COOL GAY STUFF is a newswatch sampler of LGBT highlights from around the globe, with thanks to Google, YouTube, & Blogger. They're quick-read morsels of gay-themed or gay-interest Net selections you possibly missed, linked to their originating sites. Yet these LGBT snippets are NOT only for gay gals & guys, so there's no eye-popping porn here nor racy NSFW items likely to alarm 'the hets' (paraphrasing Oscar Wilde re alarmed horses).

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

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


It's not gay in any overt way, but certainly visually baroque in its Gothic style. Film-maker Guillermo del Toro returns again to scare the wits out of us with a Gothic horror nightmare. But it's not for the squeamish, folks. The blurb says :-

"When her heart is stolen by a seductive stranger, a young woman is swept away to a house atop a mountain of blood-red clay: a place filled with secrets that will haunt her forever. Between desire and darkness, between mystery and madness, lies the truth behind CRIMSON PEAK."

This Gothic supernatural mystery with an operatic flair stars Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska and Charlie Hunnam (tv's Sons of Anarchy & Queer As Folk [UK 1979-1982] star).

CRIMSON PEAK will strike fear into global theater audiences this October.

Savor this 2'40" video, but don't forget to return here to Cool Gay Stuff afterwards ...


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

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


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

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

OPINIONS OF "THE HADRIAN ENIGMA" - eighteen excerpts from US & UK Amazon sites ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For an Amazon-USA or overseas paperback :

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

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

for Amazon UK :

Plus ...

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


Monday, May 25, 2015

MARY RENAULT & the 'hardcore sensuality of the ancient world" ...

Mary Renault's hardcore classicism
----  brief excerpts from a literary appreciation by British historian Bettany Hughes at The Telegraph (UK), 25 May 2015. The classical fiction of Mary Renault opened Bettany Hughes’s eyes to the hardcore, drug-saturated sensuality of the ancient world :-

      'Renault’s novels are 'a kind of dance with antiquity’. As a teenager, on bone-chilling English beaches, I had a guilty pleasure. Wrapped in towels and sheltering behind wind-worn breakwaters, I smuggled on to the shingle something that would transport me elsewhere, where I would be warmed by a breeze, rushed upon by monsters and demons, protected by flawed boy-kings and kohl-eyed high priestesses.
      The potent object was a book by one Eileen Mary Challans, nom de plume Mary Renault. ....  With the hubris of youth I thought all this hot joy was my own, unaware that, in fact, across the world, others were similarly enchanted. A global bestseller by 1970, with eight Greek-themed historical novels and six contemporary ones, Renault has been praised by Hilary Mantel as “a shining light”. Simon Russell Beale recalls being “bewitched” by his first Renault experience. Sarah Waters judges her 1972 novel The Persian Boy to be “one of the greatest historical novels ever written”.
      Eileen Mary Challans was born in 1905, the first, big-boned child of unhappy parents in a privet-proud east London suburb. ....  her nursing profession also offered Renault a lifelong love: Julie Mullard, the woman with whom she would move to South Africa in 1949 and live in a “partyish” beach house called Delos until she died.
      That love – or rather, the possibility of homo-eroticism and of simply being different – is a pulsing bass note for Renault’s novels. It’s arguably best expressed in the historical series: two Theseus novels, four inspired by Alexander the Great, two based in fifth-century Greece and one in the fourth, which she started to write when just shy of 50. Her quiet bravery in making same-sex love a charismatic theme is bold and dignified. For millions, including my juvenile self, Renault enlivened other ways of being.  .... '
----  see more of Bettany Hughes' biographical article about 'Mary Renault' at :- 
----  Similar to others mentioned in Bettany's essay, your host George Gardiner recalls on his first visit to Athens at the age of 23 visiting all the major historical sites & museums accompanied by a paperback copy of Renault's "The Last of the Wine" stuffed under one arm to give added flavor to the excursion. I cannot claim to have read all of Renault's many works, but I have certainly consumed the major homo-erotic themed works. In fact my own humble 'The Hadrian Enigma' has a dedication-page devoting the work to "M. R." due to Ms. Renault's powerful literary influence.

ZAC EFRON fronts a forthcoming film about ambition ...

"WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS" explores a challenging view of a wannabe's life ambitions
---- tho' not overtly gay, this new Zac Efron movie set among today's competitive young-adult lifestyles is likely to interest people familiar with its lead character's milieu ...

      'From Warner Bros. Pictures and Studiocanal comes the romantic drama “We Are Your Friends.”
       The film marks Max Joseph’s (MTV’s “Catfish: The TV Show”) feature film directorial debut, and stars Zac Efron (“Neighbors”), Emily Ratajkowski (upcoming “Entourage,” “Gone Girl”) and Wes Bentley (“Interstellar,” “The Hunger Games”).
      Unlike other recent Zac Efron movies showing a whimsical style, “We Are Your Friends” is about what it takes to 'find your voice'. Set in the world of electronic music and Hollywood nightlife, an aspiring 23-year-old DJ named Cole (Zac Efron) spends his days scheming with his childhood friends and his nights working on the one track that will set the world on fire. All of this changes when he meets a charismatic but damaged older DJ named James (Wes Bentley), who takes him under his wing.   .... '
----  Check the film's 3-min trailer in the sidebar, set for US & global release on August 28, 2015,'

Saturday, May 23, 2015


Ireland overwhelmingly says YES
----  the opening pars from a news report at The Independent (Eire), 23 May 2015 :-

      'Following a historic referendum, Ireland has become the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote. The official result for the marriage equality referendum was declared at Dublin Castle shortly before 7pm this evening, with the final tally ending up 62.1 pc Yes against 37.9 pc No.
      In total, almost two million people voted.
      The number of Yes votes cast was 1,201,607, with 734,300 No.
      Some 13,818 votes were marked as invalid and so were not counted towards the final result.
      Over all, the Yes vote secured a 467,307 majority.
      Large crowds have gathered at Dublin Castle to celebrate the resounding Yes.  .... '
----  see more of The Independent's report at at :-

Thursday, May 21, 2015

GAY CULTURE | Its less-lovable features ...

Why I Reject Popular Gay Culture (or: What To Know Before Setting Me Up With Your Other Gay Friend)
----  & now folks, for something completely different :-  the opening pars from an extended but hilariously whimsical post by Stephen Milioti at CJAS (The Columbia Journal of American Studies) USA - (date unknown, but it doesn't matter anyway does it?) Mr. Milioti reflects :-

      'There is a problem with being-gay-and-dating when most of my friends are straight. More than a few of those friends—thinking that I am a “catch” so why am I single?—have attempted to set me up with what I have termed their OGF, their "Other Gay Friend."
      The supposed point of connection would be laughable, if it weren't so often assumed: Their OGF is gay; I am gay. Proving what, exactly, I don't know. Because we both pleasured ourselves under a woolly blanket while lounging in our respective family rooms as pre-teens watching Tom Selleck on Magnum P.I. doesn't mean we're a match.
      It's easy for me to tell when people are setting me up with an OGF, rather than with their CGF (coolest gay friend), HGF (hottest), or SGF (smartest). The latter three groups are described specifically: “He has strong cheekbones and jet-black hair;” “He has won awards for inventing ecologically-sound water bottles made from plastic alternatives;” “He wears vintage Rolexes and can also discuss comparative religions”—and so forth. But the description of one's OGF is always vague:       “He's very nice”—“He's sweet”—“He's a good guy”—anything that can be used to describe a soggy puppy or a scented candle.  .... '
----  see more of Stephen Milioti's acerbic but hilarious reflection on the mores of our times at at :- 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

MARRIAGE EQUALITY | The Roman Catholic historical conundrum ...

What the Catholic US Supreme Court Justices Get Wrong About Marriage
----  brief excerpts from an extended opinion piece by author Patricia Miller at Religion Dispatches (USA), 29 April 2015 :-

      'Key among the concerns expressed by the Supreme Court’s Catholic justices in Tuesday’s hearings on same-sex marriage was the idea that the court would change the definition of marriage as it has existed for “millennia.”
      “This definition [of traditional marriage] has been with us for millennia. And it’s very difficult for the court to say, ‘Oh, well, we know better’,” Justice Anthony Kennedy said.  ....
....  According to [deceased Yale] historian John Boswell, for the first millennium of its existence the Catholic Church had no “coherent or obligatory liturgical tradition” regarding marriage. In fact, he says, “for its first thousand years Christianity required nuptial blessings only for priests; for the laity, an ecclesiastical ceremony was an honor, only permitted to those being married to their own (free) class the first time.”
      The church’s teaching, in line with long-standing pagan practice, was that “the couple married each other: the church at most witnessed and blessed (as it blessed everything from fields to swords),” says Boswell.  ....
....  Only with the Council of Trent (1545–1563) “did the Catholic Church finally manage to impose its authority in this sphere by invalidating marriages that had not been performed in public before a parish priest.”  .... '
----  see more of Patricia Miller's questioning essay at at :- 
----  see too a further post "Record High 60% of Americans Support Same-Sex Marriage" at Gallup (USA), 19 May 2015 at :-

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


First Clips from Cate Blanchett/Rooney Mara Lesbian/Bi-Themed "CAROL"
----  a brief post by Tracy E. Gilchrist at (USA), 14 May 2015 :-

      'Saying so much with so little. We've been going on and on about the big-screen adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's 1952 lesbian potboiler The Price of Salt for the better part of two years now, and this week it premieres at Cannes!
      Along with that debut come the first clips of the film starring Cate Blanchett as a socialite Carol (also the name of the film) who falls for a younger shop girl (Rooney Mara). The clips don't give much a way in terms of plot, but as with his nuanced Far From Heaven, Haynes with his camera work and the two stars with a coy glance or the twitch of a lip, say so much in a time when the subject of two women together was an ultimate taboo.
      What we do gather from the clips that much of the sexual tension derives from the act of looking. It's just all too good!'
----  see more of Tracy E. Gilchrist's post with its video clips from 'CAROL' at at :-
----  and/or check the "CAROL" trailer itself in the parallel sidebar, opposite.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

GAY HISTORY | Magnus Hirschfeld, a 19th Century German gay rights activist ...

How 1890's Germany led LGBT rights charge
----  the opening pars from an extended historical essay written by Matty Edwards, accompanied by a 2013 German video, published at The Local (Germany), 15 May 2015 :-

      'On May 14th 1897, German physician and sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld founded the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, the world's first official organization advocating homosexual and transgender rights.
      Founded in Berlin, the committee campaigned for social recognition of gay, bisexual and transgender men and women, after homosexual acts between males had been made a crime as part of the German Criminal Code in 1871.
      Hirschfeld, a prominent scientist, nicknamed the "Einstein of sex", set up the committee in his apartment in western Berlin to campaign for the abolition of this paragraph.
      Hirschfeld himself never came out, despite having years-long relationships with different men. He was the first to deal with homosexuality as a scientific topic of research.
      To put the year 1897 into context of gay emancipation, Oscar Wilde was still in prison for his homosexuality, or "gross indecency" as it was described by the British court that convicted him.  .... '
----  see more of this 100-year commemorative biog of an initiator of gay studies & gay rights in pre-WWII Germany at at :- 
----  and/or visit the 6-minute German-language YouTube video surveying Hirschfeld's life-&-timed in the sidebar here. Despite being narrated in German, you are very likely to get the gist of the biog & details of German history through Hirschfeld's lifetime since 1890 outlined in the video. But please return here to Cool Gay Stuff afterwards if you view it full screen.

Friday, May 15, 2015

HOT GAY WEAPON | Keeping a military trespasser at bay via a wonderfully deranged gimmick ...

GAY WEAPONRY | Sweden Keeps Russian Submarines Out With Dancing Gay Sailor
----  opening pars to a charming news report by Candice Thomas at Liberty News Now (USA), 14 May 2015 :-

      'Sweden found a hilarious way to keep Russian submarines out of their waters – and apparently, it’s working!
      After reports that Russian submarines were infiltrating Swedish waters earlier in the year, Sweden put up some very gay underwater “Keep Out!” signs on the edge of their territorial waters.
      That’s gay in the literal sense: Sweden’s new keep out signs feature the silhouette of a sailor–clad only in a pair of briefs and a sailor hat–whose hips gyrate back and forth. The words, in Russian,  “Welcome to Sweden: Gay Since 1944,” which is the year Sweden legalized homosexuality, emblazon the top of the sign.
      Sweden is also sending out gay propaganda–which is both illegal and taboo in Russia–via Morse code, in hopes that Russian submarines will choose to stay far away from Swedish waters ... '
----  see more of Candice Thomas's cheery report at at :-

Thursday, May 14, 2015

GAY PORN | A more diverse audience than you thought ? ...

Data Shows Ladies Love Gay Porn. Can You Blame Them?
----  excerpts from two posts at Queerty (USA), 13 May 2015 :-

      'Pornhub recently released data on the top porn searches broken down by gender. The survey found “gay male porn” as the second highest searched topic by straight women. This begs the question: What about straight dudes? How many of them are also looking at man-on-man porn? And what might be their motivations for doing so?
      Being the curious gays that we are, we decided to dig a little deeper, scouring the internet for clues. And what we discovered is, well, surprising. Apparently it’s not just the ladies who prefer two dicks in their porn. Self-professed straight men enjoy it, too.  ....
....  Because the internet is basically an elaborate infrastructure designed to deliver you a steady stream of new free porn, it shouldn’t come as a huge shock that 44 million users a day visit Pornhub to get their fix.
      What is surprising, though, is what those scores of horny mouse clickers are typing into the search bar. Pornhub has released its data on the top searches, broken down by gender. Check out the Top Categories in the sidebar graphic here. ....'
----  or see more of these two interesting posts at at :- 
and at :- 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

CATE BLANCHETTE in a lesbian romance : "CAROL"

Cate Blanchett Opens the Closet Door with Lesbian Romance 'Carol'
---- opening pars from an extended piece by Ramin Setoodeh at Variety (USA), 12 May 2015 :-

      'It’s not surprising that “Carol” was locked away in Hollywood’s development closet for 15 years. Based on Patricia Highsmith’s scandalous 1952 novel “The Price of Salt,” Todd Haynes’ latest movie is a double whammy by industry standards: it’s headlined by two women, who fall in love with each other.
      The film, which stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, and premieres at the Cannes Film Festival on May 17, arrives at a pivotal, yet paradoxical, time for female-driven stories. There has been a string of hits this year that celebrate female empowerment — from “Insurgent” and “Fifty Shades of Grey” to “Cinderella,” and the upcoming “Trainwreck”, “Spy” and the final installment of “The Hunger Games.” That said, gender inequality both in front of and behind the camera is a hot-button issue in the global entertainment business.
      “We have to push forward,” says the 45-year-old Australian actress, who believes successful women are finally starting to nurture projects for females. “What industry has parity pay for women? None. Why would we expect this industry to be any different?”  .... '
----  see more of Ramin Setoodeh's extended interview with Cate Blanchette about 'Carol' at at :-
----  & see a further report about Cate Blanchett & 'Carol' at Yahoo News at :-

Sunday, May 10, 2015

GAY BIOGRAPHY | A mid-20th Century muse ...

Best-Kept Boy In The World
----  the openings pars of a review by Christopher Harrity of a new biography, published at (USA), 7 May 2015 :-

      'Arthur Vanderbilt's book is a scandalous slice of upper-crust gay history.  ....  And it isn't as if Denham Fouts (1914-1948) stood on a corner in spandex and earned $40 at a time.
      Fouts, known as Denny, was much more than that. He certainly seemed to enjoy the spoils of his conquests among the fabulously wealthy and powerful, barons, kings, and shipping tycoons. And he both loved and expected to be pampered by well-to-do artists and socialites. But the real currency was adoration. He was destined to be a muse — that ephemeral quality, impossible to describe, that goads men into rash acts of generosity as well as creative bounty.
      Best-Kept Boy in the World by Arthur Vanderbilt finally rounds up all the lore about the mysterious Denny Fouts and lays out the evidence in an entertaining book that gives mini-biographies of each of Fouts's fans. The result is a whirlwind social tour of the social mores of the middle of the 20th century as well as an insider's view of the gay cultural elite. .... '
----  see more of Christopher Harrity's review of Arthur Vanderbilt's biog of Fouts at at :-

Thursday, May 7, 2015

SAINT LAURENT | Fashion icon biopic ...

Celebrity, Saint, or Sinner?
---- brief extracts from a substantial review of another new movie about French fashion designer Saint Laurent by Armond White at OUT Magazine (USA), 6 May 2015 :-

      '.... Writer-Director Bertrand Bonello’s biopic Saint Laurent retraces events shown more clearly in last year’s release, Jalil Lespert’s Yves Saint Laurent. Both films — openly depicting the designer’s private affairs — are part of a very contemporary acceptance of Saint Laurent’s gayness and career. But Bonello focuses on the sexual desperation behind celebrity. Anyone expecting a fashion spectacle like Lespert’s finale gets a seriously, frustratingly philosophical art-movie instead. ....
....  But whereas Sartre’s “sainthood” implied exceptional trials, singular dedication and an in-depth moral analysis, Bonello’s couturier is neither a selfless martyr nor an officially sanitized figure. Participation in the era’s outré sex-and-drug revels makes him a stereotype of the insatiable gay '70s rather than a test-case for canonization. Is he entrepreneur or artist, sinner or saint?  .... '
----  see more of Armond White's insightful opinion-piece about the second French movie about YSL in a year opening shortly in the US at at :-

GAY TV | The message of 'LOOKING' ....

A Lesson for 'LOOKING'
----  brief extracts from an extended opinion-piece by Nathan Smith at the Huffington Post (USA), 4 May 2015 :-

      'Last month it was announced that HBO's popular gay-themed television program Looking would not return for a third season.
      To have set a gay-themed comedy/drama in San Francisco was Looking's first mistake. In an attempt to offer a more complex and varied representation of modern gay adult life on television, the show was undone by its iconic location.
      After the announcement of its cancellation, Looking would now end its current season with a Lifetime-style "special," where the storylines of protagonist Patrick (Jonathan Groff) and his cronies (Agustín, Dom, and co.) would be wrapped up.
      For the uninitiated, Looking is the critically acclaimed HBO "dramedy" which explores the pains and pleasures of modern gay life in San Francisco. It has received widespread praise since its premiere in 2014.  ....
....  Modern gay life is about negotiating spaces where the stigma of our sexuality, our effeminacy, and our difference is our daily and exhaustive challenge. While San Francisco offers an idyllic and enviable "imaginary" of modern gay life for many, it is template that is unusable in future representations of gay male life.  .... '
----  see more of Nathan Smith's view on the controversies surrounding Looking (HBO, US) at :- 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

GAY ISSUES | 61% of Americans support having a gay or lesbian president ...

NBC/WSJ (USA) survey shows increased support for gays on social issues
----  brief extracts from a statistics post by Daniel Burnett at Metro Weekly (USA), 5 May 2015 :-

      'Americans would be more comfortable with a gay or lesbian president than an Evangelical Christian, according to a new survey.  ....
....  The NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey examined how Americans respond to various qualities of potential presidential candidates, including age, race, and sexual orientation. Today, 61% of Americans are “comfortable” or “enthusiastic” about a gay or lesbian president, while 37% have at least “some reservations.”  ....
....  The survey also found that a plurality of Americans (44%) believe our society has not gone far enough to end discrimination against homosexual Americans.  ....
....  The survey also found that 58% of Americans support the Supreme Court deciding that gay Americans have a constitutional right to marry, with 37% opposed.  .... '
----  see the entirety of Daniel Burnett's report at at :-

Saturday, May 2, 2015

DAVID BECKHAM | A salute to Golden Balls on the occasion of his 40th ...

Happy birthday David Beckham : 14 reasons we love golden balls on his 40th
----  brief excerpts from a birthday wish posted by James Tabberer at Gay Star News (UK), 1st May 2015 :-

      'Iconic sportsman, committed family man, original Spice Boy and clothes-allergic friend of the gays – Becks, we salute you!
      It seems like only yesterday an awkward, red-shirted early-20-something started blazing a trail in British football. Now, almost two decades, four kids and at least 50 hairstyles later, former England captain David Beckham today hits the big 4-0 (on 2 May). To mark the occasion, David this morning joined Instagram, posting a sexy snap of himself in bed in Morocco where he's spending his special day – and at last glance he'd amassed over 1m followers in a matter of hours!
----  see more of James Tabberer's birthday wish & sixteen sultry pics of David & his family at at :- 

Friday, May 1, 2015


Way Older Than Cell Phones: Expert Witness Revealed Same-Sex Unions Have Existed For Millenia
----  brief excerpts from a press release issued by the Human Rights Campaign (USA), 30 April 2015 :-

      'WASHINGTON – Two days after the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in the marriage equality case Obergefell v. Hodges, the Human Rights Campaign joined with the legal team from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher that challenged California’s ban on marriage equality to highlight key testimony from Hollingsworth v. Perry which shows that marriage between same-sex couples has a lengthy history, stretching back thousands of years.
      “The fact that gays and lesbians form loving, committed, and stable relationships is not new,” said Ted Boutrous, partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher who played a critical role in the Prop 8 case.         “During the Prop. 8 trial we introduced into evidence testimony from the proponents’ own experts recognizing that same-sex marriages have existed for centuries.  A decision affirming for all the freedom to marry both dignifies gay and lesbian couples and honors the history of marriage.” ....
.... In her testimony, however [Katherine Young, a professor of religious studies at McGill University, an expert witness] Professor Young detailed the history of marriage equality, saying that India, China, parts of North America and Ancient Rome all had forms of same-sex marriage. “There are many other examples of same-sex relationships,” she testified.  .... '
----  see more of this report at at :- 

HISTORICAL FICTION | The fascination of its fans with the minutiae of the past ...

9 Things All Historical Fiction Fans Know To Be True
----  two excerpts from an extended but affectionate reflection on the appeal of historical fiction (for example, your host George Gardiner's novel The Hadrian Enigma, blurbed above), as US enthusiast Sadie L. Trombetta reveals at BUSTLE (USA), 30 April 2015 :-

      ' .... But that isn’t the only reason I love historical fiction.
      Because of the loose criteria, historical fiction novels range from love stories to family sagas to coming of age novels. They include Sir Walter Scott’s Warerly, Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, and Hilary Mantel’s Wolf HallThey have drama, mystery, intrigue, love, horror, violence, romance — essentially, they have it all. A great historical fiction book will transport you back to another time and place where you are surrounded by the customs and traditions of a world long gone. And the best part about historical fiction novels is the mix of the true and authentic with the fabricated and the fictional.  ....
....  Halloween only comes once a year, and unless you are in college, your costume party days are limited… and so are your days of pretending to be someone and somewhere else. But historical fiction fans know that if you want to put on a mask and go to a ball, you can always pick up a book.       They know if you want to fight alongside the allies in WWII, you can pick up a book. They know if you want to sling guns with the cowboys in the wild west… well, you get the picture here.  .... '
----  see more of Sadie L. Trombetta's essay on the charms of historical fiction at at :- 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

TONY AWARDS 2015 | The top nominations ...

'An American in Paris' & 'Fun Home' Top 2015 Tony Nominations

----  for theater enthusiasts :- a brief update on this year's Tony Award nominations at (USA), 28 April 2015 :-

      'An American in Paris' [at]  and Fun Home topped the nominations for The 69th annual Tony Awards on April 28, earning 12 nods each, including Best Musical. Announced by Broadway-bound Bruce Willis and Tony winner Mary-Louise Parker,
      Wolf Hall Parts One & Two garnered most nominations of any play with eight, closely followed by Skylight with seven and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time with six. Other standouts included a nomination for Sting for Best Score for The Last Ship, which prematurely closed on the Great White Way in January, and On the Twentieth Century's Kristin Chenoweth, who will also co-host this year’s awards ceremony with Alan Cumming.
      Notable snubs included Finding Neverland—the Harvey Weinstein-produced new musical did not receive a single nomination. Outraged your favorite didn’t make the list?
----  see more about this year's Tony Awards with the complete list of nominations at at :-
---- and visit the 2-minute video-teaser of the new Broadway stage version of the much-loved MGM 1951 movie 'An American in Paris' in the side-column.

Monday, April 27, 2015

GAY ICONS | John Waters, film-maker ...

GAY ICONS | The twisted tales of John Waters
----  a brief extract from a post by Bobby Hankinson at Towleroad (USA), 25 April 2015 :-

      ' ....  I always appealed to gay people that couldn’t even fit into the gay world, and I still do,” he told Dallas Voice earlier this year. “My crowd has always been minorities. My core crowd is minorities that can’t fit in with their own minorities.”
The Baltimore-born Waters has worn many hats — writer, director, actor, comedian, artist — but, his signature pencil mustache and camp aesthetic, his work has maintained his subversive sense of style.       Responsible for some of the most shocking, transgressive moments on film, Waters has worked with everyone from legendary drag queens to today’s brightest Hollywood stars. From his most controversial films to even his most mainstream works, Waters has never lost touch of his unique sensibilities.
      “I don't understand what gay people want to be like everybody else," he told BigThink in 2011. “To me, we were outlaws, we used our wit for fighting words, you know, Act Up — ‘Act Bad,’ I wanted.”  .... '
----  see more of John Waters' idiosyncratic perspective, as reported by Bobby Hankinson at at :- 
----  and check the video in the sidebar (but come back here after)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

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

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

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

Friday, April 24, 2015

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

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

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

Thursday, April 23, 2015

GAY CULTURE | A new online initiative ...

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

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

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

GAY RIGHTS | The tortuous path towards legitimacy ...

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

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

Sunday, April 19, 2015

GAY RIGHTS | Is the battle over? ...

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

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

Friday, April 17, 2015

GAY DEBATE | Is full acceptance approaching? ...

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

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

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

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

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

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

Saturday, April 11, 2015

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

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

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

Friday, April 10, 2015


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

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

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


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

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

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

... the pages below in this column offer trailers of recent gay-interest movies likely to be available on dvd etc, plus independent reviews of THE HADRIAN ENIGMA ...

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

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



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

BISEXUAL WOMEN | How to be oneself? ...


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

How bad hair days can signify something important ...


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

NEW GAY CINEMA | Indie eroticism ...

GAY-THEMED MOVIE with two major artists ...

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




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


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

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

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

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


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

COOL GAY MOVIE for 2014 ...

GAY MOVIE about high school love ...





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


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

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

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

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

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

(See more at :-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nan Hawthorne, Historical Novelist

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

An excerpt from a review of August 15, 2011

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See this review in situ at Amazon at :-


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

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

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

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


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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?

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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.