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Issue 49 Nov / Dec 21 £3.95 / €3.95

Benedict Cork This singer, pianist, and social media star is set for great things


Letters from Milad. What it’s like when you’re gay in a country where it’s illegal.

Would you?

Quickfire questions with six celebs; boxers, snogs, and chocolate are all in there.

Xmas Alone

Help, tips and advice on spending the festive season on your own.


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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.

2021 is almost gone, after practically 2 years of doom and gloom I for one am glad and eager to see what 2022 brings, it’s going to be my year. I’m ready to make memories in my new home after almost 8 months of delays and dramas with builders, its all very exciting, I just need a man now and all boxes will be ticked lol so hit me up wink wink.

Christmas is only 6 weeks away “Tis the Season to be jolly”, thankful for all we have and conscious of those less off and who may be on alone. On to this issue, our cover is graced by Benedict Cork, what a talent and what a nice fella, it was a pleasure interviewing him, read the piece then get online and check him out. Other interviews include Rene Gold & Marvin Cortes.

On a serious note, I need to address some local and national affairs, this past few week’s people and companies have been very vocal around climate change, which is great to see, many pledges were made at COP26, it will be interesting to see if they follow through. On a personal level I try to do my bit though firmly I believe in order to see real change we need the support and guidance from the government and big companies.

We share some “Would You Rather” answers from past interviewee’s Calum Scott, Giovanni Pernice, Will Young, Ray Quinn and Wes Nelson We approach topics such as Sex Education, Housing Support, Fostering, Surviving Christmas, and tonnes more.

A few other things must be mentioned before I divulge what is exciting about this issue, first up Conversion Therapy, after all this time this barbaric practise has still not been banned, governments are holding consultations at the minute and we very much hope this is swiftly put to an end. Covid and new variants continue to spread which is having a real impact on our NHS, fingers crossed with more people registering for the booster jab we won’t have a repeat of last year in terms of serious illness and fatalities. That being said it is worrying that N.I is now lagging behind the rest of the U.K and Ireland in terms of the total number getting the vaccine.

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Our regular columnists are back, and we introduce local queen Tailor Maid who is killing it on the scene, we share a Real-Life story from an Iranian Asylum Seeker, we follow up on Omagh Pride, our Fashion Focus is on Den Loungewear and our Big Day couple are Graham & Ryan who recently tied the knot. Our Go, Life, You and Try sections are packed with things to keep you occupied In closing as always, I thank everyone for their continued support, advertisers, contributors, readers alike you all play an important role in making GNI the much needed and loved publication it has become to our community. We hope you enjoy reading, chat again in 2022 Daniel May

the only Package I want this Xmas is Yours.






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SALES Pauline Fitzpatrick DESIGN Tony Day SPECIAL THANKS TO... Benedict Cork / Calum Scott / Wes Nelson / Will Young / Ray Quinn / Giovanni Pernice / Gold Rush / Marvin Cortes / Jamie Zevallos / Tailor Maid / Micky Murray / Carl Connielingus / Phil Bessimer / William Cooke / Marc Foley-Comer / Glen Scott / FCA / Omagh Pride / Action For Children / Paul Bloomer / Creations / Joe Nelist / Milad Amr / Martin Murray / Anthony Coole / Graham & Ryan / City of Derry International Choir Festival / Dandy Lion / Jupiter & Lo / Gavyn Andrews / Marty Kearney / Gourmet Boys / The Rainbow Project / Den Loungewear / Upstairs Music / Jeff Dorta / LK Communications / Maldron Hotel Belfast / Silverbirch Hotel Omagh / Ben Madigans / Jamie Greaves / Travel.Radio / AC Marriott / Novelli at City Quays and Product Publicity

GNI MAG IS PUBLISHED BY... Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd 13 Union Street Belfast BT1 2JF 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





BENEDICT WITH A SEAL OF APPROVAL FROM SIR ELTON JOHN THIS HUMBLE HOTTIE’S BIG BREAK IS SURE TO BE ON THE HORIZON. LET’S GO RIGHT BACK TO THE START. TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAMILY AND WHERE YOU GREW UP. I was born in Essex and grew up on the border of Hartfordshire until I was 18. Then when I left school, I moved down to London. I just started playing hotels, restaurants in the evenings. During the daytime I’d be going to studios and writing songs, going to watch gigs and stuff, and kind of immersing myself in music. I was in a couple of bands as well for a few years with some friends. I started releasing stuff about three years ago. Then I started playing my own shows, supporting other artists, writing for myself and other people. Just slowly building it up from there. WAS MUSIC AND PERFORMANCE SOMETHING ENCOURAGED BY YOUR FAMILY? I’m the youngest of four, and all my siblings are musical as well. So it’s just been in the house. We weren’t a sporty family, that’s what we did. So, because I’m the baby, I would just follow suit. IF YOU WEREN’T A MUSICIAN, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING? I loved practical art in school, and I did a bit of art history. So I think I would have loved to have explored that a little bit more. But that’s such an allencompassing thing. That would definitely now be a hobby. But yeah, probably something arty WHO ARE YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATIONS? When I was growing up, my dad had a Motown ‘60s CD. It was filled with all the classics, I remember studying for my GCSE’s and I used to play it from back to front on repeat, all day every day in the background. That made me fall in love with like Stevie Wonder and The Supremes. Then, when I started writing songs, Elton John, Adele, Sia, Billy Joel and stuff. They’re all just like amazing songwriters. I think the song comes first, then the artistry around it is centred



on that. What made me fall in love with those people was their songs. IF YOU COULD COLLABORATE WITH ONE PERSON, DEAD OR ALIVE, WHO WOULD IT BE? Alive it has to be Alicia Keys. I love her. I’d love to sit down with a bottle of wine at a piano and play all night with her. I think it’d be so fun. Then in terms of artists who are no longer with us, there are quite a few people actually. I’d love to work with Amy Winehouse and Janis Joplin as well. It’d be wild, I think it’d be a really fun thing. Anyone who I could jam with at the piano would be fab. WE HEARD THAT ELTON JOHN WAS A FAN, HAVE YOU MET? AND WHO INTRODUCED HIM TO YOUR MUSIC? We’ve never met in real life. One of my really good friends knows him quite well, and he sent him a video message of the first song that I released in 2018 saying this is my friend Benedict and I think you’ll really like this. Then a couple of weeks later he was doing his Beats 1 radio show, and played it and said some really nice stuff. I’m forever indebted to both him and also to my friend who sent it. What’s amazing about Elton is he’s such a fan of music, and that’s what I think people really respect. He’s also so willing to help out new people. In his radio show he’s always playing new stuff, it’s really cool. HISTORICALLY, LGBT ARTISTS HAVE ALWAYS FACED CONTROVERSY. DO YOU THINK TIMES ARE CHANGING DUE TO REPRESENTATION? Yeah, I think it’s definitely getting better. Each year, it seems to improve. It’s really encouraging. Seeing Lil Nas X, how warmly he’s been embraced by so many people this year, it’s awesome. And the same with other artists from previous years, like Sam Smith, Years & Years, Troy Sivan etc it’s wicked but there’s obviously still a long way to go. It’s really encouraging, also I remember when I started writing songs professionally with established writers there were people in the industry saying “don’t use the word boy, man or he in your songs because


they’ll never get played, you’ll never get them on the radio” that was such a weird thing to hear when you are 18 years old and you are trying to write from experience though I do feel things are changing now, Years & Years for example say he, man etc in lots of songs or whatever it is and people don’t bat an eyelid, it’s accepted which is really cool. Things are definitely improving for the better HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT ARTISTS LIKE HARRY STYLES WHO DON’T WANT TO LABEL THEMSELVES AND APPEAR TO BE GENDER FLUID AND FORWARD IN TERMS OF FASHION AND EXPRESSION? I think it’s really cool, I know some people have an issue with it, but I really don’t. I’m all for anyone challenging the quote-on-quote norm, and experimenting is really cool. You don’t necessarily have to label everything and put yourself in a box to be accepted in what you’re doing. Being on the front cover of Vogue in a dress is pretty cool, there are going to be little kids who see that and think it’s O.K. when they may have been told it wasn’t before. I’m all for it! YOU ARE A SUPER-TALENTED VOCALIST WHO, IN MY OPINION, DOESN’T GET THE RECOGNITION THEY DESERVE. I ADORE YOUR TONE, RUNS AND FALSETTO... I COULD GO ON AND ON. DO YOU PRACTISE YOUR CRAFT A LOT AND DO YOU HAVE A VOCAL COACH? In the past, some of those piano bar set gigs were like five hours long. So it teaches you a bit of resilience and stamina. But then when I started doing proper shows I’d get a bit of help, a bit of training. The other day, we did a set and it was an hour and a half long, probably the longest headline that I’ve done. I definitely got a bit of help with that. I think it’s important. I’ve got so much respect for people that do it like eight or 10 times a week or stuff. They’ve got two shows a day, sometimes singing like five, six hours. Really intense stuff. It’s amazing. WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA. YOU DO COVERS AS REQUESTS. FIRST SONG I HEARD YOU SING WAS COVER

OF “HEAVEN IS A PLACE ON EARTH,” BY BELINDA CARLISLE – IT’S AMAZING. I WONDER, HAS ANYONE EVER REACHED OUT TO GIVE THEIR SEAL OF APPROVAL FOR YOUR COVER OF THEIR SONG? Yeah, a couple of times, which is obviously wicked. I did “Wildest Moments” a couple years ago and Jessie Ware was like, “That was awesome.” And Mark Ronson messaged like, “Go on boy, do your thing!”. When it’s artists like that, who you really respect, it’s a really nice pat on the back. TELL US HOW YOU WRITE. IS IT MUSIC OR LYRICS FIRST? Sometimes I will start with a concept. I love having a title or story that the song is going to be about. I think that’s really important. But sometimes I’ll just start jamming some melodies, and then words over the melody. It depends on what kind of mood I’m in, what I want to talk about. I know there’s some people who are really formulaic and it works, but I need to be a little bit more fluid. ARE YOU CONSTANTLY HAVING IDEAS AND WRITING NOTES, OR DO YOU NEED TO SET TIME ASIDE TO WRITE? Again, a bit of both. I’ve got a lot of phone notes that I’ll constantly send to myself. Just ideas and little snippets. I love co-writing. Being in the studio with people. But last year that wasn’t possible as much. Obviously, you want to write a song when you feel inspired. But also write a song when you’re not inspired. It’s like a little muscle. The more you do it the more you flex that muscle and good stuff comes out. So I’ve just started forcing myself every now and then to just sit down and write. Sometimes it’s awful, but once in a while a little gem comes out. A WEE BIRDIE TELLS ME THAT YOU HAVE NEW MATERIAL COMING OUT SOON, WHAT CAN WE EXPECT AND WHEN? I spent the summer recording a new project. And it’s all finished. So I think the first one will be coming next month, and then the rest will be coming out early next year. It’s a little bit


different to the older stuff. I realised, especially in the lockdown last year, that I don’t always want to be stuck behind a piano singing sad songs. So some of the new stuff, it’s got a little bit more positivity to it. It sounds a little bit more experimental as well, a little bit more electronic. YOU ARE A GREAT-LOOKING GUY. DO YOU WORKOUT AND WATCH WHAT YOU EAT TO STAY IN SHAPE, OR ARE YOU SIMPLY GIFTED WITH GOOD GENES?

I am happily a single Pringle. Especially after last year where everything was just a bit shit for everybody. I’m just going to take it as it comes now. Like, I’m not going to force myself into a relationship. Take each day. HOW WAS YOUR COMING EXPERIENCE, AND HAVE YOU WORDS OF WISDOM?


family. I properly like zoning out at Christmas and try and just eat everything... yeah. GOALS FOR 2022? I actually stopped making like New Year’s resolutions and goals and stuff a few years ago, because you kind of always set yourself up to fail. Then you sort of feel like you let yourself down. So my general goals are just sort of day-

I actually love exercising for my brain. It just makes me feel good. I learned that I’d feel so nice afterwards. So now it’s just like a nonnegotiable, I just build into my week. Even if it’s only a couple of times a week. But then the benefits are, obviously, if I’ve done a little workout I feel like I can eat whatever I want. So yeah, I just try and balance it out. I do enjoy being healthy. I like putting good stuff into my body. WEIGHTS, CARDIO, OR DO YOU MIX IT UP? Both. I’m not too religious. Otherwise, it takes the fun out of it I think. ALBUM, TOUR? ANY PLANS FOR COMING OVER TO IRELAND? I’d love to, yeah. I’ve done an EP every year for the past three, four years now. Which I’ve loved, because you can sort of play around with different styles. So that process has been really fun. But I think it’s probably time that I knuckle down and actually make a full album. I’d love to at some point. I’m going to the Netherlands in a couple of weeks to play my first ever headline shows outside of the UK. Definitely looking at some touring stuff for early next year. I’d love to come to Ireland. I’ve heard that shows get quite raucous there. Like, people really get into it. There’s something called the Ruby Sessions in Dublin. I think that sounds really cool. RELATIONSHIP? WHAT’S THE SCORE, ARE YOU SPOKEN FOR, DATING, ON THE PROWL?

I’ll just say to do it when whenever you feel ready. There’s no rush. My personal experience actually was really positive. It took a while for me to get there, figuring out when I was ready to do it. I was very lucky. My family and friends and everybody were just really really cool about it. I’m really lucky that that happened, ‘cause I’ve learned that that’s not always the case. I’m super-grateful for that. XMAS IN A FEW WEEKS. HOW WILL YOU SPEND IT?

to-day happiness. As long as I can keep paying my rent, playing music, putting food on the table, my family safe and healthy and I’ve got nice friends around, then I’m pretty chuffed. So yeah, I guess my goal would just be to continue hopefully doing that. What a humbling answer, thanks so much for taking the time with me today, Benedict, it has been a pleasure. Be sure to check him out www., you’ll also find all his social links here Thanks Daniel May

I am hoping this year to just be with my whole



MICKY MURRAY WHAT HAVE WE ACHIEVED IN 40 YEARS? 40 Years on, what have we achieved?

other that exclusionary tactics against Trans and NonBinary people.

support for progress and legal protections for Trans and Non-Binary people at home and abroad.

22nd of October marked the 40th Anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Northern Ireland, and we held a vigil outside Belfast City Hall to mark the occasion.

We’re privileged enough in Northern Ireland that our LGBTQ and Women’s sector work hand in hand on the majority of issues, support each other when we need it and the women’s lobby have written to political leaders to urge them to support the rights of Trans and NonBinary people.

I am challenging you to educate yourself and others within your social circles and make sure that you are the best ally you can be to those who have marched alongside us.

40 years ago, in 1981, it was against the law for two consenting men to engage in homosexual acts, punishable by a hefty prison sentence, and while we’ve come a long way, in the past couple of years especially, there is still a long way to go before all of our LGBTQ siblings enjoy the freedoms that cis-heterosexual people enjoy. It seems that every time we get a bit of progress we get a whole lot of push back, and right now, while we’re enjoying the wins of marriage equality, and the progress we’ve made on banning conversion therapy, there has been a huge push back against our Trans and NonBinary siblings. The recent media vendetta against our community and the “rise” of the LGB Alliance cannot go unchecked or ignored. If you’re blessed enough not to know who the LGB Alliance are, they’re a group of Trans exclusionary feminists who believe that “female only” spaces should be for cis-women only, and that Trans equality actually dilutes women’s rights. They’ve been mostly based in GB and on social media, but as lockdown eases and life evolves to the “new normal” they’ve started holding events and getting more media attention. It’s important to note that groups like LGB Alliance claim to stand for LGBTQ+ rights, when, in fact, they don’t advocate for anything


“Trans women are women, and they are amongst the most marginalised groups of women in our society. We reject the removal of trans rights being framed as the protection of women’s rights, and we do not want this done in our name. WPG are a group of experts on women’s rights, and work with women across Northern Ireland, including LGBTQ+ women.”

In their letter to political leaders WRDA wrote “Trans women are women, and they are amongst the most marginalised groups of women in our society. We reject the removal of trans rights being framed as the protection of women’s rights, and we do not want this done in our name. WPG are a group of experts on women’s rights, and work with women across Northern Ireland, including LGBTQ+ women.”

It’s vitally important that we take the time to educate ourselves on the struggles that Trans and NonBinary people face, they’re an important part of our community, and they’ve stood beside us campaigning for the rights of the entire LGBTQ+ community and women, even when progress of Trans and Non-Binary rights weren’t on the agenda.

Ban Conversion Therapy Update This past week the UK Government have released their public consultation on their proposals to introduce legislation to ban conversion therapy, a document which left me with both actual and metaphorical paper cuts. They’re proposing that all types of conversion therapy are banned for people under the age of 18, while leaving loopholes for those over 18 to be victim to such barbaric practises.

While I very much welcome that the Government want to bring forward legislation that would see those who practise conversion therapy face conviction and prison, they also state that if someone over the age of 18 “consents” to conversion therapy then no laws have been broken, insinuating that someone can consent to torture. The public consultation is open until December, and you can submit a response to the proposals on

From 4+ years waiting lists for first appointments at the gender identity clinic to the lack of legal protections they face, they are by far the most marginalised members of our community. 20th of November is the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day when we remember those members of our community who are no longer with us and stand in solidarity to show our unwavering

This is an opinion piece from the columnist/contributor and not the opinion of GNI MAG / Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd.

Weddings In The He a r t Of The C i t y




When interviewing celebrities our Daniel loves to break the ice with quick fire questions, here are the answers from six celebs we have featured recently.


CHOCOLATE OR CRISPS? Crisps AU NATURAL OR MAN SCAPE? Au Natural, the only thing I cut is my beard lol CARDIO OR WEIGHTS? Neither atm, but I prefer weights ROM-COM OR ACTION? Action all day X-FACTOR OR DANCING ON ICE? Dancing on Ice

Will Young

TV OR CINEMA? Cinema. CHOCOLATE OR CRISPS? Chocolate. BOXERS OR BRIEFS? Oh, what is the difference? Briefs. SUMMER OR WINTER? Summer. HANDS OR FEET? Feet. TRIMMED OR AU NATUREL? Au naturel. AND LAST QUESTION. SNOG, MARRY, AVOID. LETS USE THE THREE JUDGES OF POP IDOL., SIMON COWELL, PETE WATERMAN, AND NEIL FOX. It’s absolutely impossible. Avoid Simon Cowell. Snog Foxy. Marry Pete Waterman.



Calum Scott

NIGHT IN OR NIGHT OUT? I’ve had enough nights in over the past year and a half. So maybe nights out. BOXERS OR BRIEFS? I tried Y-fronts, and, if you get the right size, they’re the most comfortable thing ever. I don’t think that I would do Speedos. I think you need be rocking a great bum, and it’s always better if you’re rocking a lot at the front. Maybe a pair of those Budgie Smuggler ones. They’re really cool. CHOCOLATE OR CRISPS? Ooh, I would probably say “chocolate”. COOK OR DINE OUT? Eat out. I don’t have any patience for cooking. Even Mother’s Day, I said to my mum I’d cook a Sunday roast. I bought all of the things premade, just had to put them in the oven. Even then I got it wrong. TRIMMED OR AU NATUREL? Trimmed. Got to do a bit of manscaping. THIS MAY BE DIFFICULT LOL – SNOG, MARRY, AVOID – YOUR BGT JUDGES, SIMON, AMANDA AND ALESHA. The two ladies are very attractive ladies. I guess I’d snog Amanda. Simon was a big person in my career, so I don’t want to avoid him. Yeah, I’d have to marry Simon. So, I would have to avoid Alesha, although I feel like Alesha would understand.

Wes Nelson

SUMMER OR WINTER? Winter, because of fashion. CHOCOLATE OR CRISPS? Crisps. BOXERS OR BRIEFS? Boxers. HANDS OR FEET? Hands. CARDIO OR WEIGHTS? Neither. Weights, maybe, I don’t know. TRIMMED OR OH ‘NATURAL? Trimmed. PARTY ISLAND OR DESERTED ISLAND? Deserted. SNOG MARRY AVOID – LOVE ISLAND STYLE – LAURA | ARABELLA | MEGAN I don’t know. I’ll avoid that one for now. Can I just keep going? I don’t know. I feel like it’s just tensions waiting to happen. WE’LL JUST SAY THAT YOU’RE GONNA SNOG THEM ALL? Okay, whatever. That’s fine.





Benedict Cork






SATURDAY 8TH Elvis Tribute (Ciaran Houlihan)

SATURDAY 22ND Dolly and Shania Country Divas Tribute Show

FRIDAY 14TH Cher Tribute and DJ SATURDAY 15TH Garth Brooks Tribute FRIDAY 21ST Neil Diamond Tribute

SATURDAY 29TH ABBA Tribute (Bjorn Identity)

FEBRUARY 2022 SATURDAY 5TH Tina Turner Tribute



GOLD RUSH Reno Gold Shares Stories of His Fast and Furious Life By Phil Bessimer



Social media star Reno Gold was raised in a happy Christian home with two parents and two older sisters in sunny Nevada. Due to a learning disability, he was held back and put into special education classes. However, he excelled in sports, especially gymnastics, becoming a national champion in tumbling. He launched his career in the sex industry while still a senior in high school. “I started dancing at local strip clubs,” he reveals, “and quickly found my way to escorting. A stripper is barely scraping by if he’s not escorting,” he continues. According to Gold, some of the strip clubs he performed in were little more than makeshift brothels where guys advertised their wares to potential johns. “I would strip at night and do calls during the day,” he says. “It got to a point where I was basically living in hotel rooms. I was making an insane amount of money but at the end of the day I was lonely and several times, I found myself in dangerously compromising situations.” Now an internet phenomenon who pulls in $100,000 a month through his OnlyFans page, the 25- year-old is sharing his escorting stories with fans via his Youtube channel. “I’m sharing my stories to give people a realistic look into the average life of a fulltime sex worker,” he explains. “I tell it how it was, but through a comedic lens. The stories are just way too entertaining for me to keep to myself.” He feels no shame in sharing his experiences. In a way, Gold believes it to be therapeutic. “Sharing my true experiences and laughing at them with my viewers feels good,” he says. “I hope these videos help people who have been through similar circumstances realize they’re not alone and that a little bit of dark humor can turn any situation bright.” He also wants young people who may be thinking about getting into sex work to watch the videos to make sure the business is something they can handle before jumping into it blindly, like he did.

Aside from the obvious safety dangers, Reno Gold says the biggest hazard male sex workers face is losing themselves to the glamour of escorting. Because yes, it can be glamourous. “I have traveled to exotic locations, eaten in the fanciest restaurants, made more money than most doctors, and snorted more blow than Scarface,” he laughs. “It is a very fast paced life where the

quality nude picture every day, a 15 to 20-minute solo scene every week and two duo scenes a month. He also has to market his OnlyFans page. He promotes his personality with PG-rated content on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok, often sharing his likes, dislikes, hopes, and dreams. It’s another reason he decided to share his personal escorting stories. “I needed something new to talk about,” he admits.

“I would strip at night and do calls during the day,” he says. “It got to a point where I was basically living in hotel rooms. I was making an insane amount of money but at the end of the day I was lonely and several times, I found myself in dangerously compromising situations.” money and the sex are flowing! It’s easy to get addicted to it where the only thing that matters is chasing the next big money grab.” Luckily for Gold, he found his real fortune online. “OnlyFans is safer, more convenient, and has allowed me the opportunity to settle down and live a more balanced life,” he reflects. A typical day for Gold consists of waking up, hitting the gym, and then working all day creating and distributing content. Maintaining a successful online page isn’t easy. Gold must feverishly work on new content every day to satisfy his thousands of subscribers from around the world. As a one-man operation, he scouts and books locations for his scenes, develops engaging new story lines, arranges wardrobe and toys and coordinates with photographers for still shot images. “It’s about quantity and quality,” he affirms. He posts a professional

He acknowledges that one of his biggest fears is getting older in the sex industry. He is doing everything he can to set himself up for the future. “I’m investing in real estate and renting my properties out,” he explains. So far, he has purchased eleven homes, all in cash. “I have enough properties under my belt that I could live very comfortably just off them.”

He plans on remaining in the sex industry for a long time. In fact, he will soon launch his own adult film studio,, where he will direct scenes of other male models, as well as scenes featuring himself. “I hope that over time, as I get older, I will slowly phase out of the scenes and start directing scenes of other performers full-time.” While he says he will never escort again, he admits it was an interesting time in his life and, in the end, he realizes that sex workers are no different from everyone else. “In business, everyone whores themselves out in some sense.” To learn more about Reno Gold, visit



PASSION PROJECT Fashion model Marvin Cortes Brings the Heat to the Holidays

Photo by Tyler Chick

By Phil Bessimer



MARVIN CORTES MADE HISTORY AS the first male contestant to place as runner-up on Tyra Banks’ wildly popular reality modelling competition America’s Next Top Model. He later went on to publish his own book, Don’t Waste Your Looks on Likes.

as the rest of the family, I don’t know for sure I would imagine they all know about it. If they have watched what’s on the page, that would be a different story. (Laughing) I don’t think my family has any interest in seeing the kind of content I post on there!

This past summer, Cortes took to social media to share that he is a proud member of the LGBTQ community. “I want to let you know that I’m coming out as openly bisexual,” said the 28-year-old in a heartfelt, 11-minute video he posted to Instagram TV. “I’ve never been happier, and I look forward to living more of an authentic life and sharing that with you.”

What exactly happens on the page? I share a lot of myself. A lot… including the sexual experiences I enjoy in my personal life. Some of my content is amateur and some is professionally produced. I give fans a real unfiltered peak at what my sex life is like, and I think from all the feedback I get, people appreciate it. I don’t hold back in my content because I feel like OnlyFans is the one platform not to hold back on.

He is inviting all the world to join on his journey of newfound sexual freedom in his latest passion project - an OnlyFans page! We spoke with Marvin Cortes from his home in Los Angeles. Hi Marvin! How has life been since coming out as bisexual? It has been unexpectedly positive and filled with love from both my fans and my loved ones. I used to have anxiety about living as an openly bisexual guy, but it has been very relaxing and reassuring to finally be able to live in my true skin. You have mentioned previously that your family was having a hard time finding acceptance. They’re making progress. My brothers have been extremely supportive, in their own way, and my parents and I are talking more and more often. I haven’t seen them in person since coming out but we are able to Facetime and talk on the phone. We talk mostly about things besides my sexuality, though, which is nice. Who is having the hardest time? My uncle has been the most vocal about his unacceptance. It’s odd because he really hasn’t been a part of my life since childhood. His opinion matters little to me. What do you want your family and all of your fans to know about bisexuality? Bisexuality, at least for me, is about recognizing the beauty and the sexy in both male and female. It is rooted in love. The most difficult part of being bisexual is seeing great potential partners on both sides. Does it upset you that some people still believe bisexuality is simply a road to homosexuality? Not really. As I’ve gotten older and matured, I’ve come to realize that other people’s opinions don’t affect me so much. At the end of the day, it’s about walking in my own truth and appreciating the person I see in the mirror. When coming out as bi, my biggest concern was that I might lose my ability to connect with women because of the stigma I worried women had about bi men. So far, it hasn’t been the case which has been a pleasant surprise. Let’s talk about your OnlyFans page. Does your family know about it? My brothers know I have an Onlyfans page. They think it’s amazing that I’m able to make money by posting pictures and videos online. As far

What are fans asking you for? They ask for all types of things from vanilla to more kinkier content. I can’t get too specific because I wouldn’t want a fan to think our relationship isn’t private. Basically, everyone has their own interests on Onlyfans. Different things do it for them. I never judge what someone wants to see from me, though, there are some things I prefer to film in my own time to figure out how I want it to be captured. Is there a difference between stars on OnlyFans and porn stars? An adult star gets a percentage or a one-time fee for doing a video. They usually don’t make any additional compensation even though they are the product being sold. Onlyfans cuts out the middleman and allows talent the ability to be in full control and to reap nearly all of the benefits. Onlyfans creators can also be as explicit as they want to be. Does your family need to worry that their boy may be lured into adult film? I seriously doubt they worry about me at all, so I don’t think so. Will you see your family for the holidays? I always look forward to seeing my family during the holidays. I’m excited to spend time with them and enjoy the quality time together. Have you begun your holiday shopping? I usually wait to start my shopping until after Thanksgiving. I have so many people to shop for, but my mom tops the lists for being the amazing mother that she is. My dad never wears or uses any of the gifts I get him. (laughs) What is your holiday wish this year, Marvin? For the world to get back to some kind of normal. I don’t think I’m alone in that wish. It seems like we’re heading in the right direction. Will anyone be unwrapping you? I hope so! I am seeing people but no one exclusively at the moment. I certainly would like to be unwrapped this holiday, though! Whether it’s by a guy or girl, I’m not really sure yet.

Follow Marvin Cortes @







“the story we’re telling in A Boy Like That is very rich and should go past what is black or white. There are a lot of grey areas. This film is a twist on Lolita, the classic film that explored a love between an adult man and a much younger woman.”

A BOY LIKE THAT TELLS THE story of Harold, a middle-aged acting coach who travels to New York and finds himself obsessing over Felix, a precocious teenage boy that reminds him of a love he once had that he fears he will never be able to obtain again. Felix, on the other hand, is desperate for love and acceptance. He feels he has been abandoned by his mother and longs so deeply for nurturing that he is willing to cling onto any older figure that offers comfort. Written and directed by Daniel Armando, A Boy Like That explores the taboo relationship between Harold and Felix as it becomes a twisted, entangled web of chaos. Jaime Zevallos, best known from Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger, stars as Harold. We spoke with him from the set of a new movie he was filming in Los Angeles. What encouraged you to take on the role of Harold? Meeting with the director, Daniel Armando, and hearing his passion for this story really

made an impact on how I viewed Harold. I knew right away that I wanted to tackle this complex role. Should viewers look beyond the fact that Harold falls in love with a 17-year-old boy? Yes. It is questionable whether or not Harold really falls for the boy. The story we’re telling in A Boy Like That is very rich and should go past what is black or white. There are a lot of grey areas. This film is a twist on Lolita, the classic film that explored a love between an adult man and a much younger woman. It also reminded me of Mariel Hemingway in Woody Allen’s Manhattan. She played Tracy, a 17-year-old high school student dating Woody Allen’s 42-year-old Isaac Davis. Mariel Hemingway was fantastic in Manhattan. She earned a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination for her performance! I think the difference is really the tone of A Boy Like That. This film really looks into the world of the psychological mind space of two human beings. It also falls into a drama thriller with a lot of complexities.

What was it like working with newcomer Andres Chavez who plays Felix? Andres is amazing. He comes from the stage and I could really feel his discipline and professionalism. Since I’m older than he is, it was fun to build that real chemistry on camera with someone who is very raw. We had met once or twice before the shoot and we just went for it. He brought such life into Felix. What should fans ultimately take away from watching A Boy Like That? I think that we are in a space where audiences are longing for more than superhero movies. A Boy Like That tells the story of people living in a world of loneliness and despair. I won’t get into the film’s messages as art is subjective, but there are themes in this film that many will be able to relate to. Ultimately, this is not popcorn movie but audiences will be entertained and will find themselves on the edge of their seats.

For more information on A Boy Like That, visit




REWIND PLEASE So in my last Column I introduced you guys to our little baby Angel and unfortunately not long after that, Angel took very unwell. While I was working Hayley had to take care of her and do vet runs but by the end of that day she had just gotten worse and we were advised that there would be nothing they could do for her as she had Neurological problems. Absolutely devastating to say the least!! Thankfully the kept her comfortable until both Hayley and I were present then we got to say goodbye. She wasn’t with us that long, but she will always be apart of our wee family. Love & Light Our Angel On top of that, I decided to not continue with College this year and just take some time to concentrate on Carl’s growth and business, as there’s a lot coming up. Details given a little later on that.

FUN FACT ABOUT ME I’M GONNA BE ON TV BITCHES HAHAHAHAHA I have never been on TV before, so this is massive and madness lol see Upcoming Events

A QUEER LOVE STORY - CHAPTER VI MY BABY HAS LEFT ME!! To go on Tour with Paper Tigers mind but she’s still away haha . . Hayley and her band set of last night for their England and Scotland Tour, and I couldn’t be prouder of her achievements, especially this past few weeks, as she was flat out doing Halloween makeups. I wanna wish them the very best over the next week and wish them all the safety and success in the world. And peeps, I can finally announce that Carl has something big happening on TV. I’ll pop the details at the end for you guys, I’m super nervous but really excited all at the same time. Its such a fun show for Saturday Nights and according to the Producers, I will be the 1st Drag King on TV in that capacity ahhhhhh. And even though while filming the show Angel was very sick, I’m still very proud of my time there and would massively appreciate your support.Getting to this stage after the full grieving process we went through, which to be honest I don’t think either of us thought her Death would affect us the way it did. Not only did we go through that experience together but we comforted each other in a way that made us even closer, and for that I’m truly grateful.



MY MENTAL HEALTH AND I Aw, this old constant battle guys lol to be honest things weren’t great for a while. After being told by Doctors that I was literally “riddled with cysts”, I had to attend Lagan Valley Hospital for a cyst removal on my right breast. A weird, painful procedure and journey, but thankfully a large one has been removed and although I still have some there, my healing process turned out well. On top of that we had the loss of our wee kitten and then just life. Hayley and I decided we were really gonna work on not just our mental health, but our physical health too and while Hayley has been smashing it at a shred class three times a week plus band rehearsals and I’ve been doing gymnastics, we have been flat


out dancing for the Gaga Tribute too. This bitch has the hardest dance routines haha but it’s great to get the mind and body working again, as no one talks about the affect that mental health and mental breakdowns have on your body as well. After lying in bed depressed for two years, I lost so much muscle and stamina and I had no idea the changes my body would go through. Next edition we’ll be discussing how depression and depressive episodes can alter your body as well as your mind.

(profound moments, enlightenment), that get you moving again. With everything going on I still managed to hold it together, continuing to make moves for Carl and CJ. I’ll always be a work in progress, but I have the drive to keep going and that’s something I have longed for and won’t give up too easily anymore.

Life has this funny way of kicking you in the balls every now and again, with a very swift boot up the hole not long after just for good measure haha but it’s those boots up the hole


I can finally say it!! Carl ConnieLingus will be a contestant on RTÉ Ones new Saturday Night show, Last Singer Standing - A singing/karaoke game show with twist and Oh we have watched and listened turns galore!! Hosted by Nicky Byrne to so much recently. We have been from Westlife and Star Judges Nadine patiently waiting on the new Scream Coyle from Girl’s Aloud, Joey Fatone from Movie, but its not out until 2022 N’Sync and Samantha Mumba, it has aired ahhhhhhhhh..the new Halloween for 2 weeks already and will air for 8 weeks. movie will have to suffice until then!! I will be on 2 episodes - 20th and 27th A Time to Kill has just been put on November and to say I’m nervous is is Netflix and its a movie to watch guys. understatement haha but I really enjoyed I have been listening to loads of Rock the experience because it wasn’t just fun, because of Hayley lol but also lots but we were so well looked after. I’ll be of Jazz because of a future project in posting on my Socials more nearer the 2022. I can’t say much only that its jazz time, due to contracts but I cannot wait for related haha as always, I’ll keep yous you guys to see it lol posted And of course, Cher & Gaga!! Not only are we eagerly anticipating House of Gucci, but I’m getting hear songs of theirs I haven’t heard before. I grew up on Madonna and to me, Gaga is this generations Madonna, Madonna and Cher will and always will be Legends, but they are all Icons in my eyes.

I will also be this years Host of Re-vision Belfast’s – Between the Bias at The Black Box on November 28th . Applications close on Fri 5th November but I’m really looking forward to this event because I was a participant a few years ago and I had a blast, so to be the Host now is an absolute honour.


Before I sign out with you guys, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank Daniel and everyone at GNI who organised our night away to perfection. Hayley and I had the best time with the best bunch and we even got to watch Sister Act on a massive screen and dance along to the movie haha such a fabulous time away and such a great team to be a part of, so thank you for everything guys. Roll on the next one And with that, I bid you all farewell my beauties!! Until next time!! Thank you for taking this journey with me and I’ll see yous on the flip side mutha fuckas Love & Light Carl ConnieLingus @carlconnie-lingus

This is an opinion piece from the columnist/ contributor and not the opinion of GNI MAG / Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd.





Firstly, let me introduce myself, my name is James McGuigan, I am from North Belfast. My drag character is called Tailor Maid. I’m here to let you know a bit about James growing up and how I discovered Tailor and the art form of drag. As a child in the 90s in North Belfast, I was into absolutely anything that I shouldn’t have been. I was always in trouble for something mostly because I had too much energy and not much of an outlet to focus that energy on. I climbed trees, played on the streets til after dark, even played the game ‘BELFAST’ where my friends and I would ring the bells on the doors of unsuspecting neighbours and run fast away so they would open their doors to no one. There is a lot more stories of similar stature, but I don’t want to give away all the secrets. But you get the idea. I am quite nostalgic about that time in my life as It doesn’t really seem to exist anymore, I don’t see a lot children playing on the streets where I grew up, and it makes me slightly sad. The world has changed in many ways. As a child I was always attracted to anything feminine, I loved shiny jewellery, anything colourful and long hair, I remember asking friends of my mum could I brush their hair for them and loving how silky and soft it was. I managed to convince my granny to buy me my very own My Little Pony from Woolworths in town when I was about seven, whilst my brother was treated to an action man toy. The reason I wanted it was because of the hair on the mane and tail, I loved that toy. That year Santa brought me a few more My Little Ponies. I was all Bizz! This sort of treatment was standard in our household. My differences were encouraged, and I was supported. My absolute favourite time of the year was Halloween, I loved dressing up!! Some of my earliest memories are sitting at my mum’s mahogany vanity table in her bedroom and having my makeup done as a vampire by my mum. Each year I was usually a vampire as back in the day there wasn’t many options at Halloween for boys. I was fine with this option, because I got to try on my mum’s Chanel lipsticks and wear her eyeshadows. I loved playing with my mum’s makeup at Halloween and then dressing up in the finest black bag couture outfit and hitting the streets for a night of Trick or Treating with a carved-out turnip with a lit tea candle inside. I thought I was a superstar, and you couldn’t tell me any different. I remember dancing around my living room one night to the theme tune of the Crystal Maze, I was doing cartwheels, before I even knew what they were, jumping off sofas etc. My mum promptly enrolled me to start at a gymnastics club in North Belfast at Ballysillan Leisure centre. I must have been about eight or nine. The club focused on Sports Acrobatics which involved Floor exercises with various partners, set to instrumental music. So basically, dance combined with gymnastics. I went twice a week on a Saturday and Tuesday, and quickly was identified to have a natural talent in the sport. I ended up on the competition squad within a year or so. Doing gymnastics really helped give me something to focus my energy and attention on. It really helped, and I found out I was kind of good at it.

Over the years, my focus on gymnastics grew, in my teens/ late teens I was at gymnastics 4 nights a week and most weekends there was competitions or training camps etc. It was my home, where I felt safe, understood and to be honest I loved the attention of being able to do complicated moves, and I loved competing at competitions in arenas where the focus would be on what you are presenting!! They were my early performance stages. I competed regionally, Nationally, and even twice internationally, in Switzerland and Germany. My biggest achievements in gymnastics were All Ireland, Ulster, and Northern Irish titles that I won many years in a row and winning the National British Championships 4 years consecutively which with the Boys 4. This hadn’t been done by a Sports Acrobatic team form Northern Ireland EVER! Never mind 4 years in a row. I am really proud of this achievement and still bang on about it to this day, much to the dismay of my family and friends who have heard all the stories before. The late 90s and early noughties, were a pivotal time for me, the Spice Girls, Steps, B*Witched rocked my ear drums and Buffy and Charmed slayed my world and you couldn’t tell me any different. I really connected with strong females, doing their thing. I wanted to be them or performing along aside them. The number of times I envisioned myself in a Buffy episode slaying vamps as a member of the Scooby gang is both disturbing and fantastical, and every single concert I went to I wanted to be on stage with my favourite bands, dancing with them. I just loved the idea of performing and was set in my mind that this would be my career choice. I was about 17 when I really focused on my love for makeup, reflecting on it, it perfectly fitted with who I was and what I loved. I became interested in Drag after going to the Kremlin for the first time “underage” might I add. I snuck in and sat at the front bar, and watched the people in the bar, all having their conversations and drinks without a care in the world, then without warning, there she was a 7ft tall Glamazon, with tit’s up to her chin, beautiful makeup and a gorgeous mane of blonde hair…. Ladies and gentlemen, I just discovered Baroness Titti von Tramp. I was transfixed, I thought WOW she is so beautiful, I was inspired. I knew she wasn’t a biological woman, I was curious, I wanted to know HOW THIS WAS POSSIBLE?! The first person to put me in drag was Paddy mc Gurgan, It was shortly before I went to University, I must have been 19. I Met Paddy on the Belfast scene, he was and is to this day “THAT” Makeup Artist. We became friends and one night he asked could he paint my face, and I couldn’t wait to say YES. We got Chinese food, he painted my face and put a black wig on me and we done a mini photoshoot in his kitchen. It was everything to me! My journey in university is a story for another time, but I did study Dance and Counselling Skills in Chester. I graduated with Hons and then moved home once I graduated. Whilst I was in England, I started my makeup career in


FEATURE // TOTALLY TAILOR MAC Cosmetics working for MAC in Chester for 2 years.

nervous, but decided to take on the task.

When I came home, I didn’t know what to do, I lived in England for 3 years and felt a bit lost. I heard there was a drag competition in Mynt (modern day Luxe) where they were looking for a new act to be added to their entertainments line up. The competition was called MANI (Miss Alternative Northern Ireland). I knew at that moment that this was what I wanted to do. But I didn’t have a drag name. I was stumped. One day I overheard someone talk about an outfit they had that was Tailor Made and I thought “that’s it”! Tailor maid was born. I loved the play on words and the first name Tailor.

The JOY I experienced I cannot even describe in words. I felt ALIVE and very emotional about bringing Tailor back. I also felt guilty for not being truthful to myself for such a long time.

I pulled together some looks and a performance piece for the competition. Primark and charity shops were scoured to pull everything together. This was before Drag was popular, before Drag Race. On the day of the competition, I had Paddy mc Gurgan do my makeup and I even had a guest performance from Miss Trudy Scrumptious in my performance.

Throughout 2020 I continued to practice and bring Tailor back slowly, building my wardrobe, practising my makeup. I was eager to see how Tailor would evolve to look like after over a decade of not being around.

I ended up winning the competition knocking off 12 other entries and being crowned Miss MANI 2006. I was officially a Drag Queen. I was given a cash prize, a holiday and got given my very own night in MYNT that I could design myself to entertain the punters. My night was based around Desperate Housewives, and was called Tailored Housewives, it was a campy, fun evening, filled with various housewife tasks from ‘napkin folding’ to ‘what’s in your mouth’ all blindfolded. It was such a success that I was given extra nights hosting karaoke and bingo to a monthly cabaret extravaganza called PMT where I was joined by Titti Von Tramp and Paris Hilltown. It was so much fun…. For us.

The experience was AMAZING. I quickly planned a big comeback performance for Tailor for March 2020 but miss corona virus came along and put a stop to all of that.

I finally had the opportunity to perform at Belfast Pride 2021 in August, I performed one number for Union Street at their Street party, and I am very happy to say that I have been booked solidly ever since. I have been working closely with DFIU Events in Belfast and I have performed numerous gigs in Union Street, for BPerfect, hosted nights in Cargo by Vertigo and have even performed with Denali Foxx one of the stars of the American version RuPauls Drag Race Season 13. My drag career is back on track and set for BIG THINGS. I am not stopping this time, and I don’t give a f**k about what anyone thinks. One of my biggest learns in life not to care what people think about me. I made a vow to myself to always stay true from here on and that is exactly what I am doing.

Back then, I didn’t realise that people would have such strong opinions about what I was doing with my life. I was looked down on, called names, shouted at in the street. I let it affect me. It made me feel ashamed of doing drag. So, I quit, and moved to London and started back doing makeup in MAC.

I think with life these days it’s hard to decide on a career that makes you truly happy, fulfilled and with a real sense of achievement. The problem is there too many options to choose from and we are exposed to so many options with social media etc. I am blessed to have had the experiences and opportunities in my life that have led me back to my dream of performing and entertaining and I’m glad that I’ve had an opportunity to share my story with you.

I focused on striving to achieve in a career that was more acceptable at the time and would make more money. I was slightly scared by my experiences in trying to carve a career in drag.

I am currently in talks regarding being represented by management. I have numerous gigs booked between now and February and I can honestly say I am the most content in myself than I have been in years.

But as I climbed the ranks in MAC I realised that it was taking me further away from makeup artistry and more towards targets and developing others to achieve sales. I let this happen, but I needed money to live, and London was expensive.

In closing I want to say that as a child I never really realised what the word wisdom meant, I mean, I heard my parents and relatives mention that wisdom comes with age. But to me, as a “different” child with a creative imagination, all I could picture was witches and wizards in a Disney movie. That’s what wisdom was to me. Something magical that didn’t really make sense.

Over the years I worked for Mac and Bobbi Brown in London I ended up not doing drag, in years and also I ended up not doing that much makeup either. I was unhappy and wasn’t following any of my passions or dreams. I followed a corporate path and found myself disconnected to anything that resembled myself. In 2017 I left my corporate role for Bobbi Brown and moved back to Belfast, I was burnt out to be honest. LOST. Unhappy. I was depressed to be honest, and it took me a while to reconnect with myself. I started playing with makeup again and rediscovered my passion for the art of makeup.

But as an adult only now in my 37th year on this planet I realise that wisdom it is the ability to see situations from an angel of experience and the ability to choose the way forward. I’m glad I’ve been alive long enough to have the wisdom to choose my path and know now that the only way forward is to listen to my heart and have confidence that I am doing what I am meant to be doing in life. Regardless of anyone else’s opinions. We get one short life to live and experience everything we can. Feed your passions, do what you love, be true to yourself. Love Xoxo Tailor

I started working for Bperfect in 2019, in Education and Sales, I thought I would be happier working closer to my family and in a smaller brand. Little did I know how big the brand would get so quickly. In Jan 2020 I was encouraged to bring Tailor back by BPerfect Brendan for a hosting gig, to host the BPerfect Stand for Drag Con in London. I was very hesitant, and


You can find Tailor Maid on Instagram @totally.tailor Bookings on Instagram or via email or call/message 07540533943



COUPLE SHARE THEIR STORY TO ENCOURAGE MORE OF THE LGBTQIA+ COMMUNITY TO CONSIDER FOSTERING A Northern Ireland based couple are sharing their story to encourage more members of the LGBTQIA+ community to consider becoming a foster parent.

According to the New Family Social, same-sex couples now account for 1 in 7 adoptions in England, however, there is unfortunately still a lingering expectation of discrimination among the LGBTQIA+ community when it comes to fostering. YouGov has shown that 8 in 10 lesbian, gay and bisexual people expect to encounter barriers to become foster carers because of their sexual orientation. One couple who are breaking down the barriers surrounding LGBTQIA+ fostering is Paul, 59, and Riccardo, 43, who began their fostering journey in 2018. The couple met just over twenty-three years ago when Paul went to work in Namibia in community development developing services for people affected by HIV, with a focus on vulnerable children and orphans. Riccardo is a graphic designer and they have been very fortunate to have lived and worked in Southern Africa, India, London and now have settled in Northern Ireland. Paul explains; “From the very early stages of our relationship we always talked about having children but given how we continually moved and the pressures of our jobs, we felt it would be unfair on a child or children not to give them all our focus and stability. “When we moved to Northern Ireland, we knew this was going to be our home and somewhere we would put down some firm roots. Given our ages, we felt fostering would be the best avenue to go down rather than adoption.” Paul and Riccardo did further research online, where they found FCA which really appealed to the couple, so they made the initial call. He continues; “All of our friends and family have always known about our wish to have children and always told us what great parents we would make. And from time to time, they gave us the responsibility of looking after their children. When we told them that we had made the decision to foster, they were all very supportive. A number of our friends were our referees and only from reading what they wrote did we find out how they have considered us to care for their children should something happen to them.” Riccardo explains that FCA have made their fostering journey very special; “Right from the start, it has felt like we’ve had this big warm blanket around us. There is always someone to answer all our questions and queries and you’re always made to feel


like you’re part of one big family. We’ve never felt judged or what we had to say as unimportant, and the support is there 24/7. The online training we’ve done and will continue to do is very informative and supports what we do in our daily lives. We also have our individual supervising social worker who supports us on day-to-day stuff, and we also have support from the team parenting group which is a team of people from FCA and other agencies. We feel totally supported.” He continues; “During the six months it took to complete the process, we met many FCA staff and they gave us lots of encouragement. Our work colleagues and neighbours soon got to know about our decision, and they all gave us tons of positive support.” However, before becoming foster parents, Paul and Riccardo had considered the potential prejudices surrounding being gay foster parents, as Paul explains: “Our sexuality was a major consideration in our decision to foster. Riccardo and I, like many people from the LGBTQIA+ community, have faced and continue to face discrimination, but we are now of an age and have the experience to know how to deal with it. We know you can’t protect children all of the time, but we didn’t want any child in our care to experience discrimination, abuse or bullying because of our sexuality. “Children in the care system already have to bear many emotional and physical issues. We knew our job was to try and help alleviate them not add to them. We’ve been fostering now for almost three years, and we have been fully embraced by all the families, schools and agencies involved in the care of the children we foster.” The fostering journey so far has been an incredible experience for the couple, as they reveal; “For almost 24 years it was just us and our dogs and then suddenly we have a child and then a year later a second one. We’ve always been a good team, able to solve problems and being open and honest about how we’re feeling has helped. The added benefit we have is that there is always someone to talk to at FCA 365 days a year if we need help. The experience has definitely made us stronger as individuals and bonded our relationship.” For anyone in the LGBTQIA+ community considering fostering, Paul and Riccardo have the following advice: “For too long our community has been told “you can’t do this, you can’t do that.” If you have love and compassion to give and the drive to help a child have a positive life and achieve their goals, then fostering is for you.” If you would like to find out more about fostering with FCA, call 0800 023 4561 or visit

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SEX EDUCATION NEW SEX SURVEY REVEALS ONLY 14% OF LGBTQ+ RESPONDENTS FELT THE SEX ED THEY WERE GIVEN WAS RELEVANT TO THEM Research from Intimate Wellness brand, Durex has found that only 6% of those surveyed (LGBTQ+ community) felt their sexual education helped their sexual confidence, with 64% turning to porn as an alternative educational resource When the new school term started and a fresh wave of young people entered education, intimate wellness brand Durex has released the findings of its #MySexMyWay survey*. This first of its kind piece of research, sought to understand directly from the LGBTQ+ community their experiences of sex ed and how it affected their sexual confidence. While 90% of respondents had formal sex education, unfortunately only 14% thought it was relevant to them. The research also found that less than a third felt that their tutor was knowledgeable. This lack of effective education has seen the LGBTQ+ community turn to other mediums for help and advice, with 76% from experience with partners, followed by porn at 64%. The survey, commissioned as part of Durex’s mission to help support sexual confidence, found that according to respondents, sex education isn’t relevant to them, with only 6% feeling that it


helped their sexual confidence, and it gave less than 1 in 10 the confidence to be their true sexual self. Moreover, only a third felt that their sex education was delivered in a non-judgmental way. Encouragingly though, 42% agreed that from conversations that were had with family and friends or teenagers, sex education is becoming more inclusive and generally improving, 78% of those surveyed said that from an emotional/ psychological perspective they felt free in their lives to explore their identity and orientation and 75% felt proud of who they are. Lindsay Forbes, Wellness Category Manager at Durex, added; “At Durex, we want to help everyone achieve sexual satisfaction, physically and emotionally. We believe with even more inclusive and supportive sex ed, so many more people will feel free to explore their identity. If sex ed remains exclusive of LGBTQ+ issues, all pupils regardless of their sexual identity will be lacking in the knowledge and awareness needed for a wholly accepting society, full of individuals confident with their sexual selves.” Respondents also shared with Durex their thoughts on how sex ed could be improved and to make the services more inclusive for all sexual identities.

As part of the MySexMyWay campaign Durex has worked with a select group of influential LGBTQ+ voices to celebrate their sexual journeys and help encourage conversation including all the ways in which people identify sexually. Lindsay Forbes continues, “As part of our continued ambition to become a better ally to the LGBTQ+ community and a champion for a sex positive society, Durex is committed to working alongside trusted partners including Her, Grindr and a team of LGBTQ+ educators, to provide and curate informative, inclusive and reliable educational resources to all those who need them. Durex has also partnered with The Proud Trust to support its teams in their efforts to educate through bespoke programmes delivered across the country to teachers, support workers and young people. A first step in helping to change the sex ed narrative.” __ Marc Foley-Comer, Hill+Knowlton Strategies



Artwork: Tommy Taylor - Insta : @tomtaylorillustrated

GLEN SCOTT “With Den Loungewear, I’ve embarked on something I have always dreamt of doing - putting all of my knowledge of men’s loungewear and passion for all things queer, into launching my very own brand.”

LOCKDOWN WAS A BIG reset for all of us and for me in particular, it was an opportunity to reassess what I wanted to do in life. Ive been a menswear buyer for over 15 years and have worked for some amazing companies, however setting up my own brand has always been a lifelong ambition. When I looked at what product ranges I wanted to create, men’s loungewear really was my number one choice. I’ve a long history with the product having bought underwear and socks for major high street brands with a combined


share of around 35% of the UK market. I am very proud to be able to say with some confidence that ‘more men have been in my underwear than anyone else’s!’ My last role before setting up DEN was with Primark where I was responsible for the #FeelingProud Pride Collection. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and through it met so many amazing people within our community. I came to visit Belfast several times both to see the Primark stores there during pride season

and also for the GNI awards. Collecting the awards for ‘contribution to the community’ two years in a row on behalf of Primark and our Pride range really does list as one of the highlights of my career. I really can’t wait to come back again, maybe to collect an award for DEN Loungewear next time!? In developing DEN, I wanted to build a queer lifestyle brand that said ‘yes I can be sexy, yes I can get up to the naughtiest things imaginable. However, I also at times just want to be comfy and chill out at home. I want to relax in my Union Suit watching


Strictly with a Gin and Tonic and a family bag of Kettle Chips to myself!’ I wanted DEN Loungewear to embrace real, everyday life and the clothing that any of us can wear to feel good going about our regular business. I know I KNOW the product area inside and out so can select the right fabrics and shapes to create the very best quality garments and I believe that’s what we have achieved with our collection of Union Suits and Socks. I also wanted to be sure that in the brand, as many people as possible could see themselves represented. When developing the Union Suits, we fitted the garments on many people to make sure that the fits could accommodate as diverse a range of shapes and sizes as possible. The factory team was amazing in creating a unique ‘scaffolding’ seam construction that along with the 4way stretch fabric allows the garment to maintain shape and structure but mould to the individual proportions of the wearer. I’ve had guys message me on Instagram and Twitter and say ‘ I love your product but I really don’t think I’d ever fit them right ’, I’ve discussed shape with them and said ‘trust me, this will work for you’ and I’m happy to say not one of those garments has been returned! I’m more than welcoming of people sliding into my DM’s for a bit of fit advice! Across the globe, there is a real core set of very best factories that produce underwear and loungewear for all the top brands and I’ve been lucky to work with many of them for several years now and can class people working there as good friends. In my home office, I have a ‘bits box’ full of things that I’ve gathered over the years at supplier meetings, trade-shows, shopping trips, etc of fabrics, buttons, yarns and there was one small swatch of fabric I’d held onto that I just knew would be perfect for this union suit. I got in touch with a colleague at a factory in Turkey I’d worked with for many years and said look I’ve got this idea for an amazing men’s union suit I have the fabric I want I just need someone who can make it for me. They really are the best and within a few weeks, I had the most amazing samples ready. I’m forever losing my phone around

the house and my fiancee Mark is one lost pair of glasses away from getting one of those nana chains for round his neck so it was a no-brainer to include the chest pocket. We’ve had so many messages saying what a great feature to include - functionality and addressing how people will be using the product is always a top priority in our design process. Likewise, with the socks, I called a friend who works in the socks industry in Turkey to talk though my ideas and said things like ‘remember that heel construction I always loved’ and ‘that knit technique we developed 10 years ago?’ Can you do me a version of all these things in one product for my own new brand? Again they really are the best and created the most amazing, technically perfect socks I could have hoped for. The footbed and heel have a loopback knit construction that really does give such a unique level of comfort under foot. Also, I hate socks that have the ridged rib around the top edge so ours have a comfort waffle construction meaning you won’t get those little lines on your skin from where the sock had been digging in. Since getting the very first DEN socks samples, I don’t think I have worn any other brand! It has been a steep learning curve in establishing a new brand so I am very thankful to have had such great friends within the LGBT+ community who have been able to offer their support and advice along the way. To highlight a few; Jules at ‘Binge Designs’ ,a queer brand I have been a fan of for years, is an absolute treasure and has been always at the end of the phone when I’ve needed advice on the most random of issues with setting up a business! Tom Taylor is an incredibly talented artist and before we had actual samples ready he created some fabulous pieces of promo art for the brand! We use these in our packaging now as they really do convey the fun, cheeky side of DEN Loungewear. Likewise, Dennis Robinson who shot our gorgeous AutumnWinter campaign has been amazing. I was lucky enough to be asked to participate in

his ‘Proud Portraits’ project and from that, I just knew he had to shoot for DEN. I had a real vision of what I wanted to convey in our campaign and he completely understood how to capture it perfectly in the images. I strongly believe in supporting queer independents and whenever I have had need for creative talent I seek out others in the community to collaborate with. I find it a personally enriching process to share ideas and thoughts with them and they have certainly helped shape DEN Loungewear in becoming the brand it is. I absolutely love the DEN community we are building on social media. Seeing people proudly wearing their Union Suits and socks on Instagram and Twitter really is the best feeling. I am always so excited when a new picture pops up and can’t wait to share it with our followers. DEN really is for everyone and I love that such a diverse spectrum of people are buying into the brand and feeling sexy and confident and want to let all the world see! We handwrite a thank you note with every single order ( if it’s really neat handwriting it’s one of my fiancee Marks’ - mine the little scribbles! ) because we are incredibly grateful that people have decided to spend their money with us. I love getting emails or shoutouts on social media with great feedback and it is so reaffirming to see people love the brand that we believe in so much! I have so many ideas and projects on my to-do list and with the amazing reception to the brand so far, we are incredibly excited to see what the future holds for DEN Loungewear! Den Loungewear is available exclusively at




























THE RAINBOW PROJECT HAS carried out research recently which has shown that 14% of LGBQTIA+ people have experienced homelessness and over 30% of those were homeless as a direct result of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. We have sought funding from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to provide a direct service working with people experiencing housing stress, and we are delighted have launched the LGBTQIA+ Housing Project alongside the appointment of a new LGBTQIA+ Housing officer–Éaibhín Brady. Their role is to support and advocate on behalf of those at risk of homelessness or housing stress, particularly within the LGBTQIA+ community. Homes provide access to job markets, schools, health care, and economic opportunities. We build our lives on this foundation, yet stable housing is less assured for LGBTQIA+ people. Having an unstable living environment can impede access to employment or education and can have a detrimental impact on well-being, mental and physical health. Alongside support from the Housing Officer, a client can be signposted into a range of other services provided by

The Rainbow Project such as Counselling, Advocacy Support, Sexual Health or Peer Support. Many clients who are experiencing housing stress will come from a diverse background and will have a range of support needs. We recognise that LGBTQIA+ people might experience discrimination that restricts access to stable and decent housing, or they might limit their housing searches to localities with good access to LGBTQIA+ support services. We are here to provide support to navigate the Housing Executive’s points-based system, accessing benefits, and to provide information around tenant rights and options within the private rental sector in the North.

to studying and tackling the effects of homelessness. Additionally, as part of the project we will be looking at how LGBTQIA+ survivors of domestic abuse are an isolated and marginalised community with unmet needs. One consequence for many is homelessness, along with increased vulnerability. However we still do not have LGBTQIA+ specific accommodation for our community and in particular no refuge for gay or bi men who have experienced domestic abuse. The LGBTQIA+ Housing Officer has direct experience of working with the homeless sector and has been providing direct support for those who are accessing the benefit system.

The Housing Officer will be able to support you if you have housing stress caused by domestic abuse, family breakdown or rejection by family members due to sexual orientation or gender identity.

The LGBTQIA+ Housing Project is there to help people live in safer homes, free from fear, and where we can celebrate our identity and support each other to achieve our full potential.

Our new Housing Officer Éaibhín will be at the heart of this new project and will be carrying out vital work in this area, as well as helping to carry out research into the impact of homelessness on LGBTQIA+ people in the North.

You can contact Éaibhín by Email: housing@rainbow-project.og Telephone: 02890 319030 Mobile: 07842 613717

The experiences of LGBTQIA+ people are often overlooked when it comes



CAN I FOSTER? Our foster families are made up of wonderful people – people just like you – who give children the love, care and stability they desperately need. Unfortunately, there are still many myths around fostering that continue to discourage people who have the desired skills to foster from even applying. If you have thought of fostering but weren’t sure if your application would be considered because of your lifestyle or circumstances, please read on as we bust some major myths… Can I foster if I am gay? Yes, of course. We welcome potential foster carers from all backgrounds. You can be single, in a civil partnership, married or living with a partner. We know that there are all kinds of ways to be a family. Can I foster if I live alone? A quarter of our foster carers live by themselves. Your support network is really important though, so we’ll chat to you about family, friends

and neighbours. We offer lots of help, too. This includes a dedicated fostering social worker, 24/7 phone support, and peer support groups. Can I foster if my children are at home? Lots of our foster carers have children at home. During the assessment, we’ll talk about how you’ll meet the needs of your own children and a foster child. Every child needs space so a separate bedroom is a must. If your own children are very young, we might ask you to wait a while before we start the assessment. Can I foster if I don’t have children? Absolutely. We’ll talk to you about your experiences with children, your skills and qualities. The most important thing is your ability to meet a child’s needs. Can I foster if I rent my home? It doesn’t matter if you own or rent your home. But – if you are renting


– you’ll need to get your landlord’s permission. We’ll also need to do some home safety checks. You’ll need to let your landlord know these. Some of our foster carers get housing benefit. It’s worth checking if fostering will affect your benefits. Can I foster if I work? You’ll need to be around to settle a young person in and go along to meetings and training. But many of our foster carers go back to work after being approved. So long as someone is always there for the young person, it’s possible. We’ll talk about how this might work – and your support network – during the assessment. Can I foster if I am retired? Absolutely. To foster you need to be over 21, however we don’t have an upper age limit for our foster carers. We’ll chat to you about your general health, but so long as you can meet the needs of the children living with you, there’s no reason why we can’t consider your

application based on your age. Can I foster if I have pets? Yes! Pets can often be very therapeutic for our children and young people, helping them to settle into their new home. Helping to look after pets can also help them to develop life skills such as caring for others. Can I foster? To foster with us you’ll need a spare bedroom. You’ll also need to be over 21 and have space in your heart and time in your life to prioritise a young person’s needs. If you would like to find out more, please get in touch with our friendly fostering team who will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Tel: 028 9046 0500, email fostercareni@actionforchildren. or visit actionforchildren.

Every family’s different But the one thing they should have in common is love.

Start your fostering journey today: 028 9046 0500 @AFCNIFostercare Registered charity nos. 1097940/SC038092. Company no. 4764232. © Action for Children 2021.1655.



FASHION // CHRISTMAS JUMPER Left to right... Tis The Season Christmas Jumper £24 Novelty Casual Knitwear £27.99 Disney Mickey Mouse and Friends Christmas Sweatshirt £24.99 Fairisle Santa Party Sweater £20



OMAGH MADE HISTORY WITH FIRST PRIDE PARADE ORGANISER CAT BROGAN MADE the following speech. LGBT people have always been here - at the clock in the early nineties, in the Grange Park, Lover’s Retreat, on Gumtree, Grinder or Tinder. Today we aren’t hiding. As of this month our blood can be donated to our fellow human beings. We have the choice to marry, adopt, to seek fertility treatment. I was Omagh Oxfam, with my mum, after the Pride announcement and the shop worker, probably declared, I have three gay children. We still have so far to go. I’ve just spent 5 years in Malaysia where being LGBT is illegal. There are 69 countries where queer people are beaten, fined, imprisoned, in 13 of those countries LGBT people can even be put to death. Homosexuality was only decriminalised in this country in 1982. Marriage equality was forced through by English MPs in 2020! So called conversion therapy is still legal. Tolerance and acceptance is not enough - we need to embrace all types of sexual and gender expression. Today, Omagh showed that lgbtq people can simply be without apology or explanation. That when someone asks my mother if I have a man she can proudly correct their assumption and declare my daughter is a lesbian. My mum said ‘when you came out I was so angry. Not at you but because I thought it would make your life difficult’ but 13 years later, she can see the change in me. I’m more at peace. Less likely to fly off the handle. Queer people often live separate identities, making constant calculations


about whether it is safe or not to reveal themselves. By taking over the streets we show that we are no longer on the outside. We are part of this town, we show the surrounding villages and farms that you don’t have to abandon our home place and take our talents, passions, and spirits off to far away lands. I only began to be honest about my sexuality in my mid twenties when I moved to London. What a difference it would have made to my life if there was a pride parade in Omagh when I was a teenager. In the 1999, the backlash against Ellen’s first on-screen lesbian kiss kept me in the closet. Tattoo’s music video with two rain soaked women kissing, told me my desires were for the pleasure of men. My sister’s friends were hauled into the principal’s office for holding hands. It seemed too hard. Even though my partner’s country criminalises our love, mine doesn’t. We can legally be together here. At our wedding, all my uncle’s were there. The Gortin community center was delighted to have their first wedding. In 2021, I am so grateful that my wife is with me when my mum needs us. That as a family we can walk down Omagh High Street surrounded by rainbows, samba bands, placards and glitter, shimmering and shimmying and boogieing. We don’t have to run away to be ourselves, we can make our world, in the Sperrins and the bogs, by the lakes and burns, in the glens and the windy roads. We live fully when we step out of the shadows - stop being who we think the world wants us to be and return to who we are - today in Omagh, we celebrate Rural Queers.


TAKING A MOMENT // PAUL BLOOMER Hello, I am honoured to be here for this, I feel that this is the most significant pride event in NI in recent years. I would like to take a moment to remember a son of this town and someone I knew. I was at the police college at the same time as Ronan Kerr. Ronan started a few weeks behind me, those of us that were a few weeks ahead would help those just coming into the college, to find their feet, so to speak. We no longer do this in the college but back in those days you had two pairs of boots, your number ones which were pristine and shiny and your number twos which were for day to day wear. Having very shiny bulled number one boots was a real point of pride, but Ronan, couldn’t polish his boots for love nor money. I’d been in the air cadets before so bulling boots was something I knew how to do, to help him I polished up a pair of his, to a mirror finish. They were a thing of beauty. He brought them back to me a day later, he must have played football in them because somehow all the polish had been rubbed off them, he was parading the next day, and we used to get inspected by a senior officer, we no longer do this in the college but this was 11 years ago. He needed a pair of shiny ‘number one’ boots. We had the same size feet so I gave him my shiny ‘bulled to perfection’ boots and he gave me the ones he managed to absolutely wreck. I polished up those boots he gave me and I made Ronan’s boots my number ones. When Ronan was killed. I promised myself I’d keep those boots forever and only use them on special occasions. I have worn them to every pride event I’ve ever marched in uniform. These boots have been around the world, I wore them at the first ever pride in uniform and I will wear them at my last one when I retire. Every time I put them on I take a wee minute to remember him. I’m wearing them today, with pride. We were different people, he was from the country, I was from the city, he was straight, I’m Queer. When we were young he played Gaelic, while I was in the air cadets. He had a strong Irish identity. While I was brought up in a mixed marriage with a shared identity. We didn’t know each other from before, we were so very different but we supported each other as colleagues.

That was my start in policing and that’s how it continued for me. Different people from different backgrounds working together to support one another, so we can keep our communities safe. That’s what being in the police is to me. Today is a day of bringing important things home and I’m proud to bring a small momento of my remembered colleague back to his home town. That IS what today is all about, bringing something important home. We are bringing Pride home to Omagh today so that the coming generations of LGBTQIA+ people from this town won’t have to go away to be gay, as so many people from my generation had to do. Ronan was not ashamed of any aspect of his identity, he was proud of where he came from and he was absolutely his true authentic self, he couldn’t be anything else but genuine. Bringing Pride home to Omagh will empower the LGBT+ people of this town to be their true authentic selves. They won’t have to run away to find acceptance and community. They will have acceptance, community and love, right here in their home. Where it really matters. It’s so important that LGBT+ people here in Northern Ireland can look around them and see themselves reflected in the society they live in, not just in certain sections of it but across all strata and all society’s institutions, including policing. We need LGBT+ people in all professions and walks of life to be visible, so that our young people here don’t have to look across the Atlantic or across the Irish Sea to see a role model that they can identify with, it’s important to have those role models right here, so that they know they can be themselves here, in their home. Policing is a human endeavour, human beings are not perfect, and neither is the police. Policing is constantly evolving and we need our diverse communities to help us drive the positive change we all want to see. Like I said about me and Ronan, different people from different backgrounds working together to support one another, so we can keep our communities safe. Police engagement with the LGBT+ community isn’t about cynical box ticking or hollow PR exercises, it is a genuine effort to

connect with a marginalised community which historically has not been treated well by police. LGBT+ people within policing are often at the forefront of that engagement because we profoundly care about community we come from. We want you to be safe, protected and empowered. Omagh’s LGBT+ community engaged with us and challenged us to rethink what our Pride participation could look like. We listened and we did something different. Today at Omagh Pride, LGBT+ officers from different districts all over NI have volunteered to come here and help police the event, that hasn’t happened before at a Pride event in NI. If you see Police here today please remember we are your Police Service, we here for your safety, we are here for your protection and we are here to engage with all the communities of Omagh that have come out to celebrate today. Please come say hello and talk to us, talk to us about what we’ve done right, about what we’ve done wrong and what we can do better. We’re here to listen and engage with you. I‘ll leave you with this message, from me to all the fantastic LGBT+ people of this town, who have been so welcoming to me today, and especially for those who may be struggling with their sexuality or gender identity. You are who you are meant to be, there is nothing wrong with you. Let no one else define who you are. Let no one put you down. The best thing in life you can be is the truest version of your authentic self. Being true to yourself makes you shine and that light can be a guide for others to follow. “You are meant to be seen, you are meant to celebrated.” Be proud of who you are. Be proud of your town, because it looks great today. Thank you


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The Mourne Mountains. The views are to die for. And now you can experience them from the saddle of a state-of-the-art bicycle. Road bike or Mountain bike? Self-guided or guided? Regular or Electric? Just make your choice and hit the trails. See how Carlingford Lough looks when you’re very high above it in a very low gear. Soak up the atmosphere of the Kingdom of Mourne. Then surrender yourself to gravity!

Being a Derry girl is a state of mind. And this is the tour to put you in it. Visit Free Derry Corner and Dennis’s wee shop. Hear about life in the Bogside during the troubles from a local guide. Take a selfie at the Derry Girls Mural. Enjoy a special cocktail at the Everglades Hotel. Then tuck in to your exclusive Derry Girls Afternoon Tea, featuring assorted local delicacies - including the famous Derry sausage roll bap.

Bullitt Hotel The Bullitt’s no-nonsense philosophy means no expensive minibars, bellboys or butlers - just a top-quality experience in elegant and contemporary surroundings. You’ll enjoy stylish, comfy rooms, fresh local food, delicious drinks and an eclectic events calendar, all in the heart of Belfast city centre. Grab a bite to eat in Taylor & Clay, quench your thirst in Bullitt Bar, or elevate your evening in Babel, our rooftop bar.

The Salthouse Jaw-dropping views or mouth-watering cocktails? It’s all here at this luxury eco hotel, so you can dip into the outdoor hot tubs before diving into a culinary delight at the laid-back bar and restaurant. With 24 stylishly appointed bedrooms and suites and a soothing spa, this is the perfect place to refresh, rejuvenate and slow the pace of life right down. So inhale some fresh, salty air. Because it’s time to discover your coastal calm.

Todd’s Leap Over 20 action-packed activities are on offer here, including off-road driving, clay pigeon shooting, a 500m zipline, and a giant swing. Not to mention a free-fall drop zone, paintballing, air rifles, archery, a climbing wall and the Big Yella Slide. There’s also a purpose-built off-road track to bring you from one adventure to the other, so getting around is really fun. Feeling a bit peckish after all that adventure? Luckily Todd’s Leap does great pizzas too.

Seedhead Arts Belfast Street Art Walking Tour There’s mural art all over Belfast. Once it reflected divisions in the city. But now artists are painting walls that bring people together. Seedhead Arts know the artists and their stories. On this two-hour guided tour, you’ll see the very best of Belfast’s street art - and how it’s helping to forge a new narrative for the city. Keep your eyes peeled. You’ll be meeting masterpieces in all sorts of unexpected places!

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* Based on 4* Hotel for 1 night B&B, two persons sharing. Prices and information correct at time of going to print. Travel advice and guidelines apply. Visit Check ahead with providers.



THE HEART OF CONTEMPORARY LIVING FEEL AT HOME AS YOU step inside Creations fabulous extended showroom at Boucher Crescent, Belfast. With beautiful furnishings displayed across three floors you will find everything from living rooms to dining rooms and bedrooms. They have luxury sofa brands such as Tetrad and Himolla and many other suppliers of leather, fabric, modular sofas, recliners and more. Not to forget their dedicated divan studio offering brands such as Sealy, Silentnight, and luxury brand Hypnos. Many of Creations items are kept in stock, especially dining, which means you can purchase your items immediately. There is also a fantastic range of giftware, pictures, and mirrors to add that all-important finishing touch to your interior spaces. AN ESTABLISHED BRAND OFFERING A PREMIUM SERVICE Creations is a small, family run business in Northern Ireland, which was established in 1984. The Boucher Crescent showroom is open seven days a week, with expertly trained staff able to provide excellent customer service and turn your home interior dreams into a reality! This really is a shopping destination not to be missed! Whatever you are looking for Creations offer stylish, top quality home furnishings and decorative solutions.


With their clearance of shop displays and seconds now on why not check out their newly designed website to view some of the great pieces on offer. Creations 45-56 Boucher Crescent Belfast BT12 6HU Phone: +44 (0) 28 9521 5899 Follow @creations_interiors NB. Ample free parking onsite Follow on Facebook and Instagram @creations_interiors

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CHRISTMAS ON YOUR OWN AN LGBT GUIDE TO SURVIVING CHRISTMAS ALONE By Joe Nellist It’s fair to say that Christmas this year will be quite unlike any other we’ve had before. For those who are fortunate, Christmas Day will be a chance to come together with families or chosen families who have been sorely missed throughout the year. However, for millions of people across the country this year this may no longer be possible, and many are facing the prospect of spending the holidays away from those they hold dearest. For many LGBT people, Christmas and its associations are a much less positive time of year. We’ve previously produced an LGBT guide to surviving the holiday if you’re spending it with unsupportive family. If this applies to you, check out this guide. This year, we’re offering some tips and advice on how to make the most of the holiday if you’re spending it alone. The most important thing to remember is that even no one else is around, you are never alone. There is an entire community of people who care about you and who love. We're still here if you need us, and we will continue to be here over the festive season. HOW SHOULD I APPROACH IT THIS YEAR? Start by thinking about how you want to spend the day. Are you hoping for a festive bonanza for one, or are you hoping to avoid anything remotely Christmassy? It’s fine if you feel like you want to bury your head in the sand and wake up after New Year’s. However, you decide to spend the day, make sure it’s what you want to do, not what you think you should do. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU ENJOY This day is all about you! What does Christmas mean to you? If you want to dress the house up like Santa’s grotto – go for it! If you want to buy yourself some presents


then do it, you’ve earned it! Are you obsessed with Mariah Carey, get that song on repeat! If you’re not a particularly festive person, that’s fine. This year is the year you can finally escape the tinsel!

Cashman’s autobiography is a page turner) or delving into a new boxset. Keeping busy is a good way to keep yourself distracted if you're worried about the day. However, you want to spend your time, make it something special for you.

TIME TO MAKE A PLAN Some people have said it’s important to have a plan for your day. You might not need a 16-page agenda, but it could help to have a rough idea about how you’re planning to spend the day. What time are you hoping to wake up? How do plan to spend the morning? Will you be watching anything on tv? Having a loose structure to the day can help to reduce any anxieties you might have.

KEEP IN TOUCH It’s important that you communicate with others. It can be difficult to reach out to others but planning a quick call or video chat with friends or loved ones during the can be a great way to keep connected. If you have some presents to open, why not arrange to do it over Zoom with someone else?

"WHAT SHOULD I EAT?" Simple answer – whatever you want! Fancy a traditional Christmas dinner, go ahead, and make one. Partial to a pizza? Who’s to stop you having two? This is your day, and you can shape it however you like, free from any food-related judgement.

Be honest with yourself, and with others If you’re feeling particularly low, then that’s OK. Be honest with how you feel, and if you’re able to, speak about how you’re feeling with someone you love. If you don’t feel able to open up to someone close to you, call our helpline on 0345 3 30 30 30. We’ve also listed some additional places for support below.

SELF-CARE IS KEY Never underestimate the importance of self-care. Treat yourself to a special bath, or a long hot shower in the morning. It can really help to relax you and uplift your spirits. Why not indulge in a decadent bath bomb or some fancy new toiletries? Go on, you’re worth it! GET OUT FOR A NICE WALK Fresh air and movement are a great way to reduce stress and improve your wellbeing. Why not head out for a nice walk in the countryside, or around the local park a few times? A quick ‘hello’ and a smile to passers-by could help to reduce feelings of loneliness, you might even get to meet a four-legged friend! Think about ways to keep yourself busy It’s a good idea to have some things planned for your day. It could be getting lost a great book (we heard Michael

Keep an eye on your substance use For some people, feelings of loneliness can be a trigger for using substances. If you've experienced any substance misuse issues in the past it might be good to think about coping strategies that have worked before for avoiding any triggers. Is there someone you can call if the urge to use is strong? If not, call our helpline and one of our team would be happy to help talk it through with you. REMEMBER, IT’S JUST 24 HOURS It’s OK to feel scared about the prospect of spending Christmas alone, particularly if this is your first time. Remember, it’s just one day. You can get through this. However, you’re feeling right now, this won’t last forever. Things will get better.







Take my hand and squeeze it harder “My name is Milad, and I am from Iran, what is your name? I’m Nick. oh, how interesting it is that you are from Iran. Tell me a little about gay life in Iran” This was part of a conversation between me and my new friend in Northern Ireland when he wanted to know about my experience as a gay man in Iran. I always try to be fair in my words and express whatever it is. But what can I say because telling the facts is not always easy and sometimes very painful, maybe because I do not want to say too many problems, especially for someone I see for the first time, I try not say things that are very dark and scary. Because he has no mental idea about being beaten in the street by the police or being arrested and flogged for drinking alcohol, because it is very embarrassing to tell him that in my country, the punishment for love between two boys or two girls is execution! Honestly, sometimes I feel ashamed of drinking alcohol at the bar because when I freely go to the Drag Show and dance, I suddenly come to myself and say to myself, so what about my friends who are in Iran and cannot enjoy any of these moments? I am often ashamed of myself when I think that my friends in Iran may not be able to go to the bar even once and even once they will not be able to see a drag show or have experience of kissing someone calmly without fear and stress. Dear Nick, I must tell you that my country is among the top ten countries in the world in terms of torture, execution, and harassment of homosexuals. I witnessed the death of my friends, friends who once told me about their hopes and wishes, friends who were once and are not now.

Dear Nick, I want to tell you about my 20-year-old friend Alireza, who had lots of dreams a free life and a beautiful world, he was different, he dressed differently, he was in love differently, he was finally killed by his cruel brother. His brother beheaded him so his lifeless body would be a message to all the people of the world so that the oppression and helplessness of Iranian homosexuals would be heard by all in the world. Dear Nick, I apologize for not being honest with you and for not telling you that what happened to Parvaneh who was mistakenly told that you are transgender for years and that Iranian society and government have led her to change gender surgery. The last time I talked to a Parvaneh, she was a beautiful girl, but she was not happy. She looked at me and told me with hatred, I miss my penis now I have no sexual feelings I think maybe I was not really Trans. I tried to take her words as a joke and told her, but you wanted to be a beautiful girl and now you are beautiful look how stunning you are! A few months later, when I heard the news of Parvaneh’s suicide, I was so upset that to this day, the image of her saying this to me has not been erased from my mind. I wish I had never had this conversation with her, I wish the cause of your suicide would remain a question mark for me forever. Dear Nick, do you want me to tell you about Arman? It was funny that my skinny friend with big glasses, who loved cooking, how he could be a threat to national security, just because he was gay! At the age of 20, we were both arrested at a simple birthday party, after which Arman came under pressure to work with Police security institutions.

The Police forced him to cooperate with them. He desperately talked to me and tried to tell me about his troubles and problems, and I cooled down my friendship with him because I was afraid that he would spy on me. In disbelief, Arman’s body was found on the road around the city. They said he had an accident, but I could never believe that it was a simple accident. It taught me a lesson that I will never forget. He taught me not to misjudge anyone anymore because of the circumstances in which he finds himself. Dear Nick, I wrote a small part of the story of thousands of hopes, of which there are no traces anymore, maybe I was very lucky to sit down with you and have a drink. I did not know anything when I came to Northern Ireland, I had no idea where it was and what would happen here. I’m still scared when I see police on streets here then I remember that I am no longer in Iran, and no one is going to harass me or arrest me here. I have good friends here and they love me like a family. It is true that they took everything from me in my own country, but I have a peace that is very valuable to me I have freedom which worth much more to me. I consider here my new home and I love it. I started to discover here streets little by little. I am fascinated to hear the accent of the people of Northern Ireland, and I truly consider here home. Dear Nick, saying this about the situation of Iranian homosexuals may not be what you wanted to hear. I know it is no longer cool to live as a gay man in Iran! I’m sorry I disappointed you with my words, but it is a fact that maybe these are not words that I will tell you when I see you, but you know that I have overcome many problems. I really think that I am a survivor, so once again you See me, love me more, understand me better and take my hand and squeeze it harder.




(A MOMENT OF REFLECTION.) SO I’VE BEEN DOING a lot of thinking lately and reflecting over the past couple of months on the things that have been going on in my life. I normally use this platform to talk about all things fitness, specifically around how to keep your body in peak physical shape but today I wanted to take the opportunity to focus on how to keep your mind in peak condition also. The reason for this is last month I got the devastating news that a good friend of mine suddenly took his own life. As a previous client of mine, I had known for some time he had been struggling with his mental health and in the end it all became too much for him. So guys I just wanted to talk a little bit about this today especially as the suicide rate amongst young men in Northern Ireland is increasing each year and is now double the rate than that of England. As men we often find it hard to talk about how we are feeling on the inside in fear that we will be perceived as weak and a burden to others. I get that, as men society says that we are supposed to be tough, headstrong and have our sh*t together and never show our vulnerabilities right? But hey, we aren’t pre-programmed robots void of emotion. We are human and we need to feel sometimes. The stresses of modern day life is tough going and no one is immune to feeling the pressure at times.

• • •

If you have noticed a friend displaying any of these symptoms/behaviours then it would be a good time to ask that question, “Are you ok.” Now a lot of men are super proud and may find it hard initially to open up and If this is the case, just let them know that you are there for them if they ever need to talk about anything. Or you may find that its yourself in this position. If you find lately you are struggling then make that first step to confide in someone you can trust, it really is the best thing you can do on your road to recovery. There are also things you can try to help elevate your sense of well-being and self-esteem so you can start feeling better upstairs. Here’s a couple that I think will really make a huge difference for you. •

So, I just want to highlight some of the signs to look out for if someone around you might be struggling. If you notice any of the following behaviours it might be a good time to ask them how they are doing because as we all know talking about it is the best first step in recovery. •

They have become withdrawn and isolating away from friends more than usual. They are feeling angry, hopelessness and have lost connection with loved

ones. Increased use of alcohol/drugs in order to feel better about themselves or their situation. Extreme acts of aggression or mood swings. Talking about being a burden to others. Giving up on their most loved passions in life/activities.

Exercise. Never underestimate the power of physical exercise and its benefits for ones mental health. Exercise increases feel good hormones in the body and will help you feel that sense of accomplishment each day. Many doctors now prescribe exercise as a means to overcoming depression as opposed to medication. Now it doesn’t mean you need to join an expensive gym or club, just get outside for 30 mins a day and get some fresh air. I promise you it will make a big difference as each day passes. Take a break from social media. This one for me is a biggy and probably the most important of all. We are now all on at least one social media app and

each we are bombarded with images of those living their “best lives". Let me give you all a nice wee truth bomb right now, the “ Perfect Life ” does not exist. As humans, we like to give the impression that our lives are 100% amazing all the time but what you see really isn’t a true reflection of reality. We all have sh*t to deal with each day, but no-one likes to show the negative aspects right? So please stop comparing yourself to the social media influencers, life isn’t a competition. The sooner you can do this the better. And if you would like to talk to someone in confidence about how you are feeling you can always call the Samaritans for free on 116 123. Also, I just wanted to let you all know that I am currently running an offer for the month of November for anyone with Spend Local NI high street vouchers. I am offering 8 personal training sessions for £100 making each session half price at just £12.50 each. (Normal price £25 per hour) This offer is for new clients only and is subject to T+C’s. Get in touch with me for more info via email: All the best fellas, and as always mind your heads. Anthony.




break those same barriers down. I have

Azlans Rugby team and of course my own


taken on the role of the first NI Liaison

GAA team Na Gaeil Aeracha. Political

EQUALLY” - Joshua Cavallo

for Sporting Pride Ireland focusing on

Parties have shown an amazing response

developing inclusivity in sport, and sports

and meetings have been arranged for

I don’t think I can start this article without

clubs within the whole Irish community.

myself with the Green Party and Sinn Fein

sending my upmost respect to Joshua

The team have been extremely

while contact has been set up to arrange

Cavallo for winning the hearts of the

welcoming and I have been thrilled to

meetings with other major parties and

world with his honest, heartfelt coming

see the work going on in Ireland with

National Governing Bodies . It is my

out video. As he said “All I want to do

Inclusive teams flourishing across the

hope to have a variety of LGBTQ sports

is play football and be treated equally.”

island and talks from talented LGBTQ

teams in each of the 32 counties so that

and that’s what we are all fighting for.

athletes about their own experiences. In

everyone has the opportunity.

We want an equal starting point for all

addition to their work with team Ireland

athletes regardless of race, religion,

for the Gay Games and the Euro games.

gender or sexuality. As the world’s only

As someone who developed a love of GAA football I understand the difficulties

current top-flight footballer, Cavallo

We have already had a fantastic meeting

of travelling to Dublin weekly to practice

needs our support in his work breaking

with Sports NI who have offered their

and I know that isn’t an option for

down the barriers for other top level

support alongside the LGBTQ society

everyone financially so hopefully we can

players to come out.

at QUB and Pride Sport UK. I’m thrilled

meet the needs of all in Ireland interested

to develop my relationship further with

in getting involved in a sport. If you’re

Belfast Blaze Football team and Belfast

reading this and looking to set up a team

Meanwhile back home we are working to


COLUMN // MARTIN MURRAY or get involved in sport, or maybe

Gaeil Aeracha will remain.

you are already involved in sport

Ireland and The North Tipperary Development Company. Hannah

and need some form of support with

To help get the North going in the

spoke beautifully about the

anything at all, please reach out to

right direction we are organising an

changing culture of sports and how

Sporting Pride Ireland

mental health is now

as we are happy to help

being acknowledged

and if we can’t help we

as just as important

will work to point you in

as physical health in

the right direction.

competition and in life. Her contribution to Irish

You may be thinking

Sport is remarkable with

‘why should I get

a 2015 Six Nations win

involved in sports

and having represented

when sporting teams

Ireland in the 2017 Rugby

and fans have been so

World Cup.

dismissive of LGBTQ people in the past’ and

When it comes to football

that’s a fair point but

Tyrell has competed in

these teams are built

two FAI Women’s Cup

by LGBTQ people for

finals and since retiring

LGBTQ people and, for

from International

lack of a better word,

Rugby has quickly

mainstream teams

established herself in the

are now learning the

LGF National League

importance of diversity

representing Dublin

and for best practice

LGFA Senior team.

and to attract relevant

Hannah has earned a

sponsors so we need

title as a leading figure in

to do our part to help

Irelands Rugby, Football

push the narrative in the

and Gaelic football

right direction so that in the future

Open day for the LGBTQ community

associations and has spoken out on

everyone has the same opportunities

to come together and see what

how sport has helped her mental

to achieve their goals.

options are available and how

health journey as an ambassador for

powerful it can be to be surrounded

the Tackle Your Feelings Campaign

If you don’t want to get involved to

by LGBTQ people all working to

and for Pieta House. If that wasn’t

help opportunities for others to grow

better themselves and support each

impressive enough she also works as

then do it for yourself. 55% - 56%

other. You will see updates on this on

a history teacher shaping the minds of

of LGB’s are not active enough to

the Sporting Pride Ireland Instagram

the next generation and developing

maintain good health compared to

and Facebook as well as my own

their knowledge of history and

33% - 45% of heterosexuals. For those

Fab, Fit & Femme Instagram or if you


LGBTQ people who don’t identify as

have a team you want to start or get

male or female it rises to 64%. The

involved in the event then reach out

Back in August Hannah celebrated

reasons for this are clear, we have


another life accomplishment as three

all heard the homophobia in sports

and let me know.

days before winning player of the

stadiums, but there are teams that

match for Dublin’s Win against Mayo

are welcoming LGBTQ people and

This Issues Sporting Role Model

in the Women’s All Ireland Semi

supporting them not only physically

was an easy choice. Hannah Tyrell

Finals, Hannah finally got to marry her

but mentally. I have a strong bond

is force to be reckoned with as I

partner Sorcha Turnbull after a delay

with my GAA team. We have spoken

learnt on September 28th. Hannah

due to Restrictions.

about mental health issues, our

was interviewed by Radio and TV

stressful jobs, our relationships and

Presenter Stephen Byrne. The two

our hopes. Your team becomes a

discussed experiences in a talk

family and I know that once we get a

organised in collaboration between

team up here my relationship with Na

GCN, GOSHH, Sporting Pride


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OUR BIG DAY // GRAHAM & RYAN SO, TELL US HOW YOU MET, WERE YOU SINGLE FOR A LONG TIME BEFORE YOU STARTED DATING? We met in Paris, the city off Romance at the world hairdressing Championships both competing an being there with the Northern Ireland hairdressing team… both coming from a hairdressing background, Graham being a salon owner from Londonderry/ Derry and Ryan working in a salon in Belfast… we both weren’t single for very long before meeting, when we did meet as cheesy as it sounds there was something special , an Instant connection, from then we haven’t spent much time apart. HOW LONG AFTER YOU STARTED DATING DID IT TAKE TO POP THE QUESTION, WAS IT AN IMMEDIATE

YES? Aww it was Full steam ahead with Graham proposing in 6 months after we had met. Graham planned a romantic trip to Ibiza, this was our 1st holiday away together it was all very exciting… I (Ryan) had no

idea what all was going on when jetting off to Ibiza. Graham had near the whole off Northern Ireland told he was going to propose one weekend with too much drink, this was prior to heading off with

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excitement … it was all very romantic and special, he hired a private yacht for the day until the sunset, that night, I couldn’t think things could get much better with having a amazing day then the boat set up out the Front of Café Mambo with the sun starting to set in the background Graham got down on 1 knee an asked the big question (WILL YOU MARRY ME) it didn’t take very long to answer him back with saying most definitely YES, I was very the moon TELL US ABOUT YOUR BIG DAY, LOCATION, NUMBER OF GUESTS ETC. WAS IT PLANNED PRE COVID, HAD YOU TO ALTER MANY THINGS? The Big Day, it was the most special day. We got married in the Galgorm resort and spa just outside Ballymena, it’s a venue we both love very much with beautiful grounds, we both love going there for a weekend









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OUR BIG DAY // GRAHAM & RYAN away so when picking a venue, we had to have it. We eventually got married on the 29th August 2021 with it being the 3rd time lucky, like so many couple we had rescheduled twice due to Covid, though we got there in the end and it was definitely worth the wait, we loved every minute of the day. 126 guests were there to celebrate with us, closest and dearest. WHAT ABOUT THE FOOD AND DRINK? We had the most fabulous food & drinks from the start we had a drinks & canapé Reception, then a traditional wedding meal banquet and in the evening a Buffy. We are now a few months later and our guests are still talking about it all. We cannot speak highly enough off the Galgorm & their wedding team as everything was incredible from start to finish WITH RESTRICTIONS WILL YOU GET A HONEYMOON OR ARE YOU PLANNING ONE FOR NEXT YEAR? We were very lucky, we got away on a mini honeymoon back to Ibiza where it all began… we hope to get away on our big honeymoon next year when travelling restrictions ease a bit more, there are so many destinations on our Bucket list that we want to visit together

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IN YOUR DAY TO DAY LIVES ARE YOU INTO THE SAME THINGS? WHAT INTERESTS DO YOU HAVE THAT ARE DIFFERENT? We are very much into the same things, we are both hairdressers, we are sociable outgoing guys who enjoy doing a lot of things together HAVE YOU A FAMILY, IS THIS SOMETHING ON THE PLAN FOR YOU? We have 3 Fur babies Lola, Coco & Middleton. (2 chihuahuas & 1 cocker spaniel) we love them so much and enjoy spending time with them on long walks and cuddles on the sofa, they are 3 very Spoilt little girls which we love very much. TELL US WHO MADE YOUR DAY POSSIBLE IN TERMS OF RINGS, FLOWERS, PHOTOGRAPHER, CARS ETC So many people need a mention and a thank you: Michael Murray-Celebrant at spiritual Ceremonies, Wedding rings Lunn’s Jewellers, Suits - bespoke tailor made, Groomsmaids dresses - ASOS Bride, Photographer - Kris Dickson, Videographer - Sean @timeless productions NI, Florist/Wedding Butler/Room Decor - David McConkey Floral Boutique, Wedding Planner - Donna @Galgorm, Room Decor - Fairytale Events, Cake & wedding Favourites - Gemma’s Cakes, Ceremony Singers - Belfast Community Gospel Choir, Singing waiters - Singers Secerto, Makeup - Rebecca Salters MUA.



THE MAIDEN CITY SINGS Live music makes a heavenly return at the City of Derry International Choir Festival

Whatever your definition, it only takes two (or more).

events, offering audiences the chance to enjoy live music once again.

Choir [noun]: a group of people who sing together.

As a country renowned for its musical talent, it comes as no surprise to learn that Northern Ireland is home to the largest international choir festival of its kind in the UK – and it’s popularity is growing. The City of Derry International Choir Festival (CoDICF) filled the Maiden City with song in late October as the ninth annual festival got underway, engaging a global audience of over 70,000 people and uniting them in song.

Running over five full days, the Festival featured a stellar programme of events including exclusive global premiere performances and a choral trail with live music staged all across the city. Star attractions included the internationally acclaimed all-male chorus “Chanticleer” and the award-winning vocal ensemble “Tenebrae.”

When you think of choir singing, what pops into your head? Perhaps it’s the haunting vocals of church choirs singing songs of praise and providing the soundtrack to lazy Sunday mornings. Maybe it’s the image of a flamboyant Whoopi Goldberg bringing some sass to Saint Katherine’s Convent Choir, the characters of Glee jazzing up the school choir repertoire with a fresh new take on modern classics or perhaps its James Corden and a celebrity guest rocking out to Carpool Karaoke.


From workplace choirs to community choirs and even Grammy Award winners, the choir festival brought a palpable sense of joy as it returned for a mix of online and in-person

A city known for its culture – and its craic – was brought to life once more with the return of live music echoing from some of City of Derry’s most prestigious venues, with sold out concerts in St Columba’s Church, Long Tower and St. Columb’s Cathedral.


On their respective nights, Derry Chamber Choir ‘Codetta’ and ‘Tenebrae’ were singing to full (albeit socially-distanced) houses for the first time in nearly two years.

what we have gone through during the pandemic. It is inspired by the different stories of frontline workers at different stages,” said Fiona.

The Festival also commissioned four brand-new pieces of choral music that enjoyed their world premieres to delighted audiences including a piece by Antrim composer Elaine Agnew and a special Colmcille 1500 celebratory choral piece by award-winning Irish composer Eoghan Desmond.

“We are all so grateful to so many frontline workers, and with lyrics like “This song is a prayer for remarkable people,” it was on one hand poignant, yet, also full of gratitude for everything they have done for us.” Fiona added.

Fiona Crosbie, Festival Manager, chatted to us about how the festival was helping breathe new life into the city and the joy felt by the choral community to be able to come together to rehearse and perform once again.

The Festival boasted some big names on the choir scene, including renowned UK vocal ensemble Tenebrae, who received a rousing reception for their return to Derry for a sold-out performance in St Columb’s Cathedral. This exceptional choir’s reputation and their awards speak for themselves. No strangers to the festival, Tenebrae have performed many times in Derry and were excited to come back and fill the cathedral with their beautiful, flawless performance.

“We can’t express how happy we are to be back singing together and to be bringing such a varied and exciting programme to the City. The Festival created such a buzz around the area and the feeling of live music just can’t be beaten, it made the whole community realise just how much we had missed it,” Fiona said. The Opening Gala Concert – The Voyage Kicking off the Festival was the mesmerising Opening Gala Concert at the Millennium Forum. Award-winning conductor and composer Bob Chilcott gave audiences a deeply moving orchestral and vocal performance of The Voyage, depicting the voyage through life, and how we come to terms with the challenges it brings. The audience were also captivated by the first ever live performance of a brand new work by Antrim composer Elaine Agnew entitled Remarkable – and it truly was. Commissioned by Arts Care Northern Ireland and Ulster Orchestra, with words written by BBC broadcaster John Toal, the piece was performed by Derry chamber choir Codetta and the Ulster Orchestra. “This piece was very much reflective of


Their musical director and founder, Nigel Short, led the ensemble, famed for their passion and precision, in what was a true highlight of the festival and it was clear everyone in the audience felt blessed to have experienced such an evening.

“Known internationally as “the orchestra of voices,” they certainly lived up to this for their virtual debut for the festival and it was a real treat for everyone who tuned in,” said Fiona Crosbie. “It truly highlights how we have been able to respond to music virtually in a different, but meaningful way, during the pandemic. It also shows how the arts and artists have diversified. We’ve seen them holding everything from Instagram live performances in their sitting rooms, music duets with fans, as well as concerts in silent venues across the globe that attracted enormous audiences.” The Road Home and Colmcille 1500 As ever, there was a rapturous reception on the second day of the festival for local award-winning Derry chamber choir Codetta, who performed their headline concert at St Columba’s Church, Long Tower. The limited capacity event was attended by 200 people and featured a stunningly beautiful programme including Stephen Paulus’ “The Road Home” in the Long Tower Church with Derry cellist Kim Vaughan and the world premiere of a newly commissioned choral work by Irish composer Eoghan Desmond.

Grammy Award-winning talent Donning their coats and tails for the occasion, was this year’s headline artists for the virtual programme, the Grammy awardwinning all-male a cappella ensemble “Chanticleer”, from San Francisco, California. The ensemble was founded in 1978 and remain very much the “world’s reigning male chorus,” performing concerts in every corner of the world. Their brilliant virtual debut at the Derry festival featured a bespoke recorded concert.

This new work was chosen in partnership with The Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland, as part of the year-long Colmcille 1500 celebratory programme, which was coordinated by Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council, to celebrate the life and legacy of Colmcille. The Return of the School Choir Every year the festival engages school choirs to nurture young talent and encourage more young people to discover their musical talents. So many pupils couldn’t contain their excitement at being back for the festival’s school performances.


FEATURE // SING!! CoDICF’s non-competitive format for primary school years encouraged children and teachers to take part in the fun and community-spirited “Primary Big Sing” event in Millennium Forum which was held on Thursday. Along with all the fun, there were songs, games and rhymes, and a specially composed piece for young voices by leading Catalan composer and conductor, Josep Vila i Casañas, with texts by Irish poets Enda Wyley and Catherine Ann Cullen which was a huge hit with the participants. For older students, the post primary schools came back for a day of singing on Friday which was also utterly joyful for all those involved.

The “Trail” was open to all choirs of any size, musical style and make-up from anywhere in the world and this year it welcomed applicants from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Philippines, Russia and more, including choirs from Ireland and across the UK. This year’s “Trail” featured a gorgeous and entertaining mix of local, national and international choirs including workplace choirs who had gotten together during lockdown for a social outlet for connection with song. There was also a very special virtual concert featuring previous winners of the competition’s “Oak Tree of Derry Trophy”, featuring choirs from Estonia, Indonesia, Ireland, Slovenia and Wales.

Bringing Singing Back to the Community Workplace Choirs “Let’s Just Sing!” was a terrific community singing event where singers of all experience levels were invited to join a singing session led by some of the festival’s best known community choir leaders including Siobhan Heaney (Momentum, Pink Ladies, NW Cancer Centre Choir, Song for the Soul and Sing Tonicity). Participants threw themselves into a fabulous afternoon of music workshopping and performing classic hits like “Stand by Me” and “Something Inside So Strong.” “One of my favourite parts of the festival was seeing the sheer talent and passion for music in the local singers taking part in the festival,” said Ms Crosbie. “Particularly this year, it was amazing to see people getting together and singing as a group again. It is so important to us to get local communities involved in the festival. Music has a unifying power and you could see how much that connection had been missed.” A Truly Global Festival Last year’s online festival generated an unprecedented 250,000 views from 50 countries worldwide and this year the festival reached across the globe once more with a fresh offering of new virtual events. The festival made another successful international call out for choirs around the world, and the 2021 “Virtual Choral Trail” featured 66 choirs from six continents.


A number of workplace choirs got involved in the “Virtual Choral Trail” element of the Festival including the Derry City and Strabane District Council Choir and Fidelity Sings, a global choir set up in investment management firm, Fidelity Investments. From singing in board rooms to singing over zoom, the pandemic made the workplace choir experience very different. Derry City and Strabane District Council choir put together their choral trail video from recording themselves individually on their phone, only meeting up outside, socially distanced to record the video. During the recording, Covid-19 restrictions prevented the group from singing together, so they were forced to mime on the video. Most interestingly, the introduction of a workplace choir has been increasing in popularity of late as more companies choose this collaborative vocal art to help invigorate, motivate, and encourage greater staff participation. The workplace choir embraces the healing power of singing and its ability to promote social connectedness, enjoyment at work, staff engagement and reduce stress. City of Derry Ms Crosbie said that the City of Derry itself was just as much an important part of the success of the festival as the music and it was heart-warming to see how the music resonated with the locals, as well as with

visitors and those who watched online around the world. “One of the very best and beautiful things about Derry is the warmth and generosity of its people, and its welcome, and we saw that that welcome made its impact with an even bigger global audience this year,” she said. “Whether it was in person or online, Derry made its mark and resonated with so many people, which is what it is all about. Our festival showcases this wonderful place and is a true celebration of song, and the joy it brings.” The 2021 Festival was funded by Arts Council Northern Ireland, the Department for Communities, Derry & Strabane District Council, Inner City Trust, The Community Foundation, Donegal County Council, Creative Ireland Programme, Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, and sponsored by Tourism Northern Ireland, Caldwell & Robinson Solicitors, Allstate NI and FinTrU.

For more information visit:





CHRISTMAS // GIFT IDEAS FESTIVE CANDLES AT DANDY LION FROM ST. EVAL. Figgy Pudding Tin Enjoy the sweet and fruity scent of Christmas with Figgy Pudding. Burn Time: up to 45 hours £12.50 Orange & Cinnamon Tin Warm the home this Christmas with our tangy and zesty Orange & Cinnamon fragrance. Burn Time: up to 45 hours £12.50 Inspiritus Robin Candle Hand poured with a wax blend

and the warming, spicy scent of Inspiritus; cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. Perfect to warm the cockles of the heart and lift the spirits. Enjoy a festive burn time of up to 18 hours. £10.00 Winter Thyme Gold half Dipped Pillar Candle Stunning gold and green candle bursting with the scent of Winter Thyme. Each candle can be enjoyed lit for up to 90 hours. £18.00 Other fragrances available

FUN AND GAMES AT JUPITER & LO THIS XMAS Fetish Fun This award winning board game will allow you to explore your inner kink with this intimate introduction to the world of fetish. RRP 15.99 You & Me A beautifully presented game that really is all about you (two)! But will it be “you or me” who enjoys the undivided attentions of their partner? Only the dice can decide! RRP £16.99

Sex Marks The Spot Sex Marks The Spot is a game of chance where all roads lead to romance...and raunchiness! RRP 21.99 Monogamy Monogamy is different from other adult games on the market as the emphasis is on the communication between you and your partner - finding out what really turns each other on and then translating this into an erotic fantasy to remember at the end. RRP £27.99



SLEEPOVER // MALDRON A MONTH OR SO back we were given the opportunity to try out the Maldron in Belfast City Centre. This was around the time that our localised restrictions were easing and there was a bit more life about the city again. My husband and I booked ourselves in for a Saturday night and we arrived for check-in around mid afternoon. But first lets take a look at where the Maldron is located; it’s literally about four minutes walk from Belfast City Hall so completely central to the shops, restaurants and nightlife. From the outside, this new building is impressive and imposing - stretching into the every growing city skyscape. Large swathes of glass offer an intriguing glimpse of what’s ahead. Stepping inside doesn’t disappoint. The social aspect of this hotel is an obvious intention, the reception is stylish and compact and leads straight to the bar which of course is a hub of activity - a great vibe when entering the hotel, immediately giving off a friendly and lively feel. We checked into our room which was on the


ninth floor. I’ve got to be honest I love a view, and I got it from this room. I could see down into the lively square behind Robinson’s Bar, up the street towards Donegall Square, and over the rooftops towards Stormont on one side and Cavehill on the other. The room was fresh, tidy, clean, contemporary and well thought out. A fabulous big bed, large flat screen TV, great storage to hang our clothes, a table for the essential pre-drinks, and the ensuite was uber-cool (who doesn’t love a rain head shower?). Once we’d settled in we headed down to the bar for a pint or two before heading into the hotel restaurant for dinner. Not to diminish how great the room was, but the food in this place is totally gorgeous. I’ve stayed in lots and lots of hotels, and often the food offering is, well, mediocre. And, if I’m brutally honest I was expecting the same here. But no, the food was outstanding! Both my husband and I indulged. We had signature hotel cocktails, and a three course meal. I’ll not go through each dish independently, but each was as tasty as the next - while each independently standing on their own merit. To say I/we

would recommend this restaurant is an understatement. Adam Curley, the head chef has created a menu that caters for all tastes, it’s little wonder he won the Institute of Hospitality Chef of the Year Award. Regardless of whether you stay over in this hotel (maybe you live near the city and are just in for the day), I’d definitely recommend that you try this restaurant! The night went on, we went out into the city, got fairly lit and made our way back to the room for the night. The bed was super comfy and made for great slumber. Breakfast in the morning was great - perfect for helping with the hangover. All in all, yes, if you’re looking somewhere to stay on your Belfast City break try out the Maldron. Staff were friendly, professional and knowledgeable, and when you put that together with the rest of the review - this is a no brainer for you.

BELFAST BIG NIGHT OUT Catch up in the city and celebrate those missed moments!

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THE BROWNS, THE HILARIOUS television series that began as two-minute comedic sketches on Instagram, returns for a second season November 5 on OUT TV and Amazon Prime, with new episodes airing Fridays. Starring drag duo Tammie Brown and Kelly Mantle — Brown as a semi-retired singer and homemaker and Mantle as her delightfully dipsomaniac manager and best friend — The Browns re-imagines the family sitcom in a way that is strange, vulgar, and deliciously outrageous. “I grew up on shows like Step by Step, Full House, and Family Matters,” says the series’ creator John Mark (who also plays the role of Brown’s son). “I wanted to make a show that implemented traditional 90’s family sitcom tropes into a queer space.” The cast is thrilled to return for another season. “Tammie and I are two comedic corpses living out our Hollywood fantasies,” says Kelly Mantle, going on to explain how the two became fast friends and collaborators: “When I first met Tammie, she was singing to herself in the mirror while guzzling champagne and playing with dancing troll dolls. I thought she was the ghost of Edith Piaf! I immediately knew this was the kind-of batshit crazy I needed in my life.” Tammie Brown is the drag persona created by Keith Glen Schubert, best known for her stand-out appearances on RuPaul’s Drag Race and RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars. She has released four music albums including the popular hit


singles, “Port-A-Potty Prostitute” and “Love Pinata,” and regularly performs all over the world. Kelly Mantle made Oscar’s history by being the first openly non-binary person ever to be approved and considered by The Academy for both Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress for their role in the feature film, Confessions of A Womanizer. Mantle is a graduate of Second City in Chicago and has appeared on television in RuPaul’s Drag Race, Lucifer, Modern Family and Mike & Molly, among others. Their uncle is the late great Mickey Mantle. On the popularity of Sheila, the zany character they play on The Browns, Kelly Mantle says, “People connect with Sheila because she has no filter, no censor and no shame. She says what we’re all thinking. She’s bold and blunt, but it goes down smooth like Southern Comfort.” The first iteration of The Browns was a few improvised sketches John Mark and Tammie Brown made in 2018 at Mark’s home. “It was a casual two days of playing around and shooting on a micro-budget,” he remembers. “It wasn’t until people started responding to the skits online that we realized there was potential to scale the show into something bigger.” In early 2020, Producer Entertainment Group signed on as executive producers and helped John Mark successfully pitch the series to OutTV. Producer

Entertainment Group (PEG) is a fullservice artist management firm, record label and production company proudly representing many of the world’s top drag queens and LGBTQ+ talent. The first season consisted of three episodes with content built from the Instagram sketches. The new season of The Browns is five thirty-minute scripted episodes. Switching to a scripted format allowed the creative team to weave a more complex story line. “In season two, Tammie returns home after a journey of self-discovery to find her peculiar family in even odder form,” Mark continues. “Amidst the chaos of her son’s viral fame, her best friend Sheila’s drunken hijinks, and her father’s involvement in a pyramid scheme, Tammie decides to take a shot at love! She is challenged to be more vulnerable with everyone around her, including her offbeat family and potential suitors.” He credits the success of The Browns to the incredible cast (in addition to Brown, Mantle, and Mark, Paige Klone plays Ethel, Roy Allen is Daddy and Jackson Davis is Jackson) and their chemistry, as well as the many queer talents who have lent their names and time to the project. Season one featured RuPaul’s Drag Race alums Kasha Davis, Laganja Estranja, Ongina, Raja, Tynomi Banks, and drag icon, Coco Peru. In the new season, The Browns welcomes drag legends Katya, Honey Davenport, Mariah Balenciaga, and Sherry Vine, as well as non-drag


notables Cazwell and Jen Kober. Caroline Williams guest directs episodes two and four. “Creating a unique space where famous queer club performers have to deal with wholesome family sitcom themes feels subversive and exciting to me as a filmmaker,” John Mark reflects. He promises that while the new season will be a scaled-up version of The Browns, it will remain true to the sidesplitting family fun that fans have fallen in love with. For more information, visit Follow Tammie Brown on IG @ planettammie Follow Kelly Mantle on IG @kellymantle, Twitter @thekellymantle, and FB @ Kelly Mantle Follow John Mark on IG @ johnmarkcreative




ACROSS N.I THERE ARE so many towns to explore and like many people I’m guilty of driving through them on route to somewhere and not taking time to discover what they have to offer. This staycation takes us to Omagh’s Silverbirch Hotel, a pleasant drive of 80ish minutes from Belfast. It’s away from the hustle and bustle though not too far for those not keen on travelling. Pride was spread across the town being their inaugural celebrations, I thought I’d not only join the festivities but also stay over and have a full experience of the town. We arrived with rainbow colours on at around midday eager to celebrate, Adrian the hotel’s GM was there to greet us, he was such a gentleman, giving us a glass of champagne with strawberries (of course), he told us about the hotel, gave us directions and invited us back to the hotel after our plans at the pride event to try a cocktail that the bar staff had created all in the theme of Omagh Pride. After a chinwag we headed up to our room, it was so spacious we were expecting a twin or double though they gave us a family room with both a single and double bed, the room had all the mod cons one would expect e.g., flat screen tv, phone though the decor had a traditional feel which was so in keeping with the surroundings. The bathroom also had a tub with shower perfect for a family’s needs.


A little history and more info on the Silverbirch The Family-run hotel was established back in 1978 has an enviable reputation for fantastic food and accommodation. Benefiting from a winning combination of an excellent location and an experienced team, we have been providing guests with excellent service for over 40 years. Offering a home from home where guests can unwind and relax on the footsteps of the region’s famed Sperrin Mountains. Whether you’re staying on business, escaping for a romantic getaway, joining us for one of our popular country music nights or exploring the beauty of Northern Ireland with the whole family, they guarantee a truly relaxing experience in contemporary comfort. Whether away with the family, enjoying a romantic getaway, or visiting for business, they provide the perfect base for your trip to County Tyrone. With many family rooms, they can accommodate up to 145 guests, and also have a number of accessible rooms available. Their mantra is “Kick off your shoes and make yourself at home” -As we had engagements, we were away most of the day, we returned around 7pm with ample time to freshen up before heading for

food and drinks in Barreta Bar & Grill, it serves as a bar and entertainment room for both guests and the public. There was a great atmosphere and buzz around the place. The bar was full and there was a wedding taking place in the function room, in all we had a lovely evening, the food was tasty, the staff were friendly, and drinks were in full flow, what more could you ask for. We eventually retreated upstairs, not sure if it was the comfort of the beds or the access vino but we both slept like logs so much, so we slept in for Breakfast, sprinting down 10 minutes after last orders, thankfully there were no issues, the staff where more than happy to accommodate us with a needed fry up. It was so tasty. If you fancy a getaway to celebrate a special occasion or simply taking some time out with your nearest and dearest you should consider the Silverbirch Hotel. They are also taking bookings for Christmas party night Contact their team to learn more. Tel: +44 28 8224 2520 Email: Thanks so much for a wonderful stay Daniel May

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EUROPEAN GAY SKI WEEK IS BACK Les Arc France 2022 Ski holidays can often put the fear of god into some people and put others in a state of euphoria. I guess it depends really what you think a holiday is but I want you to all open your mind and give Ski holidays a chance because they really are something everyone should experience even at least once in a life time. I have memories of my very first High School trip to France as a young teenager so full of wonder and excited having practiced on the dry slopes with my classmates over the summer holidays in anticipation of my first ever winter Ski School Holiday back in 1992. At the time I must say I thought I was supper confident and would have no issue when I got to my resort. Obviously I wasn’t amazing and I had many bruises and I will admit I shed a few tears lol. The experience has always stayed with me for many reasons but mainly due to the amazing resort staff and ski instructors who pick you up when you fall and are with you all the way. Simply they want you to achieve something during your holiday and will help you progress as much as possible. My first Ski holiday was 100% a memorable one because I can remember the bruises the cold but mostly the fantastic learning experience and knowing I had achieved something very different. Since then though I have been many many times to different ski resorts in Europe and Aspen and have found my niche is defo a snowboard which for me I feel is much more stable and flexible. Over the years I have been lucky enough to venture with friends and larger groups and I have to say the atmosphere in the snow-capped mountains is something truly spectacular and is to be cherished. Yes I know some of you are screaming we want hot sun and beaches but Ski holidays can actually give you a sun tan and the destination facilities offer so much pampering that you might even forget there is snow on the ground.


Firstly for many it will be something completely new to them and a challenge which can be both daunting and exciting but at the forefront of your mind should be that this is a HOLIDAY and it’s going to be a unique experience and exciting. All ski resorts around the world offer ski schools for guests to use to both learn to ski/ snowboard and or simply mix with other like-minded people trying something very new. You will often learn on what they call the nursery slopes before being allowed to try the regular slopes all of which are rated due to difficulty or skills required. Fresh snow fall can often impact which slopes are open and at what times so beware things can change. Ski destinations are of course way more than simply snow and Ice and actually in some destinations you find people who never ski at all during the holiday and simply enjoy the social après ski atmosphere

and to be frank why not. THINK hot tubs, Saunas large outdoor events and yes lots and lots of good food and drink to well keep you warm not to mention the long nights dancing to Europe’s club sounds if that’s your thing. Thankfully the Gays do love to Ski and in America and Europe there have been dedicated Ski weeks for years and years think of Gay Prides In the snow and you will be on the right track. Many of these large events/ski festivals will be sponsored by large LGBTQ brands and clubs. . European Gay Ski Week 2022 will take place 19-26th March 2022. After a 2 year gap due to Covid-19 2022 is billed to be one of the best Gay Ski events yet The chosen resort is Les Arcs which is made up of four mountain resorts and the town of Bourg-Saint-Maurice down the valley.


where you can find lots more information about the event itself and also prices for event passes and accommodation. You can of course get to the destination from Ireland north and south using various airlines depending on your budgets from the cheap EasyJet, Ryanair options to BA. Or if you are really feeling the winter road trip that’s possible too but please make sure you are winter road prepared and have snow chains and the proper car insurance. Regardless of how you plan to arrive you will need to make sure you have checked out the events and passes you will need to book and pay for in advance. Some of the events and club nights will be themed and so like any Gay Pride or night event think White Party, Carnival etc. allows you to add these items to you suitcase list.

Among these five locations, Arc 1950 ‘Le Village’ and Arc 2000 are interconnected with a free bubble lift. These two ‘pedestrian only’ villages can, from the point of view of getting around, be considered one village and they are our home for EGSW 2022. Everything, the shops, the restaurants and all events, regardless of which village they will be taking place in, are easily within walking distance of each other and all selected accommodation. Arc 1950 ‘Le Village’ is nestled amongst the trees directly below Arc 2000 and the two villages are connected by a short pedestrian cabriolet, it takes less than two minutes to ride between the top and bottom stations. During event week the Cabriolet hours will be extended and run from 07.00 through to 03.00. For the night birds amongst you, we will have a shuttle bus which runs between the two villages from 03.00 to 05.00. The walkways of host villages are lined with bars, cafes and eateries including Italian,

Mexican, French, Savoyarde, crêperie, and American restaurants. Amongst the shops you’ll find everything from luxury shops selling the latest skiwear to rustic little boulangeries selling your warm morning croissants and every Thursday there is a market selling local produce under the clock tower in Arc 1950 ‘Le Village’. Other facilities include a Cinema, an Ice Rink, and Ten Pin Bowling, a variety of Wine Bars, Lounge Bars, Pubs and two Night Clubs. Like most Gay global events they are aimed to be as inclusive as possible and gay ski week is no different. With a multitude of accommodation types and costing options from Solo travellers to random shares, groups and couples to luxury options. For me I think this kind of event is something that you would defiantly try as a group because there will be so much going on and it will allow everyone in the group to be at the same level regardless of ski experience or lack of. European Ski week has a website of its own

Sometimes the extras of a ski holidays can add up so make sure you have accounted for extras such as Lift pass, Ski and clothing hire unless your bring a super stylish ones with you. Travel insurance is so important and will need to make sure that it has Winter Sports cover as this will make sure you are covered if anything bad does happen. In this Corvid world we live in now please make sure you keep on top of all the rules and regulations of what you need for travelling to France i.e. Vaccine certifications etc. European Gay Ski week is truly something unique because it combines a sport, people from all over the world, an atmosphere unlike any other but most of all its an event celebrating everything the LGBTQ is no matter where in the world you come from this community will welcome you aboard because it might be a place where you may arrive alone but will leave being part of one of the world’s biggest LGBTQ events and have friends to return with again and share memories with globally via social media. Other Gay Ski weeks and Events are available so why not check out the different options in Europe and USA. Maybe see you in the slopes stay safe and keep booking your next adventures.




THE CWS SUPERGIRL IS ending with its current 6th Season. I for one am ready to see Kara Danvers and the Super friends leave our screens, that said I have had a soft spot for the show I have loved it at times but mostly I have been disappointed and I feel I have an opportunity to vent my feelings and frustrations to our readers on what could have been this generations Buffy the Vampire slayer.

First of let me take you back to the early 80s When I lived for the Supergirl movie with Helen Slater and Faye Dunaway, Saturday nights consisted of my father taking me to the local video shop (remember those?) and my choices where either Secret of the sword, the He Man and She Ra feature Length film. Rainbow Brite , some obscure Olivia Newtown John VHS with her physical music video (I know Super gay pun intended) or Supergirl, I would re watch the latter over and over I would say all the catchphrases from the movie


such as “ LEAVE THIS PLACE AND DO NO HARM” the movie was panned and a box office failure its not even a cult classic but I loved it watched it when it came on tv, and when it was released on DVD and thought oh I can see why people thought this was shit but still I still enjoyed it. From then the Character of Supergirl as turned up in animation movies and tv series and Lara Vandervoort played her in Season 7 of Smallville and as great as she was it still didn’t feel like it was the girl of steel as no costume was ever worn. I would often wish that a new Supergirl movie would be made casting the likes of Blake Lively and Diana Argon in my head and then one day as I was casually on IMBD I saw on the news feed a Supergirl show was in the works. And would air on CBS, I didn’t want to get to excited as these falls through but month by month it looked like the show was actually going to happen when it got a straight to series order. At this time, I was going grieving the loss of a partner so news like this as silly as it may sound did give me some happiness and it was for me something to look forward to and something to get excited about.

Soon casting announcements where made, Mellissa Benoist from Glee was cast in the title role to be honest back then I thought not a great choice, I read some were Claire Holt who played Rebecka Mikaelson from the originals was in the run in who I thought would have been great but now I cant imagine any one else playing the role Mellissa was perfect. The next announcement was Ally McBeal herself Calista Flockhart cast as Cat Grant I thought wow they mean business hiring a big name like that. Next to be cast and I truly believe the angel of my recently late partner had something to do with this piece of casting news ,as my favourite character Lexi Grey from my all time favourite show in the world Greys Anatomy Chyler Leigh was going to play Alex Danvers Supergirl’s adopted sister I was on a natural high for days after this announcement. Other dream casting where added to the cast such as Helen Slater and Dean Cain who played Superman in the 90s.

The pilot was in production and all I had to do now was wait. A few months later the first image of Melisa in full costume was released my first reaction was WHAT, why is she wearing black legging under her skirt, I didn’t love it. MAY 2015 and a 6-minute trailer was released and wow I was blown away. It was like an actual movie no expense was spared and on film the costume looked fantastic. I watched that trailer every day until the pilot episode aired in October 2015, almost a year had passed when news first broke I thought this is going to be massive! the next


big thing! this is going to be like Buffy all over again, Boy was I wrong. Over the next few episodes I thought ok the show is finding its feet, and later in the season it did have some great episodes, it was written well the effects where great epically for a tv show it was what it was, all the while I was hoping for better villains. Towards the end of the first season the ratings started to decline, and the show was on the bubble. Would Supergirl only get to fly for one season? Alas the CW picked it up for season 2 where it would join other Arrowverse shows such as The Flash and Arrow. Unfortunately, Calista Flockhart who stole every scene would not return as production was relocated from LS Angeles to Vancouver. Season 2 Introduced Tyler Hochlin as Superman and they were very careful not to have him outshine Supergirl. Chyler Leighs character Alex came out as Lesbian, the first LGBTWQ+ character to be represented in an Arrowverse series the character Lena Luthor sister of Lex was introduced. Playing her was fellow Irish actress Katie McGrath. Desperate

Housewife Susan Mayer aka Terri Hatcher who played Lois Lane in the 90s superman series played the main villain for the seasons second half but by now you could tell this is a CW show, production and the writing went down hill and as each season went on it got worse. In season 3 there was one fight scene between Supergirl and Reign

suck but all hope wasn’t gone Season four introduced the first ever Trans Superhero Dreamer played by Nicole Maines who became a fan favourite and I hope to see her in more TV in the future she’s a grade above most CW actress. the show had so much potential to be great with so many characters and mythology that the writers could

could do with work .The list is endless but it will never come to pass as the show is over and it is time In conclusion I was largely disappointed in Supergirl that said I am a fan of most of the cast I think the did the best of what they where given and you can tell on screen they are ready to move on after 6 years. I have no doubt they will be out of work for long.

The season main Villain played by Odeete Annable who in my opinion as the acting talent of a wooden spoon, that fight Scene would be the last time we see any decent effects on Supergirl ever! it is as if the used all the budget for future seasons on that one sequence and you can tell its great. The more the show went on I got more frustrated at how bad it became somehow the writing ,production even the acting began to really

have used as material. I know if I was a writer for the show id have had Granny Goodness and the Female furies as villains and cast big. Bring Back Jenna Dewan as Lucy Lane as an insane Super Woman and have her kill Jimmy Olson for his exit story line. They could have use the omegaheadron as a storyline as it was hinted at in season one. They could have made Faye Dunaway an offer and bring her back as Selina god knows she

Even after the show Supergirl is still my favourite Superhero and as cheesy as it sounds, she is a beacon of hope, inspiration and kindness. At least fans of Supergirl won’t have to wait years to see her on our screens again Sasha Callie will portray a version of the Last Daughter of Krypton in the upcoming movie The Flash.



REVIEW // BEN MADIGANS SITUATED AT THE FOOT of Cavehill in north Belfast, Ben Madigans not only offers a fast, friendly and exceedingly good service in a beautiful setting, the award winning delicious food menu offers something for everyone. Ben Madigans offers one of the best dining experiences in the area with its mouth watering dishes uniquely prepared using fresh high quality ingredients. On my recent visit to Ben Madigans I was greeted by the supervisor Danny who I can only describe as an absolute gentleman. He introduced me to two waitresses called Lana and Karen who were so friendly, helpful and attentive and the service they offered was excellent. My partner and I chose to share the Fivemile Goats cheese starter whipped with honey, pickled organic beets, candied walnuts with a balsamic glaze which was the perfect beginning to a perfect meal. This was also served with beautifully cooked focaccia chips accompanied by lettuce cups. The


cheese was rich and delicious but wasn’t too overpowering and it was just the right amount for sharing.

it so tender and flavourful, this was served with melt in the mouth buttery cream potatoes and a red wine jus.

For the main dish my partner Tom opted for the traditional fish and chips. The haddock was lightly beer battered and the chunky chips were cooked to perfection. He also said the homemade tartar sauce was the “best he had ever tasted” - top quality at a great price.

Tom and I decided to share the trio of chocolate brownie dessert served with fudge sauce and caramel ice-cream which tantalised both of our tastebuds. The brownies were super moist in the middle with the perfect amount of chocolate, definitely the best brownies I have ever tasted.

I decided on the chef’s recommendation which was the ‘Featherblade’ of Beef and I can assure you I wasn’t disappointed. The beef was slow-braised which made

Ben Madigan’s offers something for everyone in a cosy, beautiful setting, with super friendly staff and amazing food. The next time you are in the area be sure to pop in for a perfect dining experience. If you don’t feel like sitting in, Ben Madigan’s Bar and Kitchen also offers a food to go menu, check out their website to view the full menu.





THU 17th FEB, 8pm

028 9033 4455 |



FRI 25th FEB, 8pm

028 3752 1821



Tickets: £20 Preview Shows: £17 No show on Sat 18 Dec

Box Office: 0300 123 7788

SAT 26th FEB, 8pm

Full Tour Dates:








As a festive main course, it would be hard to beat Cyprus Avenue’s


Celebrate Christmas with friends

Irish Turkey Crown, with cranberry


and family this year at Cyprus

stuffing, ham hock fritter with all


Avenue and let them take care of

the trimmings, but if you fancy


you with their top-notch food and

ringing the changes, the Mixed


drink, relaxed surroundings, and

Grill of East Coast Seafood

attentive, friendly service. They

(plaice, hake, cod, shellfish) with

are open for breakfast, lunch and

CA butter is hard to beat, and for

dinner every day over the festive

a plant-based meal the CA Style

period, and have a full vegan and

Nut Roast, with vegetables,

vegetarian menu available upon

potatoes & vegan gravy is a

request as part of their Christmas

hearty winter warmer.

set menu. Make sure you leave room To begin, why not try one of our

for one of Cyprus Avenue’s

favourite Cyprus Avenue dishes,

stunning desserts. We

the Crispy Duck Pancakes, with

love the sound of the

hoisin, pineapple and black butter

Black Forest Delice, with

marmalade. We also can’t wait to

pistachio and macarons,

try the Goats Cheese & Butternut

the Bramble Panna

Squash Tart, with pumpkin seed

Cotta with CA sloe gin


granita, and honeycomb granola, and of course Ma Brady’s Christmas Pudding with Darroze Armagnac Custard: if it ain’t broke! With Lunch at £29 and Dinner at £35, Cyprus Avenue is offering one of the very best Christmas Menus in Belfast.

NO.14 GEORGIAN HOUSE No.14 in Comber is a restaurant of discovery and delight, where chef Jim Mulholland has found his home within the walls of the beautiful Georgian House. Jim has a highly devoted team behind him who are ready to take you on a ‘flavour journey’ and explore the hidden gems of local


produce. The Christmas Menu, a celebration of culinary creativity, starts on 30th November. Dishes are



and since then has been our


“go to” eatery on the Ormeau Road. It was taken over in 2018

For afters, the Mulled Apple and Mixed

by the amazing husband and

Berry Crumble with Milk Ice Cream, or

wife team of Jonny and Christina

the Sticky Toffee Pudding with Toffee

Taylor, and in 2019 the restaurant

Sauce & Vanilla Ice Cream would be

won two prestigious awards-Bistro

the perfect ‘comfort food’ ending to a

of the Year for Northern Ireland in

delicious Yuletide Feast.

the NI Food Awards, and Casual Dining of the Year in Co Antrim in the NI Hospitality Awards. In 2021,

Follow @thegourmetboys on Facebook,

after a major refurbishment, Shed

Instagram, and Twitter

reopened and has gone from strength

Email -

to strength. The Christmas menu is stunning, and is

If you have any requests for restaurant


recommendations send us a message

Tuesday to Thursday: 2 Courses £23.95/

and we’ll get right back to you.

3 Courses £27.95, and Friday to Sunday: 2 Courses £25.95/ 3



Courses £29.95




We love the festive sounding Apple Cider, Thyme & White Onion Soup with Smoked Applewood Crute to begin, or perhaps the Jawbox Gin Cured Salmon


with Crème Fraîche, Dill,

priced and a two course


lunch is available at £15 per head.

& Caper Berries.

As well as the more traditional Festive

For mains,

Fare, No.14 will be offering some

the Fillet

outstanding alternatives, such as

of Hake

Pressed Rabbit Terrine with wild sorrel,

with Lemon

toffee parsnip and pear, or Pigeon

& Herb

and Roast Artichoke Pithivier with


girolles as starters, and Skeganore

Herb Cream

Duck with edamame, beetroot, port

Sauce would

and orange, or Dexter Fillet with

be a light

Roscoff onion, marrow butter, smoked

alternative to

garlic, salsify and beef cheek as mains

the ubiquitous

- all accompanied, naturally, by those

roast dinner,

glorious little Comber potatoes. And

and the Brie,

if your mouth isn’t already watering,

Cranberry and

the dessert of Dark Chocolate with

Chestnut Strudel

hazelnut praline, salted milk ice cream

with roasted

and cherry should seal the deal!

potatoes, root vegetables, mashed potato,


and shredded



sprouts is a Shed Bistro opened its doors in 2012

filling Vegetarian



WISH YOU WERE QUEER Travel.Radio - the digital radio station for the travel industry and people who just love travelling - is launching its first ever show dedicated entirely to the LGBTQ+ audience. Wish You Were Queer will launch on Saturday October 30 in partnership with The Business Creative, and will be a fabulous mix of news, views and music presented by Jamie Greaves, a veteran of the entertainment and event production business. As well as taking a light-hearted look at queer life Jamie will be focussing on news and events within the LGBTQ+ community across the globe and playing some of the best loved anthems. Jamie, who lives in Brighton, began his career as a presenter in commercial radio but has since worked producing entertainment in the travel sector, overseas, onboard cruise liners and within the UK. He has designed and delivered events, entertainment concepts and production shows for blue chip clients and industry leaders in the travel, tourism, charity and visitor attraction sector. He said: “Having been part of this vibrant industry for the majority of my life, I’m incredibly excited to be getting involved at Travel.Radio, especially amongst such a fantastic line-up of presenters and hosts. It’s been great fun planning the show – we’ve had some quirky ideas including some truly unique and fabulous features – it’s what we do at The Business Creative after all! I’m look forward to presenting a radio show once again and we may even get an occasional visit from my legendary drag persona – Miss Ida Down… See you on air!” Jamie is Creative Director at The Business Creative, a team of entertainment professionals with over 100 years experience between them in creative production and operations in the entertainment


industry. They have diverse backgrounds working at senior level with theme parks, tour operators, cruise ships, leisure attractions and Pride events. They devise, create and produce world-class entertainment experiences across the globe, bringing brands to life and engaging audiences of all diversities. Jason Hardy, Travel.Radio’s Station Manager, said: “Wish You Were Queer is a long-awaited addition to our schedule. We already have a strong LGBTQ+ following and as a diverse and inclusive radio station it is really appropriate to have a dedicated show. We are also delighted to welcome The Business Creative on board as the show sponsor and look forward to working with them on the creative input.” Wish You Were Queer will be a two-hour show broadcast every Saturday from 6-8pm. To mark the launch Travel.Radio has commissioned a rainbow version of their logo. Jane Maguire Goble, Director, The Business Creative, said: “The fellow Directors and I are so pleased to be supporting the travel industry in this turbulent era. Travel, hospitality, and leisure have been a huge part of not only The Business Creative’s history, but also our own careers and personal lives, so this is a wonderful opportunity to get to join forces with Travel.Radio – an inspiring project pioneered by a brilliant team. We look forward to bringing our innovative entertainment to the wonderful listeners.”






CHRISTMAS IN OCTOBER MAY seem odd for some though when you are in this game xmas venue’s plan months in advance and events take place as early as August. On 25th October Novelli’s launch took place and what a day it was, we arrived approx. 12 noon, the place was decorated in festive Christmas fashion complete with Tree, tables were named after each of Santa’s Reindeers, and they were dressed with novelty Santa hats and Christmas crackers, all these touches really transported the guests to December. Pre-Dinner we were spoiled with Cocktails and the most delicious wine, Conde Villar, Vino Verde which I have since order a box off, it was honestly that good unlike anything I’ve tasted before. We were served 3 exquisite courses of food using locally sourced products and suppliers, I couldn’t fault the menu if I tried. To start we had Local beetroot and Jawbox gin cured salmon, Smoked salmon pate, Neill’s flour wheaten bread, Abernethy butter. Portion size was perfect, the wheaten was cooked in induvial loaf tins it was super cute, the Salmon was perfection, I particularly loved the Pate, oh and the butter I could have eaten it with a spoon. The Main event I’ll describe as tradition with a little twist - Galloway turkey ballotine, Pork and herb stuffed roulade, crispy ham croquette, Ballymakenny potatoes, Armagh honey roasted root vegetables. Everything was divine though I must say I don’t usually eat roast potatoes, these were like something from a cookery programme, crispy on the outside and super smooth and soft inside, oh and I must mention the ham croquette, was not expecting this, such a nice change to regular ham and bravo for the Moorish stuffing – wow.


And to complete the meal desert we were served Clementine and gingerbread trifle, Clementine sponge, gingerbread foam, this was so far removed from a traditional trifle and perfect in my opinion, I didn’t leave a scrap. I dabble in the kitchen myself and intend to try and recreate though I know mine won’t come close to this. Jean Christophe was in attendance, what a pleasure meeting him, he was so friendly taking time to get to know each quest, spending time at each table. Thanks to Jean Christophe, his team in the kitchen and all the staff at AC Marriott for the invite and such a lovely afternoon. Their Christmas menu will be running from the last week in November and throughout December and I cannot recommend enough. The price is £29.95 for 3 courses. They also offer private dining for £39.95 to include a 3 course meal and a glass of bubbly on arrival or £45 option to include a 3 course meal, a glass of bubbly on arrival and a glass of wine with your meal. If something more casual tickles your fancy they are offering Christmas Socials for groups which includes tapas and prosecco for only £20 per person.


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