Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Carl Hester to compete in 7th Olympic Games

Dressage master Carl Hester is headed to his SEVENTH Olympics competition in Paris later this month. As such, he will be among the oldest athletes competing (Hester turned 57 a few days ago). When he was on the Great Britain dressage team that took gold at the 2012 Olympics in London, he was the sole "out" gay athlete representing GB. The home crowd was best pleased. Team Great Britain had never before won a gold medal in dressage. He was subsequently named a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE).

When Carl Hester (b. 1967 in Cambridgeshire, England) decided to take up the sport of dressage in the early 1980s, he was already a natural. Only 18 months after he began training for the sport, Hester won the National Young Rider Championship (1985) as a teenager. He quickly landed on the British Young Rider team in 1988, and he hasn’t looked back.

At the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Carl and Escapado (his horse) placed higher than any other Briton – the same thing at the 2005 European Championships, where the pair ended up in 6th place. On the run up to the 2007 European Championships, Carl was injured and had to back out at the last minute. Bad luck continued into 2008. His two promising horses for Beijing’s Olympic Games, Lecantos and Dolendo, both suffered injuries, so he missed competing.

Hester was soon given an opportunity to ride a new horse, Liebling, and the two formed a quick, strong bond and won an international grand prix. A host of other great results would lead the British team to select Carl for the European Dressage Championships in 2009. Carl’s riding helped Team GB win a silver medal in that event, and he would repeat those results a year later with another silver medal.

The 2012 Olympic dressage gold medal was won with his champion horse "Uthopia." Hester's GB dressage team also won a silver Olympic medal at Rio in 2016 and a bronze at Tokyo 2021. Currently there are plans to make a biopic film of his life story, produced by UK-based filmmakers Drew Curtis and Richard Conway.

Hester will mount "Fame" (photo below), a horse with whom he first competed last year, for the Paris Olympics dressage team events to be held at the Palace of Versailles July 27-August 6, 2024.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Prince Constantin Radziwill

Prince Constantin Radziwill (1850-1920) was born into an important aristocratic Polish-Lithanian family. He had numerous royal titles and bloodlines as well as a surfeit of prime European real estate, but not much cash in the bank. Consequently, he married a wealthy woman whose family made a fortune in prestigious upper-class gambling, including the establishment of the Casino de Monte-Carlo and the Hotel de Paris with the royal family of Monaco. 

Although married with children, Radziwill's homosexual activity was widely known (an open secret), and he was infamous for employing 12 strapping house boys (known as "footmen", ahem...), to whom he awarded extravagant gifts of jewelry. As well, he was a close friend of writer Marcel Proust, the French influencer who was himself conflicted over his own sexuality, i.e. a practicing homosexual who was homophobic in many of his writings. 

Over the centuries the Radziwell family was on a par with royalty. They owned 23 palaces, over 400 towns, in excess of 2,000 estates, and more than 10,000 villages. Evidence of their cultural influence was the fact that they hosted Beethoven, Goethe, Paganini and the like. The Radziwill Palace in Warsaw now serves as the Presidential Palace of the Republic of Poland.

The Radziwill family held influential musical salons at their various properties in Vienna, Paris, Warsaw, Vilnius, Berlin, etc. The family supported pianist-composer Frederic Chopin financially, and the pianist was a frequent house guest of Antoni Radziwill, himself an accomplished cellist. Chopin dedicated compositions to the Radziwills and gave piano lessons to Antoni's daughter Wanda.

Jackie Kennedy Onassis had a brother-in-law who was a Radziwill. Prince Stanislaw Radziwell was married to Jackie's "socialite" sister, Lee, with whom he fathered two children. Their Swiss-born son Anthony, a broadcast journalist, served as best man at the 1996 wedding of his cousin John F. Kennedy Jr and Caroline Bessette. Tragically, Anthony (1959-1999), the nephew of former First Lady Jackie Kennedy, died of cancer at the age of forty.

Monday, June 17, 2024

Steven Saylor (Aaron Travis)

Steven Saylor (b. 1956, photo above) is a Texas-born gay author of popular historical novels about ancient Rome. He studied history and classics at the University of Texas at Austin, where he graduated with honors in 1978. From 1979 until the early 1990s he wrote heavy S/M gay erotic fiction under the pen name Aaron Travis. Fourteen of the Aaron Travis books have been re-published in e-reader formats. One of the short stories, “Blue Light”, a psychological mind-bender, has become an S/M classic. Every gay man should acquaint himself with this 35-page tale of erotic seduction fantasy; this story will remain in your head for days and weeks: still just $.99 in Kindle format.

In the early 1980s, following a move to San Francisco, Saylor became an editor at Drummer magazine, a popular gay S/M publication at the time. He explained in a later interview that the erotic fiction he wrote in his twenties emphasized the seriousness with which he undertook the task, stating, “I probably did more actual rewriting on those stories than anything I've done since, because for me, writing erotic fiction is like writing a piece of music, because if one note is wrong, you lose the audience.”

His porn writing is highly intelligent and atmospheric, but also brutally sadistic at times. His characters come together not just for intercourse, but to play mind tricks on one another (as well as on the reader). He dives into your subconscious, grabs hold and completely wrings it out – a rape not of the body, but of the mind.

In his short story “Eden”, a young man has a fantasy about a reunion with a classmate named Bill. Even this short sample indicates that Travis is head and shoulders above the average male porn writer:

“Bill would open the door, smiling. I would step inside and throw down my duffel bag. Then he would take me in his arms and kiss me – for the first time, because we had never kissed. He would undress me, and when I was naked, he would push me to my knees. I would look up at his face, so happy to be back – he would take out his cock and tell me to suck it. I could close my eyes and see it. After such a long time apart, he would want to reclaim my ass. I could tell him, honestly, that no one else has had it, as I walked naked to his bed to lie face down, spreading my legs for his cock....

It wasn’t really Bill’s cock I was lusting for. It was Bill. His cock was just the part of him that he gave me to love.”

“Blue Light”, the BDSM tale mentioned above, is a story in which a top loses control of a scene; it's a psychological terror, the equal of an Edgar Allan Poe horror story. Proof that Saylor/Travis could wrote porn of high literary quality lies in this description of a penis from “Blue Light”:

“It hovered over me, white and thick. It was perfect, like the rest of his body. Alabaster white and enormously thick, tapered slightly at the base. The head was huge. The skin was pearly white and translucent, as smooth as glass, showing deep blue veins within. The circumcision ring was almost unnoticeable, the color of cream. The shaft looked as hard as marble, but spongy and fat, as if it were covered by a sheath of rubbery flesh. I could feel its heat on my face.”

The Aaron Travis erotic novel “Slaves of the Empire” gave glimpses of his later (non-erotic) historical novels published under his own name. The best known of them is Saylor’s Roma Sub Rosa series of thirteen novels set in ancient Rome. The first was published in 1991, and the most recent in 2016. The hero is a detective named Gordianus the Finder, active during the time of Sulla, Cicero, Julius Caesar, and Cleopatra. He has also written two epic-length historical novels about the city of Rome: Roma (2007) and Empire (2010). These books have been published in 21 languages and have earned numerous awards, including Lambda Literary Awards, the Crime Writers of America Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award, the Herodotus Award from the Historical Mystery Appreciation Society, and the Hammett Award of the International Association of Crime Writers.

Saylor has lived with fellow University of Texas student Richard Solomon since 1976; they registered as domestic partners in San Francisco in 1991 and later legally married in October, 2008. The couple shares residences in Berkeley, California, and Austin, Texas.

The Seven Wonders, a prequel to the Roma Sub Rosa series, dates from 2016. Synopsis: In the year 92 BC, Gordianus has just turned 18 and is about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime: a far-flung journey to see the Seven Wonders of the World. Gordianus is not yet called “the Finder” – but at each of the Wonders, the wide-eyed young Roman encounters a mystery to challenge his powers of deduction. Gordianus travels to the fabled cities of Greece and Asia Minor, then to Babylon and Egypt. He attends the Olympic Games, takes part in exotic festivals, and marvels at the most spectacular constructions ever devised by mankind – encountering murder, witchcraft, and ghostly hauntings along the way.