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Issue 22 June/July 2016 £3.95 / €4.95


“leaving one’s comfort zone can be scary but it’s always a good thing”





“I’m not interested in being unhappy”

PREP what you need

bri g hton >

we send the editor

to know

Poli ti c s i n NI > What’s the future?

tony webs ter > meet the artist

gay blood ban > the ban is lifted in NI

G N I MAG AWARDS > honour and celebrate

house music’s bad boy


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GNI mag EDITOR Kieran Clarke MANAGING DIRECTOR Tony Day DIRECTOR Fred Scott FASHION EDITOR Tony Webster PHOTOGRAPHY Tony Webster & Brad McClenaghan BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Daniel May EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Christopher Megrath SPECIAL THANKS TO Renato Barucco / Alex Bilmes, Esquire / Stephen Donnan / Lewis Cameron / Oliver Crothers Dublin Pride / Bliain Fitzpatrick / Meghan Gallagher / GastroGays / Boy George / Dr. Christian Jessen / Harry Matthews / Manchester Pride / Eamon McAuley / Hayden McGehan / Peccadillo Pictures / Mickey Taylor GNI MAG is published by: Lamb Promotions Ltd 145 Holywood Road Belfast, BT4 3BE Telephone | 028 90654314 Website |


All submissions to GNI are made on the basis of permission to publish the submission in GNI 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 Lamb Promotions or its agents shall be liable for loss or damage. We take great care to make sure all elements of GNI are accurate. However we accept no liabilty for any misprints that appear in this magazine. You should seek professional advice prior to following any advice offered in this publication. Lamb Promotions Ltd 2015


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contents STYLE


@GNI MAG TRIED AND TESTED From films to tech, music to telly, we round up the best of the best this month BLIAINE FITZPATRICK Pride: What is it good for? HAYDEN McGEHAN Our resident transdude talks coming out as trans (and awesome)


MICKEY TAYLOR House everyyy weekend (sorry) with the hottest musician and porn star in the biz DR CHRISTIAN The Doctor is in and nothing is off the cards for the nation’s favourite telly doctor


THE PRIDE GUIDE Your ticket to the biggest and gayest Pride celebrations this summer GNI MAG THE AWARDS We preview our very first award show, to be held in a glitzy locale later this year HIV AND PrEP We investigate the wonder drug that’s saving lives and causing controversy BOY FLIPPIN’ GEORGE The Voice judge and 80’s legend confides in Esquire’s Alex Bilmes THE OUTING It’s the only LGBT matchmaking festival in Ireland and we’ve got the inside track LBGT RIGHTS IN NI Are things are getting worse in Northern Ireland?


FASHION Loving the (gay) boy next door? TONY WEBSTER He’s shot for Vogue Italia, GQ, and he’s GNI MAG’s very own fashion editor GET THE LOOK Florals for Spring? Get the summer look with your high street faves


FITNESS Busting those pesky fitness myths and real lads stripping off for reasons we don’t need to go into here... FOOD Flamed Oysters with the GastroGays at one of Stockholm’s finest eateries HOME Kitting out your home with the poshest loos money can buy TRAVEL: BRIGHTON It’s not all hen parties and fish n’ chips on the beach, you know DATING Your dating problems solved by our agony uncle Eamon McAuley


Beth and Morena get hitched and give us all the #weddinggoals we could dream of


HEALTH Exercise: Just do it, yeah? COMING OUT Oli tells us his story

EDITOR’S letter Pride season is once again upon us. Can you believe it? That mean’s the time has come to dig those feather boas of the closet (cheeky), dust off your best heels and paint your face. If that’s your thing then, to quote my future husband Tim Gunn of Project Runway fame, ‘Make it work.’ If you are anything like me come Pride you’ll be wearing a pair of skinny jeans and your best #Masc4Masc shirt, standing awkwardly on the sidelines, sipping an overpriced WKD and wondering who thought it would be a good idea to put a shitty dance track on ‘Let It Go…’ The answer you are looking for is no-one. As with any Pride Issue, this one is packed with enough great content to keep you entertained from now until next summer. We’ve got New Yorker Renato Barucco’s take on the PrEP controversy, Love Proudly founder Stephen Donnan talks LGBT rights in Northern Ireland now that the DUP are back in power, and loads of other top quality stuff. Of course, no Pride issue would be complete without our annual Pride guide. We’ve left no stone unturned in our quest to bring you the biggest and best Pride celebrations around the UK and Ireland this summer. Elsewhere, we have an exclusive chat with telly’s hottest doctor – and star of Embarrassing Bodies – Dr. Christian Jessen, while Alex Bilmes of Esquire chats addictions, time in prison, and coming out in the 80’s with music legend and certified King of the Gays™: Boy George. We would also like to announce we are officially engaged to our newest cover star Mickey Taylor. You are all invited to the wedding. You may want to buy a hat. What’s not to love about the hottest musician working in the UK house scene right now? Mickey is a man of many talents, and we bloody well love the pants clean off him. You will too when you read our exclusive interview. This issue also marks my first year as GNI MAG editor. It’s been a wild ride, and I couldn’t be happier with what my team and I have achieved. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as we’ve enjoyed putting it together. Until next time Have a safe and Pride! KIERAN CLARKE GNI MAG EDITOR

For further information and bookings: T: +44 (0)28 9023 4888 E:

@ gni mag Tom Knight @TJ_Knight I can’t believe the #NHS are full on refusing #PrEP. Failing thousands of gay men in one stupid decision. Paul Dillane @Paul_Dillane Disappointed and angry by @NHSEngland’s decision not to roll out #PrEP? Throw your support behind #HIV organisations in your community! Last month, NHS England announced plans to reconsider their controversial decidison not to make PrEP available for at-risk men and women on the NHS. Just as we were going to press NHS England announced they would be sticking to their original decision. Responsibility to provide the treatment, health chiefs insist, falls on local authorities and not with NHS England itself. We’ve rounded up your tweets below, showing your shock and frustration at this senseless decision. #PrEPnow

TerrenceHigginsTrust @THTorguk “People who will feel the effects are the 2,500 MSM who will be needlessly infected with #HIV each year” #PrEP

Lee Dargue @leedargue Beyond appalled at the regressive headburying of @NHSEngland on #PrEP - we need to see legal advice you’ve been given #WhereisPrEP? Dylan B Jones @dylanbjones The worst thing about @NHSEngland’s decision is that if #PrEP was something that benefited straight people it’d be made available immediately. Matt Hodson @Matthew_Hodson Meeting now with other #HIV organisations to discuss @NHSEngland #PrEP decision. If nothing else this has galvanised our community action.

Prepster @TeamPrepster Again @NHSEngland washes its hands of PrEP again #NoPrEPNoPeace Jim McManus @jimmcmanusph Wholly reprehensible decision by @NHSEngland on #PrEP. Disappointing and short sighted. London Friend @lgbtfriend We’re hugely disappointed that @NHSEngland maintain they can not legally commission #PrEP C-GPO @Auriga__ If you think that #PReP shouldn’t be offered by the NHS, then quite frankly, you are wrong. Seeing so much BS tonight. Ian Green @ianrgreen NHS rejects anti-HIV treatment Prep, dismaying charities. @THTorguk now calls on @Number10gov to act. FOR MORE, TWEET US AT @GNIMAG AND FOLLOW US AT FACEBOOK.COM/GNIMAG





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Desert Island Dicks

Classical gas: Post-Potter Radcliffe plays a corpse in ‘Daniel’s directorial debut

It’s Weekend At Bernie’s meets Cast Away for Dan Radcllife and Paul Dano in Swiss Army Man

1 Desert Island Dicks It’s Weekend At Bernie’s meets Cast Away for Dan Radcllife and Paul Dano in Swiss Army Man

“You know, I’d always thought that right before I died, my life would flash before my eyes and I would see wonderful things, but as I was hanging up there I didn’t see much of anything.” So says Paul Dano, slipping a noose around his neck at the start of oddball comedy Swiss Army Man. Dano plays Hank, a man marooned on a deserted island. Hank is in the process of hanging himself when he spots a corpse wash ashore. This is “Manny”, a fleshy suicide played with dead-eyed stupor by a Daniel Radcliffe who is clearly at ease with his acting choices post-Potter. (Fun fact: this is Radcliffe’s meatiest big screen role since 2013, when he played a murder suspect in Alexandre Aja’s fantasy horror Horns, and as the tusslehaired gay beat poet Alan Ginsberg opposite Dane DeHaan in John Krokidas broadly factual Kill Your Darlings. We are, of course, deliberately discounting the torpid and wholly unnecessary Victor Frankenstein in which Radcliffe plays the long-suffering Igor to James McAvoy’s Frankenstein). (Dano, meanwhile, has been largely quiet since his breakout role as Dwayne in indie darling Little Miss Sunshine which had its Sundance premiere ten years ago). Like many corpses, Manny spends a good portion of Swiss Army Man farting. At times his gaseous eruptions quite literally propel the story forward, leading to one unforgettable scene in which Hank uses one particularly powerful eruption to ride Manny like a jet ski towards land while the latter’s hairy arse remains on display throughout. Manny, as you may have guessed, is no mere corpse. At one stage he regains the ability to talk, albeit with limited memory of his premortem life. Unsurprisingly, most (if not all of what we see on screen) occurs inside Hank’s head. The ensuing 95 minutes of this surreal dark comedy contain enough scatological humour, masturbation jokes and magical genitalia to make the cast of MTV’s Jackass blush. Swiss Army Man also marks the feature film debut of directorial duo ‘Daniels.’ Better known as Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Daniels’ best-known work to date was the memorable video for Lil John’s ‘Turn Down for What’ which went viral for a brief period in 2013. Within no time at all Hank discovers Manny’s various “powers”, which include a handy karate chop action, using his body to store fresh water,


and a “special compass” i.e. Radcliffe’s dick which miraculously points the way home. Such playground humour coupled with the fact that Swiss Army Man contains more trumps than the Republican National Convention prompted walkouts among the traditionally liberal attendees of Utah’s Sundance Film Festival when the film premiered in January. In spite of the protests, demand for tickets was so high that industry rag Variety reported “hundreds” being turned away including “a few industry VIPs.” But Animal House: The Holiday this aint. Clickbait headlines about “Daniel Radcliffe’s farting corpse movie” aside, Swiss Army Man proves to be a beautifully shot and earnestly produced film about two men (or rather one man and a corpse) forming a surprisingly tender friendship to help each other find the way home and rediscover what they left behind. The late addition of Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Manny’s ex Sarah gives an added poignancy, leading to one scene in which Hank creates a Michel Gondrylike tableux of discarded rubbish in the style of the Swiss Family Robinson to jog Manny’s memories of the life he has forgotten. “Manny,” says Hank at one point, “I think your wang is guiding us home. It’s magic.” And with that, we were sold on this oddball arthouse comedy.

Swiss Army Man is out June 17 in the US. A UK release date has yet to be confirmed.

Clickbait headlines aside, Swiss Army Man is a beautiful and earnestly produced film about two men trying to find their way home

Turn down for whom? Directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert are relative unknowns.

Grand Designs One £250m revamp later and the new Tate Modern is open for business

Tate Half Hot Mum: The New Tate Modern by Herzog and de Meuron. Image by Hayes Davidson.

With 5.7m visitors last year (roughly double the number it was designed to hold, as any visitor can tell you) the Tate Modern is the UK most visited museum. Now, thanks to a considerable expansion of their premises on London’s Southbank, the Tate Modern Switch House (named after part of the original Bankside power station the building now occupies) is ready to open. The Tate’s new building boosts the museum’s existing gallery space by 60% to accommodate the boom in visitors. Set across 11 floors, the Switch House rises from its basement Tanks, the world’s first museum spaces dedicated to live art, to the tenth floor viewing area and its views of the capital. Between them, three levels chart the story of contemporary art from the 1960’s while the existing Boilerhouse will be home to new displays exploring art made since the 1990s. Other floors will contain a bar, shops and learning spaces.

“It should be like a cathedral,” says Jacques Herzog of Herzog and de Meuron, the Swiss architects behind the new plans, “with these smaller areas where you can be in a more intimate side section, but feel part of a bigger whole.” Frances Morris, the new director of the Tate, has promised a greater focus on international and women artists. The museum’s existing collection by Picasso and Matisse will remain, joined by more recent works including the Tate’s most recent acquisition: a seven-metre tall sculpture called ‘Tree’ by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei which will be housed in the museum’s iconic Turbine Hall. The new Tate Modern opens June 17


Hold it together for this emotional Aussie AIDS drama Tissue’s at the ready for this beloved memoir turned film

3 The drama is helped considerably by the addition of every Aussie screen veteran you can think of 16 | GNIMAG.COM

2015 was a bumper year for queer cinema, with Carol and The Danish Girl scooping up a fair chunk of the brass come awards season. 2016 has not had quite the head start, but that is set to change with the arrival of this ambitious Aussie drama. Based on the much-loved memoir (and later play) by LGBT activist Timothy Conigrave — which was published just a few months after Conigrave’s death — Holding The Man arrives with much less fanfare than its Hollywood siblings. It’s 1976 and teenager Tim (Ryan Corr) is cast in the school production of Romeo And Juliet. It’s here that he first catches sight of star football player John (Craig Stott). Tim follows John like a devoted puppy, and inevitably the spark of attraction is mutual. Their schoolboy

romance is complicated by inevitable obstacles at the school before eventually blossoms into a relationship before being torn apart by the advent of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. It is the archetypical LGBT romance writ large (and set in Australia). There is a genuine chemistry between the two leads, even if they are somewhat too old to convince as teenagers. They do however grow into their roles while the soundtrack from Blondie to Rufus Wainwright introduces the necessary amount nostalgia required for such. It goes without saying that tears will come before the end. The drama is helped considerably by the addition of every Aussie screen veteran you can think of — from Geoffrey Rush, to Kerry Fox, Guy Pearce and Anthony LaPaglia.

Holding The Man is proof positive of the difficulty in bringing gay-themed movies to mainstream audiences. Despite the glowing reviews and a cast of Aussie luminaries, the film has largely managed to fly under the radar. A year on from its Australian debut it is still waiting for a US release. It has now arrived in the UK thanks to Peccadillo Pictures. Full credit goes to director Neil Armfield for bringing this beloved and important work of queer literature to the big screen.

Holding The Man is available now on Peccadillo player, peccadilloplayer/

4 19 (and a bit) years later Pottermania returns Here they are: the first photos of the new Potters from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Ginny (Poppy Miller) looks unnervingly like Bonnie Wright, who played the youngest Weasley since Chamber of Secrets. Albus Severus (Sam Clemmett) looks every bit the Hogwarts student in his robes, while Harry ( Jamie Parker) looks exactly the overworked Ministry of Magic employee he grew into. The photos debuted on Pottermore, J.K. Rowling’s website, along with her thoughts on the casting (which we have to agree is spot on). Images of the WeasleyGranger clan and even a middle-aged Draco Malfoy have since followed. Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first Potter tale to be presented on stage.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child officially opens at the Palace Theatre London in July 2016,

Yer a middle-aged man, Harry: Jamie Parker, Sam Clemmett and Poppy Miller as the new Potters

All in the name of a banging tune Bright Light Bright Light returns with his much anticipated third album

There’s no sign of difficult third album syndrome for Welsh disco crooner Bright Light Bright Light aka Rod Thomas whose latest single ‘All in the Name’ from his latest record Choreography is the most upbeat electro dance track we’ve heard in ages. ‘All in the Name’ premiered on The Graham Norton Show, where Rod was supported by a little-known artist by the name of Sir Elton John

along for the performance. The pair have previously worked together and Thomas even toured with Sir Elt back in 2014. The video for ‘All in the Name’ is available online right now and, as the name suggests, the choreography is pretty slick. Thomas has also recruited the entirety of the Scissor Sisters to make appearances,. Thomas also announced a number of UK tour dates with tickets on sale now.

Choreography is available for pre-order and is released July 15


The Vanquish Zagato Concept is the latest collaboration between the two biggest manufacturers in the world

The Diavolo is in the detail Have Aston Martin and Zagato created the most beautiful car ever made?


Five years ago, Aston Martin teamed up with Italian design house Zagato to make one of the most beautiful cars of the last quarter century: the V12 Zagato. The 510horsepower coupe, painted in a stunning Diavolo Red, wound up getting a limited release of just 150 units. And is it any surprise given how beautiful it is? Now, Aston Martin and Zagato have done it again. What you’re looking at is the

Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Concept. Yes, the ”Concept” bit is a part of the name, but it’s a dead cert that Aston Martin will wind up making at least a few of these for a very select audience. As the name suggests, the car is based on the Vanquish, which comes equipped with a six-liter, 569-horsepower V-12 engine. The design was a collaboration between teams at Aston Martin and Zagato in

Milan, bringing out Zagato trademarks like the twin-bubble roof and the wraparound windshield profile while preserving Aston Martin’s iconic DNA in the grille and headlamps. The car has a retractable spoiler along with “bladed” taillights that are supposed to evoke Aston’s Vulcan hypercar. As you can probably guess, the entire car is carbon fiber. And no, you will never be able to afford one.

Give your ears a treat House hit of the summer, an instant classic!

Maff Boothroyd and Deep Matter are no strangers to collaboration and this time they team up with Lurgan lad Conleth Kane on this upbeat summer house tune. Written by Conleth this song seems to tell the tale of a journey travelled, sometimes we all know there’s a point when we should just stop trying for something that’s not there. No doubt you’ll be hearing this


tune in clubs throughout the summer, and if you’re old enough to remember the 90’s then you’ll notice the definite nod in the sound . The lyrics are contagiously repetitive and you’ll not be able to help yourself singing this song in your head even after just the first listen.

Giving it up is out in July.


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Oh God, SO beautiful. Yes please. BOB THE DRAG QUEEN

Walk into the room purse first and slayyyyyy! PAM ST CLEMENT

Would actually quite like a pint of gin with Pat Butcher’s ghost in the Old Vic, thanks CELEB BULGE SHOTS

Sustaining our flagging interests since the birth of Instagram. More please @justinbieber VICTORIA BECKHAM

Our new aesthetic is leaked hiphop albums circa 2003 So awful it’s already become an instant classic #banger


Oh God, SO terrible. No thanks. CELEBS STILL DYING

RIP Prince, Victoria Wood, Terry Wogan, David Gest, Ronnie Corbett and Paul Daniels :’( THE NEW TOP GEAR

As bad as stalling in the middle of a roundabout while your car is literally on fire BIKINI BOTTOM

Spongebob the Musical is now a thing that exists and we don’t know whether to cry or run away screaming DALE WINTON

The 61-year-old Supermarket Sweep host has come out... as a Donald Trump supporter. That explains the tan, eh Dale?

Sex and the single man with...

Blíain Fitzpatrick Pride. What can I say about Pride that hasn’t been said before? To do that school thing of quoting the dictionary definition at the start of an essay (editor: really?!?), Pride is ‘a feeling of satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of one’s close associates or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.’ So why celebrate Pride in the first place? Every summer we come together to stop traffic as we parade through our local city centres to be the gayest gays we can gaily be. It’s also a chance to remind ourselves (and the ‘normals’) of our gay struggles past and present, and how far we have come as a community. Of course, like any gay celebration properly executed, means gallons of glitter, strippers on floats, rippling torsos, and musical tributes so camp even Cher couldn’t stand it. So what’s left when you strip away the smoke and mirrors and the overpriced alcopops? What place does Pride have in on our journey through life? Is it merely a veneer we apply when we want to appear strong? Or is it something that explodes from within us when we need it?

When we have Pride in ourselves it’s clear to see we are all attractive, strong, successful and admired (yes – even you). These are all obvious traits in someone who clearly Has Their Shit Together, right? When things don’t work out it can leave our personal pride at an all time low and that is never a good thing. That’s why I’ve made this handy five-point format thing to keep your pride on top. 1. Know your worth Don’t be the kind of person who uses relationships to fix their personal problems. If it doesn’t work out you’ll find yourself feeling worse off than before. Value your worth and how much you have to offer the world.

So what’s left of Pride when you strip away the smoke and mirrors, the overpriced alcopops, and the headless glittery torsos?

RECENTLY I’VE FOUND MYSELF AT a crossroads. I am still recovering from the biggest heartbreak of my life. I will probably be recovering from it a long time to come. If you’re wondering why I’m sharing personal information, first off it’s my column! Secondly, it’s important to share things sometimes, especially because in moments of despair we look to people who have experienced similar troubles for answers and empathy, and if I can help any of you by sharing this story then maybe it will have been worthwhile. There aren’t many of us who don’t dream of some day meeting The One, that genetically perfect human who is destined to make all prior romantic mishaps seem worthwhile. So when you feel like The One might finally have appeared it can be difficult not to throw your entire existence into it, even at the risk of allowing it to consume you.

2. BE STRONG People respect strength, not arrogance. Have a strong moral backbone and don’t be afraid to stick to your guns. People will admire your principals.

3. BE KIND Compassion is like universal magic dust. Use it liberally and help make a difference to others. This is something we can all learn to take pride in. 4. REMEMBER THAT YOU MATTER Relationships can be tricky, so always remember your needs are just as important as your other half ’s, and any partnership worth having will allow for both of you to get what you need. 5. BE YOURSELF It’s a bit of a cliché but it’s vital that you’re honest about who you are as a person and what you want from the beginning of any relationship. With any luck this will help you to avoid any nasty surprises later on and ensure that even if things don’t work out you sustained a strong sense of integrity and were true to yourself. That’s the important thing.



Pride: More than flags


Image via Kingdom



WHEN I CAME OUT AS gay back in 2011 via a 1500 word email with the subject line MOM I’M PREGNANT, I wrote that I wasn’t going to become one of those flag waving lesbians. I had no intention of jumping straight into pride parades. I just wanted to be with the girl I was into and for that to be okay. Queer pride wasn’t on my radar in any way, shape, or form. I was just trying to get on with it, ya know? Since then I’ve established that I’m transmale and done the whole coming out thing all over again. This time around it was something that I did for only me, and with it came a greater sense of pride. To announce myself as gay – “into more than just boys” – was something that I had to do before I could let people know I had a girlfriend because for whatever reason the world sees heterosexuality as the default. But letting people know I was trans was different. I’d reached a point where I knew for sure the lesbian label didn’t fit and needed to do something to find stability and pride in my authentic self. April 4, 2015, was the game-changing day. I was ready to live a life where I was happy in my own skin and able to look in the mirror and feel grounded in the man I was and am, and to appreciate him for who he was in that moment. I was ready to discover my own version of pride, but before I could do that I had to take a look back at who I had been. I am incredibly proud of the person I was before. I find it hard to understand the number of trans people out there who are ashamed of their birth names, because as far as I am concerned that name links to the person who made all of this possible. To have pride in my current self I’ve had to find a mutual respect between Hayden and Hayley. To recognise that she was an integral part of my evolution to where I am now. I used to have a little pride, now I have a lot. Sure, there may be many “What if I figured this out earlier?” scenarios to think on – but they aren’t worth my time and effort. Regrets are for suckers

and the only direction any of us should be looking is forwards. With pride gained through growth and acceptance of who we are, and have been, we’ve got this. PRIDE MEANS DIFFERENT THINGS TO different people, but it’s important to realise that pride, queer pride, in particular, is about a lot more than parades and flags. To me, pride is staying true to who I am on all levels of my being. It’s about who I am, not just what I am, and about keeping my attitude in check to represent myself, and the community I am a part of, in the best way possible. Pride is built from a combination of positive feelings toward the unique elements that make me, me. My talents, my likes and dislikes, my adventures, my nationality, my friends, my family, the story I have lived, am living, will live in the future, and of course my gender identity. The journey to self-pride is a task and a half, and it isn’t one I am going to squander by being a douche bro who couldn’t give a damn. There are days when pride comes super easy to me, where I could stand in an auditorium filled with thousands of people and talk about how wonderful “the translife” is and how grateful I am that this is my truth. But there are also days where I am the one who opposes my truth and makes me feel like it’s wrong. It’s a process to get here and stay here, but there is no denying that it’s worth it. I never got to live life as a flag waving lesbian, because that identity wasn’t ever me. These days, I’m living it up in Jasper, Alberta, as a trans flag coloured tie-dye tee wearing transman, and it feels so fucking right. They raised the trans flag at the Jasper firehall for IDAHO a couple of weeks ago and it was wild. Pride isn’t always about flags, but it is sometimes! Stay proud, keep it golden, lust for evolution of the real you, and be visible for those that can’t.

Pride means different things to different people, but it’s important to realise that pride, queer pride, in particular, is about a lot more than parades and flags




Words by Christopher Megrath Images by Alien Beach Records



With the UK music scene dominated by one hit wonders and questionable dance tracks, a fresh sound is long overdue. Enter Mickey Taylor. With the sex appeal of James Dean and a musical talent far beyond his peers, Mickey is the ideal man to put a fresh stamp on the music industry. From the release of his sophomore album ‘Puppet’s Lament’ to being crowned Hottest British Porn Star at the Prowler Awards, the popularity of this Spotifyverified artiste has skyrocketed in recent months. We catch up with the hottest recording artist around to talk music, Twitter and Kingdom Hearts.



“I think my style is key to how well I’ve been received and how lucky I am to do what I do. I’ve always been in a state of flux. If I have a radical or weird style idea I go for it! I enjoy being adventurous and trying new things. If I encourage people to be themselves I’m happy.” When we first meet Mickey Taylor his hair is icewhite and slicked back, his eyebrows bleached to match. It’s a challenge to conventional style and a fuck-you to what is seen as typically attractive. By the night of his win at last month’s Prowler Awards, his hair was jet black and cropped in a trendy quiff. Mickey’s ever-changing looks are more than mere trendsetting – they embody and accentuate his alternative charm. Lack of diversity in the music industry is well known, but Mickey is not the sort of man to be told how to dress. “Many industries are stuck in a lot of ways,” he explains. “And they have this stupid idea of what a guy should look like. You know… toned, usually white, little to no tattoos. I wanted to be different and show something different. People shouldn’t be made to feel insecure because of a preconceived idea of the perfect male figure. We should love ourselves for the shape and size we are, and the way we dress and look.” When he speaks his voice is light and airy, and yet rich and powerful when singing. His signature style is every bit the bad boy persona your mother warned you about. When we ask about his chameleonic style and how his various looks have influenced his career, Mickey is the first to agree. “I think my style is key to how well I’ve been received and how lucky I am to do what I do. I’ve always been in a state of flux. If I have a radical or weird style idea I go for it! I enjoy being adventurous and trying new things. If I encourage people to be themselves I’m happy.” It’s clear to see why Mickey is so adored by his fans. And yet when we press him as to why so many see him as God’s tattooed gift to the world, the electronic and house star doesn’t quite see why. “I think, at times, people can underestimate me. Or they think I’m less likely to do well. Or that I’m not as good as other people in this industry. But I’ve been modelling for three years and in the music industry for over a year. I’ve worked really hard to establish myself and show people what I can do. I’m in no way finished with what I want to show or do for my fans, but I hope I’ve made an impression.” But Mickey Taylor is no mere underdog. It’s no accident that in recent months his popularity has skyrocketed, and yet he remains adorably modest. It’s fair to say that Mickey has made far more than an impression. His first album, the spectral Puppet’s Lament, was released in January to critical acclaim. The sound is a far cry from the average alternative artist desperate to prove themselves to the public.


Instead, Puppet’s Lament transports you to the hottest day of summer, with the glaring heat and pumping bass of tracks like ‘Dirty’, before throwing you into a downward spiral over the relationship you never had with tracks like ‘Pain’. Puppet’s Lament is everything a house album should be: every word delivers a punch while the beat pounds through your chest. “I wanted something that people could emotionally relate to,” Mickey explains. “[Grammy Award-winning musician] Zedd is really good at that. His lyrics are strong and show both the good and bad sides of love but are still huge dance tracks. That was my vision for Puppet’s Lament, but doing it in a way that added a techno, alternative edge. The album isn’t what I would call mainstream pop, which is what I like, but I think it will be interesting to show people what I have in store for the next album.” The album performed better than Mickey could have hoped, and rightly so. It climbed the electronic charts and won this handsome 23-year-old a legion of new fans. Buoyed by the album’s success, Mickey reveals that work is already underway on a follow-up. “[Puppet’s Lament] tells a story and I love that people enjoyed it. Never did I believe it would get chart recognition, so I’m super glad and so happy that it did. It makes me want to work harder for even bigger and better things! I’ve got new music ready to be released any day now,” he teases. “I can’t say when it will be out, but I’m hoping for later this year. I’ll be working with other artists on their albums this year too, which is pretty cool.” Not one to keep a low profile, Mickey has already declared that “This next album will be my defining record in the music industry. The biggest goal I have is having a record with 18 tracks on it. I plan to release six music videos which will all link into one story. A few collaborations too. Essentially I want to vocally and lyrically show people something powerful and strong.” Such was the reception to Puppet’s Lament that future Mickey Taylor records will inevitably have big shoes to fill. With

the likes of Beyoncé and Rihanna dropping albums left, right and centre, we can only speculate if this talented singer-songwriter will follow suit. As talented a musician as Mickey is, he is about to add writer to his already bulging CV, with the launch of his first book ‘A Complicated Evolution’. Mickey explains the evolution behind the idea. “It’s more like a self-help autobiography. It covers a lot of my upbringing and my early years, up to who I am now. Both of those things were quite dark and challenging, which is most likely why I’m a lot more fun loving than I used to be. But I want to use my life and what I went through as a way to help others. “It’s a way of saying, ‘Even though shit can hit the fan, and life can throw things at you, you can come out on the other side stronger.’ It has all sorts of things in it like my coming out, my relationships, my struggles. I hope it can do some good. “I should be using my fame the right way by helping others but also by showing fans I do appreciate and care about them and what they have to say. If not, then I’m no better than these ego divas and that’s not me. I’m humble and I know fame is fickle no matter how big or small you are.” While Mickey hasn’t yet reached those career highs that he inevitably will, his already considerable fan base would make you think otherwise. His love and affection for his fans and admirers are obvious if his social media is anything to go by, with near constant interactions and love being shared within Twitter’s 140-character limit. It comes as no surprise that in our modern Snapchat age (when connecting with a single fan can very quickly become 1,000 adoring new followers in a short time) for Mickey, at least, Instagram is king. “I now have more people stop me in the street to ask about my music than my more than my porn, which is really nice to hear. Not that hearing about my porn isn’t nice! Social media has played a big part in how well I’ve done. My biggest social media love is Instagram. I find it much easier to talk to people and connect with fans on Instagram.”




“This next album will be my defining record in the music industry. The biggest goal I have is having a record with 18 tracks on it. I plan to release six music videos which will all link into one story.” His connection with fans online is a clear indicator of the path Mickey has taken with his writing and his music. Everything he does is an exercise in increasing his bond with his supporters, whilst simultaneously removing the typical boundaries between artist and fan. “My fans are the most important fans to me, so making sure I do right by them and showing I appreciate them any way I can is important.” Mickey’s boyish charm is infectious enough to make anyone fall in love with him, and yet his talents are often lost in the endless social media stream. The real Mickey is refreshingly honest and down-to-Earth, a far cry from those who let the fame go to their heads. When we ask what downtime consists of for Mickey things become adorably geeky. “I work pretty much six days a week, but when I have time off I love bingeing anime. I’m currently watching Attack on Titan and Death Note, and both are amazing. I’m not much of gamer. The only game I really play is, to be honest, Kingdom Hearts or Digimon or Pokemon. I do enjoy a good franchise game. Kingdom Hearts has a cool storyline so I fall into it, and it grew up with it too, which is cool.” With a glowing personality and a tattooed body sculpted by the Gods, it should come as no surprise that Mickey has no shortage of admirers, particularly when his fans get to see as much of him as they like. When he’s not writing and recording music, Mickey happens to be the Hottest British Porn Star around. It’s a title not easily gained, but Mickey wears it like a badge of honour. For Mickey, getting into the industry was not the easiest choice, but his live for the moment attitude stops him from getting too philosophical about the whole thing. His mother, he admits, was the one to give him the push he needed into the world of adult entertainment. “I’d wanted to get into porn for a while, and over a few months, I’d been offered a couple of contracts. So I went to my mum and asked her what to do and she said I totally should!” He laughs. “You’re only young once,” he adds, “and I don’t believe in living in regret. I’m glad she told me to do it because I’m in love with life and what the industry has done for me and the platform I’ve been given because of it. It’s been a life-changing endeavour, for better or worse.” His advice on getting into the industry? “Have a good long think about what it can do for you


because it will have an impact on your life, be it good or bad. This life isn’t forever, and having fun is important as long as you take responsibility for your sexual health.” With a new album and a book still to be released, it’s clear Mickey has a long and exciting future ahead. The secret, he explains, is to keep things fun. “I think secretly I’m just a big kid and don’t take too much seriously. I think it’s important to enjoy life while you can. That’s not to say I’m making crazy insane choices that I’ll live to wish I hadn’t made,

I am still doing the right things like investing, working towards future goals et cetera. I think people often forget to enjoy their lives, so I do my best to live happily.”


Perfect Day THE WEDDING SPECIALIST Ireland’s Premier Stockist for Mori Lee



News in brief... This month, Northern Ireland’s Health Minister announcd the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood would be lifted

Health Minister Michelle O’Neill has delivered the news that Northern Ireland’s controversial

gay blood ban would soon be lifted. A ban on gay

men donating blood was brought in across the UK during the 1980s AIDS crisis, but was lifted in

England, Scotland and Wales in November 2011. Michelle O’Neill said: “The safety of donated

blood depends on two things: donor selection

and the testing of blood. Every blood donation is

tested for HIV and a number of other organisms.

The Doctor is in

Not even the most advanced tests are 100%

reliable, so it is vitally important for every donor to

comply with any deferral rules that apply to them.” The director of the Rainbow Project John

O’Doherty has praised Ms O’Neill for making the

announcement after eight days in the job. Alliance

Party MLA Kellie Armstrong described the lifting

As host of Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies, Dr Christian Jessen has carved a name for himself as the nation’s favourite telly doctor. We sit down with him to chat about his new book, being a professional Twitter troll, and PrEP.

of the ban as a “massive step” towards true equality, adding “I am pleased action has finally been taken and an absurd blood ban that everyone could see was not based on available evidence but rather discrimination has been ended.”

1981 Lifetime ban on gay men donating blood introduced across the UK September 2011 Lifetime ban reduced to one-year ban in UK except in Northern Ireland October 2013 High Court rules the ban “irrational” June 2016 Lifetime ban lifed in Northern Ireland, with a one year defferel period

“I’ve been good actually. Yeah — erm, I’m just deciding what to do with myself next, really. The next leap of life. So that’s always a scary time, but we’ll see! One can’t do the same thing forever, so I’m trying to think of what projects to do next. Things have been offered to me. I have to decide whether or not to carry on in the same vein, or take a different tack. I don’t really know yet. I’m probably sounding quite cryptic now, aren’t I?” “I have some new documentaries in the pipeline, stuff from a slightly different angle than what I’ve been used to. Leaving one’s comfort zone can be scary but it’s always a good thing. It stops you getting

too complacent. I’m one of those very irritating people who don’t like sitting still. I always have to be doing something. That’s probably why I’m always looking for new and interesting things to do, to keep my easily distracted mind on track.”

“[My new book] is the third in the series. It’s designed to help kids with the difficult business of growing up, which I don’t think anyone finds particularly easy. But it’s kind of a little more than that because they’re also designed to help adults too. Things have changed so quickly since most parents were kids themselves that it’s a completely different world almost thanks to GNIMAG.COM | 31


technology. So it’s difficult for them to know what to be advising one’s children. it’s an extension of the first two books, which covered the basics of growing up. This one is more on the social and technological aspects of growing up, issues like bullying and sexting” “[Growing up] I was very much on my own. I was an only child, so there was nobody to come before me, which also meant my parents hadn’t had any previous experience. It was a massive learning curve for all of us. I don’t think I found it very easy at all. I was always an odd child, I’m still a bit of an odd child now, to be honest. I was always fairly eccentric and individual. I always wanted to do my own thing, not what the other kids were doing, which didn’t help matters much.”

“Obviously, I realised at a certain age that I was gay which added to the whole complication of growing up, which every young gay person will have experienced. I had books, but they always, always, always focussed on the mechanics of sex.” “We make two big mistakes when it comes to talking about sex and relationships. We focus too much on sex and the mechanics of what goes where. We also teach it in a very negative way. We teach it — certainly in my experience — as something that’s bad and shouldn’t be done that will lead to bad things like infections or pregnancy or shame. I think that’s bizarre and quite damaging. There’s a lot of psychosexual problems in life now, which I think are caused by shame and guilt and bad early sexual experiences. I’d love to see sex talked about in a more positive way.”

“I hate the phrase ‘chemsex.’ I think it’s loaded with prejudice and judgement and morals. And suddenly we have this new thing that one-half of gay people can look down their noses at, and suddenly we’ve divided once again. It’s such a tricky subject.” “Homophobia is present in all of our lives, and that’s unfortunate. But really bad, direct homophobia I’ve


been lucky to never get in anyway. On Twitter, I suppose I’m fairly… vocal? Yeah, let’s say vocal. I’m fairly vocal on Twitter about various things. It would be easy for people to lash out with a homophobic comment to shut me up and they don’t, and I’m not sure why that is. I’m not going to suggest for a moment it’s because their situation has gotten better (although I probably say things are bit better) I think the gay thing doesn’t really occur to people about me even though I bang on about it.”

away the deadwood. We have this funny attitude about politicians who dare to make changes to the NHS. That attitude is probably killing the NHS more than any little tweaks that politicians dare to make. I’m not saying the changes that are being made are right or wrong, what I am saying is that change must be made. The idea that the NHS is untouchable is the thing that’s bringing it to its knees, and we are really afraid to radically overhaul it.”

“[Coming out on Chatty Man] was bizarre, the fact there were people upset I was gay but there I was on Alan Carr! That’s a great mystery to me. It’s quite easy to get complacent, and to think ‘Oh because it doesn’t happen to me, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen anymore.’ It certainly does. That’s why I try to be vocal because it means there is one more gay person who doesn’t follow a stereotype. What we need is variety.”

“There will never be enough money [to fund things like PrEP]. The trouble with it is that suddenly becomes very nasty. People start to value their diseases and the worthiness of them. And suddenly we find ourselves in the middle of an argument like which is more important: a treatment for some rare cancer, or giving some gay men PrEP, and which is more important to society to deal with? We shouldn’t really be having to do that, should we? Cost-benefit analysis is really important when you look at PrEP. To me, it’s a no-brainer. There really should now be no more new HIV infections. We are able to stop people from being infected with HIV, and PrEP forms a very strong part of that. But who is going to pay for it? Should it be free? My God, I don’t know. That’s why I’m glad I’m not the Health Secretary and I’m glad I never will be. Poor Jeremy Hunt!

“I’ll tell you still shocks me. It’s attitudes and lack of knowledge that really surprise me, especially the things the patients come out with. When we go off to Ibiza or Magaluf, my gosh… the stuff they come out with, or the stuff they’ve been taught, or something they’ve picked up somewhere that they think is true. It makes you think, my god, no wonder we’re in such a state!”

Dr Christian’s Guide to You is out now in paperback and ebook (published by Scholastic)

“We need to stop seeing the NHS as such a sacred cow. What I mean by that is, the concept of the NHS was a wonderful thing, but medicine has evolved so rapidly that the NHS cannot carry on the way it does, it can’t. Radical changes need to be made in order for it to continue. It’s like gardening, you have to prune


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Unite is proud to support

Pride 2016

and will continue the fight for equality for all Jimmy Kelly, Regional Secretary Liam Gallagher, Regional Chair




Do you really want to hurt him? Pop royalty though he may be, Boy George has had his fair share of ups and downs

Contoured to filth: Boy george shot by Norbert Schoerner for ES Mgazine

GNI MAG | 35



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BELFAST “A broad coalition comes together under the Pride rainbow and we want to encourage more people than ever before to join together to make Belfast Pride even bigger and even more inclusive. It’s time to make a stand and it’s time to join in the celebration.” The Belfast Pride festival will once again see the city erupt in a flourish of rainbow colours. This celebration diversity runs from the July 29 to the August 6, with a host of more than 100 events through the week. Full details of the festivities can be found in the Belfast Pride Official Guide which will be available around the city or on The parade itself takes place on August 6 with the annual parade of floats and participants snaking their way through the heart of the city. As it is every pride, The Kremlin will be a hub of activity with its annual street party and celebrity names entertaining throughout their venues.



DUBLIN “As one by one we overcome inequalities and injustice our festival has become a celebration of diversity in modern Ireland, yet while it is now famous for its carnival atmosphere and pageantry, who we are has not changed.” As a reminder that Pride was born and developed out of rebellion against inequality and oppression, the theme of this year’s Dublin Pride is ‘Rebel Rebel’. This year the whole month of June is being given over to Pride, a month of events celebrating and promoting equality and diversity. See for more information. The parade will take place on June 25 starting at the Garden of Remembrance on Parnell Square before marching on to Merrion Square. In the Pride Village, a full day of entertainment is scheduled with not just one, but two stages. There are dedicated family and community zones within the park with plenty of food and refreshments available. There will also be a host of official Dublin Pride events at The George, Mother and Pantibar.


phone . tablet . desktop

FOYLE “We believe the festival is a way to remind ourselves how far we have come in the struggle for equality, how there is still more to do and further to go, and to show our support to our LGBT brothers and sisters in parts of the world where they face violence, imprisonment and even death because of who they love.� In 1993 a small group of committed activists decided it was time to make a visible stand and show the city that there was a thriving community of LGBT people who were being ignored. Fast forward 23 years and now Foyle Pride is one of the most anticipated Pride festivals in Ireland. As one of the local highlights of the summer, the parade has a unique and family-friendly appeal. The parade takes place this year on August 27 with a host of events taking place around in the run-up to the big day. Keep an eye on for more information.






11 Aug, £30

ALL SAINTS 7 Aug, £20


SHOWTEK 12 Aug, £20

DEACON BLUE 13 Aug, £25

The Kooks,

6 Aug, £30


Principle Funder

2016 UK AND IRELAND PRIDE GUIDE Keeping you up-to-date about where and when the best pride festivals are across the UK and Ireland. JUNE

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

4 11 11/12 18 18/19 18 25/26 25

Oxford ( Gloucestershire ( Blackpool ( York ( Coventry ( Portsmouth ( London ( Dublin (


9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

1/3 2 9 9 9 16 16 16 16 24 31 30 30

North Wales Pride ( Edinburgh ( Bournemouth ( Bristol ( Essex ( Newcastle ( Hull ( Stoke ( Limerick ( Chesterfield ( Cork ( Norwich ( Sheffield (


22 23

30 30/31

Nottinghamshire ( Liverpool (


24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35

5/7 6 6 13 13 20 20 20 27 26/29 27 27

Brighton and Hove ( Leeds ( Belfast ( Plymouth ( Cymru Pride Wales ( Swindon & Wiltshire ( Doncaster ( Glasgow ( Foyle ( Manchester ( Cornwall ( Walsall (


36 37 38

3 3 3

Reading ( Leicester ( Newry (


Chester Pride (



17 19


A quick look at some of the biggest Pride festivals across the world...




26 38 8

34 27


14 3 25 4 23 21 30 15 9 33 18 39 16 22 35 37 20 5 2 28 12 29 1 13 7 36 11 6







PrEP in the UK With NHS England’s announcement that PrEP will not be made available on the National Health Service, New York-based writer and psychologist Renato Barucco takes a look at this complicated issue and asks, “What next?”



No PrEP for you, United Kingdom. On the 31st of May, the National Health Services Commission, upholding a controversial decision reached in March, decided against commissioning a revolutionary HIV prevention strategy. “Local authorities are the responsible commissioner for HIV prevention services,” the National Health Service Commission explained in a statement posted on their website. As a result, the UK won’t be joining the handful of other countries that are implementing PrEP on a large scale. The strategy will remain available only privately, maintaining a de facto two-tier health system. Sexual health advocates, LGBT organisations, and HIV/AIDS charities condemned the decision as unwise, unjustified, and even life threatening. The decision represents a missed opportunity. So what is PrEP exactly? PrEP, short for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, is an HIV prevention strategy that involves taking the drug Truvada produced by Gilead Science, seeing a healthcare provider every three months, and testing routinely for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Truvada is the brand name of two antiretroviral drugs combined, tenofovir and emtricitabine. It’s not meant to be taken immediately before sexual encounters, like medicines to treat erectile dysfunction, but as a daily dose. Maximum protection requires strict adherence. Studies have demonstrated that PrEP is particularly effective when people don’t skip doses. The strategy is a valuable asset for people in discordant relationships (where one partner is HIV-positive, and the other isn’t), sex workers, or people who, for all sorts of reasons, cannot count on consistent and correct condom use with sexual partners of unknown HIV status. There are other treatment-based prevention methods available in the UK, like PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) for example, a similar approach that entails taking antiretroviral medications shortly after accidental exposure like a needle

prick or condom breakage. And yet, thanks to NHS England, PrEP will not now become part of the growing toolbox of new and traditional HIV prevention strategies which when combined could represent an excellent opportunity to control the epidemic.

There is a single, poignant counterargument to all doubts about PrEP: it works PrEP generates controversy too. Here in the US, where Truvada was approved to prevent HIV infection in 2012, prominent sexual health advocates, as well as several members of the LGBT community, remain sceptical about using antiretrovirals to prevent HIV. Uncertainties and mixed messages result in uneven PrEP adoption. Principal concerns revolve around safety, accessibility, and, above all, the notion that PrEP would discourage people from accessing traditional prevention strategy like condom use in particular. Michael Weinstein, president of the Los Angeles-based global nonprofit AIDS Healthcare Foundation, who, along with Larry Kramer and I, debated the issue in the New York Times’ Room for Debate, wrote, “There is a line of argument that promoting condom use is a lost cause. According to some, even if we talk ourselves blue in the face, no one is listening. We are supposed to come up with a whole new strategy – PreExposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP. It all sounds so sensible. The problem is that it won’t work.” At the 2016 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2016) in Boston, scientists reported high rates of sexually transmitted infections in gay men on PrEP enroled in demonstration projects

based in San Francisco and New York. At the same conference, another presentation documented the first known case of a man who seroconverted to multi-class resistant HIV while on PrEP despite adherence to the treatment. PrEP dissenters took these findings as proof of what they’ve been saying all along: promiscuity and bareback sex will lead to disastrous outcomes. Some community members, on occasion slutshaming fellow gay men, portray a grim future of kidney failures, untreatable sexually transmitted infections, and superbugs caused by condomless sex. PrEP enthusiasts, on the other hand, attribute the rise of sexually transmitted infections to routine testing. In some cases, they too oversimplify difficult matters, claiming that most sexually transmitted infections can be transmitted even with correct condom usage. Disputes aside, science can help interpret the landscape and put elements into perspective. There is a single, poignant counterargument to all doubts: Truvada works. PROUD, the first study of PrEP in England, found that the strategy reduced the risk of infection by 86%, one of the most encouraging outcomes yet observed. Sheena McCormack, the lead investigator for PROUD, commented on the reports with a bright and realistic outlook, saying, “The pre-existing trajectory of rising STIs is carrying on, but PrEP means HIV doesn’t have to rise too.” The real-world success of the PROUD study exemplifies the very reason why the decision of the National Health Service Commission makes little sense. In the UK, Public Health England estimates that one in twenty men who have sex with men aged fifteen to fortyfour are HIV-positive. The number of newly diagnosed gay and bisexual men continued to rise in recent years. The decision to adopt PrEP as a form of prevention should come easily. A daily pill-taking regimen certainly presents challenges for some populations. For example, PrEP may not be a viable opportunity for teenagers in the closet



or undocumented immigrants without regular access to health care services. Therefore, traditional prevention strategies, from condom use to sex education, from HIV testing to safer-sex negotiation, remain relevant. PrEP is not meant to work in isolation, but with other methods as an additional option to address ongoing health disparities. Human sexuality is a complex wonder. It assumes distinct meanings from person to person. Sexual encounters can represent affection, affirmation, pleasure, procreation, and more. We need to respect this complexity and understand that what works for one person may not work for another. Hence, having more options to prevent HIV is intrinsically good news. The history of the epidemic teaches us that HIV/AIDS will stop being a threat when individuals, communities, and institutions will sustain a shared response to the public health challenge. We can all contribute to this, first and foremost by getting an HIV test. It is estimated that 17 percent of HIV-positive people in the UK are not aware of their status and thus are unable to seek care. If the test comes back positive, proper treatment guarantees a healthy and positive outlook. Research has proven that early adoption of antiretroviral therapy in HIV-positive people has a 96% risk reduction of transmitting the virus to uninfected partners. In the case of negative test results, these are some of the prevention strategies to choose from: condom use, risk reduction counselling, behavioural interventions, PEP, and combinations of all four. But alas, not PrEP, at least not for now.

What is HIV/AIDS? Although they are often mixed up these two words have different meanings. HIV is the name of a virus, whereas AIDS is a name for a collection of illnesses caused by this virus. HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Immunodeficiency refers to how this virus weakens a person’s immune system, the part of the body that fights off diseases. HIV has been in humans for many decades but was only identified in the early 80s.

What are the symptoms of HIV? Some people notice no symptoms when they are first infected with HIV. But within six weeks of infection, most people suffer a short illness (lasting around two weeks) as their body reacts to the virus.This involves two or more of the following: body rash, sore throat, fever. Once this passes an infected person usually feels fine for a number of years. However, unless they start treatment before the virus causes too much damage, as years go by they will usually start to suffer life-threatening illnesses such as cancer, tuberculosis (TB), and pneumonia. This is because HIV is destroying cells (CD4 or T-cells) that our immune system needs to protect us from infections.

What is AIDS? AIDS stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome. It means a collection of illnesses caused by a virus people pick up that makes their immune system get weak. In the 1980s and early 1990s, HIV treatment wasn’t good at fighting the virus and most people with it were eventually diagnosed with AIDS. But now anti-HIV drugs can control (but not completely get rid of ) the virus and far fewer people in Britain develop serious HIV-related illnesses. This means the term ‘AIDS’ isn’t used much by UK doctors now. Instead, they talk about late-stage or advanced HIV disease or HIV infection.

What is PrEP? Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a course of HIV drugs taken before sex to reduce the risk of getting HIV. The idea is that it could one day be widely available to those who are at high risk of coming into contact with the virus. In trials, HIV negative people have been given HIV drugs in the hope that this will stop them contracting HIV if they have unprotected sex with someone living with HIV. Results in trials have been promising, with PrEP significantly lowering the risk of becoming HIV positive and without major side effects. PrEP is intended for people who are at high risk of getting HIV, including those in a relationship with an HIV-positive partner or people who have many sexual partners but find it very hard to use condoms.

How effective is PrEP?

Renato Barucco is an Italian psychologist who works in the field of LGBT health in New York City. He blogs at Follow him on Twitter at @renatobarucco, and on Instagram/Snapchat at @rdbbrooklyn


Research suggests that PrEP is highly effective in preventing HIV transmission, as long as the pills are taken as directed. In a large international study, gay men who took at least four doses a week had 96% fewer infections. Results from separate studies of PrEP in the UK and France have both showed that PrEP substantially reduces infections among gay men. SOURCE THT.ORG.UK

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Over a bottle of sparkling water in a smart Islington brasserie, I’m trying to persuade Boy George to tell me one of the great London glad-rags-to-riches stories. It’s a far-fetched tale with the high drama and low farce — not to mention the elaborate costumes — of a rollicking 18th-century picaresque novel. With George — who else? — as it’s Tom Jones. (The Fielding hero, just so we’re clear, not the thrusting mahogany Welshman he replaced on The Voice.) It’s a story of innocence and experience, grit and glamour, triumph and disaster. It is, of course, the story of his life, from teenage punk to Soho club face; gender-bending chart-topper to national treasure; global megastar to heroin addict; superstar DJ to jailbird; torch singer to reality TV powerhouse. ‘I feel no relation to him now,’ George says of the Culture Club singer who became famous at 21, in 1982, performing ‘Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?’ on Top of the Pops wearing a distressed nightie, dreadlocks festooned with ribbons, his face made up like a geisha’s. ‘Is it a bird or a bloke?’ worried the next day’s papers. Either way, it was a star, though one quite unprepared for what was to follow. ‘I thought I was really worldly,’ he says now. ‘I thought I knew everything. Ha! I didn’t know shit.’ He identifies even less, he says, with the emaciated junkie of 1986, the year Culture Club fell apart. And not at all with the desperate figure of 2005, convicted of falsely reporting a crime in New York, for which he was sentenced to some unusually welldocumented street cleaning. Three years later, in London, he was jailed for the false imprisonment of a prostitute, Auden Carlsen, whom he had apparently chained to a wall. George was inside for four months of a 15month sentence. Not so long, I remark. ‘You try it!’ he shoots back. Does he think the punishment fitted the crime? ‘It’s something that happened, and sitting here worrying about whether it was the right thing and “Did I deserve it…?” It happened. And I dealt with it.’ During his first days in prison, he says, ‘I went through the whole, “What have you done? This is not my life. This is a disaster.” But I always had the sense that I’d get through it. The gift it gave me was time with myself. I went into prison sober. I knew I had a lot of work to do. I’ve worked very hard at getting myself back in shape, getting my career back, getting my selfrespect back. I knew it would take time, and it has. But I’m starting to feel the rewards of that work.’ Today, George has been sober for eight years. He doesn’t do drugs, doesn’t drink alcohol, doesn’t eat meat, doesn’t smoke. He even steers clear of sugar. He’s lost five stone since he was at his heaviest. He was baking gluten-free bread at seven this morning, he says. By then he’d already chanted an 8-minute prayer for peace, in Japanese, part of his routine


as a practising Nichiren Buddhist. ‘My appetite for self-destruction and misery is greatly diminished. I’m not interested in being unhappy.’ Boy George is a great talker and a mercurial interviewee. I want to pin him down on his backstory; he’d rather talk about anything but his past crises. I ask him if he minds starting at the beginning, and his childhood in southeast London. ‘Oh, God, must we?’ he asks, waving a dismissive hand at the very idea and rolling his cool blue eyes. ‘Can’t you just look it up on the internet?’ Then he releases his famous cackle. It seems an odd thing to say of a middle-aged man in a large hat, with a sort of abbreviated chin-strap beard (or perhaps it’s an expanded goatee) and sculpted eyebrows; he has tattoos on his hands and neck and the side of his face (a CND symbol and a crucifix), but the off-duty George does not cut an especially distinctive figure. Today he’s wearing a baggy grey hoodie and a baker boy cap. He is without warpaint. He’s learned, he says, to hold himself in such a way that he can go relatively unnoticed. From his home in Hampstead, he takes the Tube, gets the bus. ‘People don’t really recognise me,’ he says. ‘I can kind of disappear.’ He was born George O’Dowd in Bexley in 1961, and brought up in Eltham, the second of six children — five boys and a girl — born to Dinah and Gerry, both Irish Catholic. Gerry, a former builder, now dead, was a forceful personality, sometimes violent. George thinks he inherited his father’s temper but also his generous nature. ‘He was a real contradiction. And I’m a bit like that.’ He knew he was gay from eight or nine and doesn’t seem to have struggled with it. ‘Even when I was ten, I just thought, “It’s what I’m meant to be and that’s the end of it.” I never, ever wanted to be straight.’ He was barely into double figures when he began to dress up, inspired by David Bowie. ‘Once I discovered Ziggy Stardust I felt there were other people like me out there and I just needed to meet them.’ Aged ten he would go on Sundays to Beckenham and sit outside Bowie’s house. At 11, he saw one of Bowie’s last shows as Ziggy Stardust: ‘It made me braver.’ (George cried for two days when he learned the news of Bowie’s death. ‘I knew it was coming. I knew he was ill. We used to exchange emails and that had stopped a while back, but I heard things.’) George turned 15 in 1976; the perfect age for punk. ‘It was a great time to be a teenager,’ he says. ‘There was such a separation between normal people and us. You’d walk down the street and people would literally scream and run away!’ Later, he was the cloakroom attendant at the Blitz club, birthplace of the New Romantics. Malcolm McLaren tried to fit him into post-punk outfit Bow Wow Wow but George left and formed Sex Gang Children, which became Culture Club. Almost overnight they were among the biggest bands in the world.

He’s been a gender-bending punk, a heroin addict, a jailbird and a reality TV star. But now Boy George is clean, serene and gluten-free, says Alex Bilmes




“I don’t want to become a TV personality, I’m first and foremost a musician. But people won’t know about that if I’m not on the telly. That’s why I’ve done The Voice” 50 | GNIMAG.COM

Shot on location at Big Sky Studios. 29-31 Brewery Road, N7 (


I WONDER THAT THIS HABITUEE of London’s gay demimonde didn’t find his transformation from underground outsider to teenage pin-up disconcerting? Rather than a weird, arty rebel like Bowie, he was presented as a benign English eccentric. ‘It’s just who I was. Bowie was putting on an act: “I’m an alien.” It was really out there but also really considered. I loved that but that’s not me. I was just being myself.’ George struggled with fame, not least because he was having a tempestuous secret love affair with Jon Moss, Culture Club’s drummer, who was notionally straight. In his terrific autobiography, Take It Like a Man, published in 1995, George describes his time with the band as ‘six years of sheer misery and heartache’. He laughs when I read this back to him. ‘I was much more dramatic then. If I was to write Take It Like a Man now it would be a very different book.’ (Happier, healthier, cagier.) Culture Club sold 50 million records. Periodically they have reformed for nostalgia tours and even, in 1999, an album of new material. Lately, they’ve been in the studio again. George once requested that anyone who heard him so much as mention Culture Club should slap him in the face with a frozen cod until he came to his senses. Should I ask the kitchen if they have a cold fish handy? ‘Ha! The thing about living in the public eye is you do tend to say things you wish you hadn’t. I have a lot of love for Roy [Hay, guitarist], Jon and Mikey [Craig, bass guitar]. We have our disagreements and sometimes I feel like they can be a little bit stuck in the past. But they’re family.’ In the 1990s, George re-emerged as a solo artist. He became a respected nightclub DJ. Later his musical, Taboo, was a West End hit. And then everything went wrong again. What is it with him and drugs? Plenty of people take them without their lives descending into chaos. (Or so I’m told.) ‘I think if you really knew about addiction you wouldn’t say that,’ he says. ‘I’m in recovery and I hear a lot of people talking about how drugs destroyed their lives. It’s not unique to pop stars. An addict is an extreme person, whether it’s drugs or fame or being in love or food.’ Is he addicted to those, too? ‘An addict is an addict. But until you can say, “I’m an addict,” you can’t start to make peace with those demons. I struggled with that for years. I went to NA meetings, I went to see counsellors [but] I wouldn’t say it. It felt like a defeat. When I finally did, it was like, “What a relief! That’s what I am!”’ At one point he quotes the William Blake line about the road of excess leading to the palace of wisdom. With that in mind, would he do it all again? ‘No,’ he says. ‘I don’t think that’s the only route to wisdom. I would never choose that for myself. I’m not glad I did it. I don’t look back on it with any affection. I sometimes hear people talking about their exploits and it’s almost like they miss it. I definitely don’t miss it.’ Has he sensed a change in the way the public sees him? ‘I’ve been lucky in that people have always been very nice to me. I’ve often wondered what I’ve done to deserve it. But even through everything I’ve never felt unloved. I’ve made mistakes — obviously, there’s a lot of things I would happily erase from my past. But to a certain degree, I’ve taken responsibility for everything that’s happened to me; I’ve never blamed anyone else. And people are very forgiving.’

IN 2013 HE RELEASED HIS first solo album for 18 years, This Is What I Do. It was well received by critics and his fans, reminding those who were there the first time around of his way with a catchy tune and a pointed lyric, and of that gorgeous, soulful voice, now deeper and coarsergrained and even better for it. It’s indicative, I tell him, of the current state of pop music, that it is for his work on The Voice, a TV talent show, rather than for the more meaningful achievement of writing and recording an excellent album, that he finds himself once more clasped to the nation’s bosom. But George won’t be drawn into any such moaning. ‘It’s just the way it is,’ he says. ‘The music industry of 20 years ago doesn’t exist. If you’re smart you work out new ways up the mountain. I don’t want to become a TV personality, I’m first and foremost a musician. But people won’t know about that if I’m not on the telly. That’s why I’ve done The Voice.’ He’s recently been in America recording a new series of Celebrity Apprentice. Judging by his enthusiasm, I think it’s safe to guess that George wasn’t among the first to be fired by the show’s new host, Arnold Schwarzenegger — the replacement for Donald Trump, who has downgraded to a less dignified popularity contest. Perhaps George even won? Certainly one hopes he outsmarted Snooki, of Jersey Shore. The days are gone — annoyingly — when George could be relied upon to take pot shots at fellow celebrities. ‘You can get away with it when you’re 18,’ he says, ‘but I think when you’re 54 it’s a bit sad. There’s no one I hate. I don’t wish anyone harm.’ His ambitions for his revived career seem limitless. There will be new music. More TV. He’d like to launch a make-up range. He’s keen to try acting. (I can’t resist bringing up his era-defining cameo on The A-Team, in 1986. ‘Oh, please,’ he says. ‘Let’s not go there.’) His personal development continues apace, too. He’s learning Italian — he gives me a quick burst — and even mentions he’d like to try skiing. I can’t help myself: Skiing! That’s quite an image, I say, imagining him pelting down the slopes in one of his trademark hats. But he means it. ‘When I was younger I was like, “I’m not going to do that, I won’t be any good at it.” You get to 50 and you feel like you want to learn stuff.’ Once an incurable romantic, he’s even found a new perspective on matters of the heart. ‘I reached a point a few years ago where I suddenly realised that no one was going to complete me. I’m certainly not the gung-ho romantic that I was.’ Is he in a relationship now? ‘I’m single. If someone amazing comes along, great. But I’m not holding my breath. There’s no big emptiness in my life.’ So he’s entirely clean and relatively serene. His career is on the up. He looks great. Is he happy? It’s the first question that gives him pause. ‘Am I happy?’ He thinks for a moment. ‘I would have found that question really weird ten years ago. Like, “What a fucking weird thing to ask me!” But yeah, I’m happy a lot of the time. I mean, really, what have I got to complain about?’

Alex Bilmes is editor-in-chief of Esquire The full interview appears in ES Magazine, out now








THE CATEGORIES The Award for Best LGBT-Friendly Service Provider The Award for Personal Contribution to the Community The Award for Business Contribution to the Community The Award for Most Loved Local LGBT Celebrity The Award for Most Influential Local LGBT Person sponsored by Kremlin The People’s Choice Charity Award sponsored by Kelly’s Cellars The Breakthrough Charity Award LGBT Youth Hero of the Year Award Most Stylish Man of the Year Award Most Stylish Woman of the Year Award The LGBT Entrepreneur of the Year Award The Local Politician of the Year Award sponsored by The Rainbow Project The LGBT Ally of the Year Award The Best LGBT Local Entertainer Award The Best Local Drag Act Award The GNI MAG Media Award The Nightlife Award The Award for Best Same Sex Wedding Venue sponsored by The Wedding Village The Special Achievement Award

GNI MAG Editors Choice Award

Believe it or not, GNI MAG is now in its sixth year. From our humble beginnings as a LGBT community website, GayNI (as it was then known) has evolved and grown into the GNI MAG you know and love. During this time, we have been privileged to work with some truly supportive companies, businesses and charities. We have also been unlucky enough to bear the brunt of some businesses who are less than supportive of the LGBT cause. It’s often easy for us to live our lives through rainbow-tinted glasses, not realising that there are some who actively campaign against us. “Cakegate” was enough to make us realise that prejudice against the community is still very real. Those people, thankfully, are in the minority. Here at GNI MAG, we’ve been lucky to work with some truly admirable people. It’s never a bad idea to remind ourselves that not all heroes wear capes. Most of them work quietly behind the scenes improving our lives bit by bit. Others shout from the top of their lungs that it’s okay to be gay.

GNI MAG: The Awards 2016 will be a glamorous red carpet event, a gala awards ceremony packed with glitz and glamour. The dress code will be black tie, showcasing the who’s who of our local community.

There have been political parties who have actively supported our cause, while others have not. It also bears mentioning that those venues we can be so quick to criticise are safe and essential spaces for our community. Without them, our annual Pride celebrations would still be a dozen people walking through Belfast city centre holding a Pride flag. For that reason alone they deserve our support. There have been many charities who have supported GNI MAG and our wider community over the year, charities who offer a wealth of advice, information and support when we need it. For that reason, we are incredibly proud to announce that the always helpful Rainbow Project are the nominated charity partner of our very first award ceremony. When we set about planning the awards last year, much thought went into planning exactly how to go about honouring these fantastic people, businesses and charities. The most important thing for us was striking the right balance between recognising those who have made the biggest impact, and motivating new faces to step up and go one better. These brave people are everything we aspire to be.

GNI MAG: The Awards 2016 will be a glamorous red carpet event, a gala awards ceremony packed with glitz and glamour. The dress code will be black tie, showcasing the who’s who of our local community. While we aren’t quite ready to announce the location just yet, the ceremony will take place this October. The list of awards is noted on this page and already nominations have been flowing in. If you’ve had contact with a business or individual who you feel deserves to be nominated for any of the categories then all you have to do is visit and click the appropriate link. Nominations will then be passed onto our panel of judges who will shortlist the nominees. When all of the nominees are ready to be announced the public voting will commence via our website again. Every successful nominee will be invited to attend the event while tickets will be made available for sale ahead of time. So make your voice heard. Get nominating.

Tony Day GNI MAG Managing Director





The Outing Are you the only gay in the village? The Outing 2016 is for you. Now in its third year, The Outing has enough fun and frolics to make those dreams of meeting that special someone a reality.

Words by Christopher Megrath


In 2013 Ireland was still a long way off becoming the first country in the world to legalise gay marriage by popular vote. But that wasn’t about to stop the people of the rural town of Lisdoonvarna, County Clare, from holding the world’s first LGBT matchmaking festival. Since then The Outing has gone from (gay) strength to strength. The three-day match-making festival — the distinctly rainbow-hued cousin of the more traditional 157-year-old matchmaking original. Every September and October almost 60,000 people descend on this tiny spa town to deactivate their dating app accounts and meet real honest to goodness humans. It’s a risky formula, but The Outing has found the key to making it work: a complete absence of smart-phone devilry. In our post-Tinder age, The Outing brings the age-old art of courtship firmly to the forefront. There is no technology, just good old-fashioned fun in the unlikely setting of rural Ireland. This is the third year for The Outing, which kicks off on October 7. This year boasts headline acts like 90’s girl band royalty B*witched. The acclaimed British comedian, actor and drag queen Jonny Woo will be on hand to camp things up to previously unheard of highs, while the former host of ITV’s Blind Date, Brendan Courtney, will be spreading the love. As with previous years, the self-described Queen of Ireland and certified national traditional that is the divine Miss Panti Bliss is back to compère festivities. If romance isn’t on the cards then you are in luck: The Outing is also billed as a fully fledged

LGBT festival in its own right, with pop-up clubs, drag performances, comedy, live music, the arts and Queer Film Festival GAZE to escape to when you’ve decided you just don’t have the energy to meet yet more eligible bachelors and bachelorettes. GAZE is due to exhibit a selection of Irishproduced short films exploring late-night hookups, gender fluidity and the power of first loves. The Outing is a fun and friendly three day getaway for those wanting to meet that special someone, appreciate the rugged beauty of the Irish coast, or simply enjoy the craic. With no shortage of men and women to choose from, its expected The Outing’s fourth birthday will be its biggest and brightest yet. GETTING THERE Shannon Airport is located 45 minutes from Lisdoonvarna. Alternatively, you can fly to Dublin Airport and avail of the Train transfer. You can find a map, directions and information about connecting from airports, rail and bus services on The Outing directions page.

Ticket Prices start at €199 for a three-day pass including accommodation in one of two 3* B&Bs, with prices for wristband access without accommodation to be announced soon. To book tickets and for more information visit




IS THIS THE FUTURE OF POLITICS IN NORTHERN IRELAND? The dust has settled on what proved to be one of the most run-of-the-mill Northern Irish elections since the establishment of the devolved administration. Social issues like the continued illegality of samesex marriage in Northern Ireland also had a part to play in this election. With the blood ban on gay men now a thing of the past, LoveProudly founder Stephen Donnan examines the future of LGBT rights in Northern Ireland...



Northern Ireland is still a long way from where it should be on LGBT issues, and this election won’t do much to address that. The most pressing LGBT issue facing this new Assembly is equal marriage. This issues is likely to be resolved during the next five years, not by the Stormont Assembly, but by judicial rulings from the High Court.


So what does the composition of the new Stormont Assembly mean for LGBT rights over the next five years? The issue of equal marriage will be brought before the Assembly soon, most likely in November. The good news is that we will be spared the drawn out debates for and against, as the equal marriage issue has finally gained popular support from a broad coalition of MLAs. But would a Marriage Equality Bill be passed under this government? Not likely. When the results of the election emerged it was clear the Democratic Unionist Party had secured enough electoral support to remain the majority party in the Northern Irish Assembly. With their 38 seats the DUP have found themselves once again in the enviable position of being able to lodge a Petition of Concern to veto legislation they don’t like. One of the DUP’s manifesto promises was to defend so-called ‘traditional marriage’, so it will be unsurprising if little changes under DUP leader and Northern Ireland First Minister, Arlene Foster. The difference is that, unlike in previous Assemblies, there is now a clear majority of MLAs (between 57 and 59) in favour of changing the law to allow same-sex couples to marry. The DUP can no longer claim to speak for the majority of Northern Ireland when a much published Ipsos MORI poll from July 2015 showed that 68% of people here support the legalisation of same-sex marriage. One of the few positive outcomes of this election was the number of new and, on average, younger faces in the Assembly. A record 30 elected MLAs were women, and yet no LGBT candidates were successfully elected. Questions should be asked of the mainstream parties as to why LGBT candidates were not put forward in winnable seats. The closest any LGBT candidate came to being elected was the Alliance Party’s Andrew Muir in North Down, Sinn Fein’s Michael Gray-Sloan in South Down, and the SDLP’s Conor Duncan in North Antrim. If even one LGBT candidate had been elected, it would have marked a sea-change in Northern Irish politics. Openly LGBT candidates were selected to run for the Green Party, including the first transgender candidate, Ellen Murray in West Belfast. The amount of LGBT candidates who stood in this election is remarkable compared to the number in 2011. Northern Ireland is still a long way from where it should be on LGBT issues, and this election won’t do much to address that. The issue of LGBT rights has dogged both the SDLP and the Alliance party for some time, an issue which came to a head during the last Assembly when neither party could unanimously support any of the five equal marriage motions that were passed. There were abstentions, votes against, MLAs in hiding, and promises to ‘do better next time’. Both parties have a full team of pro-LGBT and progressive MLAs but the deciding factor will be which way those MLAs decide to vote. And what of trans and gender identity issues? So far there has been little in the way of any real policy or promise from the political parties. When

questioned about the issue at a panel debate, representatives of the Alliance and the SDLP admitted their parties had no strategy in place to tackle issues facing the trans and non-binary communities. A better idea would be to form an Assembly Working Group to examine the need for a revised legislation to bring our gender legislation in line with the Republic. So who are these new faces? In the constituency of South Belfast, Clare Bailey nabbed a seat for the Greens, alongside the Alliance Party’s Paula Bradshaw, and Claire Hanna of the SDLP. All three women are pro-LGBT equality. Clare joins her party leader, the North Down MLA Steven Agnew, who submitted the first equal marriage motion in 2012 and has co-sponsored each motion since. Other progressive MLAs to be voted in include Gerry Carroll and Eamonn McCann of People Before Profit who took a seat in the constituencies of West Belfast and Foyle respectively. Other new faces include the former Alliance Party MP for East Belfast, Naomi Long, who was one of only two Northern Irish MPs (alongside SDLP MP Mark Durkan) to vote for the Marriage Bill when it passed through Westminster in 2013. Also joining the new MLAs in the chamber are former Belfast Lord Mayors Nichola Mallon of the SDLP and Máirtín Ó Muilleoir of Sinn Fein, both of whom have spoken of the need for more work to be done on LGBT issues. The most pressing LGBT issue facing this new Assembly is equal marriage. This issues is likely to be resolved during the next five years, not by the Stormont Assembly, but by judicial rulings from the High Court. While the next five years promises a more progressive body of voices in the Assembly the fact remains that business is likely to continue much as it did before. The Equal Marriage Bill will no doubt get the necessary support to pass but with a DUP veto hanging over it the vote will largely be symbolic. No doubt a sixth DUP Petition of Concern will put added pressure on the courts to intervene. Northern Ireland may now have a raft of progressive and LGBT-friendly MLAs, but it is too early to get excited just yet. As has always been the case, real change in NI will be driven by grassroots action and legal challenges. The Stormont Assembly can do little more than act as an echo chamber for those issues to be aired until a time when the Petition of Concern no longer exists or the DUP falls short of 30 seats needed to use it. We didn’t quite manage to clinch the Assembly we would have liked this time around but the people of Northern Ireland have made their voices heard. It is passed time that Stormont caught up.

Stephen Donnan is the chair of LoveProudly and is a former Alliance Party member.

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Portrait of the artist as a young man: Previous credits include Vogue Italia and GQ Tattoo you: Tony Webster has been GNI MAG fashion editor since 2012




The Belfast-born photographer, BigBad Llama, has made his mark on the photography industry with his edgy and provocative editorials. Better known as Tony Webster, this darling of the fashion world has shot for media heavyweights like Elle, Vogue Italia, and GQ. He also happens to be GNI MAG’s very own fashion editor. After travelling to the far expanses of the globe in his early years, soaking up the rich cultures of the world as a humanitarian aid worker. The day he returned home from his seven-year journey, Tony combined his obsession with fashion and an eye for photography in a way that rivals even the most famous of his peers. BigBad Llama was

born from Tony Webster’s creative drive. Since the birth of BigBad Llama, his striking and distinct photography has received the kind of recognition photographer’s only dream off. Vogue Italia, one of the most influential chains of the Vogue empire, have used several of Tony’s best known work. His work has also been featured extensively by Channel 4 via Tony’s own brainchild: The Male Body Handbook. This year BigBad Llama has returned to his global roots, taking him all around the world from London to Los Angeles and the metropolis monster that is New York. Now residing in Glasgow, the edgy photographer continues to create incredibly gorgeous works that have models and designers begging for a chance to be shot by this Northern Irish talent. BIGBADLLAMA.COM


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The male grooming world has come a long way since Marc Jacobs debuted his first range of makeup for men back in 2013... Back then, the best you could hope for was an eye-wateringly priced eye shadow palette and a bit of concealer, with grooming savvy men with money to burn firmly in Jacob’s headlights. Not so, 2016. The concept of makeup for men, while still relatively niche, is becoming increasingly popular. Enter House of Formen. Billed as “the globe’s first professional male cosmetic house,” Formen have created a range of luxury makeup products at prices more high street than high fashion. Designed to cloak skin imperfections and enhance the skin, Formen is the brainchild Toronto-based beauty expert Andrew Grella, who founded his first beauty company in 2010.

A new horizon for Davidoff? Cool Water is a modern classic. Can Davidoff strike it lucky a second time with this new fragrance? “Here he is, far from the beaten track. Before him mountains stretch out in an endless landscape that touches the sky. The breeze is strong, crisply scented with rosemary, leather, vetiver. He looks ahead, fixes a point in the distance. Swift and free as an eagle he climbs from rock to rock… He breathes deeply, stretches his arms to the wind, turns his face to the sun. From this quiet pause

between earth and sky a powerful feeling of freedom grows. He’s where he wants to be. Master of all he surveys.” This self-indulgent guff is how Swiss luxury goods brand Davidoff introduced their newest fragrance for men. Gone is the distinctly Mediterranean feel of Cool Water and its now iconic model Scott Eastwood — of Clint fame, the youngest Eastwood of Hollywood

Formen’s signature product is the 6-in-1 colour correcting cream, a professional formulation that acts as six different products: an SPF barrier, a moisturiser, a primer, a toner, and even brightens the skin and reduces shine. This jack of all trades concealer is the perfect product for the image conscious man who isn’t afraid to touch up his concealer on the number 47 bus. FORMEN CC CREAM £22 FORMENMAKEUP.COM

royalty. The new campaign, featuring Italian model Simone Bredariol, was allegedly shot amidst real sandstorms, extreme heat and tough terrain. Davidoff ’s new fragrance is made of woody, spicy and aromatic aromas. It is signed by perfumers Olivier Pescheux and Jacques Huclier and is available from all good stockists.

















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Gym rules: Fact or Fiction Protein shakes before or after? Depends who you’re asking? Wrong. We dispel the top fitness myths. While the summer is well and truly here, and the lie you told yourself about being “beach body ready” is long gone, it’s never too late to start that much-needed workout. Summer is a great time to feel better about yourself so we’ve assembled a handful of beginners tips to help you ease back into gym life. Let’s start with the basics... The British summer being marginally warmer than the winter means you’ll need to consume more water than normal. Be sure to drink as much as you need before, during and after your workouts. Forget about the eight pints of water a day nonsense, you only need to consume as much as you need, but keeping a bottle of water handy at all times will stop you reaching for those sugary drinks that are marketed so heavily to gym goers. Believe us when we tell you they won’t do you any favours. Sugary drinks actually decrease the body’s natural metabolic rate, which means it will make burning off calories even more difficult. Water is your new best friend. Start your workout at a reasonable pace. Don’t try running to the gym unless you happen to have the body of an Olympic gold medalist, you’ll only end up hurting yourself. Save the workout for when you are actually at the gym so that you aren’t heading in already exhausted. Speaking of which, warming up beforehand is crucial to avoid doing yourself harm during strenuous workouts. At least ten minutes of

warm up time is needed to loosen the muscles and elevate your heartrate to the point where your body is ready to begin. Don’t push yourself too hard. Make your ambitions achievable. Gradually progressions deliver much better results. So forget no pain, no gain. Pushing yourself to the point of actual pain will simply make your body hate you. Like any tactical manoeuvre, a plan of action is crucial. Don’t waste valuable time standing around wondering what to do next. Decide each workout before you do it and the time will fly by. Consistency here is key, but be sure to mix up your routine. There are few things worse than a repetitive routine. While it may seem as if everyone and their elderly mother is working out every day, you don’t have to. Your body needs rest. By pushing yourself to an unrealistic standard you will increase your chances of injury. Overworking your body will only lead to pain and sore muscles. Speaking of, don’t get discouraged if you stopped for a long while. Getting back into the swing of things can be just as motivational as those first signs of an incoming six-pack. And finally: avoid crunches. Crunches are a high strain workout that delivers minimal results. This is particularly important if you haven’t worked out in a while, as you will probably have a layer of belly fat to shift beforehand. Other exercises deliver much better results.


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A high protein diet is vital for building lean muscle mass. Supplementing your diet with FGS protein shakes is a tasty and convenient method for helping you consume the right kind of protein. A pre-workout shake is most effective when drunk around 30 minutes before starting your routine. If you don’t begin your workout until hours later you are unlikely to see much benefit from added dietary protein. For Goodness Shakes were designed to deliver the right nutrition for up to an hour after exercising. It also doubles as a healthy, low-fat snack. Available from and selected retailers




TRIMMED OR NATURAL? Up until recently I was fully natural, then I took the leap and trimmed it all off. I find guys like a mixture of hairy and smooth so I like to cover my bases. BOXERS/BRIEFS? Boxers. I’m in love with Ben Sherman boxers at the moment. I’ve already lost count of how many pairs I own. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE GROOMING PRODUCT? Aftershave. If you’re going to look good you have to smell good too. I wear a variety of aftershaves. At the moment I really like Hugo Boss Orange and Paco Rabanne Ultraviolet for men. WHAT IS YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE? LUSH bath bombs and chocolate. It might not be the manliest thing to admit but I have a real sweet spot for Lindt chocolate. WHAT ONE PRODUCT COULD YOU NOT LIVE WITHOUT? I would never leave the house without doing my hair. Straightening it, thickening powder, and then hairspray to set it. TRESemmé 24 Hour Body Sky High Plumping Powder is a lifesaver. If I left the house without doing my hair, I would have to wear a hat.



HEIGHT: 5’ 8” WEIGHT: 8st 12lb

“I’ve just finished university so I haven’t had much time for the gym. As a small guy, I find the gym a little intimidating because everyone seems to know what they’re doing when I have no clue! I like guys who are the same height as me, with a cute face and a nice personality. My preferred body type would probably be slim or athletic. I like boyish guys and guys who look after themselves.” GNIMAG.COM | 81

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IF YOU WOULD LIKE ANY FURTHER INFORMATION ON OUR SERVICE PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT US AT: PIPS Charity, 281 Antrim Road, Belfast BT15 2HE Tel: 02890805850 | Freephone: 0800 088 6042 | Email:

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Bathroom Tech: Know your loo

As if a spot of bathroom pampering isn’t good enough, spoil yourself with these three bathroom essentials...

The remote controlled loo that brings space-age tech into the humble bathroom The Toto Washlet has to be seen (or at least sat on) to be believed. If you have ever holidayed in Tokyo and stayed one of their many swanky hotels, chances are you will have had the pleasure of using one of these turbocharged loos. So sit back, relax, and let us tell you all about the latest advances in toilet technology. Step up to this toilet and it automatically greets you by making the lid of the seat rise. Having saved valuable seconds by not performing this chore yourself, you are free to rest your cheeks on the pre-heated seat which has already been set to your preference. The Toto Washlet even comes with different presets for two different users so your significant other can set the pre-heater to their own particular preference. Now that you have rested your derriere upon the seat you are all set for getting down to business. The Toto Washlet sprays a gentle mist of water onto the bowl which should stop anything unpleasant from settling on the pan. You may notice a very gentle humming sound as you do. That’ll be the extractor fan firing up the inbuilt carbon filter to keep any nasty aromas from escaping into the room. Now that you are done and feeling like a changed man it’s a simple touch of a button on

the handy remote to make the next step happen. Beneath you, a high-tech “wand” emerges in the bowl below. This nifty little feature is a bidet on steroids, spraying water upon your posterior with as many settings and tricks as an iPhone 7. The wand also oscillates to have you squeaky clean in no time. When this step is complete the wand disappears to autoclean itself. Flush the toilet and as you walk away the seat will automatically close and the next selfcleaning function begins. There is no doubt that the Toto Washlet is the future of pooing. When mobile phones first became popular around the mid-nineties no one thought they would catch on, now everyone and their mother has the latest piece of kit. The Toto Washlet is destined to be the same. UK sales have already skyrocketed, and once you’ve used one you’ll understand why. Installation is as simple as fitting the average throne. All that is required is a power source and a qualified tradesman to slot it into place. Soaks Bathrooms on Belfast’s Apollo Road (off Boucher Road) is the sole suppliers of the Toto range in Northern Ireland. The base model retails at £800 with enough features to make a talking point of your bathroom for years to come.






Flamin’ Oysters Patrick Hanlon and Russell Alford sample the finest seafood Stockholm has to offer


There’s something about cooked oysters. Obviously much more traditional to eat raw, fresh from the sea, flamed oysters are an incredible taste experience too and Stockholm’s Michelin-starred Ekstedt restaurant offers one of the best interpretations going. Effortlessly cooked by drowning just-opened oysters in molten ox fat, bubbling after a boil in an iron pipe over an open flame, this dish illustrates everything Ekstedt stands for. The ethos with which the restaurant was opened in 2011 was a return to basics – modern Scandinavian food cooked without the modern conveniences of gas and electricity in

favour of traditional techniques – wood-fired oven, open fire pit, curing, pickling, preserving. It may seem simple, but this place is heading for a second Star. This oyster dish marries ocean and woodland perfectly with smoky bite and refreshingly crisp apple spheres offset by a bed of seaweed that delivers the aroma of fresh North Sea coastline. Humlegårdsgatan 17, Stockholm, Sweden Four-course (840SEK, £72, €90) or six-course (1090SEK, £93, €118) set menus available


Right, from top, Stureplan’s hidden rooftop bar tucked away on the 7th floor of Scandic Anglais, and an enticing smorgasbord of cured meats.

The Water Lilly At The Roof, Belfast It is a truth universally acknowledged that a new gay bar in possession of thirsty gay men must be in want of a signature cocktail. Enter The Water Lilly: a sweetlyperfumed New York favourite made from Hendrick’s gin, Creme de Violette, and Cointreau. The Water Lilly is the ideal tipple to enjoy in the latest addition to Northern Ireland’s burgeoning gay scene.



Brighton Rocks! We sent our editor Kieran Clarke to find out why Brighton is the gay capital of the United Kingdom


LIFESTYLE | TRAVEL: BRIGHTON ROCKS! With its laid back, bohemian atmosphere and reputation for good food, better nightlife and one of the best gay scenes around, is it any surprise that Brighton is UK’s favourite seaside resort? Tourists have been flocking to Brighton since the railway arrived in 1841 and when you see it for yourself you’ll understand why. The pebbled beach, scenic Brighton Pier and the Royal Pavilion are all picture postcard sights, but you’ll find hundreds of more things to see and do when you venture off the beaten track. The good news is that Brighton is small but beautiful and — all importantly — easy to traverse so long as you don’t mind a bit of leg work. At just an hour from London by train, Brighton is the ideal city for a romantic weekend break. There is so much to see and do to put you in the mood for love that the city has become a must-see for any self-respecting traveller. Brimming with cool and creative charm with the added bonus of spectacular seaside scenery, Brighton is unhurried and yet cosmopolitan. The nightlife alone is enough to rival that of city’s twice it’s size, with some of the best LGBT bars and clubs in the country. Brighton also happens to be home to one of the biggest Pride celebrations in Europe, and their celebrated Trans Pride Festival is now in its fourth year. BRIGHTON PIER No, not the burned down one, the other one. Brighton Pier (or West Pier, to give it its proper name) harkens back to the good old fashioned days of day trips to the sea. If you don’t mind putting up with flocks of hungry seagulls ever ready to swoop down on one’s chips, then you could easily spend an hour walking along the promenade, sampling the arcades, and paying over the odds for a Mr Whippy. The small “amusement park” at the far end is popular come rain or shine, with day passes available from the kiosk at the entrance to the pier itself. The beach is pebbly rather than sandy, but it’s nothing a deckchair can’t handle. East of the Pier is the nudist beach so try your best not to stare.

Clockwise from left: Sunny West Pier and the Brighton Wheel Below: The Royal Pavillion

KEMPTOWN This compact strip of pubs and clubs just moments from the seafront is where you will find most of Brighton’s gay bars and pubs. With no less than nine to choose from — ranging from the always popular Legends to Charles Street just down the road — you’ll be practically spoiled with choice. In recent months Brighton has seen a spate of attacks on LGBT locals and visitors alike; while rare, attacks like these can happen in any city, so do be vigilant.

GETTING THERE Getting to Brighton couldn’t be easier. It’s just under an hour by train  from London and only half an hour from London Gatwick Airport. The city is also served by a direct rail link from the Eurostar Service at St Pancras, with a regular service by National Express coaches.

THE CREPERIE LIMITED Spread across two floors, The Creperie offers iconic French cuisine complimented by the best in local british produce, in a contemporary and playful location which is suitable for all occasions.

BRIGHTON WHEEL Situated just outside the incredible Sea Life Centre, and across the street from West Pier, there is no missing Brighton’s equivalent to the London Eye. The audio guide is narrated by Steve Coogan himself. The ride lasts about 20 minutes with three rotations, offering panoramic views of Brighton and nearby Hove.


THE LANES The Lanes is an area of Brighton bounded by North Street to the north, Ship Street to the west, Prince Albert Street to the south and Market Street to the east. This winding maze of little shops is where you will find everything from antiques to jewellery and some of finest food Brighton has to offer. One local favourite is Giggling Squid (11 Market Street, which puts a Thai twist on traditional seafood. The fish comes right out of the nearby harbour and you can’t get much more fresh than that.

be one of the very best. Their program offers everything from arthouse indie films to the latest Hollywood releases. Grab yourself a coffee or a wine from the comfortable bar area and indulge in the art-deco surroundings till your heart is content.

THEATRE ROYAL This stunning theatre is the diamond in Brighton’s crown. Hosts to concerts, ballets, operas and plays throughout the year, the Theatre Royal Brighton has a long tradition of presenting glossy West End productions before they are put on in London. Their programme promises drama, comedy, musicals and family fun and is constantly updated.

ROYAL PAVILLION No trip to Brighton is complete without

a stroll around the Royal Pavilion (pictured above). The grand structure was designed by architect John Nash and was quite obviously inspired by his time in India. There are few better spots in the city to stroll hand-in-hand and do a spot of people watching.

Brighton Bear Weekend is the UK south coast’s legendary bear event, with four days of fur and fun in the sun! Packed to the rafters with talented DJs and cabaret artistes to entertain punters over the whole weekend. They will be joined by the Sea Serpents, Brighton and Hove’s own gay-friendly rugby team. One of the highlights of the weekend is set to be be when they auction off some of their players on Sunday afternoon at Legends.

DUKE OF YORK’S PICTURE HOUSE Reportedly the oldest cinema in the UK, the Duke of York’s also happens to

GNI MAG stayed at an LGBTfriendly Air B’n’B in Hove


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Ask Eamon! Our resident dating expert Eamon McAuley is ready to solve your shameful dating mishaps


Hey there,

I wanted to ask your advice on something. Last year I moved into a new uni house with some people from my course. At the start, my housemates all seemed really nice. We got on well together and generally everything was okay (minus a few teething problems). I didn’t know the guy before we moved in but he seemed pretty nice. A few months ago I found out from a friend of a friend that the guy is cheating on his girlfriend with another guy from our course. Should I tell his girlfriend what’s going on? We are all about to move out so it’s not like I have to live with him anymore. What should I do?

Quick question. What’s your thoughts about friends sleeping together? I slept with a girl I’ve known for years after we had too much to drink one night and now she’s basically cut me out of her life. The thing is I actually really like her as a friend and don’t want to lose her just because we fooled around once. Any advice?

Anonymous, Newcastle



This question is one that will divide opinion. Onehalf of people you will ask will say you don’t know either of these people very well, and since it’s not your relationship stay out of other people’s business. The other half will say if you have ever been unlucky enough to have a partner cheat on you then you will know it’s one of the worst feelings there is, that this girl has a right to know and so you should tell her. My advice here -- bearing in mind that I don’t know you or anyone else involved in this situation -- is to go with your gut instinct. Do what you feel is the right thing to do (and not because you are doing so out of spite). Infidelity is an unpleasant thing that usually happens to everyone at some stage in their adult life. Emotionally it can be extremely hurtful, but you can’t let your feelings cloud your judgement here. You need to look at all of the options before deciding whether or not to tell this girl what you have heard. For example, there is the very important issue of safe sex involved here. If what you’ve heard is true he may not be using protection with this other guy, in which case his partner has every right to know she is at risk. There is the very real possibility that this guy could be sleeping with a number of different people and may not be doing so in a safe way. Do emotion and pain outweigh this girl’s right to the truth? I can’t make that decision for you. Good luck either way.

Erin, St Stephen’s Green There is no easy solution to this issue. Friend’s sleeping together is something that may work for some people but for others will ruin a friendship. Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to know how a someone will react to the idea of sleeping with a close friend before it happens. For the people who have no issue mixing casual sex with close personal friendships, the benefit is being able to enjoy companionship, great times and also no strings sex as regularly as they could want it. This has all the benefits of a committed relationship but with none of the emotional or practical ties that can prove to be such a stumbling block for many couples. For those who are unable or unwilling to differentiate between the love of two friends and sex, the likeliest scenario is one in which one will half of the pair ends up developing stronger feelings for the other person, and if the other person can’t or won’t reciprocate those feelings this can lead to hurt feelings and eventually the end of the friendship. While I’m not saying this is what will happen between you and your friend, what you need to do is have an open and honest conversation with them, this should happen face to face, and find out what is going on with her. With any luck, she is giving you the cold shoulder to avoid the embarrassment after what happened. Another possibility is that she may have always secretly liked you and is wondering why you haven’t mentioned what happened and shown more interest than you did before you slept together. If you want to keep this girl as a friend you need to be honest with her. Go into the conversation with an open mind and a firm idea of what you want to say. Be respectful that you have been intimate as some people will value this more highly than others will. Good luck.


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GNI MAG Weddings

Beth and Morena had the retro (and adorable) wedding day of their dreams. Here they share their Big Day story.

SO TELL ME HOW YOU MET. WERE YOU SINGLE FOR A LONG TIME BEFORE YOU MET? BETH I met Morena on a training course. I was nervous meeting lots of new people so I was talking a lot more than usual, which is already a lot! Morena kept looking at me with what seemed like disgust which made me even more nervous. When my parents asked me how my first day went I said, ‘Well, everyone seems nice but there’s this one girl... I don’t think we are going to get along.’ When I went back a few days later I looked across the room to find my group and locked eyes with Morena. It was electric and I was hooked. It was around a month later when Morena was brave enough to kiss me and I’ve never looked back. MORENA When I met Beth she was talking like a washing machine.

She was this tiny wee thing who didn’t shut up all night! It wasn’t until the next time we met that I thought ‘Oh hello, maybe I can put up with her talking.’ HOW LONG AFTER YOU STARTED DATING DID IT TAKE TO POP THE QUESTION? WAS IT AN IMMEDIATE YES? MORENA I proposed to Beth around two years after we met. I never really saw marriage in my future before we met I knew from before that first kiss that she was the one for me. I took her to the beach and wrote ‘Will you marry me?’ in the sand. She said yes immediately, but I didn’t have any doubts she would turn me down. BETH In childhood, I’d always dreamed of a big wedding but I gave up on all that when I realised I was gay. Morena



“I’m so lucky to have met the person who makes my heart smile. Everything is made better when we do it together.” 86 | GNIMAG.COM

GNI MAG WEDDINGS__ changed everything for the better. I’d been thinking about proposing but Morena got there first. A few months later I took her to London where I proposed again. Funnily enough, she didn’t say no.



The theme of the wedding was vintage/retro and all our touches fed into this theme including personalised mason jars. My brother made a speech on behalf of all my siblings and, yes, I was very redfaced at the end, although most of the stories I don’t remember...

BETH Our Wedding Day was amazing. It was April and the weather could have gone either way, but when the wedding cars pulled up the sun came out on cue and it was gorgeous. We had 110 guests for the main day so it was quite intimate. The ceremony and reception were all held at Riverdale Barn. It was perfect. The first time we saw it we fell in love and booked it right away. Our ceremony was held in the stone barn which was beautifully decorated by Suzanne Flowers. (We were laid back about the planning and let Suzanne work her magic.) When Morena walked up the aisle I felt very emotional but I reminded myself that tears would ruin my makeup. She was stunning. We got the civil official ceremony out of the way quickly and our Minister Chris Hudson from All Souls performed a blessing. This made the day for me. His words were beautiful and poignant and having him there reflected us as a couple. We also had a friend sing and readings by a few others who are close to us. Everything in the ceremony had some meaning for us both.

MORENA Our day was all that we had hoped it would be. Although the registrar asked me twice if I was there of my own free will, so maybe I looked nervous! My dad walked me down the aisle to The Dixie Chicks ‘Lullaby.’ Despite being unable to walk very far with a medical condition he was determined to do it. I fell in love with Riverdale Barn as soon as I saw it and we weren’t disappointed on the day, it looked stunning with hundreds of candles and an open fire. I think I was much more of a bridezilla than Beth. I was obsessed with wedding magazines and wedding favours. I loved our vintage/retro theme and everything reflected us as a couple. We designed our own favours and had custom made drinking jars for all our guests. Initially, we had decided not to have cars as we found it difficult to find anything other than the usual wedding- type car which didn’t fit us at all, but we found Classic Vehicle Hire, Killyleagh and ended up with four vintage cars for the day. One was an old Police car and we even had an old ambulance! They were very quirky. My best friend made a speech on


GNI MAG WEDDINGS__ BETH & MORENA behalf of my brother who couldn’t make it over from Australia. We all ended up in tears but it felt like he was part of the day. I loved our wedding so much I can’t wait to plan our renewal! WHAT ABOUT THE FOOD AND DRINK? DID YOU HAVE A HONEYMOON?

I loved our handmade personalised chocolates by The Chocolate Manor and our personalised sweet table. Afterwards, we enjoyed a mini-moon in Kilkenny straight after our wedding weekend, then we headed to Washington DC and San Fran. HOW ARE YOU ENJOYING MARRIED LIFE?

BETH We both love a good wedding and wanted to make sure our guests had a great time. We wanted the food and drink to be plentiful. Instead of wine on the tables we had cider and beer pitchers along with the traditional Prosecco and Champagne for the toasts. Our guests also didn’t go hungry with scones in the afternoon, four-course meal later followed by a barbeque in the evening. We even had a sweetie table and marshmallows for toasting. Our honeymoon was in Washington DC and San Francisco, the highlights being our personal tour of the Pentagon and Alcatraz.

BETH We had been together almost seven years before we got married so we knew each other pretty well. It does feel different being married and I love introducing Morena as my wife. They say the first year is the hardest and we survived that with no bloodshed.

MORENA Our day was perfect. We had everything we wanted and made sure that our guests were well fed and watered. We had a traditional Irish band and fabulous magician to entertain during the day while we were having our photographs taken. In the evening we had a country band and then a DJ set by the same guys.



We share some interests but we are also quite different. Either way, we like to support each other in our pastimes. I never really watched football until I met Morena but now I shout at the TV as much as she does! Morena likes the news and I like Game of Thrones. I’m so lucky to have met the person who makes my heart smile. Everything is made better when we do it together. MORENA We are very different but I enjoy doing things that Beth enjoys and vice versa. Everything is better together. She even gets the offside rule now!

MORENA I guess I find it odd when people ask this question. We were together a long time before we got married so we know each other inside out. Married life is all good.



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self-harmed and even attempted suicide. She

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greater awareness of who she is and what she needs to do to ensure her mental well-being. Her secret is exercise.

Diane explains, “Everyone needs support networks. It’s human nature. They are all

around us – mother and toddler groups, church groups, groups for different health conditions

– but outside of the Kremlin and Pride I never felt as if I had a support network, at least not

one where I could be open about my sexuality, where I could just be me.

“I have faced a lot of battles in my life but

I suppose they have all boiled down to one

thing – the battle to find where I belong in

life. When I started going to the gym, I finally

being competitive. Having said that, I have

the weightlifting competitions I now enter. I really must thank my personal trainer for

her support in getting me this far. However,

for me, fitness is about wellness. I am acutely

aware of what I need to do to look after myself and I use the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) to manage my wellness. Basically,

WRAP is a systematic tool for monitoring my wellness and identifying and predicting times when I feel less well. I can then put self-care

strategies in place, such as going to the gym,

playing the guitar or other forms of relaxation, to manage those more difficult, uncomfortable or distressing times. I can also make sure that the people around me know what kind of

support I prefer to receive during those times. Fitness provides me with a support network

and it is a crucial part of my wellness. I would

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bend and stretch your joints, muscles, ligaments

Keeping active has many benefits, including: •

It reduces your risk of a heart attack by 40%

It reduces blood pressure

• • • • • • • • • •

It lowers your risk of a stroke by 27% It lowers cholesterol levels

It maintains a strong and healthy heart It improves your lung function It aids weight loss

It builds stronger muscles, joints and bones It lowers stress levels

It improves your self–confidence

It helps you to sleep better at night It slows down the ageing process

WHAT TYPES OF EXERCISES SHOULD WE BE DOING? Cardiovascular (or aerobic exercise) is any

exercise that increases the heart rate i.e. fast walking, running, fitness classes or playing

sports. It keeps the muscles of the heart and lungs healthy to keep your body working properly.

STRENGTH EXERCISES (resistance training) build the muscles that

keep you strong and burns off lots of calories.

Doing strength exercises means you burn more calories even when you’re resting.

Both cardiovascular and strength exercises

will improve your cholesterol, boosting the good HDL cholesterol and lowering LDL

cholesterol. Your heart will grow stronger and

Flexibility exercises are a variety of exercise that


Adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardiovascular (aerobic) physical activity a week. It’s best for adults to try and get 30 minutes of physical activity a day, rather than try and fit all 150 minutes into just the weekend. You don’t even need to do the 30 minutes in one go – it can be broken down into 10-minute sessions

should aim to get eight hours of sleep a night.

Rest is just as important as physical activity; we This helps our bodies rest, recover and adapt to the training. Without enough rest then all of

your good work will be undone as the body has no time to make the changes you have asked it to make. You should aim to have two rest days from exercise every week.

HOW MUCH ACTIVITY DO YOU NEED TO BE DOING? Adults should do at least 150 minutes of

moderate intensity cardiovascular (aerobic)

physical activity a week. It’s best for adults to try and get 30 minutes of physical activity a

day, rather than try and fit all 150 minutes into

just the weekend. You don’t even need to do the 30 minutes in one go – it can be broken down into 10-minute sessions

MUSCLE–STRENGTHENING Muscle–strengthening activities involving

major muscle groups should be done on 2 or more days a week.

You should also ensure that your fitness routine incorporates exercises that improve flexibility and that you take two full days rest for your body to recover.

It is important to incorporate these exercises

into your routine to keep your joints and

suffering a heart attack or a stroke.

take for granted when younger become more


and tendons.

more efficient which will also help to lower

your blood pressure. All these lower your risk of

difficult as we age if we do not look after our

muscles supple because everyday tasks that we


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OLIVER tells hIS story Oliver faced difficulties in school when he came out as trans. Now he’s started hormone therapy and is happier than ever. This is his coming out story.

Tell us a little about yourself. My name is Oliver Crothers. I am 19, I have two sisters, and I have just left school. I identify as FTM (female to male) transgender, and publically came out in April 2014. I have been receiving hormone replacement therapy since April 2016 and I am still waiting to get top surgery. When did you realise you were trans? When I was younger I realised that something wasn’t right although I had absolutely no idea what being transgender was. When I was 12 I used to read about gender reassignment and always said to my best friend that if I could get one I would.. I attended a same-sex girl school and throughout my time there I thought maybe I was just a lesbian. After coming out as a lesbian I felt even worse about myself and knew that wasn’t why I felt wrong. It wasn’t until I spoke to someone online who was transgender that I finally realised why I felt so uncomfortable with myself. Tell me about your coming out experience. Coming out took a long time. I came out as a lesbian in December 2013, and then a month later I was telling my GP I felt like I was in the wrong body. I told my parents and my nanny and my closest friends first. I told my mum face to face, I sent a text to my dad and nanny, and I wrote a letter to my friends and passed it around. I didn’t want to talk about it to anyone, I just wanted to know I had their support. My parents told my sisters.

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When I finally had the courage to tell my school, the majority of my teachers were extremely supportive but the principle at the time refused to let me wear trousers. This really knocked my confidence. Despite this, I still created a facebook account and began living as male outside of school. How did people react when you told them? My mum wasn’t surprised and she and my nanny have strived to help get me as much help as they possibly can, even paying for me to receive hormones privately. My dad simply told me that he would love me no matter what gender I was and has treated me like his son every day since. He even asking me to be a groomsman at his wedding. My older sister took me shopping for new clothes that I would be more comfortable in and also made me her son’s Godfather. My friends always support me and will help me out in uncomfortable situations. I spoke at a talk called ‘Educating The Educators’ at Belfast Pride in 2014. When my old principle left my school the new principal called me in helped changed my name, uniform and gender in school and was amazingly supportive. I found throughout coming out everyone was extremely supportive and I have received very little abuse for being transgender. Was coming out a big deal for you or did it feel natural? Coming out for me wasn’t that much of a big deal. It was more of a relief and at first, it felt extremely

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Textphone 18001 0808 808 8000


unnatural being called a different name. I found it difficult being confident enough to correct people when they used the wrong pronouns or name because I didn’t think I looked very masculine. I began binding which helped my confidence, and the testosterone I’m taking has already lowered my voice significantly. My facial hair has begun growing which has also made me feel a lot more confident and comfortable with myself. Has anyone’s opinion of you changed since you first came out? A lot of people have told me since coming out that I’ve become less shy and nervous. Almost everyone has told me I have become a much happier person. Apart from that, my friends joke that I’ve become a lot vainer! I’ve never really experienced anyone’s opinion of me changing in a negative way. I think I maybe lost one friend over coming out as trans.

What are the most important things in your life? The most important things in my life are my friends and family and being happy within myself. I try to not make being trans a big part of my life, for example, I wouldn’t formally introduce myself as trans but I am very open about it. I think being open about it is important because in Northern Ireland being LGBT isn’t widely accepted. I feel that if I can be open about myself it might help other young trans people who are struggling. What are your plans for the future? I hope to someday go back into education, but at the minute, I am unsure of what career I would like to pursue. I am hoping to get top surgery within the next few years and I am unsure about whether or not I would like to undergo bottom surgery, as I don’t feel like the current surgery results aren’t worth the surgeries and scars. Maybe when things have improved I’ll reconsider.

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House music bad boy Mickey Taylor talks to us about his latest projects. Dr Christian chats about what he's been up to. Boy George on bein...


House music bad boy Mickey Taylor talks to us about his latest projects. Dr Christian chats about what he's been up to. Boy George on bein...