COOL GAY STUFF is a news-watch hot-sheet of LGBT-friendly highlights from around the Net. They're intros to gay-themed or gay-interest gems you may have missed. These point you to their originating sites. Yet these snippets are NOT only for gay guys & gals, so there's no overt porn nor NSFW stuff here. But please allow A FULL 20 SECS for all sources to load properly.

Offer your comments at the originating sites, they'd really welcome it. Links are provided.

Your host, novelist George Gardiner, opens with eye-candy items & details of his widely-praised historical romance"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 & his famously-hunky 'Favorite', Antinous of Bithynia. Paperback & ebook options are shown. Then 30 recent gay-friendly news reports, regularly updated, precede a final sampler of interesting LGBT miscellany.

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

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH plays the gay WWII genius Turing ...

"The Imitation Game is an historical drama film about British mathematician, cryptanalyst and computer scientist Alan Turing, a key figure in cracking Nazi Germany's Enigma code that helped the Allies win World War II. He was later criminally prosecuted for his homosexuality.[6][7][8] It stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing. The film will feature in the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival in September and will have its European premiere as the opening film of the BFI London Film Festival on 08 October 2014.[14] It will be released theatrically on 21 November 2014 in the United States. (With thanks to Wikipedia.)

NOW MEET HISTORY'S FIRST 'OUT' SAME-SEX COUPLE : Hadrian Caesar & Antinous ...

.... The two pages below highlight your host George Gardiner's recently-published historical mystery/romance/erotica novel "THE HADRIAN ENIGMA: A Forbidden History". But 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 pic for direct link to its Amazon USA page to check reviews, prices, & purchase a paperback or Kindle ebook.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

THE HADRIAN ENIGMA: A Forbidden History
A novel
(C) George Gardiner
ISBN13: 978-0-9807469-1-4 (at Amazon USA, UK, Europe, Australia etc) in 498-page paperback or Kindle ebook.
Also iBookstore, iPad, Nook & ePub ebook formats etc available via online sources, including Lulu.

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

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

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

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

Buy only online (not in street stores), CLICK NOW ON A LINK BELOW to select best delivery options ...

For an Amazon USA paperback :

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

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

for Amazon UK :

Plus ...

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

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

... if you have arrived at this blog via BING Search or an archived post link, you may see your item immediately below this message (or be told the post is deleted). But: THE CURRENT MONTH'S 25 OTHER POSTS WILL HAVE BEEN DISPLACED OR REMOVED TO DO SO (making side-column pics & videos far off-topic). To restore things to their proper view, click on our blogspot's url address, in blue here :-

Everything will be magically restored to correct view ...


Monday, August 25, 2014

GAY PORN | The women market ...

'Watching two handsome guys? There's nothing better.' How women fell for gay porn.
----  brief excerpts from a revealing post by Kaite Welsh at The Telegraph (UK), 25 August 2014 :-

      'It's been quietly gaining popularity for some time. Now, there can be little doubt: the internet has turned women on to the joys of gay porn. They're watching, writing and even directing it. ....
....  Because, while 'lesbian porn' has long done a roaring trade among straight men, it seems a growing number of women are turning to man-on-man action to get them going. Indeed, there's an entire subculture of women who believe that, in the words of one online viewer, “there's nothing better than watching two handsome guys f******.” ....
....  One of these ‘porn mums’ is 38-year-old Debbie, who runs fansite Foxygirls.
      “I wasn't ever a great watcher of porn and felt shocked at how bad most of the heterosexual porn was," she tells me. "It all seemed so fake and the guys were generally unattractive."
      Then she stumbled across a man-on-man scene. "It was just so different to any other porn I had seen, with real, intense chemistry and models that were obviously having a good time.” .... '
----  see more of this unexpected phenomenon by Kaite Welsh at at :- 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

GAY MASCULINITY | A shifting vision ...

In a Changing America, Gay Masculinity Has Many Different Shades
----  brief excerpts from a substantial post by Luke Runyon at NPR (USA), 22 August 2014 :-

      ' Life as a gay man in the U.S. has changed in the past decade — the law and cultural attitudes toward homosexuality have shifted. And those greater social and legal freedoms have also changed how some gay men choose to express their masculinity — and their femininity.
      That's true for several players with the Colorado Rush, a gay rugby team in Denver [Colorado]. On a warm, breezy Saturday, about two dozen men in vibrant jerseys and shorts squat and lunge their way across a rugby field. Today's practice has the players tackling each other and running drills. With its traditionally bulkier players and brutal man-on-man tackles, the sport can be almost hypermasculine.  ....
....  After practice, a few players stop to talk about masculinity — and what that concept means to them.
"What makes or breaks a rugby player is their attitude," says Jeremy Ballard, 33. "It's a mental component. It's not, like, how buff they are or how big they are, or whatever. It's all in your head and what kind of attitude you bring to the pitch — and to me, that's masculinity."
      But when the conversation broadens from definitions of masculinity on the rugby field, Ballard says, "I would say in a lot of ways, I definitely carry myself as a man, I feel like I'm a man, but I definitely have feminine qualities. Like my voice tends to be more feminine. I'm emotional."
      And that's at the heart of modern gay masculinity — it's a spectrum.  .... '
---- see more of Luke Runyon's fascinating inquiry into gay masculinities in the US today at at :- 

Friday, August 22, 2014

GAY VOICES | The issue of intimacy ...

Sex, Intimacy, & Being Gay
---  a brief excerpt from a challenging opinion piece by J Nelson Aviance at the Huff Post Gay Voices, 21 August 2014 :-

      '  ....  When was the last time I read something in the LGBTQ media about sex as communication between partners? Maybe I'm not reading the right magazines. Perhaps lesbian-centered media talk more about it. Certainly I can't remember the last time I read anything about sex and intimacy in media focused on gay men. But why not?
      As I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that gay male culture in general doesn't talk about intimacy between partners, or at least either not in the same way or not as often as happens elsewhere. There's plenty of talk about sex; we are a very sexually permissive group. But there are ways in which sexuality for gay men is complicated beyond fighting broad systems of oppression. There are ways in which that oppression, especially isolation and rejection from families, has damaged many of us. .... '
----  see more of J Nelson Aviance's views on gay intimacy at at :- 
----  a long-running site which often raises issues of interpersonal intimacy can be found at GayTogether (USA) at :-

Thursday, August 21, 2014

COOL SHADES OF GAY ... six gays interpret the 'Fifty Shades' canon

Gay Men Read '50 Shades of Grey' 
----  view a video (in the right-hand column) where six young Los Angeles (USA) gay men, each wonderfully ditsy about the wilder shores of hetero sexual modes, deeply plumb the shallow depths of this global publishing phenomenon. Assembled by Neil McNeil (contact details below), their combined surprises about 'Fifty Shades' provides us instead with an hilariously icky insight into 'Six Shades of Gay'. Love 'em all. Bravo, guys! What fun. It helps us realize there are even weirder things going on in the universe beyond our wee, tiny vision.
      Neil McNeil tells us :- 'I got some of my favorite homos together and had them read passages from the questionably popular 50 Shades of Grey. They had no idea what to expect and I think I scarred them for life.'
Twitter - @Neil_McNeil
Instagram - NeilMcNeil
Facebook -
Tumblr - http://my-name-is-really-neil-mcneil....

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

LESBIANS HAVE THE MOST ORGASMS ... a new study reveals

Lesbians have the most orgasms : Study
----  two brief excerpts from an article by Jenny Kuttner in (USA), 20 August 2010 :-

      'Women have the least predictable, most varied orgasm experiences -- unless they're having sex with other women. Lesbians are having more orgasms than other women, according to science. New research published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine shows distinct differences in orgasm rates across sexual orientations, indicating that women who regularly have sex with women climax more frequently than women who have sex with men.  ....
....  The study offers a few possible explanations for the difference, including the hypothesis that “self-identified lesbian women are more comfortable and familiar with the female body and thus, on average, are better able to induce orgasm in their female partners.”  .... '
---- see more of this revealing report by Jenny Kuttner at at :-

Monday, August 18, 2014

GAY GAMES | Chez Paree for '18 ...

Gay Games Moving To Paris in 2018
----  excerpts from a news reportt by New Now Next staff  (USA), 17 August 2014 :-

      'After a successful run in Cleveland, Ohio, this year, the Gay Games will travel across the Atlantic to Paris, France, when they return in 2018.
      “We have spent such a magic week,” Paris 2018 co-president Manuel Picaud said during the closing ceremony for this year’s games. ....
....  The Games 9 drew around 9,000 participants to Cleveland over the past week  .... The games started in 1982 and have previously been held in Germany, Canada and Australia.  ....
....  Paris organizers hope the Games 10 will help ease some of the homophobic attitudes present in European sports. “They feel there is a lot of work still to be done, even in places like Paris.  .... '
----  see more of the original report at at :-

Saturday, August 16, 2014

COOL GAY CINEMA | Eroticism for the indie movie aficionado ...

COOL GAY CINEMA | "I Am Happiness On Earth" (Mexico 2014)
----  a trailer for a contemporary erotic gay movie
      'Directed by Julian Hernandez, one of Mexico's most famous directors (Broken Sky, Raging Sun Raging Sky), I AM HAPPINESS ON EARTH is a tale of a man struggling with the line between his sexually charged reality and this equally arousing cinematic creations. His boldly poetic romance compares with such films as Fellini's 8 1/2, exploring the connections between sex, love and creativity.
----  On DVD & on demand from 11th August. Order now from Amazon:
---- & or check at YouTube at :-

COOL GAY GIRLS | A cheery insight into contemporary queer women ...

We've won, lesbians. We've penetrated the  realm of emojis
---- the opening pars from "sapphic cynic at large", Eleanor Margolis, at New Statesman (UK), 15 August 2014 :-

      'Snark aside, queer women should never be invisible. If you’re in the middle of writing an earnest blog post about lesbian invisibility, stop this second. If you’re at a protest against lesbophobia, a fundraiser for lesbians with allergies, or a dyke march, go home now. After a struggle that can be traced back millennia, to Sappho’s fight for her right to mournfully finger women on an island, the battle is finally over. And ladies, we won. We’ve done it, lesbians, we’ve penetrated the realm of emojis.
      Emojis, of course, are those tiny pictures of things you send to people in texts/WhatsApp messages, etc when you’re feeling intimidated by the richness and depth of language, and are looking to outsource your creativity. “I’m facing a level of existential doubt and dissatisfaction heretofore unbeknownst to mankind. Words fail me; here’s a little tractor instead.”  .... '
----  see more of Eleanor Margolis' whimsical appraisal of the importance of emojis for gay women at new at :-

Thursday, August 14, 2014

COOL GAY MOVIE | "Love Is Strange" ... US release 22 August

New Wave of Queer Directors Looking to Change Hollywood's LGBTQ Portrayals
----  extracts from a substantial report by Ramin Setoodeh at Variety (USA), 14 August 2014 :-

       “Love Is Strange” is one of the rare movies anchored by gay characters not defined by sex. The story is set in a post-gay-rights Manhattan where marriage is legal for George (Alfred Molina) and Ben (John Lithgow), longtime partners who get hitched in a local park, surrounded by their closest friends. To fund the $1.2 million drama, which Sony Pictures Classics will platform release Aug. 22, director Ira Sachs turned to his community for help. “I got financing from 25 individuals, the majority of whom were retired lesbian businesswomen,” says Sachs  ....
....  If not for its unconventional financing, “Love Is Strange” might never have found its way to the big screen. While gay rights have advanced tremendously since Ellen DeGeneres kicked down the closet door in 1997 as the first gay star in primetime television, Hollywood hasn’t kept up with the times. A recent survey from GLAAD shows that only 17% of the major studio films last year featured gay characters. None of those were lead roles, and they often came across as offensive stereotypes (such as the promiscuous butler who hosts an orgy in “The Wolf of Wall Street”). “Do I think the industry is still skittish?” asks veteran Broadway producer Jayne Baron Sherman, who helped make “Love Is Strange.” “Absolutely. Hollywood is very closeted.” .... '
----  see more of Ramin Setoodeh's report at at :- 
----  & see too a winning review by Andrew O'Hehir at, 22 August 2014 :-

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

GEORGE R.R. MARTIN's answer to "Where's the gay sex in 'Game of Thrones'? ...

"GAME OF THRONES":  George R.R. Martin Explains Lack of Gay Sex Scenes in 'Song of Ice and Fire' 
----  brief excerpts from a report by Jon Blistein at Rolling Stone magazine (USA), 12 August 2014 :-

      'George R.R. Martin explained that the near-absence of gay and bisexual sex from his A Song of Ice and Fire series was an issue of storytelling and character viewpoints, noting the TV adaptation, Game of Thrones — which has been more forward about highlighting such relationships — does not have those constraints, The Guardian reports.
      Speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on Monday night, Martin said that his storytelling is limited because he writes through "viewpoint" characters, and so far none of those characters have been gay. "Frankly it is the way I prefer to write fiction because that is the way all of us experience life. You're seeing me from your viewpoint, you're not seeing what someone over here is seeing."
      Martin does have two more books left in his saga (possibly even three) and did say a shift was possible in the future, but only if it fit the story: "I'm not going to do it just for the sake of doing it. If the plot lends itself to that — if one of my viewpoint characters is in a situation, then I'm not going to shy away from it — but you can't just insert things because everyone wants to see them." Noting that fans have written him about including a more "explicit male sex scene," Martin added of his writing process, "It is not a democracy. If it was a democracy, then Joffrey would have died much earlier than he did."
----  read more of Jon Blistein's report at at :-

Monday, August 11, 2014

DANIEL RADCLIFFE says 'What If' ...

Daniel Radcliffe Talks About Gay Inclusion & His Comfort With Being Naked
----  excerpts from a movie report by Tim Isaac at Big Gay Picture Show (USA), 9 August 2014 :-

      'Daniel Radcliffe may only be 25, but he’s fast being one of the most outspoken and steadfast of LGBT allies (the fact he grew up around gay people who were always part of his life helped set him on this path).
With his new movie, What If, hitting hitting cinemas, he’s been chatting to Out & The Advocate  about the film, and also plenty of other things.  ....
....  He also talks about whether he thinks more films will be made in the future that are like What If, but centring on same sex couples. Radcliffe comments, “I still think we’ve got a ways to go before we see more types of films like What If made with same-sex couples.  ....
....  “The way gay people have been depicted [in entertainment] has changed so much in the last few years and hopefully that is what is normalizing it for everyone. Just look at characters like Cam and Mitch from Modern Family. They are hugely successful and get to every region of the country.  ....
....   I do think that in the next generation we will see an even bigger difference in how gay people are shown in the media and in film because people are getting over it, finally.”  .... '
----  see much more of Tim Isaac's interesting interview with (het) Daniel Radcliffe at at :-
----  & check the 2'30" YouTube trailer for 'What If' in the sidebar, opposite.

PRESIDENT OBAMA supports Gay Games ...

President Obama welcomes athletes to Gay Games 2014
----  the opening pars from a news report by Michael Key at the Washington Blade (USA), 10 August 2014 :-

      'CLEVELAND — President Barack Obama gave a surprise video address at the Opening Ceremony of the International Gay Games in Cleveland on Saturday. The thousands of athletes and spectators from around the world who gathered in the Quicken Loans Arena stood and cheered throughout much of the video. The president reiterated his administration’s commitment to LGBT rights internationally, speaking directly to the attendees who were from nations where coming out can come “at great personal risk.”
      “You should know that the United States stands with you and for your human rights, just as our athletes stand with you on the field at these games,” Obama said in the video. [A full transcript of the video follows,]
----  see more of Michael Key's report at at :-
----  or check the YouTube video in the sidebar, opposite.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

GAY NEWS | Amsterdam's gay Jews rally ...

Things get political on Amsterdam's Jewish gay love boat
Surrounded by a police escort, parade participants fly a rainbow flag emblazoned with a Star of David as spectators wave Israeli flags in solidarity [See side column]
----  brief excerpts from a substantial news report by Cnaan Liphshiz at the Times of Israel (Israel), 8 August 2014 :-

      'AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Its passengers included celebrities, a rabbi and revelers in biblically themed costumes, but the Jewish boat at Amsterdam’s gay pride parade stood out for more than just its riders.
      Following a west-to-east course along the Dutch capital’s Prinsengracht canal on Saturday along with dozens of similarly flamboyant vessels, the Jewish boat was the only one in the parade isolated by police. Two boats with three officers each escorted the ship, while two additional agents sailed aboard the Jewish boat itself.
      With increased violence aimed of late at Jews in the Netherlands and across Europe, authorities weren’t taking any chances.
      “We’d planned this just to show that we [gay Jews] exist as a community but with all that’s happened, I’m now here to stand up for our rights also as Jews to live as equals without threats by those who want to see Jews or gays silent or dead,” said Gideon Querido van Frank, the Jewish boat’s chief organizer, who boarded the boat wearing a Bronze Age soldier outfit laced with glitter.
      As Israel’s military campaign in Gaza unfolded over the past month, acts of violence and intimidation have risen in Holland, threatening the country’s reputation for tolerance. .... ' 
----  read more of Cnaan Liphshiz' report at at :-

Thursday, August 7, 2014

COOL GAY VIDEO | Asbjorn musical lyricism ...

Music video by Asbjørn performing 'The Love You Have In You'. © 2014 Body of Work
----  see the elegant, if challenging, 5'20" YouTube video & contact details in the sidebar, opposite.

Easy tiger
We started it and we will end it
Every man I've ever loved has lost his way for a woman

Pseudo visions
Disillusions of a young heart
Whether I want it not I will lose my way for a man

Lose yourself to all the love you have in you
No one knows exactly what you do
Lose yourself to all the love you have in you
and I will know exactly what to do

My dear tiger
Use your power to unite us
'cause everybody going towards a separate goal
And every word you say could turn my world around
And the funny thing about it is that no one else will know

Lose yourself to all the love you have in you
No one knows exactly what you do
Lose yourself to all the love you have in you
and I will know exactly what to do

I will love you

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Oral vs. Penetration at ...

Why do so many straight women prefer penetration to oral sex? 
Vlogger Arielle Scarcella wants to know: Are lesbian vaginas somehow different from straight ones?
----  opening pars from a candid post by Jenny Cutner at Salon (USA), 2 August 2014 :-

      'Popular vlogger Arielle Scarcella — known for her YouTube series “Lesbians Explain,” in which a panel of lesbians take on a variety of topics from “How Two Girls Have Sex” to “Why Straight Girls Love Lesbian Porn” — has taken on an important undertaking, with fascinating (if not entirely scientific) results. Her inquiry: Why do straight women prefer penetration, while lesbians overwhelmingly prefer oral sex?
Scarcella did a bit of background research in the weeks before she released her new “Straight Girls Explain” video, asking 500 of her straight-identifying female viewers and 500 lesbian viewers whether they prefer oral sex to penetration. She found that while 55 percent of straight women preferred penetration, just 25 percent of lesbian viewers felt the same. So, for her follow up, Scarcella tried to figure out why.  .... '
----  see more of this challenging article by Jenny Cutner, with its video links, at at :-
[Jenny Kutner is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on sex, gender, love and feminism.]

FREDDIE MERCURY to be played by 'out' UK actor ....

UK Actor Ben Wishaw Talks About The 'Tension' Of Coming Out
----  excerpts from a showbiz report by Tim Isaac at Big Gay Picture Show (UK), 4 August 2014 :-

      ' James Bond and Cloud Atlas actor Ben Whishaw has never shied away from playing gay or sexually fluid characters, but he’s always kept his private life close to his chest until exactly a year ago today, when his representatives confirmed that he had entered a civil partnership with another man in 2012.
      With Whishaw’s film, Lilting, hitting UK cinemas this week, the actor has been talking to The Sunday Times about the difficulties of coming out – something that’s particularly relevant to the movie, where he plays a man grieving for his dead boyfriend, who also has to deal with the fact his partner’s mother never knew her son was gay (you can read our review from the film’s BFI Flare screening here).
      Whishaw says of the difficulties of coming out, “It is hard, I applaud anyone who does it. There is so much tension around doing something like that, that maybe you’re not quite thinking rationally. You can say absurd things because you are in a panic.”  .... '
----  see more of Tim Isaac's revealing report on Ben Wishaw at the Big Gay Picture Show site at :-
[Ben Wishaw has be reported to be playing the role of deceased frontman of rock group QueenFreddie Mercury, in a forthcoming movie on the singer's life.]

Sunday, August 3, 2014

GAY ICON | Marilyn Monroe

Is Marilyn Monroe one of the ultimate gay icons?
---- the opening pars from a memory refresher by Bobby Hankinson at the ever-informative Towleroad (USA/UK) site, 2 August 2014 :-

      'There’s no doubt that Marilyn Monroe is all sorts of an icon. She’s an icon of femininity, an icon of sexuality, the iconic blonde bombshell. From her tumultuous and ultimately tragic history to her struggle with identity and hyper-sexual persona, she’s also been hailed as one of the ultimate gay icons.
      Yes, there’s the pout, the fluttering eyelashes, the image of the wanton woman who wore only Chanel No. 5 to bed. All that is part of the big persona that continues to be a cultural touchstone, recognizable decades after her death.
      However, like Judy Garland, what’s made her such an enduring legend among gay fans lies in the more tragic aspects of her story. Marilyn’s fight against her dumb blonde image, her troubles with men and her crippling insecurity, made her a relatable presence for many who struggle with their sexuality, coming out and finding acceptance.  .... '
---- see more of Bobby Hankinson's report about Marilyn at at :-
----  and read too the array of reader's comments which follow the Towleroad post.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

GAY HISTORY | The Homoerotics of Orientalism

GAY HISTORY | Homologous Tales of the Near East
---- the opening par of a review by Richard Canning of "The Homoerotics of Orientalism" (Joseph Allen Boone, Columbia Uni Press 2014), published at The Gay & Lesbian Review (USA), June 2014 :-

      'ONCE EVERY DECADE or so, a book appears that revolutionizes the field of GLBT studies. For many critics, Michel Foucault’s The History of Sexuality may have been that title in the 1970s. John Boswell’s Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality is surely the 1980s title. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s Epistemology of the Closet and Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble can lay claim to this achievement in the 1990s. In the intervening decades, however, there has been a sense of critics treading water—or at best extending rather than reassessing the tenets of structuralist and post-structuralist thinkers into marginally new contexts. .... '
---- see more of Richard Canning's review at at :-

Friday, August 1, 2014

GAY RIGHTS | Edmund White talks marriage equality ...

I Do, I Do
----  introductory excerpts from a substantial essay by Edmund White at The New York Review of Books (USA), 14 August 2014 Issue :-

      'And then came the demand for gay marriage. At first many gay progressives (including me) frowned on this initiative, since it seemed only one more example of assimilation. But we began to see that it was a cause worth fighting for.  ....  Gays were never so visible—in politics, on television, on Facebook. It was no longer on to be discriminating against lesbians or gays.  ....
....  Why did mainstream America come to accept marriage equality? Gay leaders had made a convincing case that gay families were like straight families and should have the same rights. The American spirit of fair play had been invoked. Gays had converted many people to the belief that they constituted a minority—like Jews or African-Americans or Asians. It was a strange sort of minority, truth be told, to which one’s parents didn’t belong and which was made up mostly of members who could “pass.” It was more an identity than a minority, an identity that one could assume at age six or sixty or never.
      A large part of the acceptance of gays depended on the notion that they didn’t choose their sexual identity but that it was somehow genetically determined.  ....  Chosen? We didn’t like that option, either—we couldn’t pinpoint the moment we’d “chosen” to be gay. We decided back then that all theories about the origins of homosexuality were prejudicial. No one theorized about how children became heterosexual, we argued, which seemed equally mysterious. We said that if one got pulled into an argument about what caused homosexuality, nature or nurture, gays would always lose. '
----  see more of Edmund White's interesting, expansive article at at :-

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

GAY LIFE | Witnessing the decline of a gay institution? ...

Your gay bar needs you!
----  brief excerpts from a whimsical opinion-piece by John Cahill at SameSame (Australia), 28 July 2014 :-

      '“The gay bar is dead,” declared a friend recently over his espresso martini. “This is the future.” He waved his hand around the small room of couches, lamps and beards in which we were seated. Hillbilly music fused with disco played in the background and food was being served on planks of wood. A girl behind us had just complained about getting a splinter in her tongue and we were drinking from tin cans. I didn’t know whether I was a bushranger or at Bunnings.
      Of course, neither was the case. We were at the opening of yet another inner city hipster bar made up to look like Nana’s good room in 1965, just without the plastic covering and fear of homosexuals.
      The room was full of hot young things with no apparent persuasion one way or the other. Why bother when you can confirm your intention with Grindr or Tinder later on? “We’re only ever one swipe away from a date,” said my friend as he ordered some activated almonds. “Gays don’t need their disco anymore. All they need is their iPhone.”
      I sipped on my canned Manhattan, conscious not to slice my tongue off, and thought to myself, is this it? Is the gay bar about to go the way of the DVD, CD and Paris Hilton?  .... '
----  see more of John Cahill's reflective view of the ever-shifting gay community scene - globally -  at at :-

"MAD MAX" RETURNS ... a blast from the past revives in 2015

"MAD MAX: Fury Road" shows its colors at Comic-Con 2014 (San Diego, US)
----  the crazed hyper-dystopic realm looms again for 2015

      Batten down the hatches. Hectic Mad Max is a 1979 Australian dystopian action film directed by George Miller, written by Miller, and starring the young Mel Gibson in his first major international success.          Now Oscar-winning filmmaker George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” revisits his own post-apocalyptic trilogy featuring the anti-hero Mad Max.
       Tom Hardy stars in Mel's original role of Max Rockatansky, alongside Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Zoe Kravitz, Riley Keough, Hugh Keays-Byrne and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
      Miller directed from a screenplay he wrote with Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris. Miller also produces. Scheduled for global release on May 15, 2015.
      Check the 3-min YouTube video in the sidebar screened at this year's Comic-Con 2014 recently.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

GAY ISSUES | UK Church confronts rapidly shifting beliefs & values ...

Right Wing Morality is Costing the Church of England Dearly
---- very brief excerpts from a substantial news report by Linda Woodhead at Religion Dispatches (USA), July 2014 :-

      'At last. The Church of England’s General Synod has voted to allow women bishops.  ....  The CofE remains the largest religious constituency in Britain, with a third of the population still calling themselves Anglican. But whether we look at church attendance, adherence, or baptism and funerals, decline is sharp. For those aged over-60, Anglican is the majority identity; for each younger generation it’s increasingly a minority identity. Only about five percent of young people now call themselves Anglican. ....
....  My surveys of Anglican beliefs and values show just how much the “values gap” between leaders and people has widened with every generation. Only 1% of Anglican churchgoers now say they rely on their religious leaders when seeking guidance and making decisions. When it comes to the two most controversial contemporary moral debates—on same-sex marriage and assisted dying—a majority of Anglicans are now in favour, whereas their leaders are united in opposition.  ....
....  Whatever their personal views, church leaders have stalled on the ordination of women because of their deference to two small but vocal minority parties within the CofE: Anglo-Catholics at one end of the ecclesiological spectrum, and the conservative evangelicals at the other. Together they represent less than 15% of Anglicans.  .... '
----  see more of this report by Linda Woodhead at at :-

Friday, July 25, 2014

"FIFTY SHADES" inspires 69 Kinky Tales ...

Erotic Novels vs Movies: Today interviews Cleis Press about the Fifty Shades of Grey movie
----  selected pars from a press release by PRWEB.Com (USA), 25 July 2014 :-

      'Brenda Knight, publisher of the top erotica press in the country Cleis Press, was interviewed by about the upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey movie and the popularity of erotica among women, especially the popularity of erotic movies. “Something changed, and women were not ashamed and embarrassed, and even considered it a bonding thing with girlfriends to have them over and make popcorn and open wine and watch movies that could be very cinematically graphic in how they deal with sexuality,” Knight said.  ....
      "That’s why Rachel Kramer Bussel, editor of a newly released anthology called “The Big Book of Submission: 69 Kinky Tales,” said women will demand the movie version of “Fifty Shades” give them the Full Monty."  ....
....  Whether literary fiction, human rights, mystery, romance, erotica, LGBTQ studies, sex guides, pulp fiction, or memoir, you know that if it's outside the ordinary, it's Cleis Press.'
Find at: The Big Book of Submission: 69 Kinky Tales  Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel.
----  see more of this publicity release at at :-

GENDER STUDIES | "But what do they do?" ...

Why So Many People Care So Much About Others' Sex Lives
A new study looks at the evolutionary psychology behind ideas of sexual morality. 
----  very brief excerpts from a fascinating report by Cari Romm at The Atlantic (USA), 22 July 2014 :-

      'Here’s a loaded question: Is casual sex immoral?  ....  the answer, clearly, depends on who’s being asked—but odds are that either way, they won’t feel tepid about it.
      Your answer may depend, at least in part, on where your money comes from (if you’re a woman) or where it goes (if you’re a man). At least, that’s the argument of a paper recently published in The Archives of Sexual Behavior, which found that promiscuity—by both men and women—is more likely to be considered a moral violation in places where women are economically dependent on men.  ....
....  Even now, so ingrained is the instinct to judge, it seems, that we do it even when our morals and our actions aren’t exactly congruous. A third of Americans told Gallup last month that they don’t believe in premarital sex—even though, as Emma Green recently noted, 95 percent of Americans were doing it as of 2006.
      So, again: Is casual sex immoral? The answer may change with place and time, but judging other people’s sex lives remains an act as innately human as sex itself.'
----  see more of Cari Romm's challenging report at at :-

Thursday, July 24, 2014

GAY ISSUE | Is Hollywood prejudiced? ...

Hollywood criticised for negative portrayal of LGBT characters
----  the opening pars from a news report by Ben Beaumont Thomas at The Guardian (UK/USA), 23 July 2014 :-

      'A study by the US gay rights campaigning organisation Glaad has found that only 17 of the 102 movies from major studios in 2013 featured lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters and, of those 17, the majority were offensive and defamatory portrayals.
      "The lack of substantial LGBT characters in mainstream film, in addition to the outdated humour and stereotypes, suggests large Hollywood studios may be doing more harm than good when it comes to worldwide understanding of the LGBT community," said Glaad CEO and president Sarah Kate Ellis. "These studios have the eyes and ears of millions of audience members and should reflect the true fabric of our society rather than feed into the hatred and prejudice against LGBT people too often seen around the globe." .... '
----  see more of Ben Beaumont Thomas's report at at :-

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


----  the opening pars to a post by Sunnivie Brydum at The Advocate (USA), 21 July 2014 :-

      'President Barack Obama made good on a 2008 campaign promise today when he signed two executive orders that will protect many LGBT people from discrimination in the workplace.
      By adding the words "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to two existing executive orders, the president made it illegal for companies that contract with the federal government to fire, decline to promote, or refuse to hire someone simply because they are LGBT. The order, which takes effect immediately, will protect an estimated 20 percent of American workers. .... '
----  see more about this historic occasion for the US LGBT community at at :-

Monday, July 21, 2014

COOL GAY GAMES? | A new development in the gamer community ...

GAY GAMES for Gamers? Dragon Age: Inquisition has Straight, Bisexual, & Gay Romance
----  an excerpt from a games news report by Emanuel Malberg at Gamespot (USA), 20 July 2014 :-

      "BioWare discusses how it builds its romances at GaymerX2. Dragon Age: Inquisition will have straight, bisexual, and gay character romances because they each tell different stories, BioWare has said.
      Lead writer for the Dragon Age series David Gaider made the comments during BioWare’s GaymerX2 panel last week titled Building a Better Romance. He explained that since there were only four character romances in Dragon Age II, they were all bisexual because the team wanted to make sure every player had some type of choice.
      “In Inquisition we got the go ahead to include a lot more total romances, so the decision was made that we don’t need to compromise,” Gaider said. “So we are going to have straight romances, alongside bisexual romances, alongside gay romances.  .... '
----  see more of Emanuel Malberg's report at at :-

Sunday, July 20, 2014

COOL GAY MOVIES | US actor James Franco's contribution ...

James Franco Talks Gay Films
----  an excerpt from a substantial report by Jason Parsley of the South Florida Gay News at Edge On The Net (USA), 20 July 2014 :-

      ' ....  Franco's first big hit happened in 2001 where he played the title role in the biopic film "James Dean." But it was his role in the "Spider Man" franchise playing Harry Osborn, the son of the villainous Green Goblin, where he achieved worldwide fame.
      Later it would be his role in the critically acclaimed biopic "Milk" when he truly became beloved by the LGBT community. In that movie he played political activist Harvey Milk's boyfriend Scott Smith. Since then he's gone on to play gay men twice more. Those movies include "Howl," a biopic about 20th-century American poet, Allen Ginsberg and "The Broken Tower," a biopic of American poet Hart Crane, who committed suicide.
      But Franco's interest in gay and lesbian film began long before his role in "Milk." It dates back to the 1991 independent movie "My Own Private Idaho," starring River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves. That film tells the story of two best friends living on the streets as male hustlers, who embark on a journey of self-discovery about their sexualities and their relationship. .... '
---- see more of Jason Parsley's report about James Franco at at :-
---- & check the two YouTube videos in the sidebar, opposite.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

GAY EQUALITY | "THE TOLERANCE TRAP", "coming out", & gay equality ...

The problem with "coming out": The flawed cultural expectations of gay life in America
----  an introductory excerpt from a challenging book by Suzanna Danuta Walters published at Salon (USA), 13 July 2014 :-

      '"Coming out" has become the defining narrative of gay life in popular culture. Here's what that narrative misses. ....  
....  “coming out” has now become a generic phrase for any previously hidden self-revelation: coming out as HIV-positive, coming out as having cancer, or even the inevitable Oprah-ready coming out as bipolar. And it need not, these days, even imply a secret held with  some degree of shame or discomfort: it  can simply  mean a benign disclosure, as in “last night I came out about my new shoes,” although if they are Jimmy Choos, that might involve some small amount of shame at the exorbitant expense.
      This democratization or diffusion of coming out tells us a great deal about the declining—or at least changing—status of this particular theme of sexual emergence for gay people. Just as earrings on men or Doc Marten shoes on women were once irredeemably gay signs and are now fully banal parts of everyday straightness, the “de-gaying” of coming out speaks not only to transformations in gay life but to the ways in which gay signs have been both appropriated and accommodated by mainstream heterosexual populations.  .... '
----  see more of this thoughtful essay extracted from Suzanna Danuta Walters' book "The Tolerance Trap": How God, Genes, and Good Intentions are Sabotaging Gay Equality" at at :- 
----  see too the book's sales page in hardcover or Kindle formats at Amazon USA at :-

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

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

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

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



.... twenty new movies from international sources, updated regularly

"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. The fighter pilots find themselves in the midst of a forbidden relationship throwing their lives and careers into disarray. BURNING BLUE will be in select U.S. theaters and on VOD on June 6. It is likely to appear in other indie movie markets later in 2014. The movie is co-written and directed by DMW Greer.

COOL GAY MOVIE at Berlin Film Festival 2014 ...


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

COOL GAY MOVIE for 2014 ...


COOL GAY MOVIE about high school love ...








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


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

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

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

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

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

(See more at :-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nan Hawthorne, Historical Novelist

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

An excerpt from a review of August 15, 2011

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See this review in situ at Amazon at :-


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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