatch played the mastermind behind the World War 2 Enigma story in the film The Imitation Game, and says this is not good enough. "Alan Turing was not only prosecuted, but quite arguably persuaded to end his own life early, by a society who called him a criminal for simply seeking out the love he deserved, as all human beings do," Cumberbatch wrote to the Hollywood Reporter.
        In a moving speech, Fry said that pardoning Turing must only be the start of honouring the man dubbed the "father of computing".
      "Should Alan Turing have been pardoned just because he was a genius when somewhere between 50 to 70 thousand other men were imprisoned, chemically castrated, had their lives ruined or indeed committed suicide because of the laws under which Turing suffered?" Fry said.  .... '
----  see more of Helen Nanias's report at www.belfast at :- 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

GAY HISTORY on Auschwitz Liberation Day ...

Last Victims of Last Bombing Raid Were Gay Concentration Camp Inmates
----  on the day celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the liberation from the Nazis of Auchwitz Concentration Camp in Poland, we offer brief excerpts from a special report posted at Antinous the Gay God (Europe/USA), 27 January 2015 :-

      ' ....  As we honor the men who wore the Pink Triangles, we remember the hundreds who endured a forced march to the sea ...  Auschwitz was liberated by the Red Army on January 27th, 1945, and the pictures of skeletal camp inmates shocked the world.
      In response, Heinrich Himmler issued an order to all camp commandants that they were to ensure that no camp inmates should ever fall into the hands of Allied forces. He didn't specify what they should do, leaving it in the hands of camp commandants.
      Some commandants at Dachau and other camps, began gassing all surviving inmates so that none would be left alive. Others began evacuating their inmates. Hundreds of homosexuals were interned at Neuengamme Concentration Camp near Hamburg, Germany. 
      The camp commandant ordered them to leave their camp on a forced march to the Baltic Sea, 100 kms (60 miles) away, where the converted cruise liner Cap Arcona was at anchor. This was in mid-May 1945. Hitler was dead. The Allies were advancing on all fronts. 
      Everyone knew that the war was over. All the inmates had heard the news. British forces had dropped leaflets saying they would be in Hamburg within hours.
      And yet these men were sent on a Death March march to the sea. Stragglers were shot. Others died of exhaustion.  .... '
----  read what happened next to the survivors in this appalling tale of man's inhumanity-to-man at the ever-pertinent site Antinous the Gay God, and why the symbol of the Pink Triangle remains a a potent reminder of the suffering of gay people under the Nazis & those global events of 70 years ago at :-

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:

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 ...



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

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

How bad hair days can signify something important ...


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

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

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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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.