Welcome to COOL GAY STUFF! Historical-novelist George Gardiner samples current LGBT highlights from around the Net to 'taste' & promote new LGBT media (thanks to Google Chrome, YouTube, & Blogger). This daily-updated digest focuses on topical gay-themed or gay-interest Web selections, plus links to the originating sites. But these sampler-snippets are NOT only for gay gals & guys, so there's no eye-popping porn here nor racy NSFW items likely to spook non-gays. Primarily, it's your host's personal pick of the Net's currently significant cool gay stuff. It opens with new videos possessing likely gay interest ...

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


Jason Kelly [played by site fave Zac Efron] is one week away from marrying his boss’s uber-controlling daughter, putting him on the fast track for a partnership at the law firm.

However, when the straight-laced Jason is tricked into driving his foul-mouthed grandfather, Dick [Robert De Niro], to Daytona for spring break, his pending nuptials are suddenly in jeopardy. Between riotous frat parties, bar fights, and an epic night of karaoke, Dick is on a quest to live his life to the fullest and bring Jason along for the ride.

Ultimately, on the wildest journey of their lives, “dirty” Grandpa and his uptight grandson discover they can learn from one another and form the bond they never had.

This outlandish comedy also stars Julianne Hough, Aubrey Plaza, Dermot Mulroney and Adam Pally.

It's in US & world cinemas from January 22.


ONE OF THE FIRST RECORDED SAME-SEX COUPLES OF HISTORY : Hadrian Caesar and his spunky pal, Antinous of Bithynia (in Rome, circa 125 CE, 200 years before Rome became Christian)...

.... The first two 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 of a paperback or Kindle ebook.

OPINIONS OF "THE HADRIAN ENIGMA" - brief excerpts from 20 US & UK Amazon reviews ...

"Nobody will ever know what, exactly, happened to Antinoos. But this is IMHO the best yet story about what might have been. ...."
David Woodworth (USA) at Amazon's USA sales site

"Five stars ... This is a good & fast read."
Fr Mike Mangoian (USA) at Amazon USA

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

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

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

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

NOTE: ***Amazon USA's book or ebook purchase website with its 20 reader's reviews (eleven 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


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 :


.... (but if your browser only shows a sole news item in the column immediately below, click on this blue url address to instantly summon-up the twenty-or-so others awaiting your view) :-

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

LGBT Influence grows across East Asia ...

From Tokyo to Taipei, a growing acceptance for LGBT people
----  brief excerpts from an extended news report by correspondent Gavin Blair at The Christian Science Monitor (USA), 22 November 2015 :-

      'TOKYO -- In a region imbued with the Confucian ideals of filial respect and saving face, the toughest battles are within families.
      When it come to homosexuality, the Confucian cultures of East Asia can be quite conservative, though they don't share the religious or moral objections of Judeo-Christian-Islamic countries.
      But across a region becoming steadily more urban and cosmopolitan, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT) communities are experiencing a changes in attitudes and a greater legal recognition that echoes the trend in the West towards much greater acceptance of equality.
      Last weekend some 80,000 people from around East Asia converged on Taipei for the Oct. 31 Taiwan Pride parade, the biggest such event in the region. It was followed by a record 10,000 marchers in the Hong Kong Pride Parade. In Japan, that same November evening saw the broadcast of “Transit Girls,” the first TV drama here about a lesbian couple.
      To be sure, for many LGBTs in a region imbued with the Confucian ideals of filial respect and saving face, the toughest battles remain within families. Still, the overall shift seems clear across this diverse region, and is partly due to the influence of the West, including the legalization of same-sex marriage in the US and Ireland.  .... '
----  see more of Gavin Blair's extended & well-informed article at the highly-regarded CS Monitor at :- http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-Pacific/2015/1122/From-Tokyo-to-Taipei-a-growing-acceptance-for-LGBT-people 

GUS KENWORTHY gets ready for winter sports ...

Olympic Freeskier Gus Kenworthy Talks Life, Preparing for First Competition Since Coming Out

----  brief pars from an interesting extended sports-report by Devon Newport at MSTARS NEWS (USA), 22 November 2015 :- 

      'Almost a month ago, Gus Kenworthy, professional freeskier and Olympic silver medalist, came out to the world as "gay." In doing so, he became one of the first--if not the first--openly gay extreme sport professional athlete. A month later, he now looks to turn his attention back to the slopes, targeting his first competition since the announcement. Of course, it's been something of a journey getting there.  ....
....  During the Sochi Olympic Winter games, Kenworthy's popularity skyrocketed. Aside from being a sensation on the slopes--going on to earn a silver medal--he rescued five stray dogs off the Russian streets, becoming an instant Internet sensation.
      As his fame continued to grow, Kenworthy became increasingly troubled by the secret he kept from everyone. When he contemplated coming out, he worried what people would think--especially in the alpha male environment of extreme sports. Would his sponsors stick by him? His friends? Would he make skiing less cool? All these thoughts tormented him--to the point that he thought about quitting the sport altogether. But he didn't.  .... '
----  see more of Devon Newport's extended report on Gus (with thanks to MSTARZ) at :- 
----  and visit the YouTube video in the sidebar (at right) showing Gus doing his thing in spectacular fashion.
---- hey, while you're at it, visit Gus's two short videos of advice to youngsters at teenVOGUE (USA) at :-  
---- these tell you more about Gus's mature-minded approach than any print-media report (& then hopelessly swoon!).

Thursday, November 19, 2015

"CAROL" | Patricia Highsmith's most revealing novel (now a movie) ...

Patricia Highsmith's "CAROL" and the Enduring Invisibility of Lesbian Culture in America
----  the brief opening moments from an extended essay by key US critic Frank Rich published at Vulture (USA), 18 November 2015 :-

      'Even today, Todd Haynes’s mesmerizing adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s classic novel comes as a shock—mostly for how much lesbian culture remains invisible to America at large. [Ms. Highsmith was the acclaimed author of movie thrillers such as Strangers on a Train and several versions of The Talented Mr. Ripley - Ed.]
      In early December 1948, Patricia Highsmith took a Christmas-season temp job as a shopgirl in the children’s toy department at Bloomingdale’s. Highsmith, a 27-year-old native of Fort Worth, Texas, and a 1942 Barnard graduate, was a budding novelist who had been supporting herself for five years as a freelance action-comic-book writer, concocting stories for lesser superheroes like Spy Smasher and Black Terror — a rare gig for a woman in the golden age of comics.
      But her average weekly income of $55 no longer ­sufficed now that she had started shelling out $30 a week for psychoanalysis. Highsmith had sought a shrink’s help to deal with her qualms about her pending marriage to a British novelist named Marc Brandel. Up until then, her prolific love life had been defined by a string of affairs with women.
      The therapy didn’t take, and the marriage never happened. The Bloomingdale’s job, which she loathed, expired in two weeks. But there was an incident in the toy department lasting a mere two or three minutes that would haunt Highsmith for life. As she would recount it publicly for the first time more than four decades later, “a routine transaction,” the sale of a doll to a suburban “blondish woman in a fur coat” seeking a gift for her daughter, had left Highsmith “odd and swimmy in the head, near to fainting, yet at the same time uplifted, as if I had seen a vision.” ....'
----  see more of Frank Rich's perceptive biog of Patricia Highsmith at www.vulture.com at :-
----  and visit the 2min30sec trailer for "CAROL" (in the sidebar at right)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

GAY LIFE | Getting it straight ...

How To Tell A Gay Story
----  pars from an extended opinion-piece by Madison Moore at Splice Today (USA), 18 November 2015 :-

      '.... Over the past decade gay people have exploded on screen. We’re turning into drag queens on camera and we’re featured on primetime television shows on ABC. But the trouble with gay storytelling is that it generally falls into two extremes: either we’re neutered, non-sexual beings who are in sexless relationships or the story attempts to overreach by capturing an overarching gay lifestyle that is actually only relevant to very select groups of people.
      How many times have gay people seen images of straight people, young and old, deal with the realities of sex, sexuality and relationships? How many sex scenes have we watched in straight movies depicting the intimacy, humor and awkwardness of sex? And why is gay sex on screen nearly always categorized as porn.  .... '
----  see more of Madison Moore's perceptive essay at www.splicetoday.com/sex at :-

Monday, November 16, 2015


Gay couples talk about marriage and their love for one another
----  selected pars from a news report by David Hudson published at the ever-informative Gay Star News (USA), 16 November 2015, with thanks :-

      'Insurance firm MassMutual have made one of the most effective and moving commercials yet on same-sex marriage. In the same month that Massachusetts’ Governor, Charlie Baker, signed into a law a ground-breaking initiative that guarantees a cut of state contracts go to LGBT-owned businesses, a locally headquartered insurance company has produced what may be one of the most moving commercials yet exploring same-sex marriage.  ....
....  "At MassMutual, we value diversity and inclusion and we are committed to helping all of our customers secure their futures and protect the ones they love, regardless of color, gender, religion or sexual orientation,’ said John Chandler, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at MassMutual, in a statement.  .... "
----  see more of this www.gaystarnews.com report at :-
----  and/or visit the heart-warming 4-minute tv commercial in the sidebar (right).

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Olympian Skier Gus Kenworthy Knew He Was Gay From 'An Early Age'
----  Cool Gay Stuff fave sportsman, handsome skier Kenworthy, tells us "when he knew", as reported by staff at On Top Magazine (UK/ USA), 15 November 2015 :-

      'Olympian Gus Kenworthy says in a new interview that he knew he was gay from “an early age.”
The 24-year-old British-born American freestyle skier won the silver medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. ....
....  “I definitely knew something from an early age, and I didn’t necessarily know that that’s what it was and that I was gay .... I think it was 16 that I really realized ‘this is what I am’, but that’s also the age I went pro and started traveling a lot, so it was a hard time to accept it.” ....
.... Kenworthy also discussed how he met his first boyfriend.  .... '
---- see far more personal details of Gus's coming-out process at www.ontopmag.com at :-  

Saturday, November 14, 2015


Sex and Subtext in Tolkien's World
----  two extracts from an extended 2-part essay by David La Fontaine in November/December's edition of The Gay & Lesbian Review (USA), Nov/Dec 2015 :-

      'THE TECHNOLOGICAL WIZARDRY of Peter Jackson’s film trilogy of The Lord of The Rings has contributed enormously to the worldwide popularity of J.R.R. Tolkien. The Lord of The Rings, a massive book that Tolkien labeled “heroic romance” rather than a novel, was originally published in England in three volumes in 1954 and 1955.  ....
....  The New Zealand filmmaker Peter Jackson capitalizes on a modern sexual sensibility in his three visually stunning film adaptations of The Lord of The Rings, released in 2001, 2002, and 2003. Homoerotic desire is up there on Jackson’s very large screen for all to see. All three films were critically acclaimed, with dozens of Oscar nominations collectively. But while the films have secured Tolkien’s place as a literary giant, the gay themes in these adaptations have engendered controversy.       In the decade since the films were released, Tolkien scholarship, far from embracing sexual modernism, has become increasingly repressive. Religious conservatives have dominated published biographies and critical works. Their approach toward homosexuality in Tolkien’s work and in his life has been complete silence.  ....
----  see more of David La Fontaine's perceptive insights into the Tolkien corpus at The G&L Review
at :-
---- and visit the 

Friday, November 13, 2015


Gay, and Saving Herself for Marriage
----  two opening excerpts from a health-&-gender report by Olga Khazan at The Atlantic (USA), 12 November 2015 :-

      'She’s waiting for the one, and the one will be a woman.
      When Julie Kerr was about 12 or 13, she decided that, like many other Christians, she would try to wait until she was married to have sex. That part wasn’t especially surprising. She grew up in a small town in Virginia with a Baptist minister for a father.
      It was also around that time that she discovered something about herself that was less conventional in her circle: She liked women.
To her, the two are not incompatible. She never took a formal purity pledge, but, “it's mainly through [my faith] that I felt a calling to wait until marriage, or waiting until I meet the love of my life. For me, the love of my life is definitely going to be a woman.”  ....
.... A prominent 2006 study found that 95 percent of Americans did not wait for marriage to have sex. “Premarital sex is nearly universal among Americans,” that study’s title proclaimed decisively, “and has been for decades.” And gay people are much less likely to identify as Christian than straight people are .... '
----  see more of Olga Khazan's report at www.theatlantic.com/health at :-

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

GAYS IN ANCIENT EGYPT | Recognizing the historical evidence ...

Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep: Saints of Antinous
----  brief excerpts from an extended remembrance by adherents of The Religion of Antinous (USA/Europe), 11 November 2015 :-

      'On November 11th the Religion of Antinous honors two men whose love for each other has survived the fall of all ancient civilizations.
      We honor Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep, Blessed Saints of Antinous. They lived in Egypt 2,000 years before the siege of Troy. 
      They had been dead and forgotten for 2,650 years when Hadrian and Antinous visited Mennefer (Memphis) Egypt in 130 AD.   ....
....  When the tomb was discovered in 1964 it sent shock waves through the dusty world of Egyptology. The vividly painted reliefs on the walls of the tomb showed an intimate embrace between two male Royal Manicurists — the first recorded depiction of an openly homosexual couple.
      Prudish Egyptologists have argued ever since that the two men were "just good friends" or perhaps that they were possibly "twin brothers".
      But recent research by more open-minded archaeologists, such as California-based Egyptologist Greg Reeder has offered compelling evidence that the two men were more than "just good friends" or "close brothers." .... '
----  see more about these two ancient Egyptian gays at http://antinousgaygod.blogspot , with thanks, including at :-  http://antinousgaygod.blogspot.com.au/ 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

OBAMA: Ally of the Year ...

OUT Magazine names Obama 'Ally of the Year'
----  the opening pars from a news report by Eliza Collins published in Politico (USA), 11 November 2015 :-

      'OUT magazine has named Barack Obama its “Ally of the Year,” and its black-and-white cover photograph makes him the first sitting president to be featured so prominently by an LGBT title.
The gay and lesbian magazine calls Obama an “ally,” “hero” and “icon” for his support of LGBT rights.
     In an interview with the magazine, the president spoke about how his support of gay rights stemmed from his mother teaching him that everyone mattered, and from feeling like an outsider “growing up as a black guy with a funny name.”  ....
----  see more of Eliza Collins' report at www.politico.com at :-

Monday, November 9, 2015

Christopher Rice on how writing the gay happily-ever-after novel is not easy for him ...

INTERVIEW: Christopher Rice is ready to write his first gay romance
----  brief excerpts from a news post by Sarah Dobie Bauer at SHEKNOWS (USA), 10 November 2015 :-

      'Christopher Rice has been openly gay since... forever, so why should it be shocking that this supernatural horror and erotica author would write about two dudes in love? Well, he says it's putting an awful lot on the line.
      "Most of what I've written about gay relationships in the past has been dark, about loss and grief and betrayal," he told SheKnows. "Writing romance makes you very vulnerable. You really have to be willing to lay your hopes and fantasies out on the page. You have to be willing to say, 'This is how I would like things to work out.' I am working up the nerve to write a gay romance, which may seem ironic since I've always been out, but writing the gay happily-ever-after is not as easy for me as it sounds." ....
....  Thanks, in part, to the world of fan fiction, man-on-man action has become pretty popular with the female population. Not only are women reading it, but they're writing it. Rice isn't surprised. He said, "It's a stereotype that men want to see two women roll around in a bubble bath, but oh, women don't want to see two men. The real fact is women may not want to see it, but they do want to read it."
 ----  see more of Sarah Dobie Bauer's report at the smart women's site www.sheknows.com at :- 

Sunday, November 8, 2015


Elton John calls for Vatican to reinstate gay priest Krzysztof Charamsa in an inspiring Oxford Union speech.
----   two selected pars from an extended news report by Laura Whetherly & David Barker at The Oxford Student (UK), 7 November 2015 :-

       'Sir Elton John praised Pope Francis for trying to make the Catholic Church “more humble and more human” but urged the Vatican to reinstate gay priest Krzysztof Charamsa, who had held a post for more than a decade before being sacked for revealing his homosexuality.  ....
....  Declaring himself a “big fan” of Pope Francis for making the Catholic Church “more humble and more human,” he criticised the previous Pope, Benedict XVI, for being more concerned with his extravagant dress sense than ending discrimination.  He continued by asking Francis to “Let your love wash over your priests and all people”, later condemning the Vatican itself as “a hive of backstabbing and intrigue”.  .... '
----  see more of this revealing extended report at http://oxfordstudent.com at :-

Friday, November 6, 2015


Gay priest fired by Vatican describes 'special homophobia'
----  the introductory pars from an Associated Press (AP) news report, as published in the Jamaica Observer (Kingston, Jamaica), 6 November 2015 :-

      'BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — The Polish monsignor who came out as gay and was fired by the Vatican just before a meeting of bishops about outreach to gays, divorcees and more traditional Catholic families says that a "special kind of homophobia" exists among priests, because those who are homosexual are forced to hate themselves.
      Krzysztof Charamsa told The Associated Press in an interview that he hopes more priests will come out to destroy the code of silence in the church.
      "Many priests, many bishops, many persons in Catholic clergy are gay, are homosexual people," Charamsa said. "With the sensitivity of homosexuals. But they must hate themselves."
      Charamsa was a mid-level official in the Vatican's doctrine office who came out in interviews in Italian and Polish media last month a day before the bishops met, saying he was happy and proud to be a gay priest and in love with his boyfriend.
      In firing Charamsa, the Vatican cited the timing of his announcement as "very serious and irresponsible, since it aims to subject the synod assembly to undue media pressure".  .... '
----  see more of this news report at www.jamaicaobserver.com/news at :-

Thursday, November 5, 2015


BOOKS: New memoir explores black gay experience
----  excerpts from a book review by Terri Schlickenmeyer at the Washington Blade (USA), 30 October 2015 :-

      'What Color is Your Hoodie? Essays on Black Gay Identity’ by Jarrett Neal :
      Born to a 14-year-old mother, raised in a household with an alcoholic grandfather, Jarrett Neal was in eighth grade when his gym class accidentally walked in on their coach showering. It was Neal’s first glimpse of a naked man and it “ended my boyhood,” he writes in “What Color is Your Hoodie: Essays on Black Gay Identity.” 
      He was well into college when he finally admitted to himself that he was attracted to men; still, the “daily taunts” from his more athletic, more self-confident peers and the absence of a father haunted him for many years. To counteract it, Neal joined a gym and worked out tirelessly, until he realized that he’d never have a body like He-Man. He was never going to make a living with his physique. Instead, Neal knew that he had to write. .... '
----  see more of Terri Schlickenmeyer's review of Jarrett Neal's book published by Chelsea Station Editions (USA) at :-

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


Sex Column: Make an effort to expand your tastes
----  two excerpts from an extended essay by Michael Rulli at BU Pipe Dream (USA), 3 November 2015 :-

      'Trends toward normativity are stifling acceptance within our identity spectrum. “MascBUguys,” “No femmes” and “NoBlacks” are all Grindr profiles currently displayed in the Binghamton community. Now, this isn’t any new development in gay hookup culture where the only body type men seem to want is the fratty white guy. But why — in 2015 — does the trend seem to be growing rather than slowing down? In a time where gender fluidity and race are being openly discussed more than ever, why does Grindr still only find one type of guy attractive?  ....
....  I would think that in a post-RuPaul’s Drag Race and Cailtyn Jenner world, people would realize that “masculine” and “feminine” aren’t set in stone — that people of color exist and are beautiful. I know preferences exist and that we all have them, but there’s a moment where it changes from a preference to a disgust for someone who doesn’t conform to the binary or who doesn’t fit into what is deemed “beautiful.”
      Gay isn’t deviant anymore. Gay is out and about in society. But is it “proud?” ....'
----  see more of Michael Rulli's provocative challenge to rigid categories of sexual attraction at www.bupipedream.com/opinion at :-

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


Israeli LGBTQ Activists Petition High Court for Marriage Equality
----  brief excerpts from a news report at Haaretz.com (Israel), 3 November 2015 :-

      'Petitioners say High Court should have authority to approve civil court marriages. Four months after the United States Supreme Court passed a historic ruling legalizing gay marriage, an LGBTQ rights NGO presented Israel's High Court with a petition on Sunday calling for marriage equality throughout the country.
      Prohibiting LGBTQ individuals to wed in Israel is discriminatory, claims The Aguda, an association of LGBTQ allies and activists, in the petition, adding that if Israel's rabbinical courts refuse to recognize such marriages, secular courts should.
      According to Channel 10 News, this is the first petition of its kind. The court has not yet issued a ruling on it.  .... '
----  see more of the report at www.haaretz.com/israel at :- 

Monday, November 2, 2015


Thousands march in Taiwan for marriage equality, gay rights
----  brief excerpts from a substantial news report by Yuan-Ming Chiao  at The China Post (Taiwan), 1st November 2015 :- 

      'TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Nearly 80,000 people took to the streets of Taipei yesterday to support marriage equality and greater societal tolerance regarding issues of age, sex and gender at the Taiwan LGBT Pride parade (台灣同志遊行), which saw the highest number of participants since the event was established 13 years ago.  ....
....  Holding up signs ranging from sentiments about sexual liberation ("I w*nk therefore I am") and support for marriage equality and justice, marchers were supported by a group of traditional Japanese drummers, a brass band and cars honking their horns along the parade route.
    This year's parade theme "No Age Limit" called for greater societal introspection regarding norms attached with age, sex and gender. Organizers stated that Taiwan's youth needed greater encouragement without limitations placed on their personal exploration, and that they should be able to move beyond traditionally dominant mores on marriage and rearing children.  ....
----  see more of Yuan-Ming Chiao' s report at www.chinapost.com.tw at :-

Sunday, November 1, 2015

WHY ARE WE GAY? : A taste of an updated science report ...

What's the Use of Being Gay?
-     brief excerpts from a full-page essay by Brenden Shucart at The Advocate (USA) Oct/November 2015 :-

      'Centuries of studies have tried to examine the value of homosexuality to human beings as a species. “Why am I gay?”
      The question reverberates through every homosexual at least once in his or her life. While potentially confounding as a personal question, when one applies a little science, this question becomes an intriguing evolutionary puzzle. Homosexual behavior has been observed in more than 1,500 species. If the point of life, from an evolutionary standpoint, is to pass on useful genes, why is anyone gay?
      Humans have been trying to answer that question since we began applying scientific principles to human sexuality. ....
....  This year, a study was published with the Royal Society that applied sexually antagonistic selection theories to the lives of fruit flies. Essentially robots built to eat, fly, and fuck, fruit flies are utterly lacking in cultural influence.  ....
....  My favorite theory envisions the gay man as bridge builder and peacemaker. Citing examples from such far-flung settings as pre-colonial Hawaii, medieval Florence, and feudal Japan, anthropologist R.C. Kirkpatrick has theorized that gay sex can help build relationships and form alliances for both individuals and families. It fits with what we know about the physiological traits of gay men and the environmental realities which increase the likelihood of homosexual behavior — large families already dense with aggressive males and overcrowded living situations with limited resources are both scenarios where more cooperative, socially inclined males could come in handy.  .... '
----  see more of Brenden Shucart's article for The Advocate at :-
----  and visit readers' interesting responses following at the Advocate site

Saturday, October 31, 2015

ANTINOUS | Commemorating the death of a gay icon ...

ANTINOUS (Roman Empire, circa 111-130CE): Remembering the death of 'The Divine Ephebe' in late-October
----  a tribute to the life & death of Rome's universal symbol of gay affection, as published factually at Wikipedia  ....

      ' Antinous (also Antinoüs or Antinoös; Ancient Greek: Ἀντίνοος; 27 November, c. 111 – before 30 October 130[1]) was a Bithynian Greek youth and a favourite, or lover, of the Roman emperor Hadrian.[2] He was deified after his death, being worshiped in both the Greek East and Latin West, sometimes as a god (theos) and sometimes merely as a deified mortal (heros).[3]
      Little is known of Antinous' life, although it is known that he was born in Claudiopolis (nowadays Bolu, Turkey), in the Roman province of Bithynia. He likely was introduced to Hadrian in 123, before being taken to Italy for a higher education. He had become the favourite of Hadrian by 128, when he was taken on a tour of the Empire as part of Hadrian's personal retinue.
      Antinous accompanied Hadrian during his attendance of the annual Eleusinian Mysteries in Athens, and was with him when he killed the Marousian lion in Libya. In October 130, as they were part of a flotilla going along the Nile, Antinous died amid mysterious circumstances. Various suggestions have been put forward for how he died, ranging from an accidental drowning to an intentional human sacrifice.
      Following his death, Hadrian deified Antinous and founded an organised cult devoted to his worship that spread throughout the Empire.
      Antinous became associated with homosexuality in Western culture, appearing in the work of Oscar Wilde and the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa ....'
---- see more of this Wiki entry at the url address below :-
----  see too the celebration of the Divine Ephebe at ANTINOUS THE GAY GOD at :-

Thursday, October 29, 2015

THE GAY VOICE | A light-hearted view of a common phenomenon ...

Do I Sound Gay?
----  highlighting a new documentary film

      'This hilarious doco follows the journey of David Thorpe, a man confronting his anxiety about "sounding gay". Enlisting the help of his speech therapist, who hilariously has him working on his nasality and long vowels, Thorpe begins to unpack his own personal story through honest conversations with his family and friends of how, why and when his voice became "gay".
      Along the way, he candidly questions the wider cultural issues concerning sexuality and self-esteem, especially the inherent fear of "sounding gay".
       From the clever opening scene to the funny and heart-warming commentary, this documentary attempts to answer an often unexpressed and vulnerable question in many of our minds: "do I sound gay?"
----  visit the 2-min YouTube trailer for this doco in the right-hand sidebar here (for desktops only) to encourage you to its screenings in select cinemas & festivals through 2015-16.


----  the initial breathless blurb preceding fourteen adorable pics of newly 'out' ski-action hero Gus, posted by the Editors of Gay Net (USA), 22 October 2015, to help satisfy the thirst :-

      'In a recent interview with ESPN, Gus Kenworthy, the Olympic freeskier, came out as gay, and the queer community could not be more proud to accept him as one of our own. Not only is he an accomplished Olympian (he took the silver medal during the 2014 Winter Olympics), he is the ultimate heartthrob. Here are 14 reasons Gus Kenworthy’s Instagram will make you thirsty for more.
      1. His piercing blue eyes… and lips… and nose… and face… and everything. 
----  see the appropriately representative shot of young Mr. Kenworthy - all blushing pink features, carefully gelled hair, and very winning penetrating blue eyes - in the column (right) as a precursor to the remaining thirteen shots of Gus which follow in Gay Net's collection. All 14 pics can be found at www.gay.net at :-

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Gay. transgender characters thrive on U.S. streaming sites as traditional tv lags
---- 'several pars from a substantial business report by Chris Michaud, New York, at Reuters.com (USA), 27 October 2015 :-

      'U.S. streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu are leading the way with depictions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people on television, most notably with transgender characters, and are far outpacing network and cable television, according to a GLAAD report.
      The advocacy organization, which monitors how the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community is portrayed in the media, said its 20th annual television survey released on Tuesday found that transgender characters are completely absent from primetime broadcast programming.
      But 7 percent of characters on streaming services were transgender, including two series leads.  ....
....  "Streaming services aren’t shackled to the same revenue models as television, which gives them more freedom to be creative and tell more rich and diverse stories," explained Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD's president.
      "Streaming providers have reshaped the way LGBT stories are told, and we’re now seeing traditional entertainment media do its best to catch up," she added,   .... '
----  see more of Chris Michaud's revealing stats at www.reuters.com/article at :-

Thursday, October 22, 2015


Gay Jamaican Novelist MARLON JAMES Wins The 2015 Man Booker Literary Prize
----  the opening pars from an extended report by James McDonald at Gay.Net (UK), October 2015 :-

      'Jamaican novelist Marlon James was awarded the 2015 Man Booker Prize for his novelA Brief History of Seven Killings, which is inspired by the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in the 1970s. Michael Wood, chair of the judging panel, called it the "most exciting book" on this year's list, but, adding: "It is not an easy read. It is a big book. There is some tough stuff and there is a lot of swearing but it is not a difficult book to approach."
      When asked earlier this year if identifies with the gay character in his novel, the murderous, literature-quoting gangster Weeper, he told a Telegraph reporter“I don’t know if any of me found its way into that. But it was very important to me that there were gay characters in the book – to reflect the gayness and hypocrisy in Jamaica.” .... '
----  see more of James McDonald's extended report at www.gay.net at :- 
----  and visit the YouTube video in the sidebar here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

GAY MARRIAGE | UK national stats revealed ...

GAY MARRIAGE: 15,000 same-sex couples wed since law changes
----  brief excerpts from a news report at BBC News (UK), 20 October 2015 :-

      'More than 15,000 same-sex marriages have taken place since it became legal in England and Wales, the first official statistics have revealed.
      The Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirmed a total of 15,098 couples had legally married since 2014.  ....
....  Same-sex marriage became legal just after midnight on 29 March 2014, with several couples opting to tie the knot moments afterwards. .... '
----  see more of the BBC's news report at :-

Sunday, October 18, 2015

GAY HOLLYWOOD | The career of actor William Haines ...

Hollywood's First Gay Marriage
---  the opening pars from a well-researched historical appraisal by Karina Longworth at SLATE.com (USA), 18 October 2015 :-

      'Did William Haines really choose his husband over stardom at MGM? The story of William Haines is remembered, if it’s remembered at all, as the story of the first openly gay Hollywood star.       The legend holds that Haines was a major box office draw who was fired by Louis B. Mayer for refusing to drop his live-in boyfriend and marry a woman. This isn’t totally inaccurate, but the truth of Billy Haines’ life in Hollywood is a little more complicated.
      Haines was born on the eve of the first day of 1900, and his biographer William J. Mann stresses that he was the ultimate child of the 20th century. And as such, he thrived during the Roaring ’20s, and struggled to adapt to the limited opportunities of the following decade, and then he reinvented himself in time to take advantage of the prosperity and consumerism of the midcentury.
      And through it all he was, proudly, one-half of Hollywood’s first openly gay marriage.  .... '
----  see more of Karina Longworth's extended remembrance of Haines and his Hollywood career at www.slate.com at :-


Gay is 'normal' for 72% in IIT-D (Indian Institute of Technology - Delhi)
----  brief excerpts from a news post by Shreya Roy Chaudhury at The Times of India (Delhi), 17 October 2015 :-

      'NEW DELHI: An 'LGBTQ+ Campus Climate Survey', conducted by Indian Institute of Technology Delhi's gender sensitisation group Stree, showed that nearly three quarters—72%—of respondents "believe homosexuality is as normal as heterosexuality".
      A total of 300 IIT Delhi students filled the online questionnaire in September and 62.5% of them "felt that nothing would change if one of their close friends comes out as homosexual" and 60% "would not have a problem if their roommate were gay".  ....
....  The Campus Climate Survey "aims to explore the general views of people at IIT Delhi on the issue of diverse gender and sexual identities". Respondents are requested to answer "honestly" so that Stree "can plan [their] activities on these issues in a better fashion". IIT Delhi has an LGBT rights group in Indradhanu that's unrecognized by the administration. Stree "works closely" its members.  .... '
----  see more of Shreya Roy Chaudhury's report at http://timesofindia.com at :- 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

SCREAM QUEENS | Making a (fabulous) killing, glam tv style ...

SCREAM QUEENS | The Problem With Ryan Murphy's Wannabe Divas
----  the opening pars of a scintillating, extended review by Logan Scherer at The Atlantic (USA), October 2015 :-

      'The king of primetime train-wrecks and mean girls doesn’t do justice to the icons he worships.
      Ryan Murphy has a weakness for women having breakdowns. The TV show creator and director lives for the broken lady: the delusional, tempestuous middle-aged woman who’s lost all self-control, like the totalitarian cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester on Glee, or the actual witches of American Horror Story: Coven.
       In his latest horror anthology, Scream Queens, Murphy gives viewers the broken woman in her purest form—the still-young, still-pretty sorority president who hasn’t yet reached rock bottom. But she’s spiralling downward, and the audience has a front-row seat at her prolonged unraveling.
      Scream Queens asks its viewers to root for the campus killer, who offs victims while wearing a shiny devil costume. Yet the most irresistible sin at the center of the series and all of Murphy’s shows isn’t devil worship. It’s diva worship: taking pleasure in the bad behavior of gorgeous women, like Joan Crawford abusing her children, or Naomi Campbell throwing a phone at her assistant. But Murphy’s divas never quite earn icon status—their hysteria is too deliberately constructed, and their hyper-articulate speeches are so obviously written by a gay man who wants viewers to adore them.  .... '
----  see more of Logan Scherer's articulate & extended (if marvellously opinionated) review at www.theatlantic.com at :-
----  & visit the corny 30-sec Scream Queens trailer in the side-bar (right column).

SODOM DISCOVERED? | A huge archaeological site in Jordan ...

Possible site of ancient Sodom yields more finds
---- excerpts from a substantial illustrated article published in Popular Archaeology (USA), 28 September 2015 :-

      'Archaeologists continue to uncover evidence of a massive Bronze Age city-state in present-day Jordan.
      Now having completed the tenth season of excavations, an archaeological team headed by Steven Collins of Trinity Southwest University, New Mexico, has unearthed a goldmine of ancient monumental structures and artifacts that are revealing a massive Bronze Age city-state that dominated the region of Jordan’s southern Jordan Valley, even during a time when many other great cities of the “Holy Land” region were either abandoned or in serious decline.
      Known as Tall el-Hammam, Collins has been leading excavations at the imposing mound, or tel, since 2005.
      "Very, very little was known about the Bronze Age in the Middle Ghor (southern Jordan Valley) before we began our excavations in 2005," says Collins. "Even most of the archaeological maps of the area were blank, or mostly so. 
      What we’ve got on our hands is a major city-state that was, for all practical purposes, unknown to scholars before we started our Project."
Indeed, according to Collins, when comparing it with the remains of other nearby ancient cities, along with its prime location and dates of occupation, it emerges today as the best candidate for the lost city of Sodom—the infamous city that, based on the Biblical account, was destroyed by God in a fiery cataclysm because of its iniquity. 
      "Tall el-Hammam seemed to match every Sodom criterion demanded by the text," he says.  .... '
----  see more of this informative article at http://popular-archaeology.com (url below), but first appreciate how, despite the residual notoriety of the Biblical "Sodom", many of today's Biblical scholars see the supposed "sin of Sodom" not to be related to an endemic homosexuality among its citizens, but a critique of the denial of hospitality to wayfarers or travellers in a subsistence-level society (Ed.-G.G.) :-

Sunday, October 11, 2015

PORN | Witty observations by a perceptive analyst ...

Notes on Porn
----  brief excerpts from an instructive collection of witty aphoristic gems devised by gaylife observer/writer Andrew Holleran, a regular contributor to The Gay & Lesbian Review (USA), September-October 2015 :-

      '1. ANDY WARHOL SAID that when he was in high school he wanted a friend, but then he got a television and he didn’t need a friend anymore. Pornography is like that.
      4. When porn was in magazines, one had to go to a “dirty movie theater”—the Adonis or the Bijou, say, in New York—to see porn on film. But now you can watch porn films by yourself at home: another instance of the way in which the computer isolates us, since in the movie houses, one usually went there to have sex with real people while ignoring the images on screen.
      6. There are so many porn sites that one is always being told of another; but two we can discuss are xtube.com and pornmd.com. The latter is like a library in which you look things up by typing in a topic. The first is an endless stream of porn films, constantly replenished, so that the scene you watch on Page 1 before you go to bed may be on Page 10 when you get up the next morning if you go looking for it, as you may well do.  ....
      9. The porn film industry has stars just the way Hollywood does, though most porn actors are the equivalent of extras. And what extras! It is astonishing that so many attractive people are willing to perform sex with a camera flitting about them like a fly. But it is a supply that apparently never runs out.  ....
      30. Michel Houellbecq said sex is like capitalism: some people have too little, others too much. Porn lets everyone have equal access—which cuts down on the sexual inequality that real life seems to foster. ...
----  these are just a few of Andrew Holleran's witty, often outrageous, always hilarious, & sometimes wise "Notes" to explore further at The Gay & Lesbian Review, 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 in full of THE HADRIAN ENIGMA ...

... then this blog's copyright statement follows & 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 ... G.G.



.... here are ten movie trailers from recent international sources (below), updated regularly ...

STONEWALL | The birth of a Movement ...

FREEHELD - A subtle gay rights challenge ...

VENICE FESTIVAL ENTRY: "From Afar" (Venezuela 2015)

GAY HISTORY | Stonewall is remembered ...

Peter Greenaway's EISENSTEIN, Stalin's eccentric filmmaker ...


"THOSE PEOPLE" | Innercity gay life shows its face ...

BISEXUAL WOMEN | How to be oneself? ...



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


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 MOVIE about high school love ...



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 :-http://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/the-hadrian-enigma-a-forbidden-history/

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 : http://jeannetomlin.blogspot.com/


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See this review in situ at Amazon at :-



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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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