As a writer of homoerotic fiction, I consider myself a collector and connoisseur of male/male romances. I began with the ancient Greeks, who practically invented homoerotic relationships – all those youths beloved by Apollo, whose depiction reached an apotheosis in the paintings of neoclassical Paris (see Abigail Solomon-Godeau’s provocative book “Male Trouble”); and the relationships of Alexander the Great with his right-hand man, Hephaestion, and eunuch Bagoas, portrayed so movingly in Mary Renault’s “Fire From Heaven” and “The Persian Boy,” respectively.
Then there’s Marguerite Yourcenar’s “Memoirs of Hadrian,” a model for all aspiring historical fiction writers, which tells the story of the titular Greek-loving Roman emperor and his love for the tragic Greek youth Antinous.
Moving on to our own (mostly) gay-friendly, postfeminist time, there’s Gus Van Sant’s ingenious “My Own Private Idaho,” based on “Henry IV,” and Annie Proulx’s hauntingly spare novella “Brokeback Mountain,” made into an equally worthy film by Ang Lee. Of decidedly more uneven quality is the array of fan fiction – written mostly by and for women – in which male characters and celebrities occupy a parallel universe of homoerotic love and even marriage.
In these web stories, Roger Federer marries Novak Djokovic (yeah, that’ll be the day) or takes up with Rafael Nadal, who often pairs up with Nole instead. And let’s not forget Michael Phelps’ eternal love for Ryan Lochte.
Put it this way: If you have a real-life or literary obsession, there’s probably male/male fan fiction about him. All of these helped inspire my four-novel series, “The Games Men Play.”
But now the world has a new bromance to thrill to – the fascinating relationship of American President Donald J. “The Donald” Trump and Russian President Vladimir “Vladdie Rootin’ Tootin’” Putin.
Like all great romances, this one demonstrates that opposites do attract.
Vladdie goes viral – and virile – by splitting logs shirtless online in what looks like a spot for Our Time, the fastest growing site for singles over 50. The Donald does not.
Vladdie wears average-size ties with suits that actually button. The Donald does not.
But then, “like finds like,” doesn’t it?
The Donald marries women from Eastern European countries (Ivana, Melania). Vladdie invades Eastern European countries that presumably have women.
Both men make superb use of gilt backdrops (Trump Tower, the Kremlin), not to mention fit young men in uniforms who salute them as they pass.
And let’s not forget the mutually beneficial outcome of the recent American presidential election.
As in so many great love stories, this one has a go-between or two – National Security Adviser Michael “Lock Her Up” Flynn, who resigned Monday after a big no-no when he discussed sanctions against the Russians while Barack Obama was president oh-so-seemingly long ago; and Russo-friendly Secretary of State Rex “Sexy Rexy” Tillerson, who nevertheless got a smackdown from The Donald in his pick of former National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams as his deputy because Abrams had the temerity to criticize The D. (If this were a 1980s nighttime soap opera, which it kind of is, Tillerson would be played by John Forsythe. I love how The New York Times described Abrams as Tillerson’s proposed sherpa, conjuring images of him hauling Sexy Rexy up the Everest of State.)
But we digress. Also essential to a fine romance – that frisson of tension. The Donald has played it a bit coy – supporting Russian sanctions but then hinting at their removal, telling Vladdie in effect to bring it on with regards to an arms race but then defending him when Fox agent provocateur Bill O’Reilly called Vladdie a “killer.” As The Donald noted in his defense, Americans “aren’t so innocent.” (Yes, because there really is an overarching historical, moral equivalence between Russian aggression and American defense of freedom around the world.)
For his part, the ever-ardent Vladdie has “persisted” – le mot du moment, n’est pas, Mitch McConnell? Vladdie has even proposed that the two presidents rendezvous in Slovenia, native land of The Donald’s wife, Melania. Ah, think of the sentimental journey that would be.
Will Vladdie and The Donald finally meet there?
Will they one day be able to enjoy private time on the links at a Trump property, preferably one located in, say, downtown Siberia?
So far there is no sign that they will quit each other – even as many of us try – oh, Lord, how we try – to quit them.