EILE Magazine Jan-Feb 2020(Vol.6, Issue 7)

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Magazine V 6 Issue 07 - Jan/Feb 2020

Nico Grund HawkTail


Adrian Cox

Into the Spirit Garden Donnarama by Lorette C Luzajic

Shaley Howard Inside:

Travel | Film | Fashion |Health | News

EILE Magazine | Who’s Who


M. Butler M. Butler is a writer and editor, with a keen interest in human and civil rights, and has also studied philosophy and psychology Scott De Buitléir Scott is founder and Editor-at-Large of EILE Magazine. He is also an author and poet from Dublin, but is now based in Cork Shaley Howard Shaley is a writer/blogger (adventuresofabutchdogwalker.com) and dog-lover, who is currently based in Portland, Oregon Brian Rochford Brian has studied health, exercise, and nutrition, with a special interest in controlling pain in rheumatism and arthritis Brian Rochford also writes our fashion column at EILE Frances Winston Frances Winston is EILE’s resident film buff, a writer, and has contributed to many other publications, such as The Irish Independent and Irish Tatler

EILE Magazine

EILE Magazine | Welcome

Highlights Jan/February 2020 Art - Pps. 30 and 34 Our two amazing art features include Adrian Cox’s Into The Spirit Garden, and Lorette C. Luzajic paints drag-queen Donnarama

Where Are The Butches? - P. 22 Shaley Howard wonders where all the butches have gone - have they transitioned?

Health - P. 28 Brian Rochford writes about how our lifestyle choices impact our health

Music - Pps. 6,10,14, 52 We have an eclectic mix for you this issue - Nico Grund, Ventresca, and Hawktail, not to mention a review of Supergrass!

Men’s Fashion - P. 18 Brian Rochford hopes 2020 men’s fashion will yield a few innovative pieces

…plus film reviews, news, travel, and much more!

Volume 6, Issue 07 Editor-at-Large: Scott De Buitléir Editor: MKB Contributors: M. Butler, Scott De Buitléir, Shaley Howard, MKB, Brian Rochford, Frances Winston Photographers: Dominik Adels, Justin De Garbo, Dylan Ladds, Jody March, Carly Michael NB: All images in this publication are either under Creative Commons licence, or used with permission. Image credits, where necessary, are printed on the corresponding page(s) or photo(s). Any queries can be made to hello@eile.ie Special Thanks to MKB for all her hard work, dedication and support. Web: http://eile.ie Contact: hello@eile.ie Twitter: @EILEMagazine Facebook: http://fb.com/eilemagazine Note: All opinions expressed in this issue are the writers’ own.

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EILE Magazine

EILE Magazine | Editor’s Letter

Contents 6-

Nico Grund

10 -


14 -


18 -

Men’s Fashion

22 -

Shaley Howard

28 -

Health Choices

30 -

Spirit Garden - Art

34 -


38 -

Travel - Ski in France

40 -

Travel - West Coast

42 -

Travel - Sri Lanka

46 -

Frances on Film

52 -

Supergrass Review

58 -

String Summit

62 -

Cork Music Fest

plus A selection of LGBT news from around the world

EILE January/February 2020 Edition! Welcome to the January/ February 2020 issue of EILE Magazine Weatherwise, it hasn’t turned out to be a great New Year, and the Coronavirus hasn’t helped, but when you see what EILE has in store for you, you’ll cheer up no end! Musicwise, we feature Nico Grund, Ventresca, Hawktail, and a Supergrass review by Frances Winston. We also have two amazing Art features for you, with Adrian Cox’s Into The Spirit Garden, and Lorette painting drag queen, Donnarama. Frances Winston reviews some great films, and Shaley Howard asks ‘where are all the butches?’ Brian Rochford ponders men’s fashions for 2020, and also writes our health article, and we also have travel features on Sri Lanka, Ski-ing, and the US West Coast..... So..... Grab a latte, put your feet up, and browse EILE Magazine’s Jan/Feb 2020 edition! Enjoy!

Scott De Buitléir Founder / Editor-at-Large

EILE Magazine EILE Magazine

See our film reviews by Frances Winston

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Nico Grund Energetic, Cologne-based, 26-year-old singer/songwriter and musician, Nico Grund, has just released a great new single, Give a Damn, an upbeat track with more than a nod to some of the great rock classics. Give a Damn mirrors the conflict we see in a lot of relationships, with some personal lyrics showing the frustration and need for resolution at almost any price. These comprise combatant lines like: “You put up a fight, questioning everything I do”, alongside some self-analysis and honesty, such as: “Why do I care about what they say?” and “I just want to make it end.” Nico has a great rock/country voice, and uses pop-punk attributes as much as showing influences of post-grunge and country crooners. The new track is rich and layered, with bright guitar riffs complementing the drum-beats, piano and acoustic guitar passages, topped off with a searing guitar solo. Nico was first handed a guitar during a school project at age fifteen, and he decided to hold on to it for good. A few short years later, he went on to become a solo artist, was signed to a record label, and learned to play bass guitar, piano, and

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Photos: Carly Michael, Dominik Adels EILE Magazine

cello, all of which he regularly uses in studio recordings of his music. The guitar started a love affair with music, that led him to singing and writing his own songs by the time he moved to the UK for college. Following his graduation from University College London (known for spawning the likes of Coldplay and Alt-J), he signed to Dreamscope Records, and started pursuing music full-time. Influenced by such artists as Daughtry, John Mayer, Blake Shelton, and Carrie Underwood, Grund also draws inspiration from his own drive and curiosity. He has performed his present repertoire of music, all of which sit comfortably within the soft-rock and countrypop genres, at over 100 venues, both in Germany and the UK. He has performed a wide range of covers and originals at these venues. The originals, which showcase his polished songwriting, were from his self-released 2017 debut Black & White, a blistering 14-track with pristine arrangements, and respect to recently bygone eras of guitar music, from soft-rock and country-pop, to post-grunge. In addition to standing out with a handful of songs in German that highlight his bicultural identity, the album spotlights Grund’s musicianship, as he plays not just guitar, but bass guitar, piano, and cello on several tracks. He is currently working on his next EP, due out in March 2020, with London-based record label, Dreamscope Records, with a follow-up EP slated for Summer 2020. Give a Damn proves Nico Grund’s knack for writing relatable, down-to-earth lyrics, and offers a youthful, fresh take on familiar rock traditions. One to watch.

-MKB The single, Give A Damn, is now available for download and streaming on digital platforms EILE Magazine

worldwide. You can follow Nico by visiting NicoGrund. com. www.facebook.com/NicoGrundMusic www.instagram.com/nicogrund www.youtube.com/c/NicoGrundMusic

Photos: Carly Michael, Dominik Adels and Nico Bechstein Photography

Nico Grund by Nico Bechstein Photography

Image: Facebook

“the past few years have shown me not only that connection is just a matter of meeting the right people, but also that you’re never really missing anything. If you’re unhappy, you always have the chance to start over!”

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EILE Magazine catches up on Ventresca, an 18 year-old singersongwriter, who has just released her new single, Me vs. You

On EILE’s music section this issue, we feature 18year-old singer-songwriter, Ventresca, who has just released her latest single and video, Me Vs. You, a reggaeton-style dance-pop track, about conquering your own inner fears, with lyrics like: “You think you can get away with all the bad decisions that you make”. She points out that you may be only harming yourself, and should cut ties with that part of yourself. Maybe easier said than done! Great vocals in an almost spoken style, over an understated, pared-back, beats-driven instrumental. Born in Nobleton, Toronto, Canada, this young, but very polished, artiste started in the music industry with dance lessons, at the distinguished Canadian Dance Unit. However, she soon realised she had a talent for singing and songwriting, so she began taking vocal lessons at the Royal Conservatory of Toronto. This talent was audible in her track, Craving, and she soon got the attention of Cindy Valentine, who signed her to Star Groomer. Since her signing, Ventresca has shot two music videos, recorded in Toronto, and Rome, Italy, and has been featured on Cashbox, and Record World Magazine. She’s performed during Indie week, and at Soiree/Living legend awards in January, 2020, during Grammy week. Ventresca has now had collaborations with Grammy award-winning,

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Ventresca Image: Justin De Garbo

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and multi-platinum producers/ composers, who include Cindy Valentine (Bebe Rexah, Alisha, Lori Russo), Mr. Mig (Madonna, Beyonce), Jackie Boyz (Justin Bieber, David Guetta, Rihanna) Luigie ‘Lugo’ Gonzalez (Ricky Martin, Christina Aguilera), Giampaolo Pasquile (Juliet Carina, David Ekerot Feat: Corrado Rustici).

With a mini-tour across Toronto, and performances at the Soiree/ Living Legend Awards, and Indie Collaboration Awards, during Grammy week already under her belt, the young talent is currently back in the studio working on new music.

On the surface, her recent track, Me Vs. You, appears to be the last stand of a couple at odds, with lines like, “You think you can get away with all the bad decisions that you make” and “Come out swinging, or give up all your love.”

-M. Butler

However, it becomes apparent that the fight - playfully described with several boxing references - is actually between Ventresca and herself.


We think Ventresca is one to watch for 2020!

Ventresca’s music is available on digital platforms worldwide You can catch with Ventresca at:


https://music.apple.com/ us/album/craving-remixsingle/1482437667

As such, the lyric “Give up and call https://www.instagram.com/ a truce, cause you’re only gonna VentrescaOfficial/ lose” sums up the message of the song perfectly: Sometimes, we can be the person who harms ourselves Photos: Justin De Garbo the most - and we have to cut off that side of ourselves, the same way we would an unloving partner. This sense of conflict and feisty defiance is reflected in the instrumental, revolving around sharp, minorkey synths, with an understated reggaeton beat. Inspired by watching Disney shows, where she discovered Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, and Selena Gomez, she decided her focus should be on singing and songwriting. She enrolled in vocal lessons at the Royal Conservatory of Toronto, and the rest is history.

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Ventresca Image: Justin De Garbo

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Hawktail Hawktail Release their Sophomore Album, Formations, Co-Produced by Chris Eldridge of Punch Brothers EILE is delighted to feature mostly instrumental band, Hawktail, in our music section this issue. Hawktail are a band of acoustic instrumentalists from Nashville, featuring members of Punch Brothers, David Rawlings, Crooked Still, and A Prairie Home Companion. Virtuoso musicians all, Hawktail, composed of Brittany Haas - Fiddle, Paul Kowert Bass, Jordan Tice - Guitar, Dominick Leslie - Mandolin, have recently released their new album, Formations. One track which was released as a single from the sophomore album recently was Annbjørg, an eclectic, Scandinavian-inspired tune, highlighting fiddle and bass, and seamlessly gelling with rhythmic riffs from guitar and mandolin. “The tune in this video is a polyrhythmic romp that we wrote, inspired by one of our heroes of fiddling, Annbjørg Lien”. Released in January, 2020, via Padiddle

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Records, Formations took only two months to write, and four days to record, a far cry from the 3-year process of their debut album, Unless. “We had studio dates to record a quick EP of covers, arrangements we’d been playing live,” explains Kowert, “But we had these strong starts that felt so good that we were like ‘let’s finish THESE instead’”. Haas added: “We found a new joy in creating, tapping into the experience we gained from writing and recording Unless.” Over those four days at Nashville’s Southern Ground Studios, co-producer Chris ‘Critter’ Eldridge—Kowert’s Punch Brothers bandmate—joined up with veteran engineer, Dave Sinko (Edgar Meyer, Béla Fleck, Sam Bush) and legendary mixing guru, Jacquire King (Tom Waits, Kings of Leon, Shania Twain) to create a cohesive vision; a bigger picture shared by the entire band and production team. “Critter knows what we’re going for and when we’ve gotten it,” says Haas.

Hawktail - Image: Dylan Ladds

“We found a new joy in creating, tapping into the experience we gained from writing and recording Unless�

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“We’ve just made so much music with him and Sinko over the years, the understanding is deep,” Tice adds. Having King mix the finished product was the proverbial icing on the cake for Hawktail. “We’re so happy with what he did to it— in some cases, it was like hearing the true nature of the piece for the first time,” says Kowert. And the “true nature of the piece” can be heard in Formation’s first single, and opening track, Annbjørg. Annbjørg is a dizzying, Scandinavian-influenced tune, which echoes a thread running through the whole album, with more than enough musical depth to satisfy even the most discerning ears. Folk Alley’s Kelly McCartney commented: “We simply haven’t seen these instruments played this way and with this exuberance... except by Hawktail.” Fans that were around for the beginning of Hawktail may notice a slight change in the energy each instrument brings from song to song. This new energy is largely due to Leslie’s presence from the inception of Formations. “Our first album had more or less been written by the time I joined the band, so it was more about finding a complementary part,” says Leslie. “On Formations, I was there for the

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writing, which resulted in the mandolin having a fundamental role in the music.” With Formations, it’s become clear that Hawktail are quite capable of blazing away at their own trail, successfully challenging the traditional roles of their respective instruments and genres. “We’re just trying to find something good to play”, says Tice. “We’re not interested in adhering to the same old forms— merely adding some spice to something that we all know how it’s going to end.” The album is available on all major music platforms. Hawktails’ new album, Formations, is out Now!. Enjoy!

-MKB Formations is available at: https://smarturl.it/hawktailformations For more on Hawktail, visit: https:// www.hawktailmusic.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ HawktailMusic/

Album Cover Art

Hawktail Image: Jody March

Hawktail - Image: Facebook

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2020 vision for the future of fashion Brian Rochford brings us some new fashion for 2020 2020 is here, and going faster than a speeding train. What top men’s fashion trends will we be seeing throughout the coming year? We hope it will be some new and exciting fashion choices. Fashion tends to be very much a reinterpretation of what has gone before, because men’s fashion has its own story to tell, and so as one year passes and another one begins, we will see new takes on last year, with some new innovative styles beginning to emerge. Fleece is one of those materials that’s been around for a long time, and the best way to keep this style fresh and exciting is to pair it with a hoodie that is bright and colourful. It is good to keep a range of bright-coloured hoodies to layer with your other jackets, so that you always have a new fresh and exciting look. The half zip hoodie was popular in 2019, and shows no sign of fading any time soon. Corduroy was also popular last year, and still is (I never thought I would put that in a sentence. This is in line

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with the trend and ongoing popularity of the vintage look. More and more people are using the thrift-store to enhance their fashion look. Vintage sneakers are back, I don’t mean used sneakers. What I mean is that manufacturers are releasing some of their classic pieces, so be sure to look out for them in the shops, as they can really smarten up your look. Minimum jewellery is still in vogue for the coming year, so keep the jewellery understated if you want to look cool and stay on trend. Watches have become more popular as a fashion accessory, so find a classic piece that will suit your style, and it will bring a level of sophistication to your overall look. Always keep a navy or charcoal coloured suit in your wardrobe, for when you need to feel sharp and stylish, like when you have to attend the more formal occasions. Styles for 2020 are definitely more casual, but that is not a licence to be sloppy. Choose colours, style, and fit that make you look good. Finally I have to mention that denim is still here, so always keep black or blue denim jeans to hand, to complete your stylish, casual look.

Paco Rabanne

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Louis Vuitton


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There was definitely a time when claiming you were a butch lesbian was politically important – and fashionable. You were the obvious gay woman. You were expressing your gender identity with pride, and intentionally pushing back against the extreme sexism in our culture. To be a butch lesbian defied and challenged a heteronormative and sexist culture that had clear gender binary constructs of masculine and feminine. Back then, the dichotomy of butch/femme was normal within the gay community, and a very important step in pushing societal boundaries. Simply by presenting oneself in an overtly masculine way, in a culture where women were suppose to act and look ‘feminine’, was unusual and took courage. So where are all the butches? As a self-identified cis gendered butch lesbian, who’s a bit older, I’ve been fortunate enough to witness a lot of transformation. Not only in how heteronormative society has changed and embraced LGBTQ+ culture/ people, but also how we as a community have expanded our awareness and definitions of gender identity and expression. Nowadays, individuals can choose to describe themselves in ways that more accurately

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describe how they feel, both inside and out, and may vary day to day. However, back in the 1980s-90s, that was not the case. There were relatively no LGBTQ+ organizations. The first openly gay organization I discovered was in college, called the ‘Gay Alliance’. Then lesbian was added renaming it the way more inclusive Gay and Lesbian Alliance. Today, we have the more all-inclusive alphabet soup descriptor of LGBTTIQQ2SA. The identity of ‘butch’ can be described in a multitude of ways. Simply put, a butch lesbian is generally someone whose gender expression and behavior is stereotypically more masculine, yet gender identity is female. Of course, this is an extremely simple and limited description. Butch identity can be complex and fluid. I’ve known many women who appear conventionally feminine, yet are more ‘butch’ than I could ever be on the inside. Butch lesbians historically have been a strong force in changing dynamics, and helping to shift the boundaries of perceived gender and identity. Back then, gender identity was a simplistic and dualist paradigm. You were this, or you were that. You were a man or you were a woman. By default, butches lived, and still live, in the in-between, embracing both masculine and feminine, whether intentionally or not. This ambiguous, inbetween place of butch was, and still is, confusing to many, and the ultimate threat to a patriarchal, heteronormative society. To their credit, in many ways, butches forced

Image: Courtesy of Shaley Howard

"Back then, the dichotomy of butch/femme was normal within the gay community, and a very important step in pushing societal boundaries" EILE Magazine 23

our culture to examine its sexist and homophobic attitudes and beliefs. Homophobia back in the 1980s-90s was commonplace. Transphobia was not as prevalent and overt, simply because our trans community was almost completely ignored. One method to combat the homophobic challenge of being openly gay, and especially butch, in those days was to exclude the heterosexual world inside our gay safe umbrella. Heterosexual men especially were seen as the ‘enemy’. If we were unsafe in larger society, then we would make our own, welcoming society, off-limits to ‘those men’. There was, and to a certain degree still is, a feeling of betrayal if anyone outside tries to enter and disrupt our world. I’m certain many bisexuals especially remember how hard it was to be accepted in the lesbian community back then, possibly even today. If you were bisexual, common thinking was that you could easily go back to our archenemy – straight men, therefore you were an outsider. Persona non grata for all intents and purposes. Perhaps it’s true that there aren’t as many visible self-identifying butch lesbians around nowadays. But instead of focusing on ‘ Where are all the Butches?’ maybe we should look at why it’s so challenging to let go of the notion that gender expression and identity needs to be limited to a butch/ femme and male/female dichotomy. Why is it so intimidating to venture into the realm of non-binary? And ironically, why is anything outside of the man-made heteronormative construct of binary identity considered a threat within theLGBTQ+ community? Whether they admit it or not, many within our community believe that allowing and adopting more gender fluidity and nonbinary ideology into our community, will somehow weaken the foundation of who we supposedly are. These are fear-based

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ideologies that should be reexamined. I’ve heard many within our community blame – yes blame – the ever-decreasing number of butches on the fact that so many would-be butches have transitioned. That the ‘lack’ of butches is due to so many butches transitioning, and hence ‘watering down’ our lesbian community. Are you kidding me? Throwing around the idea that transgender people are diluting the strength and foundation of being a butch lesbian, by supposedly buying into the heteronormative stereotype of ‘becoming men’, joining the patriarchal and abandoning the butch community, is a very dangerous and erroneous idea. Being transgender is not a choice and/or a phase. This lack of acceptance and feeling of being betrayed by transgender people – especially FTM in the ‘where’s the butch’ conversation – is based solely on fear. It’s an irrational and emotional response derived from past, outof-date circumstances, that are directed toward individuals who are, and have always been, a part of our community. I’ve spoken to numerous friends who have transitioned, and I’m appalled at how they’ve been treated. Many who have transitioned FTM shared that their lesbian ‘friends’ no longer consider them part of the community, because they now identify as men. One friend even considered shaving off his beard, so the lesbian community would accept him again. A beard that he was head-overheels with excitement about when it started coming in. So I ask myself, what is going on? Are we that caught up in the idea that being LGBT today is still some sort of dichotomous, binary construct? Are we that insecure thinking the butch population is decreasing, so feel we need to find blame, instead of accepting and embracing progress and

change? We’ve fought tirelessly for equality and acceptance in this heteronormative culture, yet when diversity and change blossoms within our own community, we apply the same restrictions, discrimination, and ignorance we’ve experienced all our lives. I cannot imagine the challenges my transgender brothers, sisters, and non-binary family have had to face in such new and unchartered territories of self-discovery. What they endure physically, emotionally, and psychologically, in a heteronormative culture that is overwhelmingly intolerant of transgender people. Think back on the struggles faced just deciding to come out of the closet as lesbian, gay or bi. Think of the pain of not being accepted by friends, family and co-workers. Remember the isolation and loneliness of not having or being able to find community. Given our journey and history of oppression, it strikes me that we should be the ones embracing and defending everyone who is a part of the LGBTQ+ community – not blaming, pointing fingers, and causing derision. I love and embrace who I am as a cis gender, butch lesbian. But I struggle with this hype over where all the butches have gone? Nowhere. Butch lesbians are still here. Moreover, even if the identity of butch isn’t as central or popular as it used to be, it takes absolutely nothing away from my butch identity if my community around me decides to identify differently. Embracing the enormous progress we as a community have made over the years in expanding our awareness, and ability to embrace gender fluidity, seems much more important than concerning ourselves with where any particular identity has gone. In asking the question: “Where are all the butches?” we are clinging to a past that was important for us at that time, but also brutally restrictive in many ways. Instead of assuming we’ve ‘lost’ something in the identity of ‘butch’, maybe it’s ultimately something we gained. People now have more choice to identify any way they want, and in ways that feel authentic to them, not in what the outside world wants them to be. There really is room for everyone. Maybe we should be asking ourselves different questions altogether, like: “Are we supporting diversity within our own queer community? And if not, how can we?” Or maybe the bigger question is:

“If there truly are fewer self-identifying cis gender butch lesbians around, why does that frighten me?”

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Club GASS: Next Club Night - Friday March 13th! The team at Club GASS have another great night planned for you for Friday March 13th! On the night, the colourful Miss Kiki St Clair will be your hostess with the mostest, and dextrous DJ Ruth will be providing a feast of fantastic music to get you on the dancefloor. Doors are at 11.30pm, and the venue is the RĂłisĂ­n Dubh, Dominick Street, Galway. No excuses now, just go and have a great night out!

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Health & Lifestyle Choices Brian Rochford writes about how our lifestyle choices impact our health

It may sound like common sense, but the most important lifestyle choice is what you put on your plate every day. What you eat is essential for maintaining your weight, and providing your body with the essential nutrients it requires. Becoming overweight can increase the possibility of developing a range of chronic conditions, such as stroke, kidney, and liver problems, as well as high blood pressure and osteoarthritis, to name but a few. So where is a good place to start when it comes to getting on the path to a healthy lifestyle? Some research suggests that it is food eaten in combination, and not just a matter of supplementing your diet with vitamins and minerals, that can help in the prevention of many diseases. This easy to implement change in your daily habits can be the first step in developing a healthier lifestyle. It is important to pay attention to your overall eating habits, if you want maintain

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a healthy weight and stay in good overall health. Understanding your daily calorie intake is important. This will be influenced by what you are trying to achieve. You may want to lose or gain weight, or even increase your energy, or just improve the general health of your body. So what kind of diet is best for you? There is so much information out there - so many magazine articles and blogs, not to mention videos, offer advice on healthy eating. Here are some tips that will help you make better food choices. Whenever possible, try to focus on eating real food that can be found in the vegetable and fruit section of the supermarket. Avoid as much as possible the sections that contain the processed foods. Another healthy tip is to get out of the habit (because that is all that it is) of going to the coffee shop for your breakfast, which may contain a lot of calories. If you can find the time to prepare your own healthy breakfast, you will increase your chances of having a lot more energy, and you will be less inclined to be tempted into eating unhealthy snacks.

Image: American Heart Association

Finally, if you are making the effort to avoid eating junk-food, make sure to keep yourself hydrated, because when you are dehydrated, you may experience headaches, you will be motivated to crave extra sugar and carbohydrates, and can feel exhausted without any apparent reason. Research suggests that developing some new life-style changes can go a long way towards reducing the risk of high blood pressure. Simply introducing a 30-minute exercise routine into your daily life can lower your risk. Even if you are not interested in losing weight, you can still enjoy the increased health benefits. You could start with just walking around the block for a half an hour

daily. This simple step can see your blood pressure coming down into the bettercontrolled range. Some studies suggest that exercising regularly can also reduce your risk of dementia, as well as lowering the possibility of a stroke. If you have a busy lifestyle, you can divide your exercise session into increments. Use the stairs whenever you can, and park the car further away from the office or home. The more conscious you become of the need to replace old habits with some new healthy ones, the more you will be influenced to make small worthwhile changes. Remember, one small change is all you need to get started, so be on the lookout for what you can do, and see where it takes you.

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Los Angeles’ Corey Helford Gallery

Into the Spirit Garden -

Art By Adrian Cox On Saturday, March 7th, downtown Los Angeles’ Corey Helford Gallery will proudly unveil a new series of works from Adrian Cox, entitled Into the Spirit Garden, creating an atmosphere of grace, imagination, and mysticism, when it premieres in Gallery 2. Into the Spirit Garden features eighteen works, including fifteen oil paintings and three ink and acrylic gouache drawings. The studio practice for the Los Angeles-based artist and compelling storyteller involves crafting an intricate and epic mythology with his paintings, in which he explores themes of otherness and monstrosity. In creating his work, he draws inspiration from art history, science fiction, mythic archetypes, and his

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own experience of growing up in a closeted queer family. Cox says: “I make my paintings with a painstaking attention to craft, and the color in these is incredibly intense in person. This is largely because I create the color in my works by painting thin layers of transparent paint on top of each other, so the end effect gives the color a beautiful depth and richness. Ultimately, I’m mixing classical painting techniques with contemporary color sensibilities and materials.” Regarding Into the Spirit Garden, Cox shares: “My paintings chronicle the lives of the Border Creatures, a group of hybrid beings that live in the verdant wilderness of the Borderlands. This personal mythology draws on a myriad of references, and blends elements of art history,

science fiction, mythic archetypes, and my own experience of growing up in a closeted queer family. These works challenge how we define the Monstrous and the Other, and propose a reconsideration of the categories of the natural and the transgressive. These overarching themes are grounded in the lives of my recurring characters, and play out in the actions those that wander the Borderlands. The Border Creatures exist in symbiotic harmony with the natural world, but are antagonized by the Specters, spirits of pure energy that casually burn the landscape that they walk upon. When these spirits first appeared, the destruction that they brought to the ecosystem of the Borderlands drove the creatures into hiding. The Border Creatures eventually triumphed over the Specters when Healer, the leader of the creatures, transformed many of the Specters into rainbow-hued Spectral

The Great Seamstress by Adrian Cox From previous CGH exhibition ‘Terra Incognita’

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Witnesses. Into the Spirit Garden continues this mythic narrative, and follows the Specters and Witnesses after the end of this first conflict. In this exhibition, the remaining Specters unite in their desire to establish dominance over the world, and band together to form the Spectral Brotherhood. Together, they create a champion, a body built from their half-remembered existence as humans. This body, which exemplifies the spiritual failings of the Specters, is a weapon that they plan on using in their war with the Border Creatures. Parallel to the machinations of the Spectral Brotherhood is the path of Penitent Spirit, a reformed Specter. Although Penitent Spirit was once responsible for the death of a Border Creature, they now wander the Borderlands in search of absolution. This quest only ends when the Border Creatures welcome Penitent Spirit into their community. This character’s journey speaks to the redemptive power of empathy and culminates with the birth of a new Border Creature, Spirit Gardener. Into the Spirit Garden is a story of finding a space between heaven and earth, soul and flesh, a space in which the ties of community are the very soil in which our spirits grow.” Opening night for Into the Spirit Garden is Saturday, March 7th from 7:00pm11:00pm in Gallery 2, alongside a solo show from Eric Joyner, entitled Machine Man Memories, in the Main Gallery, and a solo show from Kelsey Beckett, entitled The Amber Orchard, in Gallery 3. Corey Helford Gallery is located at 571 S. Anderson St. Los Angeles, CA 90033 and normal hours are Tuesday – Saturday, from 12pm - 6pm. COREY HELFORD GALLERY 571 S. Anderson St. Los Angeles, CA 90033 Open Tuesday-Saturday, 12pm - 6pm (310) 287-2340 Visit: www.coreyhelfordgallery.com Adrian Cox instagram https://www.instagram.com/adriancoxart/?hl=en

L-R: “The Birth of Spirit Gardener,” “Oath of the Spectral Brotherhood,” “The Origin of the Specters, Part II,” and “Constructing the Pneumatic Vessel”

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Above: The Origin of the Specters by Adrian Cox - Exhibition at the Corey Helford Gallery

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Toronto-based artist paints dragqueen ‘Donnarama’ Toronto-based visual artist, Lorette C. Luzajic, who works in collage and mixed media, has created a recent series of art, inspired by, and in collaboration with, a drag queen named Donnarama. These artworks are from a series of 50 squares inspired by Lorette’s muse, the legendary drag performer, Donnarama. They worked in collaboration to present her performances together with these mixed media works. “Donnarama is an extraordinary artist”, Lorette says. “While she does classic gay icons like Barbra Streisand and Madonna perfectly, she is best known for her unpredictable and unexpected outfits. 34 EILE Magazine

Donnarama Yellow

Donnarama creates her own clothes and props from second-hand finds, and Styrofoam or cardboard that she cuts and paints herself. She has no limits, and dresses up as everything from Frida

Kahlo to a dandelion to the Energizer Bunny”. Donnarama also performs regularly in Toronto and environs gay club circuit, and at special events like Pride

or the opening of Madonna’s gym. She is also known for her activism for AIDS and against homophobia. “Donnarama performed at the art parties I hosted earlier EILE Magazine 35

in my career, when we were both starting out. For our twentieth anniversary from those days, we wanted to create a special series commemorating our creative connection�. The whole art series can be viewed here: http://www.mixedupmedia.ca/donnarama.html Lorette’s work is collected and exhibited internationally, has won a $5000 award from Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, and has been used in ad campaign for Madrid-based diamond and jewellery company, Carrera y Carrera. She has also represented Canada at an international contemporary art symposium in Tunisia, North Africa. -MKB

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Last-minute France Ski Deals! While France is famous for its superb food, it’s also home to some of the world’s most popular ski areas. Featuring a diversity of resorts, highaltitude slopes and lift-linked mountain ranges, France is one of the best countries for a ski holiday. Get on the French slopes even faster, with short flights to Geneva and Chambéry, plus quick transfers onto many resorts! Trip Highlights Major resorts have big ski areas to keep everyone busy. High-altitude skiing and some of the best glaciers in the world. Unmatched diversity - from purpose-built to charming villages. France – 7 nights from just €329pps Depart 29th February 2020, stay in 3* Les Gemeaux Apartments, La Plagne, on a selfcatering basis from €639pps (4 Share) Depart 21st March 2020, stay in 3* L’aigulle Rouge, Les Arcs, on a half-board basis from €635pps Depart 28th March 2020, stay in 3* Antares Apartments, Avoriaz, on a self-catering basis from €329pps (4 Share)

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Austria – 7 nights Depart 29th February 2020, stay in 4* Hotel St George, Zell Am See, on a B&B basis from €675pps Depart 7th March 2020, stay in 2* Pension Franzl, Nierderau, on a B&B basis from €435pps Depart 21st March 2020, stay in 3* Garni Edelweiss, Mayrhofen, on a B&B basis from €509pps Andorra – 7 nights Depart 1st March 2020, stay in 3* Sant Roma Apartments, Arnisal, on a self-catering basis from €279pps (4 Share) Depart 8th March 2020, stay in 3* Poblado Apartments, Arinsal, on a self-catering basis from €319pps (4 Share) Depart 15th March 2020, stay in 3* Hotel Palarine, Arinsal, on a half-board basis from €489pps All include flights from Dublin, 20kg luggage and transfers. Book with Crystal Ski today - call a ski advisor on 01 653 3501, or visit www.crystalski.ie All holidays and prices are subject to change & availability, and are based on 2 sharing and are for 7 nights (Unless stated above).

La Plagne ski resort

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The West Coast is the best coast! Discover the best of the US with American Holidays and take an unforgettable trip to the wonderful West Coast. Visit San Francisco and Seattle this year with the family, from €1,329pp. Begin your holiday in the beautiful city of Seattle, Washington. Enjoy the numerous downtown amenities of the waterfront city, devour delicious food at Pike Market, experience a breathtaking sunset at Space Needle or take a day trip to the San Juan Islands by ferry. Continue your holiday with four nights in the iconic hilly streets of San Francisco. Cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge, take a ferry to the charming city of Sausalito, visit the seals at Pier 39 or sail out to Alcatraz Island to discover its fascinating history. Does this sound like the trip for you? Check out the full details here and check out what’s included below... What’s included?

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From €1,329pp Return direct flights from Dublin to Seattle and return from San Francisco with Aer Lingus 1 bag included pp round trip 4 nights in the Coast Gateway Hotel, Seattle including breakfast 4 nights in the Beresford Arms Hotel, San Francisco including breakfast Based on 2 adults & 2 children sharing, travelling in May 2020 Quote Ref 52259378 Remember, this is just a selection of what’s on offer! Call American Holidays on (01) 901 4405 to avail of these offers or you can also drop into the office located on Exchequer Street, Dublin 2, where expert staff will be on hand to help you create your dream holiday. For more information visit www.americanholidays.com. Please note hotels are correct at the time of escorted tour planning and may be subject to change prior to tour departure date due to availability.

The Golden Gate Bridge Image: Britannica.com

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Discover Sri Lanka - a natural paradise! Take a holiday of a lifetime this year and discover the stunning island of Sri Lanka. Bursting in natural beauty, Sri Lanka is a beacon of culture, boasting eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. So, why not travel to the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’ this year with the Classic Ceylon Tour with Hayes & Jarvis, from only €1,959pp. Begin your holiday in Colombo, the colourful capital city of Sri Lanka. From here, you’ll travel to Dambulla to visit the rock temple, one of the country’s eight World Heritage Sites, consisting of five caves with over 2000 square metres of painted walls and ceilings. The rock temple is one of the largest areas of paintings found in the world. Next up is the historic ruins of Polonnaruwa, the country’s second capital city and World Heritage Site, where you can see the ruins of the Royal Palace, the Gal Viharaya. Continue your holiday with a climb up the 5th century Sigiriya rock, a visit to Kandy Lake, the tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya and more, with a qualified local guide. Make this a truly unforgettable trip and extend your holiday with a beach stay in the charming coastal town of Negombo,

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visit the leopards and elephants in Yala or venture further afield in the Indian Ocean. Fancy taking a trip to Sri Lanka? Check out the full itinerary here and see inclusions below... What’s included? Accommodation as detailed in twin or double bed with private facilities (alternative but similar hotels may be used at certain times of year) Meals included as stated Air conditioned transport Services of a qualified English-speaking local guide All site entrance fees while touring as appropriate Drop off on day 8 at airport, Negombo, Wadduwa or Kalutara Remember - this is just a sample of what’s available! Call (01) 513 4329 to chat to one of the Destination Specialists who will find something to suit your needs perfectly. To be truly inspired, and for more information, visit www.hayesandjarvis.ie.

Sri Lanka Image: gadventures.com

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Galway: Weekly Event! Let’s Have A Kiki – Upstairs at the Róisín Dubh – FREE Entry! There is a faboulous LGBT+ event happening in Galway, upstairs in the Róisín Dubh, every Wednesday night. Join the Queen of Galway herself, Kiki St. Clair of GASS, in the upstairs bar of the Róisín Dubh, Dominick Street, Galway, for Let’s have a Kiki night, full of pop, camp hits, and disco floor fillers. This is a weekly event, every Wednesday night, and it’s FREE entry! “Lock the doors, lower the blinds, fire up the smoke machine, and put on your heels, ‘cos we know exactly what you need… Let’s Have A Kiki“.

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Frances Winston on Movies

Directed by: Miguel Arteta – Starring: Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne, Jennifer Coolidge, Natasha Rothwell, Billy Porter, Salma Hayek It’s nice to see more femaleled films coming out of Hollywood, and it’s definitely been a long time coming. This offering sees Haddish and Byrne play best friends, Mia and Mel, who run a beauty company together, imaginatively called…um… Mia&Mel. As is usually the case in these friendship-led comedies (a buddy-com if you will) the pair are polar opposites, and their differences are really tested when the company finds itself in financial difficulty. Having sold a controlling share of the business to beauty mogul, Claire Luna (Hayek) they soon discover that she is stealing their product innovations, and forcing them out of their own company. Irate at the thought of losing everything they have worked for, but with very different ideas as to how to resolve the situation, the pair’s friendship

is tested, as they struggle to save their life’s work. As you may have gathered, the plot here is pretty formulaic – which is fine, most movie scripts are working off some sort of basic template. What films like this usually rely on is the chemistry between the actors, and it has to be said that Haddish and Byrne give valiant turns in the face of a pretty weak script. They work really well together, and do manage to save what could otherwise have been weak moments. Hayek’s character is a complete caricature, and is a waste of Hayek’s talents. Meanwhile, man of the moment, Pose star Billy Porter, does his best as Mia and Mel’s employee, Barrett, whom Claire forces them to fire, but the character is a total stereotype. Ironically, for a film featuring such diversity, this also manages to feature a LOT of clichés.

Yes, it is great to see more female-led movies coming out of Hollywood. But what is the point, if they are not treated with the same care and attention as a male-centric movie. It is as if they think putting women in a girly situation, and going through the motions, is enough to keep female audience members happy. I really wanted to like this. Like A Boss has an excellent cast, and seemed like it could be a great premise. Unfortunately, it is less relevant to female audiences than pan stick is to their make-up bag nowadays. Like A Boss is a hackneyed and threadbare idea that runs out of steam, just when it should be getting going.

In Cinemas Now!

There are some nice moments, usually between Haddish and Byrne, but overall, Like A Boss plods along to its predictable conclusion, constantly thinking it is wackier and more original than it is. EILE Magazine 47

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Frances Winston on Movies continued...

Directed by: Todd Haynes Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins, Bill Camp, Victor Garber, Mare Winningham, Bill Pullman Teflon is famous for the fact that nothing sticks to it. Their coated pans revolutionised cooking for more people than would probably care to admit it (seriously keep an eye on your food and don’t rely on it not sticking to your pan if it burns!) Seemingly, its manufacturers felt that the non-stick principle applied to them also, going by this movie, which is based on fact. This is one of those ‘everyman fighting the good fight offerings’, a la Erin Brokovich or Spotlight. In this case, the ‘everyman’ is lawyer, Robert Bilott (Ruffalo) who is approached by a neighbour of his grandmother, claiming that there have been unexplained deaths in his area and his livestock have been compromised, because of the actions of corporate giant, DuPont, who have a manufacturing plant nearby. He believes the by-products of their process are causing the issues. The problem is that Bilott’s firm actually work for

DuPont. But given his good relationship with them, he tries to smooth things over. However, the deeper he delves into the information he has been given, the more it becomes apparent that there is something very wrong. People were basically poisoned by the internationally-known company, and he is forced to pursue the case and investigation at great personal cost, before eventually getting the result he wanted, and compensation for the victims. It’s not a spoiler to say Bilott eventually won– it is a matter of public record. Ruffalo does a great job in the role, absolutely conveying his frustrations and passion for the case. And everyone in the stellar cast is fantastic. Visually, this strikes exactly the right tone – its muted palette suits the story perfectly. However, this is a very dense tale with massive complexities, and Haynes has included pretty much every element of it. At times, the legalese and negotiations can become tedious.

to see justice served. It very much honours the victims and vilifies the corporation. This isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, but, done well, it makes for a powerful cinema experience. This could do with a bit more excitement. It drags at times, and often gets bogged down in its own worthiness, but it is saved by a wonderful and passionate performance from Ruffalo, and the sheer frustration and anger you feel as a viewer, that a corporation was allowed to get away with such nefarious dealings. This is the kind of movie that demands focus, and if you are looking for a light-hearted popcorn flick, then this isn’t it. But it is a solid true-life drama that will definitely outrage and move you. And in a nice touch, many of the real-life characters feature as extras throughout, which is highlighted in the credits.

In Cinemas February 28th!

However, it remains gripping, because you are constantly aware that this is the story of real people and their suffering. Even when the pace dips, you are anxious

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Frances Winston on Movies continued...

Directed by: Michael Winterbottom – Starring: Steve Coogan, David Mitchell, Isla Fisher, Ollie Locke, Sophie Cookson, Shirley Henderson, Pearl Mackie, Asa Butterfield Let’s just deal with the elephant in the room. Yes, tragic TV presenter, Caroline Flack, does indeed pop up in this playing herself, in what would turn out to be her last ever on-screen appearance.Coogan plays Sir Richard McCreadie (known as McGreedy) a self-made high street fashion mogul, who enjoys all the trappings his wealth has brought him. To mark his impending 60th birthday, he decides to throw a gladiator-themed party on the Greek island of Mykonos (because why not bring a Roman theme to Greece) that is exactly as tacky and tasteless as you would expect from the super rich. As he descends on the island with his biographer, Nick (Mitchell), his ex-wife (Fisher), his reality TV star daughter, Lily (Cookson), his resentful son, Finn (Butterfield) and his much younger girlfriend, various hangers-on, and sycophants, he reflects on his rise from humble beginnings, and his often nefarious business practices (not that he sees anything wrong with

them). And, with the stage set for his epic celebrations, and a lion called Clarence in place for the finale, what could possibly go wrong? This is shot mockumentarystyle, allowing us to witness all the developments in the partyplanning process minute by minute. McCreadie is obviously based on Sir Phillip Greene, the Topshop mogul; however, he is also representative of the festering sepsis that is the out-of-touch mega-wealthy. Clearly Winterbottom is trying to make a statement about the attitudes of these types – even throwing in a group of refugees that are ruining the aesthetic of McCreadie’s party, and must be dealt with rather than aided. However, this is sometimes hit-and-miss in enforcing its message. But when it hits the mark it is incredibly powerful. Coogan isn’t overly-stretched here, but does have some great moments as the vain, self-centered, narcissistic, and unempathetic retail giant. It is impossible to like him, and yet you find yourself wondering just how much lower he can sink. And Fisher is a delight as the ex-wife, who colludes to hide his fortune in the tax-haven of Monaco. Not for her the sweatshop mass-produced high street clothing that made her ex-husband’s fortune. She is designer label all the way.

And the cameos read like a who’s who (Stephen Fry, Pixie Lott, James Blunt, and Keith Richards, to name but a few) and spotting them is half the fun of this movie. The scenes on Mykonos look amazing (to be fair it’s hard to make it look bad) and juxtapose nicely with the grimier scenes,set in the sweatshops that forged McCreadie’s fortune. The glamour versus the grit really works as an on screen statement, and the mockmentary format means it never seems forced. This could have pushed its message further, and, at times, it feels like Winterbottom has chickened out of following through on something he wanted to say. But overall, it is a total romp that manages to make you think about the vulgarity of some of the supremely wealthy classes, and their abuse of their workers, without shoving it down your throat. Other than the last few minutes, where it all gets a bit bonkers, it remains funny and engaging, and just the right side of cringeworthy. Definitely worth a look, and not just for Caroline Flack’s last appearance, this is a rare movie that manages to deal with a serious topic, while retaining a sense of fun and the ridiculous.

In Cinemas Now!

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Supergrass - Image: bbc.co.uk

Supergrass image: Pitchfork

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Gig Review: Supergrass at The Olympia Theatre, Dublin Review By Frances Winston Supergrass The Olympia Theatre, Dame Street, Dublin 2 15th February 2020 If you want to feel old, just consider the fact that Supergrass were actually formed over a quarter of a century ago! It’s also actually pretty much ten years since they split acrimoniously. But those figures meant nothing as they made a triumphant return to an Irish stage over Valentine’s weekend.

don’t seem to be the kind of band that parents have introduced their children to, which I found surprising, as that tends to be usual at these nostalgia type gigs. That aside, the crowd were definitely there for the music and not just for the night out. From the opening strains of In It For The Money, the band had a spontaneous backing choir, as the (predominately male) crowd got completely lost in these musical reminders of their youth. The band bounced out on stage looking great and full of the punk energy that was synonymous with their early work.

They surprisingly announced their comeback in September, at the Glastonbury Pilston Party, and while they have yet to record any new music, that suited fans at this gig just fine, as they simply wanted to relive the Halcyon days of 90s Brit-pop.

When Danny Goffey announced that it felt like ages since they had played there, it drew some laughter, since they had taken to the iconic stage just the night before for their first Irish date.

The fan demographic was very much mid-forties – on the whole the ‘Grass

They played hit after hit. And in fact they crammed their set with an

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astonishing 21 songs in 90 minutes. For a four-piece, they really managed to fill the stage, without utilising any additional backing singers or musicians. Drummer Goffey ensured that he was noticed, by performing from a raised platform, and there was a feeling that they were trying to ensure that every member got equal attention from the crowd. Particular highlights – given the crowd reaction – were Richard III, Lenny, Pumpin’ on Your Stereo, and the timelessly anthemic Alright (the opening strains of which saw people queuing for drinks vacate the bar area faster than Mo Farah runs a race!) Unusually, there were no announcements or thank-yous before they disappeared after Pumpin’ – they just left the stage. There was equally little fanfare as they returned to the stage, after some crowd encouragement for the encore. They delivered rousing renditions of Caught by the Fuzz, Bad Blood, and Strange Ones, before stepping out together at the front of the stage, and disappearing again after waving to the crowd. No bow. No thank you. It actually felt a bit uncomfortable and awkward, after what had been such a rousing gig. But perhaps that was just me, as the 1,600 fans spilling out onto Dublin’s Dame Street were excitedly chattering about the show, as they exited into Storm Dennis. Whatever the differences that prompted their decade long split, there’s no denying that Supergrass work together wonderfully as a live collective. Setlist In It for the Money, I’d Like to Know, Diamond Hoo Ha Man, Mary, Moving, Time, Mansize Rooster, Fin, Late in the Day, Richard III, Going Out, Low C, Lose It, Grace, Alright, Sun Hits the Sky, Lenny, Pumping on Your Stereo Encore: Caught by the Fuzz, Bad Blood, Strange Ones

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Gaz Coombes Image: nme.com

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‘Kings who were queens’ – Britain’s hidden LGBT+ history From ‘kings who were queens’ to lesbian lawmakers and reformist governments, Britain’s history is awash with LGBT+ characters – and tourists want to know about them.

the world, with 45 of its current lawmakers – 7% of the total – identifying as such.

As Britain marks LGBT History Month, its parliament has increased the number of tours dedicated to the hidden history of LGBT lives, in response to unprecedented demand.

Westminster Hall, which dates back to 1097, was probably “built by a gay man and refurbished by a bisexual (man)”, according to Spencer.

“It is a history of kings and queens – and some kings who were queens,” Pride at Parliament tour guide, Ralph Spencer, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Monday.

“There’s definitely more demand for the tours and these are now a permanent feature across the calendar,” said a parliament spokesman.

During the time of King William II, the third son of William the Conqueror, Westminster Hall was unlit, allowing the dark to cloak “all sorts of things”, Spencer said.

Britain’s parliament has the highest proportion of LGBT+ members of any in

William Rufus, as the king who reigned from 1087 to 1100 was also known for his

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red hair, was attended by “a flock of (male) harlots acting in an effeminate way”, he added. Before and after the English parliament was first convened in 1215, numerous kings and queens were accused of homosexuality, most notoriously Edward II, who reigned for almost 20 years from 1307. He was the “playboy prince”, Spencer said, known for his close relationship with courtier, Piers Gaveston. Yet history records other, perhaps more unexpected, royal LGBT+ characters from the past. Richard I, also known as Richard the Lionheart, was said to have had an affair with the king of France. And Queen Anne, immortalised by Oscarwinning actor, Olivia Colman, in the film, The Favourite, was said to have had a close relationship with Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough. Britain’s first openly lesbian member of parliament was Maureen Colquhoun, although not by choice – she was outed by a newspaper in 1976. Chris Smith would become the first parliamentarian to come out while in office, in 1984. Parliament saw a flurry of LGBT+ reforms following the election of Tony Blair as prime minister in 1997. An equal age of consent at 16 for both gay

and straight men, and a repeal of the ban on LGBT+ people serving in the armed forces, was followed by gay marriage, under the premiership of David Cameron. “Society has become hugely more tolerant, with a slight hiccup during the period of the AIDS crisis,” said Dominic Janes, professor of modern history at Keele University. “There was a powerful rebound in the mid90s and in the early 20th century and that basically helped spur a whole series of progressive reforms.” -Hugo Greenhalgh @hugo_greenhalgh – Thomson Reuters Foundation (eile.ie 11 February 2020)

“Society has become hugely more tolerant, with a slight hiccup during the period of the AIDS crisis,” said Dominic Janes, professor of modern history at Keele University

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Northwest String Summit Announces Initial Lineup For 19th Annual Festival Greensky Bluegrass, Umphrey’s McGee, Yonder Mountain String Band, and more to perform at Horning’s Hideout in North Plains, Oregon, July 16-19, 2020 For eighteen years and counting, Northwest String Summit has brought fans of contemporary bluegrass, indie, funk, jam rock, and everything in-between to the greater Portland area, for what has become a highlight of the Summer for festival-goers. Taking place in North Plains’ beautiful Horning’s Hideout, String Summit’s 19th annual gathering brings some familiar faces back to the festival, and 58 EILE Magazine

some widely requested artists to their first String Summit, the weekend of July 16-19, 2020. Northwest String Summit announces the inclusion of longtime String Summit veterans, Greensky Bluegrass, who took a year off in 2019, improv-rockers, Umphrey’s McGee, playing one rare acoustic set and one fully electrified set, longtime festival hosts, Yonder Mountain String Band, Grammy Award winners, The Infamous Stringdusters, and Portland-based favourites, Fruition, all of whom will play two sets throughout the weekend. Additionally, Canadian outlaw country golden boy, Colter Wall, newgrass legend, Sam Bush Band, Keller Williams’ grassy collaboration, Keller & The Keels, Greensky Bluegrass side project, Dave Bruzza: Unsafe At Any Speed, EILE Magazine 59

Larry Keel Experience with String Summit Artist At Large, Kyle Tuttle, Handmade Moments, Them Coulee Boys, Benny ‘Burle’ Galloway, Cascade Crescendo, Brad Parsons Gospel Hour, Upstate, Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley, Armchair Boogie, Pixie and the Partygrass Boys, Bowregard, Chicken Wire Empire, Lost Ox, and 2019 Band Competition winners, One Way Traffic, with many, many more to be announced soon! Tickets for Northwest String Summit 2020 are now on sale, including the Ultimate Peacock Club VIP Experience, which bundles two four-day passes, two Ultimate Peacock Club VIP Experience tickets, unlimited shuttle pass, and parking (more than $1500 value), and Expedition Glamping campsites, designed to accommodate 2 adults in total comfort in a canvas glamping tent, with a queen bed, mattress, linens, and pillows, along with all the comforts of home; nightstand, table, chairs, rug, coat rack, and more. 4-day passes, parking passes, Peacock Club VIP experiences, basecamp, and glamping packages are available for purchase at: https://stringsummit. com/2020-ticketing/

Colter Wall

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Greensky Bluegrass

Umphrey’s McGee

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Cork It Takes A Village – Music Festival It Takes A Village returns for its third outing at Trabolgan Holiday Village, Cork, from 8th – 10th May 2020. A unique and fun-filled weekend of music, house parties, chilling by the pool and getting to know your neighbours, on the stunning south coast of Ireland. This is the festival where you ditch the tents and leave the camping to the kids! It Takes A Village is a weekend for the more discerning festivalgoer… If you’re looking for an unreal party with a bit more comfort and convenience, then ITAV is the festival for you. The only festival in Ireland where the entire festival community checks in to self-catering houses on the festival grounds. Fill up your fridge, and enjoy a nice bath after a night on the tiles, before tucking yourself into a cosy bed. It Takes a Village 2020 have released their first line up announcement, featuring world class DJ’s, producers, bands, and some of the hottest Irish acts on the scene right now. They’ll

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be playing in a multitude of venues all around the village; ballrooms and back bars, amusement arcades and houses, swimming pools and front porches. There’s lots more to come and some new surprises to be announced over the coming months. The first acts announced include: JOE CLAUSELL & FISHGODEEP (6hr set) – MAD PROFESSOR – ROMARE (live) – SCARY ÉIRE – ALTIN GÜN – JUNIOR BROTHER – PILLOW QUEENS – GAY FUTURE with EDDIE KAY & RAF DADDY (The 2 Bears) – BANTUM, GOD KNOWS & DENISE CHAILA – TPM – HAPPYNESS – LYNKS AFRIKKA – VICKY LANGAN – CHERYM – PERCOLATOR – ALEX GOUGH – THE MARY WALLOPERS – EFA O’NEILL – CLUB COMFORT with ROO HONEYCHILD, SELKY, BALIBOC – CAOILIAN SHERLOCK – RISING DAMP …and much more to come… www.ittakesavillage.fm facebook.com/ittakesavillagefestival

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Trans BMXer riding high as Olympic dream edges nearer When American BMX Freestyle rider, Chelsea Wolfe, received an email asking her to register for the Tokyo Olympics this month, it took her one step closer to her dream of making history, as the first transgender athlete to compete in the Games. Wolfe, one of the first openly trans people to receive such an invitation, still has to be selected by the US Olympic Committee, based on her performance in the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) World Cup in April. For her, as well as career success, it would bring the chance to be a role model for other kids

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struggling with their gender identity. If she succeeds, she will find herself at the centre of a fierce row, over whether trans women have an unfair advantage in sport – a question the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and other sports bodies are still grappling with. “I would be getting to be the person that I needed to see when I was younger, which is – I mean that would be so important to me,” Wolfe, 26, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone. “To get to inspire kids to realise … that if they want it enough, they can earn it, and they’re not going to be stopped because of who they are.” Born and raised in West

Palm Beach, Florida, Wolfe began racing competitively when she was just 6, spending her evenings riding around her local skate park. When she turned 15, she traded in her regular bicycle for a trick bike and started riding freestyle. For many years, she competed with male athletes, hiding her identity as a trans woman. “I had this fear that if anyone knew that I existed, even some of my idols … I was scared that they would reject my existence,” she said. When she came out in 2014, Wolfe said most of her fellow riders welcomed her, though some tried to undermine her, viewing her biological sex as an unfair advantage.

Chelsea Wolfe at the 2019 Union Cycliste Internationale Urban Cycling World Championships in Chengdu, China – Photo provided by Chelsea Wolfe

“I have to laugh about that,” she said. “What’s annoying about it is that no matter how hard you work as a trans athlete, people are still going to say, ‘Oh, you have your accomplishments because you’re trans’.” The inclusion of trans athletes in elite women’s sport has become the

subject of huge controversy, with critics arguing that being born male provides a physical advantage even after transition. Officially, male-to-female trans athletes have been allowed to compete in the Olympics since 2016, if their testosterone levels remain low enough for a year, under

IOC guidelines. Asked about the policy, the IOC told the Thomson Reuters Foundation it was up to international sports federations to decide eligibility rules for specific sports and events. Requirements issued this month by the UCI, the world

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governing body for cycling, require transgender women to keep their testosterone levels below a certain level for 12 months, and sign a declaration that their gender identity is female. Transgender athletes are not required to gain legal recognition of their gender identity, nor undergo anatomical surgery to be eligible to compete. But many leading sportswomen have condemned their inclusion, arguing that they have greater muscle mass, bone strength, and lung capacity. Other contenders to be the first trans Olympian include the New Zealand weightlifter, Laurel Hubbard, whose gold-medal-winning performance at last year’s Pacific Games ignited fierce debate over the issue. US marathon-runner, Megan Youngren, and Brazilian volleyball player, Tifanny Abreu, are also in the running for the Tokyo Games, according to Athlete Ally, an LGBT+ athletics advocacy group. In the United States, the debate over trans athletes has focused on school sports, with at least five states considering laws that would restrict children to competing in leagues that align with their biological sex at birth. Wolfe criticised such moves as “sickening”, accusing conservative US lawmakers of trying to “stop elite trans athletes from existing in the first place by preventing us from getting into sports at all”. Wolfe trains most days, for three hours on average, fitting it in around her job at her local grocery store. She has one more major competition in Hiroshima, Japan, this April, before the USOC decides who it will send to the Olympics for Team USA. “My goal is to get as far as I can go,” said Wolfe. “And if that means gold at the Olympics, then cool. But if not, I’m proud of everything I’ve accomplished along the way.” -Matthew Lavietes – Thomson Reuters Foundation (eile.ie 25 February 2020)

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“What’s annoying about it is that no matter how hard you work as a trans athlete, people are still going to say, ‘Oh, you have your accomplishments because you’re trans’ ”

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UAE Bans Gay Bollywood Rom-Com A major Bollywood gay film has been banned in the conservative United Arab Emirates (UAE), home to a sizeable South Asian community, the director said on Friday, as his new movie hit theatres in India. Touted as India’s first gay male romantic comedy, Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan (Be Extra Careful About Marriage) stars popular actor, Ayushmann Khurrana, as an openly gay man, who battles traditional attitudes to be with his boyfriend. The film will not be screened in theatres in the predominantly Muslim UAE, a desert country of around 10 million people, where homosexuality is illegal, said filmmaker, Hitesh Kewalya. “Yes, it’s banned,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by text message, adding that he had no further details about the move. “I am just happy and proud that I live in a country where homosexuality has been decriminalised and we are able to make and watch films like these in a commercial space.” Regulators in the UAE could not be reached for comment on Friday. India scrapped a ban on homosexuality in September 2018. The move paved the way for more depictions of LGBT+ people in cinema and television, including gay men on dating shows, and drag queens in singing competitions. Bollywood films are popular in the UAE, home to nearly 4 million Indian migrants, many of whom work in construction.

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The UAE – and Dubai specifically – is a globalised hub for tourism and trade, and seen as more tolerant than other parts of the Gulf. In deeply conservative Saudi Arabia, movie theatres were opened in 2018, after a nearly 40-year-ban. The UAE censors or bans films to varying degrees, which it deems offensive to social, moral, and religious values. Openly gay performers, including singer, George Michael, have played concerts in the UAE. But in 2016, the country, along with Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Jordan, and Kuwait, banned from cinemas The Danish Girl, a movie about an artist who undergoes gender reassignment surgery. Lamhaa, a Bollywood film focusing on the insurgency in Kashmir – a disputed Himalayan region between India and Pakistan – was banned in the UAE in 2010. -Annie Banerji , additional reporting Rachel Savage – Thomson Reuters Foundation (eile.ie 25 February 2020)

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Russia - Putin again rules out gay marriage (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin has said that Russia would not legalise gay marriage as long as he was in the Kremlin. […] “As far as ‘parent number 1’ and ‘parent number 2’ goes, I’ve already spoken publicly about this and I’ll repeat it again: As long as I’m president this will not happen. There will be dad and mum,” Putin said. During his two decades in power, Putin has closely aligned himself with the Orthodox Church, and sought to distance Russia from liberal Western values, including attitudes towards homosexuality and gender fluidity. He made the comments as he met a state commission to discuss changes to Russia’s constitution. The commission was set up last month, after Putin announced sweeping changes to Russia’s political system, that are widely seen as being designed to help him extend his grip on power after his scheduled departure from office in 2024. Other proposals have since been put forward, and Putin was asked to comment on a proposal to add a line in the constitution defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. “We need only to think in what phrases and 70 EILE Magazine

where to do this,” he replied. In separate comments during the meeting, Putin said he backed an idea to make it unconstitutional for Russia to give away any part of its territory, a move likely to irritate Japan and Ukraine that have land disputes with Moscow. Russia annexed the peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and has been in a decades-long dispute with Tokyo over ownership of a chain of islands in the Pacific, that Moscow seized from Japan at the end of World War Two. Russia and Japan have been holding talks on the latter dispute, which has prevented the countries formally signing a peace treaty after World War Two. “We have talks under way with our partners on certain questions, but I like the idea itself,” Putin said. “So let’s instruct the lawyers, ask them to formulate this in the right way.” -Tom Balmforth(Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin has said that Russia would not legalise gay marriage as long as he was in the Kremlin. […] “As far as ‘parent number 1’ and ‘parent number 2’ goes, I’ve already spoken publicly about this and I’ll repeat it again: As long as I’m president this will not happen. There will be dad and mum,” Putin said.

Vladimir Putin Image: Official Portrait

During his two decades in power, Putin has closely aligned himself with the Orthodox Church, and sought to distance Russia from liberal Western values, including attitudes towards homosexuality and gender fluidity. He made the comments as he met a state commission to discuss changes to Russia’s constitution. The commission was set up last month, after Putin announced sweeping changes to Russia’s political system, that are widely seen as being designed to help him extend his grip on power after his scheduled departure from office in 2024. Other proposals have since been put forward, and Putin was asked to comment on a proposal to add a line in the constitution defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. “We need only to think in what phrases and where to do this,” he replied.

part of its territory, a move likely to irritate Japan and Ukraine that have land disputes with Moscow. Russia annexed the peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and has been in a decades-long dispute with Tokyo over ownership of a chain of islands in the Pacific, that Moscow seized from Japan at the end of World War Two. Russia and Japan have been holding talks on the latter dispute, which has prevented the countries formally signing a peace treaty after World War Two. “We have talks under way with our partners on certain questions, but I like the idea itself,” Putin said. “So let’s instruct the lawyers, ask them to formulate this in the right way.” -Tom Balmforth (eile.ie 15 February 2020)

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Nigeria - Broken lives of 47 anti-gay law victims (Reuters) – The 57 men stumbled out of the back of a dark police truck, into the glare of a sunny courtyard, and a phalanx of cameras. Some clutched another’s hand, as if for comfort. They lined up on wooden benches in the dirt, almost all of them trying to hide their faces, and not succeeding. Standing behind a bank of microphones, the Lagos state police commissioner, Imohimi Edgal, told the gathered journalists that he personally had ordered the raid that swept up the men, after the authorities received a tipoff that young men were being initiated into a ‘homosexual club’. Edgal declared that homosexuality ran contrary to the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act. That law, which drew international condemnation when it came into force in 2014, targets not only same-sex unions, but homosexual relations in general, with prison terms of up to 14 years.

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“It is the duty of everybody, not only the police, to ensure that such antisocial behaviour, such social vices, such crimes, are checked so that we can create communities that protect our children from such deviant behaviour,” he said. The cameras panned over the faces of the men, capturing expressions of shame, fear and anger. Most of them remained quiet, but others answered journalists’ questions. “What is the definition of a gay? It is when you are caught having sex, intercourse, with a guy. They didn’t caught me,” shouted James Brown, a wiry young man, who said he had been hired to dance at a birthday party, and had done nothing wrong. The phrase “they didn’t caught me” quickly went viral. Video footage of the August 2018 news conference has since been viewed more than half a million times. Friends, colleagues, and strangers, all learned of the allegations from the videos that circulated online. Last November, after more than a year of court hearings, Brown was among 47 men who pleaded not guilty to a charge of public

Chris Agiriga, 23 – Image: REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja

displays of affection by people of the same sex.

a snub on the street, and as serious as Sharia law that threatens death by stoning.

Arrest warrants were issued for the 10 other men who failed to appear in court. In a landmark case that may reach its resolution this month, the men face 10 years in prison if found guilty under the 2014 law, which has never been used to secure a conviction.

One of the men is a married father of four, who says he had driven people to the party to earn extra money. For a time, he went without electricity, because he couldn’t pay the bills after being fired; even in the darkness of his house, the strain between him and his wife was visible to a visiting Reuters journalist.

But prison time or no, the men have already been punished. In this resolutely Christian and Muslim country, homosexuality is broadly rejected across society, as casual as

Another man slept in a church outhouse after his family threw him out, until he was finally

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cast out of that safe harbour, too. A third man lives in fear of the street toughs who have beaten him up three times, after recognising him from the viral videos of the perp walk. And the man who was celebrating his birthday avoided arrest, but is now overwhelmed by guilt, seeing blame even in his friends’ eyes.

encounter armed robbers.

These are the stories of lives broken by a birthday party late one night in Lagos – and by a culture that cast the men adrift.

Seconds later, he said, he realised he was being held by a policeman, using a gun as a bludgeon. Lagos state police spokesman, Bala Elkana, declined to comment on the beating claim, on the grounds that the raid predated him. He rejected emailed and text message requests to speak to police officers who participated in the raid.

Around 2 on a Sunday morning, they streamed out of the building, running in every direction. Within seconds, the birthday party at a Lagos hotel turned into a stampede, as people fled armed policemen who had burst into the compound. “I couldn’t understand what was happening”, said Onyeka Oguaghamba, a trade union officer, who used a borrowed car as a taxi at weekends. “Was it armed robbers or a fire?” Oguaghamba had been dozing in the car park of the Kelly Ann Hotel. After a long journey driving three customers to the hotel in the Egbeda suburb, he said, he had decided to sleep in the car rather than risk a perilous journey home on potholed roads, where he could

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Assuming the dozens of people who raced past him were fleeing danger, Oguaghamba said, he got out of the car and ran. Before he could reach the hotel compound’s gates, however, he was pulled to the ground and struck repeatedly on his head.

The impact on Oguaghamba’s life was swift. After two weeks in police detention, he was fired as a bookkeeper with the Nigeria Union Of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, a job he had held for eight years. His employers had seen the videos on social media, and didn’t believe his explanation, he said. His former manager declined to respond to text messages and phone calls from a journalist. The 42-year-old, who insists he is not gay, was unable to find work for a year after his arrest. Finally, in December, he was hired as a driver for a transport company.

Even his four boys – aged 6, 7, and two 10-year-olds – weren’t immune from the innuendo that swirled around their father. While he was in police detention, they were told their father had been on television. “I felt so bad, although they didn’t understand what gay means,” he said. “They asked me ­why police arrested me and they were showing me on television. I explained to them that the police can arrest anybody at any time.” Walking past locals in his Lagos neighbourhood, Oguaghamba greeted people with “good morning,” as is customary across Nigeria. Most returned the greeting, but some, particularly men, seemed reluctant to acknowledge him, barely nodding in response and looking away. There was tension at home too. “When I came back from that Ikoyi prison, people talked a lot to my wife. They tell her a lot of things,” he said, referring to those who questioned his motives for being at the hotel that night. Wedding photos of Oguaghamba, known to most people by his Christian name Miracle, and his wife, Juliette, take pride of place

on the living room walls. But as the couple discussed the case with a visiting journalist recently, they rarely made eye contact – he looked at the floor, and she fixed her gaze straight ahead. While he was being detained, Juliette sent protection money to an inmate, so he would be spared the beatings that he says many of the others he was arrested with were subjected to. “She suffered a lot to bail me out,” Oguaghamba said. Aside from the money, there was the indignity of a policewoman at the station accusing Juliette of having a gay husband. “When I got back, we started having issues.” Finally, relations improved, after a family meeting was convened, at which her elder sister acted as a mediator between the couple. “Because of the incident, it was very difficult for us,” Juliette said. “There is no evidence. You can’t just barge into a hotel and pick people,” she said, her voice growing louder. “I know my husband very well. He doesn’t play such games. This is 11 years of marriage,” she said. “It makes me cry. It makes me angry because he lost a

lot.” The house was dark at the time, because the electricity had been turned off weeks after the annual rent was due in October. Oguaghamba said he was able to pay some, but not all, of the money. The landlord has threatened to evict the family if it can’t pay the outstanding sum. Oguaghamba said he was angry at the way his life had been upended. “I’m angry because what they are saying is not fact,” he said. “They shared my pictures and video on social media. It’s a very shameful thing.” The Lagos police force has yet to disclose what its officers saw during the raid that led to the charge of public displays of same-sex affection against Oguaghamba, and the other men. Since the November arraignment, the judge has adjourned the case three times, because prosecution lawyers were unable to produce their witnesses. The judge threatened to throw out the case if the prosecution didn’t produce its key witness at the next hearing in March. Police officials rejected a Reuters request for the police commissioner to provide details of the evidence that

prompted the mass arrest and charges. Spokesman, Elkana, said the current commissioner wasn’t in the job at the time, and therefore couldn’t comment. Edgal, the commissioner who said he personally ordered the raid, left office early last year for a commissioner position in southern Nigeria. He didn’t respond to requests for comment on the raid. But in a wide-ranging media briefing with journalists in January, the current Lagos commissioner, Hakeem Odumosu, spoke broadly about the application of the same-sex law. “As police officers, we are to enforce the laws,” he said. “So on the same-sex marriage now, we stand by the position of the law.” Nigeria hasn’t disclosed how many people have been detained under the law. But based on reports of mass police raids, Reuters estimates that the number is likely to run into the hundreds each year. Information is also scarce on the number of prosecutions, but activist groups say they know of none. Xeenarh Mohammed, executive director of Nigerian rights group, the Initiative for Equal Rights, which has been providing legal and

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counselling support for the men arrested in the raid, said the law prohibiting same-sex unions “has simply been used again and again and again to harass people, to pick people for perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.” The accusation of extortion and police harassment also has been levelled by international rights campaigners. In a 2016 report, Human Rights Watch cited a number of alleged victims of police officers, who had used the threat of a prison sentence to extort money from them. In interviews with Reuters, five people, who acknowledged having samesex relationships, said that police in Lagos use that fear, and the threat of the law, to extort money from men. Nigerian police have repeatedly denied the claim. Nigeria’s attorneygeneral and a spokesman for the Justice Ministry didn’t respond to text messages and phone calls seeking comment on the accusations. In addition to the national same-sex law, 12 of Nigeria’s 36 states apply Sharia law. In those states, in the predominantly Muslim north of the country, samesex acts carry maximum 76 EILE Magazine

penalties of death for men, and whipping and/or imprisonment for women. Cases are infrequent, however, which means the punishment is rarely carried out. Gay people in Lagos say they live in fear of their sexuality becoming publicly known. Members of the gay community said they arrange discreet private gatherings, such as house parties, in the homes of friends. Many also turn to dating apps and social media to set up romantic liaisons. But criminals sometimes use these secret rendezvous to carry out attacks, known locally as ‘kito’, in which a gay person arrives to meet a person for the first time only to be kidnapped, beaten, and sometimes raped, said rights campaigners and two people who told Reuters they had been victims of such attacks. When he was a child, Chris Agiriga said, his aunt gave him a home, after his mother left Lagos to pursue a new life. Some 20 years later, his aunt told him to leave after he appeared on TV in the police line-up. “Everyone in the area knew about it,” said the 23-yearold from Egbeda, the same district as the hotel. “I brought shame upon the

whole family.” Agiriga’s aunt took him to her church, and arranged for her pastor to house him on the premises. Agiriga slept on the floor of an outhouse that he shared with another homeless man, who had been taken in by the church. The church pastor told Reuters that Agiriga was a vulnerable young man, who had been taken advantage of. He wanted to help. But the arrangement ended after five months, during which Agiriga clashed with his roommate. Agiriga said the roommate sent threatening text messages about turning him in to the police for “his lifestyle.” When asked for his version of events, the roommate declined to offer an explanation, and told a Reuters journalist to leave the church premises. Agiriga now lives in a safe house for men in Lagos. He says he lost his job as a community outreach worker with an HIV charity after his arrest. In Nigeria, unlike in other parts of the world, the condition is not primarily associated with gay communities, but with unprotected sex in general. “I called my director. He saw what happened on TV. He said he couldn’t employ me because it brings

shame,” Agiriga said. Olubiyi Oludipe, executive director of the Improved Sexual Health & Rights Advocacy Initiative, said Agiriga had already been “disengaged” when the raid happened, but was unable to specify when. He said Agiriga’s performance hadn’t been satisfactory, but declined to elaborate further. “We have never laid off any of our project volunteers because of police arrest or based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” he said in an emailed statement. “We always treat everyone as equal.” Before the raid, Agiriga wanted to pursue a career as a fashion designer. But he dropped out of his fashion course after losing the job that funded his studies. Agiriga now works as an HIV counsellor for a nonprofit group. Agiriga didn’t even know the birthday celebrant. A friend invited him, he said, and he was reluctant, but was persuaded to go. Police raided the venue around 30 minutes after he arrived. “I regret going to the party,” he said. “I lost my job, I lost my family, I lost a lot my friends – all because of this.”

For one of the other suspects, the dominant emotion since the arrest has been fear. Smart Joel said he has been beaten up three times by gangs of men known in Lagos as ‘area boys’, who said they recognised him from the video. People still point and stare as he walks by, he said, although it was worse in the first few months following the video. “I’m always scared,” the diminutive 25-year-old said, recounting an attack that took place last year, in which a group of men called him out as the “gay guy who was arrested”, and stole his phone, money and wristwatch. Before the arrest, he said, it was the police who made him fearful. “Police officers will stop you and then get you arrested. Extort money from you and begin to call you names,” Joel said. “That is not what the law talks about. They tend to harass.” Joel’s livelihood has also suffered. He runs a laundry and dry-cleaning business from the room he shares with his mother and five younger siblings. An iron and a chair draped with pressed clothes take up

the tiny part of the floor not covered by the double bed shared by Joel’s mother and his four sisters. But many customers have deserted him. “The ones that saw the video stopped coming to me. My income became unstable,” he said. The family has struggled to pay bills and buy food since then. “It has not been easy,” he said. “At some point I had to move on, not minding the stigma, the discrimination and the dirty language.” Most of those arrested in August 2018 had gathered to celebrate James Burutu’s 24th birthday, a party that promised to last from ’10 pm till mama calls’. The sense of guilt he has lived with since then has been made worse by the fact that he wasn’t among those seized by police, he said. He was still preparing for the party in a hotel room with friends when the raid took place; parties in Lagos often spill over well into the early hours of the day. But even though he wasn’t arrested, the raid also changed his life. He says he has been ostracised by relatives. “So many of my family

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members don’t want to see me because of this issue,” he said. His elder sister asked him to leave the house she and her husband had shared with him. Three days of homelessness followed, during which he slept underneath a bridge, before he sought shelter with friends. And, as with a number of those who were arrested, he says he was fired. “My company said they didn’t want to hear about a gay issue, and that if I continue working with them it would be a threat to the company,” he said. Eleganza, a Lagos-based company that produces plastic furniture, didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comment on Burutu’s claims. A staff member, in a phone call, said he couldn’t comment. Many of Burutu’s friends, some of whom wondered aloud how he managed to evade arrest, now refuse to speak to him. “My life has been shattered,” he said. For the family man, Oguaghamba, his options look limited. If he is evicted, he might have to uproot his children from the only home they’ve ever known, and return to his home state of Imo, in southeast Nigeria. He hasn’t lived there in more than 20 years. “I am not happy at all,” he said, perched on a threadbare armchair in his living room. Despite the setbacks, however, he remains optimistic about the future. He maintains he is innocent, and believes he finally has a chance to defend himself after seeing his image tarnished on social media. “All my joy is that we are in the federal high court and that this matter will come to an end,” he said. “I believe that victory will be mine.” -Alexis Akwagyiram. Additional reporting by Temilade Adelaja, Nneka Chile, Libby George and Angela Ukomadu in Lagos, and Camillus Eboh in Abuja (eile.ie 25 February 2020)

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The Federal High Court in Lagos, Nigeria, February 18, 2020. REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja

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Design: Anthony Zagariko, exclusively for EILE Magazine

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Croatia - President condemns burning of gay couple effigy Croatia’s president on Monday (24th) condemned the burning of an effigy of two men and a child, at a festival weeks after the country’s highest court ruled that same-sex couples could foster children. Zoran Milanovic said the burning of the effigy, which depicted two men kissing, at a festival in southern Croatia on Sunday, was “inhumane and totally unacceptable”. Organisers of the event in the town of Imotski “deserve the strongest condemnation of the public because hatred for others, intolerance and inhumanity are not and will not be a Croatian tradition”, Milanovic posted on his verified Facebook page. The Imotski carnival organisers did not respond to a request for comment via their Facebook page. Croatia legalised homosexuality in 1977, but the country remains deeply conservative, with more than 80% of the population adhering to Catholicism, according to a 2011 census. Almost two-thirds of Croatians voted in a 2013 referendum in favour of a motion that enshrined marriage in the country’s constitution as between a man and a woman. Same-sex couples can enter into legal partnerships, but the country has stopped short of allowing gay marriages. Gay couples do not have the right to adopt, but earlier this year, Croatia’s highest court ruled that they could become foster parents. -Hugo Greenhalgh @hugo_greenhalgh – Thomson Reuters Foundation (eile.ie 25 February 2020)

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Zoran Milanovic – Image: Total Croatia News

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US Supreme Court to hear arguments on same-sex foster care (Reuters) – The US Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a major religious rights dispute, involving the city of Philadelphia’s refusal to place children for foster care with a Catholic agency that bars same-sex couples from serving as foster parents. The justices will take up an appeal by Catholic Social Services, an arm of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, that accused the city of violating the US Constitution’s First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and religion. A lower court ruled in 2018 that the religious views of the organisation did not entitle it to an exemption from the city’s anti-discrimination policies. The case provides the court’s 5-4 conservative majority another chance to recognise broader religious rights under the Constitution, as it has done in key cases in recent years. The case will be argued in the court’s next term, which starts in October. 86 EILE Magazine

Catholic Social Services, which has helped provide foster care services for more than a century, has said it would be forced to close its foster care operations, if it is unable to participate in Philadelphia’s program. A ruling against Philadelphia could make it easier for people to cite religious beliefs when seeking exemptions from widely applicable laws.

have said the ruling infringes on the constitutionally protected free exercise of religion. Even if the court does not overturn the 1990 ruling, the challengers, at a minimum, want the justices to make it easier for religious entities to bring claims when they accuse the government of targeting them because of their religious beliefs.

Philadelphia in 2018 As part of the case, Catholic suspended foster care referrals Social Services asked the to Catholic Social Services, court to overturn a 1990 after a newspaper report Supreme Court ruling, about the agency’s policy called Employment Division of turning away same-sex v. Smith, that limited the couples seeking to serve as ability of people to seek foster parents. The agency such exemptions. Congress had a contract with the city for subsequently enacted the placement of foster children. Religious Freedom Restoration It said the city’s action means Act, which allows people to that available foster homes are bring religious claims against sitting empty, amid a foster the federal government, but care crisis in the city of about not the states. 1.5 million people. The ruling was written by the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who was a champion of religious rights. But religious rights advocates

Three foster parents, Sharonell Fulton, Toni Simms-Busch, and Cecelia Paul, joined the agency in the lawsuit. Paul has since died.

US Supreme Court

US District Judge, Petrese Tucker, in Philadelphia in 2018 ruled against the agency. Last year, the Philadelphiabased 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled against Catholic Social Services, saying it had not shown that Philadelphia had treated it differently because of its religious affiliation. Ten of the 50 states currently allow private agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples, according to the Movement Advancement Project, a group that backs gay rights. Nine states bar discrimination based on sexual orientation in foster care. In court papers, Philadelphia’s lawyers said that Catholic Social Services has an interim contract that provides funds for children already in its foster homes. Catholic Social Services continues to contract with the city for other services.

The Supreme Court in recent years has sent mixed messages on the conflict between gay and religious rights. It backed gay rights in a series of landmark rulings culminating in the 2015 decision legalising same-sex marriage nationwide. It also bolstered religious rights, including a 2014 ruling that allowed owners of businesses to raise religious objections against the government.

sympathy to religious liberty claims.

Central to those cases was conservative Justice, Anthony Kennedy, who retired in July 2018, and was replaced by President Donald Trump’s appointee, Brett Kavanaugh. Kennedy wrote the gay marriage ruling, joining with the court’s liberals, but joined with his fellow conservatives in the religious rights decision.

In a major LGBT rights case, the Supreme Court in October heard arguments over whether a landmark federal law, forbidding sex discrimination in the workplace, protects gay and transgender employees. A ruling is due by the end of June.

Kavanaugh, who may cast the decisive vote in the Philadelphia case, has shown

(eile.ie 25 February 2020)

There has been a renewed interest among US religious conservatives, in seeking to overturn the 1990 ruling, as part of a backlash to the legalisation of gay marriage. Conservative opposition to gay marriage has figured in several legal disputes, in which small business owners have refused to serve same-sex couples.

-Lawrence Hurley

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