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NOW DISCOVER HISTORY'S REAL LIFE 'GAME OF THRONES'-STYLE ROMANCE ...
OPINIONS OF "THE HADRIAN ENIGMA" - brief excerpts from 21 USA & UK Amazon reviews ...
JANE (Canada), at Amazon USA
"...I recommend it to any historical fiction fan, especially any fan of the redoubtable Mary Renault. ..."
J.R. Tomlin, author of historical fiction, at :- http://jeannetomlin.blogspot.com/
"Five stars ... a tour de force ..."
Elisa Rolle, Amazon Top 1000 Reviewer, USA & UK, & at : http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/1092070.html
" ... an absorbing new book ... compelling writing ... action sequences that are brilliantly staged & paced ... on a higher plane than mere homoerotic titillation ... courageous & convincing ..."
Reader Down Under (Australia), at Amazon USA
"... extensively researched picture of life in the Roman Empire ... a mix of mystery, comedy, gay & straight romance - is an entertaining read ..."
Laura Staley, Historical Novels Review, USA, at :-
"... 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 http://www.desicritics.org/ India
"... Five Stars ... a compelling crime mystery ... a hard book to put down ..."
Terence Charters, Hobart, Australia, at Amazon USA
"... An adventure through Hadrian's world. The story is easy to read and full of the homoeroticism that we love about this era. ..."
P. Novotny, London, at Amazon UK
"... a definitive Five Star read for me ..."
Aleksandr Voinov, UK, reviewer at Speak Its Name
"Five Stars ... A masterful recreation of Ancient Rome ... the historical details are a delight ... characters are outlined in a vivid way which is like meeting old friends ... "
Ernest Gill, Hamburg, at Amazon USA & UK
"Five Stars ... as a reimagining of the Hadrian-Antinous relationship in the context of the age it is fascinating."
Muriel Perkins, Texas, at Amazon USA
" ... this is a novel about the nature of love ... but this is far from just being a gay romance. ..." Kit Moss, historical author, at :- http://kitmossreviews.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/the-hadrian-enigma-forbidden-history-by.html
"A truly exceptional book on 'What Greek Love" is all about ..."
John R. Shelton at Amazon USA
"Five Stars. I so enjoyed this book. Highly recommend it ... "
NOTE: ***Amazon USA's book or ebook purchase site with its 21 reader's reviews (twelve awarding Five Stars for excellence!) can be read in full by clicking on :- http://www.amazon.com/Hadrian-Enigma-Forbidden-History/product-reviews/0980746906/ref=sr_1_1_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1
THE HADRIAN ENIGMA: A Forbidden History
(C) George Gardiner
ISBN13: 978-0-9807469-1-4 (at Amazon USA, UK, Europe, Australia etc) in 498-page paperback or Kindle ebook.
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.
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Wednesday, February 10, 2016
---- the opening pars from a movie-news report by Sean Mandell at Towleroad (UK/USA), 10 February 2016 :-
'A new biopic based on the life of Tom of Finland is set to start filming in Sweden later this year.
The simply titled projectTom of Finland will be directed by Finnish and Swedish director Dome Karukoski from a script by scribe Aleksi Bardy.
Tom of Finland was the nom de guerre used by Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen who became one of the most significant erotic artists of the 20th century. He was also instrumental in the formulation of post-war gay culture. The film based on his life will chronicle his emergence as a gay icon. .... '
---- see more of Sean Mandell's report at Towleroad at :-
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
---- brief excerpts from a debatable opinion piece reported by Adam Lusher at The Independent (UK), 9 February 2016 :-
'The right of gay men to be dull and humourless is being undermined by the common conception that homosexuals are stylish and witty, an academic has suggested.
Ashley Brooks, a psychology researcher at Anglia Ruskin University who is conducting a study into “ambivalent homoprejudice”, argues that some gay men felt under pressure to live up to a particular stereotype. ....
.... The researcher cited playwright Oscar Wilde, BBC chat show host Graham Norton and Michael Urie’s Marc St. James character in US comedy Ugly Betty as examples of the waspish gay man in popular culture. ....
.... “These overly positive attitudes, which you see a lot in the media - that gay men are particularly fashion conscious, and witty, and a woman’s ‘gay best friend’ – can be extremely pressurising,” Mr Brooks said.
“It can be particularly harmful for young people, adolescents who are less secure in their identity, who might feel they have to live up to the stereotype. .... '
---- see more of Adam Lusher's report on this challenging view at www.independent.co.uk at :-
Saturday, February 6, 2016
---- read the YouTube blurb below, plus check-out the sardonic/ironic/witty (but very crash/bang/wallop) 3-minute video trailer in the sidebar (at right).
'Based upon Marvel Comics’ most unconventional anti-hero, DEADPOOL tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson (Ryan Renolds), who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool.
Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.'
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller, Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand.'
Or as one Comments writer at the movie's YouTube page subtly scribbles :- "Nothing better than movies filled with SARCASM and MAYHEM! I am ALL FOR IT! ;-)"
(For USA reader/viewers :- "DEADPOOL" will be opening in some locales in late-February.)
Friday, February 5, 2016
YouTube Red Originals: Launching February 10!
U.S. viewers can sign up for YouTube Red at https://youtube.com/red. If you are not based in the U.S., click here (https://goo.gl/UEojxv) for more details on when these new series and movies will be available in your country and how you can watch them.
---- and/or visit the 1-minute YouTubeRed promo trailer in the sidebar here (at right).
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
---- an excerpt of the first '7 Facts' from an extended historical post by Joe Morgan at Gay Star News (UK/USA) celebrating LGBT Month, 3 February 2016 :-
'Take a look at the actual facts that should have homophobes who pick and choose what to preach quaking in their boots. These facts prove how gay religion really is.
1 There is no record whatsoever of Jesus preaching against homosexuality.
2. Paul writes: ‘Make no mistake: no fornicator or idolator, none who are guilty either of adultery or of homosexual perversion, no thieves or grabbers or drunkards or slanderers or swindlers, will possess the kingdom of God.’ While this is another line that many use to attack gay people, others suggest ‘homosexual’ is actually a mis-translation of ‘prostitute’.
3. The Bible explicitly tells you not to force people into believing or boasting about your religion.
4. The church sanctified gay marriages in the so-called Dark Ages, with one being the Byzantine Emperor Basil 1 (867-886) and his partner John.
5. St Thomas Aquinas, a priest from the 1200s, is considered the father of homophobia. At a time when homosexuality was often treated as an ‘open secret’, he preached widely that it was ‘unnatural’, similar to bestiality, and argued sodomy is second only to murder in the ranking of sins.
6. Pope Sixtus IV, of the 1400s, was reported to have legalized sodomy during the summer months.
7. Edward White Benson, the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1883 to 1896, was thought to have been repressing his homosexuality. His wife, brother-in-law and five of his six children were also gay.
---- see more of Joe Morgan's "Facts" about Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism at www.gaystarnews.com (with thanks) at :-
Monday, February 1, 2016
---- the opening pars of an 18-page excerpt from the challenging new book, "Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections): The Battles That Define America from Jefferson’s Heresies to Gay Marriage" by writer Stephen Prothero extracted at Salon.com (USA), 1st February 2016 :-
'Everything's a fight-to-the-death partisan culture war. Liberal progress always wins. That's why they fight so hard.
Since the 1990s, the culture wars have repeatedly been left for dead. Just months after political commentator Pat Buchanan declared a “cultural war” at the 1992 Republican National Convention, neoconservative Irving Kristol remarked, “I regret to inform Pat Buchanan that those wars are over and the left has won.”
In 1997, New York Times reporter Janny Scott observed that the term “culture wars” had become as anachronistic as a “leisure suit.” “Not long ago, one could hardly get through a week without stumbling across somebody or other’s culture war—outraged fundamentalists or neoconservatives or righteous multiculturalists raving about Hollywood or political correctness or Robert Mapplethorpe or Allan Bloom,” she wrote. But now the culture warriors had arrived “at Appomattox.” In 2001, in an essay called “Life After Wartime,” Andrew Sullivan also smelled surrender: ....
.... More recently, intellectual historian Andrew Hartman argued in 2015 that the culture wars “are history. The logic of the culture wars has been exhausted. The metaphor has run its course.” .... '
---- see more of this extended questioning opinion-piece by Stephen Prothero at www.salon.com at :-
Sunday, January 31, 2016
---- brief excerpts from a substantial report posted by blogger Andy Towle at his always-pertinent site Towleroad (UK & USA), 30 January 2016 :-
'India’s colonial-era law criminalizing gay sex was restored in a shocking ruling by the Indian Supreme Court in 2013 after being struck down in 2009. India’s Supreme Court is set to take up the matter again this week, DNA India reports:
'The Supreme Court will hear in open court on February 2 a curative petition of gay activists challenging its verdict criminalising homosexuality in the country.'....
.... Congressman Shashi Tharoor introduced a bill into India’s Congress in December which would have amended the country’s antiquated ban on homosexuality, a leftover from British colonial reign. Tharoor’s bill was soundly defeated by the Indian Congress in a 71 to 24 vote.
After the defeat, Tharoor told AFP:
---- see more about this ever-shifting issue in India, as reported by Andy Towle at his site :-
---- and see an updated report by Vidhi Doshi in Mumbai at The Guardian (UK) on 2nd February 2016 at :-
Saturday, January 30, 2016
---- brief excerpts adapted from a show-biz post by Tim Isaac, editor of Big Gay Picture Show (USA); 26 January 2016 :-
'Now here’s a thought for you – in a couple of years time we could get to see images of Doctor Who star Matt Smith with a whip shoved up his butt. That’s because Deadline reports he’s been cast as artist Robert Mapplethorpe, with Girls’ Zosia Mamet as Patti Smith in a movie based on Smith’s memoir, Just Kids. .... [In Just Kids, Patti Smith’s first book of prose, the legendary American artist offers a never-before-seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of
.... His images, which often took on gay themes in an explicit and unabashed way – including the aforementioned picture of him with a whip up his butt – set off a firestorm, with numerous protests against them, particularly when they were publicly displayed in prominent galleries underwritten with public funds. .... '
---- see more of Tim Isaac's report plus links to other sources, at www.biggaypictureshow.com at :-
Friday, January 29, 2016
---- the final pars of an extended excerpt from a new book by Kerry Eleveld of Basic Books (USA), titled "Don't Tell Me To Wait", published at Alternet (USA), December 2015 :-
'I covered Obama for nearly ﬁve years. What I witnessed during that time were the contortions of a shrewd and cautious politician grappling with his conscience. ....
.... Achieving the freedom to marry nationwide has been a profound afﬁrmation of our dignity and will go a long way toward providing stability to LGBT families across the country.
But the next step on the way to realizing full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Americans is to enact civil rights legislation that protects them in all areas of their lives. That will be the challenge of the next president of the United States and federal lawmakers in congressional sessions to come, regardless of political philosophy or party identity.
Because providing these fundamental freedoms is not a gay cause or a liberal cause, it is quite simply an American cause. It’s a call to basic fairness that will be led and pushed by a new generation of citizen activists. And that generation will not settle for anything less for the people they know simply as their brothers and sisters, their moms and dads, and their best friends for life.'
---- see the entire extract from Don't Tell Me To Wait by Kerry Eleveld at www.alternet.org at :-
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
---- the opening pars from an opinion piece by Zareer Masani published at The Independent (UK), 26 January 2016 :-
'When he left India in the 1970s, Zareer Masani considered himself to be a sexual migrant, fleeing a country where being gay was – and technically still is – a crime. But, on a recent trip home, he discovered that, while legal battles simmer, attitudes are finally changing.
In the world's largest democracy, homosexual activity is still a crime punishable by life imprisonment. A few weeks ago, the Indian Parliament saw MPs of both major parties scurrying for the exits to evade a debate on this anachronistic ban, introduced by the British Raj in the 19th century.
The occasion was a failed attempt by a maverick backbencher to introduce a private member's bill legalising homosexuality. Indian politicians are in no hurry to debate a reform that would annoy religious extremists. And yet India, always a land of contradictions, allows Gay Pride marches in most major cities, has vibrant gay pressure groups and publications and officially accepts people who are transgender.
When I grew up in India's most cosmopolitan city, Bombay, in the 1960s, the very mention of homosexuality was taboo, and absolutely no one was “out”. .... '
---- see more of Zareer Masani's report at www.independent.co.uk at :-
Monday, January 25, 2016
---- brief excerpts from a rousing, extended review by Sasha de Suinn of a 'fun', gay-oriented horror novel by UK author Barbie Wylde at The Gay UK, 16 January 2016 :-
'Why does gay art – in every form – completely eclipse its’ timid, straight rival? Because – quite simply – it’s fuelled by overwhelming lust.
From the lush, teeming criminality of Caravaggio’s canvases, to the pouting proportions and Apollonian aphrodisiac that is Michaelangelo’s David, gay aesthetics scream artistic arousal. ....
.... So it should come as no surprise that recent LGBT practitioners of horror fiction – such as transgender writers Poppy Z. Brite and Caitlyn R. Kiernan – work a similar, witchy magic .... then welcome queercore horror author Barbie Wilde. An actress, writer and dancer, her portrayal of Sister Cilice, the paranormal, nightmarish harpy from Hellbound: Hellraiser 2, remains an enduring icon of inverted, abattoir ecstasy .... It gets better yet. Perhaps wilfully self-possessed by her former, fictional self, Barbie’s just unleashed Voices Of The Damned, a feast of delirious sexual mayhem. More instantly, compulsively addictive than a chem-sex cocktail of crystal-meth, Barbie’s prose hooks like a frighteningly non-stop, body-horror wet dream. .... '
---- see more of Sasha de Suinn's colourful review of the book at www.thegayuk.com at :-
http://www.thegayuk.com/magazine/4574334751/REVIEW-Voices-Of-The-Damned-Barbie-Wilde/10467819 (Available from Amazon)
Sunday, January 24, 2016
---- brief excerpts from a news report at Yahoo! reprinted from Associated Press (AP, USA), 23 January 2016 :-
'ROME (AP) — Tens of thousands of people demonstrated Saturday in nearly 100 cities across Italy to urge the government to permit gay and lesbian couples to have civil unions and legally recognized families.
---- see too a report by Stephanie Kirschgaessner in Rome re economic consequences of denying marriage equality at The Guardian (UK) at :-
Saturday, January 23, 2016
---- a brief introduction to next month's schedule of public features for Londoners, prepared by the Londonist website, 24 January 2016 :-
'LGBT History Month is coming to London this February. City-wide venues will be packed with events including guest appearances from Sir Derek Jacobi, Stuart Milk, Bonnie Greer, Peter Tatchell and many more.
With a glut of performances, talks and screenings going on, we've picked our favourite things to do at next month's festival.
The overall aim of LGBT History month is to promote equality and diversity for the benefit of the public. This is done by:
- Increasing the visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (“LGBT”) people, their history, lives and their experiences in the curriculum and culture of educational and other institutions, and the wider community;
- (... and more: see the original post & events program at:-
Thursday, January 21, 2016
Gay Men of West Hollywood (California) Offer Advice To Younger Gays
---- a collage of simple street-savvy wisdoms clarify how to happily live a gay life
INSTINCT Magazine (USA) asked gay men of West Hollywood to give advice to younger gays! Let's see what they had to say! (Or write on placards, actually.)
See the 2-min YouTube video of this fascinating social experiment in the side-bar (at right) showing how they went about it and how Hollywood street folk responded (with many thanks to Instinct). Or alternatively visit the same video at the Instinct site at :-
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
---- brief excerpts from a (non-gender issue) Oxfam Report reviewed by Lauren McCauley at CommonDreams (UK), 18 January 2016 :-
'Oxfam report finds that global one percent of wealth holders now own more than the rest of the world combined.
It's official. The global one percent of wealth holders now own more than the rest of the world combined, a new report released Monday confirmed.
"The global inequality crisis is reaching new extremes," stated Oxfam International's An Economy for the 1% (pdf), which found that the gap between the richest and poorest has widened so dramatically in the past 12 months that the world's 62 wealthiest individuals now own as much as the poorest half of the global population, roughly 3.6 billion people.
In fact, the wealth of the poorest half has fallen by a trillion dollars since 2010 while the wealth of the richest 62 people has risen by 44 percent to total $1.76 trillion.
"It is simply unacceptable that the poorest half of the world’s population owns no more than a few dozen super-rich people who could fit onto one bus," said Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International.
The report comes just days before the opening of the World Economic Forum's annual meeting, which will be held January 20-23 in Davos, Switzerland. ....
.... This system, Oxfam says, enables rich individuals and companies to avoid paying their fair share to society, denying governments the necessary resources to tackle poverty and inequality. .... '
---- see more of Lauren McCauley's report on this devastating evasion of fiscal responsibility at www.commondreams.org at :-
---- see too The Guardian (UK's) Economic Editor Larry Elliott's review of this same issue at :-
Sunday, January 17, 2016
---- the opening pars from a news report by Joe Williams at Pink News (UK), 14 January 2016 :-
'Britons don’t want to be boxed in by gender stereotypes, says a leading Feminist Charity. Almost half (44%) of the UK population now believe that gender is non-binary, but can be expressed as a range of identities.
A poll asked 8,000 people their thoughts on whether gender identity is confined to two genders – male and female (gender binary) or if gender is more fluid, encompassing a range of identities.
Women are most likely to think that gender is fluid with almost half (48%) of women agreeing that gender is a range of identities as opposed to 40% of men.
In addition, 50% of those aged between 18-34 agreed that gender was not fixed, whilst only 39% of over 55s agreed.
Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society – who ran the poll – said the Feminist charity is committed to campaigning against “harmful gender norms and stereotypes.” .... '
---- see more of Joe Williams' report at Pink News (UK) at :-
Friday, January 15, 2016
---- excerpts from an arts report by Lauren Palmer at ArtNet (USA), December 2015 :-
'A new documentary about American artist Robert Mapplethorpe is coming soon.
Thursday, January 14, 2016
---- excerpts from a literature post by blogger Andy Towle at his formidable site TOWLEROAD (UK/USA), 8 January 2016 :-
'Edmund White, author of A Boy’s Own Story, The Beautiful Room is Empty, and 11 other novels along with three biographies, four memoirs, and six works of nonfiction including The Joy of Gay Sex, has been named New York’s 11th State Author by Governor Andrew Cuomo. ....
.... Said White: “I’ve lived most of my life in New York and have written about it extensively. It’s astonishing to be recognized by my home and my subject.” ....
.... As a fiction writer, White is perhaps best known for his trilogy of autobiographical novels: A Boy’s Own Story (1982), The Beautiful Room Is Empty (1988), and The Farewell Symphony (1997). He is also the author of works including The Married Man (2000), Hotel de Dream: A New York Novel (2007), and Jack Holmes and His Friend (2013). .... '
---- see more of Andy Towle's post at www.towleroad.com (with thanks) at :-
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
---- brief pars from an extended summary of Obama's impact by Scott Bixby in New York at The Guardian (UK/USA), 13 January 2016 :-
'From the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ repeal to transgender rights to the passage of same-sex marriage, Obama’s record on LGBT rights stands unprecedented. ....
.... After his prolonged “evolution” on the issue of same-sex marriage – he was for it before he was against it before he was for it – some exasperated gay men and lesbians speculated that Obama had lost the faith of a minority that had anticipated faster and more thorough action on its legislative priorities. But according to the activists, attorneys, plaintiffs and community leaders who helped make the dreams of gay and lesbian Americans a reality, Obama’s record on the expansion of LGBT liberties has been nothing short of miraculous. .... '
---- see more of Scott Bixby's informative appraisal of Barack Obama's Presidency at The Guardian at :-
Monday, January 11, 2016
---- brief excerpts from a news report by Nicole Winfield at Associated Press (USA/UK), 10 January 2016 :-
'VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis lays out his case for emphasizing the merciful face of the Catholic Church in his first book as pontiff, saying God never tires of forgiving and actually prefers the sinners who repent over self-righteous moralizers who don't.
In the book, Francis condemns what he calls the "scholars of law" — the doctrinaire-minded rigorists who throughout the history of the church have challenged Jesus' message of unconditional love and mercy for even the most wretched of sinners. ....
.... In the book, Francis insists that his now-infamous "Who am I to judge" comment about gays was merely a repetition of the church's teaching on homosexuality. Francis won praise from gays with the comment, uttered during his first press conference in 2013. But many conservatives have criticized the remark as vague and incomplete since church teaching also holds that gay acts are "intrinsically disordered."
"People should not be defined only by their sexual tendancies: Let us not forget that God loves all his creatures and we are destined to receive his infinite love," he says. "I prefer that homosexuals come to confession, that they stay close to the Lord, and that we pray all together. You can advise them to pray, show goodwill, show them the way, and accompany them along it." ....
---- see more of Nicole Winfield's report at AP at :-
---- see too another comment & analysis of the Pope's message which provocatively questions its intent at QUEERTY (USA), 12 January 2016 at :-
Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/living/article53983725.html#storylink=cpy
Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/living/article53983725.html#storylink=cpy
Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/living/article53983725.html#storylink=cpy
Sunday, January 10, 2016
---- two excerpts from a news report by Jonathan Petre, Religious Affairs Correspondent at the Daily Mail (UK), 3 January 2016 :-
'Church leaders from Africa and Asia are threatening to walk out of a crucial meeting chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury unless American bishops drop their support for gay marriage.
---- plus check another independent view of this issue at BBC News (UK) at :-
Saturday, January 9, 2016
---- the opening pars of an extended report on one of New York City' s most iconic gay bars, as described by J. Bryan Lowder at SLATE Magazine (USA), 8 January 2016 :-
'The common wisdom about gay nightlife these days is that it’s on the wane. With the dominance of gay-focused social networking and hookup apps pretty well established in most areas, socializing and sex—arguably the two major drivers of gay bar attendance—can now be lazily pursued at home, where the alcohol is almost certainly cheaper. But there’s something to be said for the magic of a gay bar that gets it right: the balance of sexy cruisiness with campy drag that keeps things interesting, the mix of strong drinks, friendly staff, and general good vibes that can make a bar feel like an extension of your living room.
One such bar is Barracuda, a mainstay of Manhattan’s Chelsea “gayborhood.” In fact, the charming dive just celebrated its 20th anniversary last October—an insanely long run for any bar, not to mention a gay one. Barracuda is particularly famed as a launching pad for drag and performance artists .... '
---- see more of J. Bryan Lowder' s well-informed essay on New York's vibrant gay & drag culture at SLATE at :-
---- plus visit the 5-min video of "Barracuda' s" current style in the side-column (at right), with thanks to SLATE.
Friday, January 8, 2016
---- the opening pars from an extended report about a lady bull rider at WestWord (USA), 6th January 2016 :-
'When the chute opens, all 1,700 pounds of brindle bull burst out. The animal spins, rears and kicks violently, as though his hindquarters are spring-loaded: He can’t dump his passenger fast enough. And within three seconds, the rider is flying to the ground, helmet-clad head hitting hard against the dirt, brown-and-white leather chaps slightly askew. Quickly surrounding the prone body, the bullfighters and other rodeo staffers tasked with providing protection against the still-kicking bull offer a human screen against anxious spectators, too.
After several tense moments, the rider pops up and fist-pumps the air as the crowd roars. Then the helmet comes off, and it’s easy to see that this toughie is no cowboy: It’s Char Duran, lady bull rider. .... '
---- see more about Char Duran, rodeo's lady bull rider, at www.westword.com/news at :-
Tuesday, January 5, 2016
---- excerpts from the opening pars of an extended, affectionate article by author Aaron Hicklin at OUT Magazine (USA), 5 January 2016 :-
'Dustin Lance Black and Tom Daley fell in love at first smiley.
One was an Olympic diver who loved Nerf guns; the other was an Oscar-winning screenwriter who made great burgers. A chance encounter at a dinner in Los Angeles—and a smiley face—set the scene for a procession of foiled wedding proposals.
Dustin Lance Black, Screenwriter / Director :
.... First off, let me be honest: When Tom walked in I was, like, Oh my God, he’s so cute. I knew who he was — I’d watched the Olympics — but in person I found him more mature and confident than I had expected. He came in with this gaggle of beautiful women so I had no idea what his sexuality was. In fact, he seemed all loved up on this beautiful blonde, so I thought, Well, there you go. But occasionally I would look over to my right and I would catch Tom looking at me — that split second when someone is looking at you before they realize they’ve been caught and look away. And I thought, That’s not straight.
Tom Daley, Olympic Diver :
I was in Los Angeles for the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, and a friend organized a dinner, and got there at least 45 minutes late. I’m not going to lie: I had no clue who Dustin Lance Black was, or what he did. I just remember thinking, Oh wow, who’s that? He was wearing a white T-shirt with a thin red hoodie, and a leather jacket over it, and I thought he looked like a swimmer, because he has quite broad shoulders. As the dinner progressed, I kept on looking at him, and he kept catching me, which was awkward at times, because I would always look away.
And then my friend texted me from across the table, and his text said, “He’s Google-searching you.” .... '
---- see more of Aaron Hicklin's report on the budding relationship of two high-achievers in their respective fields-of-endeavor in this month's www.out.com/love-issue at :-
Sunday, January 3, 2016
---- brief excerpts from an extended opinion-piece by Malcolm Harris at Aljazeera America (USA), 3 January 2016 :-
'Rampant homophobia stunted turn-of-the-century American culture. Are we finally moving on? .... Of all the gay things that existed 15 years ago, the gayest were performance art and interpretive dance. .... performance art was associated with insufficiently feminine women and the presumably queer men who hung around them. ....
.... A decade and a half later, interpretive dance and performance art seem to have shed their bad rep. The decidedly mainstream Justin Bieber recently released “Purpose,” a visual album that is full of the kind of art that I never would have been caught dead with in middle school. ....
.... The need to protect heterosexuality no longer defines American pop media; Miley Cyrus has renounced her gender identity in favor of a more fluid, flexible definition. ....
.... American pop culture is better than it was 15 years ago. The tyranny of mean teenage boy consumers is breaking down, and we’re all benefiting. Not that straight guys my age really deserve it; after spending years calling everything culturally adventurous gay, it’d be fitting if we were stuck with Limp Bizkit and straight-to-DVD “Road Trip” sequels for the rest of our days.
Thankfully, that’s not the case, and we owe a large debt to everyone who ignored us. .... '
---- see more of Malcolm Harris's refreshing essay, with thanks to Aljazeera America, at http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions at :-
Saturday, January 2, 2016
---- selected extracts from an extended book excerpt by Kerry Eleveld, author of "Don't Tell Me To Wait" (Basic Books 2015), at Alternet (USA), 30 December 2015 :-
'I covered Obama for nearly ﬁve years. What I witnessed during that time were the contortions of a shrewd and cautious politician grappling with his conscience.'
President Obama presided over a tipping point in the history of LGBT rights—a time when Congress passed its ﬁrst-ever pieces of pro-gay legislation, when government-sanctioned discrimination against gays in the military and same-sex couples began to crumble, when a sitting president declared all love equally sacred and the voters went from rejecting marriage equality at the ballot box some thirty times prior to 2012 to ratifying it by popular vote in three consecutive states that same year.
But the president did not do it alone. .... Of all the progressive constituencies who had helped elect Obama in 2008, LGBT activists were the ﬁrst to aggressively pressure the Democratic administration during Obama’s ﬁrst term. DREAM activists— young, passionate, and irrepressible—came the closest to matching grassroots gays in style and tone, and they were ultimately more successful than Beltway immigration groups in achieving ﬁrst-term results. .... '
---- see more about this important era in LGBT politics by Kerry Eleveld at www.alternet.org/books at :-
---- four scene-setting pars from a lively extended opinion-piece by Benjamin Butterworth at Gay Times (UK), 1st January 2016 :-
' .... It’s no secret that most of us enjoy sex; it’s a necessary release that we can’t go too long without. But where do we draw the line from enjoying a healthy, regular sex life, to feeling like we need it just to get by? The truth is, people relying on sex is hugely on the rise.
“These issues have really exploded, because it’s all become so easy,” says Rob Watt, a psychotherapist whose Harley Street practice sees sex addicts on a daily basis. “One of the leading experts, Patrick Carney, said about ten years ago that a tsunami is coming – and now it’s certainly landed.
“The internet has had a huge effect. It used to be that porn was a magazine under the bed, but now the level of exposure and the availability of sex has driven it out of all proportion.” More than a quarter of men now watch porn during work hours, with a constant need for sexual fulfilment becoming an accepted part of modern life. Phone sex apps make it as easy to find another man to sleep with as it is to change the TV channel.
---- see more of Benjamin Butterworth's cheeky essay at the UK's always-interesting Gay Times, with thanks, at :- https://www.gaytimes.co.uk/life/20661/are-you-addicted-to-sex/
Thursday, December 31, 2015
---- FIRST-UP IN 2016: check out this nod to women who visit Cool Gay Stuff by viewing the 3-min video in the side column, as reported by Rebekah Allen at SheWired (USA), 31st December 2015 :-
'"We Will" tells the heartwarming story of a lesbian couple in love in a nation that has yet to recognize them as equals [viz., Australia].
"We Will," a new Australian short film directed by Laura Nagy, has a simple message: love between two people, no matter their sexuality, is powerful, beautiful, and deserves to be recognized equally. Australia has yet to pass marriage equality, and "We Will" urges that 2016 be the year that brings a long-awaited change to that harmful ruling. .... '
---- see more of Rebekah Allen's report (coupled with its original link to the YouTube video) at :-
--- with many thanks to SheWired.
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
---- brief excerpts from an extended survey of the year's choicest gay developments by Rich Juzwiak at Gawker (USA), 30 December 2015 :-
' .... “Progress is not an illusion; it happens, but it is slow and invariably disappointing,” said George Orwell, famously. ....
.... Despite some considerable social gains gay people in the U.S. experienced this year—the Supreme Court’s countrywide legalization of same-sex marriage, President Obama’s call to end conversion therapy for youth—there was a visible backlash, personified by Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis and the movement to retain “religious freedom” in the form of retaining the right to discriminate against gays.
The cultural gridlock extends beyond the struggle between those who’d like to go through their lives without being denied because of who they are, and those who are so desperate to hold onto that ability to deny. Gay marriage is a reality now, in all states, yet gay bashings persist. The cultural examination of gay sex feels more honest and unflinching ....
.... Gays still have the burden of etching out a place for themselves in a society that isn’t always welcoming. But being forced to see outside yourself as a matter of course is also a gift. .... '
---- see more of Rich Juzwiak's thoughtful assessment of the year's impact on the gay community at http://gawker.com at :-
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
---- opening excerpts from an historical review by J.R. Thorpe at Bustle (USA), 30 December 2015 :-
'Sometimes, it feels like there can't be anything more ridiculous than some of modern society's views on homosexuality and gay marriage (it'll lead to polygamy! Climate change! Sex with goats!). .... Some of the chapters in the history of homosexuality are actually charming. One traditional Chinese term for male homosexuality, roughly translating as "the passion of the cut sleeve" (断袖之癖), comes from the alleged incident where Emperor Ai of the Han Dynasty was so keen not to wake up his sleeping male partner, who was asleep on his robe, that he cut off its expensive sleeve instead.
.... In an era where the idea of "conversion therapy" for gay people may finally be seeing its end, .... looking back at the more ridiculous side of our beliefs about homosexuality can be tinged with a little more relief than before. But only a little. [Here are some of the headings of J.R. Thorpe's whimsical essay :- ]
1. That Lesbianism Was Caused By Womb Disorders
2. That Gay Lovers Needed To Be Ceremonially Abducted & Live In The Woods
3. That Gay Courtship Involved Rabbits & Rubbing Up On Each Others' Thighs
4. That Testicle Transplants Could Cure Gayness
---- see the fascinating full texts of J.R. Thorpe's review of these silly beliefs at :-
Now COOL GAY STUFF shifts to mixed miscellany in both columns ...
TRAILERS OF RECENT GAY-THEMED MOVIES OF INTEREST ....
Don't Ask, Don't Tell is recalled ...
HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY review of "THE HADRIAN ENIGMA" ...
A fair-haired young man, dressed in rich ceremonial armor, is found dead in the Nile River. When he is identified, everyone realizes the dangerous political implications of this death, because Antinous was the eromenos—the lover and protégé—of the Roman Emperor Hadrian.
A grief-stricken Hadrian appoints two members of the court, Suetonius and his patron Clarus, to find out how and why Antinous died. They have two days to find the answer, permission to interrogate anyone except the Emperor and Empress, and the promise that they may forfeit their lives if they fail to satisfy Hadrian.
Failure is a distinct possibility. While Antinous was well-liked and respected, the circle of suspects is wide, as it often will be when the victim is the confidant of an absolute ruler. The two sleuths quickly draft unlikely but able assistants to help them, including a scribe and an observant, multilingual prostitute.
The book offers an extensively researched picture of life in the Roman Empire of 130 AD. Gardiner is equally convincing when writing about imperial politics and succession laws, marriage and sexual customs, philosophy and the theater.
But The Hadrian Enigma—a mix of mystery, comedy, gay and straight romance—is an entertaining read.
THE HADRIAN ENIGMA - an unedited review by historical novelist NAN HAWTHORNE ...
THE HADRIAN ENIGMA | A review by historical fiction author J.R. Tomlin ...
" .... In 130 AD, while accompanying the Emperor Hadrian on a tour up the Nile, the beautiful youth Antinous plunges into the Nile and drowns. Hadrian, near maddened with grief, declares Antinous a god. However, Suetonius just happens to be along on this imperial tour. Already the author of juicy books on contemporary Roman life, he is perfectly placed to investigate this mysterious death, so Emperor Hadrian commands him to investigate and find the murderer within 48 hours or suffer the consequences.
In the imperial compound on the Nile, Suetonius searches for clues. Here, semi-isolated, the bubbling cauldron of the Roman court has been transplanted to a fabulous tent city. Yet, the mystery of Egypt is an ever present backdrop to this baffling death. .... Why was Antinous clad in heavy ceremonial parade armor and weapons when he died? How did he come by a slit on his left wrist and strange marks on his throat? And how can Suetonius unravel all this when the Emperor refuses to let Suetonius even touch the body to examine it? The characterization is vivid and the historicity meticulous in this novel. I enjoyed savoring the characters and setting as Suetonius unraveled the imperial goings on. .... "
See more of J.R. Tomlin's review at her author's blogsite "Writing & More" at : http://jeannetomlin.blogspot.com/
AN UNEDITED REVIEW OF 'THE HADRIAN ENIGMA"....
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 :-
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Bye-bye for now from George Gardiner's COOL GAY STUFF ...