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An introduction from our editor... Another issue and we celebrate another milestone, after spending our first few years online GNI was first printed in May of 2012 which means we are now officially in our 10th year as a fully fledged publication, wow how we have changed. Globally , Locally and Personally allot has also been going on. My life has been a seesaw of ups and downs lately , the highs jetting off for a much needed break in Malta, getting the lead role in a musical ‘All Shook Up’ and the news of my little sister Linda getting Married, then lows , a year on from getting my house I am still trying to get builders to finish work, had the bug which knocked me off my feet for a few days but worst of all is having to deal with bereavement, on 14th April my beautiful Aunty Linda who suddenly passed away, with the funeral only happening this Saturday we still haven’t processed things . Life’s a BITCH Anyway enough of my personal woes , locally we are trying to deal with the unprecedented and continuous rises in the cost of living , every other day we hear of something else going up in price, when is it going to end! And in a few days time we will have the local election results, call me skeptical but as much as I want change I just don’t see it happening anytime soon. The entire political system here along with many things needs an overhaul. WW3 is still very much a possibility, imposing sanctions on Russia just doesn’t seem to be cutting it , I really feel for the millions of Ukrainian people whom are now displaced from the life they knew, families torn apart, homes and belongings taken from them. It is reassuring to see people getting settled in N.I , Ireland and across the U.K, I very much hope they are given all the support they need to start a new life , we need to welcome them with open arms.

I also want to send out condolences to the families and friends of Michael Snee and Aidan Moffitt, who were both found dead in their homes on 12th April , it is harrowing that anyone would actively go out of their way to target and kill LGBTQI+ people. Hate crimes and violence cannot be tolerated in our society. Now on to this issue I had the pleasure of interviewing Strictly Icon Oti Mabuse who is on the cover, it was a blast interviewing her ahead of her tour which comes to the GOH in a few weeks, other interviews include Mario Adrion, Noahfinnce and Kai Tempest. Conleth Kane is back with a new EP, we cover it in our Try section along with reviews of The Rabbit, Fratelli and loads more . Such an array of topics are covered in this edition such as Social Media V Reality, Fostering, Mental Health, How to look 15 years younger, Empowering Families and more Our regular sections are packed with content and your fav columnists old and new share what has been happening in their lives. We will be back in June with our Pride edition, enjoy reading and thanks as always to all who make our magazine possible Daniel May Editor and Operations Director

Contents 8/ OTI MABUSE



Daniel May Operations Director


Pauline Fitzpatrick Sales Executive Tony Day Design Thanks to... Oti Mabuse / Mario Adrion / Noahfinnce / Conleth Kane / Kae Tempest / Tim Asato / Xand / Joe / Lewis Hancox / Harwood / Connor Mills / Carl Connielingus / Aisling Twoney / Gary Campion / Gavyn Andrews / Dr Mervyn Patterson / Nat Creighton / Jason Salerno / Anthony Coole / Sabrina Day / Martin Murray / Gourmet Boys / Andrew & Lee / Trisha McCluney / Jeff Dorta / GOH / DawBell / Project Publicity / Halestorm PR / Chuff Media / LK Communication / Scholastic Limited / The Rainbow Project / Action for Children / Creighton Counselling NI / The Rabbit Hotel / Frattelli Restaurant / GNI MAG is published by: Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd. 13 Union Street Belfast, BT1 2JF



All submissions to GNI MAG are made on the basis of permission to publish the submission in GNI MAG and it’s licensed editions worldwide. In the case of picture selection, the editors decision is final. Any materials sent is at the owners risk and although every care is taken neither Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd or it’s agents shall be liable for loss or damage. We take great care to make sure all elements of GNI MAG are accurate. However we accept no liability for misprints that appear in this magazine. You should seek professional advice prior to following any advice offered in this publication. Any opinions expressed are those of the writers and not those of GNI MAG or Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd. Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd 2022






In this issue we exclusively talk to the Queen of the dance floor Oti Mabuse. After departing from Strictly she is now a judge on Dancing On Ice, is embarking on her first UK tour ‘I Am Here’ as well as hosting her own dating show ‘Romeo and Duet’. How did it all f inish last night at the Strictly

f inal? Was there an after party? Did you agree with the winner?

It was so much fun. Kimberly Wyatt was

doing her Pussycat songs and dances, every-

NONE OF THEM! I can't choose, I really can't choose.

For me it would be easy, I would be snogging Danny any day of the week.

body was singing the songs with her. It was

He has got a wife who is one of my best

good and I am really, really happy for him.


amazing. Regan was fabulous, he was so, so I think the three of them were absolutely

outstanding and they truly deserved to win where they were.

It could have gone either way with the

couples and they were all so good and both worthy winners.

friends and a new child. No, I really cannot

I know you announced your departure from

Strictly a while ago but it's still on everyone's lips and so many people are asking questions. I read that you wanted to leave on a high,

did you have a plan on the length of time you wanted to be involved with the show?

I would like to do a quick fun game with you.

So when I started, I began two years before

Deserted island or party island?

for a while now, it's almost 10 years. When

Party Island.

Snow day or summer day? Summer day.

Hands or feet? Oh hands!

Cook or takeaway?

Definitely takeaway. If you could only do one dance for the rest of your life, what would it be?

That would have to be a rumba. Oooh naughty, and lastly snog, marry, avoid?

We are going to use three of your previous partners, we've got Danny, Calvin or Hugo?

doing Strictly Germany, I kind of had a vibe

walked into the studio and I said to him this is literally going to be the last time for me.

Let's go out with a bang and make sure we do amazing. He did so much, he pushed himself for me, because he also knew that it was my last ever show.

You are the only professional to date to win

consecutively back to back, was there pressure on you doing it the third time to try and get a

hat trick or were you just happy that you knew that you were going out, you know, knew it was f inishing?

I didn't want to put pressure on myself as I

am just a dancer. I think everybody else put more pressure on me asking "Do you think

you will do it again", "Can you do it a third time".

they asked me to do Strictly in the UK I

The ending of the show was so nice though. I

country itself so I thought I am going to do

two professionals that were there and we had

didn't know anything about the UK as a

the first year and then if I like it I will do

it again, and if I don't I will go back home and continue with Strictly Germany. I did

my first season and I absolutely fell in love with everything in the UK. But for me the

aim was always to win. Then eventually in my sixth year with Calvin we were very blessed

started the show with Giovanni, we were the so many beautiful moments. I think how the

show turned out was perfect, it really was. I had no pressure but I think that everyone else was trying to create this whole world around me.

Like you say, all I knew was that I was going to dance, it was literally going to be my last time.

and we won. After that I just went "Oh, this

You are absolutely everywhere at the minute, I

left in me and I felt like I had a couple of

got The Masked Singer and you were on Dancing

is all I wanted". However I still had so much more years. It wasn't even a question, I was

like "I am still not done yet". I was very, very tired though and I went through a lot with the pandemic and it was very hard. Then

with Ugo, he is such a good friend, and we

really enjoy The Greatest Dancer and then you've On Ice. You have hosted loads of things. Is there a plan to do them again next year or do you not

know yet? So The Masked Singer and Dancing On Ice, is there a plan to do them again?



The Masked Singer - there is the queen Rita

she gave me a big hug and a kiss during the

You are hosting Romeo and Duet on ITV, for

doing The Masked Dancer and there is a plan

want to stay here. The audience are so much


Ora and The Masked Dancer - yes I will be

to do all of them again. You know I think as a dancer when you leave you kind of just go off - most people decide go home and have families and things but I just want to keep

dance. I just thought if this is wild then I just fun and they always laugh and are always

crazy and that is the stuff that I love to be a part of.

working and growing and start a whole new

I am looking for places to go on vacation and

to give it my all, I don't want to be compla-


career. I am starting from scratch and I want cent. I want to keep grafting and pushing. I don't think that people really know the

amount of choreography and things that you

do. For instance, back to back, before your show comes to Belfast, the week before is The Cher Show that you choreographed as well...

Yes and I perform and dance as well. I am doing the Cher Show right now as we speak and that has been amazing because that is yet another side of musicals which I take part in as well as the dancing and choreography. I also

work with the incredible Arlene Philips and she has been amazing at how genius she is.

It's a lot but I get to go to work and see other people dance and sing and act and create this

whole world and make me feel things through a talent that they have crafted and mastered

over the years. I love that I play a part in that. I also do my own choreography for my own tour, having a story and how it makes sense

and just to be inspired by that whole world. I love the musical theatre feel as well.

I definitely think I will take a short one to

those you haven't seen it explain what it’s

It is a dating show and it is so much fun. It's singletons trying to find a date or someone

they can actually be with and you can only go by their voice - their singing voice and the

song choice. As soon as they decide they want to choose a specific person they jump on a

love heart over to me and a wall opens. The

The last time I was there a lady came up on stage while I was performing and she gave me a big hug and a kiss during the dance. I just thought if this is wild then I just want to stay here.

pair then go on a

date together and

they come out and do a great perfor-

mance for everyone and then the audi-

ence gets to decide which couple has

the best chemistry. To any aspiring

dancers out there, do you have any words

of wisdom or advice that you can give them?

I think with people

who want to dance, just stick with it

and work as much

as you can to fulfill what they want to

In terms of your show itself, obviously dancing

get out of dancing. It will pay off !

you tell our audience to expect?

Thanks so much Oti xxx


We have a live band, we have live music and

Oti's tour I Am Here will be coming to Belfast,

That's so exciting. Is there a specif ic place that

traveling. I will talk a bit about Germany and

can buy tickets here via

So is this your f irst solo tour that is all about you then?

you are looking forward to going to?

Honestly, I am looking forward to going to Ireland. Every time I am there it is always fun, there is always a party and we have a

blast. I honestly always have the time of my

life in Ireland. The last time I was there a lady came up on stage while I was performing and GNI MAG [10]

is going to be the key element but what else can

it is also not just a tour about me but also

working there. I also talk about South Africa but not just my history, it's the history of

South Africa which has its own kind of feel, and its own identity and I feel really strong about that. Things that have happened in

South Africa have instilled certain values in

me and that's why I am the way that I am and I want to bring that to Belfast.

The Grand Opera House on 31st May. You whats-on/oti-mabuse/ I

nterview by Daniel May


GNI MAG [11]

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As GNI MAG turns ten years old, we take a quick look back in reminicence and celebration. We chatted to Tony, who originally started what was GayNI, and to Daniel who is at the head of the ship today... “To be honest it was all started on a bit of a whim. I wasn’t long out and had just turned 30. I had this new life and didn’t know what to do with it. I’d been closetted and heard so many horror stories about service providers either discriminating or mocking, or even just being blatently homophobic. I wanted somewhere to find gay friendly service providers etc. And so began GayNI. Originally it was a wee small A5 directory that was distributed for free during a Pride festival.

I had a bit of background in advertising and publishing, and I teamed up with a business partner and GayNI magazine was born. Watching it grow over the years, and seeing the celebrities and content we were able to attract filled me with pride - after-all, this was a wee booklet that I started at a desk on my landing. We were also extremely lucky in the beginning with the support we received from the local bars, businesses, charities, and people willing to write for us. I still keep a keen eye on how the publication is doing and how it’s received but after about five years the time came to hand over the reins GNI MAG [13]


to younger, fresher eyes and ideas. We were just lucky that Daniel came into our lives when he did. So Daniel, tell us how you became involved, how you moved forward with GayNI/GNI MAG and what the future holds” “Sure Tony , I came into the fold back in October 2015, having previously worked for the Newsletter and many publications in the Johnston Press I had tonnes of sales experience with local and National clients though to date had never worked for a publication that I personally could relate to as a Gay man, I’m not going to lie it was very daunting at the start things were a slow burn though I found my stride and clients started to fall into place eager to support and engage with the growing LGBTQI+ community. Looking back I never thought I’d be Jack of all trades

running the ship, times of late have been trying due to covid though our publication has never been better, our readers/ followers continue to grow and from a content and design perspective the magazine has never been more appealing. The future is still to be told, as a publication we strive to keep readers interested and educated, I take pride in what we share within GNI and the fact it’s not a lads mag so to speak. It is so important that we are accessible and relatable to all, on that note we would love to hear from you in regards to content you would like to see within the publication. Hit me up , my email is in the contents section. Imminently we will be working on typically our most prominent issue over the pride season, it’s usually a bumper edition so all our readers can look forward to that and asides from that we very much hope to see the return of the GNIMAG Awards having been cancelled twice due to covid.” So there we have it, loads more instore for GNI MAG... Here’s to the next ten years!

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Roxie Hart


Matron “Mama” Morton



Designed and printed by Dewynters




Happy 10 year issue to GNI Magazine! What a fabulous milestone to reach. I thought I’d celebrate the issue by having a wee catch up with my best drag Judy Fierce Injection to reflect on her journey with drag so far and find out where she was in her life when GNI Magazine started and what her plans are for the future.

So Fierce Injection thanks for joining me today, how are we feeling? Hello, thanks for having me, I’m feeling amazing, just finished the day job about to do my face for a gig, how are you doing?

a drag artist? I always knew I wanted to do drag yes, but I didn’t think I would be doing so much in a short space of time.

Oh I’m great love, you seem to be really busy with gigs at the minute, ever since we met you have been hustling away, would you mind letting everyone know how we met? We originally met on our first gig together when we were rehearsing for the Denali show with DFIU events in September last year and have been besties ever since.

Yea the drag scene in Belfast has exploded recently with so much talent, it’s great to see. You included. What do you love the most about Drag and how does it make you feel? I love the freedom and the creativity, all the feelings and dreams you have when you are a kid, you get to make them come true, you get to be this character that you always wanted, you feel on top of the world. Untouchable.

Can you believe that is 9 ago months already, time has flown, and we’ve done so much together? I know 9 months and it’s been an absolute blast.

I am totally with you, It such a rewarding feeling. I think everyone should try drag at some point, the more you do it, the better and more polished it gets too, where do you see Fierce Injection in 10 years’ time? In 10 years, I will have been on drag race, travelled, been on tours, have a few of my own nights, just still rocking it.

So, can you tell everyone how you got the name fierce injection? I got the name fierce injection because when I was a kid I wanted to have a dance school and call it Fierce Studios. It’s so weird I was watching a documentary about lethal Injections, and I was like “Fierce Injection” would sound amazing, and it just stuck, I used to write it on my homework diaries. I knew in the back of my mind I was going to use the name, and when I started drag it just felt like a perfect fit. It really suits you; I can imagine you scribbling your name on all your books in school! Ha ha! This leads us into the next question very nicely actually… so with this issue of GNI Magazine we are celebrating 10 years of the publication: what were you doing 10 years ago in your life? So, 10 years ago I would have been 18, I was hitting the clubs, dancing around like crazy, I was meeting a lot of people, partying 5 nights a week, I was also still in school but doing it all. So not much has changed then, apart from you’re not in a classroom, Still learning though… Off course, I see every day with its challenges as a new opportunity to learn, be better and push ourselves. What advice would you give to your younger self/ younger drag artists? The advice I would give to younger queens would be not to hesitate, if you have a gut feeling, go with it. Some people might not like what you are doing, as long as you like it and stick to your guns then you will go far, don’t let other people tell you what to do, and don’t try and be a copycat of someone else. Try and find what makes you unique. I think that’s great advice, celebrating individuality is important. We are surrounded by social media trends, where everyone can feel pressure to do the same and fit in with others, my best advice would be to stay true to yourself and go with your gut. Tell me this did you ever think you would be performing on the scene as GNI MAG [16]

Frocking rocking it, I love it! I think you’ll achieve a lot of those goals very soon with the rate you are going. So, we both have a good number of gigs in the next few months are you excited about Priyanka? I’m absolutely ecstatic about Priyanka, it’s going to be so much fun! I can’t wait to work with you again and the dancers, we are going to kill it. All we seem to do is Kill it! Kill, Kill, Kill!! What about Drag Fest, are we living? Drag fest is something I’m really excited about, I never thought was going to happen in such a small town. The fact that it’s showcasing so much local and international talent is amazing. It’s going to be an incredible experience for everyone. I know I’m super excited about it too. It will be such an amazing day that will bring the drag community together and showcase out local talent. A busy few months ahead then with so much on. Before we wrap up here, I just want to ask Where can we find you? You can find me on Instagram, facebook, tik tok and twitter all @fierceinjection. That’s great, thanks for joining me today fierce, time for you to get painting. I know, you holding me back, ha ha. Love ya. Bye x You can also find Tailor Maid on Instagram @totally.tailor Bookings on instagram or via email or call/message 07540533943

Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.



By Jason Salerno

GNI MAG [17]


Mario Adrion’s legions of fans on YouTube know him as the ITSAMEEE.... MAARIOOOooo! guy. The Wilhelmina fashion model has been lighting up the internet with his manabout-town videos where he asks silly questions to unsuspecting men and women, all while wearing nothing but a skimpy speedo.

Mario came to national attention when he appeared on last season’s American Idol. He wowed judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie, performing his audition song in his signature outfit. At one point, Perry challenged Mario to a cat walk duel! While Mario’s fashion moves slayed, his song didn’t quite measure up and he was eliminated. Still, the appearance introduced the funny male model to a national audience and he’s now trading the runway for the stand-up comedy stage. In his act, Mario reflects on his life as an underwear model, revealing what really happens in model apartments and the importance of the big bulge. He also dives into the dark side of the fashion industry, discussing the sexual propositions he encountered and even the time he was drugged and sexually assaulted by a photographer. “I don’t make light of the experience,” he confirms. “There is nothing funny about rape. But sharing my story openly and publicly has helped in the healing process. It has given the assault purpose.” We spoke with the popular YouTuber from his home in Los Angeles. How did you find your way into stand-up comedy? I just started doing it. I have so much to learn, but nothing beats the energy of a room full of laughing people. It is magical. Were you always funny? I remember being a kid and putting on a performance at my uncle’s 50th birthday, making little jokes about my cousins and all the people there. Everybody agreed I was a natural! Why did you decide to pursue modeling first, over comedy? I’m from a small town in Germany where nobody does anything creative. Out of nowhere, I was approached by a modeling agent from New York City who offered me an opportunity. I decided to pursue it, not because I loved modeling but because I loved the challenge and the possibility of travelling around the world! Was modelling filled with glamour and wild nights out? I’ve been to some of the most insane parties as a model. Especially the afterparties of Milan Fashion Week. Do you mind being objectified? I definitely like the attention and admiration I sometimes receive. What are some of the hardest parts about modeling? MA: I found that having to fit into the body that fashion

GNI MAG [18]

brands wanted was hard. I am a naturally athletic guy. My agents always wanted me to lose muscle mass so I could fit into tiny designer jackets for fashion week. One fashion week season, I starved myself and lost twenty pounds. Then my grandmother unexpectedly passed away and I had to cancel my shows to attend the funeral. At the funeral, I realized how unhealthy I looked and promised myself to never do that again. In your act, you discuss the sexual propositions. Can you tell us about those? It all started with some underwear shoots where photographers would try to adjust my underwear and touch me inappropriately. I learned to tolerate it because I didn’t want to lose the jobs. But then there were times when I would be offered a magazine cover in exchange for receiving a blowjob from a photographer. Nobody told me what to do in that situation. I didn’t get much guidance from my agents. Is it common for male models to engage in these propositions? Yes, advances are quite common. It’s an unspoken rule that models can’t be too sensitive. We’re expected to play along. I have often endured these advances because I was paralyzed and didn’t know what to say without upsetting the photographer or casting director. One time, after being groped, I told the photographer that I didn’t feel comfortable and he told me: this is fashion. You have to be more open if you want to succeed in this industry. I’ll never forget how he accused me of not being open after sexually assaulting me. I am not saying all successful models have engaged in these propositions but I know a lot of guys who are doing big campaigns with huge designers after spending a weekend in the Hamptons with them. You’ve been open about your experiences on your YouTube channel. My YouTube viewership went up once I started sharing my personal stories. Instead of showing some perfect life as a model, I chose to reveal my struggles which made my channel more relatable. I combine the boldness of doing embarrassing things in public with a clear inspirational message of getting out of one’s comfort zone and being open and vulnerable. Is the ultimate goal of your videos – and now comedy act – to inspire? It really is! I want to inspire people to be bold, overcome fear and make fun a priority in life. I left the security of my small town and despite some of the challenges I have encountered along the way, I couldn’t be happier. Visit


“One time, after being groped, I told the photographer that I didn’t feel comfortable and he told me: this is fashion. You have to be more open if you want to succeed in this industry.”

GNI MAG [19]


NOW’S THE TIME Connor Mills

If your anything like me it’s been a whirlwind since the new year, since and I’m going to mention the dreaded word, Covid, regulations have dropped you want to fit in as much living as possible. I think now more than ever it’s important to hit the ground running wherever and however that looks from 10k runs to 10 bars in a night whatever brings you happiness it’s so important to go grab that. One thing that was a personal goal for me was making friendships and connections with people from my community. Now it’s not as if sexual orientation defines friendships but being from a rural area and that outdated idea that you had to move away from small towns to be your out and proud self I always found it so hard to be apart of a group where I felt like I could always talk about the parts of me that I maybe wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing with friends who didn’t have similar or contrasting experiences. Now being completely honest get a few Cuba Libre’s in me and I’ll chat about just about anything but it’s the difference between scandalously discussing last week’s antics on apps to talking about things effecting and enhancing our community. I feel there’s this shroud over rural communities where in my experience it is leaps and bounds better than ever but there’s still this idea of “oh you’re gay that’s amazing I love gays I’ve always wanted one to go shopping with” or “you’ve always been a girl to me” (actual quotes) and it’s that sentiment that leads us to seek a deeper connection to people of our community almost as if the “film version of lgbtqi+” people is expected, remembering that even 10 years ago being a queer person in a small community meant you were talked about in hushed tones around a kitchen table as an article of gossip and that the representation of queer people was something most people only saw through media. Yet it’s this for most of us that leads us to seek out that connection further afield or online. That’s when I saw there was a planning committee for “Omagh Pride” I literally was buzzing with excitement firstly but then me being me, a redicously awkward critter, nervous. I was flip flopping on would I attend every couple of minutes. I honestly only fully decided I was attending a few minutes before the meeting. Yet it’s what I was talking about since being literally locked down now was the time to start doing a whole lot of living. Looking at it now I’m floored at just how this simple push could have had such an impact, as you might have seen we’ve achieved a pride day that will always sit so proudly at the forefront of things I’ve helped achieve. It’s funny though, every Friday we would do a “Feel Good Friday” post where we would put a picture into the planning group of something we were doing or excited for and just seeing and connecting with how diverse we all were was honestly such a beautiful thing and that idea of that community being there all along was such an accepting and great feeling, it’s that idea of nourishing a part of you that deserves too see the light of day and just this act of embracing and being embraced can make a huge difference.

hours distance just to stand in support of the family and friends of those killed and also to shine a light on the violence against us. So, I guess what the whole point of this column is to say, go and grab life, demand more and stand up for yourself to be brave enough to go get it, now’s the time. Tranquil Tips: Not so “Tranquil” but one thing that has brought me joy is live music. I always feel like there’s no such thing as a “bad gig” and feel so charged up after going to see a band. Just last month going to see one of my personal favourite bands Chvrches, but it doesn’t have to be anything as big as that, looking for good times and a well needed bop get yourself out and go see a band at a local bar and act like the main character you are.

“That’s when I saw there was a planning committee for “Omagh Pride” I literally was buzzing with excitement firstly but then me being me, a redicously awkward critter, nervous. I was flip flopping on would I attend every couple of minutes.”

One way in which this happened recently, we were able to organise and stand at the Omagh courthouse and give tribute to the devasting murders of Michael Snee and Aidan Moffitt. It’s even in these tragic moments were reminded again of why it’s important that more rural areas need community and why we seek it. Just as soon as last year living in Omagh you would have to travel at least an GNI MAG [20]

Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.



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Having amassed over 1.5 million followers across social media and 65 million Youtube views, NOAHFINNCE is on fire, having recently been signed to a record label and with a new single out we have tonnes to chat about Thanks so much for taking time with us NOAH, first off, how does hearing stats like we have mentioned make you feel ? I’ve never actually seen those numbers added up before but that’s insaaane. I cannot picture 65 million people so I don’t think my brain quiet computes that number. Before we talk about the now we have to backtrack,

I have followed you for years, I love your energy and videos though for our readers not familiar with you let’s take a trip down memory lane. Tell us where you grew up and of your family life, siblings, education etc? Thank You!! I grew up in a little village in Ascot called Sunningdale, it was quite conservative so maybe not so much of a vibe for somebody like me. I have an older brother called Zach who’s mad at the drums. I went to a few schools around the local area and then moved to a naval boarding school when I was 13 which was quite the experience. Being known and/or famous can be both rewarding and dangerous, do you have a good support network around you, and what keeps you grounded? Yeah I have a great support system! Always had such supportive friends and family and now I’ve got a great manager and great team around me, I’m very lucky for that! I’m not sure about keeping grounded, I don’t think I’m quite at a level where staying grounded is an issue but I hate nothing more than cockiness and arrogance so I think everybody around me would tell me I was being an arsehole if I started acting like that. Over the past 6 years you have grown up, came out and transitioned in front of the world, doing this from such a young age was brave and exemplary, you have helped and educated so many people. Bravo, have you any regrets looking back? If so, what would you do differently? THANK YOU AGAIN! I don’t really have too many regrets other than maybe being a bit of an immature teenager, I’d say stupid stuff to get a rise out of people and I wish that phase of my life wasn’t followed by thousands of people. It was never anything too bad but I was just very edgy GNI MAG [22]

and annoying and I definitely regret not thinking so much before speaking publicly. You comment on old videos at times though in general are you proud of them or do you cringe when you watch back? It really depends on the video to be honest. There was a time where I couldn’t stand watching old videos of myself because they made me cringe so hard but I think since I’ve gotten a bit older, I kinda view the old me in the same way that I view younger kids now. I look at my old self and think “aw he’s trying” rather than thinking “wow he’s insufferable” because realistically.. everybody cringes at the stuff they did and said at 15, I just happen to have all of that documented on camera.

What is your take on the recent announcements around Conversion Therapy? It is the most infuriating thing to witness, I would say its shocking but it’s really not, it’s exactly what I would expect from our government. You are open, opinionated , super clever and creative, what is one lesson you would like the world to learn? THANKS! And uh.. I’m not entirely sure. I wish people would mind their own business more, there are so many people who’s lives are made harder purely because other people don’t understand them and I think it wastes a lot of peoples time. I guess the lesson would be “mind your business” because there is absolutely nothing wrong with people living their lives a bit differently. On your journey you have changed physically and mentally though I wonder have you noticed others around changing to? In how they act or treat you etc? Oh god yeah absolutely. I’ve become miles more confident after coming out and transitioning. I guess strangers treat me very differently because they see me as a man now but my friends have always treated me the same! Lets jump on to music, you play so many instruments, did you have tutors or are you self taught and what’s your go-to song to play when you just wanna jam out? Yes! So I’ve only ever had recorder lessons, tenor

horn lessons and drum lessons. The first two obviously aren’t entirely useful to me at the moment. I’ve never had a guitar lesson or a bass lesson though, I’d spend a ridiculous amount of time a day teaching myself guitar but I know nothing about music theory. My go-to song on the guitar is probably Our Lady Of Sorrows by MCR or Dead On Arrival by Fall Out Boy. On drums, It’s always gotta be Sugar We’re Goin Down. As a singer and having transitioned , obviously both your speaking and singing voice has changed, has this been an issue/annoyance for you? Oh yeah it was terrifying when I started testosterone because I was really enjoying the covers I was doing on YouTube every week and I was really worried that testosterone would fuck up my voice! Luckily I’m very happy with where my voice is at now but it did take a good few years for it to settle in a comfortable place. For a good few months there were times where I’d try and get a note out and I’d just get air coming out. But to be honest I really enjoyed the squeaks and cracks, I found a way to control them more or less and I think it sounds really cool to have a squeak here and there haha. You recently got signed to Hopeless Records, congratulations, was this a long road considering options or a simple YES to get on board with them? To be honest it all happened quite quickly, I wasn’t planning on getting signed and I wasn’t seeking out labels, my manager just asked if I wanted a call with hopeless and a few weeks later I was signed! How have you found it so far? I foresee many great things It’s been great! Being with hopeless has made me feel much more like I’m part of a community than I felt when I released Asthma Attack and Underachiever. I’ve always had my own little community online but I grew up being heavily involved in the emo/pop punk/ whatever you wanna call it scene. I’d go to shows all the time and queue for hours and meet so many friends and being signed to hopeless has really helped me find more of that community and has helped them find me I guess!


We must talk about the new single ‘Tell Me That You’re Okay” - what a tune, it is both familiar and fresh at the same time, did you write this recently or has it been in a notebook waiting to be shared? I just checked my voice notes and I found a lil acoustic snippet of me singing the intro and chorus from May 2021 so it’s almost been a year! I got into the studio with Røry and St£fan in December to finish it though so I’ve had the song completed since December. You also have an EP coming out in June, what can you tell is about it, are there covers, is it all new material? Spill the beans. There’s no covers! It’s all new material, there’s a few songs that you won’t hear until June but they were all written about my experiences in therapy/ about things that were brought up in therapy. It’s kinda a very loose concept in that sense but all the songs are from my lil emo heart. We heard you are playing Great Escape Festival in

Brighton then heading across the pond to the U.S with 18 gigs already scheduled, does this all seem surreal ? And where are you most excited to see/ play ? Yeah to be honest I don’t think I’m gonna process any of it until it’s happening. It feels absolutely insane to me that I’m doing all of this. I can’t even be nervous right now cos it doesn’t seem real. Do you have any plans for a U.K/Ireland tour? I’m touring the UK in September! And there’s currently no plan for an Ireland tour but I’m half Irish so a lot of my family live over there, I’d love to play a few shows in Ireland. This next year is going to be mental for you, we wish you all the best though before you go, can you give any of our readers who are struggling with coming to terms with who they are any advice? Thank You!!! I’m not crazy good at advice because I could say something that could really help somebody but have the opposite effect on another

person. I think it’s important for people to feel comfortable enough to explore their identity and I’d say the most important thing for me when I came to terms with myself was finding my people. I wouldn’t have been confident enough to come out to anybody if I didn’t find friends with similar experiences who I could talk to. So I’d say my advice would be to set your goals on finding a community of people like you, whether that be by going to LGBT groups, joining a new club or just finding internet friends! Thanks so much for taking the time with us, it has been a pleasure. Interview by Daniel May

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Conleth KANE Conleth Kane is back with a new sound and fresh look for his new record ‘Just A Dream’. He has teamed up with 7th Heaven to remake Melanie C’s Number 1 hit ‘I Turn To You’ which will feature on the album (out 27.5.22). The record is a 7th Heaven produced record and features a new version of Conleth’s pride anthem ‘Proud’ with The London Gay Men’s Chorus plus 2 new original tracks.

Singer/Songwriter Conleth is no stranger to team GNI and our readers, he previously graced the cover, over the past 10 years he has had many columns/features and in 2017 he won the ‘Personal Contribution to the LGBTQ Community’ at the annual GNI Magazine Awards voted for by the public. We were super excited when we heard Conleth was working on a new EP and it was such a treat getting a sneaky listen to the tracks prior to its release on May 27th. Before we chat about the songs it would be rude not to share achievements and what others have been saying Described by OK Magazine! as ‘the breath of fresh air we all need right now’ and QX Magazine as “an infectiously energetic, refreshingly cheerful Singer/Songwriter”, Conleth Kane recorded his debut album ‘Proud - Live in London’ at a sold out show at The Crazy Coqs in London’s West End in Oct 2018 seeing him shoot to Number 2 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter Charts in Feb 2019. He released his selfpenned debut EP in August 2020 which went to Number 7 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter Chart. GNI MAG [24]

Conleth has performed live sets of his own songs on both BBC Radio London, BBC Radio Ulster, and Northern Ireland’s Number 1 Radio Station, Cool FM. 2017 saw Conleth win Conleth has toured his music all over the world including Europe and Australia as well as performing as a special guest for the London Gay Men’s Chorus and the Gay Mens Dance Company at Pride in London and The Troxy in London. His song ‘Proud’ has just been remixed by world-leading pop producers ‘7th Heaven’ and was released last year it’s available now on all major music platforms. –-Ok now for the EP ‘Just A Dream’ On first listen I must say it was not what I was expecting, producing an EP can be a very lengthy process therefore with Covid very much an issue I mistakenly thought it would be ballad led and an emotional affair, how wrong was I, THIS EP IS A BOP! The EP opens with ‘Can I Go Back To Sleep’ . It’s familiar yet futuristic. I love how Conleth’s contemporary voice is complemented with the clever use of sound. If there was a hybrid

of Pet Shop Boys meets Erasure with a dash of Years and Years this would be it. Vocally pitch perfect, I love the falsetto moments, tonality and passion throughout. We all have woke in a panic to discover “it was only just a dream” - Bravo Conleth clearly adores ‘I Turn To You’, we previously were treated to a stripped back version now we get to let loose with 2 new takes of the song. Being the same age as Conleth this song just transports me back to my younger self, I am so pleased one of the versions is true to Mel C’s is though 7th Heaven have moved it up a gear, it is honestly epic. The 2nd version is a 7min 15 second club mix, I think I actually prefer this of the 2, I love a good build up, can see people just jamming out to this and getting further excited as the track progresses. Im booking Ibiza lol ‘I Wonder’ in my opinion is lyrical genius, in comparison to the acoustic version this sounds current and uplifting , it shows what a difference production makes to a song, this has put a completely different spin on it, I can’t say it is better/worse than the original though it is different and

very much needed after Covid Lastly we have ‘Proud’ . What can I say? This song is an Anthem, so many will instantly relate, like the other tracks on the EP it is thought provoking and uplifting. With all the hype around the Netflix series Heartstopper so many young LGBTQ+ should gravitate towards it. I foresee great things coming from this EP, in my opinion Conleth deserves more recognition. He works hard on his craft, is a talented writer and vocalist and an all round nice guy. Wishing you every success. ‘Just A Dream’ is the EP that we all have been waiting for, 5 Star’s Words by Daniel May --Credits Photographer: Ross McBride Stylist: Lewis Robert Cameron Graphic Designer: Jock Mooney Makeup Artist: JuanLopez Alvarez

Catch Conleth at Mighty Hoopla, Eclectic Love and Pride in London this summer.


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Hello Beauts!! Welcome to the Spring of 2022, it’s almost the Summertime (woohoo) and it is also the 10 year Anniversary of the first Edition of GNI Magazine. Now I’ve only been a columnist for almost 2 years but I always loved a wee read through the magazines before that and seeing the amazing interviews and pieces they would contain was always exciting and fresh, something we continue to this day. I’m so happy and proud to be apart of the GNI Team and share my weird, wild and crazy life with you. Happy 10 years GNI <3 <3 Me 10 years ago v Me now Since it’s the 10 year Anniversary of GNI, I thought I’d reflect back to 10 years ago and what differences have happened for me. For a start my look and style have definitely evolved and most times, for the better. I do wear questionable things sometimes but I am much braver than I used to be. I never thought I’d end up homeless in my 30’s and have a mental breakdown at 31, so I guess looking back I’m not doing too bad. I’m always a “work in progress” and here’s the pictures to prove it haha <3 <3 Upcoming Events & Projects It’s been a pretty busy few weeks with different stuff happening, almost overwhelming, albeit crazy fun (check out my Facebook for videos of gigs just past), but Harland & Poof at The Speakeasy was one of the best nights and gigs that I’ve had this year so far and we can’t wait for more to come. I have some amazing gigs coming up for Libertine’s Wig Fest, Eclectic Love and Drag Fest - dates & details will be below because I also want to give a shout out to Ross Kennedy, our new dancer in training for Perfect Illusion - Lady Gaga Tribute. Anyone that is a Gaga fan will know that her routines are not easy, and we ain’t no professionally trained dancers, we just have the love for shakin’ our thangs haha but he’s doing amazing and we can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on. Here’s a few things you can expect from Carl over the next few months: Eclectic Love Belfast - Saturday 7th May Titanic Slipway - Dance Superstars & DJ’s, Local Drag, Tributes and DJ’s (1.05pm for Carl - 4.15pm for Gaga) Drag Fest Ireland - Saturday 27th August Waterfront Hall - Drag Stars from around the Globe, with the best Local and Regional Talent

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I look forward to seeing all of your beautiful faces and these upcoming events, they’re gonna be crackers :) :) Movies & Music So I couldn’t get enough of College and have decided to go back, even though I didn’t overly love my course at the time, this time is for something completely different as I have finally, FINALLY realised that my life is music and it always should have been and probably always will be from here. In September I will be startin a 2 year Course in Level 3 - Music Production and to say I’m excited is an absolute underestimation. I know that this is going to be a massive game changer in my life and the trajectory of my career, both as Carl and within the music industry in general, and making that all extra exciting is the concerts Hayley and I have planned for this year. We just went to see Postmodern Jukebox recently and they were phenomenal, would definitely recommend and would 100% go and see again. Luckily we also have coming up - Adam Lambert with Queen, Alanis Morissette, Lady Gaga and Snoop Dogg. I can’t even contain myself..just need to rob that bank now haha . . It’s great when you have plans like this for the experience and the memories. Outro This little editorial of mine is short and sweet, just so we could squeeze the juiciest of juice into this special edition for you all. I hope you all have the best Spring and I’ll be speaking to you all again in the Summer. Much Love, Free the Dove Carl ConnieLingus <3 <3

Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.

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TEMPEST ‘The Line Is A Curve’ is the new album from writer and musician Kae Tempest, out now by Fiction Records. It is the fourth album from the Lewisham based artist and has been produced by long term collaborator Dan Carey. The record also follows the criticallyacclaimed play ‘Paradise’, which premiered at the National Theatre in London in 2021.

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Did you have any ideas on what you wanted to achieve with the new album before you started it? There’s never a plan to start with, it just evolves naturally. I get into the studio with Dan Carey and we don’t know what’s going to happen, we just want to get together and write. The ideas lead the way. Usually we spend a couple of days and see what we come up with, then when we have a bunch of songs, we know we have something. Then we’ll take a few days away to reflect on them and go back in with a more precise focus on where it’s going.

these things that just feel so true, as if it’s just came straight out of his heart with no filter. What he’s doing as a writer though is so skilful at the same time, he’s just a really fantastic poet. I believe him and I believe in him. That soul of his, that person he is, when I hear him sing, he takes me. It feels real to me. I’ve been a big fan for years and I’ve known him for a long time as Fontaines DC recorded with Dan, so we’ve hung out before. There’s a lot of respect from me to the whole band, so when it came to make the album, it was an obvious thing to ask him to be involved.

This time around you decided to record your vocals with three takes in front of three generations of people. What was your thinking to do that? I always want to do the whole album as one take, as it gives a feeling of movement and makes me excited. This time I was thinking of how to get the most truthful performance with the most live delivery and thought I had to be speaking to someone, an audience of one. I thought ‘what if I do three takes in one day, to three different people? Someone younger, someone older and someone of my generation. What would happen to my delivery?’ It was an incredible experience and showed me how much language changes depending on who is listening. I’d recommend it to everyone to try for themselves. It’s a really nerve-wracking thing to do, but really exciting too.

Lianne La Havas also features on the record. How was it working with her? It’s the same thing with Lianne, I’ve known her a long time and have so much respect and love for her. Her guitar playing is just wicked, she’s brilliant. Again, I know her from Dan’s studio and parties, so there’s a lot of mutual respect and love there. So I really wanted to use those feelings to see if we could make something out of it, take that energy we have together and create. She absolutely killed it when she came down, too. I was blown away.

Your last album The Book Of Traps and Lessons was very internal and personal, but this new one has a much more outward perspective, while still coming across as a deeply personal affair. What was behind this different approach? I wasn’t very well making the last one, I was in some trouble really. What I was going through in my life was challenging and it culminated in some pretty heavy mental health stuff. This album is like me getting out of that, to be honest. It’s about looking for people and connections. Traps And Lessons was about how can we see the traps in our lives before we fall into them, how can we change? This album is about the line being a curve, life is circular and we will repeat, so accept it. Pick yourself up and keep fighting. As I say on it, ‘I’ll fight you til I win’. That sums it up. The album features a collaboration with Fontaines DC frontman Grian Chatten. How did that come about? It was amazing to work with Grian. He’s a stunning writer and a fantastic artist. His lyrics give this impression of simplicity, where he says

The album is produced as always by Dan Carey, what does he bring to the table for you? Our connection is really profound. I have a true partner in Dan Carey. He understands my ideas, he knows how to create an environment where my ideas can be unlike they would be anywhere else. I don’t have the same ideas without Dan being there. There something about everything we’ve been through over the last ten years of working together that’s just unique. The experiences we’ve shared, nobody will ever know so much of it, or understand it. Like flying over to Malibu to make demos in Bob Dylan’s old tourbus for Rick Rubin. Is just looking at each other like ‘what the f**k is going on?’ There’s just something about those shared experiences that we don’t need to speak out loud half the time, we can just look at each other and know what we want to do. It’s like playtime for adults when we hang out. I feel understood by him and I feel cared for. He makes me feel that anything is possible. It’s deep. That’s not to say I don’t love collaborating with other musicians, there’s just something we have that is pretty special. Like every other artist, you’ve had to spend the last two years unable to play live. What was that like for you? Like everybody we had to change our perspectives on our lives, as it all stopped. The misery

of people losing livelihoods, the illness and deaths that so many people had to endure, that was heavy. Personally though, privately and in my own space, I actually found the time to completely revelatory. My relationship broke down, so I was just in the yard on my own. So I went deep, it was profound. I didn’t have the headspace to do that when I was on tour, but during lockdown I did. I came out the other side so much stronger. Also I’m a writer, so I could still work. I wrote songs, I worked on a play and did some poetry too. I still had that, but other musician friends of mine weren’t so lucky. I feel fortunate for that. You f inally have a tour coming up, though? You must be excited? I can’t wait. I’m so excited about the tour. We have new crew and a whole new feeling to it. I think what we are creating is going to be a beautiful experience, not just for us, but everyone in the room. It’ll be a very deep thing to be in front of audiences again after so long and after everything we have all gone through, so I’m going to give it everything I’ve got. I’ve allowed thought that it’s the most beautiful and incredible thing to stand up in front of people and play your music. These last couple of years have given me time to really focus on that, on what I want from a performance and what I can bring to it for people. After everything that’s went on and having had such a long layoff from playing live, are there any nerves about getting back to it, even though it’s something that you love? I’m definitely a little nervous about the whole thing obviously. Well, I’m a lot nervous actually, but I feel ready. I just can’t wait to get out there and see what happens. You’d be mad if you weren’t nervous, to be honest. It’s a crazy thing to do, when you think about it, isn’t it? I just really want to be able to experience it all again. I hope people will feel curious enough to come out, so we want to make sure that we put enough value in the experience for them to buy tickets and come out and be a part of it. That’s the dream, isn’t it? To have a room full of people and something to deliver. Hopefully it’ll be a beautiful night. ‘ The Line Is A Curve’ New Album - 08.04.22 UK & Ireland Tour This Spring By Jules Boyle

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The tragic murders of Michael and Aidan are a brutal reminder that LGBTQIA+ people aren’t always safe.

any experiences of violence, abuse, intimidation or coercion to the Police or any other services and only 9% had reported to the PSNI.

We still don’t know everything about the Sligo murders, and the investigations are still in their early stages. But what we do know is that killings like these never happen in a vacuum. The truth is that Ireland, like many other countries, has patted itself on the back for all the progress they have made for LGBTQIA equality – but the lived reality is that hate, harassment and violence still occur every day to queer people.

Key reasons for not reporting included that they didn’t believe that it would be taken seriously, didn’t believe that PSNI could do anything about it, that it was not serious enough and they were fearful of repercussions.

LGBTQIA+ people indeed have more rights and greater social acceptance than they did 40 years ago when homosexuality was decriminalised in Northern Ireland – but that doesn’t mean we’re safe. For most of us, that’s all we’re asking for to be respected, be safe, live our lives and not have to look over our shoulders. LGBTQIA+ hate crime has continued to rise over recent years, with a 30% increase and this marks the highest figure to date since the PSNI started to gather statistics around hate crime in 2004/2005. The Rainbow Project carried out research last year with the community, we received over 1100 responses and what we found is that 43% of the LGBTQIA+ community are worried about experiencing crime and 23.6% of respondents reported having been a victim of crime in the last three years. Other key findings have told us that 43% of LGBTQIA+ people continue to alter their behaviours to avoid experiencing crime, nearly 60% avoid certain areas at certain times, and 36% advised that they avoid leaving the house after dark.

Around issues of domestic or sexual violence, over 42% reported being in a relationship that was harmful, and hurtful either verbally, physically or sexually and the majority of this was connected to the behaviour of a partner or someone at the home. 16% of respondents experienced financial abuse from a partner or ex-partner and 32% have felt pressured to have sex or perform a sex act when they didn’t want to. Despite victims increasingly coming forward, more needs to be done to ensure that the LGBTQIA+ community feel safe and supported when reporting incidents. A staggering 68% of respondents to the Rainbow Project survey never reported

The majority of hate crimes and incidents go unreported, with young people particularly reluctant to report their experiences to the police. All abuse is wrong and should be reported. This is why the Rainbow Project is working to increase awareness of hate crimes and encourage victims and witnesses to come forward. Additionally, we work alongside our Hate Crime Advocacy Partners in Victim Support, Leonard Cheshire and the Migrant Centre to support anyone who has experienced hate crime. Being a victim of a crime or an incident can be a particularly frightening experience as you have been victimised because of ‘who you are’, or ‘who or what your attacker thinks you are’. Sometimes you might not even be sure if a crime has occurred - these can take place anywhere – at home, in the street, at work and school. Incidents can include threats, verbal abuse, arson, robbery, violence towards you and damage to your property. It is important to not place yourself in any danger, even if a stranger or a neighbour discriminates against you based on your sexual orientation or gender identity. If you or someone else are in immediate danger, it is important to call 999 and speak to the police

immediately. If a hate crime or hate incident happens to you and you are not in danger, make as many notes about the details and times at the moment as is possible, then you can report to the PSNI on 101 or through The Rainbow Project. We are a Third Party Hate Crime Reporting centre, which means that you can report the crime or incident you experienced to us, anonymously if you wish. Not all hate incidents will amount to criminal offences, but it is equally important that these are reported and recorded by the police. When you report hate crime or crime in general, you become part of the movement to stop it. No matter how small or trivial you think the incident might be, it is important to the whole community that it is acknowledged and reported. Each report

helps to build up a picture of what is going on in our local areas and helps to identify patterns of behaviour by certain groups, individuals or issues in a location. More reporting means that key people such as the Police, Government and organisations are better educated around issues affecting the LGBTQIA+ community, it informs better legislation, policies, and investment in resources and helps protect everyone in the area. Most importantly when reporting, you will be signposted for support through organisations like the Rainbow Project and sometimes it helps to talk to someone who understands. The advocacy service can help in the aftermath of an incident or at any stage during the criminal justice process. Our Advocates will listen to you in confidence and give information on court processes, providing practical help and advocacy. We can also give you information about the criminal justice system and aid you by claiming compensation if you choose to report the crime. We signpost you to a range of support organisations and services, such as housing agencies or mental health counselling, if you are having difficulties because of what has happened to you. Better hate crime legislation and support are required in Northern Ireland, but we also need more LGBTQIA+ inclusion in education. Children and Young people are not being educated about LGBTQIA+ identities and families, some are even taught to hate from an early age, we need to counter that message and make sure LGBTQIA+ people are not invisible. But we all have a role in tackling Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, Racism, and Ableism in all their forms. We must do this to protect those around us, those to come after us and honour the memories of Aidan and Michael and many others who lost their lives at the hands of anti-LGBTQIA+ violence.

If you wish to speak to someone about your experiences of harassment, hate crime or anything else then you can speak to us in complete confidence. The hours are Monday to Friday, 9 am -5 pm. We can provide support to report incidents, legal advice and ongoing support. Joe Walsh (He/Him) LGBTQIA Advocacy Officer The Rainbow Project Telephone: 02890 319030

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FEATURE HOW TO LOSE 15 YEARS With the modern day pressures of Social Media to look young & screen perfect no matter your age, I decided to set the team at CurrentBody a challenge to help me lose 15 years off my appearance. As my big 4-Oh is fast approaching there are a number of facial & hair issues I have started developing over the past few years. My skin is starting to look older / tired, my hair is thinning & receding at a fast rate & my once perfectly straight & white teeth (thanks to teenage braces & whitening) have started to show my age also. Here are my before images for my hair, skin & teeth:

mission is to consistently present CurrentBody as the pioneering online destination for home use health & beauty technology. They offer the largest selection of safe, clinically proven electrical health & beauty products in the world, supported by a team with exceptional product knowledge & who provide excellent customer care. CurrentBody, never ones to shy away from a challenge, have provided me with 2 pieces of technology & 2 products to try & review over the next 6 months. I will discuss my experiences & show the mid term results in the next issue & then my overall review & results 2 issues from now. ONE: The iGrow Laser Hair Rejuvenation System - Uses Low-Level Light Therapy to stimulate hair growth, the light penetrates the

scalp & energises the hair follicles & molecules to encourage natural hair growth. The helmet-style of the iGrow covers a large amount of the scalp meaning that the laser is as close as possible to the hair follicles, allowing the device to deliver maximum regrowth. The revolutionary design comes complete with an audio port that enables you to connect your iPod or MP3 player so you can listen to music whilst you use your laser system. The iGrow has been designed to be used every other day. Each treatment takes just 20 - 25 minutes & you can expect to see results in just 4 months. The device can be used by men & women & clinical trials have shown that the iGrow has increased hair growth by up t0 37%. iGrow are so confident that you'll receive effective results from the device that they're offering a money back policy if you're not happy after 6 months of use (T&C’s Apply). RRP: £579. CurrentBody is the first company to recognise one of the fastest growing trends in the world of beauty. With modern innovation allowing manufacturers to create devices that mimic the on-site devices used by professionals in salons, spas, & clinics, CurrentBody has brought together a complete selection available for home use technology. Their

TWO: CurrentBody Skin LED Light Therapy Mask - is a fully flexible wearable mask that delivers the perfect dose of dual LED light directly to the skin. It's been made to medical device directives & delivers the same clinically-proven wavelengths as professional salon machines. The mask’s flexibility ensures that the maximum amount of light hits the lower layers of the skin, delivering both instant & long term results. It's also loved by A-Listers like Kristin Davis & Renée Zellweger, who achieved their Golden Globes glow with the mask The pain-free, anti-ageing mask harnesses two combinations of light therapy to rejuvenate your complexion. Red Light stimulates the production of new collagen, calms redness & creates an even skin tone. Near Infra-Red works beneath the

skin's surface. Penetrating deep into the skin's surface boosts circulation, improves blood flow & boosts oxygen to the skin's cells. The device uses the same gold standard LED technology that is used by Drs & salons around the world. The device is clinically proven to reduce wrinkles by 35% in just 4 weeks, plus improve skin tone, texture, firmness & tightness. The CURRENTBODY skin Light Therapy Mask is made from patented flexible silicone that wraps perfectly around the face meaning the light can penetrate every area of the skin. RRP: £279.

is clinically proven to whiten teeth without any harm or sensitivity to your teeth. RRP £39.95

FOUR: Spotlight Teeth Whitening Pen - is a safe, effective & quick way to whiten your teeth on-the-go. It works by dispensing a small amount of gel onto your teeth which like the whitening strips con-

tains the clinically proven Hydrogen Peroxide. Ideal for daily use, the pen has been specially formulated to dissolve stains & leave long-lasting results. RRP £14.95

You can find out more about the company & these devices / products on the website at: www.https://www.

THREE: Spotlight Teeth Whitening Strips - created by experts to gradually whiten teeth at home, safely & effectively. All you need to do is wear the strips for 1 hour every day for 2 weeks. The strips contain Hydrogen Peroxide which is an active whitening ingredient, which GNI MAG [37]


I arrived to Barcelona years ago from Mexico City to start my film studies. I was lucky enough to made several music video for different artists, both national and international. Years later the world of photography began to get my attention, so I decided to study Photography. Both my photographic work as my video work, are influenced by ,Queer culture and the male physic are the predominant themes, but also my Japanese and American roots as well for cinema. I'm a big cinephile, but more specific films of the 40s, 50s and late 60s, of which I am big fan.

Instagram: @asatotim Web:

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Creating Families We chat to Avery Bowser, Fostering Services Manager at Action for Children.

Tell us a bit about Action for Children’s fostering service in Northern Ireland? We’re an independent and charitable fostering service. We’ve been providing foster families across Northern Ireland since 2006. We’re part of Action for Children, which is one of the UK’s largest children’s charities. In addition to fostering, the charity offers many services across Northern Ireland which are all dedicated to supporting children and young people and their families. How has the pandemic impacted on the need for foster carers in Northern Ireland? If you look at the past 10 years, the number of children in care in Northern Ireland has been going up substantially every year, without fail. However, the pandemic has made the demand greater with pressures on families and incomes. There’s also the impact it’s had on other services – such as early years services or family support - that help families at an earlier stage. People were unable to access these services and get the help and support they needed, when they needed it. As a result, problems that could have got better, got worse. Why is fostering so important? Fostering is vital to a society that cares. The root of fostering is to help children who society – not just social workers – have decided are not able to continue to live with their birth family, most often because it’s not safe. At a minimum, GNI MAG [42]

we are trying to find somewhere else for that child to live. A place where they will be safe, secure, and, if they’ve experienced trauma, a place where they can begin to heal. At Action for Children, however, we don’t like to settle for the minimum. We build families. Whilst you can never replace a child’s birth family, you can give them back their childhood. For us it is not just about just getting a child to 18 and out of care. It’s also about the years beyond that. We’re trying to find an alternative family for that child, who are going to see them into adult life. That’s why it is so important to find the right people, people who can fully commit to that young person. How do people know if they have the skills needed to become a foster carer? The basic we ask for is that you need to be over 21 and have a spare bedroom. You also need to have space in your life to meet the needs of a young person who may have more complex needs than your average child. The ability to love is very important - but it is not enough on its own. We’re also looking for people who have patience, stickability, flexibility, and the ability to really listen. Another important skill is to be able to work as part of a team. We employ a team approach where the fostering social workers and the foster carers work together in the best interests of the child. Foster carers also have to work with a lot of other people, such as the child’s social worker, the school, or health care professionals if they have any

medical or developmental issues. So, it is important to be able to work well with other people whilst also balancing the everyday commitments of parenting. What support does Action for Children offer foster families? Our support starts as early as the assessment stage. We will help guide you through the process whilst also helping you work out if fostering is the right thing for you. We offer training as part of the assessment to begin to equip you with the skills you need to foster. We also have a wide range of training available for our approved foster carers so that they can continue to develop their skills. Whilst the pandemic has left us a fantastic suite of online training, we’re still longing to get back into the same room which would allow us to resume face to face training and our support groups. Our foster carers all have a dedicated fostering social worker who is there to support them with regular face to face meetings as well as by phone, text, or email. We now also have a children’s worker who adds to that support for the whole foster family. When you foster with us, you are never on your own. We have a dedicated on-call number so you can talk to someone 24/7. If people don’t think they are able to foster full-time, are there other ways they can help? There isn’t just one kind of fostering. I have talked a lot about the idea of a ‘forever family’, but we also

provide short-term fostering. Some children only need to stay with a family short-term until they can go back to their own family or until they move on to another family who they can live with on a permanent basis. We also have planned break fostering which some people used to call respite. This allows children to have a break with another family. Some children have a lot of needs, and they require the support of more than one family. We like to make regular arrangements that connect those families which is really beneficial for the child. We also offer parent and child fostering. This means a parent and their young child will live with a foster carer for a period of three months. During that time the foster carer will act as a role model to help teach the parent the skills they need to parent on their own. We always need new foster carers. However, you might be reading this now and think fostering is not for you or it’s not the right time. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still help. You may know someone who would make an excellent foster carer. If so, we would love you to ask them to get in touch with us. We’re always looking for the opportunity to make new connections and to add to our growing fostering family. To find out more about fostering call 028 9046 0500, visit or email

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

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


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Ladies, step aside. With more men waking up to the importance of a good skincare routine and opting for ‘tweakments’ to slow down the ageing process, we get under the skin of what it takes for men to keep that fresh-faced, healthy glow with aesthetics expert and Medical Director of Epionce UK & Ireland Dr Mervyn Patterson. Do men typically take good care of their skin? If not, why not? Having a good skincare routine is typically seen to be a ‘female thing’ and it’s no surprise when much of the available advice is targeted towards women. Rightly or wrongly, taking care of your skin is not seen as something men bother with and a typical male routine might be as basic as a quick wash of the face in the shower with whatever comes to hand, followed by a quick dab of moisturiser. The average male takes very little care of their skin compared to females so it’s important we try to change the narrative and speak directly to men about how to look after their skin. What improvements have you seen in men’s skincare in your career? Men are starting to think more carefully about what they do to their skin and to actually have a routine that they follow. They are now more likely to have thought about what skin type they are, be it normal, dry, oily or combination. Some will have even realised that their skin is sensitive - a surprising 38% of men in one skin survey reported sensitive or very sensitive skin. Regular shaving contributes to this problem as the skin in that area is being regularly exfoliated. What is your advice for a man who wants to shake up his skin routine? Where can he start? Always start with the basics. Look for skincare that is focused on making your skin healthy by helping to repair the skin barrier and dampen chronic inflammation. Choose a cleanser that is effective at clearing sunscreen, general grime and environmental pollution off the skin without adversely affecting the natural lipid balance on the surface of the skin. Skin is a living, self-repairing, biological structure not a kitchen work top! Choose a moisturiser with a proven ability to repair the skin barrier and dampen chronic inflammation – this is often the reason why we get unwanted redness, pigmentation, coarseness and wrinkles. Phase out the use of physical exfoliants and think more about using carefully formulated combinations of salicylic and azelaic acids to gently but effectively remove surface dead skin cells and debris blocking the pores. This will not only help smooth the skin but will reduce pore size and help prevent breakouts. Are there any main differences between women’s skin and men’s skin? Male skin is built differently and tends to be thicker. Sebum (or oil) production is higher as this is influenced by circulating testosterone levels so men may have oilier skin than women. Generally, pore size is larger, facial wrinkles are deeper and facial sagging is more prominent in the lower eyelids of men. Increasingly, I’m seeing men attend my clinic to address these problem areas.

What are the biggest problems men tend to have with their skin? How can they treat those concerns? Many men have a combination skin type where the central panel is oily and prone to outbreaks while the outer parts of the face are dry. The best routine I have seen for this is Epionce Lytic Gel Cleanser which is perfect for the male skin type - a positive cleansing experience but not drying. My moisturiser of choice is the Epionce Renewal Facial Lotion or Lite Facial Lotion depending on how thick you like the consistency of your moisturiser to be. Every night apply a small amount of a chemical exfoliator - the ideal product is Epionce Lytic Tx Lotion which contains 2% salicylic and azelaic acids that is carefully formulated to retexturise and clear the pores. What’s a great way for men to tackle dry skin? Men with dry skin have to take real care with wet shaving and avoid harsh cleansers, toners and exfoliating routines. It’s important to use a cleanser that is effective but not stripping and a moisturiser that feels right on the skin. Epionce Gentle Foaming Cleanser and Epionce Renewal Facial Lotion is best for men with this type of skin. What is the best way to combat spots or treat acne concerns? If the person is suffering from acne rather than just the odd intermittent blemish, I recommend the use of the Epionce Purifying Wash which contains 0.6% salicylic acid. This product is beautifully formulated with a spearmint smell and can be left on as a face mask on occasions. It can be used on all skin types as it does not adversely affect the lipid layers on the surface of the skin. The Epionce Purifying Spot Wash is applied to any spot just as it is breaking out and quickly brings it under control. In fact, an independent clinical trial has shown the Purifying Spot Gel to be more effective than a combination product containing clindamycin and benzoyl peroxide often issued by GPs on prescription. Can you describe how to correctly cleanse, tone and GNI MAG [45]


moisturise our skin and the products, techniques needed? The key to a good skincare routine is to keep it fast and simple. For a super quick routine, use the Epionce cleanser to lather your face before shaving, saving you both time and money, or keep the cleanser in the shower. Simply apply to face and allow it to soak in, then remove just before getting out of the shower. Pat the skin dry and apply a small amount of a sunscreen - my personal favourite is the Epionce Ultra Shield SPF 50. This is ideal for men as it leaves no residue and is invisible on the skin. In the evening, try not to skip the cleansing process as this vital step helps remove any sunscreen and all of the other things that have accumulated on our skin during the day. Then on clean dry skin apply a small amount of Epionce Lytic Tx Lotion and allow a few minutes for this to fully penetrate and absorb. Follow with a small amount of Epionce Moisturiser. For those that go to the gym regularly, pack the Epionce Lytic Gel Cleanser to help clear any sweat and oil that has resulted from the workout. Remember to reapply your sunscreen! Do men feel as much pressure to have perfect, ageless skin as women do, especially with social media? The pressure on women channelled through social media is insanely high and is frankly becoming unhealthy. We aren’t quite at these levels with men yet but expect the pressure to increase as more and more skincare brands chase the male grooming market.

Dr Mervyn

Do you think the younger generations of men invest more time and money in their skincare? Undoubtedly this is true and in the 25 years that I have been in the aesthetics industry there has been an enormous surge in skincare products focused exclusively on the male customer. Back in the early days of aesthetics, it really was a quick wash and go but now the vast majority of our male clients have carefully selected their products and use them regularly. In my experience they also tend to stick with one brand and routine and are less likely to change ranges than women. Randomly swapping products and mixing ranges isn’t the best approach to working out what is best for your skin. GNI MAG [46]

What is one must-have/must-do every man should have when it comes to products or taking care of their skin? Epionce Ultra Shield SPF 50. Cosmetically elegant, highly water resistant and combining antioxidants and anti inflammatories with the UV protection ingredients makes this a must have product for those wanting to slow the ageing process. What treatments are most popular with men? What would be your ratio of female to male in clients you treat? About 1 in 10 clients are male, but this is rapidly changing as more and more men become aware of their options. They are a group that are terrified of looking different or strange, but the tide is turning as everyone starts to realise that if they have ‘tweakments’ done correctly by a skilled, experienced medic they just look better but not ‘done’. Just as with females Botox (commonly referred to as ‘Brotox’) is by far the most popular aesthetic procedure. Treating the male client is almost an aesthetic speciality in its own right with significantly different dosing and injection patterns compared to the female to effectively reduce lines whilst at the same time preserving a masculine look. What are your favourite things about the Epionce range? What would you recommend to men interested in it. Men just like women love Epionce once they start to try it. We have just launched the new Luminous Eye Serum which is already proving incredibly popular with Epionce fans. Within days of starting to use Epionce products the skin is clearer, Patterson smoother and feels healthier. Epionce is safe, effective and proven and for good reasons voted the No 1 antiaging skincare line in the US. Doctors love it as it is supported by multiple independent clinical trials that prove that it works and is free from significant side effects.

Find out more at or

627 Lisburn Road, Malone, Belfast, BT9 7GT, United Kingdom T: 028 9693 6900 E: W: LAUREN ELIZABETH BRIDAL BELFAST


Self-compassion Nat Creighton

Why learning to be a better friend to yourself might be one of the best things you can do for your mental health….. GNI MAG [48]


Mental Health week, which runs from 9-15th May each year, is an opportunity to reflect as a society on how to increase good mental health and wellbeing and look at some of the things that contribute to poor mental health in our population. As counsellor, I am always interested in the most useful and effective ways to help my clients. There’s an idea that I have become increasingly interested in that feels relevant to promoting good mental health, both for individuals and as a collective society. I have seen it make a positive difference in the lives of some of my clients, and it is also has a body of research and evidence behind it backing up its effectiveness. The idea? Self-compassion I was introduced to the idea of self-compassion by Art Therapist Lisa Kelly while working on a Therapy group for LGBTQ teenagers at The Rainbow Project. Self-compassion is not a new idea, in fact it’s been around for a long time. Self-compassion, like Mindfulness which has become a popular concept in mental health over the last couple of decades, has its roots in Eastern Buddhist philosophy. In today’s world, self-compassion it is gaining traction as an effective tool in increasing wellbeing and good mental health thanks to the work of Dr Kristin Neff. Neff is a US based researcher, professor and self-described ‘pioneer of self-compassion’. Neffs work has also been elevated into public awareness by author, shame researcher and all-round legend Brené Brown (and what’s good enough for Brené is good enough for me!). So what is self-compassion? To understand what self-compassion is, we first must understand compassion. Think of a time when a friend has come to you for support. Imagine, for example, that they made an of error of judgement of some sort in their job or relationship that had a negative outcome. When your friend comes to you, you will (hopefully) respond with kindness, support, and reassurance. You might tell them that they aren’t a bad person, that what happened to them could happen to anyone, that we all make mistakes and so on. Ultimately, you want to help reduce your friends suffering in their time of need. This is a compassionate response.

understand this when it comes to our friends and loved ones, but sometimes we can struggle with applying this to ourselves. An important element of self-compassion is identifying our ‘critical inner voice’. This is that little voice in that back of our minds that’s ready to jump in with the criticisms and judgements anytime we put a foot wrong (It might sound like “I can’t believe I did that, I am so stupid”, or “no one will want to listen to what I have to say, I am not interesting” etc.). Understanding the types of things we are saying to ourselves helps when it comes to practicing being kinder to ourselves (when doing this work with clients they often remark that if they spoke to their friends the same way they spoke to themselves they might not have any friends left!). We all have a critical inner voice to varying degrees and it often comes from our experiences in childhood or as teenagers, or from other difficult life experiences. For LGBTQ people the critical inner voice can come from internalizing negative messages from society, school, unsupportive families etc. We may feel we have to hold ourselves to higher standards to prove our worth and so therefore can be more self-critical. This is why I think self-compassion is especially important for LGBTQ people. Neff describes self-compassion as a radical approach, and I completely agree. To treat yourself with kindness, love and acceptance for all that you are in a world that would have you think otherwise is both powerful and empowering.

Simply put then self-compassion is treating yourself with the same gentle, accepting, supportive kindness that you would give to a friend.

Self-compassion is good for our mental health. I have seen first hand the positive difference it can make when a client begins to be a little more kinder to themselves. But it’s not just anecdotal, the research backs it up too. People who introduced more self-compassion into their lives were shown to be less critical and had less experiences of anxiety and depression which lead to greater life satisfaction overall. Self-compassionate people were also more likely to be optimistic about the future and experience better mental wellness. In a study that focused specifically on the experiences of LGBTQ people, self-compassion was linked to increased mental resilience in the face of stigma and minority stress. This really is important stuff. So what can you if you want to introduce more self-compassion into your life?

This can be harder said than done. Often our go-to response in our more negative moments is self-criticism and judgement. Being imperfect and having flaws is what makes us human and we can

A good place to start is to try and get into the habit of treating yourself like you would treat someone you love. In those moments when the go-to is usually self-criticism for something you have done,

try to take a moment and think of how you might respond to yourself in a kinder way instead. You might also want to spend some time trying to identify that critical inner voice. This can be helpful to do in the safety of the counselling environment where you have the support of a counsellor. Neff ’s website ( has many useful resources including the ‘Self-compassion scale’ for measuring levels of self-compassion and breakdown of what self-compassion is and what it isn’t. There are also guided meditations and journaling & creative writing exercises designed to help increase levels self-compassion. One idea I really like is the ‘compassion-break’-checking in with ourselves to see if there is anything we need when we are going through something negative (Am I hungry? Am I thirsty? Do I need a change of scenery?). Being self-compassionate is more of an ongoing practice than a one-time deal. It is like a muscle that needs to be built and maintained. If you stop the exercise, you lose the muscle. So it’s about trying to introduce a little more self-kindness each day, building it up until it becomes second nature. Also, you might not do it perfectly every time, and that’s Ok too. The good news is that the more we practice the easier it becomes. And the more we start to treat ourselves kindly, the more we will want to continue to treat ourselves kindly. One final thing to say is that it is not selfish or self-indulgent to start treating yourself better. As Neff says, being self-compassionate is the opposite of selfishness because it improves our mood and feelings of wellbeing. This means that self-compassion is more likely to open us up and expand our capacity for the other relationships in our lives, whereas self-criticism will shut us down. It just makes sense that if we are increasing how compassionate we are to ourselves, then we are also going to be more compassionate towards other people. So this mental health week, maybe try to think about how to introduce a bit more self-compassion into your life. As the saying goes, the relationship we have with ourselves is the longest one we will ever have, so we may as well treat ourselves like the beautiful, unique, fallible beings that we are. Nat Creighton is a counsellor and Counselling Lecturer. His private practice Creighton Counselling NI is in Belfast and online. Nat previously worked as a co-cultural counsellor at The Rainbow Project.

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26 The V illa ge, Te m ple patrick, BT39 0AA T : 0 28 9 3 0 3 9676 | E : info@th e bridalcom panyn | www.tbcn


Sew Handy Designs, Beechlands, Banbridge, BT32 3RL 07557 271776 | | |




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OUR BIG DAY ANDREW & LEE So tell us how you met, were you single for a long time before you started dating? We met at the Galgorm in December 2017. We had actually been heading up the Galgorm for the previous few years to ease ourselves into the Christmas festivities, Lee with his family, and me with my friend Ashleigh and her family. Our paths just hadn’t crossed. I had actually spotted Lee in the spa that afternoon and had drew him to Ashleigh’s attention as I thought he looked a bit of her, but it was later on that evening, chatting in Gillie’s, that I realised that Ashleigh wasn’t exactly his cup of tea! It all moved very quick from that point, and I was desperate to arrange a date with Lee before Christmas. We met up the next day and by Boxing Day, I was meeting his family!

pop the question on an upcoming holiday on the Amalfi coast that we were both looking forward to in August. At that point we had been officially dating for eight months, but we were also sale agreed on a house and had so much to look forward to. The timing of everything was just perfect.

How long after you started dating did it take to pop the question, was it an immediate yes? Things moved pretty fast for Lee and I but it just felt so perfect. I knew very quickly that Lee was ‘the one’ and I knew I wanted to

pre Covid, had you to alter many things? Selecting the Galgorm as our venue was a no brainer for us- it was obviously the place where we met and it’s also the place where we love spending lots of weekend

I had been carrying our engagement rings (I bought one for myself too) around with me for the whole holiday but nerves kept getting the better of me, and I kept putting the proposal off ! Eventually though, after a lovely meal in Sorrento, I proposed on one of the beautiful cobbled streets. Obviously Lee said yes and we got to work on planning the best day of our lives. Tell us about your big day, location, amount of guests etc. Was it planned

spa breaks throughout the yearit’s our happy place. We had the most wonderful and personal (and emotional) humanist ceremony, led by Emma Bailie, in the Phantom House and then our reception was in the Great Hall. We got married on the 22nd December so we wanted a real classic Christmas vibe surrounded by all our family and friends. We had Andi Mac providing Michael Buble/ Frank Sinatra Christmas vibes during the drinks reception. We also went to town and got a snow machine and had a fireworks display for that extra wow factor! What about the food and drink? The Galgorm came up trumps! We offered our guests some mulled wine after the ceremony and provided lots of prosecco and cocktails during the drinks reception. As big gin lovers, we also had a gin wall during the evening reception filled with gin goblets for our guests to enjoy. Food wise we made sure that there was plenty of canapés and snacks to go around- we knew that guests would be at the venue all day and there’s nothing worse

than being hungry. The meal was also out of this world- we had five courses of the most delicious food. We also catered for those with a sweet tooth with a 16 tier Ferrero Rocher stand, a s’more station (from Smorealicious) and the most delicious wedding cake (Gemma’s Cakes). We had three divine flavours: Terry’s Chocolate Orange, Gin and Elderflower and Raspberry and White Chocolate. Where there any hiccups or did all go to plan? Everything went so perfectly! As a principal, I had a spreadsheet created for everything and the final few weeks before the big day turned into a little bit of a Groomzilla! I was so impressed with how smoothly everything went on the day. Donna Cunningham was our wedding coordinator and she is worth more than her weight in gold. She made us feel at complete ease and we knew our day would be safe in her hands! With restrictions were you able to go on honeymoon, or are you waiting until restrictions further ease?

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OUR BIG DAY ANDREW & LEE I had booked a minimoon in New York for New Year’s, with a private river cruise up the Hudson river to get the best views of the fireworks at the Statue of Liberty! I was so excited. I told Lee on Christmas Day, but unfortunately for us, we both tested positive for Covid on Boxing Day and we had to cancel! We will get again though. We’re very much looking forward to going to Mexico on our honeymoon next month though. We loved travelling before the pandemic and can’t wait to get into the sun and escape for a fortnight! We’ll be living in the lap of luxury and are both beyond excited. In your day to day lives are you into the same things? What interests do you have that are different? We are very much into the same things: we both love prosecco, gin, hotel breaks (mainly the Galgorm of course) and we love spending our free time surrounded by our family and friends. Although we do have different interests too: I enjoy amateur dramatics, whilst that is Lee’s worst nightmare. He likes going to the gym and that’s my worst nightmare!

Do you do everything together or do you like to keep independent? Although we don’t do absolutely everything together we are never far apart- during a normal day we call each other at least once a day

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and love to spend our weekends in each other’s company! Have you a family, is this something on the plan for you? We are both really lucky to be surrounded by two amazingly supportive families who we spend a lot of time with. Although we don’t have children at the moment, we wouldn’t rule it out completely. At the moment we’re more than happy to just live our best lives and to spoil our nephew Theo at every opportunity we can! Tell us who made your day possible in terms of rings, flowers, photographer, cars etc. There would just be too many people to even begin to list but we are so unbelievably grateful for everyone who contributed in any way to our big day. Our photographer ‘We Are Soulful’ and our videographer ‘Rabbit and the Fox Films’ were fantastic- they were both so laid back and faded into the background, whilst allowing Lee and I to make the most of our day.

Red Groomswear supplied the suits for us and Lee’s groomsmen and of course we wanted Louboutins also. My groomsmaids’ dresses were from ASOS and they each looked absolutely stunning on the day (thanks to Sarah-Jane Johnston and Makila Mulholland for hair and make-up).

On the day our rooms were just stunning thanks to ‘Leaf Designs’ (our florist) and décor by ‘Blooming Backdrops’, ‘Fairytale Events’, ‘Holywood Balloons’ and ‘Selfie Solutions’ (for our amazing gold shimmer wall). Our stationery was by Laura at ‘Two Little Words Designs’ and she just completely encapsulated the vibe we wanted for our big day. For us, the invites were so important, as this would be our guest’s first impressions of our day and she did not disappoint. Everyone commented on how classy, and extra, they were! Our guests all commented on how much fun they had at the wedding and that was probably down to our band ‘The Manouche Boys’. They sang our first dance ‘L-O-V-E’ and it was amazing- we had gold confetti cannons explode over the dancefloor at the end!

Has anything changed from you said “I Do”? No- nothing has changed. We always talk about the wedding and reminisce about what an amazing day it was. We both would give anything to do it all over again, and are planning something spectacular for our first anniversary!


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THE HEART OF CONTEMPORARY LIVING Feel at home as you step inside Creations fabulous showroom at Boucher Crescent, Belfast. There are three floors of beautiful furnishings to choose from.

Many of Creations items are kept in stock which means you can purchase immediately. There is also a fantastic rage of giftware, pictures, and mirrors to add that finishing touch to your room.

From dining to living to bedroom you will find what you are looking for at Creations.

Creations Boucher Crescent, Belfast really is a destination not to be missed.

Creations amazing dining ranges offer style to suit every dining room, from traditional wooden furniture to more modern designs in ceramic, glass and melamine you can easily combine their matching furniture to create an effortlessly cohesive scheme, from your luxury dining table to your sideboard and seating. They have luxury sofa bransd such as Tetrad and Himolla and many other suppliers of leather, fabric, modular sofas, recliners and more. Not to forget their dedicated divan studio offering brands such as Sealy, Silentnight, and luxury brand Hypnos.

Boucher Showroom is open 7 days a week providing excellent customer service to help every shopper find what they need. Creations have the selection and expertise in their team to make your home a reality.

Why not check out their newly designed website to view some of the great pieces on offer. Creations 45-56 Boucher Crescent Belfast, BT12 6HU Phone No.: 028 9521 5899 Ample free parking onsite Find us on FB and Instagram An established brand offering a premium service. Creations is a family run Northern Ireland business established in 1984. The GNI MAG [59]


Real Life OUR WORDS SHAPE OUR REALITY Growing up in Northern Ireland being gay, disabled and half English was not at all easy as I was born in 1978. I grew up on the border and although homosexuality was decriminalised on December 8th 1982 in Northern Ireland it was not to be decriminalised until 1993 in the Republic of Ireland just 1 mile away from where I live now. The memories of my school days are blurry. Years later at the age of almost 44, I realise that to protect myself my mind has locked many of the most painful memories away and so I cannot and shall not go into great detail about the trauma I went through as a child however what I can talk about is how my GNI MAG [60]

experiences have affected my life. Not only did I attempt suicide four times I was also hospitalised for several months in a psychiatric facility. I attended three schools between the ages of 11 and 17 and although I was a good student, worked hard and read many books it was impossible to achieve the grades I needed to go to university and study Psychology. By the time I reached the age of 17, I realised that it would be impossible for me to stay in Northern Ireland to continue my education as the homophobia was so bad that I may well have attempted

suicide again and I was worried that the next time I would be successful. And so I left and started a new life and lived for many years without experiencing any homophobia or racism. My interest in Psychology remained and I continued to study the subject myself to understand my mind better and that is why I decided to share what I have learned with you my dear reader in the hope that this will help you to be a happier, healthier homosexual. Although I do not possess a university degree what I do have is 25 years of knowledge and experiences


which cannot be gained by simply completing a degree course. Not only have I lived in both London and Barcelona but I also worked not only as an escort but also as a Tantric Masseur and so I’ve had many discussions over the years in both English and Spanish with men from all over the world about their feelings towards sex, relationships, society and of course themselves and guess what kept cropping up over and over again? The self-image. Diagnosed in 1996 with Schizotypal Personality Disorder, I spent years struggling with depression, anxiety, self-doubt and low self-esteem. This was due not only to the symptoms of my disorder but also to the fact that I was sexually abused as a teenager and psychologically abused at school from the ages of 6-16. Like many young gay men suffering from severe mental health issues, I turned to alcohol, drugs, sex and toxic relationships with older men to gain the approval and acceptance I craved as a child. Although I stopped self-harming at the age of 15 I continued to push that big old self destruct button for years until eventually, I found myself smoking crystal meth regularly and having unprotected sex with as many people as possible. Does this sound familiar? We’ve all made bad choices in life, right? Looking back now at the age of almost 44 I understand that the negative self-image that was imprinted upon me from a very young age by society, school and of course the Catholic Church had become my image. In short, I was filled with guilt and shame. When I looked into the mirror each morning I didn’t see a person I admired or respected. I saw someone who was not enough, who was not loveable, who was nothing more than a good time whore. Of course, I didn’t realise any of this at the time because escaping into a fantasy world, especially in a city like London, felt good. The more drugs I took, the better I felt but of course illusions are by their nature sweet. Each time I came crashing back down to earth after a druggy weekend, each time another relationship failed and I found myself alone and without the man of my dreams, each time the fake tan faded and my natural hair colour grew back and the leather and rubber fetish gear came off there I was. I was exactly who I had been before and I hated myself. My recovery from trauma and abuse began several years ago whilst living in Spain. I discovered the amazing work of three women who changed my life.

Louise Hay, Mel Robbins and Marisa Peer. What these women realised is that no amount of antidepressants in the Universe will change a negative self-image. They also discovered that the words we say to ourselves become our reality. As Marisa Peer puts it ‘Use better words and you get a better reality’. This realisation that our mind does exactly what we tell it to do has been common knowledge in various cultures throughout history. Anyone who has ever spent time in an ashram or Buddhist temple will tell you this. But we in the West are slow to understand this. Why? Big Pharma, Government, Religion could be some of the reasons but I think in my case the reason it took me so long to work this out is that I was always looking for a quick fix. Because I was so used to taking drugs and drinking alcohol for years I assumed that happiness could be found in tablet form, that self-esteem would come neatly packaged in a box from the pharmacy and that selflove could be taken twice a day with a glass of water with absolutely no effort on my part. The reality is that to gain the approval and acceptance of the most important person in your life YOU: it requires you to look in the mirror every morning and, instead of criticising every single fucking detail about yourself, your relationship, your clothes, your life, your job, your bad choices, tell yourself that you are your own best friend and that you will love and support yourself for the rest of your life. It’s also vital to forgive yourself and that’s one of the hardest things to do. Certainly, for me it was. You see I blamed myself for being the victim of abuse. But as Carl Jung said, “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” Maxwell Maltz was a famous Hollywood plastic surgeon who discovered that many of his patients despite undergoing cosmetic procedures to enhance their appearance were either unhappy with the results or could not see any difference whatsoever and what he realised is that if they had a negative self-image then it wouldn’t matter how many cosmetic procedures they had they would simply not see any difference and would always be dissatisfied with themselves. His book Psycho-Cybernetics became one of the most successful self-help books to have ever existed and has been used by many Olympic athletes all over the world. He discovered something very simple. If you want to achieve success in life it is

almost impossible if you cannot imagine yourself being successful in whatever career you choose. If you think to yourself “This is never gonna fuckin’ work, what’s the point?”, then your brain is not going to try its hardest to make your dream a reality. Now I have never been published in fact this will be my first time having an article published in a magazine however I have submitted a manuscript to several publishers and every day I tell myself that I am a highly successful published author, people love my books, and I am financially rewarded and financially comfortable. By doing this I am programming my mind to believe that I already am that person and because our mind does exactly what it’s told it is going to do everything it possibly can to make that positive self- image that I have of myself a reality. So why am I sharing my story with you? Well, having lived in two big cities in two very different countries where I did not have to think about homophobia at all where I could walk down the street hand-in-hand with my husband and openly show affection in public, I know from personal experience that it gets better. No matter how shitty your start in life is it does not have to define who you are in the future and the only thing that can hold you back in life is the psychological abuse of other people and your own limited identity. Sadhguru is a Yogi, Mystic, and Visionary from India who wrote the book: ‘Karma: A Yogi’s Guide To Crafting Your Destiny’. In a recent interview with the amazing motivational speaker, writer, and entrepreneur Lewis Howes he talks about how Indian children are instilled with the concept of their ‘cosmic identity’ from a very young age. What the fuck is a ‘cosmic identity’ I hear you ask, well it’s the idea that they can achieve whatever they want in life. A limited identity is like a negative self-image. Not only can this create a person with limited emotional intelligence, a person with low self-esteem, an addict, a criminal who has such a negative idea about money the only way they feel they can obtain money is by stealing from others, but also it can create a narcissist who is going to psychologically manipulate the fuck out of another person to validate their existence. Trust me I have been in a relationship with two such people and they almost destroyed my life. The fact that homophobia, transphobia and bi-phobia are on the increase means that LGBTQIA GNI MAG [61]


people are now at greater risk and especially in rural areas, small towns and villages which are many years behind the big cities. I believe that traumatic experiences such as being bullied at school as a child create fear and self-doubt even self-hatred in many cases which we hold within ourselves for our entire lives. This fear of being abused again, be it either physically or psychologically, combined with the constant preoccupation with how others see us and the need for approval and acceptance creates an individual who remains locked in that moment of trauma. If we do not recognise or understand that it is our fear that has trapped us we can become a prisoner in a cage of worry, anxiety, depression, self-doubt, low self-esteem, guilt, shame and panic for the rest of our lives. How do I know this? I was locked in that prison for 42 years. Thankfully now I’m beginning to free myself and so can you. When I heard the news that the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill was passed by the Florida Senate in March of 2022 this year I was devastated. I quickly searched the internet to find a petition I could sign and share on social media and I came across a deeply moving plea by a Florida student who was indefinitely suspended from his high school after leading and planning a pre-approved rally in opposition to the bill being pushed by Governor DeSantis and Florida Republicans. The student describes the bill as horrifying and a direct, anti LGBTQ+ attack that will prevent teachers from talking about LGBTQ+ issues or people, and that it would undermine existing protections for LGBTQ+ students in schools which are supposed to be a place where students feel safe to learn.

But if you think that’s bad, Tennessee is considering one that is even worse! Its proposed bill would ban anything which promotes, normalizes, supports or address LGBTQ issues or lifestyles in schools. The film ‘Joe Bell’ starring Mark Wahlberg which depicts the true story of Jadin Bell, a 15-year-old boy, who hanged himself on playground equipment in January of 2013 mirrored my trauma as a child driven to attempt suicide by bullies. I never felt safe going to school. Not one single day

went by when I did not feel anxious and my education suffered because of that. More importantly the GNI MAG [62]

homophobic bullying I suffered almost took my life not just once but four times. I have lost two people in my life to suicide. Both were younger than I am now. For months now I thought about how I could try to prevent other people from taking their own lives and I hope this story will achieve that. In addition to the research I have done into self-help over the years I have become increasingly concerned with the rise in hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people both in the UK and worldwide. According to Stonewall’s website :

One in eight LGBT people (13%) has experienced some form of unequal treatment from healthcare staff because they’re LGBTQ+. Almost one in four LGBTQ+ people (23%) have witnessed discriminatory or negative remarks against LGBT people by healthcare staff. One in seven LGBTQ+ people (14%) have avoided treatment for fear of discrimination because they’re LGBTQ+. Seven in ten trans people (70%) report being impacted by transphobia when accessing general health services. Nearly half of trans people (45%) said that their GP did not have a good understanding of their needs as a trans person, rising to over half of non-binary people (55%). 90% of trans people reported experiencing delays when seeking transition-related healthcare. Trans people of colour also experienced transphobia from trans-specific healthcare providers at more than double the rate of white respondents (13% compared to 6%) Taken from LGBTQ+ in Britain: Health (2018) and TransActual Trans Lives Survey (2021). What is shocking is that many hate crimes are not reported so actual figures are probably much higher. Two-thirds (64%) of LGBTQ+ people had experienced anti-LGBT+ violence or abuse. Of these, 9 in 10 (92%) had experienced verbal abuse, 3 in 10

(29%) had experienced physical violence and 2 in 10 (17%) had experienced sexual violence.

Only 1 in 8 LGBT+ people surveyed had reported the most recent incident that they had experienced to the police. Less than half of those who did report their experience to the police were satisfied with the response. Only 1 in 3 respondents who wanted or needed support were able to access it. One third (34%) of Black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT people have experienced a hate crime or incident in the past twelve months, compared to one in five white LGBT people (20%). Two in five trans people (41%) have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their gender identity.

Taken from Galop’s Hate Crime Report 2021 and LGBT in Britain: Hate Crime (2017) On July 3rd of 2021, a 24-year-old man by the name of Samuel Luiz Muñiz was brutally beaten to death by up to 7 people in A Coruña, Galicia, Spain. As I had lived in Spain for four years the news of his tragic death shocked me. I will be 44 years old this year, 20 years older than Samuel was when homophobia took his life. He was a nursing assistant. The more I looked the more reports of violent crimes I came across. Although I cannot prevent crime I can do my best to help you to recover from your trauma. I am not a doctor or a therapist I am just another human being trying to heal from the pain inflicted upon me. Part of my healing is in helping others. Other people only have power over us if we allow it. We cannot change the past and we cannot predict the future but we can control what we think and what we say in the present moment and this is the most empowering and important lesson that I have learnt in my 43 years on this planet. If you are suffering from depression or anxiety, If you feel that you are in a psychologically abusive relationship, If you are struggling with addiction in whatever form that may be please know that there are amazing people out there who can help you. But the first step is to understand that your self-image is everything and the words you say to yourself really do shape your reality. Remember the most important relationship you will have in your life is the one that you have with yourself. Contact Xand at


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Staying on top of your mental wellbeing in the age of Instagram ANTHONY COOLEY

In today’s modern world, there are many pressures we come to face on a daily basis. The more obvious ones being the likes of maintaining a roof over your head, heating, food, electricity and other bills. But I want to touch on one of the less obvious ones that isn’t depicted by what we earn and that is the pressure we feel to fit into a certain ideal when it comes to body image, especially in the age of social media. Social media is a lot of things, it gives us a platform to connect with people, those we know and those we have yet to know. We can showcase our talents and all the wonderful places we visit on our travels. It is a great educator in whats going on in the world and with emerging social movements, it gives a voice to those otherwise unheard by conventional means. But how much of what you see is really a true reflection of actual reality? This is something I think about most days, how social media impacts our lives in not just a positive way, but also a negative way. Hands up how many of you come away from your daily session of, “ Doomscrolling “ feeling a little bit lesser than because your own life doesn’t reflect all the amazing things you see other people doing on their social media platforms and how they look. I’ve felt that myself, many times in fact and its a really dangerous behaviour to adopt. I’m sure many of you feel the same, we are all human and its in our nature to draw these comparisons at times especially with body image. The internet now a days is so easily accessible to how it was 10-15 years ago. Some of you may remember an age when we were only confronted by so called “perfect” bodies in magazines primarily. Now we are subjected to these types of images with a simple swipe or click of a button and because of this we are exposed to a lot more which over time can negatively impact your overall mental health and body image perception of yourself. The lines of what constitutes as a healthy human body are becoming more and more blurred GNI MAG [64]

as time goes on and as individuals we need to educate ourselves on what is normal and what is unrealistic. I was recently lucky enough to go on a lovely holiday to the Canarian sunshine. Ten days away

from my normal surroundings reminded me of what is truly important in life, being content with one self and not stressing over the little things. I also noticed something quite stark whilst I was away around the pools and beaches and that was how not one person fit into the body ideal that your daily dose of instagram portrays. Instead

of super-muscular and ripped abs I seen lots of healthy, happy bodies….normal bodies. Frankly, it was a bit of a wake up call and realisation that the perfect physiques you see online do not represent what is actually happening in real life. So before you start to beat yourself up about having a bit of a paunch look around and remind yourself that there are many others just like you, like me. (20 inch arms and 26 inch waists are something that most can only achieve with a little bit more than just protein shakes folks so don’t be duped!) So with this in mind, what can you do to adopt a healthier approach to how you see yourself from here on in? Well start by taking accountability for what you choose to see on social media. There are plenty of ways to tailor your experience each time

you use the apps, so have a play around with some of the options available so that each time you go online you come away from it feeling a bit more positive than you do right now. Unfollow or mute accounts that make you feel like you can’t compete and from today onwards please stop comparing yourself to unrealistic body goals. Instead adopt the approach of you vs you and work on improving yourself each day to become the best version of your self.

Take a break from social media completely, I do this on a regular basis and I promise you will feel so much better for it mentally. Think of it as a social media detox for your brain, the same way you detox from alcohol for a week after a boozy weekend. Our brains need the same treatment and this is a good way to go about it. Reach out to old and existing friends you may not have seen in a while, and by reaching out I mean give them a call or text and arrange to meet for a coffee face to face. You will get so much more out of these real life interactions. And please please don’t use the amount of likes and followers you have as a means of validation, you are so much more than that and these things in the end sadly amount to nothing constructive. (If you find yourself surrounded by those who are fixated by these sorts of metrics and its all they talk about then it might be a good idea to spend a bit less time around them, they are shallow and sadly will only bring you down in the end.) So put that phone down, give your head some peace, get outside for some fresh air and take in the reality that is the big world around you! Oh and exercise, it works wonders for the ol’ noggin also! Coach Anto.


Empowering FAMILIES

My name is Sabrina Day and I am the Early Years Support Worker at HERe NI. HERe NI support Lesbian and Bisexual women and their families and we are a regional organisation based in Belfast LGBT Centre.

The Start Together programme (funded by Comic Relief through CFNI), aims to support LGBTQ+ parents/carers and their children.

through engaging in this project. LGBTQ+ families (children and parents) will come together for learning opportunities, mutual support, thus leading to increased levels of positive health and wellbeing. LGBTQ+ families will become more visible in everyday life; the children will become more affirmed through this increased visibility of their family type in schools, youth clubs and other organisations they use. The children and parents will become more integrated within their community through a range of direct targeted interventions from our team to a range of educational, community and voluntary organisations. This project hopes to assist the wider community in understanding family diversity and specifically the issues that children from LGBTQ+ families may have.

The impacts and benefits of this project will be that children aged 0-7 from LGBTQ+ families will become more affirmed in their parents sexual orientation and/or gender identity and become more confident about coming from an LGBTQ+ family.

With the Start Together programme I aim to organise several events each month, that will encourage LGBTQ+ families to come together while doing fun actives such as cookery, song and rhyme time, arts and crafts, swimming and much more. One to one support is also available on request.

The children and their family unit will participate in a range of activities that focus on positive health and wellbeing and increasing self esteem. Through participating in the project, the children and parents will become active, confident, citizens within their own geographical community. There are many LGBTQ+ families from rural and urban areas who don’t feel comfortable accessing services in their geographical community. We hope these families will feel more confident to access services within their community after engaging with us. The children and the parents will become more resilient

If this sounds like something you would be interested in you can email me at or call 02890 249452 for more information and also keep an eye on my Facebook page Sabrina Hereni. for further details of upcoming events. Please follow HERe NI on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for further updates. All events are on our website

I am excited to tell you about our latest project, Start Together, which works with babies and children aged 0-7 years who have an LGBTQ+ parent/carer. Through this project, we aim to empower our families to have the confidence to be proud of their family.

GNI MAG [65]



Martin Murray As the summer approaches, Sporting Pride Ireland is working with organisations across the country to put together some incredible events for the LGBTQ Community. On May 5th Softball Ireland will be hosting a Soft Ball Open Day at Trinity College Dublin. Meanwhile in Shannon Leisure Centre, Claire Sports Partnership and GOSHH will be hosting a Youth Sports Event. On May 7th Cork will be holding an LGBTQ Sports open day in Chambers, Cork. We are also currently arranging Ulster’s f irst LGBTQ Sports day in partnership with University of Ulster planned for June 4th. For more information on any of these events or to f ind out what else is happening visit or check out @SportingPrideIreland or @FabFitFemme on Instagram. A recent event we held with University of Ulster was the launch of Ulster’s first LGBTQ Inclusive GAA team Aerach Uladh with the support of Sporting Pride, Na Gaeil Aeracha and members of Antrim’s GAA and LGFA teams. The initial work was designed by the talented Chris Connolly owner of @Dathanna_Prints and one of the first to sign up for the team. Aeracha Uladh will spend the next few months preparing to launch their first men’s team and look forward to developing a strong relationship with Na Gaeil Aeracha, the only other LGBTQ Inclusive GAA team. In recent years the GAA have been working toward more diversity. Both Inclusive teams where set up by LGBTQ volunteers but the GAA recently hired their first diversity officer and are currently setting up talks with members of the community to put together plans to support the inclusivity of transgender athletes. Other organisations are also working to develop diversity plans. Patrick Nelson recently hosted a number of representatives from the sporting world including myself in the National Football Stadium at Windsor where he commended the women’s national football team on their international success. He also spoke about his intentions to focus on diversity on the run up the UK and Ireland bid to host the Euros in 2028. Mark Brooks, Sponsorship Manager of Ulster Rugby, followed up by explaining his aim to attract audiences to the Ulster rugby stadium who wouldn’t normally be at the stadium. Each organisation thanked the Bank of Ireland for their support as Bank of Ireland has been heavily investing in supporting Sports Diversity in growing networks recently. The biggest story in LGBTQ sports currently is the inclusivity of trans athletes with people like Boris Johnson giving their uneducated opinion like he wants to be the next JK Rowling. I don’t want to give any more attention to either of them that referencing that they continue to spout anti-transgender rhetoric. Teams continue to fight back including Quidditch teams worldwide who have separated themselves from their Harry Potter origins to become a recognised sport. Quidditch is a full contact sport that actively encourages participation no matter the gender GNI MAG [66]

or sexuality. There is a rising rhetoric in mainstream media, politics and social media of anti-trans sentiment. Rather than using science the points are made from fear and unsurprisingly based around controlling women’s bodies. The conversations about Trans involvement in sport is centrally focused on trans women and hormones which creates a narrative this is about women not fitting the traditional expectations of men in power. I have yet to hear any of these arguments reference Trans men because trans men aren’t concerned about Cis Men as competition. On the ground, locally, the teams don’t have an issue either. Many teams have been hugely supporting of LGBTQ athletes. I was surprised and delighted by messages of support I have received from Antrim’s GAA teams, Educational establishments and National Government Bodies. It seems the people most against transgender involvement in sport aren’t all that involved in sport. Another upcoming plan we are discussing is a 6 week Rowing Course with a very talented LGBTQ instructor but we have plenty of events this summer all over the county to keep you busy. If you would like to meet some of the teams in a social setting come see us at our Eurovision fundraiser this May 14th 2022 in Doyles Corner Dublin hosted by Belfast’s Eurovision expert Melody Festivalen. Finally I just want to end with a statement about the recent Homophobic attacks across the country including the murder of two men in Sligo and the hospitalisation of two LGBT athletes in Dublin, most recently Evan Somers from Emerald Warriors. The Irish LGBTQ community is a strongly supportive network. Every single LGBTQ Sportsperson in this country is someone who has had similar experiences to me. I know where they come from and what they have overcome. They are my chosen family and when one of us hurt we all come together. Whatever Evan, The Emerald Warriors of the LGBTQ community of Sligo need from us, we are here for you.

Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.



Joseph (Jojo) Harwood, transgender artist, social media pioneer and entrepeneur is ready to talk. Having won Simon Cowell’s The You Generation Competition when 21 the future looked bright though that wasn’t to be as the mainstream reality based talent show, that was globally entered by 100,000’s of submissions was ERASED! GNI MAG [68]

REAL LIFE JOJO Hey Jojo, so since last we’ve spoken we’ve had the little matter of a global pandemic, but I couldn’t help but notice you’ve been keeping yourself busy! You seem to have used the time to show more of a side of you you’ve not shared so much before. How did that come to be? Thank you so much for having me back, I’m a huge fan of the publication and excited to chat again! I definitely think that I’ve changed directions in my life since we last interviewed, because I made a conscious decision to look at the climate we were in and wanted to work out how I could create things that would serve people the best. I became known for my work online in my late teens and early twenties, and it was totally an accident. I was genuinely creating content based on what I was going through in my life at that time. I think when you get a feel of who you are as a person, it feels inauthentic to do things you did when you were at a younger age, do you know what I mean? It’s like asking someone to not progress because they had a good time with you when you were a kid, well we’ve all got to keep on learning and evolving. I’m in a constant state of evolution so it was completely a natural process. For the last few years you have taken a step back away from social media, which was so integral to your discovery and early success. Was that a conscious decision and if so why was that? My social media career started on Myspace, it blew up for me and I had a huge following by the time I was 14, I got to 16 and deleted it. I did my beauty YouTube between 2013-16, then I moved away from it. I have never had a commitment to social media, I used it as distribution of my art work and when there’s a wave of something going on in the world that I think is inspiring, I’d love to throw my two cents in. But for me, social media has lost its magic, because it is focused on getting you to invest your time and energy into meaningless content. In 2018 I began working with YouTube as a product tester, and when the climate protests were happening outside of the offices in London, I was in the hotel over the road staking my case against the algorithms and fixation on trends. I’m more interested in helping the platforms produce a better quality of diverse content. I don’t think it’s good to want your consumers to be fixated or to keep scrolling by provocative or negative things. I worked for three years with them on loads of their features but the focus for me was to improve the system as a whole, to introduce LGBT people’s perspective so to create an evened playing field. It was a lesson, because these are tech companies looking to make a profit. If they don’t have people like me working in the infrastructure, they’re not going to have the data that best serves us. I’d rather do that, that repeat makeup looks I came up with at 18. But it’s a really important thing to chat about because it’s the Wizard behind the curtain that needs to be shared. I now sit on the board of Revieve which is an AI / AR tech company, and I can use my data to contribute to a better level of understanding when it comes to DEI and building these new Metaverse programs. I took a step back to work on the other part of social media, but I am still interested in creating content that’s positive, and I started my own platform called, which was originally meant to be a book project. I thought taking the idea of propaganda and flipping it on its script, was a really insightful beginning to a photography project. In the pandemic it became an entirely journalistic outlet, where I can share recipes, travel blogs, my LGBT heroes and things that made me smile. I probably do more content today but less content that is trend driven. You recently spoke to Forbes and, for the first time maybe even, told your story about the aftermath of winning a big online talent search and facing not just disinterest, but potentially transphobia at multiple levels within show-business. Could you tell us more about that whole episode and how it feels now looking back on it? I was working on social media as an artist whilst studying at school. I put out content that began as social commentary content with other trans people, I then I took all the makeup work I learnt as a model onto YouTube, and split my gender expression into my every day feminine look, and then I made up this male alter ego that I could shift between to make people click

on the content. The whole principal of this was me flipping the script on the ‘hoopla’ surrounding trans people, and it totally worked. I am an acrylic and oil painter, I didn’t have any ambition at all to work in beauty and I put the art stuff onto my face, and people went insane about it and it really connected, but I kept bringing the subject matter back to the lack of representation I saw in the beauty world when I joined. I was interested in our queer icons like Grace jones and Pete Burns and I wanted to share their looks, not Kim Kardashian. I just wanted to be the person who highlighted Candy Darling and my favourite makeup artists like Mathu Andersen and Kabuki. By the time I had put out transformations into my idols, I was offered paid gigs to do contemporary people so it was an incentive, and I went viral for the first time in 2013 with over 90 publications, as I portrayed different modern pop stars. I then had several celebrities ask me to do makeup and I was establishing my lane as a makeup artist. When I was emailed the article saying that Simon Cowell was interested in doing a contest that showed all the talent on social media, and there would be a category for makeup art, I didn’t actually want to do it because I thought that I would be typecast as a makeup artist when I wanted to be taken seriously as an artist and do other things. But very hungover, I filmed this transformation video and submitted it from a second channel so it wouldn’t be on my main YouTube, and entered the competition last minute. Little did I know that they were going to invite the bloggers Pixiwoo to be the main judges. Once they saw my work and chose me as the winner, it set into motion the outcome of the contest. So I was sort of blown away by everything because I was paid initially a fee for the category and then a final cash prize. I was in my early 20s, finally able to buy products for my makeup kit I’d always wanted, I could take my mum to Paris for the first time. I was focused on the amazing things that took place. What happened after was the horror story, suddenly every single element of that competition was erased, I believe based on the fact that I was a trans person that was chosen, outside of their control, and suddenly they had a result they didn’t want. I was paid the prize before the last category was finalised, the announcement of me as a winner was made only on Twitter, and then they took down the entire YouTube Originals content and emptied the channel. All my work and all the promotional interviews were gone, none of the other category winners got any mention and I was sort of dismissed by them, we had just completed an interview as the winner, but to this day it’s never seen the light of day. Then the production company met with me about a tv show where I as the winner would be the makeup ‘expert’ and would give advice and I agreed and was excited. During our network test the producer then indicated that it was nothing to do with my makeup skills, didn’t know I was the winner of the You Gen competition, and it was a set up for a Snog Marry Avoid type pilot, a completely different concept to what I had been told and not something I’d be involved with. Then after all that I met the head of the agency who worked with all the big digital talent and they told me to my face that I should look more like a boy, that I needed to change who I was, what I was, entirely to fit some marketing trend, so I went away from the whole experience deflated and exhausted. Although not that long ago really, 2014 feels like a different age compared to now for trans representation. There were no media headlines, or publicly known trans people to talk to about things like this, as I was living through it I didn’t really know how wrong it all was. How I was completely sabotaged because I was something they didn’t understand, someone they couldn’t immediately manipulate into some kind of preset mould they knew they could easily use to sell to the specific audience they wanted, but there was definitely an attempt to silence me and pretend I didn’t exist which backfired, because I kept on going! I just had to be super careful with the type of content I wanted to put out there as I didn’t want to look like one of these people who jumps into the negative press and starts promoting themselves in that way. I kept it very quiet and continued on my trajectory as an artist and my success came regardless. But it was the first major incident in the western media where trans people had been totally dismissed as having any value and it was not covered alongside other similar events. Do you consider yourself an activist? I am really opposed to being classed as an activist. I grew up with two GNI MAG [69]

REAL LIFE JOJO grandmothers who were actively working in different ways to better the lives of other people. My paternal nan had a private care facility with people who had Downs Syndrome who were part of our family. My maternal nan and the whole family were in a constant state of voluntary service through different churches, and part of my perspective of people being compassionate and kind for a greater purpose is not expecting a branding opportunity from it. I don’t believe that activism should be a component in what you’re labeled as, it should be something that is defined by the impact on other people. In too many cases it’s become a buzzword for people to justify wanting to be seen without having a talent to be seen for, and it not only dilutes the message but it does a massive disservice to those out there who really are working day and night to change things, often quietly and without fuss, and are not being given their dues because of someone using ‘activism’ as a route to a public profile or career in show business. What do you think about the current LGBT wave of ‘activism’ when it comes to social media? I started using social media to connect with queer people who were going through some form of gender dysphoria, like I was. I was in school at 13 and my body wasn’t forming in the same way my peers were, I wanted to move into the girls sports classes and I stopped getting changed in the male dressing rooms. I didn’t really have any references of people like me, and my motivation was to connect with people who I could learn from, so social media was the obvious route. Entering social media and showing images of me, it was almost like throwing something into the air at the right time and it landing perfectly, that’s what happened. By the time I had left high school at 16 and was on my summer holiday before heading to my A Levels, my friend filmed a video of me learning how to runway walk in a car park. I was invited to walk for London Fashion week and I was in a daze about whether I would look silly or not, so I ended up having a bit of a rant walking down the stairway. We then put that video on YouTube and again the work went viral. As a result I was invited to be a regular slot on a trans focused collaboration channel which was based in America, however every single day had a different person from all over the world, offering their individual views on different political and social topics. In 2008 we were discussing Sarah Palin and veganism, we spoke about some gender identity topics but it was not the focal point of every piece of content, we were visible as ourselves and that was the activism, every point of conversation didn’t involve gender theory and there certainly was no ‘transgender issue’. So I come from a very different perspective because there seems to be an erasure of the content that I grew up with, because we were certainly not the only people on social media who were gender variant, but the media has portrayed this as some spontaneous thing that happened around 2015 and it was absolutely not the case. The other thing that I’ve noted is that we began to use the term ‘androgyne’ to describe trans people who didn’t want to validate their gender expression with surgery. People who were interested in exploring their identities, people who just fell into a grey area or people who were intersex all came together and formed a second evolution of that original channel and it was focused around the term Androgyny. It meant non-binary but if I even discuss this on social media today, there are kids who have no historical points of reference who think it’s purely a word to define physicality, which it was absolutely not. These videos did millions of hits over the course of seven years and were really positive. There were some silly arguments amongst colourful people but the whole phenomena provided everyone with a liveable wage and it was genius. We saw different media outlets thriving from trans people. Comparing the last seven years, to the previous seven years, we’ve regressed tremendously. I have never felt less safe as a trans person than I have since the topic of social activism has been a mainstream notion. My thoughts about activism across the last seven years is that it’s just been unsuccessful on a wider scale, at educating the masses of the humanity of trans people. There’s been so many brilliant young kids who are finding themselves way earlier than most, and that’s phenomenal. But the British media and their lack of positive representation has absolutely infuriated me. I think it’s set up the community to be paranoid about their territory and instead of collaboration and celebration of each others work, the only content and promoted articles around trans people are sensationalistic and individual. GNI MAG [70]

There is no positive collaborations as counter weight to the horror stories, and we need both. We need to put spotlights on people who have superseded and overcome obstacles in their paths. So if you’re not sure the current approach is working, what are your thoughts on how the trans community, and the wider LGBTQ community as a whole could be more effective against the barrage of negative, misleading, and sometimes downright dangerous narratives trans people are facing? We need authentic people who have succeeded in a plethora of different things at the forefront of this discussion, who have input that is varied. We need to challenge tech companies which distribute the majority of our headlines, to include LGBT data. We need to highlight trans pioneers who have succeeded despite the push back and we need to humanise our experiences so that there is a counter weight that dispels the paranoid campaign that’s been happening during the last five years, where there’s been this freak out about Self ID that’s worked in 20 other developed countries without any infringement to women’s rights. We’re conducting an inefficient strategy without self criticism and I have been someone who has absolutely fallen into the trap of responding to transphobia and being barraged by a mass of people who are not looking to counter an opinion, they’re looking to be seen on social media, because it’s valuable to talk about transgender people in this climate. So my theory on this is that we need to make some changes to how we work in our community to really tackle these things head on and improve the perception of our amazing community. My experience when chatting to my peers offline is that in this economical climate there is such a vast under appreciation of trans people and the talents we have, that there’s limits to what jobs there are. So social media is still being positioned as this oasis in a desert of no opportunity, and because of the limitations it’s totally controlled that part, so I hope to share more insight into business strategies to get people money, and we can all celebrate and come together. For me my goal is to not hide all the tools to my business success, but to create a platform and an organisation where I can help young LGBT people across the board tap into their potential and really fundamentally create something that is rewarding both psychologically and economically. We do not need to compete with our family. We need to come together and rebuild this strategy because if we all were in one accord and pushing the same information and examples, that we’re human beings, with the same monetary obligations as everyone else, with the same cares and worries, and we do all manner of things outside of the media jobs, then it would harmonise the perception and there would be less ability to profit off the discussion. But we have to be actively looking at better solutions. What’s next for you in 2022? Having such a massive social media following as a kid, I always felt like my work was childish and didn’t have any of the finesse that I can create today, so now I’ve established my position as a beauty leader and accumulated such a wide portfolio of work in DEI, I can do more things. If the odds are stacked against you, you gotta just focus on doing one thing extremely well as opposed to exploring many outlets. I really look at creative work through a positive lens and I was doing painting and graphic design before ever doing makeup, it was how I coped with my life as an oddball, so I want to go back to my roots and design lots of different new things. It’s all about sharing my passions in different lanes, and doing things that are inspiring. I have a major project being filmed in May which I’m excited about relating to my business and all that’s happened behind the scenes of my work, so to have a bit of a press tour around that will be phenomenal as I’ll get to speak and share more of my life than I’ve done in prior projects. Then I will be working on setting up my next non profit project PositiviT. This is going to be the overhead of all the work coming because I want it to be positive, and sharing the tea! Jojo’s website is, check it out




LET’S TALK TAPAS The Gourmet Boys

We may currently be “enjoying” the dampest, dullest spring in living memory, but there are many wonderful local restaurants who can whisk you away to the Iberian Peninsula, culinarily speaking, and serve up some sunshine on a plate with their tapas-style sharing dishes. This month, we thought we’d share f ive of our favourites with you.

2 Taps Boasting one of the city’s largest outdoor terraces, 2Taps Winebar & Restaurant in the heart of Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter creates the atmosphere of summer all year round, and we love the warm welcome, Mediterranean vibes, and delicious sharing plates.

Desserts are also irresistible; the Five Mile Town goats cheese Cheesecake had a sweetly savoury tang, and the Pecan Pie was a sticky, nutty indulgence.

We began with a selection of breads with basil pesto, black tapenade, smoked sundried tomato tapenade, olive oil & balsamic vinegar, and Pimientos del Padrón with mojo picon dip. From the Seafood section, the Pickled Mackerel with peppers, onions, & chilli oil is a great new dish, & the Gambas Pil Pil are a classic Spanish favourite.

44 Hill St The terrific tapas at 44 Hill Street, one of our favourite spots in the Cathedral Quarter, is a celebration of the flavours of the Mediterranean, using local products from independent producers in a selection of modern small plates, ideal to share with friends and family.

These were followed by a selection from the vegan menu; Flat Cap Mushrooms with basil pesto & tofu, and a smoky Moroccan Vegetable Tagine. All accompanied by Patatas Bravas, Ensalada Halloumi, and a carafe of Pagos de Araiz chilled Tempranillo, this was a lovely sharing-style meal with friends.

The history of the building in which this vibrant restaurant is housed ranges from a bonded warehouse to a butter merchants, and this is evident in the industrialised interior, from the exposed brick work to the metal beams dating back to the last century. There is also a wonderful outdoor space for al fresco style dining.

Ocho We return time and time again to this Causeway Coast Tapas restaurant, for its delicious, Spanish-influenced dishes, locally caught seafood, award winning meats, and a focus on local produce. The seafood is outstanding; Garlicky Gambas Al Pil Pil, and a fish special of Pan Seared Sea Bass with White Crab & Chive Sauce, Wild Garlic, & Celeriac Fries, were both excellent. There are lots of meat-free options too; the Aubergine “Three Ways”fried aubergine with butterscotch miso, tempura aubergine with dukkar & tahini dressing, and baked aubergine with harissa and honey- was a terrific Vegetarian dish. There are also plenty of authentic, Spanish favourites on the menu, the Patatas Bravas with paprika tomato sauce, chilli oil & brava mayo, the charred & salty Padron Peppers, & the Creamed Spinach with Parmesan, are traditional tapas dishes. But Ocho also provides some brilliantly inventive twists such as the Okonomiyali Fries - thinly sliced chips with Kewpie Japanese mayo, tonkatsu sauce, bonito flakes and black sesame seeds. And the Croquetas de Queso with Beetroot Pannacotta & Cherry Sour Cream has been featured in “Yes Chef ” magazine, and it’s not hard to see why.

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A wonderful meal in this brilliant Portstewart restaurant. It truly is hard to beat.

We ordered a selection of tapas to share, and all of them were tasty, authentic, and great value for money. We especially enjoyed the Crispy Goat’s Cheese Fritters with Lavender & Honey, the Crispy Pork Belly Bites with Apple Compote, the Deep Fried Brie with Fruit Chutney, the minty vegan Tabbouleh, the Calamari with Garlic Mayo, and the Mini Fishcakes with Tartare Sauce.

The Belmont The Belmont Bistro & Bar’s “Small Plates Menu” makes this East Belfast institution the perfect spot for a light lunch with a glass of wine (or two!) The tapas style menu is excellent value; pick any four small plates for £20, more than enough for two to share. We had the Fish Tacos, crammed full of haddock, prawns, salad, guacamole and drizzled with sriracha, the Mushroom Bruschetta with goat’s cheese, the Salt & Chilli Squid with crispy slaw, and an outstandingly creamy and luxurious Prawn Risotto. All washed down with a couple of glasses of vino, The Belmont, especially after its gorgeous new revamp, provides the ideal venue for an inexpensive lunch in relaxing surroundings. Edo Latin for “I eat”, EDŌ is a Tapas style restaurant in the City Centre, and Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.


is ideal for those wanting to enjoy a range of taste experiences through a sharing themed menu. “Para Picar”, with our amazing cocktails, we chose some Pimientos de Padrón with Chicken & Thyme Salt, and “Banderillas”- little anchovy and olive flavour-bombs. From the “Verduras” section we loved the Confit Squash, with Hazelnut & PX Vinegar Caramel, and the Braised Jerusalem Artichokes, with Cep Cream & Pickled Mushroom. The Parsnip Fritters were covered in a light, crunchy batter, and the Fried Aubergines with Sesame & Truffle Honey was one of our favourite dishes on the menu, and a must-try for vegetarians. For Dessert, we enjoyed the Caribe Milk Chocolate with Praline & Lime, and a very generous wedge of Young Buck, with Sesame Crackers, & Rhubarb & Cranberry Chutney was the perfect way to finish the meal.

Belmont 2 Taps


44 Hill Street

Follow @thegourmetboys on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, & TikTok Email – If you have any requests for restaurant recommendations send us a message and we’ll get right back to you.

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Rabbit This staycation took us to Templepatrick’s The Rabbit hotel , I can only tease with words like Opulent, otherworldly and unbelievable which I shall certainly divulge on.

We checked in on a typical Tuesday , a gloomy wet day though step in the start of the deception (all is a good and clever way). The lobby is like something you would imagine from a book or a scene from Robin Hood, a calming woodland complemented with earthy colours, greenery and the most fabulous chandelier that was the centrepiece to the room. From memory of my first visit this room has duel uses and can be used for small functions. Incase you can’t tell it’s a big tick on first impressions. After a brief tour, hearing info about facilities etc we were escorted to our room or should I say suite cough cough lol , it was on a lower level with separate access to the spa and relaxation area. Our jaws dropped as soon as we opened the door , the decor was so to our taste, so much time, effort and money has clearly went in to having the rooms look so inviting and unique. Everything from the wallpaper, bedding, furniture was impeccably thought out and in-keeping with the hotel name/brand. The room as expected had all the mod cons , fridge, tv, radio, phone GNI MAG [74]

though all retro with an age or at least gave that impression . It was divided cleverly into areas, a mini walk in

bath - had the weather of been on our side I would have definitely been in the tub - guess that’ll have to wait until my next visit. So far that’s the 2nd tick. After chilling in our room and enjoying a glass of vino it was time to hit the Spa, with swimming gear in our bags we robed up in the most comfortable fluffy house coats that were provided, these were hanging in the room for us along with a pair of branded Flip-flops that you have as a keep sake - this was a lovely extra, I use my daily .

wardrobe, a kitchen/bar area then dressing area , honestly cannot fault a thing. I must also mention the private outdoor area which overlooked a stunning lake, it was complete with table, log burning fire and a retro outdoor

Anyway off to the Spa first word or actually first 3 words that came out of my mouth were WOW WOW WOW, I said the word deception at the start of the review, well we arrived to Templepatrick and have been transported to some beautiful Grecian island with a twist, this really is something else and I’m certain the pictures or even my words won’t do it justice, no expense has been spared creating the grotto , outdoor beach bar, sand/lounge area and many rooms all with relaxation and experience in mind.

REVIEW THE RABBIT The twist of course was the gigantic disco ball over the pool, I never expected to see this, I can imagine having amazing pool parties or private functions which I’m sure the hotel have planned and cater for . Unfortunately for us it was raining though this did not deter us or the many other guests from using all of the facilities, while having a cocktail we chilled in the pool which was thankfully heated, we spent time in the Sauna, Steam and Salt room which was a first for me. All super relaxing and just what we both needed. It wasn’t noticeable to the eye though while chatting to staff they told me of work that was ongoing behind the scenes to open a gym and private treatment rooms which will only make the place even more appealing, this makes the 3rd tick lol. By now fairly oiled up and very relaxed we decided to head back to our room to chill for an hour before Dinner . We got an unexpected knock on the door, one of the staff was offering a choice of complimentary cocktails to all guests - this was another delightful extra, it really is the added touches that make people feel special. That’s one more tick lol

Showered, shaved, dressed and 2 further glasses of vino later it was time to head for dinner, prior to my visit I did read the menu so I had an idea of what I wanted though this swiftly changed upon

hearing recommendations and other opinions lol. Being some what indecisive and a person who likes to try things we ordered 4 different small plates to share, Arancini Balls, Mini chilli Chorizo , Smoked Salmon and Squid Rings, all cooked perfectly with their own sauces/dressings, my personal favourite was probably the Chorizo they were rich and umptious

Having heard that Sanbuca is great after a meal to help with digestion we where naughty and had a few of those, we spend some time in the residence bar though we’re good ish guests and retreated to our room around 12.30pm There was no further misbehaving, after a good catch-up and unwind we were out for the count

With the main I was back and fourth though having recently been away to Malta I fancied something for the ocean so I opted for the Seafood dish which was more or less a Paella, packed with Shellfish, Orzo Pasta, Prawns, Clams, Mussels, Crab, Chorizo, White Wine Cream, Toasted Sourdough and Lemon Gremolata, it was devine.

We slept like lambs in the super king bed so much so that we missed breakfast - oops , though having already experienced the food and service I have no doubt that it would have been exceptional

My guest Sharon being somewhat a cautious eater played it safe and order the lamb chops, it was cooked to her liking, I didn’t taste it though she assures me it was delicious. The portion was huge we got one of the chops boxed up to take home.

Thank you so much for the gratitude, we had the most wonderful stay, we cannot wait to return and cannot recommend enough. In all 5 Star review

Lastly the dessert, I’ve said it before and I’ll say

The Rabbit Hotel, 882 Antrim Rd, Templepatrick,

it again, after 2 courses I’m bursting at the seams though if 1 thing is on the menu regardless of how full I am I simply must to order it , that of course is Sticky Toffee Pudding, my all time fav pudding, it came with Honeycomb Ice Cream and the most moreish Toffee Sauce which I could have drank lol, not only was it ordered I single handedly demolished it. Double tick on the food front

Every aspect of our stay was amazing my only regret is just having the one day.

Review by Daniel May

Ballyclare BT39 0AH +44 28 9443 2984

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Essentially Cher Trisha McCluney-Essentially Cher is Ireland’s ONLY Cher tribute act/ impersonator, having exploded onto the scene back in 2019. Since then Trisha has gone from strength to strength and is in high demand as one of the UK’s best tribute act to the Goddess of Pop. Despite having what one would consider a very short career to date as a tribute to Cher; what Trisha has managed to achieve in that time is nothing short of remarkable! Nominated for ‘Best Tribute Act’ at the National Entertainment Awards in 2020 where she reached the final and has just received a nomination for 2022 awards. Trisha continues to engage with her devoted fans and has amassed a very large and impressive following of professional and celebrity credentials, including none other than top US Cher Drag impersonator Chad Michaels. She even received a private message from Winner of RuPaul’s UK Drag race ‘The Vivienne’ congratulating her on her ability to mimic Cher with “extreme accuracy”. With US based agents catching her promo video on Youtube expressed elation after a long search for a great Cher a-like GNI MAG [76]

stating they have “never came across a Cher tribute who can quite nail it” and Trisha had “ticked all the boxes” Trisha’s Cher has been in huge demand across the UK and now reaching audiences into Europe. Having just returned from appearances in Cyprus and she has been such demand that Pride organisers are falling over themselves to book her. Essentially Cher is due to perform at Malta Pride this September and will be returning as Headline act for Drogheda Pride, she has also just confirmed a slot at the Isle of Man Pride in August 2022. No stranger to travelling with her multi-tributes also excelling as (Shania Twain and Lady Gaga) Trisha has just returned from Blackpool where she showcased Essentially Cher, wowing UK booking Agents. She was also contacted by a US based agent who saw a video of her on Youtube and told her that they had searched and searched but never came across a Cher tribute who can quite nail it but that Trisha ticked all the boxes. Trisha began rehearsing her live band soon after her official launch

with the aim of steering the show towards live music venues, hotels and ultimately theatres, with persistence and determination to continue perfecting her tribute to Cher despite the pandemic, this realisation is now coming full circle. Pre covid her quick rise to success showed in an exciting booking to support Gloria Gaynor in concert, however, logistics and continued forced reschedules of such a large scale event has sadly meant this could no longer be viable. Her drive and passion in making her show a success meant that even Covid would not stop her and her fans who ‘Believe’ in her impressive ability to pay the most accurate tribute to Cher seen on these shores. Trisha is from Ballyclare, a shining example of the talent Northern Ireland has to offer. Having turned down other promoters on UK mainland before, she is now ready to bring her theatre show to audiences on the homeland working alongside Musicon Entertainment with the aim of bringing her shows across the Island of Ireland and further afield where possible. Where can you see her?

Trisha has a residency performing her solo shows quarterly at the Cabaret Supper club in Belfast and will spend the rest of the year she will be travelling back and forth from Europe and England to Scotland so, be sure to catch a show when you get the chance! Her theatre tour kicks off at The Portico of Ards, Portaferry on 14th May closely followed by the Marketplace Theatre, Armagh on 17th June. More exciting dates are to be announced with her fully live show coming Kelly’s, Portrush, Seagoe Hotel, Portadown and Time LIVE in Cooktown. You can keep up to date with all show announcements on her website or on Facebook @trishaascher or check upcoming events at 14 MAY, PORTICO ARDS – TICKETS: PORTICOARDS.COM 17 JUNE, MARKET PLACE ARMAGH – TICKETS: VISITARMAGH.COM



Thailand By Gavyn Andrews

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So 2019-2021 passed with many of us not travelling at all due to worldwide country lockdowns aka covid-19 pandemic. (I know I’m so over it too) Life is now edging along into spring 2022 and I thought it would be a good idea if I gave you some holiday motivations to book something. I lived and worked in many places from Turkey, Spain, and Caribbean to Asia so when it comes to travel I feel pretty confident about heading away as a solo traveler. I know this can often be a scary thought but really it should not be at all. (Or is it now?) I wanted to test the waters for long-haul travel again and so back in Nov 2021 I booked myself back to Thailand first and foremost to experience what’s changed and how easy or difficult it would be to actually travel due to the remaining challenges covid-19 has imposed upon us all. I guess I should start from booking my travel itinerary which was pretty simple and don’t shout at me I didn’t book a package I did it all individually and so yes it took more time than normal I will admit that . Flight prices were higher than before but not massively my main issue was flight options or lack of them I guess many airlines still have not go full schedules. In the end I opted for a new carrier to me Qatar Airways out of Dublin via Doha and direct into Phuket/Thailand.

Initially I wanted to head to Bangkok as a destination and also because I planned to go for work but currently Thailand only allow international travelers to arrive under various schemes which are called Test & Go or Sandbox. Each has different requirements of what you need in advance to apply for what is called a Thailand Pass. I applied under the Test & Go which meant I needed to prove I was fully vaccinated in the UK from covid-19; I had a negative PCR test max 72 hours before arrival. My travel insurance covered me fully for covid-19 i.e. testing positive and that I booked and paid for PCR Tests on arrival and then again on day 5 and finally I had a hotel booked with confirmed transfers to cover the nights I had to wait for my PCR results in resort. Once I had all this I simply completed my online Thailand Pass application which took about 7 days to come back clear and I was issued with a QR GNI MAG [78]

barcode which I needed for arrival. Now considering my travel career is well over 20 years I have to say when I got to Dublin airports check inn I was nervous. I heard Qatar Airline staff checking people’s documents for multiple destinations and turning them away due to them missing some requirement. Thankfully I was in the clear and no sooner had I checked in I was sitting on my fully booked flight to Phuket via Doha. The flight service was pretty normal nothing really different but you were required to wear your face mask at all times when not eating or drinking and each seat had a covid pack with hand sanitizers etc. for you to use throughout the flight if required. Arrival into Phuket well that was 100% different I stepped off the plane into what seemed like a medical waiting room really the arrivals hall and asked to sit in rows and get certain papers out to be checked by airport staff. Once checked you are ushered to a desk that stamp your documents and then sent to immigration which itself was normal. It was then a short walk to luggage pick up which was actually waiting for me and then outside to your Test & Go PCR Airport swab test which again was done quickly and efficiently before being sent on your transfer to your hotel. When I got to the hotel I was checked in and advised that I had to download a local covid App and stay in my room until my airport PCR test result came through. Now I arrived at about 3pm so expected my result to come through in about 6 hours or so and well it didn’t aka next morning but thankfully and I was free to go about my holiday as I pleased until my day 5 second PCR test. So after having a manic time booking to get here then arriving here and worrying about testing positive I found myself on Patong sunny Palm tree lined beach which was well pretty quiet but felt like home to me. The weather was 37 degree and I was starting to fry so seeked shelter in a previous spot I used to go to often which sadly for me was now closed like many many of the local business. Now don’t get me wrong many places are actually open but many are also indeed closed so Phuket or at least Patong is defiantly not as it was before. So as you can imagine having lived and worked

here for over 5 years to see massive areas now closed or rundown simply due to the pandemic is shocking and frankly very sad. The good news is that each day it’s getting busier and more and more of the empty business sites where either reopening or being renovated ready for something new. Now this was not merely a fact finding trip for me it was also business because I had to complete about 5 hotel inspections for the travel company I represent in the UK & Ireland called RedFox Travel who are actually a Thailand based firm specializing in Thailand, Vietnam and Maldives but I will leave that for another issue to chat about. As I inspected some of the local areas hotels it was interesting to find out the differences in both guest numbers, guest testing positive for covid-19 and also where the guests are actually from. Main answers being some hotels where below 50% full and others really busy at around 98% full each night. Customers testing positive where mainly from Russia and Ukraine markets but the hotels did appear to have a small amount of Australian, UK and USA customers also. So for me I learned that Thailand or at least Phuket has currently changed it is slowly emerging into some kind of tourism destination but not as before. Mask wearing, temp checks, Gloves and covid certificates are all regular daily occurrences even though some places are stricter than others. You can still have a fantastic holiday because beaches are obviously open, bars and restaurants are the same although close earlier than previously around 1-2pm with certain ones licensed for alcohol only sales. Tourist attractions like Boat Trips to Krabi, James Bond Island, Maya Bay, Elephant sanctuary days etc all widely open with numbers cut meaning more of them. The prices for these trips I didn’t feel where just as good though and it was much harder to get a discount on them. I am passionate about wellness and for me Thailand is the number one spot to come too for everything around it from detoxing your mind and body to building muscle and becoming a better person, why? Because Thailand offers it all with excellent services skills and facilities. Spas are everywhere from street masseurs to global world leading Spas offering cosmetics procedures. I


was delighted to know that Spas in Phuket where open and offering everything they did before and I found a gem which offered numerous massages for 60/90 mins all for the bargain price of 499 Thai Bhat around £11.

By Gavyn Andrews on a RedFox Travel destination and hotel review trip

So I know you’re asking is all the hassle of getting the right documents and paying maybe more than you did before and having to worry about maybe testing positive for covid-19 worth it? For me the answer will always be yes. Travel is in all of us in some shape or form, a weekend away, a sports holiday, family holiday, couples even friends. We need these experiences in lives to help us grow and develop as people and tourism supports much more than just a hotel or an airline it supports millions of people around the world. Thailand like many countries used to take tourists for granted and now is having to fight to get them back if they can. Thailand is lucky because it has some amazing culture products and services totally unique and it also has a really strong currency exchange rate for the UK market. My advice is plan your travel make sure you have everything you need in advance, if you feel more confident using a travel agent whom you can speak to face to face do so knowing that you have another person to turn to if you need help or support further down the line. Life keeps going and so should all of us being locked away missing out on life experiences is not good not good for anyone so if you’re a solo traveler, a couple, just friends or a large group plan your 2022 holiday and beyond now at let yourselves have some new adventures to look forward to and experience and build upon for the journey of life we are all on. So stop worrying about what if and start thinking I am going to...

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Lewis Hancox is the author and illustrator of Welcome to St Hell, Lew has over 300k followers on Tik Tok (with 5.3million likes), 27k followers on Instagram, 15k followers on Twitter and over 35k subscribers on YouTube. Hi Lewis! Tell us about Welcome to St Hell. 'Welcome to St. Hell' is my graphic novel memoir, all about being a trans teen misfit. Growing up in my hometown, St. Helens, back in the early 2000s, the word "transgender" wasn't even on my radar. This a journey of self-discovery, not the physical transition itself. It's much more than a trans tale, it's a coming of age story, tackling issues we can all relate to - gross puberty, high school drama, being the only "fridge" left in your year (meaning you'd never had a snog). I hope this book will appeal to anyone who currently is, or has ever been, an awkward angsty teenager - which I think is all of us! Did you have a clear sense when writing it on what you did or didn’t want to include? The content actually came to me very organically. In the first lockdown, I was suddenly inspired to grab my ipad and pen and start illustrating my life in comic form. I started by drawing my most poignant memory - having to choose between wearing pants or a skirt on my first day at high school. From there, I pretty much went with the 'no holds barred' approach - not holding back on a single, nitty gritty detail. To do my story justice, I had to be completely open and vulnerable, let people into my neurotic head on a whole new level and see every inch of the body that was betraying me. I want the reader to really feel the frustration and confusion of my younger self, "Lois". So I made it my mission to include the good, the bad, the ugly and the funny. I knew I wanted it to be as humorous as it is heartfelt, because that's my whole vibe - to entertain, while incidentally educating. The book is aimed at young adults, what do you hope they will get from reading it? I'd love the book to give young adults the confidence to be authentically themselves, and fill them with hope that things do get better, whatever path you're on. My present day self narrates the story and chimes in with words of encouragement at times of crisis. There's a stark contrast between my more confident, content "male" future vs my tortured, teenage "female" self. I want LGBTQ teens to have the book I only wish I'd had growing

up, to feel less alone. Even now we still lack trans male representation in the media, so I'm proud to be a voice for that community. This book could help trans teens see a more positive future for themselves, and for anyone who isn't trans, they'll gain a deeper understanding.

help queer teens have a little bit of empathy for those who aren't instantly accepting. I was dead defensive at the start of my transition. Looking back, perhaps I could've had a bit more patience with people! This isn't to say you should accept any disrespect, of course.

Why was it important to you to tell your story through illustrations rather than writing a straight memoir? Telling stories through illustration comes so naturally to me, I've been doodling cartoons since I could clutch a pen. I'm a very visual person, and I think transitioning is a very visual process. To me, an image can say so much more than words. I love that the reader literally gets to see the different versions of me, my body, my environments, emotions, and how I depict the people around me (much to their dismay). It was so much fun adding all the subtle details and annotations, bringing the pages to life. A bonus being it makes the book way more accessible for those who don't normally like to read a lot of text. I know I fall into that category!

How do you think we can encourage friends and family to be transgender allies? Really, it all boils down to respect and treating us as human! I think the best thing people can do is their own research for a better understanding there's plenty of trans-themed films and books out there. Every trans person is different, so there's no blanket rule but I'd say avoid asking trans people super personal questions, unless you have that kind of relationship. Calling out any transphobia and misinformation is also massively appreciated. Know that making mistakes and taking time to process is okay, it's the effort and emotional support that counts. My Mum went from knowing absolutely nada to now being Facebook's biggest keyboard warrior defending the rights of all trans people!

Was it cathartic to write about your journey? It was definitely a therapeutic process for me. I found a whole new love and sympathy for my younger self as I recalled and reclaimed deeply buried memories. I got to experience my past life as an observer with a whole new perspective, rather than re-live the inner turmoil. At that time I felt so much hurt and made many dubious decisions without fully knowing why, whereas now I can look back and put all the puzzle pieces together. It's surprising how much of my life went a certain way, due to me being a boy inside. Turning all the pain into art makes the whole experience so worth it!

How can we support a young person who might think they’re transgender? If you're a parent or teacher, ensuring the child feels comfortable enough to open up to you is vital. Listen without judgement, and allow them to express themselves with clothing, toys, names and pronouns of their choice. Even if they are just experimenting, there's no harm in that. Don't project your fears onto them, it'll only result in internal shame. Parents don't need to rush into anything medical but if their child is adamant they're going through the wrong puberty, then you can start by taking them to the GP who can refer them to the gender clinic. Again, this doesn't mean any medical intervention needs to happen and if it does, it isn't a fast process by any means. Look up support groups where you can meet other trans kids and their families. Mermaids is a great one that I'd recommend!

Why was it important to include interviews with friends and families? When you transition, everyone around you transitions in a way too. It's a learning curve for everybody. None of my friends and family had a perfect understanding but thankfully they came on the journey with me (some more resistant than others, but we all got there in the end). I think it's so important to give other parents and friends of LGBTQ teens a perspective they can relate to. I wanted to show it's completely normal to feel all the apprehension, and yet it's totally possible to make it through. On the flip-side, it hope it'll

Welcome to St Hell is published by Scholastic and available from 2nd June, £10.99

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Fratelli Fratelli Belfast Reopens with new owners, an improved menu and refurbished surroundings. Words by: Gary Campion

Since it shut its doors in March 2020 there has been something missing from Great Victoria in terms of culinary delights whether that be for Pre theatre, a special occasion or a just because meal out. Nearly 2 years to the day it closed new owners The Galgorm group opened its doors again after a £250,000 facelift, we were invited to come try out their new menu, so who better to send than our Editor Daniel May and our former celebrity editor and fussy eater Gary Campion. Upon arrival you are greeted by a well groom and presented concierge who explains that for environmental purposes they have ditched paper menus but that they have a tablet available for you to browse the menu on or you can do so on your phone at: The menus are divided into 7 easy accessed tabs: • A La Carte Menu • Vegan Menu GNI MAG [82]

• • • • •

Little Boars Menu Gluten Free Menu Desert Menu Wine List Drinks List

I was pleased to see that there were Vegan and Gluten Free menus as I have some family / friends that require one or the other or both and they often draw the short straw when it comes to menu choices when we eat out. Then menus are very clearly laid out and are detailed enough for you to be able to make your choices quickly and easily and at reasonable prices given the location and the quality of the food served. Our drinks order was taken and served within a reasonable time, I am a bit odd and don’t like drinking alcohol with food so I went for a mocktail called Fratelli Frollic which is a refreshing combo of fresh strawberries, Pineapple juice, orange juice and lime juice, Daniel opted for a large glass of Lalune Sauvi-

gnon Blanc Abruzzo which was a perfect match for both his starter and main course choices. Daniel went for Chorizo, Chicken and Chilli Ragu and I went for Fried Mozzarella withSalsa Rossa, both dishes were well presented, at the perfect temperature and just the right portion size so as not to spoil our mains. For our mains I decided to give the Spiced Duck Breast with Potato Gnocchi, Broccoli, Preserved Orange & Marsala Sauce with a side of Skin on fries- I absolutely love duck but I often find some places either over / under cook it or it is flavourless, this wasn’t the case with Fratelli’s cooked to perfection, full of flavour and well presented on the plate and like the starter, just the right size so there was no left overs or wastage. Daniel was extra hungry - the worst thing you can be when you have a menu full of amazing offerings in

my opinion lol! He ordered Lasagne Al Forno with skin on fries plus a Pear, Gorgonzola and Walnut Salad, like my main all well presented, full of flavour and a bit more than Daniel could handle given he has effectively ordered 2 mains lol! We ran out of time to sample the desert menu due to having to go review a show at the Grand Opera House but having looked at the menu I can tell you I would of been trying 1 or all of the following: • • •

Tiramisu Coconut Rice Pudding with Cinnamon Poached Pears Vanilla Cheesecake with Amaretti and Sultana

If you like the sound of our choices and experience you can book into Fratelli Belfast, Unit 1, 60 Great Victoria Street, Belfast, BT2 7BB via their website or by Telephone on 02890 310862. They are currently open Friday to Monday 5pm - 10pm.

in your local AREA we provide these services and much much more for our GB&/T COMMUNITY

VICTIM SUPPORT TRAINING & EDUCATION Counselling social opportunities family support Sexual ealth Advice & Support belfast

foyle 028 9031 9030 028 7128 3030











24 - 28 MAY

028 9024 1919 I GOH.CO.UK


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