GNIMAG y o u r
l o c a l
h o m o c u l t u r a l
m a g a z i n e
Issue 48 Sept / Oct 21 £3.95 / €3.95
Pushed out of his comfort zone, the pandemic lead to some self destructive behaviour, but he’s back stronger than ever!
Align yourself. Renowned queer life coach turning lives from meh to marvelous.
Looking at the top five places in the world for the LGBT traveller. Who gets the number one spot?
The new autobiography looks at the love between one man and his four legged friend.
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THE EDITOR // OPEN LETTER
DANIEL MAY Editor & Operations Director GNI MAG / Romeo & Julian Publications LTD / MAY DAY EVENTS Daniel has over 15 years working in Media and been with GNI MAG since 2015, steering the publication forward and keeping us relevant with our growing market, especially in these challenging times. He is also a host of Belfast 247 Radio Station and covid aside is a keen Thespian who enjoys performing in productions across the province.
THE LIGHT MORNINGS ARE DISAPPEARING, Schools are back and the majority of Pride events have all taken place in some form or another with Omagh being the exception, their 1st pride is happening on 25th September and we cannot wait. It’s safe to say the weather will swiftly be on the change too as we start to plan and look ahead to Christmas, it is after all only 15 weeks away. Can we expect normal festivities this year? Well the markets are back which is a good sign so fingers and toes crossed further lifting of restrictions are afoot. A few things must be mentioned before I divulge what is exciting about this issue, first up the changes to Blood Donating, probing questions have been removed and the process is easier and farrier which will allow so many more people to donate. I donated myself a few weeks back, it was so easy, my plan is to give regularly and I would recommend anyone eligible/able does the same. Covid continues to spread across the province which is both baffling and concerning especially as almost 90% of adults in the U.K have had their first jab and almost 80% have had both, I fear what is to come as winter is looming, though remain the eternal optimist. It would be insensitive of me not to mention Afghanistan, so many people being left in limbo,
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HELPING YOU TO FACE THE CHALLENGE OF ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE Make the first step in changing your life, visit www.carlislehouse.org 2-4 Henry Place, Clifton Street, Belfast, BT15-2BB Tel: 028 9032 8308, Email: email@example.com
LGBTQ+ local people will most certainly be targeted and millions of women/girls won’t have an opportunity of education or jobs, it really is a sad state of affairs. I hope for a peaceful transition and that the United Nations and other countries keep a watchful eye. On to this issue, our Cover is graced by Calum Scott, Voice of an angel and looks to match, it was a pleasure interviewing him and Ryan James who I suggest you check out. Other interviews include Johnathan Beal, The Oracle Rising, Inhaler, Bobby Newberry and plenty more. We approach topics such as Lady Bits, weather to Hug or Not, Menstruation, Toilet Amnesty, Gay Friendly Countries and tonnes more. Our regular columnists are back and we feature local artists Storm, Alex Truesdale, Connor Mills and Ross Kane. Our Go, Life and You sections are packed with things to keep you occupied and we introduce a new try section dedicated to reviews and recommendations. In closing I thank everyone for their continued support, advertisers, contributors, readers alike you all play an important role and finally to the LGBTQ+ Metro Covid Fund whose support gave us the means to print during trying times.
OPERATIONS DIRECTOR Daniel May [ 8 ]
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THE ORACLE RISING
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GAY FRIENDLY TRAVEL
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TO HUG OR NOT TO HUG
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BE A HERO
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CONNOR MILLS DESIGN
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THE GOURMET BOYS
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RESTING BITCH FACE
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RECOMMENDED BY MARTY
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SALES Pauline Fitzpatrick DESIGN Tony Day SPECIAL THANKS TO... Calum Scott / Rylan James / Inhaler / Julian Clary. The Oracle Rising / Denali Foxx / Johnathan Beal / Bobby Newberry / Kawala / Storm / Ross Kane / Alex Truesdale / Connor Mills / Callum Skeffington / Micky Murray / Carl Connielingus / Jules Boyle / Robert Hasslehoff / Vic Gerami / Shane Gallagher / Martin Murray / Anthony Cooley / Gavyn Andrews / Marty Kearney / Gourmet Boys / The Rainbow Project / Mass Branded / Memento / Malone Lodge Hotel / Resting Bitch Face / Prawnagraphic / Tri Ard House / National Trust, Omagh Pride / Chuff Media / Jeff Dorta / Product Publicity / Halestorm PR / Media Works / Shout Bravo / Cow PR / DFUI Events / Nomadic Boys / Intimina UK / Quercus Books / COVER PHOTOGRAPHY Insta:@jackson_ducasse GNI MAG IS PUBLISHED BY... Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd 13 Union Street Belfast BT1 2JF www.gnimag.com firstname.lastname@example.org All submissions to GNI MAG are made on the basis of permission to publish the submission in GNI MAG and its licensed editions worldwide. In the case of a picture selection, the editor’s decision is final. Any material sent is at the owner’s risk and although every care is taken neither Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd or its agents shall be liable for loss or damage. We take great care to make sure all elements of GNI MAG are accurate. However we accept no liability for any misprints that appear in this magazine. You should seek professional advice prior to following any advice offered in this publication. Any opinions expressed are those of the writers and not those of GNI MAG or Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd. Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd 2021
INTERVIEW // CALUM SCOTT
EIGHT // GNIMAG.COM
INTERVIEW // CALUM SCOTT
CALUM THE VOICE OF AN ANGEL WITH THE LOOKS TO MATCH, CALUM SCOTT TALKS ABOUT SUCCESS, NEW MUSIC, HOLIDAYS AND BEING A SINGLE PRINGLE... I SAW ON OUR TIKTOK YOU WERE HOLIDAYING IN CROATIA, ARE YOU BACK NOW AND HAD YOU A GOOD TIME? WHO WERE YOU THERE WITH? I had an amazing time. I was there for a best friend’s 30th birthday. It felt weird getting on a plane, being in an airport. It felt very strange. Being on holiday, you immediately just snap into this, kind of, life as normal, almost. There were some restrictions, but people mostly just used common sense. Sanitising and masks in public spaces. It was just so amazing to get away with my best friends. I’m such a family man. Time with my friends and family is my relaxation. And we definitely did a lot of relaxation with alcohol. It was an amazing birthday party. YOU’VE HAVE HAD SO MUCH SUCCESS ACROSS THE WORLD, HOW DO YOU STAY GROUNDED? Well, I travel back up here often. This, my spot in Yorkshire, in Hull, is all I’ve ever known. I was born and bred here: went to school, lived and worked here. Hull’s not like Manchester or Liverpool, with people coming and going all the time. It feels like a little bit of a bubble for me. It’s amazing, and the people here are incredibly proud of me, which feels amazing as well. But also very respectful. Up here is my sanctuary. My little nephew’s four. He definitely keeps me grounded. Friends and family mean the world to me, and spending time with them is an absolute must. I think, probably because I’ve got into this, at a later age as well, I just have a real appreciation for everything that happens to me. You know, like going into the the first release off of a second album, with an album to come. I’m as grateful for this one as I was the last. Also, we did a photo shoot here, to mark the beginning of the campaign. I was asked, “What would mean the most to you, in terms of location?” I said, “Doing it in my hometown,” We shot some pictures by the Humber Bridge, and in the city, and I had, almost, a new appreciation of my town. So, home means a lot to me. “DANCING ON MY OWN” WAS THE FIRST SONG THE NATION HEARD YOU SING, AND WILL ALWAYS BE ASSOCIATED WITH YOU. MORE THAN 6 YEARS ON, DO YOU STILL ENJOY PERFORMING IT? Yeah, I love performing it. I love the fact that everybody knows it. I have loved the original forever. Robyn is one of the people in the music business that I love. She’s mysterious, not very accessible, and I love that about her. When I saw her, in the Radio One building, it was like seeing a unicorn. I kept my cool just long enough, before I burst into tears in the lift. It just meant so much, because a song that
NINE // GNIMAG.COM
INTERVIEW // CALUM SCOTT
she had sung and recorded had resonated with people all around the world. To have resonated with the song myself as a fan, and then to have my own interpretation, and release it as an artist, and for that to resonate around the world as well, it means so much. Whenever I sing it, it brings me so much joy. I met with Robyn, and the other writer on the track, and the way that they crafted this song is is unlike anything I’ve ever heard before.
specifically wanting me to cut it, so he hadn’t pitched it out to anybody else, which I thought was really special. I got in the studio in London and did it. I thought he might not like my voice on it, or it might not suit my voice. As soon as I sent it, he was in touch immediately. Like, “This is incredible. This is my summer single. I really want you on it.” It was released on the Friday, whilst we were in Croatia at a beach club. So, it was perfect timing.
WHO IS YOUR GO-TO ARTIST IF YOU WANT TO SWITCH OFF FROM THE WORLD? Ooh, that changes. It’s hard. I’m one of those mood artists. It depends on what mood I’m in. During the summer, I just constantly listened to Harry Styles. That new music is so good, so tasteful, so poppy and vibey. It suits him perfectly. Yesterday, my mum and I were looking through pictures of my grandad, from, like, 1940 or 1950. He was wearing these highwaisters, a big collar on his shirt. I said to my mum, “I can imagine Harry Styles in that.” And he would rock it just as much as my grandad did. It’s quite interesting, how it comes around. Adele is my top-tier., I listen to her. She’s an idol of mine. I’d duet or songwrite with her. I think she’s amazing. She can never put foot wrong, in my eyes. I saw one of her last shows at Wembley, and she just sings every song like it’s the last time she’s gonna sing it. I take so much from that, in terms of her work ethic, how much she cares about what she does. They’re incredible footsteps to try and walk in. I’m listening to a lot of Olivia Rodrigo recently as well. I’ve also gone back to Earth, Wind & Fire, The Police. I’ve found myself going down one of those rabbit holes.
IT IS SUCH A CATCHY TUNE. WHEN I LISTEN, THE HOOK REMINDS ME OF KYLIE’S “I JUST CAN’T GET YOU OUT OF MY HEAD”. DO YOU AGREE? WAS THAT THE PLAN? - MAYBE JUST ME LOL. This is the great thing about music. If it reminds you of those huge songs, it’s the best thing. The thing with me and Felix has always been amazing. Because of lockdowns, and the pandemic, we’ve not been able to meet yet. But I’m joining him at a festival in Romania, to debut the song live, which is really, really fun. The fact that the world is opening up a little bit more. I understand travel restrictions, and why they’re in effect, but to be able to get onstage and perform for people, in their cities and their towns, it means a lot.
ON TO MUSIC. WHERE ARE YOU NOW – WITH “LOST FREQUENCIES,” HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT? Felix, from Lost Frequencies, and I were talking the other day. He reminded me that we had approached him for a remix of “Dancing On My Own”. At the time, we were in talks with a couple of other producers and DJs, and the timing didn’t work with Felix. So, it was like, “I’d love to do something in the future.” Fast forward four or five years, and my manager contacted me and said, “Felix wants you to cut this song.” Apparently Felix was very
TEN // GNIMAG.COM
SO YOU WERE AWAY WORKING ON THE 2ND ALBUM FOR 3 YEARS. WAS THIS A GOOD DISTRACTION DURING COVID, OR WAS IT A CHALLENGE NOT BEING ABLE TO WORK AS YOU TYPICALLY WOULD HAVE? The latter. I mean, I’ve really struggled with the pandemic. I try not to complain too much, because I’m very sensitive to the fact that people have lost loved ones, their livelihoods. But, personally, it did affect me. I’ve gone from being an office worker nine-to-five, to having my own single, my own album, my own tour. Working across the world, barely being in one place at one time. Then to a total lockdown. At the time, we didn’t even know when it was going to end. I live alone, so I’d come back up to Yorkshire, and didn’t see my family for about a month. That’s not good for my mental health. I’ve had a long struggle with my mental health growing up. It really set me back. I started being quite destructive with how I was feeling, tearing apart things that I’d done for the album,
and throwing songs away. It was horrible. It didn’t really inspire me. Saying that, “Biblical” was born during the pandemic, and I think my next single was born there. It just goes to show that, when you’re pushed outside your comfort zone, sometimes you can harness that, and make use of it. LATEST SINGLE, “BIBLICAL”, IT IS SUCH A BEAUTIFUL SONG. I HAVE LISTENED TO IT ON REPEAT. YOU SAID THIS WAS A SONG FOR EVERYONE, ONE THEY CAN THINK ABOUT A CERTAIN PERSON. WHEN YOU SING IT, HAVE YOU SOMEONE PARTICULAR IN YOUR MIND? When the song was sent to me, my producer was like, “I’ve got this idea. I think it’d be incredible.” I was just blown away by James Bay’s demo. James’s voice is insane anyway, but the lyric for me was so poignant, at a time when we were all missing the people that we loved, stripped of having that physical and mental relationship with those that you love, and being prevented from going to see your friends. Talking about an immeasurable love, an unquantifiable amount of love, it just seemed so apt. So I’ve really gravitated towards that, and, because of my frustrations and emotions, when I got to record the vocals in Abbey Road, I have taken ownership of that song, and sang it from a really emotional place, and embued myself onto that record. I think it’s the same with “Dancing On My Own.” Sometimes the interpretation can be just as powerful as writing the lyrics yourself. It just depends on where you sing it from. For me, all of my music is sang from the same place. So, I just want to get out and sing it to people. I LOVE WHEN IT BUILDS UP. YOU ARE IN BELT, THEN IT’S LIKE THE WORLD JUST STOPS FOR, “YOUR LOVE IS BIBLICAL, BIBLICAL.” IT’S BEAUTIFUL. IS THIS HOW THE SONG WAS WRITTEN, OR A CREATIVE CHOICE FOR ADDED EMOTION? Yeah, I really appreciate that. We did play around with it. I think pauses and crescendos, and silence, are really powerful tools. It’s the same with “Dancing On My Own,” with “You are the Reason.” There’re moments where it just picks up, and then you’re left with bated breath. All that is so important for the emotion of a song.
INTERVIEW // CALUM SCOTT
YOUR VOICE SEEMS TO HAVE MATURED A LOT. EITHER THAT, OR YOU ARE TEASING, STARTING OFF IN A SLIGHTLY LOWER REGISTER LOL, WHICH IS IT? I have been on a journey with my voice since the second I started using it. When I first started singing, it was kind of me, not impersonating, but trying to find my way with cover music. Then I was in a Maroon 5 tribute band, so my voice started getting more like Adam’s. When I started discovering my own voice, I realised that I really like using those big chest vocals, and dramatising songs. That’s when I discovered “Dancing On My Own,” and put my interpretation on that. That set the tone for the kind of music I like to sing. Then, over time, it’s just the more I’ve used my voice. It’s like a muscle, it’s grown. I wanted “Biblical” to be the first song that people heard, because it shows the most growth in my voice, that I’m trying to reach different parts of my voice with my falsetto that I haven’t used this extensively before. Those chest vocals. It’s a hard song to sing. WHEN I LISTEN TO TALENTED ARTISTS LIKE YOURSELF I ALWAYS WONDER HOW MUCH YOU NEED TO REHEARSE, AND ALSO IF YOU WORK WITH A VOCAL COACH? I work with a vocal coach when I’m doing recordings, or big shows. It’s important. Like getting a personal trainer, it’s the same with vocal coaches. When you’re on your voice day in day out, it gets tired, and I owe it to my fans, and to the people that support me, to be in the best state of health I can be for these performances. Practice makes perfect. I could tell, after the lockdown, that I’d not been on my voice a lot. One performance, and I had a sore throat. The night-after-night shows, where you’re singing the same songs. You’re trying to give 100% at each show. Then meet and greets, promo, and radio stuff, TV stuff. You don’t realise how much you’re on your voice. Then, your voice could go. My falsetto is the first to go. I’ve gotten upset before shows, because I can’t get certain notes. That’s just my perfectionism. I want to go on there. I think of myself as paying my money, that I’ve worked hard for,
to go and watch my favourite artist. You want to be blown away. So I take that incredibly seriously. It’s just a case of building up the stamina. Some of your best shows are the ones right at the end of a tour. YOU’RE PROBABLY LOOSENED UP BY THEN. YOU’RE A BIT MORE RELAXED. 100%, yeah, you know the songs inside out.
IS THERE A DATE YET FOR THE ALBUM, CAN WE EVEN SAY IT WILL BE THIS YEAR? I’M HOPING THERE WILL BE A TOUR IN 2022? I don’t know, it’s difficult to say. We’re working with the label to find a date for the album. It’s strange times at the minute for music. I would love it to be this end of the year. When you release an album, you want to announce a tour, and promote it. That’s tough at the minute. Things keep changing, but as we’ve seen, anything can happen. So, fingers crossed. I’ve waited this long. It’s the best collection of songs I’ve ever written.
BEFORE YOU GO, I HAVE TO ASK THE QUESTION ON EVERYONE’S LIPS: ARE YOU SEEING ANYONE? LOOKING A RELATIONSHIP? IS CALUM SCOTT A SINGLE PRINGLE? WHAT’S THE STORY? Oh, he’s a single pringle, he’s been in the tube for a long time. I had a bit of a thing going on. For me, I’m always conscious that when it comes back into going-to-work mode, that you’re going to be away a lot. It’s going to be
a struggle to spend time with them. My friends and family are top of the list every time, so I start to panic myself and get myself worked up. I’m too much of a worrier at the minute, but I also am on the lookout for love. I think it can just be around the corner. All of my friends are hitched up, or kids, or married, and it’s frustrating when you’re the single pringle. I mean yeah, I know that I’d got on the spotlight with “Dancing On My Own,” but that’s not what I want to do forever. At some point I do want my own “Reason,” or somebody to sing “Biblical” to.
INTERVIEW BY: DANIEL MAY
ELEVEN // GNIMAG.COM
OPINION // CALLUM SKEFFINGTON
CALLUM SKEFFINGTON DREAMING ABOUT TRAVEL. I’M SURE THAT THERE ARE many people, like me, who are desperately craving a holiday. There are some who have been fortunate enough to get away over the past year and a half (and too many influencers flaunting their travels all over social media and calling themselves ‘essential workers’), but it’s now three years since I was last out of the country… and if there’s one thing that could cure the monotony of life right now, it would be a holiday. Travel currently seems like more of a chore than ironing every piece of clothing in my wardrobe; with ever changing travel restrictions, uncertainty over travel insurance cover and the impending possibility of testing positive before you go. But people still seem to be doing it, so maybe it’s not as impossible as it seems. There have been far less this year than pre-pandemic, but when I see the infrequent pictures posted on Instagram by people on holidays I feel incredibly jealous as I sit tucked up in bed with the rain pouring down outside, and all I have to look forward to is yet another day in work. This is, of course, a very trivial problem…but surely there are others craving the sun and sea as much as me. My desire to travel again has recently led me down a rabbit hole of reading through my travel journals, reminiscing over the good and the bad times that I experienced along the way. One of the ones that stands out the most would be the time that I left my wallet on
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a train after getting off in Brussels, and then had to run to find a taxi, rush to the next station, and frantically sprint through the different platforms looking for the train I had just gotten off. The worst bit about this story is that it wasn’t the first time something like this happened to me. Three years before I was sleeping on the floor
MAYBE IF I DO GO AWAY, I SHOULD JUST BRING MY LAPTOP WITH ME, AND IF I NEED TO, I CAN CALL CUSTOMERS FROM A SUN LOUNGER BY THE POOL WITH A MARGARITA IN HAND. of Newark airport after leaving my passport on a plane (that swiftly took off for Los Angeles). I was left stranded with no hope of getting on the plane home. Unfortunately my UK drivers license didn’t count as appropriate identification (yes, I was definitely chancing my arm), but channeling my inner Karen and asking to speak to the checkin manager resulted in the flight change fee being waived and access to the staff wifi so that I could text my family and friends. In the end, I had to pay $200 for a taxi into Manhattan to get a temporary passport so I could fly home a day later than expected, and it was an anxiety ridden day, but now I look back and laugh; although I would imagine my Dad still feels the same dread he did back then when he got the texts from me explaining what had happened. The passport story has turned into a fun(ish) story to tell: how I missed my 21st Birthday party because
I stupidly forgot to check the pocket of the seat in front of me before getting off the plane. I guess it’s usually the bad moments that become the most memorable, and the ones we consider to be the most entertaining to share with others. I’d like to say the same could be said for the past year and a half, but I don’t think that would be accurate to say…we can probably all agree that the bad has been simply terrible, and we’d rather forget the whole thing than ever look back at it ‘fondly’. So yeah, my restless need for adventure was stifled by the pandemic, but it’s crept back up hungrier than ever. Then again there’s the fear of catching COVID whilst holidaying it up in Spain and having to self isolate over there, resulting in a very awkward conversation with my manager as to why I’m not able to make it into work the following day. Maybe if I do go away, I should just bring my laptop with me, and if I need to, I can call customers from a sun lounger by the pool with a margarita in hand. A boy can dream. This past year has been a series of highs and lows. I’ve said before that taking joy from the simple things I probably took for granted before has helped me through the pandemic, but so too has dreaming of all the things I want to do again (when restrictions allow for it). Travel is seemingly more possible now though, so I really am hoping to get away as soon as possible. Side note: the lockdowns and closures have been beneficial for my hobby as a writer, and in that time I have self-published a book on Amazon titled Between Bedsheets and Breakups. It is a collection of 5 short stories that all feature gay characters who are experiencing the highs and lows that occur during and after a breakup. Some of these stories are loosely inspired by previous travels of mine (in terms of location at the very least). I don’t want to give too much away, and the description is posted on both amazon and my Instagram, so check it out if it’s something you are interested in, because if the drag race empire is anything to go by, you can never have enough LGBT representation in the media.
This is an opinion piece from the columnist/contributor and not the opinion of GNI MAG / Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd.
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INTERVIEW // RYLAND JAMES
RYLAND JAMES Interview by Daniel May
INTERVIEW // RYLAND JAMES
LET’S GO RIGHT BACK TO THE START. SO, YOU GREW UP IN ONTARIO, CANADA. HAD YOU A TYPICAL UPBRINGING, AND HAVE YOU ANY SIBLINGS? For rural Ontario, Canada, I had a very typical childhood. I have two younger sisters. I come from a very small town. It’s less than 2000 people, in the middle of nowhere. It’s pretty far from cities or anything. So, I grew up just playing road hockey outside, or biking around town, exploring the woods, and hanging with neighbourhood kids. So, my childhood was very much the norm. I READ YOUR GRANDMA WAS A GOSPEL PIANIST. DOES YOUR PASSION FOR MUSIC COME FROM HER, AND DID YOU SING WITH HER WHEN GROWING UP? She always played gospel piano when I was over at her house. I was there all the time because my parents would be working. She only knew how to play from ear. So, it was just from her soul, her feeling. I remember watching that and singing along to simple songs. She would teach me how to play “Twinkle, Twinkle” or we’d sing “Silent Night” lol. She would make it so soulful, that’s where a lot of my soulfulness comes from in my music. Yeah, she was just such a huge inspiration. My family were very musical. My parents didn’t play anything, but my mom, she’d sing around the house and my dad played music all the time too. Being in that environment definitely contributed. YOU AUDITIONED FOR THE NEXT STAR, A TV SINGING COMPETITION SIMILAR TO THE X FACTOR. LOOKING BACK, IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD CHANGE, AND WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT TV TALENT SHOWS? I was 14 at the time when I went on it. It was like a teenage kind of show. So, that was my first introduction to TV, the music industry, the whole bit. I remember going to audition and being so excited to go through that whole process, and see what it was really like. It really amped me up to want to continue and to move forward with it. When it ended, I was like, “This sucks,” and I went through this really hardcore fall. I was still in high school at the time, and going back to regular life, after doing something like that, was very difficult. But it fired me up to keep pushing forward. It made me want to learn how to play instruments and hone my craft. Like, “I want this for my life.” TV talent shows in general, I think they’re cool. We are in an era where it’s a little different than it used to be, because of social media and whatnot, but I still think they’re such a great outlet for people who might not have that ability, or capability fully, of developing the whole thing by themselves online. I think it is a great opportunity for people to get themselves out there, yeah, and my time on it was was very enjoyable. FAST FORWARD A FEW YEARS, AND YOU WERE SIGNED BY UNIVERSAL. CAN YOU PUT INTO WORDS HOW THAT FELT? Very exciting. The process was interesting, because I signed with my management. They’re an independent label, kind of. That’s how I was brought into this whole industry. They’d seen a video of mine on Facebook. I went in and started working with them, developing, and I didn’t feel like a real artist yet. I was starting to song write with other co-writers and develop things. I wasn’t signed with a major label yet. In the background, I knew that they were trying to get a deal with Universal. It just kind of happened one day, they’re like, “Here it is. Here’s the contract.”. That moment was what I’d been waiting for. I was like, “Ah, yes, finally!” I had just turned 18. It felt like all this hard work had paid off.
FIFTEEN // GNIMAG.COM
INTERVIEW // RYLAND JAMES I READ LOADS OF IMPRESSIVE STATS: PLATINUM-SELLING ARTIST, DOUBLE JUNO AWARD NOMINEE, 70+ MILLION STREAMS. WHEN YOU HEAR THINGS LIKE THIS, HOW DO YOU STAY GROUNDED AND NOT LET IT GO TO YOUR HEAD? I definitely am the type to shy away from it and cringe a little bit. I’m proud of the accolades and I acknowledge them. But, to me, it sometimes feels like I haven’t done it yet. I want to keep getting better. I don’t want to get to that point where I’m like, “Oh, yeah, now I’m here. Now I’ve made it. Now I have all this stuff.” Then you stop growing, “Oh, I’ve done enough already.” But to me, I’m never doing enough, never making enough. It’s finding that balance, being able to appreciate it at the end of the day, the accolades - we need something, but they’re not everything when it comes to being a human being. IT IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT TO SAY YOU HAVE SUCH A LOVELY TONE TO YOUR VOICE. IT ALMOST SOUNDS FAMILIAR, THOUGH I CANNOT PUT A FINGER ON WHO YOU REMIND ME OF LOL. I LOVE YOUR FALSETTO, DO YOU TRAIN/ PRACTISE A LOT, AND DO YOU WORK WITH A VOCAL COACH? Thank you so much. I do practice though I used to do that more, where I’d sit down and watch YouTube videos on certain techniques, or how to do a certain warm up. But now, it’s more like I learned and practised through singing songs, or making online videos, or being in the studio, through writing. I try a lot of different things with my voice, and that is my practice, constantly doing work that involves singing most days. I don’t train with a vocal coach. I’ve had mentors in the past. It’s been a lot of trial and error over the years. My mom took a vocal class in high school, and she remembered so much of it. And so, she would teach me when I was young, how to do certain things. Or she intuitively knew by hearing what I was doing, what I should do. She’d give me these little tips. There were a lot of people who helped along the way. I feel like a lot of it has also just been intuitively figuring it out, and just through experience. THERE ARE SO MANY UNIQUELY TALENTED ARTISTS. GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO COLLABORATE WITH ANYONE, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY? Definitely Tori Kelly, her voice is so incredible, she was somebody that I really looked up to back in 2015 when “Nobody Love” came out. After that, I started watching all her YouTube videos. She was one of my first concerts I bought tickets for. She’s a huge inspiration. And she’s also a writer, guitar player and so many things all-in-one.
SIXTEEN // GNIMAG.COM
BEFORE WE TALK ABOUT YOUR COMING OUT, AND RELATIONSHIP, WE MUST ADDRESS COVID, AND THE PAST 18 MONTHS IN GENERAL. SO MANY HAVE STRUGGLED MENTALLY, HOW HAS IT BEEN FOR YOU? It’s been up and down. It’s been the most transformative period of my life. I went from 19 to 20 to 21 to 22 through this whole thing. I feel like I’m trying to process, and understand what happened in the last year-and-a-half. When I came into this pandemic, I was touring, travelling, doing all these things. And I felt really lost, internally, as a person. Outwardly, I was still getting work done, still doing things. Things were happening for me. But, inside, a part of me felt like it was dying. I was coming home feeling so depressed, like, “What am I doing? Why am I doing this? What’s the meaning behind this?” I didn’t feel like I was being fully myself. There were just so many obstacles. I felt like I was just running into things, and I didn’t know why. So, when the pandemic hit, and they were like, “Okay, everyone’s gonna stay at home,” everyone was freaking out. But me, internally, a little bit was like, “Okay, good.” To take some time to just be at home, in my space. So, at first, it was very nice for that. I started getting into spirituality, meditating, yoga. Learning about this other layer of the human experience. There’s been so many ups and downs. I’ve always struggled with anxiety, especially, that tension. I think when you’re sitting in one place, for too long, you do get restless and unmotivated. Uninspired.
was my person. We fell in love very quickly. Long-distance for a while, but I always felt very comfortable with him. I felt like I finally had found this like light, and that I could be myself. It was opening this side of me up. But I still felt so hidden from the world. Even when we’d go out in public, I was so afraid that someone who knew me would see me, and out me, or think differently of me, or people finding out that I was queer and had a boyfriend. So, through fall, winter, I was getting more and more comfortable of letting different idiosyncrasies come out and expressing myself. By February, I’d done enough self-development, enough self-reflecting, and of changing my perception, to realise that it is not worth it anymore to stay internal about it. You never owe people an explanation for who you are, or your sexuality, but I was just like, “It’s time. I need to do it.” I’ve talked so much about authenticity with my fans, my audience. I want to write about that, so I feel like it’s only right to tell them who I am. “This is who you’re following and listening to.” So I did. I just wrote it out. I just had this urge, this gut feeling, that I needed to do it. I did it, and it was the most anxiety-inducing thing I’ve ever done. As soon as I posted it, I’ve never felt such a mix of emotions. My sisters were here, and they were like, “It’s fine. It’s good. The people are gonna love you.” But of course, I’m like, “I don’t know. I’m so afraid of what the reaction is gonna be like.”
IN FEBRUARY YOU DROPPED THE BOMBSHELL THAT YOU WERE GAY. I’M SURE YOU GOT HUNDREDS OF DMS AND OFFERS LMAO. THOUGH, ON A SERIOUS NOTE, THAT CAN’T HAVE BEEN EASY? For a long time, I was not interested in a relationship, in people. It was this faraway thing in the future. I was very focused on my career. Then suddenly, at the beginning of the pandemic last year, I suddenly felt this urge to connect with somebody, this need. I had finally told my sister about my sexuality, and how I’d finally come to terms with this realisation. I came from a rural area. Religious upbringing and environment. So, I was always taught to put on that mask of being straight, fitting the mould. There were these urges, through my life, that I was always very ashamed of. So, I finally just came to terms with that. I told my sister and started to open my world up a little more to this possibility. I put up a song, “3 Purple Hearts,” I just saw this guy on one of my Instagram posts, and I went over to his page. I saw it and I was like, “Who is this? What is this?” We met, and I’d never experienced love before, never been in a relationship before. But when you know, you know. I just knew he
CAN YOU REMEMBER WHAT THE POST WAS THAT HE COMMENTED UNDER? It was a picture of me, and a purple outfit. I was standing on a doorstep in town. I had this purple outfit on, and I had commented, “What’s your favourite colour?” It had done really well for me. I clicked on him. I never usually did this, but I saw his thing, and I was just very intrigued and interested. We started messaging back and forth. It was instantaneous chemistry, like, “This is different.”
IT WAS GREAT. Yeah.
THE VIDEO SEEMS VERY CANDID, YOU ARE ENJOYING YOURSELF ON A ROAD TRIP IN THE WOODS ETC., WAS THIS FOOTAGE OF AN ACTUAL TRIP THAT YOU JUST DECIDED TO USE FOR THE VIDEO? Yeah so, just before I went on my road trip to go pick him up, I hadn’t planned like to do a video or anything like that. He was living an 18-hour drive away from me, way up north. We’d been doing long-distance for a long time. We had always talked about moving in together, finally being able to be together. And we’d gone through so many periods of visiting each other, and then going away for a whole month or two. It was getting so exhausting for both of us that
INTERVIEW // RYLAND JAMES I was like, “Why don’t you just like come move into my family’s house?” My family were always saying, “Why don’t you just invite him to come live with us?” And so, I did, and he was like, “Okay, cool.” So, in May, I was going to drive up and bring him home. I had been thinking of doing a proper video for “3 Purple Hearts,” but then we had this idea to record candid footage while we’re on a road trip and put it together as a video. So that’s how it came to be. Very candid, very real. Exactly like what it was. OVER THE PAST YEAR OR SO YOUR STYLE HAS REALLY EVOLVED. IT IS MUCH MORE RELAXED. IS THIS AN ARTISTIC CHOICE, OR DO YOU FEEL DIFFERENT AND MORE COMFORTABLE? It’s a little bit of both. I’m very comfortable in who I am. I used to wear a lot of black and white, basic solid colours, because I was afraid of kind of stepping out of that box a little bit. I started experimenting even before I came out with different fashion stuff. I was always interested in fashion and style. But this pandemic affected everything. The hairdressers closed. My hair, beard, and everything grew out. I became more comfortable with myself and my unique expression. I’m like, “If I see something that I like, I’m gonna just get it. I’m gonna wear it. And I don’t care what people say.” If you can wear something with confidence, then who cares? It’s your thing. It’s, you expressing yourself. I still do take artistic fashion inspiration from things but, for the most part, it is just, “I like it, so I’m gonna wear it.” LOOKING FORWARD, CAN WE EXPECT AN ALBUM OR TOUR? Things are so annoying here, with all the restrictions and whatnot, understandably so. Shows. I’m doing as many as I possibly can right now. No tour at the moment. Hopefully, towards 2022, I’m able to get back out there. We have a plan for music release. I have a lot of songs coming down from above, and they’ll be out over the next little while, and I’ve just been writing it in time as well. So, I’ve been doing all the Zoom sessions. WATCH THIS SPACE THEN. Yeah. ANY PLANS TO COME TO THE UK/ IRELAND? Yes, I would love to. UK and Ireland, are some of the places I want to go the most. I was in London a few years ago, I wrote a bunch of stuff there. I’m excited to get back, I’ve been talking about it for so long. IT HAS BEEN A PLEASURE RYLAND, THANKS
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FEATURE // DENALI FOXX
DFIU EVENTS PROUDLY PRESENTS:
(RUPAULS DRAG RACE SEASON 13) We are excited to welcome our first Drag Race Queen to Belfast. Performing in The Europa Hotel Exhibition Centre on Monday 27th September. Denali will be joined by some amazing Belfast based queens like Host Trudy Scrumptious, TikTok Star ‘The Big Girl’ Pauletta Stiletta, The Only Sassie and Tailor Maid. Be ready for a show that will blow you away! Follow us on Instagram and Facebook @DFIUEvents to keep up to date on all announcements and let us know who else you would like us to bring to Belfast. Denali Foxx (or simply Denali) is an American drag performer, figure skater, and choreographer from Chicago, who most known for competing on the thirteenth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Denali is a double gold medallist in the U.S. Figure Skating moves and freestyle category and a PSA certified coach. He has skated with Cirque du Soleil, SeaWorld and Royal Caribbean Productions and choreographed for Team USA figure skaters. Denali competed on the thirteenth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race where she placed 8th being eliminated during episode 10 by Olivia Lux during the Makeover Challenge and was crowned the first ever Official Lip Sync Assassin. She was the first contestant from Alaska to compete on the show. During the show, she eliminated Kahmora Hall from the competition by lip syncing to 100% Pure Love by Crystal Waters where she showed off her amazing dance and lip sync skills, portrayed a Russian Bot in ‘Social Media: The Unverified Rusical’ and impersonated Jonathan Van Ness during the Snatch Game. She became very close to fellow competitor Rosé, helped with both being a ‘Pork Chop’ Queen. Fans branded the friendship ‘Rosénali’ Her drag name is mostly inspired by her grandmother, because of her being taken care of in a facility called the Denali Centre. she’s made it clear over the years that she’s very proud of her Mexican heritage. On her Meet The Queens video, Denali stated that her name means “the great one” in its native language. Her last name comes from her drag mother Chamilla Foxx, which she only uses for social media. As if her resume wasn’t already impressive enough, Denali said that she’s a third-degree black belt in martial arts. Since the show Denali has put together performance videos where she would perform in Drag while Ice Skating and dancing. She used songs that she lip synced to on the show like ‘When I Grow Up’ by The Pussycat Dolls (Who supported the video by sharing and commenting “YAAAAASSSS @denalifoxx ICE QUEEN!!!! WE LOVE YOU!” You can watch these performance videos on Denali’s YouTube page. She has accumulated a great following since the show aired with 524k followers on Instagram, 88k on TikTok and 91.5k on YouTube. Follow Denali: Instagram: @denalifoxx TikTok: @denalifoxx YouTube: Denali Foxx
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OPINION // MICKY MURRAY
MICKY MURRAY IMMIGRATION IS AN LGBTQ+ ISSUE. IMMIGRATION HAS BEEN A HOT topic thats been used as a political football for longer than I can remember, and the argument against rarely changes. While some people feel that their concerns regarding security checks for those coming into the country, the lack of housing available to those already here, and people “taking our jobs” are valid, there are very many people who use these excuses as an invisibility cloak to conceal their own racist ideology. Over the past few months there have been a couple of incidents making headlines, such as a hotel in Carrick being used to house asylum seekers, and most recently the horrific situation in Afghanistan which is forcing people to flee their homes to leave the country over genuine fears of what will happen to them as the country becomes increasingly under the control of the Taliban. The conversation around immigration in the UK, mainly by right wing conservatives but also those opposed to immigration, is very much focused around the impact that people will have on society here, negating to take into account the impact that staying where they are will have on their lives and their families lives. Firstly, some myth busting, the housing used to provide accommodation to asylum seekers is not social housing and they aren’t jumping the housing queue, these houses are privately owned and paid for by the Home Office, the lack of social housing available is not because of immigration but because social housing is being sold and not enough houses are being built. The money they receive, which again is paid for by the Home Office, is under £40 per week, to pay for clothing, food, bills, and anything else they may need. I hear all the time that people are rocking up in nice clothes or have an up to date smart phone, but why is that relevant? Why is
it your right to know what the contents of someone’s suitcase or handbag is? As LGBTQ+ people we know the struggles we’ve faced over the years, we’ve all experienced some sort of discrimination or oppression in our lives, we live in a country which is economically better than most, and claims to be one of the most progressive societies. Now I know for many people it’s getting easier to “come out” here, and usually we have a friend to confide in, but imagine if you had to live your life in constant fear of anyone finding out that you’re LGBTQ+. I remember confiding in someone who within half an hour had told one of my friendship groups that I was gay, when I really wasn’t ready to tell people, and it was gutting, I lost all trust in that person, it completely ruined our friendship, and ultimately it made me really anxious about telling others, but I was safe, no one was going to hurt me and I wasn’t going to be stoned in the street. In Afghanistan, and many other countries, families disown, harm, and even murder family members for fear of what will happen to them if anyone else found out and because society there is not accepting or affirming, telling a family member or a close friend is a security risk, and so people go their whole lives frightened and fearful for their lives. It’s only in recent years (1999 in the UK) that asylum based on fear of violence for being LGBTQ+ became a legitimate reason to seek asylum in another country. Before this it was perfectly lawful for the UK Government to send LGBTQ+ people back to their country of origin because they could simply hide their sexuality or gender identity and be perfectly safe from discrimination or harm, sounds easy right? When I started my first job at the age of 16 in a call centre I was incredibly anxious, it felt like I was starting school all over again, it was a really stressful experience for me. You know that feeling when you walk into a training session, or into a new social setting and there are other LGBTQ+ people and you just feel more confident and accepted, maybe it’s just me, but I usually feel so much more at ease when there are other LGBTQ+ people around. The weight lifted off the shoulders of those who have suppressed their own sexuality or gender identity for fear of their lives to come to a country where they have legal protections and society is much more progressive and accepting must be incredible. Just knowing that you can meet other LGBTQ+ people and talk about your experience and live a new life, and being able to “come out”. …and then you meet the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, and have to prove that you’re LGBTQ+ enough to be allowed to stay in the country. You’ve hid your sexuality and/or gender identity you’re entire life, you’ve got to the UK, with all the legal protections and societal acceptance that exists,
and now you’ve to risk outing yourself enough for the Government to let you stay, and if they don’t believe you then they’re sending you back to a country where your life is now in imminent danger and the likelihood of you facing a lengthy prison sentence or death is incredibly high. We have a moral obligation to provide a sanctuary for LGBTQ+ asylum seekers. I’m no expert on immigration law or international politics, but I don’t need to be to know that what these people are experiencing in their country is wrong, immoral, and unethical, and we need to do better for our LGBTQ+ siblings across the world to ensure that they have a future worth living, so that they can live openly and proudly of who they are. Ban Conversion Therapy NI Update. If you’ve been following the campaign then you’ll be aware of the progress we’ve already made, we have support for a meaningful ban from the majority of NI Executive Ministers, and the majority of MLAs, although no legislation has been brought forward to ban conversion therapy, and it’s unlikely that this will happen during the current NI Assembly mandate, which is due to end in May 2022. With the Department for Communities we have set-up a working group made up of five members of the Ban Conversion Therapy NI coalition, including myself, who will be meeting to discuss the legislation and push forward progress. We’ve also started to set-up a faith sub-group made up of both coalition members and members of progressive faith based organisations who support a meaningful ban on conversion therapy, this is our way of ensuring that the opinions and beliefs of those with a faith are taking into account, just like they were with the legislation around marriage equality. If you want anymore information on the coalition or the campaign please email banconversiontherapyni@ gmail.com or follow us on social media. Facebook - Ban Conversion Therapy NI Twitter - @BanConversionNI Instagram - BanConversionTherapyNI Finally, a bit of a personal plug, I’m running the team relay of the Belfast Marathon, with 9 of my colleagues from the Alliance Party, in aid of The Rainbow Project, who we all know do great work for our community. If you fancy giving a couple of pounds then visit our Just Giving page by searching Alliance Party on the Just Giving website, or by texting ALLIANCE 10 to 70470 to donate £10. This is an opinion piece from the columnist/contributor and not the opinion of GNI MAG / Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd.
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INTERVIEW // INHALER
INHALER RELEASE THEIR DEBUT ALBUM ‘IT WON’T ALWAYS BE LIKE THIS’ 9TH JULY VIA POLYDOR RECORDS IT’S BEEN A LONG, HARD ROAD THESE LAST 15 MONTHS OR SO, BUT THE THING TO REMEMBER IS...IT WON’T ALWAYS BE LIKE THIS. IT’S NOT JUST WISE WORDS TO HOLD ONTO, IT’S ALSO THE TITLE OF THE PERFECTLYTIMED AND ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL DEBUT ALBUM BY DUBLIN’S RISING STARS INHALER.
The young Irish band - Elijah Hewson, Robert Keating, Josh Jenkinson and Ryan McMahon - were already well on their way to the big leagues well before they had even recorded a note of the album, but one listen to what they’ve came out with is all the proof if needed that it’s only a matter of time before they’re a household name. It’s an album full of powerful and defiant anthems, a classic coming-of-age record that is ready and waiting to soundtrack a summer
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of (hopefully) freedom and connection. It’s a debut album that couldn’t have come at a better time and is all the better for it. Frontman Eli said: “We’ve been thinking about this album for about four years, ever since we formed the band and started playing gigs. It Won’t Always Be Like This is one of the first songs we ever wrote and we’ve played it at every show we’ve ever done. There was a point before the pandemic where we thought we had the album and
were confident we could go in, record it and deliver something great, which I think we would have. When lockdown happened though, we obviously had a massive drive to do something during it, so we put so much more effort into writing more material and came up with five more songs for the album, which made it so much better. We couldn’t do anything else, so the only thing we had control over was writing songs. In the end we came out with an album that we are all really, really proud of.
INTERVIEW // COLIN INHALER Making so much of it remotely was a different experience, though. There’s a natural delay on Zoom, so when you’re trying to pitch an idea to someone, it’s weird. Being in a band and not being able to play music together was even worse, so it was a tough one from that perspective, but we just played the cards we were dealt and got on with it. We were lucky, as we could just go back to the bedrooms we grew up in and try to write songs, but the whole live music industry completely shut down. That’s how we always tested songs though, by playing them live and seeing people’s reactions to them, if they love them or if they go to the bar. So when we didn’t get that, it was a little nerve-wracking writing music not knowing how people were going to react, but I think in the end it gave us a lot of room to experiment and be comfortable with the music ourselves.” Drummer Ryan agrees with his mate, saying: It taught us to trust our instincts more to know whether or not we were writing something that we ourselves felt was good, rather than leaving it up to other people to decide that for us. That can be a dangerous thing too, but I suppose we’ve taken a leap of faith.” They didn’t quite go entirely on their own opinions though, as Sheffield producer and musician Anthony Genn (Pulp, Elastica, Joe Strummer) was on hand with words of wisdom, something bassist Robert was really grateful for, saying: “I think a big part of it is us having a good producer, as it’s really important to have someone outside of the band that you trust to be honest with you, especially in the music industry where a lot of times people don’t tell you the truth. Our producer Ant really helped us with that. He’s brutally honest, so we trust his opinion and work really well together.” Half of the album was already written before lockdown and the other half during it, but the whole thing still has a unifying theme and idea behind it. It’s about being young, being lost and being found again. Eli said: “ We wrote the title track when we were about 17, when you don’t have all that much to talk about as you’re still a kid really. But those six words: ‘It won’t always be like this’, we always felt they were something to hang onto, that things will get better. But it can mean things can get worse too, which we’ve realised later and really like now, as it can apply to both. Nothing stays the same forever. When lockdown kicked in, we really sobered up and you couldn’t help talking about your surroundings and the world we were in, so some of the lyrics definitely
became more serious and broader. I think that really helped the album in the end.”
just discovered for ourselves, really. I can’t imagine doing anything else, personally.”
It Won’t Always Be Like This isn’t just the band’s debut album, it’s the record they have spent their entire lives building up to and everything they’ve experienced so far, for good or ill, has gone into it.
Inhaler are where they are right now due in no small part to what has been a relentless touring schedule over the last four years. Make no mistake, this is a band who have paid their dues working their way up from nowhere to a point where their upcoming tour includes massive gigs at the Glasgow Barrowland, London’s Kentish Town Forum and four homecoming shows at the Dublin Academy. It’s been hard graft, but for them they’re doing what they love and can’t wait to get back to it.
Eli said: “Every feeling, every sound, every band we’ve liked, it does feel like they’re all in this album. It feels like the end of an era in a way, but it also feels like the start of a new one. We’ve started writing music for the second one and it’s been pouring out of us pretty fast.” The band’s guitar player Josh is firmly on the same page as Eli, adding: “I think it’s a strange position to be in with our first album as there’s songs on it that we’ve been playing at every gig since we started, which is usually the way it happens, but half of ours have been written since live shows were taken away from us. So it’s interesting for us to think about the gigs and how people are going to respond to them, how they’ll interpret them and react to them in a live setting. We’re really proud of the record we’ve made and we think it’s going to do a lot of good things for a lot of people. At least we hope so.” Those themes of being young and lost, but finding your way again are universal for sure, but Eli is aware that the last year has brought a whole new element of uncertainty into the lives and emotions of young people, which is something they don’t shy away from confronting on the album. For them, music has been the thing that has kept them going though and none of them can imagine ever doing anything else with their lives. He said: “A lot of the songs are inspired by that weird territory between being an adult and a teenager. I think especially going through that period of your life during a major global pandemic is an interesting experience to say the least. There’s a lot of sh*t to talk about. So the record definitely does encapsulate a lot of that. It’s about being lost and finding yourself again. I couldn’t imagine myself being an architect or something like that. I always wanted to be in music. I was used to seeing big stadium productions when I was a kid, obviously. My mum would bring me on and I’d see all the crew running around everywhere. When we started the band though, it was like nothing I’d ever seen before, as we were just driving ourselves around, playing gigs while underage, trying to sneak into places and the like. It was just a fresh experience that we
Eli said: “As a band, playing live is what we live and breathe for, so to be putting out music and the only way to get reactions from it is by reading Instagram comments or looking at streams doesn’t feel good. We’re happy to be able to still put out music, but we really, really want to play gigs. It’s like missing half your body. I think we’re just shocked that there’s that many people who have heard our music and want to come and see us. We’re amazed by it every single day and really grateful, as well. We can’t wait to see them all in the flesh.” Ryan is equally excited, but not just for him and his band, saying: “We’ve been talking a lot about what we really want to do though, is get our crew working again. We were fortunate enough to be able to go home and keep working on our music, but they haven’t been able to do their jobs for well over a year now, which is awful. They’re just as essential to the live experience as we are, if not more. They put on the show. There’s something special about being on a tour bus and waking up in a different place every day. We’ve had some great times, so we’re really excited about getting back out there again, it’s going to be amazing.” As to the future, it’s clearly going to be bright for Inhaler, but as far as they are concerned, as long as they can stay together doing what they love, they’ll be happy. Eli said: “We’ve already started working on the second album, so that’s the next goal post for us. If people like this first one though, well hopefully that will let us do this for the rest of our lives. We just want to tour and make music, we’re not bothered with any of the rest of it. Though if Croke Park comes up, that’d be good too!” Interview by Jules Boyle
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INTERVIEW // THE ORACLE RISING
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INTERVIEW // THE ORACLE RISING
THE ORACLE RISING THE BROOKYLN-BASED SELF-IDENTIFIED NONBINARY queer femme artist known as THE ORACLE first made waves last winter with the release of “Celadon Haze”, a Bjorkinspired trance song that told the story of queer exes thinking of rekindling their love due to the isolation of the Covid pandemic. This month, Julia Sinelnikova aka THE ORACLE returns with Lost Amulet, their debut EP that blends a love of poetry with soaring vocals, a futuristic sound, and deeply emotional narratives. “I wanted the EP to capture the diversity and beauty of queer love, and create an immersive, uplifting and healing atmosphere that counters these tumultuous times on earth,” THE ORACLE explains. “My vision was to deliver crystal transmutation rays to minds and hearts through ethereal sound spells,” THE ORACLE explains of Lost Amulet. “I aimed to synthesize my beautiful experiences of love and dance in the rave community, as well as my background as a poet and spoken word artist.” Produced by Meviu§, the album opens with “Dark Iridescent,” a sad, brooding song about chasing after quickly transforming, fluid energy. In the next single, “Clockwork”, THE ORACLE fuses spoken word poetry into an intensely dark but flowing narrative. It leads into the hyper-pop “Cloud 9 Angel” that THE ORACLE lovingly describes as a straight up sappy love song. “I had to get the cheese out of my system!” she confesses. It is followed by “Leaving Earth” and then two remixes of “Celadon Haze.” THE ORACLE was born in Jerusalem, Israel and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia as Julia Sinelnikova. At five-years-old, the family relocated to Texas. Now living in Brooklyn, NY, THE ORACLE is best known for her sculpture and lighting design. THE ORACLE views music as a soundscape for their video art and light art ideas to come together through performance. Their message to fans is to stay focused and extra sparkly. “Acceptance is really lacking in this world and we all need to step up to bring more love and interconnecting art into this universe.” “Lost Amulet” is being distributed by Ghostcat Media International and is available on Bandcamp. Follow THE ORACLE on Instagram.com @ or_acle. Interview by Robert Hasslehoff
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INTERVIEW // JONATHAN BEAL
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INTERVIEW // JONATHAN BEAL
Personal and Professional Development Wisdom and Suggestions from Renowned Queer Coach Jonathan Beal By Vic Gerami
WHAT DO YOU GET WHEN you combine Tony Robbins, John Williams, Eckhart Tolle, and a lot of charisma? A queer Brit who helps top professionals all over the world named Jonathan Beal. So why are industry giants, business leaders, and type-A individuals choosing Jonathan Beal over reading a self-help book or watching a coach on YouTube? According to his clients, he changes lives, leads people to success, and addresses the root cause of people’s obstacles, challenges, and repetitive bad habits. I wanted to interview Jonathan because I am always looking to improve myself, dig deep, and follow someone impartial who wants me to succeed. Plus, who doesn’t need some extra help with various aspects of their life? TELL ME A BIT ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND, BOTH PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL. Where to begin, I’ve always been passionate about people, honesty, fairness, and living with integrity, and I think this has shaped most of my adult life, both personally and professionally. My background starts with growing up in the UK and losing a lot of my immediate family. MODESTY ASIDE, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF? I am caring to a fault, brutally honest and direct but always with love, 100% confident I can help anyone truly and fully understand themselves.
HOW HAS YOUR BACKGROUND INFLUENCED AND SHAPED YOU TO GET INTO COACHING AND HELP PEOPLE? From a young age, I suffered from depression and anxiety, fueled by a tumultuous and loss-laden first 24 years of my life; something awoke in me that drove all my career choices going forwards. But deep down, I think I always knew I was destined to teach, guide, and support other humans in drawing out the absolute best in them. Also, knowing how it feels to be heavily influenced by false beliefs given to me by family, friends, and circumstance, and knowing that it was those same beliefs that held me back from living a life that was available to me this ultimately drove me to find a way to help others do the same. From a young age, Jonathan was exposed to turbulence, to uncertainty, to change, and yet one thing remained, I had big dreams, and I knew that guiding, teaching, and unleashing other people’s potential was what I was born to do. He grew up in a safe, loving, and caring environment, which he lost when his threeyear-old sister died and exasperated his mother’s mental health issues. He spent the next twenty years moving around while witnessing his mother suffer from depression and significant anxiety, with an absentee father, not realizing the lasting impact of the struggle. He has since found peace with his estranged dad, forgiven him, and moved on.
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO BECOME A PROFESSIONAL COACH? Knowing that anyone can have the life of their dreams if they can get out of their way and step genuinely into being truly themselves, that and knowing that I had a natural talent for it. TELL ME BRIEFLY THE ‘READER’S DIGEST’ VERSION OF THE PROGRAM. It’s a program designed to bring you back into alignment with yourself by giving you the tools to understand how you operate genuinely and the skills always to be able to course-correct when you’re straying from authenticity; it also, as a by-product, deepens and strengthens all relationships in your life. HOW DID YOU DEVELOP THE STEPS/ PROCESS OF THE PROGRAM? Initially from my own experiences and my training, but as time went on, working with people helped start to shape and refine the process to the one it is today, which is for the most part applicable to anyone at a crossroads in life or who knows that something is missing. ‘I knew that if I did not make this change seriously, I would be stuck hiding, not being seen, and live to the end of my days miserable. Following his mother’s death in 2010, he began a journey of self-discovery. Through understanding his pain, suffering, and shortcomings, he discovered that his gift for helping others. He realized that he could unleash people’s potential, change someone’s mood instantly, and guide them to be their best selves.
TWENTY SEVEN // GNIMAG.COM
INTERVIEW // JONATHAN BEAL
WOULD YOU SHARE A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE AS AN EXAMPLE OF YOUR GROWTH AND CHANGE? Of course, one major event that stands out to me was the realization that I had spent most of my adult life in victimhood, blame & narcissism, and how that had shaped precisely how my life was at that time. It was empty, mediocre, and honestly missing any hint of color or excitement, my relationships were in tatters, and I was slowly and unknowingly, purposefully dismantling my life. Shifting the focus to radical responsibility was essentially what transformed my life entirely and started my journey towards becoming a coach. This one act of facing my life headon and accepting all responsibility was what ultimately allowed me to create the life I have today, which I would not trade for anything. WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM YOUR SERVICES? Anyone at a crossroads in life, who knows that they’ve created a life for themselves but that something is missing, or those who struggle with constantly feeling taken advantage of. But plainly, anyone who knows there’s something more out there for them but is either trapped behind fear or simply not knowing what to do next.
of your situation.
choice to continue or not.
CAN PEOPLE GET COACHED BY YOU REMOTELY? Most of my client base is remote, though I offer full-day experiences for those willing to travel to Spain. In 2020 I will also be launching retreats in locations across Spain.
WHAT IF COST IS AN ISSUE? Investing in yourself is a process, and I know intimately that I’ve invested almost $50k in my own personal and professional development in the last two years.
WHAT SHOULD PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT PERSONAL COACHES AND YOU PRECISELY IF THEY HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT GETTING HELP? Having a conversation with a coach even without signing up for services will clarify if the coach is doing their job correctly. So you’ve nothing to lose by speaking to a coach. Specifically, I would say that one of my superpowers is distilling a common theme or issue down to a word to help you better grasp what’s getting in your way and thus give you true clarity. WHAT QUALITIES MAKE YOU UNIQUE AND DIFFERENT FROM OTHER COACHES? My extensive history and an enormous amount of life lived in a short space of time, whether it’s a massive loss, experience of living in multiple countries and multiple cultures or simply the fact that I’ve worked in the public sector and separately run successfully various businesses.
WHAT ARE SOME MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT CAREER COACHING OR COACHING IN GENERAL? Great question; I would say from experience the things that come up most is that coaching is a luxury, that it has to be the right time, or that coaching is woo woo, but the truth is there’s never a suitable time. Coaching can transform your life in months vs. yourself, which can take years, with zero hints of woo woo.
Also, being bisexual and having dealt with identity issues for a large portion of my life has given me a unique perspective on what it means to be yourself in a world trying to tell you that you don’t exist.
Another is that it’s the coach’s job to give you the answers; however, that’s a mentor or consultant; coaches are mostly facilitators who will make observations but are predominantly there to draw the answers from you.
WHAT ARE THREE THINGS THAT YOU WOULD PROMISE TO THOSE WHO ARE CONSIDERING YOUR SERVICES? Working with me is your choice and not mine, and I will not force you into something you do not want to do.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MOST COMMON CHALLENGES/BLOCKS THAT PEOPLE FACE THAT HOLD THEM FROM PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONAL GROWTH? Most often, it’s martyrdom, an inability to seek help, and what comes typically alongside that is an unwillingness to face reality because you can only grow if you’re willing to face the truth
TWENTY EIGHT // GNIMAG.COM
His diverse clients include executives at sizeable industrial manufacturing companies, editors, business consultants, and successful industry leaders.
I am not here to be your friend; I am here to give you reality, so I will tell you the truth as I see it. If you’re considering having a conversation with me, you will get a safe & judgment-free space and massive value from it regardless of your
So I would say this: if you’re serious about overcoming blocks in your life and stepping into the life that is available to you, you will find a way and understand that investing is also a part of creating change for you. It is your opportunity to state unambiguously that you believe in yourself. But if cost is an issue, there are lower-cost options available such as full-day coaching experiences or one-off calls following the initial conversation. WHAT EXCUSES TYPICALLY HOLD BACK SOMEONE FROM FINALLY SEEKING HELP AND CONNECTING WITH YOU? It’s normally always fear; it’s a big thing to get on a call with someone you’ve never spoken to and discuss your dreams or the things holding you back. Sometimes it’s even hard to admit to yourself that you need support. Sometimes though, it’s the excuse that they can do it themselves, even though they’ve been repeating the same patterns for years and making little to no progress. A single conversation with a coach can help you crystalize a decision that you’ve been trying to make for years. Get out of your own way! DO YOU HAVE ANY ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS TO SHARE? Yes, the problem with excuses is that they are ALL valid. HOW CAN PEOPLE GET IN TOUCH WITH YOU? You can get me directly on FB Messenger at m.me/jonathan.beal, and if you don’t use messenger, you can connect with me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/ jonathan-g-beal/ or on Facebook. For more information, JonathanBeal.com.
Weddings In The He a r t Of The C i t y
MARRY THE ONE YOU LOVE IN THE HEART OF THE CITY
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OPINION // CARL CONNIELILNGUS
TRASH HITS & BITS WITH CARL CONNIELINGUS HELLO BEAUTS, HOW HAVE WE BEEN?? CARL COMING TO YOU WITH SOME GOOD NEWS REGARDING MY COLLEGE JOURNEY, HOW “A QUEER LOVE STORY” IS GETTING ON AND A LITTLE SNIPPET INTO MY SURVIVAL THROUGH MENTAL BREAKDOWNS, MENTAL HEALTH AND A BPD DIAGNOSIS. HANG ONTO YOUR HATS AND ENJOY THE RIDE...
BACK TO SCHOOL School’s going back already?? Ahhhhhhh I guess starting back to School for most people is exciting, especially for the parents, but as a mature student it can feel very different and after studying during the Pandemic and that being difficult in itself, I’m both excited and nervous. I not only passed my Level 2 Barbering but I also passed my Maths and English and I couldn’t be happier, and with that comes my acceptance for my Level 3 Barbering and ICT in September. So proud of my wee hair journey so far.. so watch this space
A QUEER LOVE STORY - CHAPTER V Where do I even begin?? LOL Well, Hayley and I have started our own businesses from home and to say we’re excited is an understatement. Due to a Hardship Fund from College that each of us received, we were able to get the things we needed to start our new journey with hair and makeup. With both of us having our own stations where Hayley can rock some killer looks on herself and her clients and I can make people feel good with a haircut and help knock out some awesome looks for Carl, we’re gonna be unstoppable. Check out Storm FX and Non-Barbery Inc. on Facebook Aaaaaaaaand, well we only went and got another kitten haha and this is on top of the last one I told yous about LOL guys meet Angel. And that makes 4 - Xander, Willow, Spike & Angel. The apartment is a lot of fun and funny noises in the middle of the night haha so worth it though
THIRTY // GNIMAG.COM
OPINION // CARL CONNIELINGUS
MY MENTAL HEALTH AND I I’ve put off writing about this before because I wasn’t sure if I was ready to share just yet but I understand that it helps other people when you talk about your experiences and weirdly it can be very healing, so here it goes. I was diagnosed with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) back in 2019 and although I have been learning how to deal and manage that, my mental health journey goes waaaay back to my teenage years. At 17/18 I was diagnosed with depression due to dramatic weight gain after leaving Gymnastics. Realistically it stemmed from more than that but it was the breaking point at that stage. For many years I have suffered with intrusive thoughts, suicide thoughts, self harming and even as far as addiction to the point of being homeless for a short time. Over the years I have
been on different medications, tried different therapies and seen so many Doctors, Nurse, Therapists, Psychologists and Hospitals that I could write my own book lol maybe some day I will but for now this column helps me break into that “writing your thoughts and experiences down” caper. The first time that I realised I would probably always have depression and would have to learn to manage and live with it was after my big breakdown at 31 years of age. After 5 years of extremely dark depression, I ended up having a break through at the age of 36, realising I had been living the same patterns my whole life, but what never changed was my resilience and will to survive, for whatever reason I had survived so far. But for a while of being happy I would be sad again and I just couldn’t understand why
I couldn’t just be happy. What was wrong with me?? What was I doing wrong?? Would I ever be happy?? This had been happening my whole life and I didn’t want to start those bad habits up again that I used to “get me by”. Asking for help was massive for me because I thought I had to figure it out on my own, and while that makes sense for the most part, there’s really only so much one person can handle. Then my journey began from asking for help. Next time I’ll take you through some of the things that helped me to deal with my Trauma, PTSD, Anxiety and eventually BPD and also some of the things I used to do as “traits”, so you can see that it could happen to any of us..you just never know the minute and to never judge a book by its cover.
FUN FACT ABOUT ME Guilty Pleasure Alert - For me to unwind and escape I have to watch Reality TV and its really the only thing that helps zone me out. KUWTK, The Real Housewives, My Unorthodox Life and to be honest the list goes lol.
MUSIC & MOVIES
UPCOMING EVENTS AND PROJECTS
We both have a very busy few months coming up. Carl is very busy preparing for a massive secret project that they can’t divulge just yet, but So we decided to get caught up on things in good time. Let’s just things for this King are we left or that has new seasons coming about to get mahoosive!! and more recently was Grace & Frankie and Hayleys band Paper Tigers are going on a mini what a hilarious show it is. The sooner Dolly tour around England & Scotland in November!! Parton joins the better haha . . We still have We also have some backing dance work with an to get caught up on AHS (American Horror amazing Gaga Tribute called Perfect Illusion, Story) and we also started watching Buffy the and the amazing Artist who does it is also our Vampire Slayer, since our cats are all name after friend Trisha, who also does Essentially Cher. This characters!! project has been so much fun and we can’t wait to see where it takes us. And after ages of torturing Hayley to watch A Star And lastly, don’t forget to check out The Mad is born again, she finally gave in and we absolutely Hatter Tipsy Tea Parties at The River Rooms bawled our eyes out, as expected. Such a great Belfast, 5 Donegal Quay, BT1 3EA – 02890 316 Movie and if you haven’t seen it, then why not?? 060 – Here’s a wee pic to show you guys what LOL you’re missing.
With that being said it’s my time again folks. Thank you for joining me and catching up with me, its been a pleasure as always. Remember to go easy on yourself and those around you, cause we’re all feeling it at the minute. Sending love & positivity as always. As always, feel free to follow my Socials or email any questions in – email@example.com www.facebook.com/carlconnielingus @carlconnie-lingus
This is an opinion piece from the columnist/ contributor and not the opinion of GNI MAG / Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd.
THIRTY ONE // GNIMAG.COM
INTERVIEW // KAWALA
KAWALA BY JULIE BOYLE
NOW MORE THAN EVER, WE all need some joy in our lives, so there’s no better time for the return of Kawala. The five-piece from Kentish Town - Jim Higson, Daniel McCarthy, Ben Batten, Reeve Coulson and Dan Lee - have been a ray of sunshine in the UK music scene for the last few years, mixing indie, folk and afrobeat with socially-conscious but positive lyrics, alongside unique live shows that are more like a jubilant gathering of friends than anything else. After finding their much-anticipated tour with heroes Bombay Bicycle Club cancelled when last year’s lockdown kicked in, the lads regrouped and threw themselves into the only thing they could do - writing
THIRTY TWO // GNIMAG.COM
more songs. The result is the glorious Paradise Heights, a six-track mixtape that is custom-built to soundtrack a Summer of reconnection and celebration. It’s a collection that sees the young band at the peak of their creative powers and features a track co-written by previous tourmate Justin Young, as well as a cover of Griff and Honne’s 1000000x Better. Oh, and it’s accompanied by a new Youtube series of the same name that reveals Kawala are just as talented at producing comedy as they are music. Make no mistake, this is a band who are determined to make the very most of what has been a difficult time and they’re bringing everyone else along with them.
Guitarist Daniel said: “The songs have all come from various different places. Some are really old, some are really new. The pressure was taken off completely with this project as it’s not an album, it’s just a collection of music that we felt was the right time to put together. They’re all mostly really upbeat songs, so with the Summer coming, everything opening up again and people coming together finally, it just felt like the perfect time for this mixtape to come out. Lockdown was a weird period, as it allowed us to take a step back from the speed that everything was going and focus on the most important thing, which was the music that we wanted to put out. We were having conversations about doing an album, but
INTERVIEW // KAWLA
it just didn’t feel right, especially after the year and a half that we’ve all just had. So a mixtape felt like the best option, as it’s somewhere between an EP and an album, but still has that progression we wanted. It worked really well, as when we looked at the new songs we had come up with alongside the older tracks, they just complimented each other perfectly. It was under our noses the whole time. It’s a soundtrack to the Summer. We need positivity right now ourselves, but so does everyone.” Naturally, frontman Jim is on completely the same wavelength as his pal, saying : “We’re really positive people and I think that shows in our music. Throughout lockdown we’ve been releasing hopeful music, just like we always have done. There’s so much sadness in the world right now, we need positive and hopeful music all the more. We want to just keep making people smile. We’ve been putting out music for three or four years now and while we’re proud of it all and we’ve had our thing, we’ve still been honing exactly what that thing is. I think with this mixtape we have really got as close as we have ever got. We had gotten a bit over-serious a while back, so this definitely reinjects the fun, the joy and the hope in our music, which is a big part of what we are about.” One of the standout tracks on Paradise Heights is undoubtedly Arms Wide Open, an instant classic the lads co-wrote with The Vaccines’ Justin Young. Jim said: “We’d been on tour with The Vaccines and George Ezra in 2019 and got to know them pretty well. We watched them play every night and were in awe of how good The Vaccines were and their songwriting. Justin is such a good writer, so when he asked if we wanted to do a song together, of course we said yes. It was great as it let us have the opportunity to write in a different way. We initially came along with some heavy indie-sounding ideas like we expected him to be wanting, but as soon as we sat down with him, we
all came up with a very pop chorus. He was really cool and had a real intelligence to his writing. It was a great experience and we couldn’t be happier with the track itself.”
like a cross between The Monkees and The Mighty Boosh (The Monkee Boosh, anyone?) and adds another string to the band’s bow that they hope will connect
Kawala’s music is rarely anything other than an exuberant and positive affair, but the sunshine in their melodies invariably is accompanied by lyrical subject matter that is much more serious. The band make a point of addressing issues such as mental health, inequality and community, but they never wallow in it, preferring instead to offer hope and solutions. Jim said: “It’s like Country music, so much of it sounds upbeat and happy, but the subject matter can often be really miserable. We like making really positive, happy-sounding Summer sounds, but sometimes the lyrics can be much more than that. We like to write about real and difficult subjects, either from our own experience or things that friends have gone through, but we always want to come from a position of ‘how can we deal with this and make things better/’, rather than just saying how awful things are. Music more than anything for us is hopeful, so that’s what we do, we make self-help songs. Primarily for ourselves, but if they help anyone else, that’s even better.” Their lighter side is front and centre in that Youtube show too. With it’s surreal and hilarious take on communal band life, Paradise Heights the series comes over
with people just as much as their music. Daniel said: “It’s something we’ve always wanted to do, as we’re big fans of comedy as well as music, but it’s such a different thing for us to do that we knew it might not connect with people, but it seems to be going down really well so far. We really like the idea that as we grow as artists, we are always going to have this series that we made that people can connect with at any time. There’s five episodes planned, but if people want more, maybe we will do a second series or a Christmas special. We did it to fill the gap for our fans that the lack of gigs had left, so when we get back to live music, will we have time? I’m not sure, but it’s a nice idea. DEBUT MIXTAPE RELEASE ‘PARADISE HEIGHTS’ OUT NOW, NOVEMBER UK TOUR
THIRTY FORTY THREE FIVE // GNIMAG.COM
REAL LIFE // ALEX TRUESDALE
ALEX TRUESDALE THIRTY FOUR // GNIMAG.COM
REAL LIFE // ALEX TRUESDALE
MY NAME IS ALEX TRUESDALE ALSO known as RÖSEBUD. I was born in a small town called Portadown in Northern Ireland. I am a 19-year-old makeup, brow, nail & drag artist! I currently live outside Liverpool pursuing my dream career. I was always artistic and had a creative flare in so many ways since a young age. I am enjoying painting and drawing pictures of my imagination. I was at my happiest in those moments. I was brought up watching the pantomime every single year in Belfast and I was so mesmerised by dame May McFetridge. That very moment the first time at the age of four seeing my first show sparked the talent in me! I remember so clearly saying to my dad “I want to be exactly like her” still to this day I want to be as successful as her! It takes moments like those to give you a purpose in life and remind yourself why you work so hard! At age eight I began singing lessons, acting in shows, and eventually, I then toured the country busking each week. I Did gigs at community events, live Facebook shows and studio singles & albums. I enjoyed singing it was my coping mechanism! I sang what I was feeling inside - the hurt and heartbreak I had been through as a child. I turned my negative thoughts and feelings into a positive. To this day I’ve learned that no matter the situation always find a solution! Everything happens for a reason and it’s up to you to overcome it and look towards the future. The past is in the past for a reason don’t bring it with you into the future. At age 13 I began my makeup journey. My best friend always got me to ‘practice’ on her and surprisingly something that was a joke has now turned into my job. I remember getting my first set of real techniques brushes and thinking I was so cool. It was my escape from reality. I wore it on the stage and progressed to wearing it on ‘special occasions’ it went from thick eyebrows to unblended shadows. I got so much hate from doing it, but I used that as my motivation to get better. People tried to tear me down at this stage of my life. They saw how happy I was, doing what I loved and what I was best at, they became jealous. It got to me for years until I realised not everyone’s
going to love you in life or what you do. As long as you are being your true authentic self then, why should it matter what everyone else thinks? They want to be as successful as you are, and they envy that. I’ve learned that people envy those who succeed and who find success in life, those who are pursuing their dreams. Puberty knocked on my door at age 14 and knocked my confidence. Going through that change was so difficult, being able to sing one minute to not being able to sing. I performed in musical shows until I was 15 with MADS! I then decided to focus on school as I was getting bad grades, so I had to prioritise hard school, but I was doing what was best for me. I went on to do my Level 3 Performing Arts which resulted in me getting a scholarship at Edge Hill University to do musical theatre! It was my dream! Something I wanted from eight years old. Until I realised that’s not the career that’s meant for me! I didn’t always have a pleasant childhood, I was constantly picked on just because I was different. I could never really be myself, and when I did it got violent. I was continuously made fun of and told that everything I wanted to do in life was unrealistic. I believed my dad didn’t want a relationship with me, but that was far from the truth! Years of being told not to be feminine and flamboyant, years of having to hide who I was, and years of being mentally and physically abused finally ended when I was left at my father’s doorstep with a binbag of clothes. Being put through such trauma had an impact on my mental and physical health. After being abandoned I lost weight from becoming bulimic and at just age 12 I was 4 stone 3. I was severely depressed to the point where I was screaming during my sleep. I sought help from professionals, but that didn’t help it only made it worse talking about the past. The only thing that helped me recover was having loved ones around me and moving on from the past. For as long as I can remember, I knew I was different than most kids. I didn’t enjoy playing sports like other boys, instead, I enjoyed being creative with makeup and performing;
and I always felt more comfortable around girls. As I got older, I started becoming more attracted to other boys. I tried to deny those feelings, thinking maybe it was just a phase and thinking deep down, this is wrong, this isn’t normal. Those feelings and attractions never disappeared and if anything, they just became stronger. I finally came to terms with my sexuality at the age of 15 after my school formal. I wore makeup for the first time publicly and gained a wall of confidence. This was such a ground-breaking moment for me as I was always petrified of what other thought of me. Weeks after formal I found enough courage to tell close friends that I was gay. Before I knew it the whole school knew and I saw it as a blessing. I no longer had the bullies calling me gay, other than the odd few. They were all so supportive and proud of me for finally accepting who I was. Our friendships became stronger and more authentic than before. After coming out to friends I felt such a relief although, I was still hiding the biggest secret from my dad. June 10th, 2018, at 9 pm. I had just finished watching ‘Love Simon’ and Alex Strangelove two gay coming out movies that inspired me to come out. I remember texting my friends telling them “This is it; I’m going to come out to my dad”. my heart was pounding out my chest as I crept slowly down the stairs. I remember vividly standing outside the living room door contemplating whether or not to enter. I finally grew the bravery to open the door. I told him there was something I needed to tell him. Opening up to my dad wasn’t difficult as we had such a strong relationship especially after everything I went through. I opened up to him and everything just felt natural. I had finally told my dad the secret I had been holding inside for so long. He opened his arms with love and told me “I already knew, a father knows his own son! You’ll always be my son and I will love you no matter who you are, what you are, and who you decide to love” hearing those words from your father is so precious and having someone like that in your life makes you appreciate the life that little bit more.
THIRTY FIVE // GNIMAG.COM
REAL LIFE // ALEX TRUESDALE
I consider myself to be extremely lucky to have such an accepting father, family, and friends who made my coming out process a positive one. I know many people who didn’t have such an easy time coming out, and I am grateful that mine was. Coming out is probably the hardest thing anyone could do. Coming to terms with your sexuality isn’t always easy especially in Northern Ireland. It is not easy being gay where I’m from. People have been brought up to know that being gay is wrong. I was known as the only gay boy in my area, I couldn’t even walk up the street without getting a homophobic slur shouted at me, and still to this day it happens. I used to retaliate and shout stuff back but all it did was made it worse. After coming out it was as if I was reborn into a new life. Before coming out I started to watch RuPaul’s drag race as an escape from reality. Drag Race helped me discover who I really was and inspired me in so many ways. It taught me that anything’s possible as long as you are determined to make it happen. After coming out I decided to start drag. My dad began purchasing dresses and wigs for me. I remember prancing about the house in these dresses pretending I was on the drag race runway. I remember at that moment remembering my younger self doing the same thing in princess dresses. Drag is my escape from reality, transforming into a character and being able to take it all off and still be Alex again. Being able to transform into someone other than Alex is pretty cool. I feel so confident, sexy, and untouchable. Being able to perform in drag is so electrifying being able to entertain people and spread awareness for LGBTQIA rights. I love doing what I do as it teaches kids like me that anything is possible. There’s not much of a drag scene in Northern Ireland and in fact, it is hard to even get the opportunity to perform especially over the past year during covid. I’m still growing as an artist but I’m no stranger to the stage. Performing is my world and I can’t wait to get more opportunities in the future. My dad is my best friend someone I look up to as a role model. Someone who has
THIRTY SIX // GNIMAG.COM
guided me in the right direction to success. He taught me to love myself for who I am. He’s helped me become the man I am today. His childhood stories and lessons inspired me to be ambitious and achieve anything I put my mind to. He taught me life values and lessons and I honestly would not be where I am today
Now I’m as successful as ever! A 19-year-old successful makeup & drag artist achieving and living the dreams he had at age four years old. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve anything. Don’t let anyone tell you anything is impossible or unrealistic. Be determined
FOR AS LONG AS I CAN REMEMBER, I KNEW I WAS DIFFERENT THAN MOST KIDS. I DIDN’T ENJOY PLAYING SPORTS LIKE OTHER BOYS, INSTEAD, I ENJOYED BEING CREATIVE WITH MAKEUP AND PERFORMING; AND I ALWAYS FELT MORE COMFORTABLE AROUND GIRLS. AS I GOT OLDER, I STARTED BECOMING MORE ATTRACTED TO OTHER BOYS. I TRIED TO DENY THOSE FEELINGS, THINKING MAYBE IT WAS JUST A PHASE AND THINKING DEEP DOWN, THIS IS WRONG, THIS ISN’T NORMAL. THOSE FEELINGS AND ATTRACTIONS NEVER DISAPPEARED AND IF ANYTHING, THEY JUST BECAME STRONGER. without him. My nanny and grandad are my biggest supporters. They’ve told me stories that I will cherish for a lifetime and taught me life lessons, so I prepared for the real world. Everything I do in my life is to make each one of them proud!
and motivated by people’s opinions! Live every day like it’s your last. We are only here once and you don’t know when your last will be so wake up every day, appreciate life, and make everyday count. Live the life you want to and remember if you fail the first time it’s just another steppingstone to success!
Shop of unexpected things - signage, vintage, furniture, art, eclectic antiques, film props. Based in the fabulous old linen mill: Portview Trade Centre (East Belfast)
www.dandylionshop.co.uk / dandylionshop / dandy_lion_shop
INTERVIEW // BOBBY NEWBERRY
BOBBY NEWBERRY BOBBY NEWBERRY’S HIGH OCTANE “RIDE” THE CHOREOGRAPHER-TURNED-SINGER BUMPS, TWIRLS, AND GRINDS IN FIRST SINGLE FROM HIS UPCOMING EP BY SHANE GALLAGHER
BOBBY NEWBERRY HAS ALWAYS HAD a passion for performing. As a kid, he was obsessed with Madonna and Michael Jackson. At his third-grade talent show, he sang Jackson’s “Remember the Time,” performing the choreography from the song’s music video that Newberry taught himself. His first major break was as a choreographer for Eminem. He would go on to work with a string of the world’s top artists including Nicki Minaj, The Pussycat Dolls, Missy Elliot, and Lil’ Wayne. His choreography has also been seen on TV’s Dancing with The Stars and The X-Factor. This month, Bobby Newberry can be seen busting a move in the music video for his own summer jam, “Ride.” The song is a feel-good track he co-wrote about taking chances and chasing after life’s wildest dreams. We spoke with the young choreographer-turned-singer from his home in Los Angeles. Bobby Newberry: That is literally the biggest compliment ever. I love them both so much. It’s crazy because when people tell me I shouldn’t pursue singing because I’m successful as a choreographer, I always say: look at JLo, she does everything! MUSIC WAS DIFFERENT BACK THEN. A lot different! Back then, the labels controlled everything. More and more artists are going independent today because they have the freedom to do whatever they want creatively and
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artistically. The only downside is not having the support behind you. Being an independent artist is tough. There is so much to deal with and handle. WHAT IS THE BIGGEST OBSTACLE YOU FACE TODAY? There isn’t much of a shelf life for a project. I’ll work so hard on a music video, all the writing sessions, rehearsals, shooting, and editing that goes into it, and then it comes out and everyone asks right away, what’s next? It’s always about what is next. TELL US ABOUT YOUR FIRST INTIMATE ACTING SCENE IN A MUSIC VIDEO. WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO MAKE OUT WITH DREAMY JOEY GENTILE? Stressful! (Laughs) I had to take two shots of tequila before the scene. I wanted it to look authentic and real but the whole time, I was questioning myself, “Do I look ok? Does this look hot or weird?”
DOES “RIDE” REPRESENT A NEW DIRECTION IN MUSIC FOR YOU? I think it represents happiness for me and excitement to be able to do music again. I have so much new music and I honestly cannot wait to release my album. YOU ARE JOINING A GROUP OF ARTISTS LIKE LIL NAS AND TROYE SIVAN WHO ARE USHERING IN THE LOUD AND PROUD MOVEMENT. WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR MUSIC ARTISTS TO BE BOLDLY GAY TODAY? So many of us were told we couldn’t be too gay because it would be off putting to audiences. It’s means everything that I can be my authentic self. I’m a proud LGBTQ artist and I hope to inspire other artists to live their truths.
DO YOU FEEL READY TO DO MORE INTIMATE SCENES IN FUTURE VIDEOS? Bobby Newberry: When it calls for it in a video, sure. I’ll do it again.
WHAT WAS YOUR COMING OUT EXPERIENCE? My coming out experience was not the best. Growing up, my family was never supportive. My uncles would call me faggot. I finally came out to my mom because I was tired of constantly lying to her and hiding my life. She was convinced it was something she did wrong. I said, “no mom, this is me.” She ended up being ok with it. It was such a relief after it was done.
“RIDE” IS YOUR FIRST VIDEO WITH AN ALL-MALE CAST OF DANCERS. THAT HAD TO BE FUN. So fun! Most of the cast and I are super close so it was incredible to dance, make jokes, laugh and do what we love with people that we love.
DO YOU GO BACK HOME OFTEN? I don’t really have a “back home”. I grew up all over Orange County, bouncing around as my mom got into quite a bit of trouble with the law. She passed away eleven years ago after having brain surgery to remove a tumor. It was extremely
WAS JOEY A GOOD KISSER? A great kisser! Soft but good.
INTERVIEW // BOBBY NEWBERRY
difficult. Except for my little brother, I’m not close with any of my family so we never speak. WHAT’S SOMETHING FANS WOULD NEVER GUESS ABOUT YOU? That I worked at El Pollo Loco when I was 14. I grew up extremely poor. Like food stamps and welfare poor. I started working when I was 14 to pay for dance lessons. I worked really hard and eventually earned scholarships. WHO IS THE MOST IMPORTANT IN YOUR LIFE RIGHT NOW? Tj paradise. He is the best person on the planet. He’s everything. WHAT DO YOU LOVE TO INDULGE IN WHEN NO ONE IS LOOKING? Taco Bell. Such a guilty pleasure. I love it. CRAZIEST THING LEFT TO DO ON YOUR BUCKET LIST? I want to perform in front of 100,000 people; play a huge festival show. BILLIE, CARDI, DUA, ARIANA: WHO WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO HANG OUT WITH AND WHY? Ariana because she’s funny AF and I feel like we would have the same humor. I could see us having so much fun.
Follow Bobby Newberry on Instagram @ bobbynewberry.
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TRAVEL // LGBT FRIENDLY
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TRAVEL // LGBT FRIENDLY
TOP FIVE GAY FRIENDLY COUNTRIES TO VISIT ACCORDING TO THE NOMADIC BOYS
THE NOMADIC BOYS SHARE THEIR THOUGHTS ON “WHICH ARE THE MOST GAY FRIENDLY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD?” It’s a question we get asked a lot, which is why we initially published this article and have continued to update it every year. We can either look at it from our own personal perspective travelling as a gay couple, or from the point of view of LGBTQ locals by analysing a countries rights and laws. Ultimately, it comes down to a mix of both. Drawing from our wealth of experience from traveling to over 100 countries (including the ones in this list), along with our interviews with gay locals
from each place we’ve visited, we have sat down to discuss, assess, review and discuss again what we think are the most gay-friendly countries in the world!
and also take into account any notable Gay Villages and annual queer events such as Pride.
What makes a country gay friendly?
5. SWEDEN Gay since 1944” is Sweden’s official gay slogan. A country that has its own gay slogan ffs – need we say more?! In actual fact we do: they nail it in Eurovision (Europe’s annual unofficial gay music festival!) every year and they gave us ABBA – the authors of THE best gay anthems! Sweden also has more Pride festivals per-capita in Sweden than anywhere else in the world, including the largest Pride in the Nordic countries – Stockholm Pride. In 2021, all eyes will be on Sweden as it co-hosts WorldPride in Malmo
In a nutshell, we always start with the Spartacus Gay Travel Index: this is a detailed study carried out every year since 2012 that assesses how gay friendly every country is based on factors like the laws, hostility of locals and more. We refer to it because it’s the only study that focuses on gay travel as well as being comprehensive. We also focus on the countries that have passed gay marriage laws. We then embellish this with our personal experience
jointly with Copenhagen.
LETS GO FROM 5 TO 1
4. THE U.K The UK will always have a special place in our hearts, especially Stefan’s home city, London. This is where we met, back in February 2009 in Soho’s GAY Bar. London has one of the best gay scenes in the world with several gay villages spread all around the city. Outside of London, Brighton and Manchester are top gay destinations that we love. 3. THE NETHERLANDS The first country in the world to legalize gay marriage, a place lauded for being a bedrock of tolerance and one of the most exciting gay travel destinations with a unique Pride event along the canals of Amsterdam. As my
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TRAVEL // LGBT+ FRIENDLY
Dutch (straight) male friend so beautifully put it when I came out to him – “you don’t need to come out to me, Stefan – I’m from Holland, the most open-minded country in the world!”
• 2. SPAIN Ask anyone what their favourite gay Pride event is and most will likely say Madrid. Ask any gay man where their favourite gay destination is in Europe and they will most likely include Sitges, Gran Canaria, Barcelona and/or Ibiza on their list. These two gay men certainly think so! Yes, we’re generalising a bit, but the point is that Spain has arguably the highest number of gay-friendly destinations. NUMBER 1 - CANADA It’s a no brainer for us, Canada is the most gay friendly country in the world. From our experience, unlike any other country we’ve visited, Canada goes over and above to welcome gay travellers. Where else in the world do you see the (straight white male) leader of a country leading a gay pride parade, waving a transgender flag, and crying out “Happy Pride”? We saw Justin Trudeau do this when we attended the Fierte gay pride in Montreal. It made our hairs stand on end with Pride to see this!
When it comes to LGBTQ rights, Canada is a true trailblazer, which speaks volumes about how much it protects its LGBTQ community. The State of Quebec banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in 1977 becoming the first jurisdiction ever to do so! Canada then went on to become one of the first
Canada in a nutshell... • • •
The main gay villages: Church & Wellesley (Toronto), Le Village Gai (Montreal), The Village (Ottowa), Davie Village (Vancouver), Jasper Avenue (Edmonton) Best gay events: Toronto Pride, Fierte Montreal, Whistler Pride & Ski Festival
Spartacus rank: joint #1 (with Malta and Sweden) Gay marriage legalized: 2005 Number of Pride events: around 25
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countries to pass an advanced set of anti-discrimination laws nationwide in the 1990s, which included allowing LGBT people to openly serve in the Canadian military. In 2005 it became the 1st country in the Americas and the 4th in the world (after Holland, Belgium and Spain) to legalise gay marriage. Canada also has one of the most progressive transgender laws in the world. For example, the right to change legal gender is possible without the requirement of having
to undergo gender reassignment surgery and they have formally recognised a third gender option since 2017. THIS IS A MERE SNIPPET, FULL STORY RUNS FROM 25 DOWN TO 1 WITH REASONS, RECOMMENDATIONS AND LOADS MORE, YOU CAN FIND IT VIA THIS LINK NOMADICBOYS.COM/MOSTGAY-FRIENDLY-COUNTRIESIN-THE-WORLD
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At Eclectic we want you to feel good inside and out and part of that journey is not only working on your personal wellbeing but also on your skincare.
We have been working with Epionce skincare which uses a blend of key botanical ingredients to reveal healthier looking skin that can help improve the visible effects of ageing, giving you smoother, more radiant skin. Epionce is great if you are suffering from acne, help reduce the signs of ageing, redness and pigmentation.
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Eclectic also offer full beauty services of facial and body waxing, Margaret Dabbs London manicures and pedicures and the luxurious Aromatherapy Associates massages and facials.
FEATURE // LESBIAN LOVING
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FEATURE // LESBIAN LOVING
CLITS, TITS AND BITS SEXPERT REVEALS WAYS TO LEVEL-UP LESBIAN LOVING SEX IS MUCH MORE THAN just P-in-V action, and for the women loving women community, it’s an even broader spectrum. Unfortunately, heteronormative sex ed leaves out a huge community of people who may want to be more informed, or simply want new ways to have mind-bendingly good sex. Joining in on the conversation are the experts at Bedbible. They’ve put together a hot list of sex positions and body-loving tips that are perfect for WLW who are ready to up their game in the bedroom. Bedbible’s expert Isabelle Uren, said: “Missionary is a timeless classic for a reason.”
partner’s knees on either side of their partner’s face while their partner performs oral sex and uses their hands to caress their partner’s thighs and butt. “‘Kneeling spoons’ is also perfect for clit focused fun. Both partners are kneeling, and the receiving partner has their back to the giving partner, similar to the spooning position. The giving partner can then reach around to stimulate their partner’s clitoris with their fingers or a vibrator. The receiving partner can also rock back and forth, grinding their clitoris against their partner’s hand.” Some extra tips to help you feel more comfortable in your body: •
“The receiving partner can relax and focus on the sensations, and is great for manual clitoral stimulation, oral sex, or pentrative sex with fingers or a dildo, depending on what both partners feel comfortable with.” Spooning is also suggested if you don’t feel like being on show. This intimate position is fantastic for breast and clitoral stimulation either manually or with a vibrator or for penetration with a strap-on. The expert added: “Instead of one partner being on top, both partners lie on their sides, facing opposite directions with their legs open, so they can perform oral sex on each other, using their lips and tongue to stimulate the whole vulva.”
But what about those who are all about the clit?
Throw on some sexy lingerie to help you feel confident. You don’t have to take it off when you have sex if you don’t want to. Sometimes keeping it on can be even sexier than taking it off. Spending time naked when you are alone can also help you feel more comfortable when you are with a partner. Perhaps a naked dance to your favourite feel-good song! Choose whose words you surround yourself with both in real life and online. Unfollowing social media accounts that perpetuated fatphobia and following accounts that inspire body positivity or body neutrality.
Isabelle said: “To create fulfilling sexual experiences, regardless of gender or orientation, and enjoy the whole wonderful range of sexual experiences, we must be able to communicate clearly and openly with our sexual partners and create a safe environment based on mutual respect.”
Isabelle said: “Facesitting has the receiving
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FASHION // MASSBRANDED
MASSBRANDED THE SIXTH COLLECTION FROM BY PUERTO-RICO-BORN OUT DESIGNER MASS LUCIANO DRAWS INSPIRATION FROM THE OLYMPIC SPIRIT AND THE PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE IN MIND, BODY AND WILL THAT THE GAMES REPRESENT. “THE IDEA OF A MAN SETTING HIS MIND ON THE PRIZE, PUSHING HIMSELF TO THE LIMIT AND REACHING FOR THE STARS IS VERY EMPOWERING AND ATTRACTIVE,” HE SAYS. MASSBRANDED, HIS BRAND OF HIGH-END MEN’S STREETWEAR HAS BECOME KNOWN FOR PUSHING BOUNDARIES AND LEAVING NOTHING—AND EVERYTHING—TO THE IMAGINATION. “I AIMED TO CAPTURE THE CONFIDENCE AND OPTIMISM OF ELITE SPORTSMANSHIP IN THIS SUMMER’S COLLECTION.” “AS A KID, MY PARENTS WOULD SIGN ME UP FOR BASKETBALL, BASEBALL AND SOCCER,” HE RECALLS. “I WASN’T AN ATHLETE, BUT I LOVED PUTTING ON THE UNIFORMS. EACH HAD A UNIQUE LOOK AND FUNCTIONALITY THAT I ADMIRED.” IN MASSBRANDED’S LATEST COLLECTION, DUBBED COLLECTION NO. 6: SIXTH DIMENSION, MASS LUCIANO CREATES A UNIVERSAL UNIFORM THAT MIXES STREET AND SPORTSWEAR, ELEVATING THE LOOKS WITH TAILORED CONSTRUCTION AND JUST THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF SEX APPEAL. HIS VICTORY TANK TOP IS A REIMAGINED BASKETBALL JERSEY THAT SHAPES THE CHEST WITH MESH PANELS AND FRAMES THE TORSO WITH SIDES MADE FROM LIGHT WEIGHT STRETCH TERRY, FOR ADDED COMFORT. THE INTERSTELLAR PULLOVER DRAWS ITS INSPIRATION FROM OLYMPIC FENCING. “I LOVE HOW SPORTS PROTECTIVE GEAR IS OFTEN MADE TO LOOK FUTURISTIC, LIKE SPACE SUITS,” LUCIANO EXPLAINS. CRAFTED FROM SOFT BONDED JERSEY AND CONTRAST MESH PANELS, THE COLOR BLOCKED WHITE AND GRAY SWEATSHIRT FEATURES RAGLAN SLEEVES THAT ACCENTUATE THE SHOULDERS AND MESH PANELS THAT REVEAL A BIT OF SKIN. THERE ARE THREE DISTINCT COLOR STORIES IN COLLECTION NO. 6: SIXTH DIMENSION. EACH REPRESENTS A DIFFERENT TEAM, MINDSET AND ATTITUDE. TEAM RED IS PASSIONATE, AGGRESSIVE, SEDUCTIVE, AND DARING. STYLES ARE COLOR BLOCKED WITH BLACK, FOR A LOOK THAT’S SEXY, EYE-CATCHING AND REVEALING. TEAM BLUE IS STRONG, DEPENDABLE, CALM, AND PLAYFUL. THE BLUE IS COLOR BLOCKED WITH BLACK AND WHITE FOR A LOOK THAT’S BOLD YET INVITING. FINALLY, TEAM GRAY IS NEUTRAL, TIMELESS, COMPLEX, AND MYSTERIOUS. GRAY MESH IS COLOR BLOCKED WITH CONTRASTING WHITE, FOR A LOOK THAT IS MORE DISCRETE, ALLOWING A SLIGHT FLASH OF SKIN. AN IMPORTANT THEME THAT PERMEATES THROUGHOUT THE NO. 6: SIXTH DIMENSION COLLECTION IS THE IDEA OF ATHLETES REACHING FOR THE STARS. SPACE ELEMENTS HAVE BEEN INCORPORATED INTO SOME OF THE PIECES, INCLUDING THE GALACTIC PRINT TANK TOP AND SHORTS - TWO STYLES CRAFTED FROM BASKETBALL MESH MATERIAL THAT FEATURE A GALACTIC CAMOUFLAGE PRINT WITH STARS, PLANETS, AND WAVELENGTHS. MASS LUCIANO EVEN DESIGNED A SPACE JUMPSUIT FOR THE NEW COLLECTION! INSPIRED BY EXTREME SPORTS, THE FLIGHT JUMPSUIT EMBODIES THE HIGH RISK AND DRAMA OF ACTION AND ADVENTURE BY COMBINING MESH WITH MICRO NYLON STRETCH TWILL AND CONTRASTING PIPING AND ZIPPERS. MASSBRANDED COLLECTION NO. 6: SIXTH DIMENSION IS AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY AT MASSBRANDED.COM. FOLLOW ON INSTAGRAM @MASS_BRANDED
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FASHION // MASSBRANDED
VICTORY SHORTS (WHITE), $169.00 AVAILABLE AT MASSBRANDED.COM
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FASHION // MASSBRANDED
VICTORY SHORTS (RED), $169.00 VICTORY TANK TOP (RED), $169.00 AVAILABLE AT MASSBRANDED.COM
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FASHION // MASSBRANDED
RESURGENCY TEE, $129.00 VICTORY SHORTS (BLUE), $169.00 AVAILABLE AT MASSBRANDED.COM
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FASHION // MASSBRANDED
VICTORY SHORTS (RED), $169.00 AVAILABLE AT MASSBRANDED.COM
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FASHION // MASSBRANDED
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FEATURE // PERIODS
PERIOD BLOOD ATTRACTS SHARKS... AND OTHER STORIES
WELLBEING BRAND INTIMINA IS CALLING for everyone to start talking about periods as new research* reveals 11% of men still think women can NOT get pregnant on their period alongside other alarming myths Half the population have a period and yet it’s still a topic that men struggle with or understand according to new research from intimate wellbeing brand INTIMINA UK, which is calling for everyone to start talking about periods properly. The study reveals that there is still an alarming education gap with men that’s fuelling period stigma and misinformation in the UK. Despite many prominent campaigns to encourage discussion, staggeringly, one in ten men (14%) have never had a conversation with a woman about periods. As part of the study men were also asked a number statements regarding misconceptions around menstruation to see which they believed. The results were eye opening: •
11% of men still believe it’s impossible for a woman to get pregnant on her period. A quarter of men (25%) believe you have to remove tampons to urinate. 14% believe that tampons and periods can get lost in the vagina. Nearly one in ten men (8%) believe periods attract sharks in the sea.
INTIMINA’s UK gynaecologist Dr Shree Datta comments: “These figures are deeply concerning - the fact that 11% of men believe it’s impossible for women to get pregnant if having sex during her period underlines the work
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we still have to do. There’s no doubt that we still need to destigmatise the talk around periods for everyone - people should not be bullied or teased for having periods, which are as natural as men growing hair. It’s time to open up and be up front and frank about what periods mean, in school, university and the workplace so that we tackle period myths and everyone can appreciate the health concerns they can bring.” Open and honest conversation with partners and proper menstrual education for everyone in schools will be key to changing the period stigma culture in the UK which is why INTIMINA is calling out for everyone to start the conversation. Dr Shree continues with advice on how to start a conversation on periods: “It’s useful to bear in mind that periods are a part of our health and
lifestyle. There’s no shame in speaking about period pains, in the same way as we discuss headaches or abdominal pain. Using the word “period” means that everyone knows what you are talking about rather than phrases such as “Lady Red”. Perhaps sound out the other person to make sure they are comfortable discussing periods before launching into a detailed conversation about them, but do remember they are a normal part of our lives and can signify a lot about our health. Perhaps one tip could be about using the correct terminology sympathetically and avoiding phrases like ‘on the blob’ etc. Or something around checking on what the other person does and doesn’t feel comfortable discussing before launching into a conversation.” The top three reasons men gave for not talking about periods were: 1. I don’t think it’s right for men to talk to women about periods (30%) 2. I’d feel to uncomfortable to talk about periods (30%) 3. I don’t understand enough about periods (25%) Marcella Zanchi, INTIMINA UK Marketing Manager comments: “There are 5,000** slang terms for periods, but we still can’t talk about them. This continuing culture where we don’t normalise the discussion on periods is why one in five young women*** in the UK are teased or bullied about their periods. At INTIMINA we want this to end and as men have perpetuated a lot of this stigma it’s time for them to help remove it which is why we will continue to educate everyone in the UK around intimate healthcare and provide advice on how to start the conversation.”
M A R RY T H E O N E YO U LOV E I N T H E H E I G H T O F LU X U RY
Ten Square Hotel , 10 Donegall Square South, Belfast, Northern Ireland BT1 5JD 028 9024 1001 email@example.com www.tensquare.co.uk
BUSINESS // ROSS KANE
ROSS KANE BUSINESS// I’M ROSS, I AM 25 YEARS OLD AND I’M FROM BANGOR IN NORTHERN IRELAND. I’M SO EXCITED TO BE TALKING TO YOU TODAY ABOUT MY LOCAL BUSINESS WHICH I STARTED DURING THE PANDEMIC CALLED ME BEAUTY COSMETICS. Like many people I had a lot more free time thanks to the pandemic as we weren’t able to see friends or go to the pub haha! So, I decided to put all that free time to good use and start my own business. For as long as I can remember I have had an obsession with skincare and the beauty industry, which started thanks to having acne when I was younger. I remember always feeling self-conscious and not being able to look people in the face when they were talking to me because I didn’t want them to notice how bad my skin was. Over the years I have spent so much money on different skincare products, visited
needed to start Me Beauty Cosmetics. Me Beauty Cosmetics launched with two products: (1) A facial Puff – which is made from nano cotton fibres and is designed to lift makeup and dirt off your skin extremely easily. (2) A Facial Cleansing Pad – which is made from a natural silicone material with strategically placed bristles to offer a gentle and effective cleanse on the skin and remove blackheads. I wanted to launch with these two products because after all the years of investing in different skin care products and spending hours and hours with different dermatologists the one key piece of information I had gathered was it is imperative to ensure your skin is clean before your head hits the pillow at night. So, I wanted to launch with two products that anyone could use to ensure they wake up in the morning with a fresh, clean face. Since launching the brand in January 2021 on our website www.mebeautycosmetics.shop we have gone from being sold on our little website to now being sold in over 20 stores around the country which is absolutely insane to me!
countless doctors and dermatologists to get advice on how to help my skin – all of which provided me the information I
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(1) Our products can be used by everyone and do not require people to change their current products, our products can be used alongside your current cleanser, micellar water, or whichever product you use to
I was asked recently why I thought the business was having such success – I think there are two key reasons:
wash your face. Our products just ensure to lift away any makeup & dirt correctly! (2) Our price point is always in favour of the consumer. When I had acne, I was still in school and didn’t have a job, so I was reliant on using all my pocket money to buy skincare. I want to ensure that our products are accessible to anyone who may be in need of them. I would like to say thank you to anyone who has supported me and the business and also encouraging anyone who has a dream of starting their own business to go for it because it is an extremely rewarding felling! You can find Me Beauty Cosmetics products on our website www. mebeautycosmetics.shop
BUSINESS // ROSS KANE
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ART // STORM FX
STORM FX // Hello my loves! Welcome to my little world of Storm FX! I’m a part self-taught part qualified make-up artist striving to try everything and anything. Based in a home studio in Belfast, I am ready to rock the world of art. I’ve dropped everything to excel my make-up career. My main goal is my core passion – Special Effects. Facebook: Storm FX
“Let’s turn on the juice and see what shakes loose!” I began a live Facebook series on my personal page called “Transformation Tuesday’s” and it gave me an outlet to allow my creative spark to fire up! Using any products I had at hand I rustled up the BeatleJuice inspired look with a modern twist – vomit included!
Water Nymph “Create a fantasy character…” My first college creation was a Water Nymph. This is where I truly began to let my creativity roam freely again and it felt good. I completed this look on a fellow colleague using airbrushing, prosthetic ears, a bald cap and many layers of hand-painted details!
(Vampire “All great ideas are deadly.” My most recent work on myself for a vampire themed shoot with drag king Carl ConnieLingus by Morbid Pixels Photography. This look was all things dark, glam and gory… my favourite!
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ART // STORM FX
Cat in the Hat “I’m the Cat in the Hat, there’s no doubt about that!” This is hands down one of my favourite transformations I’ve done as it was a complete change! Working with just black and white face paint, some sponges and brushes, I was able to recreate the iconic childhood character portrayed by Mike Myers.
Zodiac Icon “If the constellations took human form” I created this body-paint design for college and transferred it from mind to skin on my partner CJ and it’s just dazzling. I’m a tad obsessed with astrology (I know) so I wanted to interpret the Zodiac star signs into a galactic being in the shape of human.
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FEATURE // FOSTERING
FOSTERING CHANGES LIVES WHAT WAS YOUR CHILDHOOD LIKE? Did you grow up knowing you were loved? That should be the experience of all children. But sadly, it isn’t. Some children grow up in isolation. Some experience neglect. For others, their reality is one of abuse. Action for Children believe every single child has the right to a safe and happy childhood. That is why fostering is so important.
meet a child’s needs.
WHAT IS FOSTERING? Quite simply, fostering changes lives. Fostering is looking after a child or a young person who can’t live with their family. They may need a home until they become adults, or only for a little while. However, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of children in need continues to soar, but the number of foster carers can’t keep up with the increasing demand.
By giving a vulnerable child a safe and loving home, foster families provide them with the foundations they need to thrive. As well as providing love, care, and stability, foster carers advocate on behalf of the children and young people they look after. This includes supporting their educational needs, nurturing their health and social wellbeing, and helping them reach their own developmental milestones.
WHO CAN FOSTER? To foster you’ll need a spare bedroom. You’ll also need to be over 21 (there isn’t an upper age limit). Whilst many people have the space and time in their lives – and hearts – to foster, they are put off by myths which make them believe their lifestyle or circumstances are a barrier to them being accepted.
and how a particular child could fit into your circumstances of life.”
WHY FOSTERING CHANGES LIVES? Foster families can often be a child’s first positive experience of family life. Avery says: “It makes a huge difference in children’s lives to be able to live in a family home and have that experience of family.”
You can be single, in a samesex couple, part of a civil The team at Action partnership, for Children get to know the children married or living and their carers as individuals; this allows with a partner. the service to provide
Avery Bowser, Fostering Services Manager in Northern Ireland, is passionate about busting the myths around who can foster. He said: “As we know, families come in all different shapes and sizes. There is no onesize-fits-all foster carer. We need carers from all walks of life, of all ages and from different backgrounds.”
WHY FOSTER WITH ACTION FOR CHILDREN? Action for Children is dedicated to finding the best foster carers to look after the most vulnerable children in our society. Whilst the fostering application process is a commitment, it allows time to get to know carers inside and out because young people deserve the best care possible.
Action for Children recruit ordinary people who do something extraordinary – become a foster carer. You can be single, in a same-sex couple, part of a civil partnership, married or living with a partner. It also doesn’t matter whether you own or rent your home. You don’t need to be a parent to foster, either. The most important thing is your ability to
Every child and young person is unique. Foster carers are, too. That is why Action for Children places such an emphasis on finding the best possible match between a child and a family. Doing this builds strong relationships that last. Fostering Team Manager, David Montgomery, says: “The matching process is looking at you as a family
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When joining the Action for Children family, foster parents will be supported every step of the way. As well as being assigned a dedicated fostering social worker, they will get to know the whole service team, from administrative staff to support staff. They also have access to a 24/7 helpline and comprehensive training to ensure they are equipped with all the skills they need. David says: “It’s our role to provide you with all the training and support necessary for your growth and development.”
wrap around care for the child and the whole foster family. The organisation also runs regular support groups for carers and organise family outings. These outings allow foster carers a space and opportunity to interact with others who know what they are going through.
Fostering with Action for Children is very flexible. Whether you have the ability to welcome a child into your home on a full-time basis or for planned short break care, your time and dedication will be instrumental in helping make a difference to that child’s life. If you would like to become part of something special, enquire about joining the Action for Children family today. For more information contact the friendly fostering team on 028 9046 0500 or email fostercareni@ actionforchildren.org.uk
Every family’s different But the one thing they should have in common is love.
Start your fostering journey today: 028 9046 0500 firstname.lastname@example.org actionforchildren.org.uk/fostering @AFCNIFostercare Registered charity nos. 1097940/SC038092. Company no. 4764232. © Action for Children 2021.1655.
FEATURE // HUGGERS
TO HUG OR NOT TO HUG? NAVIGATING POST PANDEMIC INTIMACY INTIMACY AND PHYSICAL TOUCH ARE big parts of many people’s lives. A warm hug can offer a level of reassurance and comfort that words often can’t reach, and a strong embrace has the almighty power to make you feel safe and loved. For some people, however, hugs aren’t so much a comfort as they are a breach of personal boundaries. The pandemic has certainly widened the gulf between huggers and nonhuggers. While some of us have spent the past year or so craving physical intimacy and longing for the day when we can wrap our loved ones in a tight embrace, or even throw our arms around new acquaintances, others plan to stick to social distancing for a while longer. So, what is it about hugs that some of us crave so much? How can we navigate hugging and respect people’s boundaries in a post-pandemic world? What’s in a hug? There’s more to a good hug than just wrapping your arms around someone. In fact, there’s scientific evidence that hugs can really boost your mood. When we enjoy a long and meaningful hug, our brains release the hormone oxytocin, which helps us to feel calm and strengthens social bonds. Research has also found oxytocin to help decrease stress and anxiety. This means that a good hug can work wonders for some people’s mental well-being. For many of us, hugging is second nature. Physiologist Helena Wasling explains: “I think what it means to be human is very much to be social and to be connected to other people. Our skin is meant to be there for intercommunication, human to human, which connects us and makes us the human beings that we’re supposed to be.” It has been found that many children require hugs and physical contact from a young age as a part of their healthy development. Why then do the seemingly magical powers of hugging not apply to us all? While some people will jump at any opportunity for a hug, others find the interaction uncomfortable and prefer to keep their distance. The pandemic has also intensified this aversion to hugging for many, who feel far more at ease sticking to their personal bubble. Why hugging isn’t for everyone? There are many theories about why some people are big on hugging and others show no interest in this form of physical contact. Some experts link this preference back to childhood, arguing that those who received a lot of hugs from their parents are likely to grow up enjoying hugging. A study from 2012 backs this theory up. It was found that people who were raised as huggers were more likely to enjoy hugging as an adult compared to those who weren’t.
Data gathered by the diamond ring company Angelic Diamonds reveals people’s uncertainty about hugging and intimacy. After researching the most commonly Googled love dilemmas, searches relating to uncertainty about affection were shown to have increased over the course of the pandemic (between April 2020 and March 2021). For example, “Why does affection make me uncomfortable?” increased by 67 per cent, and “Why does he want to hug me so much?” increased by 400 per cent. Evidently, not everyone feels completely comfortable with hugging and intimacy. Therefore, it shouldn’t be taken for granted that a big hug upon meeting is what everyone wants. Post-pandemic intimacy. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, hugs have been under scrutiny. Social distancing rules have meant that throwing your arms around a loved one isn’t quite so simple anymore. For many, navigating hug etiquette during the pandemic has been an uphill battle. Even now, as restrictions are being loosened, hugging is still a contentious topic. The question is, with so many different views on hugging at this stage in the pandemic, how can we make sure everyone feels comfortable? One way of dealing with this is pretty simple – asking. As restrictions are eased, everyone will be getting back to ‘normal’ at their own pace. Different people will have different personal boundaries. So, even if you can’t wait for close human contact, ask others how they feel about it. Be mindful that some people might still feel uncertain or anxious about hugging – whether their feelings are in relation to the pandemic or not. What about other ways to show affection? Although physical touch is a key Love Language for many people, there are plenty of other ways to express affection for your partner. Words of affirmation, spending quality time together, exchanging gifts, or other acts of gratitude can all be as meaningful as a hug. However, you choose to express love to your partner, your family, or your friends, the key thing to remember is respecting their boundaries. Asking what they’re comfortable with is the best place to start. Always remember that people will be readjusting to physical intimacy after the pandemic in their own time. Striking the right balance with hugging and physical intimacy might feel like a challenge at first. However, if you find what’s right for you and listen to the needs of others, you can’t go wrong.
Sources: https://www.psycom.net/oxytocin https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/tv/ben-shephard-tipping-point-hugs-20979630
On top of that, social anxiety plays a role in some people’s aversion to hugging. Put simply, people sometimes just don’t feel comfortable sharing a hug, particularly with someone that they don’t know well. Personal boundaries are extremely important, and for a lot of people, it isn’t so much a case of hugging vs no hugging. For example, they might feel perfectly comfortable hugging a family member but want to keep this intimate action reserved just for those personal relationships.
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https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9758955/Hugging-family-members-breach-Covid-rulesEngland-players-warned.html. https://www.thehealthy.com/mental-health/do-not-like-hugs/ https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.2466/02.17.21.CP.1.13 https://www.indy100.com/discover/science-hugging-contact-body-language-8594851 https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/hugging-social-distancing-covid-rules-b1846131.html https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jul/01/hugs-covid-coronavirus-the-return
THE RAINBOW PROJECT // DONATING BLOOD
BE A HERO THE RAINBOW PROJECT ARE CALLING ON LGBTQIA PEOPLE WHO WERE PREVIOUSLY UNABLE TO DONATE BLOOD TO CHECK THEIR ELIGIBILITY TODAY. IF YOU HAVE NOT CHANGED PARTNERS IN THE LAST THREE MONTHS – BE A HERO AND DONATE BLOOD TODAY!!!
The eligibility rules for donating blood and platelets has changed!! The questions asked of everyone when they come to donate blood in Northern Ireland has changed. The new eligibility rules will be more inclusive allowing more donors, especially those LGBTQIA people who have never before to donate. The eligibility will now be based on individual circumstances surrounding health, travel and sexual behaviours. Each donor will no longer be asked if they are a man who has had sex with another man, removing the element of the assessment that was previously focused on population-based risks. Any individual who attends to give blood, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, will be asked if they have had sex. If so, they will be asked further questions about their sexual behaviours in the past three months. The process of giving blood will not change. John O’Doherty, Director of The Rainbow Project said: “We have been campaigning on this issue for over 10 years. We welcome the implementation of the Fair Report and the new rules surrounding blood donations. These changes mean a large number of people who have never been able to donate blood will be eligible to do so. We would like to thank the Health Minister, Robin Swann, for ensuring that decisions related to blood donations are based wholly on the best available medical evidence and that policies are implemented
on a UK wide basis. Donating blood is not a right, but a civic responsibility on all of us who are eligible to do so. The focus of The Rainbow Project will now turn to encouraging all those people who are now eligible to register as blood donors. We would like to thank the Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service and all the staff for their hard work in implementing the new rules and encourage every member of our community who are in a position to do so to register now to donate blood.” The changes follow an evidence-based review into individualised criteria by the FAIR (For the Assessment of Individualised Risk) UK wide steering group. FAIR has recommended a new donor selection system which is fairer whilst maintaining the UK’s status as one of the safest blood supplies in the world. Karin Jackson, Chief Executive at the Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service said, “I am delighted that we have been able to introduce these significant changes to the blood donation criteria over the summer, as planned. I would like to thank John O’Doherty and The Rainbow Project for their support as well as the NIBTS staff who have worked tirelessly to implement the FAIR project recommendations”.
known recent exposure to an STI or recent use of PrEP or PEP. These changes mean more men who have sex with men will be eligible to donate – so now is the time to play your part! Anyone who has had anal sex or chemsex (excluding the use of Viagra and cannabis) with a new partner or with multiple partners in the last three months will not be able to give blood right now but may be eligible in the future. Donors who have recently been treated for gonorrhoea will be deferred. Anyone who has ever received treatment for syphilis will not be able to give blood. If you have been deferred because of previous guidelines and are unsure if you can now donate, please try our donor eligibility quiz on our website or give us a call on 08085 534 653. One of our team can review the new guidelines with you and, if eligible, book your appointment. If you would like to find out more about donating blood, please register to become a blood donor or book an appointment to donate by visiting www.nibts.org; texting “BLOOD” to 60081 or simply giving Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion a call on 08085 534 653.
Under the new changes, LGBTQIA people can donate if they have had the same sexual partner for the last three months or if they have a new sexual partner with whom they have not had anal sex. It is essential that there is no
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FEATURE // TOILETRIES AMNESTY
TOILETRIES AMNESTY FOUNDER JOINS SUSTAINABLE BEAUTY COALITION. TOILETRIES AMNESTY FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR Karen Harvey has been invited to join the British Beauty Council’s Sustainable Beauty Coalition (SBC) advisory board to help give today’s consumers what they want - environmentally friendly beauty products and practices. The SBC was founded with the mission of championing sustainability best practice and industry collaboration. Its intentions are based on the findings of the British Beauty Council’s ‘Courage to Change’ report - an independent sustainability report of the beauty industry. The report lays out a vision of how we can move forward together to create an industry which nurtures our planet. Toiletries Amnesty is a charitable organisation working to end hygiene poverty and beauty industry waste, supporting hundreds of thousands of
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people every year across the UK and beyond, and diverting thousands of tonnes of toiletries from landfill. In 2021, Toiletries Amnesty has already redirected over 150,000 items away from landfill and into the hands of those in need. And while large actions make a huge immediate difference, we also believe that small actions can make big changes, so we work with nearly 350 organisations in the UK and around the world to provide products through brand donations and donations from individual members of local communities looking to do their part to make beauty more sustainable. Karen’s role within the SBC will be to make it easier for beauty brands to pass on their excess stock and returns. She says, “We believe it shouldn’t be difficult for brands to do something good for the environment
and society. We work with companies all over the world, creating positive and practical solutions for the problems they have around waste and sustainability, whilst connecting them with communities and consumers who want to see a change for good.” Toiletries Amnesty works with leading beauty brands to find new homes for stock that is excess or that can’t be sold, ensuring that these items aren’t sent to landfill or incinerated. Find out how you help make the beauty industry more sustainable by working with Toiletries Amnesty here: www.toiletriesamnesty.org/support-us
COLUMN // MARTIN MURRAY
UNITED BY EMOTION // MARTIN MURRAY Gold Medals & Na Gaeil Aeracha United By Emotion was this year’s Official Olympic motto with a focus on highlighting the importance of solidarity, inclusion, non-discrimination and equality. There were more out LGBTQ athletes in this year’s Tokyo Olympics than in all the previous years combined. I strongly believe that the sports industry is the final frontier to achieving equality across all industries. No other industry has been so reliant on the patriarchy as the fitness industry and this news proves that a global shift is happening to defeat discrimination in sports and fitness but we all have a part to play.
LGBTQ athletes competing this year. The image of tears running down Toms face will inspire a generation of queer athletes to follow in his footsteps. Irelands Kellie Harrington brought home the gold in Boxing, EU champion gold medallist Michaela Walsh unfortunately didn’t place but was still delighted that her brother took bronze, 22 year old Olympian new comer Jack Wooley was brought to tears after his
championships. Laurel Hubbard is 7th in the IWF’s Women’s +87kg division. Four days following Hubbard’s try, Canadian Footballer Quinn became the first openly trans and non-binary athlete to win and it just happened to be gold. This was also Canadas first ever gold medal for women’s football. Meanwhile in local sports, our LGBTQ
Let’s talk numbers... •
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32 Medals won by LGBTQ Athletes at the Olympics which includes teams so 55 LGBTQ winners in total. This means if LGBTQ was a country it would have placed around 8th of 86 countries. Over 182 LGBTQ Athletes competing. 11 Gold Medals 12 Silver Medals 9 Bronze Medals 30 Countries proud of their Olympic champion LGBTQ Athletes
There were moments of activism such as Tom Daley’s heartfelt speech and Raven Saunders who raised her hands in a cross as a shout out to black people, LGBTQ+ people and all people dealing with mental health. Amanda Chidester and Anissa Urtez faced a new challenge as the first openly LGBTQ couple to compete against each other in their sport of softball. The UK of course had Tom Daley who became the 70th Out LGBTQ member in history to achieve a gold medal. He is also the first LGBT British Athlete to win gold and marked the occasion with a beautiful statement. “I hope that any young LGBT person out there can see that no matter how alone you feel right now, you are not alone and that you can achieve anything and there is a whole lot of your chosen family out here ready to support you, I feel incredibly proud to say that I am a gay man and also an Olympic champion.” There were 16 British
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defeat but can hold his head high as an Olympic level Taekwondo competitor who I hope to cheer on in the next Olympics alongside Aoife Cooke who also didn’t win a medal but has already expressed interest in the next Olympic games. The 182 athletes does not include the coaches and trainers there supporting who all returned heroes to their countries in August. One of the biggest moments was when Laurel Hubbard stepped up as the first openly transgender woman to compete in the Olympics. In honour of her statement that she doesn’t want to be known as a trailblazer I want to remind you that Laurel holds the gold from the Pacific Games of 2019 and the silver from the 2017 world
teams have been back out practicing since lockdown restrictions eased. On August 21st I joined Emerald Warriors and Dublin Devils for the Oscar Wilde Cup, playing Rugby, Football, enjoying some BBQ and some beers and then I went for an evening out with some of the guys from Na Gaeil Aeracha. Na Gaeil Aeracha is the GAAs first Inclusive group made up of a GAA Football team, a GAA women’s football team, a Hurley team and a Camogie team. I joined Na Gaeil Aeracha for their first social game back in July and was immediately welcomed in as the only member from Antrim and the only member living in Northern Ireland. There were five of us who hadn’t really ever played GAA and most of the other members hadn’t played
HEALTH AND FITNESS // MARTIN MURRAY since school so it was very relaxed, the committee members who lead the training did a fantastic job and they have now arranged some Coaches but they could always use more coaches and members if anyone’s interested. I was thrilled to see so many people I believe they have about 30 members in for Tuesdays and about 26 other members who go on Saturdays. I have been part of a lot of LGBTQ teams and this was the largest group I had seen at a first meet up. I was also delighted by how they had travelled from counties across Ireland just showing that there is a hunger out there for inclusivity in sports. The teams are like families. I have kept in touch and built friendships with members of all these teams and that’s as someone who tries to keep up with all of them. The guys who focus on their chosen sports really do develop chosen families and support each other when it comes to career, family issues, relationships and of course health and fitness. Most of all I am inspired by seeing their lives off the pitch too. Between Dublin Devils, Na Gaeil Aeracha, Belfast Azlans, Belfast Blaze, Emerald Warriors and a number of smaller teams I have met people from non-profits, people who work for large corporations, people who run their own companies. I have met members who identify as Lesbian, straight, gay, bisexual, non-binary, trans men, trans women. I have met drag queens and tradesmen. They come from a variety or social and economic backgrounds. They
have a variety of interests and styles but when they meet on their court or pitch they have a common goal and interest and fully accept and appreciate each other’s differences.
commitment for the marriage equality referendum that year. This risked his reputation as one of Irelands best referees and his job as a teacher at a catholic school.
When I was 17 I went to the Kremlin and was mesmerized that everyone was so free to be Queer. When I went to London and Madrid Gay quarters I was shocked by how there where places in the world where Gay was the norm in their society. I am most mesmerized by the atmosphere of Queer sports because you see there is no one way to be LGBTQ and being LGBTQ is just part of their story but it doesn’t define them in the slightest. I was always shocked by Queer athletes saying they don’t want to be known as a Queer athlete when I am so open about being a Queer creator and activist but I understand now what they are trying to get across is the magic of the feeling they get when they can just be themselves without it having to be a political or social statement that’s weaponized by others. In that way they are activists themselves but everyone can do it in their own way.
His bravery paid off. David kept his job and strengthened his reputation. Marriage equality passed and the GAA’s views on its commitment to diversity and inclusivity continues to grow. It is because of David that I can proudly call myself part of Irelands first LGBTQ Inclusive GAA team.
Speaking of activists, I ran a poll on my Instagram to see if you thought it would be a good idea for me to start doing profiles highlighting the LGBTQ Sports talent at home and I thought who better to start with since we now have our first LGBTQ GAA team than David Gough.
Gough went on to referee the 2019 All Ireland Senior Football Championship Final, the 202 All Ireland Senior Championship Semi Final and has even refereed GAA games in Spain, Qatar and the USA. As well as a welcomed return to sport. the theatre world is reopening. You can catch Rough Girls at the Lyric Theatre until September 25th 2021. Rough Girls is the story of Belfast’s first all-female football team. It is written by Tara Lynn O’Neill who you will probably know best as the Ma in Derry Girls or for her regular appearances on the Lyric Theatre Stage. As Oscar Wilde said “Football is all very well as a game for rough girls but it is hardly suitable for delicate boys.” and I think this summer our LGBTQ sports men and women have showed they are anything but delicate.
David is GAA footballs first openly gay top level match official. In 2015 he took a stand against the GAA by requesting to wear a rainbow wristband to show his
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ANTHONY COOLEY // FITNESS
LOSING WEIGHT EFFECTIVELY ANTHONY COOLEY
PERSONAL TRAINER AT DEDICATED FITNESS BELFAST
SO ITS BEEN A FEW MONTHS since we have been allowed to enter back into society somewhat and also into our gyms once more. This has been great overall for our minds, but what about our bodies? We can now sit inside bars and restaurants once more, “ Hurrah!” and enjoy a nice hot cuppa in our favourite coffee shops. This has been a long time coming and I know for me it could not have come soon enough. Theres nothing like an ice cold pint in that lovely Summer weather of late or a hot coffee with that pastry bun I have so missed. But with all these little pleasures mounting up over time, so will those excess lbs. It’s as good a time as ever to discuss finding that balance now that we can enjoy these little luxuries once more. Everything in moderation is a good way to live by. I’m a firm believer in this and its something practice most days. Growing up I had a terrible sweet tooth, something I still have but as I have grown older I have learned to curb it. Don’t get me wrong, there are days where I can destroy a whole cake in one sitting but as long as that doesn’t spill into two/ three days of unhealthy eating I know I can always pull it back so it wont have a long term effect on the waistline. This is where you need to find balance, balance in your day so that when you have those moments of weakness you are armed and ready to get back on track.
So what things can you do to effectively lose weight but still enjoy life’s little luxuries. Well I’m going to let you in on a few of my wee secrets to how to go about it. 1- Have an Game-plan. Theres no use going in blind when it comes to losing weight effectively. You need to be prepared so that from day one you know what you are doing. This means getting some good quality exercise in, yes this needs to happen if you want to do this the right way. 3-4 days of at least 30 mins exercise will dramatically speed up the process and increase your metabolism for more effective fat burning. This could be in the form of weight-resistance based training/cardio or the likes of yoga if you prefer a more relaxed/spiritual approach to your training. 2- Plan that diet. Weight loss happens first and foremost in the kitchen, or on the sofa in the evenings for most of us. But yes, you need to start planning what you will be bringing into the house. ‘Out of sight, out of mind!” Its definitely true that if you start buying things you know will add the weight on then you will crave it if its in the cupboards. So the best way to go about tackling this is to simply not buy it. Only bring into the home what you intend to eat and make it a healthy choice. Your willpower will be much more tested if those cheeky wee treats are calling out to you all evening
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when sat on the sofa trying your best to be good. There are lots of fad diets out there, I have tried most and can comfortably tell you they don’t work for the long term. You simply need to find a way to make smarter food choices and make it fit into your own lifestyle and routine. If you can achieve this, you’ll be feeling the benefits for the months and years to follow. If you are at a loss as how to go about changing up that diet for the better then there are plenty of trainers out there that are willing to help you with all of it. *Wink wink. A good rule of thumb to follow is a diet that is high in protein, low in carbohydrates and fats, and plenty of fresh vegetables with some fruit.
will keep you on the straight and narrow for much longer. Personally I love a takeaway as much as the next person and I definitely won’t deny myself one forever more amen. So allow yourself that one meal you absolutely love at least one evening a week. (I find a Fri or Sat evening to be best as it keeps you looking forward to it during the week when you are trying to make healthier choices.) When you allow yourself this treat each week it acts as a reset button for all the hard work you have put in up to that point. It will also kick start a metabolism that has slowed down when you introduce more carbs and fats into the diet for that one time only each week. So go ahead and Treat Yo’ Self!
3- Drink, drink, drink!! No, not pints, not wine and certainly not fizzy cans of coke. H20 is what i’m referring to of course. You should be drinking 2-3 litres of water a day, after all our bodies are made up of 60% of it. This will help flush out nasty toxins and how your body functions as well as improving how you feel overall. Most people complain that water is boring so they opt for something else to glug instead. Easy, mix a bit of sugar free dilute to jazz it up a bit, its what I do so there really isn’t an excuse as to why you can’t drink more of the good stuff.
5- Ditch the booze Are you someone who reaches for that wine glass most evenings? If so you are adding unnecessary calories to your daily intake. This applies to all types of alcohol including beer, spirits, cider, alcopops etc. Try and keep the booze for one evening a week or only on social occasions. You’ll feel much better for it also.
4- Treat yourself! Yes you read that right. Studies show that if you allow yourself that one good meal a week it
6- Don’t beat yourself up when you slip off the wagon. I promise you there will be times when you just want to pack it all in and hit the buffet and forget all about the hard work you put in each day. Listen thats fine as long as it doesn’t become habit. If its only once in a blue moon, it wont have a
ANTHONY COOLEY // FITNESS
massive impact but you need to recognise that every now and then this will happen. The most important thing to do when it does is to simply get right back on that saddle the next day and continue on making smarter diet choices without comfort eating yourself into oblivion with the guilts. 7- SLEEP! Getting plenty of rest each evening will have massive benefits to your health and overall sense of wellbeing. (A good night sleep equates to 7-8 hours) If you aren’t getting enough rest you will be feeling tired and sluggish throughout the day and you will be more likely to reach for unhealthy sugary snacks to act as a quick boost of energy. So get that rest in and you will find it easier to make healthier food choices each day.
So hopefully some of these little nuggets of info around dieting effectively will help you on your journey to a healthier and happier you! And as always if you need a helping hand with anything fitness related I am always happy to chat! I am on instagram under the name “tony_cools” or you can always find me on facebook or email me at anthony_cooley@icloud. com Good luck! Coach Anthony.
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FEATURE // CONNOR MILLS DESIGNS
CONNOR MILLS DESIGNS STYLES COME AND GO, BUT good design, it’s a language and one that Connor Mills is fluent in. Connor Mills Designs is a one man brand lovingly born through the joys of a covid cancelled wedding & a renewed sense of a lifelong dream. So, how did the business first begin? Technically the business first began back in 2017. Having had crafted seasonal designs and artworks the business started to take shape, yet after a mishap with a dodgy hard drive and an even more unreliable laptop all was lost and Connor’s dream was put on the shelf a shadow gathering dust but always in the back of his mind. Cut to 2020, the year the covid pandemic had robbed everyone of something and in Connor’s case it was a wedding five years in the making. It was from this that Connor and his partner decided to instead use a portion of their wedding savings to achieve a dream. Connor bought the best design setup possible and began once again to flex his creativity honeing his skills and preparing to shine a light on the dream which had seemed like a lifetime ago. The business started small, making art prints of digital illustrations Connor created. The first series was “Unseen Home” a series in which Connor took inspiration from well known Northern Irish landmarks and weaved in more mystical element’s, for example a ghostly apparition at the Dark Hedges or an impending falling moon at Ballintoy Harbour. The series captured a sense of what was already there just what isn’t easily seen. Running prints on these artworks they sold out within the first week and currently even the reprints have sold out. People mesmirised by the bold creativity presented to places already common place in peoples perceptions. Wanting to create something more personal and hands on Connor then began work on his
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next series of works. Taking inspiration from his interest in items with a spiritual meaning Connor began to create designs which were visually impactful yet simple. Wanting to tackle a more manual creation process he began printing his designs through the method of “Lino-Printing” a process which involves carving a design into lino blocks, inking these with a specialised ink and printing onto your medium. Wanting to create designs with an impact this is when Connor had an idea. Using a specialised ink lino printing can be used to make custom garments. Taking his most popular design “Leaky Ticker” he released his first t-shirt a play on wearing your heart on your sleeve. This proved to be the perfect choice for a tee as it not only sold out in it’s first batch but is now currently on it’s sixth reprint. The business was gaining an unexpected momentum with the Instagram reels of Connor’s process gaining thousands upon thousands of views. “I like to set goals, and then overcome them” was Connor’s motto, he had dream’s of hopefully selling over a hundred t-shirt’s by his first year and was already on the way. “It was like walking on air every time I got an order, I know the feeling of finding a tee that represents you and makes you feel like you can take on the world and it brought me so much joy to be involved in giving this feeling to others” Connor states his personal favourite design being one called ”Lucky” which shows a “Maneki-neko” but with a twist, the reverse of the cat mirrored showing the idea of ying and yang and how a luck can be carried everywhere, sometimes it’s up, sometimes it’s down. With a popularity towards Connor’s Tarot work he felt it was time to try his most ambitious goal yet. He ran a Kickstarter campaign in which he would try and produce a large batch of t-shirts based on his reimaging of
“The World” tarot card. “It was alot of work,I mean ALOT of work, I didn’t even think it was possible so I set a short campaign time and wanted to see if there was a responce more than anything.” Of course though with Connor’s new take on classic tarot design the t-shirt was funded within only two weeks of it’s launch and well established Connor past any of the goals he had set. ”I really would put it down to being true to yourself and hard work, I juggle two jobs ontop of nurturing this business, it mean’s late hours but the one thing that always remains is the thrill of carving out a path in the world based on something I love and that is completely my own”. From this Connor has continued to grow his business having created a website for himself and taking some time to hone his craft he has found joy most recently challenging his design creation. “I wanted to start making design’s that brought the skill’s I had learned in studying hyper-realism and that simple impactful style of lino work” the conclusion of this being his most recent run of t-shirt’s “Strength” (pictured left) a tarot card which shows the conclusion of events and a quiet inner strength it’s beautiful design also symbolically shows where Connor has been and where he plans to move too. “It’s nearly coming up to the business’s first year and I can’t even begin to thank everyone enough who has supported me personally with this journey and everyone who has bought either a print or a t-shirt or both, I wouldn’t have achieved so much joy and growth without you, so thankyou. There’s big plans for the future so stay tuned and stay positive.” With Connor’s favourite time of the year, Halloween, right around the corner and with his current work designing promotions for Omagh’s first Pride were sure he has plenty instore to delight our eye’s and grace our backs. WWW.CONNORMILLSDESIGNS.CO.UK INSTAGRAM.COM/CONNORMILLSDESIGNS
FEATURE // CONNOR MILLS DESIGNS
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FEATURE // HOUSEPLANTS
HOUSEPLANTS // 5 EASY TO CARE FOR A SHOPPING GUIDE FOR NEWBIE PLANT PARENTS BY MEMENTO WITH SO MANY VARIETIES OF PLANTS ON THE MARKET, ALL WITH DIFFERING CARE NEEDS, PLANT SHOPPING CAN BE A DIFFICULT TASK. LUCKILY, WE’VE PUT TOGETHER THIS LIST OF LOW MAINTENANCE AND EASY TO CARE FOR PLANTS TO GIVE YOU A HELPING HAND IN MAKING YOUR DECISION.
10% off with the code ‘GNIMEM10’. at www. mementofloraldesign.com
MONSTERA DELICIOSA Monstera’s, also known as Cheese Plants, are one of the most well-known houseplants out there with their distinctive holes and wide, heart shaped leaves. Thankfully the Monstera is as easy to care for as it is pretty! They enjoy a bright spot with indirect sunlight and damp soil, just pop your finger roughly two inches into the soil and if its dry, you can give your Monstera a drink. These plants are really satisfying to own, as you get to watch your new leaves sprout up and unfurl.
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FEATURE // HOUSEPLANTS
PILEA The Pilea, or Chinese Money Plant, is a great plant for forgetful plant owners because they are drought-tolerant and can adapt to lower light conditions. These little guys can grow really big with the right care, just make sure to give them the occasional turn so they grow evenly. The Pilea gets its nickname from its coin-shaped leaves, but it’s also known for bringing financial luck for owners who’d like a few real coins in their pockets – a worthy investment!
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FEATURE // HOUSEPLANTS
ASPARAGUS FERN The Asparagus Fern is a less common houseplant but its delicate, almost fuzzy foliage makes for an elegant addition to any home. This plant enjoys a bit of shade and would thrive with a bit of distance from a window. Asparagus Fern’s are tropical plants so they like their humidity – so a bathroom or kitchen would be a perfect spot for them. Try and stay away from this plant if you’re got any fury friends, as it can be toxic for cats and dogs.
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FEATURE // HOUSEPLANTS
SNAKE PLANT Ol’ reliable, the hardy Snake Plant. The Sansevieria’s are some of the most resistant, toughest plants on the market – it’s borderline unkillable. Even its leaves look like swords, which can grow from 15cm to 245cm! This plant loves a steady light source, but will also survive in lower-light conditions. This plant also removes toxics from the air and is a great oxygenator as well.
PEACE LILY The Peace Lily is a great plant to have in your home if you love flowers – some of its green leaves develop in to bright white petals. It may look dainty, but it isn’t very fussy. Peace Lily’s like a bright spot out of direct sunlight and enjoy a drink once the two few inches of soil have completely dried out. They are native to tropical environments, so if you want to give your Peace Lily a little bit of extra love, give it a mist every now and then.
Our Plant Specialists will be able to give you all the advice you’ll need to take care of your plants, so pop in to our Ormeau Road for a chat! Alternatively, you can have a little read of our blog, which deals with the task of repotting, picking planters and more. All of these plants are available to buy online at www.mementofloraldesign.com AND we’re giving you guys 10% off with the code ‘GNIMEM10’.
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TRAVEL // NORWAY
NORWAY // OSLO WORDS: GAVYN ANDREWS
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TRAVEL // NORWAY
NORWAY MAY NOT BE ON your usual radar as a LGBTQ holiday destination but it’s probably one of the first countries around the world to be so liberal with the attitude of Live, Love and Enjoy. Norway offers an LGBTQ traveller so much from historic venues, hotels, bars, clubs and specific festivals all targeted towards making the countries LGBTQ community and visiting tourists welcome as positive, safe and inspiring as physically possible. Oslo is the Norwegian capital city and has to be one of the most beautiful capitals I have seen during my life of travels so far. Ironically it was awarded Europe’s Green Capital 2019 due to over half of it being covered in glorious nature including deep woodlands, forests , Parks and Fjords. Holidays mean many things to different people but I think this can be true of Norway itself because its way more than just one resort or specific place or experience. Norway is often classified as having one of the world’s highest standards of living and be warned this means it is also one of the most expensive cities in the world to both live and visit. I don’t see this however as a negative because for me that means you simply save up and have the best experience you can afford for your visit. So think about what you want from your trip for instance is it about the best luxurious hotels, attending all gay venues, bars, clubs each night etc. or is it an all-out Norwegian spend fest with anything goes? I am always one for trying to live the rich and wealthy lifestyle on tiny tiny budget lol. Travelling to Oslo can be as simple or as long as you want it to be. As I am recommending it as short stay city break then the fastest and cheapest way is as always low-cost airlines or the likes of British Airways will offer a business or premium service if you want to spoil yourself. Depending on the time of year you will have to connect via the likes of Heathrow or Manchester if wanting to fly from Belfast
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City or International Airports but Dublin offers services direct and I think this would be a far better option considering the flight isn’t massively long. I can also recommend staying overnight down at Dublin airport the night before if it’s an early flight. The Radisson & Maldron Dublin Airport do some fantastic Stay, Park and Fly package deals. I have a real passion for sightseeing and exploring any destination usually on foot and Norway is breathtakingly picturesque, from the moment you land into Oslo I think that the natural feel of the city will excite you because you will be surrounded by Mountains, Forests and Water. If you’re not a fan of walking or self- exploration Oslo being the countries capital has a fantastic public transport network with numerous bus and trams connecting the cites key zoned hubs. You can also look into paying for a tourist transport travel pass which can be
good value if you prefer not to walk. As I mentioned before Oslo will be expensive and so hotel choices will really depend on if you fancy hotels with loads of pampering facilities or like me you can be happy with cheap and cheerful minimalistic taste. I would 100% check a good few in the city centre first and compare before booking. I would suggest that you do look at the highly recommended 140 year old Grand Hotel which as you can imagine is just stunningly furnished or the opposite side of the budget marker the modern 3 star Thon hotel Opera would be a solid choice on a budget. Since Covid-19 came into all our life back in 2019 it has become more important to make sure travel plans are both insured and refundable due to ongoing international travel restrictions. I would urge you to think about booking with a local travel agent who’s packages are more often bonded
TRAVEL // NORWAY
Pride but for me I love the fact they have a Ski Pride too Scandinavian Ski Pride’ or Skeive Skiis 3 days of ski-related events for gay people throughout Europe and beyond. The event is held in Hemsedal (a 3,5 hour drive from Oslo), Norway’s largest ski resort, which offers very stable ski conditions and was in 2013 voted the best ski resort in Norway. It is known for its nightlife, Scandinavia’s best après-ski and great nightclubs. Scandinavian Ski Pride will give you a unique opportunity to combine sports and entertainment, in a fantastic setting! The festivities include plenty of skiing of course, but also lots of fun group aprèsski gatherings, special offers for good restaurants, entertainment and shows, great music and festive parties with Oslo’s best djs for those who want to party. The middle of March is the peak ski season in Norway with great skiing, both on and off groomed slopes. Scandinavian Ski Pride will offer ski lessons for the inexperienced, different types of activities on different levels and competitions and activities in the slopes. with ABTA, IATA and ATOL licences in comparison to do it yourself packages which we all have done in the past for many years prior to Covid and thought nothing of it. Travel Agents offer that extra expertise on both destination and what’s happening concerning Covid-19 restrictions plus If something happens you can ask them to help you rather than trying to contact hotels, airline and embassies yourself. Now getting back to Norway you will notice compared too many other larger European cities that the LGBTQ night life is a little lower key but you will find that it does indeed offer something for many tastes. Ironically the largest Gay bar and club is called the LONDON PUB and its open 7 nights a week offering a real mix of live music to one-time events. Elsker is another more modern café bar which offers food and drinks in a much more poppy life environment i.e. it SCREAMS EUROVIOSN. I would recommend spending at least 3 nights in Oslo for a City break meaning
you can take in the full LGBTQ venue experiences however as it has so many gay festivals and events they will showcase the city and its LGBTQ lifestyle offering even better so maybe a Gay Pride holiday stop. SLM Oslo is defiantly a club for me as SLM is short for Scandinavian Leather Men. This venue offers gay male fetish Cruise facilities aimed at Leather and Fetish. You will need to sign up online to go but it’s good to check it out in advance to see what is happening and if any themes or dress codes are taking place during your stay. Think Jocks, Leather maybe even harness and well you will be sorted. No Gay male city break would be complete without a visit to the cities local Gay Sauna and Oslo has just one. Saunahuset Hercules is a very large venue clean and safe and offers you everything you could want from a sauna after a busy few days enjoying the city.
Norway was recently voted Europe’s second best country to live in for gays, only surpassed by Malta, according to The Rainbow Europe Index. So that’s just a very little slice of Norway so please go check it out and let us know what your thoughts are or if you have travelled to this fabulous destination before. We are always keen to showcase fresh new and exciting places open to LGBTQ travellers.
Norway has many Gay festivals such as
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FOOD// THE GOURMET BOYS
OUR FANTASY FOODIE FEAST.
THE GOURMET BOYS
IN THIS ISSUE, WE ARE CELEBRATING SOME OF THE BEST DINING EXPERIENCES WE HAVE HAD OVER THE PAST MONTH, AND RATHER THAN OUR USUAL “FANTASY MENU” WHICH FOCUSES ON PARTICULAR INDIVIDUAL COURSES, WE THOUGHT WE’D GIVE YOU OUR “FANTASY FOODIE FEAST” RECOMMENDING OUR FAVOURITE RECENT BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER AND COCKTAIL VENUES. BUT PERHAPS WE MIGHT SUGGEST YOU DON’T VISIT THEM ALL ON THE SAME DAY! THOSE LOCKDOWN POUNDS ARE HARD ENOUGH TO SHIFT!
BREAKFAST KUBO BRUNCH CLUB Born in the Philippines and with ten years of cooking experience in her hometown of Toronto, Canada, chef Nallaine found herself moving to London where she worked as Head of Food and Head Chef. Relocating to Belfast, she found her niche in Filipino food where she held monthly Kamayan events cooking her family’s traditional recipes and reconnecting with her Filipino roots. So, we were delighted to attend one of KUBO’s Brunch Clubs at Haptik, and to sample the kamayan way of eating and the ultimate Filipino food experience. We loved the vibrant purple colour of the Ube Bread Rolls, and the Vegetarian “Tito Benny” with Smoked Tofu and Eggplant, Poached Eggs, and Charred Scallion Hollandaise on a Filipino Bun was a dish showcasing the variety of colours, textures and flavours to be found in Filipino cuisine.
ST BREAKFA NCH CLUB KUBO BU
prepared seafood at reasonable prices, then head down the peninsula to The New Quays Restaurant in Portavogie. We were meeting some friends for Sunday lunch, and as we had eaten here before quite recently, we knew we were in for a treat. The New Quays’ menu focuses on locally sourced seafood, and is constantly changing to reflect the daily catch. We thoroughly enjoyed the Sharing Platter which included golden battered cod goujons, Thai-style fish cakes, smoked salmon, prawn cocktail on homemade wheaten, and mussels in a creamy shallot and garlic sauce, with lots of crusty bread. The Baked Brie is a generous wedge of warm, oozing cheese served with a fruity chutney, the crispy-skinned Seabass fillets accompanied by asparagus, broccoli, green beans and cauliflower were beautifully cooked, and the Scampi and Chips is an absolute classic. Desserts also come highly recommended, so make sure you leave some room to enjoy traditional
“Bangsilog” is a deliciously different fish course with lime and garlic marinated Milk Fish accompanied by a Cucumber and Tomato Relish, Garlic Rice, and topped with a fried egg. Our sharing desserts were soft Ube Brownies, and crispy Banana and Jackfruit Turons, washed down with Filipino Iced Lattes. Maligaya pagdating sa KUBO! LUNCH THE NEW QUAYS When you’re in the mood for some simple, fresh, well
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LU THE N NCH EW QU AYS
FOOD // THE GOURMET BOYS
& Crispy Veg which were both outstanding. The sides of Mac ‘N’ Cheese, Patatas Bravas, and particularly the Curry Roast Cauliflower were also a cut above.
DINN ABBIT ER RESTA URAN
favourites such as the tangy Citrus Lemon Tart, Jim’s special Tiramisu with a hint of orange and a side of Affogato, Salted Caramel Chocolate Brownies with ice cream, and a rich Chocolate Profiterole Cheesecake-sheer indulgence on a plate! And to make it just perfect, when the clouds cleared and the sun came out, the views from the restaurant across the Irish Sea were stunning. A lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon. DINNER THE RABBIT RESTAURANT The Rabbit Restaurant in The Rabbit Hotel & Retreat, Templepatrick, is the perfect spot to experience inspiring menus that boast fresh, local and delicious dishes influenced by Italian-American cuisine. The staff are friendly and attentive, and a lot of thought has gone into the chic attire worn for service reflecting the retro, rustic feel of the interior decor. We loved the appetisers of Smoked Haddock Cakes, and the Beetroot, Caramelised Onion and Spinach Pizzetta from the Vegan Menu. For our main courses we chose the Chicken Supreme with Fine Beans, Bacon Lardons, Mushroom & Marsala Sauce, and a Roast Hake Fillet, Creamed Greens
To finish, the Glazed Lemon Tart and the Selection Of Irish Cheese, Fig Chutney, Royal Gala Apple & Cracker Selection were the perfect way to conclude a terrific dining experience. COCKTAIL RATTLEBAG As you know, we adore a good cocktail. We just love how a simple spirit can be elevated to a thing of beauty with the addition of a few well-chosen ingredients and a little “TLC”. In the halcyon days when we could travel further afield, we always checked out the local cocktail bars: whether it was a “speakeasy vibe” in London behind an insalubriously dingy doorway which opened out into a stylish 20s-style hangout, or a secretive gentleman’s club hidden down a Barcelona alleyway simply oozing with class where the sartorially dressed clientele sipped their drinks against a backdrop of sophisticated dark wood and subdued lighting.
regularly, Rattlebag also has a “spirit of the month” selection, celebrating the variety of different cocktails which can be created. The bar staff are incredibly knowledgeable, and will talk you through the “spirit-led” menu, and explain some of the amazing ingredients used by the Rattlebag mixologists. Every wonderful concoction we tried was a triumph, but special mention must go to the smoky Mezcal-based “Naked & Famous”, the “Zombie” which features Talisker 10 year single malt and Tiki bitters, and the “Corpse Reviver” with Method & Madness gin, vermouth, absinthe, and a hint of sweetness from their own bubblegum liqueur. Cheers to Rattlebag for raising the “bar”!!
Follow @thegourmetboys on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter Email - email@example.com If you have any requests for restaurant recommendations send us a message and we’ll get right back to you.
But sadly, too many of Belfast’s bars have a disappointing approach when designing their cocktail menus which can be rather tired, and are of the “mixed drinks” variety: bog-standard spirits drowned in copious amounts of fruit juice and soda, and garnished with a paper parasol, with little to appeal to the discerning cocktail-lover. But Rattlebag in the Bullitt Hotel is an entirely different kettle of fish, and the menu, ambience, and ethos are a refreshing change and a much-needed addition to the Belfast cocktail bar scene. As well as a menu which changes
COCKTAIL G RATTLEBA
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REVIEW // MALONE LODGE
REVIEW // MALONE LODGE THIS REVIEW TAKES US BACK to the Malone Lodge, a lot has changed from our last review, seems like a 2 years ago though on investigation it was back in January of 2016 therefore a long overdue return.
view of the entire place. After bringing us water, telling us about soup specials and getting us a cheeky vino, he gave us time to ponder over the menu. I didn’t order it as my starter though as I type
During the covid closure the 4-star luxury hotel has had a fashionable facelift and exciting rebrand of both the Bar and Restaurant so it’s all pretty fresh and exciting for guests and staff alike. We arrived at the Gallery Restaurant as planned at 7pm, first impression I was super surprised at how modern and inviting the place was and by the number of diners eating on a Tuesday which would typically be a quieter day. Daryl the restaurant Manager escorted us to a table by the window, perfectly positioned for the likes of me who likes to get a good
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of Samphire if I’m not mistaken, those who regularly read my reviews will know I don’t usually order Scallops, tahis is not down to a dislike as I love seafood, I’m guessing they are maybe not always on the menu, possible out of season, anyway they did not disappoint, perfectly fresh and cooked to perfection, great seer outside and super juicy just as they should be, bravo. My guest Julie ordered the Bushmills Glazed Pork Belly, she assures me it was delicious and going by what was left on the plate (nothing lol) this was definitely the case.
I wish I had asked for a taste of the soup, Coriander and Apple, sounds odd though I bet it would have been amazing. For me I opted for the Scallops, these were served with black pudding, peas, and little sprigs
Bar the soup the other starter option was the Goats Cheese which I am a real fan of, on my return I will be trying it. Starter size was ample, perfect warm up to the main event which we were both ready for, this was tough for me as so many
REVIEW // THE MALONE LODGE options were right up my street, after allot of deliberation I settled on the Beef Shin and I am super glad I did, have honestly never tasted anything like it, slow cooked over many hours it was falling apart, this came with a reduction that can take days to make as explained by Daryl, it was served with creamy mash and pickled shallots which for me really made the dish sing, I could eat a bowl of them alone lol. I ordered a side of Tender stem Broccoli and roast almonds. I practically cleaned the plate, left a little veg though all else was devoured. Cannot fault anything about my main, I will be talking about it for some time to come. With no surprise my guest ordered the steak, it is somewhat of a go to for Julie, cooked to her liking with the side and sauce of her choice, the size/weight wasn’t on the menu though from sight id say it was 12oz though don’t quote me, I could polish this easily myself though for Julie it was to much to finish which by no means is a bad complaint, also she wanted to leave a little room for a sweet.
served with Raspberry sorbet which cut though the dark chocolate, I was in heaven, not something you would eat everyday though we all are allowed to indulge. Julie ordered the Panna cotta, it looked divine it was topped with Rhubarb and an amaretti crumb, I asked her to score the desert out of ten she gave it a solid 8 not being a massive fan of Rhubarb though this is personal choice. In all we had such a wonderful evening, I am finding it hard to think of any negatives which is not like me lol, thank you so much to the management, Daryl, Chef, and servers for looking after us
While letting things digest, we chatted to Daryl for a good 15 minutes which doesn’t usually happen, he was so lovely and super attentive – give that man a raise lol. For dessert I went for the most decadent option, the chocolate delice, omg WOW, it was sweet, rich, and moreish at the same time, alone maybe too rich though it was
Average cost of 3 course meal comes to a pocket pleasing £28, I urge all our readers to check it out and you must order the Beef Shin, you will thank me later Malone Lodge 60 Eglantine Avenue (just off Malone/ Lisburn Road)
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Listening to others was second nature.
I MADE IT A CAREER. Can you? joinpsni.co.uk
Keeping People Safe
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CONNSBROOK AVENUE . SYDENHAM
RESTING BITCH FACE // WHO ARE THEY AND WHAT ARE THEY ABOUT? A true Northern Ireland company, RBF Cosmetics is a Northern Irish brand making a difference. Proud to produce luxury paraben-free skincare suitable for all ages, ethnicities, genders, and skin types.
When Cathal Ocianian an ambassador of RBS reached out to me to tell me about the products I simply could not wait to try them, here is more about the 2 products they gave me FORTY FACES VITAMIN KICK SERUM
All our products have been formulated with miracle ingredients to provide multi-tasking products that are deeply nourishing. We specialise in combining cutting edge innovation & natural skincare which provides age-preventative solutions, delivering visible results Innovative, natural where possible & using only the finest anti-ageing ingredients RBF cosmetics is a family business based mid ulster. Janice utilised years of beauty experience to develop a luxury skincare range that actually works yet is suitable for sensitive skin. Understanding that products need to not only be highly effective but also sustainable , much of her time is spent researching & developing products in collaboration with industry experts - to offer you the kindest, gentlest formulations that really work. Janice, who suffers from Eczema and psoriasis, set out to provide a range of luxurious & effective products that would be kind to your skin and the environment and the journey has just begun for this exciting brand ! ______________________ Daniel’s Review Like most people of a certain age (cough 37) I want a youthful appearance, a nice glow and subtle skin. I make no qualms in saying I love trying new products and am always interested in the latest skin care.
REVIEW // RBF
NOT JUST A ONE TRICK PONY! MARULA OIL Ever had a product you couldn’t live without? Well, you do now! This multitalented all-natural facial serum contains a fusion of marula and apricot oils. This blend of oils helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles resulting in younger, more radiant skin for you. Marula oil is a must have partner in your skincare routine, it contains natural sources of vitamins C and E as well as a range of essential amino acids which revitalise and renew skin cells. Not Just a One Trick Pony’s carefully curated combination of oils keep the skin hydrated for longer giving the skin a healthy radiant glow. ___________________
I can honestly say both products are amazing, they feel great, absorb into the skin well, smell beautiful and most of all for me as someone with eczema and combination skin I have ZERO issues. The Super charged Serum to kick start your Perfect Skin! This sumptuous serum contains a smart technology multivitamin complex that cleverly harnesses the power of vitamins A, C & E boosting the radiance and vitality of your skin. Beautifully blended with a carrot infusion, our Forty Faces Vitamin Kick Serum stimulates collagen production and reduces the appearance of fi ne lines and wrinkles, what more could you want?
Thanks for these lovely products, they are now part of my daily routine, they are a real game changer. Check these out and the rest of the products atwww.rbfcosmetics.co.uk Insta - rbf.cosmetics Facebook@rbfcosmetics
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BOOK // JULIAN CLARY
JULIAN CLARY // THE LICK OF LOVE The fabulously entertaining new memoir from the master of camp comedy, celebrating the bond between man and dog. ‘Whatever else is going on, it is the water bowl in the kitchen, the dog hair on my jumper, the knowing gaze from the dog in the basket beside me that comforts me and tells me that all is well.’ JC From one of Britain’s best-loved comedians comes this wonderfully funny, sharp and touching memoir and a celebration of the bond between man and dog - an autobidography, if you will. The Lick of Love takes us on a tour of Julian’s colourful life - and wherever life has taken him, Julian has had a dog by his side. Fanny the Wonder Dog, who came into Julian’s life when he was somewhat adrift, propelled him up the ranks of the alternative comedy circuit and onto television. Valerie, the whippet crossbreed escorted Julian through his forties, the Germaine Greer to his Bernard Manning. Albert, a jaunty geezer type who was sent to acclimatise Julian to middle age and helped him seduce his now husband, before being joined by naughty but nice Gigi, an unpredictable fur bullet of a dog. These canine characters have been there, bearing witness, on and off stage.
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Whether writing about encounters in seedy London nightclubs, finding success on television with Sticky Moments, the death of his partner, that Normant Lamont joke, a narrow squeak with a thwarted eastern European plot to kidnap him, his move to the country, or finally settling down, falling in love and getting married, Julian’s unique voice bounces off the page. Ultimately, The Lick of Love is the story of a fascinating life and a love letter to the dogs that have played a loving and near constant part of it. Told with humour and great honesty, this promises to be one of the best memoirs of the year. Out 14th October 2021 | Quercus | Hardback £20.00 | Also available in eBook and Audio Julian Clary is a comedian, entertainer and writer, who has toured the world with his one-man shows. He began working on the cabaret circuit in the early 1980s as ‘The Joan Collins Fan Club’ and then went on to appear in numerous TV shows as well as starring in a number of West End productions. As an author, Julian has published several books, including his Sunday Times bestselling memoir A Young Man’s Passage, three novels and his children’s series The Bolds. He lives in London with his husband and their two dogs, Gigi and Albert.
OFF THE KERB PRODUCTIONS PRESENT
‘Relentlessly smiley, perpetually grinning Londoner’ GUARDIAN
ALAN ALAN ALAN CARR CARR CARR O 26 NovEMBER 2021
27 NovEMBER 2021
Millennium Forum Theatre
OFF THE KERB PRODUCTIONS presents
“Bellyachingly funny” The Sunday Telegraph
T RE G I N AL R INKE T RE I AL INKE T O REGIONAL TRINKET G N
4 & 5 FEB 2022 BELFAST
6 & 7 MAY 2022 DERRY
Millennium Forum Theatre millenniumforum.co.uk ALANCARR.NET
FOOD // PRAWNAGRAPHIC
PRAWNAGRAPHIC // REVIEWED I FIRST STOPPED PRAWNAGRAPHIC BACK in May, since then It has been on my radar to get in and try their food. Firstly as I love love love SeaFood, second as the menu is so unique and third of course the name is such a great play on words, bravo Those not au fait with Belfast the establishment is nestled in the ever popular Hill Street in the Cathedral Quarter, the ideal spot if you are out for drinks or entertainment with friends/family. First impressions the place is rustic, shabby sheek and welcoming, with dining space for around 40 people, our reservation was for 6pm Thursday, when we arrived the place was somewhat quiet though within 30 minutes the tables were full, I am unsure if this was just chance or the fact that James Aurther was playing Custom House Square, either way there was a great atmosphere which we all have been missing so much. Being a fellow lover of fish I invited my sister Linda along for the experience, both being foodies we had already drooled over the menu online prior to arriving lol, so we were ready to order almost as we were seated. Across the entire menu of Starters, Mains and Desserts 18 options were on offer, for me this is a welcome breath of fresh air as I can be very indecisive when presented with to many
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options, I also feel a smaller menu makes for a better dining experience as their is less room for error while preparing. To start we decided to order 2 dishes and share, my choice was the Crispy Prawn Bao, this was as soft as you like, served with a hearty yet fresh slaw and Katsu Aioli, it was so tasty, I was left satisfied and more than happy with my choice. Linda opted for Nashville Chicken Sliders, even now I can’t decide which of the 2 was my favourite, both were so different, sharing was a great decision, the sliders had a nice kick to them which was counteracted with the tangy pickles and smooth shrimp caesar dressing. Linda had driven to the restaurant and I walked trying to be somewhat good though I still enjoyed a glass of white wine along with my food, I must apologise, I can’t recall the name of the wine which was recommended by the server though it was a great choice. Both now warmed up and ready for more, it’s on to the main event. Having not long returned from Portugal I thought I would order the Seabass and compare, in honesty Prawnagrahics was such a contrast though so delicious, crispy skin as one would expect, cooked perfectly and served with colourful greens, perfectly soft boiled eggs which was a pleasant twist and a zingy dressing. Portion size was absolutely perfect for me.
Linda ordered the Fish Tacos, I regret not having a taste though she told me they were decisions, having read over the menu again I have discovered they were dressed with pickled cabbage, guacamole, pico de galo and verde cream - right up my street bar a guac By now we were more than satisfied though I forced myself to order a dessert, that is such a fib, I have a sweet tooth and there is always room for a pudding lol. I could have happily eaten any of the 3 choices though I went with the Pecan Tart, this was heaven, served with Salted Caramel, Creme Fraiche and a Pistachio Snow. This is warm and so moorish and the perfect portion size to complete a meal. In all in had a lovely night, fish lovers you have to try out Prawnagraphic, you won’t be disappointed Thanks so much to all the staff for being so accommodating and giving us the opportunity to enjoy some wonderful food Review by Daniel May Average 3 course Meal comes in at £30 which I certainly can’t complain with
2 Night Break from £95pps Planning a get together or celebration? Contact our team for further information Tel 02820762222 firstname.lastname@example.org www.marinehotelballycastle.com
RECOMMENDED // MARTY KEARNEY
RECOMMENDED // MARTY KEARNEY WHAT TO WATCH...
THE CRUSH // Love, back when we were kids, we all watched movies that we were too young for, from the Freddy Kruger chucky and Michael Myers movies to Terminator, Robocop, Pretty Woman and even Dirty Dancing. We watched all the while not really understanding the plot or getting the jokes and one liner’s until the tape in the VHS would wear out. As we got older those same movies would be on Sky, Cable or NTL as it was back in the day and although we may have understood the storylines and got the jokes you still don’t really apricate such films until you’re a full blown adult and you can either still love them, wonder why you loved them in the first place or realise how bad your taste was and love to hate them and now thanks to the invention of streaming services those movies are forever in are film collections, and one of those movies I watched over and over again not really getting it but loving it was The Crush, it wasn’t a major hit it didn’t wow critics but it did star that girl from the Aerosmith videos “Crazy” and “Cryin” a young Miss Alicia Silverstone herself, every man, woman and child on the planet had a thing for Alicia Silverstone back in the 90s. The Crush was released straight to video in 93 but it wasn’t until Alicia’s one and only hit Clueless that it got rereleased and it’s started to make a name. In a nutshell it’s a teenage version of Fatal Attraction meets Poison Ivy meets Lolita. Buffy fans should look out for an appearance by Amber Benson. My face lit up when I saw that it had been added to Netflix, I added it to my list and re watched it and found it to be a case of its so bad its good, a real guilty pleasure. Right up there with Showgirls.
DEAR EVAN HANSEN // You bet your bottom dollar the GNI team will be first in line at this movie, Daniel a musical hoe lol and Tony having more than a crush on the star of this movie Ben Platt, I don’t see it personally but when he opens his mouth to sing, wow. Goosebumps. Ben Platt originated the title role in the Broadway production and won a Tony award for his part will reprise the role in the motion picture. All the best songs from the play and a few new ones have been written for the movie by the song writers of the greatest Showman and La La Land. Katlyn Dyer, Amy Adams and Julieann Moore co-star and I bet this movie will make a sweep at award season. Dear Evan Hansen tells the story of Evan who suffers from social anxiety who writes a letter to himself for self-help, when the letter is stolen by a boy named Connor who commits suicide the same day, his family believe that Connor wrote the letter to Evan. Not wanting to break their hearts Evan embroils himself in the family helping them cope with their grief while living with this lie. Sounds Grimm I know but honestly watch the trailer you will love it. Oh, and try not to cry.
NINTY TWO // GNIMAG.COM
RECOMMENDED // MARTIN KEARNEY
THE GOLDEN GIRLS // Ok I’m guessing 99.99% of our readers have seen or heard of the Golden girls but for our younger readers id like to tell you about the Golden Girls. Before the sex and the city ladies, before the Desperate Housewives, before your Pretty little liars and before the powderpuff girls where the legendary Golden Girls. Sarcastic Dorothy, Dumb Blonde Rose, Sultry Blanche and says it like it is Sophia. Four older white ladies (it was the 8o’s so diversity shamefully wasn’t a thing) lived together in Florida and they would stay up late eat cheesecake, in almost every episode a family member would come visit and we would be treated to 22 minutes of bliss. GG was way ahead of its time so therefore its aged well and the humour and jokes are still very relevant today. I’ve really enjoyed re-watching this and its always something you can have on in the background, but for any GG virgins I recommend you give your full attention as you it will supply you with witty and sarcastic one liner’s that you can steal and use on your friends making you seem way funnier lol. Basically, Golden Girls will make your life better.
AND JUST LIKE THAT... // OK full disclosure before I write this next piece, I used to have an unhealthy obsession with Sarah Jessica Parker way before sex and the city made her a household name. I was 11 and the first time I seen her dance twirl summersault and practically fly in girls just wanna Have fun I was in love, and this obsession took over my life until I fell in love with another Sarah, Sarah Michelle Gellar but between the ages of 11 and around 16 I lived and breathed SJP and this was a time before internet so whenever a teeny tiny picture of her would appear in a magazine I would cut it out and treasure it. There was no IMDB then either, so I spent hours in extra vision looking for films she appeared in and trust me there wasn’t that many. Hocus Pocus and Honeymoon in Vegas where the only ones I could find for years. Any way years later and SJP became a household name due to her starring role in Sex and the City, SATC needs no introduction, no history lesson and love or hate the movies it still is a pop culture phenomenon. All the main cast return apart from Kim Cattrall, I could write a whole other piece on that issue alone and although I know it won’t be the same without Maneater Sam Jones, new cast members have been added, among them is Sara Ramirez, Greys Anatomy fans will know her as Dr Callie Torrez, along with Nicole Ari Parker last seen in TVS Empire and Sarita Choudhury. These new additions will add much needed diversity, oh and all the male leads are set to return too. It will be interesting to see how they will write out the character of Sam Jones and if the show is a success, will they just fire a truck of money at Kim Cattrall will SJP and herself end their feud and would she return for season 2 remains to be seen. Pictures of the cast have been all over the internet and wow Cinthia Nixon and Kristen Davis look amazing. Jenifer Hudson had scheduling conflicts so her character Louise from the first movie wont return and will be missed but that’s not saying that Ms Hudson won’t record a new song for the series. Just like that is out later this year.
NINTY THREE // GNIMAG.COM
TRAVEL // STAYCATION
STAYCATION // THE WALLED CITY DERRY, LONDONDERRY, THE WALLED CITY, however you refer to it GNI were invited along to stay at Waterloo House, restrictions not long being eased this stay cation was just want the doctor ordered. Our stay was at the tail end of June though I remember it as it was last week, the weather was perfect, the opposite of what we have had of late, we parted Belfast around 12noon, picked up family on route and arrived in Cultural City around 3pm, just in time
to catch up, explore and get ready before our planned night on the town.
table. The owners really have given a lot of thought into how to please guests.
Having already viewed images the property online we new what to expect, saying that in my opinion the pictures don’t do the place justice, the main living/entertaining area is amazing for groups, one end of the room with large smart TV and sofa, the central area has a wall length state of the art built in cooler and bar area and to the other end of the room was a dining table that converts into a pool
The property is over three stories to the back of the main living area which I already mentioned was a kitchen complete with all the facilities you would need for cooking and storing food, we admittedly didn’t cook wanting to enough all the bars/restaurants though for guests who want to prepare meals the house has all you need.
NINETY FOUR // GNIMAG.COM
On the 1st floor there is 2 double bedrooms, a bathroom with toilet and shower then another room with a separate WC, being the only male staying with 5 females this added bathroom space was much needed lol. The top floor had a further 2 single bedrooms. In total the place can sleep 6 though if you are travelling with babies/ infants there is ample room for travel cots etc. Each room was so fresh and modern you could tell of the recent refurbishment, so light
TRAVEL // STAYCATION and tasteful exactly want guests in my opinion like to see. The property is ideal for so many, be it a group of friends, those celebrating a hen/stag, birthday or even young families maybe wanting to get away for a few days the place will be right up your straight. In terms of geography, it is located a few minutes from all the Bars, Cafe’s etc so no need for Taxi’s which is a massive bonus for any guest. Another thing that is being more common which I love is the safety key storage box at the door, these are so handy, no need for any one to meet to let you in, perfect during covid times though also it eliminates the need for people to be responsible for minding keys, you simply leave at the property. In closing we had a wonderful two nights away, we could have easily stayed longer though work calls, thank you for the invite, being so accommodating with recommendations and of course the late check out, this was needed after a night of excess lol. Review by Daniel May You can book Waterloo House on via booking. com or Air bnb, here are the links abnb.me/ mSZfU7xWrib, booking.com/Share-vTSFeN
NINETY FIVE // GNIMAG.COM
EXPLORE // CASTLE WARD
CASTLE WARD // EXPLORING HISTORY ON SUNDAY 8 AUGUST, CASTLE WARD hosted a new alternative house tour which shared the LGBTQ+ history of the Ward family. The special audioenhanced tour delved into many untold stories and showcased items from the collection which don’t normally feature on a regular house tour. The new opportunity to learn more about this unique mansion house received rewarding feedback from visitors with many praising the sense of inclusivity it offered.
Ulster, the team of staff and volunteers felt a real sense of pride in being able to offer members and supporters a new experience which has clearly resonated so strongly. The success was made even more sweet by knowing that this is the first time such a progressive tour has taken place at a National Trust property in Northern Ireland. The National Trust was founded to benefit the whole of society and LGBTQ+ heritage has played an important role in the history of the places in our care.
alternative house tour. Here is some feedback from the day: “Folks what a fantastic place, great buzz, the kids loved it and had a great day!”
“We’re delighted that this new experience has helped welcome the highest number of visitors to the house since reopening.” explains Collections and House Manager, Neil Watt.
The house tour ran alongside a family fun day organised by the NI LGBTQ+ network in partnership with Working with Pride Northern Ireland. As their first friends and family event, they welcomed a total of 150 visitors to a BBQ and Ranger led trails alongside the special
“Great place, food, wonderful stories and ambiance, I can’t wait to return and have actually become a member – which I thought I would never do”
Supported by researchers at University of
NINTY SIX // GNIMAG.COM
“Wonderful day and great vibe, staff were so welcoming!” “What a day…what a place…I’ve told everyone about it and can’t wait to visit again!”
BOOK YOUR TICKETS AT WWW.BELVOIRPLAYERS.ORG
NEWS // OMAGH PRIDE
OMAGH PRIDE THE FIRST ONE ‘NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO leave home to be themselves’ says Omagh native Gareth Lee, a long standing member of Queerspace NI, who left the town in the early 1990s. On Saturday 25th September, history will be made when Omagh hosts its first ever Pride parade. The 500 capacity event is sold out and has reached its fundraising goal. The idea formed in May 2021 when two friends, poet Cat Brogan (36) and community organisier Lorraine Montague (34) were discussing ways to build a creative, queer community in their hometown. Both had lived most of their adult lives outside Omagh and like many, chose to come back home as a result of COVID. A Pride Parade seemed a great place to start and a way for the whole town to celebrate diversity, inclusion and equality. After a feature in the local paper, an open Zoom meeting was called in June, attended by over 30 individuals and representatives from LGBT groups, political parties and NGOs. Six meetings later and Omagh’s first Pride is confirmed, thanks to overwhelming support locally, the dedication of volunteers and generous donations from the public.
A full line up of performers and speakers includes Derry based, all female, queer band Cherym whose song featured in the closing credits of the Irish LGBT film ‘Dating Amber’. A representative from the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s LGBT+ network will address the crowd from a trailer stage in South West College car park. The Rainbow Project will be represented by Dean Lee who as well as being a Counsellor has also set up NI’s only BAME specific LGBTQI+ group. Local speakers include trade union activist Amy Ferguson, transwoman Chantelle Mitchell, Anti Gay Conversion Therapy campaigner Oisin Donnelly and yoga teacher Marella Fyffe. The event will be hosted by Omagh pride organiser and poetry slam champion Cat Brogan, who has been hosting queer cabaret events in London and Malaysia for over a decade. Drag will be provided by Trudy’s All Stars winner 2021, Holly Go’Heavily and Magherafelt born, Cookstown based Alexis Cox, founder of NI’s first Rainbow Pageant. Dungiven born Shannon of Sister Ghost, who won ”Best Live Act” in the NI Music Awards 2019 said ‘I’m really pleased to have been invited to perform at the first ever Omagh Pride Festival. As a queer person raised in a rural community I realise the importance of championing LGBTQ+ rights directly in our localities, not just in the main NI cities.’ Other musical acts include psychedelic rock, indie folk and jazzy blues multi-instrumentalist Comrade Hat. He commented that ‘having grown up gay in small town NI where LGBTQ voices were all but absent, Omagh Pride is an amazing testament to how things are slowly changing for the better here and to the vision and commitment of the organisers.’ Derry act Foreign Owl sees it as ‘absolutely vital, for the happiness and safety of every beautiful human, that LGBTQ+ Pride becomes commonplace in every city, town, community and conversation, and Omagh Pride is a ball that gets it rolling!’
NINTY EIGHT // GNIMAG.COM
Mid Ulster, Newry and Enniskillen Prides have paved the way for Omagh and the organisers hope that this is just the beginning of co-creating queer communities in small, rural towns. Omagh based Adolescent Psychotherapist, Bronagh Starrs commented that ‘discrimination directly influences wellbeing, which is why young LGBTQI people suffer disproportionately with mental health issues. In Omagh on Saturday 25 September we have a wonderful opportunity to mobilise, actively show that it’s OK to be who you are. Consider what a life-giving message your presence will make to a struggling teenager.’ Co-founder Cat Brogan said ‘As a queer person growing up, I didn’t have any representation and I felt I needed to hide who I truly was. Doing this dimmed my spirit, and over time, it was damaging. I left Omagh and moved to London, where I could be openly queer. Omagh Pride shows people they can be who they are in their hometown; it proves that the community accepts them. It will form and strengthen connections based on compassion and empathy, while sending everyone the message that LGBTQ people are loved - wholly and unconditionally.’ The march will gather from 2pm at the South West College car park, leave at 3pm to pass through the town centre before returning to the college at 4pm for performances and speakers until 6pm. It is limited to 500 participants due to Covid regulations, and social distancing will be observed. People can join the waiting list for tickets at bit.ly/ omaghpride and donate via bit.ly/omaghpridefund. A livestream of the event will be broadcast on Omagh Pride’s social media channels. Anyone who wants to support the event is encouraged to get in touch via email@example.com or @Omaghpride on social media.