ISSUE 52 - Pride 2022 - Steps

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An introduction from our editor... Pride season is upon us all, and personally I love to see it, it’s one of my favourite times of the year. Watching shops, businesses and even some homes adorned with Pride flags or merch is heart warming. Pride is still an important time for our community. We have come such a long way but all is still not equal or fair for all of those under our umbrella. Go to your local Prides, support those around you, and be yourself.

In our Pride feature we take a look at some of the UK and Ireland festivals. Look at Pride fashion from some of the major labels, advise on some of the Pride must-haves, and take a serious look at why we still need Pride and the work of Stonewall.

Back to this issue of GNI MAG. I am totally pumped to have Steps back on the cover - their third time (the only time we’ve had the same cover stars three times). It’s always a delight chatting to them, they are honest, upfront and always up for a laugh. Along with other great interviews we have a couple of interesting and thought provoking real life stories, one on body dysmorphia and the other on working as a tantric masseuse.

And in our reviews section we take a look at the best new movies and TV shows, Fish City in Belfast, and Haslem in Lisburn, and I took a trip to Oliva.

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The Rainbow Project are back in this issue discussing mental health and what help is available to anyone who needs it.

Read on and enjoy folks. Daniel May Editor and Operations Director


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Contents STEPS



Daniel May Operations Director


Pauline Fitzpatrick Sales Executive Tony Day Design Thanks to... Steps / Liam Gallager / Nikki Evans / Years & Years / Micky Murry / Connor Mills / Carl Connielingus / Tailor Maid / Anthony Cooley / Martin Murray / Gavyn Andrews / Gourmet Boys / Gary Campion / XAND / Allen Gordon / Sharleen & Deborah / Stephanie Taylor / The Rainbow Project / Action For Children / Stonewall / Amnesty International / StreeNoMore / Screaming-Frog / Haslam Hotel / Oliva Courtyard Guesthouse / Fish City / Halestorm PR / LAD Bible / GOH / Chuff Media/ Wearemediavision/ Petrossian / Paperxclips 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





It is mind boggling to think that 25 years after you came onto the scene you would be still entertaining the nation. Was this the master plan? Lisa: Oh my goodness! I would love to say this was the master plan all the way along, but no it wasn’t. I guess it is down to a lot of luck and hard work really, and also because our fanbase have been absolutely incredible. I think the fans didn’t want us to go away so they have kept the love and here we are 25 years later. Claire: Yes, the second we released 5,6,7,8 we knew we would be here 25 years on. LOL. Can you imagine, if we knew then what we know now, GNI MAG [8]

we could have bottled it 25 years ago and sold it to everyone. I don’t think anybody expected us to be here even 10 years on. I think for a pop act, for the vast majority of 25 years we have been doing the same thing, so it’s amazing really that the music over everything has stood the test of time and is still able to translate as well as it did back in 1997. We really are very lucky. We love being in Steps, we are passionate about it, we are passionate about doing a good job and I think the fans really appreciated that as well. When we last spoke it was the height of restrictions, are you glad Covid seems to have passed and you

are able to perform restriction free or are you still cautious ? Faye: I think at the back of our heads, because it’s still here, we are able to move forward. We are conscious of it still, absolutely. But we are so excited to be able to get on that stage and do live performances. Oh my goodness - just to be able to hear the buzz and excitement and to see people jumping up and down and singing along with us. It’s like nothing that you can compare and it really is the icing on the cake. To be able to bring live music back again is just incredible. Lee: I’m glad that we are getting back to normality.


Obviously I have had Covid twice now, so I think what is a bit scary is it is still here and when you suddenly go back to normality we kind of forget about it and just get on with our lives, and we should. But I think we do need to be a little bit aware, especially in our environment where there are 5 of us that all need to be working together. In public places I still prefer to wear a mask because I know what it is like to be really ill and I also know what it is like to be ‘kind of ’ ill, because I have had two different types of Covid. But what is lovely is that we can now up our summer tours, outside festivals, and we can be on stage together as people are less concerned if it is outside. We’ve had the scare now let’s just try our best and go forward in the future. You have so much going on atm. First off we have to talk about the Queen’s Jubilee street Party - when did you find out that you were closing it? Lisa: We have known for a while because we were preparing with our team, but even when you are given the brief, when you walk into the arena and you see it come to life it really is incredible. We were asked to close the show which was an absolute honour. When the confetti cannons fired, for me it was like a snow globe moment, and I felt like I was inside a snow globe! I always try to take a mental picture of it just to always have that memory and keep it safe within my heart - that’s what I call my snow globe moment. Funny enough, when we performed and recorded the show EPIC is the only word I can use to describe it. I was saying to the other guys “That felt really big”. We have been so lucky to do so many TV shows but for me that will always stick

in my memory. They did a beautiful job and they transformed the arena into a massive street party. It was absolutely beautiful. Claire: It was amazing TV to be a part of, and I think there are very few of those these days. Back in the 90’s there was so much TV that we could be a part of for example the Smash Hits Poll Winners party, it was on that scale. To be involved in the celebrations and to close the show, it was the perfect end. It was a massive shame that Lee couldn’t be there, but the stage was filled with dancers and the whole floor at the end wasn’t so much focused on us, but on the event itself which was good and that helped with the fact that Lee absent. It was about the whole event and the party that was going on - we were just the act that was closing the party and everyone was having a great time. Elephant in the room though Lee was missing? Unfortunately Lee wasn’t well, he was really poorly so he wasn’t able to perform. But again he said “Please carry on without us” and we were just so sad that he couldn’t make it. He’s all good now though! OK so to celebrate your 25th year on 19th August your Platinum collection is being released, it includes 19 songs that fans will be familiar with and 2 new songs - had you a say in what songs were going to be included? H: Well, I mean it’s our greatest hits, so it’s a celebration of 25 years, I mean, not many people pass that milestone do they? It was a tough one but we decided that we needed everything on there. We

had to dangle the carrot a little bit and give the die hard fans something new and different. Will either of the new songs be coming out as a single? Lisa: I’ve got to say I am super excited about the song ‘Hard To Forget’ because I absolutely love it and I am a massive fan of the song. We had so much fun shooting the video and there is a snippet of it in the MegaMix. It’s coming out really soon and I absolutely can’t wait. I just hope the fans love it as much as we do. Claire: I would say the video is a bit ‘surprising’, it’s very different and it’s something we have never really done before. Twenty years ago you released Gold, 10 years ago the Ultimate collection, now we have Platinum there is a pattern here - what are you going to name the 2032 album? Faye: Diamonds - I’m joking, I really don’t know. But what is so exciting about this one is that we are so proud of all of the original music that we have been able to put out since 2017. We have had 3 albums - and it was like “Right, we need to squash a few more onto our favourites”, but it was a hard job choosing them, it really was. Claire: OMG, what’s left, is it diamonds? The mighty hoopla kicked off your Summer tour - you have 12 dates announced between now and September - do you have to rehearse much or are the songs and moves 2nd nature now? H: We are lucky enough that we have an immense GNI MAG [9]


back catalogue and a lot of the dance routines are muscle memory,. But when you put them together with different mixes and remixes, different transitions, there’s a massive intro - there is a lot of work that goes into that. We just kind of rock up and we press play - however there is a lot more to a show than that. Lisa: Two weeks put together the summer show and H said “brand new orders, brand new set list’ and we are just constantly having to sort everything out. Is there somewhere in particular you are looking forward to travelling to? Lee: To be honest, not really because we get a great reaction no matter where we go. I always used to say it’s better the more north we go because people go crazy, but nowadays with 25 years gone by and looking at Mighty Hoopla the other day in London the reaction was phenomenal. We are what we are, we do what we do, and these outdoor events are going to be special, because it’s not just us, there are lots of acts taking part. There is something for everybody and it is great that we are the headline act. As long as people come out, have a good time, enjoy the show, we are there to give a good performance and make people happy and that is what it is all about. Lisa will you be here for the summer or traveling back and forth? To be honest, it’s not easy. I am very excited for us and I am looking forward to all of the celebrations. I will be there 100%. I don’t live in the UK, so it’s just working out the logistics which is definitely challenging. However, the guys are very supportive and they realise my life and my business are here, but H is not supportive at all! (LOL) No, I’m just joking. It’s really hard actually because there is something big happening that I would love to be there for and I just physically can’t get there and back in a day, so sometimes it is difficult. But I will be there for all of the summer shows and our final show ends on the 25th September - so we’ve got a big one that we are closing with. I’m just really looking forward to all of the shows. Faye you are so fortunate to have so many songs that people know, does it make it easier when you are performing seeing and hearing everyone singing the lyrics and doing the dance routines back to you? Definitely, especially for me. Sometimes it’s like you don’t know what dance move you are doing or you might get distracted because there is so much going on stage, it’s just lovely to see everyone joining in. We performed ‘Something In Your Eyes’ at MyTV Player and it was amazing to see people do the moves - I mean it’s hard enough for us to learn them, but the fact that people learn them from our videos is just so amazing. GNI MAG [10]

Claire: It is great for us being on stage and there is nothing that I enjoy more than hearing the crowd sing back to us. It is just amazing and even now when I go to see other peoples shows, you hear the audience and it makes me really emotional. It is incredible to think that we are in a position where the fans will sing and dance back to us. Even the real obvious one like ‘Tragedy’ where we can see it all from the stage, it is really humbling because there are not really many people in the grand scheme of people that will ever experience something like that. To see 25,000 people at Hoopla all singing the songs back to us and doing the dance moves, it is just truly amazing. When I see it now it makes me really humble and grateful to be where we are now. H, unfortunately there are no N.I or Irish gigs, any plans to come back over ? We would would love to travel to every base, but we are limited. There are only so many summer festivals - we would have loved to to the last two places but obviously because of the pandemic we can’t physically do everything. We sacrificed ALOT to get that tour on the road and I think I will pat all of our backs and say “We did a bloody good job of keeping it together as much as we did”. I would like to say sorry to those people that haven’t been able to see us, but believe me we have tried. Lisa: People want us to go to them but we are travelling miles and miles to get to each and every individual place and we would really, really love to go everywhere and please everyone, but we are working our hardest to make things happen. If the opportunity arises, absolutely, we will grab it. It’s not just down to the five of us, we’ve got a big team, our production company, so I think people think it’s our choice, but there is so much to think about. We would love to go to every town, however the decision doesn’t always lie with us.I don’t want fans to think that we don’t care and we don’t want to be there, we really, really do. Claire: We would love to go back to NI and Ireland. Obviously we did Belfast on the Arena tour and we didn’t do Dublin because when the US was rescheduled we couldn’t fit it in. But we always love coming to see you guys and it is just the way things fall. We don’t organise them, but if it was down to us we would be there like a shot this summer. Its no secret that the gays love you, so much so that you are the only ones to have been featured on the GNI Cover 3 times - where does this love come from? H: We pride ourselves in being absolutely authentic and we are not afraid to be anything that we are not. We are unashamedly pure pop. The LGBTQ+ community are such a popular culture barometer - they have their fingers on the pulse. They have

been with us from the start and we always say that Steps is a safe place, and in today’s day and age we need that more than ever. Come to the Steps show and live your best life. It doesn’t matter how you identify, what gender, what ability - you come and put a tutu on your head and have a ball. Lee: I think it all goes back to when we first started. We were something different and true to who we were and we weren’t hiding anything. We ere unashamedly pop and we were and still are proud to be that. Let’s be honest, you either liked us or didn’t, but we never changed, we just stuck to what we did best. We like to wear the bright colours, we like to make people happy, it doesn’t matter what race, religion or sexuality anyone is, that’s not part of it for us. People are people and we like everybody for who they are. I’ve always said if you are a nice person I will like you. That’s it, that’s all that matters. If you are not nice then go away, Lol, it’s as simple as that. We’ve heard so many stories over the 25 years that people have ‘come out’ to our music and it has helped them be true to who they really are. It’s an honour and it is amazing that that has happened and if people can find something in our band, in us as people, in our music or the whole package then that is what is important. When we go on tour we just want to put on a party and make people happy. Claire we are always hearing your name on the masked singer - do you watch the show and would you very go on ? Claire: I don’t know. I have never been asked but I do watch it and guess. That is the only time I ever get on Twitter so I don’t know I think it would mess up my guessing game. I think you would be very good at disguising your voice? Claire: Other people have said to me that my voice is too recognisable but I don’t really get that. It’s like with anything, if you know a voice, you know it, if you don’t you don’t. Lee: If you ever did it just make sure they give you hard clues. I know what it is like to sing in one of those masks and it is hard because I did the tour version of it. Some of the clues that they put out on the stage were just so obvious for a Steps member. Let’s be honest people wouldn’t really recognise my voice if I am singing a different type of song but as soon as you get the clues and you hear a deep voice, you know it’s not a girl, you know it’s someone from Steps so it kind of ruins it. I just think, disguise your voice slightly, make the clues hard and then you’re probably laughing. H, when we last chatted you were about to start Dancing on Ice - you did amazingly , have you remained friends with Matt and have you continued


to ice skate? Yes, of course. We shared a very special journey together and Matt is in and out of the country for work. Every Saturday morning I actually go ice skating with my kids now. It’s lovely to able to skate for fun now rather than have to learn a new routine. Kids are fearless and one of the factors is that they don’t have so far to fall. So the answer is yes and yes. You have been shortlisted for a British LGBTQ Award - in your category is Dua Lipa, Little Nas X, Sam Smith, Will Young and others - will any of you be attending - 24th June? That’s really lovely. I don’t think we knew about that one. We will get a dress ready, just in case… Lisa and Faye, you have both got teenagers. What do your teens think of seeing their parents on stage? Lisa: I have got a 12-year-old daughter and my son is 14, so I’ve got one teenager and one that is approaching “teenhood”. To be honest, they are both big fans of Steps and are singers and dancers themselves. In fact one of them is in a show currently in the UK, so this is what they want to do. Thankfully, they love what we do and are massive fans. According to my daughter Star Lily, Steps are the best band in the world. So we’ll take that… Faye: Well my 13-year-old Benjamin is very appreciative and he is very proud of what his mummy does. However, he is really shy and I think he finds it all a bit overwhelming to have me as his mum. So he comes along to the concerts and has a lovely time, but I don’t think he would put Steps on his music playlist. I think he feels a little bit awkward because his friends now google us and he thinks that is just weird. Claire: They love it when they are at the gigs, but they have never been to a performance with their friends so I don’t know if they would cringe then. I think Daisy would be fine because it’s right up her street as there is lots of glitter and costumes and it is all girly. Sorry, not girly, Lee’s not girly obviously, Lol. It’s difficult, they don’t ever visibly cringe around me, but they do love to come to see Steps. H: I remember doing the school run with you (Faye) a few years back, and Benjamin thought it was the uncoolest thing ever! Faye: He does love Steps aunties and uncles and he really appreciates what we do. He loves the fact that I enjoy my job, but he can feel embarrassed by it. Lee you are the latest of the band to become a parent, your son will be 1 next month - how have you found parenthood and have the rest of the guys been offer-

ing much advice? My son will be one on 23rd July which is quite scary. I think I have adapted to parenthood quite well. I have kind of surprised myself, don’t get me wrong it is tough and hard but I have got an amazing wife who does a hell of alot. She does alot with him, around him and for him but also there’s a lot of supporting me to be able to work with Steps as I am away at certain times. I was recently away for two weeks, so I would leave in the morning, get home at night and he would be in bed asleep, so I have done nothing regarding him or them. It’s those things that some people don’t think about, however my partner is very supportive. As a person though my son is great. He tries to stand up, touches everything and is borderline to taking his first little steps. Every time I don’t see him for a few hours he has got a new bruise on his head because he is just crashing down into everything. It’s tough but it is wonderful at the same time. We got a few fan questions in… Simon Hylands asks Faye - If you could release one album track as a single what would it be? I think it’s a band favourite, it has to be ‘Love You More’ - it’s just such a tune. I absolutely love that one. H: I love ‘Happy’ and Firefly’ from Tears on the Dancefloor. Gary Alan asks Lisa what’s your worst fashion disaster over your 25 years career? I’m afraid we’ve got to go now, LOL… It has to be my blue pipe cleaners - that was my Ugly Betty stage when we filmed Stomp. But do you know it inspired so many others to get braces so I will own that. It’s not easy to have braces as an adult, it takes a bit of guts. Darwin Evans wants to know if you have 1 particular fan that has made an impact and why? H you can take that on... We have incredible fans that literally follow us around the country. I am going to say there is a Scottish fan who is always there and her name is Laura McKenna . We did the Jubilee and she was there and she knows our schedule. But there are so many people that represent different parts of the community as well, we always say that we have an ‘Open Door’ policy. I love that we meet fans that our unashamedly themselves and they come with bright pink hair, however they choose to identify on that particular day. It blows my mind that these people are so confident and feel that they are accepted and loved in our safe place. That’s what I love about Steps.

or outside of music? I think like Lee said, having any kind of longevity in a career is really what we all want. When it comes to music it is being able to still sell tickets and albums. For me, as long as there is an audience that want to see us then I feel like we have achieved more than we ever expected to. There are plenty of ‘Pie in the Sky’ things that we would like to happen but if those things haven’t happened by now they are never going to. I feel quite grateful and thankful that we are where we are. Lee - Andrew Molloy wants to know what has been your personal highlight so far? We always say winning a Brit award is amazing, I think it is actually still being here as we never thought we would still be here 25 years on. We have all got very different lives now, and especially me, I can now share this with my own family which is wonderful. I am so grateful and thankful to everybody who has supported us and given us the opportunity to still be here. We can win every award in the world but nothing can really take that away. Lee - Michael Murray wants to know what your fav video was to shoot and why? There’s quite a few, it’s difficult to put one as a favourite. The iconic video is ‘Deeper Shade of Blue’ and I think it changed a lot of people’s opinions about us and it made them look at us differently. It was also really fun to do. On a personal level, being an actor and a martial artist, when we did ‘After The Love Is Gone’ and we went to Orlando Studios it was very much like being on a film set. We worked with loads extras and stunt guys and I got to show off some of my skills as well. ‘It’s The Way You Make Me Feel’ was also great, dressing up with the whole Bridgerton theme, there are just so many. Louise Fahay asks Claire if you would remix and ballad and put a steps spin on it what it be? It’s no secret, I do love a ballad. I wonder if there is a Carpenter’s song that we could do, I absolutely love Karen Carpenter, she is my idol. There are a lot of track and harmonies in their songs so maybe, you never know…

Claire - Michael Baird wants to know if there is anything else you as a band want to achieve either in GNI MAG [11]


@demetriosbride |

Shi ne y our a b s o l u te b ri g h te s t!



This one is going to be a bit of self-promotion. As some of you may know I work for Paula Bradshaw, the Alliance Party MLA for South Belfast, in her constituency off ice. I always tell people that I have the best job in politics because essentially, I get to work on the issues which really matter to those people, which are two of my biggest passions in life.

After nearly a decade working in the community and voluntary sector supporting people facing homelessness and addiction I began working as the party’s constituency officer in South Belfast. This went hand in hand with my LGBTQ activism and my passion for helping people.

Equality isn’t just about having equal representation under the law, it’s about inclusion in all aspects of life. We can’t make decisions on shared housing schemes, education, health provisions, and not discuss the role of our community.

In my last article I wrote about the potential for the recent Assembly election to be a game changer for Northern Ireland, and what a game changer it was. Alliance have grown considerably to 17 seats, an increase of nine seats from the previous Assembly election in 2017.

Women make up more than 50% of the population, yet we have zero openly LGBTQ women elected in Northern Ireland, on any level of government.

As many of our new MLAs were previously Councillors, we were then faced with having to replace those who got elected to the Assembly. In South Belfast we did something that very few thought possible, when we elected two Alliance MLAs. Our incumbent MLA Paula Bradshaw, who has been a great ally in the Assembly chamber, fighting for better access to healthcare for our community and delivering the public petition to ban “conversion therapy” to the Speaker in 2020, and the outgoing Lord Mayor of Belfast, Kate Nicholl. Kate has been such a breath of fresh air in her role as Lord Mayor. She has set the bar of what we should expect from a Lord Mayor - someone who is kind and willing to reach out to people, someone who actively gave a voice to those who are usually ignored in mainstream politics, and someone who is well respected and liked by people from all parties. The party now had to decide who would take over from Kate as the Councillor for the Balmoral DEA in South Belfast, and it makes me incredibly happy, and really rather nervous, that I’ve been selected by the party to step in and become the new Councillor for Balmoral in Belfast City Councillor, the very first openly LGBTQ Alliance Party Councillor in Belfast. Representation is so important. When LGBTQ people make up roughly 10% of the population, it really is a shame that in Belfast we make up just 6% of Belfast City Council, only 3.3% of the NI Assembly, and all three openly LGBTQ MLAs are Alliance MLA. I really want to use this opportunity, along with my openly LGBTQ colleagues on Belfast City Council, to make Belfast an LGBTQ inclusive city, and we can only do that by having members of our community in decision making positions within our city.

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Personally, this is something I feel really strongly about, I come from a party of very strong women, women such as Naomi Long, Sorcha Eastwood, Nuala McAllister, Connie Egan, and obviously Paula Bradshaw and Kate Nicholl, and it’s unfortunately that we done have a single openly LGBTQ elected women or trans & non-binary people. This is going to be a focus for me personally, as chair of Alliance LGBTQ+ and a Councillor for the party. So, if you’re reading this and it speaks to you, hit me up! At our recent party council meeting we discussed the abuse of political reps online, something that Naomi, as Justice Minister, has been trying to combat. During the recent Assembly election, we witnessed a series of vile social media abuse directed towards candidates, particularly female and LGBTQ candidates. If we want to ensure that our politicians are representative of the society that they represent, we need to ensure that they do not face the kind of abuse which puts capable potential candidates off. LGBTQ politicians should face challenges on their political views, not on their sexuality or gender identity. You can follow me on social media: Twitter @micky_murray Facebook Micky Murray – Alliance Party Instagram @micky.p.murray

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


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LIAM GALLAGHER SHARES IF OASIS WILL GET BACK TOGETHER, CALLS KANYE WEST A F****** WEIRDO AND REVEALS WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED IN HIS FIGHT WITH IDRIS ELBA Credit: LADbible EXCLUSIVE: Today, Liam Gallagher faced some juicy questions from LADbible in an interactive interview ‘Ask the Audience’. If Oasis would get back together: See, I don’t mind getting asked that, ‘cause it’s natural. You know what I mean? I like talking about Oasis ‘cause it’s the best band in the world. So they’re wrong again, man. What, getting back together? Not this week, but I mean, I’m ready to go. My bags are packed. Maybe the week after. On Liam’s brawl with Idris Elba: No, I would be. I’d be better than f**king Idris Elba anyway. I did, yeah. And I was like that, I didn’t even know who it was, everyone’s going, “Do you know who that is?” I was like that, no. F**king idiot messing me hair up and then I went over, grabbed his bobble hat and booted it down the f**king... And then it all got a bit naughty and all that. But I think we’ve apologised since then and all that tackle, and it was just the drunken thing and all that. But it is what it is. Don’t f**king mess with people’s haircut and then we won’t boot your f**king bobble hat down the road. LADbible asked if would do Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here: Right, it’s gotta be the jungle, hasn’t it? Gotta be. They’d love to see me in that, squirming, eating f**king frogs, f**king balls and s**t. Know what I mean? But, no, no, I’m a s**tbag when it comes to spiders and stuff like that, man. Nah, not a chance. They wouldn’t have the money. They haven’t got the budget to get me in there. I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t do it. I’d rather just walk the streets and beg, you know what I mean, if I needed the money, you know what I mean? I wouldn’t do it. No, I’m not into creepy-crawlies and that. I’d probably do the Celebrity one, you know what I mean? I guess. So they’re right. Cause I’m not doing f**king... I’m not entertaining this Bake Off nonsense.

Agüero. Kevin De Bruyne. Yaya Touré. Silva. Mike Summerbee from the past and that, there’s loads. But now that these, within the modern days, I would go Agüero. Kevin de Bruyne. Yeah, mega. Sergio. Okay. Vincent Kompany. Ah, I forgot about Vincent, but no. I mean, Sergio Agüero I think, for me. When asked about Sir Alex Ferguson: At the end of the day, Ferguson’s a top manager, you know what I mean? I’d like to go with him this weekend and f**king rub it in his face, but at the end of the day, they’ve won loads, haven’t they? So I’m sure he’d have us back.

What Liam would do as Prime Minister: But anyone’d do a better job than the dude that’s in there now. So I think they’re wrong, man. I’d f**king have to just put a law in and just gaffer tape Scousers’ mouths, just like that. And then I’d also write ‘champions’ across... And what else would there be? And then Man United fans followed quickly second in that. Well, I’m not getting political and that, but voting for governments, just... I would, if I was prime minister, I’d ban all governments and just let people use their common f**king sense. You know what I mean? We don’t need governments telling us what to do. On favourite Oasis song: My favourite, I think it’s Live Forever. I mean, I like ‘em all, but Live Forever is a bit sentimental and that. Let’s see, right. Wonderwall? Did they say Wonderwall? F**king hell, what’s up with them? [Becky] I don’t know. Wonderwall? I mean, it’s alright and that. No, it’s not, are they taking the p**s? That used to do my head in, that tune. I’ve only started to come around to it again as I’ve got older. But nah. Come on, LADbible.

Liam revealed his favourite Manchester City player of all time: For me, obviously in the modern era, it’s

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Connor Mills First and foremost, happy pride month! This is the month in the year where I always feel I can lift my head a little higher and make my steps a little lighter, where I like to take the time to learn more about the beautiful community I belong too and to take the time out to celebrate the beautiful queer parts of me, maybe not so much the part of me that assumes I can do every D.I.Y project I set my mind too as the many off centre shelves in my home will attest too but the loud, rainbow busting, awkwardly dancing, openly loving parts of me that spill out with no want to stop them. This is what pride month means for me and for everyone it looks a little different but no one way is right and no one way is wrong, but I feel for most this is a great time to look at the path you’ve carved out for yourself being unapologetically you and embrace the mess, embrace the glitter and stand in the spotlight! There’s a poet I love, Sam Sax, and to me there’s a line of theirs that puts it perfectly “Walk to the Stage like you’ve just bought the bar”.

knots and colours, some clearly designed to bound certain parts others designed to display the subject. It had honestly never occurred to me before about a male being bound in a sexual act and being able to instead of it being a sign of submission but a display of beauty. I started sketch ideas and the more I tried the more I learned about the different forms of BDSM, I honestly can hand on my heart say that I had no idea of all the different kinks that existed. It made me question what was it that I liked, of course there were things visually that were One thing I have learned is that you’ll never learn enough, my curiosity exciting as a creative but then personally, what did I prefer over the about the world around me, a value I cherish, has other, what just caught my breathe a little off led me to discover so many new and beautiful guard. Its from this that I just kept drawing and “Recently someone things and with this even things about myself and developed a series I called “Bound”. A t-shirt and mentioned to me a more specifically about my freedom of expression. print range that explored just a few facets that So, in context, I am usually an open book, in intrigued me and plus lets face it, it’s fun as a viewpoint of shame everything other than anything sexual, to me in gay male to draw beautiful men. I was so nervous that I had never my teens and formative years this was a part of me releasing this series it was a huge departure from considered, guilt, that I would hide, it was exhausting and brought what I had previously made, and I was so worried simple human responses and feelings into an area of expressing this side of me, what will people that’s a human of shame. Recently someone mentioned to me a think, what will people say I would even still response, but shame, get uncomfortable when I showed what I was viewpoint of shame that I had never considered, guilt, that’s a human response, but shame, shames shames man made, as working on to those nearest me, again a product man made, as long as you consider those involved of my own shame. It’s not something that changes long as you consider instantly but I was able to overcome this feeling and never intend harm where does your shame those involved and come from, head or heart. That twisted the and focus on this new and exciting side of me I idea for me of what shame was, was I feeling a was discovering which is something I feel now never intend harm natural response in regard to human connection with pride month I’m carrying on through, I feel where does your or was it something developed and brewed in the free, free to express myself creatively and sexually background of my thoughts. and it’s exciting and it’s new! shame come from,

head or heart.”

So a few months ago I was unwell and from this thinking with the time off I would have from work I would have plenty of time to work on my design business, of course always having to do something, but I was too ill to do any of it, I couldn’t focus and clients work wasn’t coming out as perfect and as I wanted, so I took a break and asked myself, if I wasn’t drawing or illustrating for clients or the clothing brand part of my work what would I draw. I feel like drawing anatomy is always fun and interesting, how it’s never the same and always unique. So I started drawing models I found interesting just practicing to be honest nothing ever too serious. I tried drawing bodies in very dramatic positions, think Florence and the Machine doing interpretive dance and from this found a resource of men tied in these stunning positions with beautiful and intricate GNI MAG [18]

Tranquil Tips: So for this month a tranquil tip would be try and discover something about yourself however that looks, and if your on a path of sexual discovery like myself a newly formed group called Kink NI who plan to put on some new kink events in Northern Ireland could be a great place to start, they have a group called Kink NI on telegram where you can chat and meet like and different minded people or even find out about events by messaging Instagram: connormillsdesign

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


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When did you last play Mrs Johnstone and how is it returning to the show? I last played her in 2012 and returning to it was scary at first. The first time I did it I’d never done a musical or been a part of the theatre world so when [producer] Bill Kenwright called me I think I turned it down four times. I was like ‘No, you’re OK!’ but he persuaded me to audition, and my audition was terrible. But he saw something in me and within a week I was on stage in the Phoenix Theatre. It was such a whirlwind. Since then, I’ve done lots of other roles, mainly funny ones, so to come back to such a dramatic role is very scary but it’s like a dream come true. They’d asked me to come back before but I had to be ready, and now I am. What makes her such an iconic musical theatre role? It’s because of her strength and the emotions you have to go through when you’re on stage. She starts as a young girl in her 20s, then within 20 minutes she’s got seven kids and has to give one away. It’s a big part and it’s a big part for a woman, which is rare at my age. My window is tiny to get a part where you’re on for more than ten minutes. She’s a strong female lead and she’s so real. Every mother in this country can relate to her on some level because of how real she is. Every mother must see something in Mrs Johnstone that they’ve also gone through. I know I can. I’ve got two sons so her Micky and Eddie are my Morgan and Jonah. My kids have had troubles, I’ve had troubles, and the way I look at it is: I don’t have to play her, I just have to be her. Are you discovering new things about her and the show this time round? [Laughs] Yes, she’s not such a feisty tiger as I thought when I first did the show. They used to call me ‘The Feisty Tiger Mrs Johnstone’. I come from a family of four, we grew up on a council estate, we had no money, I used to go to school in jelly shoes even in November, and my mum was a tough cookie. You didn’t mess with her and that’s how I thought Mrs J. was or at least that she was how I was, like ‘Don’t mess with my kids or I’ll come at you with a baseball bat’. But now I’m older I’ve mellowed. I’m 50 now and I’m not so bouncy as I was ten years ago, so my take on her is much more grounded.

She’s stronger without being quite so feisty. It’s such an emotional rollercoaster for the audience. Is it the same for you as a performer? It is, yes. There are a couple of parts in the show, without giving spoilers, where it rips me to shreds. I do it as though someone is about to take one of my children and I can’t hold back. I have to feel it every time I do it. Does live theatre feel more important than ever, given what everyone has been through over the past couple of years? I did two shows post-lockdown, namely Girls Just Wanna Have Fun on tour and the panto Peter Pan at the Wycombe Swan before going straight into Blood Brothers after just two days off. That first time I got back on stage I was petrified because I hadn’t done it for two years and had to open myself up again to people watching me. All your insecurities come back and you’re like ‘Am I good enough? Can I still do this?’ But the feedback from the audience, the love and the warmth - I can’t tell you what it means and how it feels. How did you keep busy during lockdown? I worked in a factory packing boxes for Amazon because I didn’t want to lose my house. I’m a working mum and I have to pay bills. Then when theatre came back it was just amazing. People told me ‘This is just what we needed’ and recently I was talking with a bunch of students in a theatre cafe who saw Blood Brothers and loved it. That enthusiasm is something you can’t buy. To have young people go ‘You were so real, we were so engrossed’ is priceless. To know that you’re not just reaching older people but young kids as well makes me so emotional. What’s also interesting to me is how men in the audience react to Blood Brothers. When I look out into the auditorium it’s the men who have their heads down because they can’t watch. It’s always the men who say ‘I don’t like musicals, she’s dragged me along, but oh my God I’m coming back to see this again’. Was performing something you always wanted to do? Singing was always my passion as soon as I could open my mouth. It’s like breathing to me, it’s so natural for me to do, but the actual performing scares the pants off me. I was al-

ways happy as a backing singer or in the studio where nobody is looking at me. I know that sounds really weird but when I’m out there I have to forget there’s people watching because it’s terrifying. You made the top four on X Factor in 2007. How did doing that show change your life? Completely. It’s given me a career I didn’t think I was capable of, although it did eventually break up my marriage because I was never there. My life since X Factor couldn’t be more different. My kids didn’t even know I sang because I’d given it up. So much has happened in the past 15 years career-wise and I’ve got a partner and I’m getting married soon, which is very exciting. You’ve done lots of musical theatre. Apart from Blood Brothers, what have been your other favourite jobs? There’s loads and I’ve loved every character I’ve played but if I had to pick one it would be Paulette in Legally Blonde. To go from playing Mrs Johnstone to Paulette in just two weeks was brilliant because it was such a contrast. I’ve never laughed and smiled so much as I have doing the bend and snap. It was the first time I realised I could make people laugh as well as cry. Singing at Windsor Castle for the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations must have been another highlight? [Laughs] I thought they were taking the Mick at first! I thought my mates had set some posh bloke up to call me and I kept putting the phone down. Then when I realised it was real I was like, ‘Oh my days!’ and I cannot tell you what an honour and a privilege it was. I’d never sung with an orchestra before and my heart thumped when I went on. I know the Royals are going through hard times but I speak as I find and they were lovely to me, although I was so nervous when I met The Queen I called her ‘Your Honour’ instead of ‘Your Highness’.

Blood Brothers is at The Grand Opera House from Tuesday 2nd - Saturday 13th August 2022. Tickets available from

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Hey Beauts!! Welcome to the beautiful month of June, which is not just the start of Pride Season around the World, but it’s also my Birthday month. I’m gonna be 39 and this year will be my 23rd or 24th year at Belfast Pride and that’s been some journey in itself. From going as just a punter, supporter and as a curious person, to now performing in different venues over the Pride Weekend of 2022. Everything I wanted and more. Come join me for the ride :) :) Pride So I would have been around 16/17 when I went to my 1st Pride here in Belfast and although it was extremely small, I knew watching those brave people in that moment that I was watching something pretty cool and open minded. And for living in such a backwards country like Northern Ireland, that was even the rhetoric that was fed to us in the streets, also by friends & family. The one thing I always remember, the Music.

Lambert and when I say it was an experience, I really mean that. Of course no one will ever take over Freddie Mercury, but wow does Adam Lambert have the voice and the flair to carry on this amazing band and their music. Originally Hayley was supposed to go but due to amazing work commitments in London, she kindly gifted the ticket to my Mummy, who was the perfect date as she really introduced me to Queen as a child.

I was lucky that I had a Mummy that was quite open minded in that aspect and although nothing was ever pushed, I was allowed to watch and listen to content that I would consider “open minded”, maybe even revolutionary in my eyes. Like movies and music, it almost feels like it’s all we had in the 80’s and 90’s, which is true I guess but they were such an integral part of my growing up and discovery of what queer people sounded and looked like, or could sound and look like.

Speaking of Queen, I got to do my amazing mix at the Eclectic Love Festival at The Titanic Slipways and what a day and evening. I would like to thank Harry O’Lorcain and his team for the fantastic opportunity and amazing experience, also everyone who performed and who was involved on the day. There’s a wee pic of me being a legend photo credit Aaron Aiken.

Whether it be watching my parents go through their record collections, playing amazing music while discussing the album covers and sometimes the lyrics (depending on how explicit haha), musically I was very blessed to be able to hear and listen to good music without prejudice, often Queer Music. Then the music videos that open up the visionary and you’re able to see the different types of people in all different forms. With music comes Queer Culture, and with Queer Culture comes confusion, uncertainty and fear in real life, but music is always a gate way to feelings and expressing yourself. I believe that I developed my love and ear for music, both musically and vocally through those experiences and it’s why I link Queer Culture with music. Most, if not all queer people find solice in music, whether that be for sad times, happy times and just times to dance but for me personally, this is my love letter to my Mummy. “Mummy, thank you for helping guide me through this new and fabulous queer journey that I’m on and for loving and supporting myself, Carl and of course my relationship and most of all, for my taste and talent in music. You can shake it, but you can’t really sing haha but without your genes and your influence, I wouldn’t be who I am today and just thank you for that because I can have PRIDE in myself, all because of the way you love and support me. Love you lots like jelly tots” Movies & Music <3 <3 PRIDE = LOVE LOVE = PRIDE <3 <3 So recently I had the absolute honour and privilege of going to see Queen with Adam GNI MAG [22]

Upcoming Gigs & Events Soon we’ll be off to Glasgow for Alanis Morissette and my Birthday, then Lady Gaga in Paris for Hayley’s Birthday in July. Honestly could not be happier that these concerts are happening on our Birthdays. Meant to be :) :) Belfast Pride is fast approaching and here’s where you can catch me Thursday 28th - @ Libertine - Lady Gaga Tribute Perfect Illusion Friday 29th - @ Libertine - The Rock Garden Party Saturday 30th (Day) - @Pride Main Stage Saturday 30th (Night) - @Harland & Poof at The Belfast Telegraph Also, don’t forget to get your tickets for Drag Fest Ireland at The Waterfront Hall on August 27th. This is a show that you DO NOT WANT TO MISS. Get your tickets at OUTRO I hope to see your beautiful faces in the crowd over Pride and I want to wish every single one of you a wonderful and safe Pride. Remember to love yourself and always be proud, you are your own destiny. In the words of King; “That’s what my heart yearns for now. Love & Pride!!” Carl ConnieLingus Drag King Extraordinaire Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.

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I want to take a moment and wish you all a very Happy Pride season 2022! This year more than ever, I hope that you are all able to present yourself as you feel and be comfortable within our community to be yourself unapologetically.

Pride As a Drag artist the significance of celebrating Pride this year is more important than ever for me with the shocking rise in targeted posts and articles in the media questioning the appropriateness of Drag performers being booked at events where minors are in attendance. Recently in the states a Republican State Legislator in Texas has proposed to file a Bill to “ban all drag shows and other inappropriate displays” in the presence of minors. If successful this would include banning Drag story time, or sending queens into schools to promote diversity and inclusion, both of which many local queens in Northern Ireland have facilitated over the years. A Bill like this would set a scary precedent and its message wouldn’t be long in reaching our shores. Locally the ramifications of such a bill could mean that queens might not be able to perform at future pride celebrations where minors are present or even prevent a drag performer from being booked at local community events such as street or birthday parties. The message seems to be that Drag is not an art form that should be tolerated around minors and that expressing yourself if you are different from the norm is wrong. This actually was the case in Belfast recently where a local performer Onya Becks was targeted and harassed on social media this month for attending an event celebrating the Queens Jubilee where she was being paid to perform, all because there were minors present. It’s very sad to see the art of drag targeted and used as a scape goat to detract from other more serious issues that are not being dealt with such as gun crime in the states or the fact that we do not have a sitting assembly at present in Northern Ireland to help govern our country. The artform of drag has always been political GNI MAG [24]

and culturally important and this Pride season I will be celebrating this in its fullest. Happy Pride xo Moving on from that….. Summer is officially here people!! This is not a drill! I absolutely love the summer months, everyone seems to come alive, with their Instagram feeds/stories full of brunches, drinks with friends and vibrant parties both locally and abroad. The longer nights and better weather give us an excuse to let our hair down and enjoy ourselves a bit more. This year however, I feel that there is increased significance on enjoying every minute. We’ve made it through a tough few years with COVID where we couldn’t go out or spend time with our friends swinging our diddies to Dua Lipa on the dance floor. But all that seems like a distant memory. This summer we are BACK and not taking any prisoners. The past few months have been a whirlwind for Tailor and I’m excited to share what I’ve been up to with you all. Drag Fest Ibiza Back in early May, I was approached to perform as part of Drag Fest Ibiza with Klub Kids UK. Just to put this into perspective, Klub Kids organise some of the biggest drag shows in the UK and internationally, to say I was buzzing was a huge understatement. As one of only 2 Northern Irish queens in attendance, It was such a pinch me moment to be asked to be part of the 2 day event performing alongside some of the best drag talent in the world, with a roster of queens that would leave you gagging. Willam, Detox, Crystal Methyd, Jujubee and Envy Peru were all in attendance at the iconic Ibiza Rocks Hotel as well as countless more amazing drag artists from the UK, states and Europe. It was such an amazing experience and one that I will never forget. Performing in


another country beside queens I look up to was incredible, but to be honest it felt right and exactly what I want to be doing. Drag Fest Ibiza will be back next year and I can’t wait to be a part of it already.

To round up the show we even got to join Priyanka for her iconic lip sync performance of I drove all night by Celine Dion which was amazing. If you have seen Drag Race Canada you know how EPIC this was…

Cruz 101 Following quick on the heels of the Ibiza trip, I was booked to perform in Cruz 101 in Manchester, as part of their Queen Jubilee celebrations on Friday 3rd June. To be honest with you and being in no way dramatic, once I received the artwork for social media posts I nearly passed out with excitement. I have been going to Cruz 101 since I was 21, and never did I think when I started performing last August that In 10 months’ time I would be on a flyer performing in Manchester in that very club that I stumbled out of many a Sunday morning in my 20s. I was super nervous, but put together a set of track that I knew would go down a storm in the venue. The local Manchester queens Barb and Narcissa made me feel so welcome and right at home. The show didn’t start until 2am and we had an absolute ball. It was honestly the best night, and hopefully I will be back very soon. (Watch this Space)

When the show ended Priyanka was super sweet, she stayed behind to get photos and have conversations with everyone in the audience which I thought was amazing.

Priyanka In late April rehearsals started for the next BIG DFIU show. I was so excited when we announced that we would be bringing the winner of Canada’s Drag Race season 1 Priyanka and her Taste Test show to Belfast’s Europa Hotel on the 30th of May 2022. I found out about the show in early February and I was so excited to get cracking with putting the show together as Priyanka is one of my favourite international queens. As usual we had weeks of rehearsals to get everything ready for show day ending up with a full choreographed show with local drag talent Fierce Injection, Chrissy Toxicity, myself and our amazing DFIU Dancers. Show day was stressful with a lot going wrong, with delayed flights and missing luggage but hey that’s show business right? Everything worked out in the end. Priyanka went down a storm, she sung her entire set live and was aided by 2 fabulous dancers and her costumes were absolutely stunning.

Reflecting on this show, I have to say that even with some stress on the day, it was definitely my favourite show to date. The audience, cast and back stage team were all fantastic. I feel that with each show I am able to elevate my artistry and push Tailor’s performances to new and exciting places and I’m really enjoying every minute of it. If you haven’t heard yet DFIU Events are bringing Victoria Scone star of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Season 3 to Belfast on Sunday 24th July for afternoon Tea Join myself, Fierce Injection and Sabrina Bwitched for an afternoon of fun and tea time frolics. Get your tickets at:

for which dates I’ll be doing. @totally.tailor

Where can you find me? If you want to catch me on a night out, I will be preforming in Libertine, Maverick and Union Street over the next month in Belfast with more dates to be added. Check out my Instagram

Have a safe and happy pride everyone! Xoxo Tailor 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.

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Years Years

You had written almost a full album of tracks which you then abandoned to write what became Night Call. What happened there? “I make music in a very one step at a time process until I feel like I have any idea what it’s going to look like as a whole, as it can be really confusing. I didn’t really know what kind of album I wanted to make, until I realised that I didn’t want the songs that I had. As soon as the pandemic happened, I had a lot of time to think about things and the main thing that came up was “I’ve got to start again.” From that point I just started to build up songs again. I really missed going out and seeing people, but the thing that made me feel good was listening to dance music. I’ve always loved it and Years And Years used to make it, so I just thought ‘I’m going to go back to that!’” The album is full of hedonistic, fantasy escapism. Did that come directly from being in the middle of lockdown and stuck in the house? “That’s 100% what it was! I wanted to create something that was going to be a fun ride. I’ve constantly been writing songs about love, sex or intimacy, but they all became relevant in this bee way when we weren’t allowed to touch other people. That really drew me to writing songs about connection and the lack of it, which then became set in this kind of fantasy night out.”

It feels that this time around you are embodying characters in your songs much more. Did that give you the freedom to explore more things? “It’s a funny process making music and being a singer, as when I listen to my voice on old records, I just hear how much I’ve changed. Even if you affect it or put on a character, something of you always comes through. I felt like Night Call was my opportunity to let it all out. I’ve not held back as such before, but I’ve never really got to a place where I felt free enough to really let loose, just have fun and push it. I’ve always been inspired by people like Prince, Stevie Wonder and Sylvester, those singers who’s voices were so embodied and full of character.” When you were writing Night Call, we’re you conscious that It’s A Sin coming out was going to put more eyes on you and the album when it would be released? “I was very conscious of it. You always know something like that will be a big deal, as it’s Russell T. Davies, it’s on Channel Four etc, but I didn’t realise just what that meant until it got closer, as it got a better slot than initially planned and the buzz about it just went crazy. It completely surpassed everybody’s expectations anyway. From our side, we were then like ‘F**k, we need to get some music out!’ as I hadn’t done anything for a couple of years, so it made sense. But between one thing and another, I just wasn’t ready and didn’t want to rush anything. I did put Starstruck out eventually, but it was a bit late for all that. It just felt like a lot of pressure in that moment, so I didn’t want to rush anything out purely for the sake of it. It’s a hard balance. I felt Starstruck was a good one, as the message and feeling was so uplifting and positive though.” The live shows have always been a huge part of everything Years And Years are about. It must have been a huge lurch to have all that taken away so suddenly and GNI MAG [26]

for so long due to the pandemic? “I remember thinking at the start of the pandemic we were lucky as we didn’t have any shows booked that we were going to have to cancel or postpone, as most artists were having to do that, but I naively thought by the end of 2020 we’d be back to having live music again. Then as it went on I started to realise the magnitude of it, so the prospect of possibly never being able to do a show again made me really sad, as it would be taking away a really big part of me. I love it so much and it’s really special to me. I’m so excited to be able to do it again, as it’s always exciting. Playing live? Are you kidding me? It’s literally the best thing, like the best experience a human being can have, just sharing that with people. It’s transcendent. That’s how I’ve always felt, so to come back to it after everything that’s happened, I have a new appreciation for it all, so I’m so determined to put on an amazing show that will just blow people away. So I’ve just put everything I can into putting on a Night Call spectacle.” You’ve also got a string of festival dates lined up too. How different is it playing those kind of gigs as opposed to your own headline shows? “It’s a totally different vibe, as it’s not your home audience, so there’s lots of people there who aren’t there to see you specifically. I absolutely love that though, as even if you aren’t a Years And Years fan, I promise you that you’ll enjoy the show, as it’s just a good time. We always get that experience at festivals where you start with your own audience and by the end of your set there’s so many more people there, all really getting into it. It’s the best feeling in the world.” It’s A Sin has been such a huge hit and impacted so many people’s lives. What’s it like to look back on and how much of an impact had it had on you personally? “It’s been so present in my life since it came out for the whole year. I kind of feel like it’ll be like that for the rest of my life now, too. The intensity has died down, but it meant so much to not just myself and all of us involved in it, but to everyone who watched it too, it just feels like it’s never going to go away. It’s resonated with so many people in such an emotional and deep way, so when they come up to me and tell me how it’s affected them, it’s such an honour for me to bear witness to them sharing that. It really opened up a really difficult area for so many people, some who have been wanting to speak about it for a long time and haven’t been able to, some who knew nothing about it and lots more besides. There’s so many different ways it continues to have this legacy, plus the show itself is part of a much greater legacy of queer people resisting and making work about the AIDS crisis, plus obviously it’s Russell T. Davies, who is an absolute genius. I still can’t believe it, to be honest. This is the best show and the best project of all time and I’m in it! I’m being quite ridiculous here, but it’s kind of how I feel. I’m so lucky to have got to do it, as I loved it so much.” Do you have any plans for where you want to take yourself next career-wise? “You can’t really plan for anything now can you? Apart from knowing things will change. I want to make more music, surprisingly enough. Just try to have a good time and see what happens, that’s all I really need!”


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THE ROLE OF MEN IN FOSTERING Fostering, and caring for children and young people, can wrongly be perceived as a woman’s role. Not only can men be foster carers, but their role in a fostering household can be an extremely important one. MEN WHO FOSTER One myth that we hear time and again is that to create a family, foster carers need to be a heterosexual married couple. And that the man’s role is one on the periphery, offering support, only when needed. This is false. Every family is different. Families come in all different shapes and sizes. It can consist of one person, or a houseful of people. To foster, and to create a family for a vulnerable young person, men can play varying roles. Men may foster as a single carer, or jointly in a same-sex couple, part of a civil partnership, married or living with a partner. WHY MEN ARE IMPORTANT IN FOSTERING Male foster carers are often a young person in care’s first positive male role model. The impact of this can GNI MAG [30]

not be underestimated. A male foster carer, who is a loving and stable presence, can give a child the chance to build trusting relationships with men. This early experience can be vital in shaping that young person’s future interactions - with men, or as men - as they grow older and ultimately make their own way into the world. Mark, a single male foster carer, said: “Many of the boys in my care have missed out on having a male figure present throughout their lives. But they value that commitment so much. “I would say to any guy, give it a try. Set aside all the perceptions and preconceived ideas that you have and just give it a go. You’ve got nothing to lose by trying, but you’ve everything to gain.” MEN FOSTERING WITH ACTION FOR CHILDREN At Action for Children, we support all types of foster carers, such as single male foster carers, as well as men who are the primary carer in their fostering household. Time and again we have had the opportunity to witness that men and women can embody the

core skills of a foster carer, such as an ability to love, to show empathy and compassion, resilience and stickability. There is no one-size-fits-all foster carer. Each of our children are unique and have a different set of needs. And so, we need carers from all walks of life, men as well as women, of all ages and from different backgrounds. When you apply to foster with Action for Children, we assess the individual. We look at you as a person and explore the skills and experience that you have to support a child or young person. Every family is different. But the one thing they should have in common is love. If you have space in your life – and your heart – to offer a child or young person a safe and loving home, we would love to hear from you. Call 028 9046 0500, email fostercareni@ or visit uk/fostering

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.


How to lose 15 years PART TWO

With the latest at home technology & Products from CurrentBody The Beauty Device Experts. By Gary Campion GNI MAG [32]

FEATURE FIFTEEN YEARS YOUNGER PART TWO As promised in the previous issue I

baby like thinning hair, you

paste. Unlike other harmful strips

ing the 4 products given to me from

I really started to notice

Peroxide to bring up your natural

am checking in 2 months after usCurrentBoday as part of my tried

and tested review to try and lose 15

years. I am actually wearing / using

the iGrow Laser Hair Rejuvenation System as I type this and yes it is

that easy to get on with things while wearing this for 25minutes every other day.

I am picking up my review from

having recently done a blog piece on my first impressions of the products on the GNI website and shared to our social media platforms, take a read at that if you have a minute. I figure the best way to approach this 2 months review is to talk

about each product individually. my experiences, opinions and results

thus far, so without further adieu see below:

iGrow Laser Hair Rejuvenation System

I use this device for 25 minutes

every other day as per their guid-

ance, I tend to read a book, watch

something on TV or be working at


won’t see instant results but

these only carry enough Hydrogen

that my hair seemed to have

whiteness without leaving any sen-

more volume to it and felt

sitivity that is normally associated

in better condition when

with teeth whitening. I am not a

styling it about 4 weeks in.

coffee / tea drinker nor a smoker so

I am now at 8 weeks minus

my teeth aren’t too stained to start

1 week when I went on my

with but I definitely have noticed

summer holiday, even with

the improvement in colour with

having been away from the

my smile in photos which in turn

system for a week my hair

as part of the bigger plan.

self esteem and confidence when it comes to my hair.

Spotlight Teeth Whitening Pen

little lighter in colour from

for top ups post 14 days whitening

You will notice my hair is a

This handy pocket sized pen is great

my start photos but that is

and in between brushing to help

from a combo of being in

assist with dissolving stains & giv-

the sun and hairdressers

ing longer-lasting results. Like the

toner post holiday not the

strips this is easy to use. You literally

system lol! So far so good,

just paint the gel onto your teeth by

I really can’t wait to see the

final results after 6 months if these early stage results are

twisting the base of the pen, leave it

anything to go by.

CurrentBody Skin LED Light Therapy Mask

I wear this LED mask for 10

minutes everyday, generally in the

evening when winding down for the day. It

takes a few goes to get

able to wear this but I think I have found what works for me.

The LED lights can

be a little bright but

you are provided with

goggles should you find that they are a little

too bright for you, I personally don’t use

them. Unlike the hair

system this works on a

rechargeable USB bat-

my desk for my dayjob while using

tery pack so you can move around

plug it into your music source if you

a socket near a wall. Again as with

would rather do that. The helmet is light and comfortable, you literally

plug it in, choose the programme as per your hair needs and it will work its magic while you get on with

whatever for the time period as per

your selected program. Pre starting to use this system my hair was fine,

in place for 5 minutes and rinse the


is the most comfort-

it, but it does have the option to

more and also look slightly younger

which has really helped my

the hang of which way


has boosted my confidence to smile


still feels fuller and healthier

without having to be plugged into the hair system I just get on with

doing things around the apartment

while wearing it though it is a little bit too bright to watch TV or use your phone / tablet / computer

while wearing it but sure what is 10

minutes out of a standard day when

you think about it. The mask claims

to have clinically proven results after 4 weeks of

gel away with water. I will be using


use, I agree with this

statement 100%!! After 7 weeks of use my skin

tone is more even, fine

and smile lines are well reduced and my skin

looks and feels generally healthier, plumper and younger. As with the


hair system I am really looking forward to the 6 months results. You

will notice the improvements in my start and

results to date photos,

again I am slightly tanned from my holiday not from mask use.

Spotlight Teeth Whitening Strips

I am sure you don’t need me to tell you how to use teeth whitening

strips as it is all a little self explan-

atory. I tend to stick these in when

I am using my hair system and face mask to multi-task. What I would

say is that these aren’t going to give you teeth as white as Rylan off the TV but they do bring your teeth

up to their own natural whiteness and do leave you with a real clean

feeling post use of strips and tooth-

this more now that I have used up my 14 days worth of whitening

strips. It will be interesting to see how long this pen lasts and how

long it keeps my smile brighter and healthier. (Insert pen photos.)

Keep an eye out for my next blog

piece on my 4 month results and the next issue for my final results.

You can find out more about the company & these devices / products on

the website at: www.https://www.

GNI MAG [34]


Here for you

BRAND NEW LGBTQIA MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCACY SERVICE FROM THE RAINBOW PROJECT AND HERENI SUPPORTED BY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH. Over £260,000 has been awarded to the Rainbow Project and HereNI to employ additional staff for their mental health support project. The LGBTQIA+ community before the Covid-19 pandemic already experienced poorer mental health outcomes than the general population, including high rates of selfharming behaviours, suicidal ideation, attempts of suicide and depression. LGBTQIA+ people are at least three times more likely to attempt suicide, two and a half times more likely to self-harm, five times more likely to be medicated for depression and twenty times more likely to suffer from an eating disorder than their heterosexual counterparts.

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During the Covid-19 pandemic and lock-down there has been a considerable rise in LGBTQIA+ lives lost to suicide and an increase of people suffering from suicidal ideations within LGBTQIA+ community. This has led to an increased number of LGBTQIA+ people looking for suicide prevention support and support regarding their mental health and wellbeing Over the past 2 years through the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns the amount of LGBTQIA+ people contacting The Rainbow Project and HERe NI has dramatically increased. For an example the waiting time for Co-Cultural Counselling with the Rainbow Project went from approx. 8 weeks to 6-8 months. The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, although essential to stop the spread of the virus, has had a negative impact on LGBTQIA+ people. Many LGBTQIA+ people suffered from a double lock-down; many LGBTQIA+ people, particularly young people, were compelled to live in homes which were homophobic/ biphobic/transphobic environments, some LGBTQIA+ people were not able to be their true selves as they are not out to family or friends. Many LGBTQIA+ people experienced homophobic/biphobic/transphobic abuse from family members and within their community. From direct engagements with LGBTQAI+ people and with the wider community through the most recent survey ‘The State of Community’ highlighted the number of LGBTQIA+ people who have increased their addictive behaviours or developed them as a coping mechanism. Many LGBTQIA+ people have adopted new patterns of behaviour to manage the stresses and anxieties caused by isolation and experiences of prejudice, including self-harming

behaviours, drug and alcohol abuse, intrusive and suicidal thoughts. These patterns have become normalised and many people will need support to adopt healthier behaviours as people return to work, education and greater social interaction. Over the Covid-19 lock-down many LGBTQIA+ people experiencing addiction have increased their usage or have developed new addictions. The increased usage and new addictive behaviours have been coping mechanisms for LGBTQIA+ people through the lock-down or they have been a substitute for another addiction; such as alcohol to replace their drug use; both legal and or illegal, which were harder to access during the lock-down, with people unable to travel or to get an appointment with their GP. Many LGBTQIA+ people are carers for older family members and family members with disabilities. Many LGBTQIA+ people become carers because they are left to fill this role by siblings or other family members, usually because their lack of children. They are usually seen by their family members as the person with no family commitments such as having a husband, wife or children etc. During the lock-down there has been no respite for careers, no other family members we able to enter the home to give the carer some time to themselves and organisations who would offer support and respite were unable to do this through the lock-down. People with caring responsibilities often experience particular forms of mental ill-health relating to the stress and emotional and physical labour required to care for a loved one. The Covid-19 pandemic has limited the ability of carers to access support, exacerbating poor mental health. With all this information The Rainbow Project and HERe NI worked

in partnership to create the LGBTQIA+ Mental Health Advocacy Service, which will help us increase and develop the mental health and wellbeing services we currently provide to LGBTQIA+ people and their families throughout Northern Ireland. The fund was established by the Health Minister to enable charities and organisations across Northern Ireland to enhance the vital mental health support and help on offer. Minister Swann recently visited the LGBT Belfast Office ‘The grant awarded to the Rainbow project will enable the organisation, in partnership with HERe NI to employ additional staff for their mental health support project. The funding received will ensure that people and their families are supported to access the support that they need when they need it, that they have the skills and resilience to manage their emotional and mental health through increased skills, and ensure that LGBTQIA+ people are assisted in managing and improving their mental health or their recovery from mental ill health.’ This service will offer self-directed support and health and wellbeing services, specialist community mental health services, talking therapies, psychological therapies and similar interventions, offering 1:1 counselling and art therapy to clients. This service will also support family members of LGBTQIA+ people in 1:1 counselling sessions and group counselling sessions. The Mental Health Advocacy programme will offer: • Support for individuals, families and carers to improve emotional wellbeing and mental health through self-help; • Development of Self-help resources can be widely disseminated through social media

platforms offering suggestions about effective management of health and well-being issues experienced uniquely by the LGBQIA+ community; Support individuals, families and carers to access mental health and wellbeing services they need at the right time and place; Provide positive mental health promotion campaigns will raise awareness among the LGBTQIA+ community of mental health issues; Offer health and Wellbeing sessions on a 1:1 basis with LGBTQIA+ clients Offer listening ear support sessions on a 1:1 basis with LGBTQIA+ clients Provide 1:1 care planning the most vulnerable LGBTQIA clients Work in partnership with other services both LGBTQIA+ and non LGBTQIA+ services to provide additional support. Offering 1:1 co-cultural counselling and art therapy to LGBTQIA+ clients Support for family members of LGBTQIA+ people through 1:1 counselling session, group counselling sessions and Family Ties (Family Ties is a Peer Social and Support Group for family members of LGBTQIA+ people.

We have two mental health advocates now in postwho can assist you with any queries or questions you may have. • Amanda McGurk (She/Her) • Amie Martin (They/Them) If you would be interested in finding out more about this service then please contact us on 02890 319030 or via email at

GNI MAG [37]

SUMMER IN BELFAST CITY AT T E N S Q U A R E H O T E L | 028 9024 1001 | 10 Donegall Square S, Belfast BT1 5JD



PEOPLE ARE STILL ATTACKED BECAUSE OF THEIR REAL OR PERCEIVED SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND GENDER IDENTITY Threats, violence and harassment against LGBTI people happen every day, including during Prides. In a number of countries, events cannot go ahead without a heavy police presence. In many countries crimes perpetrated because of someone’s real or perceived or sexual orientation or gender identity are not prosecuted as hate crimes, and sometimes they’re not investigated at all. Homophobic and transphobic hate crimes have a devastating impact on LGBTI communities. The fear of being targeted pushes people to hide their identity. When attackers go unpunished it spreads distrust towards the police and the courts. What’s more, these hate crimes are under-reported, which means people don’t get the protection they urgently need.

PRIDES ARE AN OPPORTUNITY TO CHALLENGE HOMOPHOBIC AND TRANSPHOBIC LEGISLATION LGBTI rights activists have been prevented from holding Pride events in Moscow, Russia, since 2006 – and following a decision of the Moscow City Court in 2012, for the next 100 years. In addition, a federal bill prohibiting the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relationships” to minors was passed in 2013. In short, the law now bans LGBTI activism and support groups and punishes people for expressing their sexual orientation and their gender identity, including at Pride events. However, some hope is emerging, as people in Saint-Petersburg were able to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. The relentless commitment of Russian LGBTI activists to organising a Pride is not only about the event itself, it’s also a brave defiance against Russia’s unjust laws curbing freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly.

PRIDES CONTRIBUTE TO CHANGING HEARTS AND MINDS Change is possible, even when homophobic and transphobic attitudes exist. When 70 LGBTI activists marched in the streets of Riga, Latvia, for the very first Pride event in 2005, they were met by over 2,000 counter-protestors, and many of them were attacked. Ten years on, more than 5,000 people took part in EuroPride 2015, with only 40 counter-protestors and no serious incidents reported. “The marchers as well as the people watching us were happy, many of them were waving hands,” said Rupert, an activist from the German Queer Amnesty group, who also took part in one of the first Prides in Riga. Similarly, after being banned three years in a row, Belgrade Pride in Serbia took place successfully in 2014 and 2015. In both instances the event went ahead peacefully and according to the organizers’ plan, with proper protection from the police. This sends a strong message to the local population as well as other cities and neighbouring countries. It demonstrates a commitment from authorities to uphold LGBTI rights and shows that activism can bring change.


Pride events are about human rights; they empower LGBTI individuals to reclaim the rights and freedoms they are denied, and the public space they are often excluded from. Visibility is crucial, especially when the State and opposition groups go to considerable lengths to put LGBTI people at the margins of society. When 160 activists took the streets of Podgorica in Montenegro to celebrate Pride in 2014, there were fears it would be attacked as in previous years. Thankfully, the event went peacefully. Fighting shame and social stigma, and marching in the face of threats and violence – Pride parades are not only inspiring celebrations of difference but also a declaration of intent. Through these events, demonstrators assert that they will not to be intimidated, that they will continue to demand equality, and that LGBTI rights are human rights. Amnesty International

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TRAVEL PRIDE Its Official June has commenced which means many places around the world are getting to grips with Rainbow Flag season; you guessed it a full month of celebratory scenes from our community dressed or not so much dressed in bright shinny outfits adorning beautiful floats which parade proudly & often VERY LOUDLY through city centres and through key LGBTQ+ friendly holiday destinations simply creating a visual carnival spectacle for all to enjoy and for all those people in the LGBTQ+ communities around the world a chance to come together celebrate and be thankful for the freedoms which we have now and to continue to support those whom are still unable to live a life they have been born into. Most importantly we remember and celebrate the members of our global community who fought and often died for our freedoms over the years because without these special men and women we would not be the global community we are in 2022. Gay Pride Parades around the globe help to commemorate the Stonewall riots which started in the early hours of June 28th 1969 when the bar was raided by police. Our community has since this very day fought for equal rights for all. The Rainbow flag is a symbol of Pride and LGBTQ+ communities around the planet. Gay Pride means a lot to our community and too many individuals within it but together we can both celebrate and help deliver positive changes for all generations. Every year many cities and holiday destinations hold Gay Pride parades and celebrations. Globally June is recognised as Pride Month meaning regardless of the destination you choose whether it be your home capital city or a Summer Holiday resort abroad you are guaranteed to run into a colourful party Pride atmosphere. Even though June is known as Pride month many countries have already hosted Prides such as some American destinations like Pride Cape Coral (USA) March 2022, Miami Beach Gay Pride (USA) April 2022, Jasper Pride Festival (Canada) April 2022, Tokyo Rainbow Pride ( Japan) April-June), and one of the most visited for Northern Irish Pride followers is Spain’s Gran Canaria Maspalomas Pride which took place from 5-15th May 2022 they also hold a Winter Pride in November each year. If you are more of a home bird then fear not as Gay Prides in Ireland and the UK are kicking of now with Dublin Pride running from 22-26 June, London Pride is Saturday 2nd July, Glasgow Pride 16-17th July with our very own Belfast Pride running a week long spectacular from 22-31 July, Brighton Pride is 5th-7th August and one of the UKs most popular Prides happens in Manchester Pride 26th-29th August. I believe your first pride experience will stick with you forever and mine was Belfast Pride many

moons ago. The weekend at that time was full of events from Bingo, Street Parades, Live stage events and then club events in the evening. The opportunity of meeting people from many parts of the world who annually travel UK, Europe and globally under the Pride calendar was for me an eye opener. Pride showcases the very best of what our community is all about, offering sights, sounds and experiences for people to feel comfortable, open up, and even know they are not alone in this big world. At that time I never thought people would base their year’s holidays and events around the different prides. I soon discovered that Pride Tourism is big business and provides a unique opportunity for LGBTQ+ people to travel and participate in events throughout the year. I personally love the buzz of European Gay Pride events regardless of the actual city or holiday destination but I must admit a beach and or pool parties are defiantly at the top of my list. Spain offers so many choices for Pride celebrations with many of its holiday resorts and cities throwing fantastic week long Pride events. Maspalomas Pride is always one of the hotly tipped events each year and I personally can recommend it as a top 3 Pride to attend. Spain’s other fantastic prides take place in Madrid, Barcelona, Benidorm, Torremolinos and a personal favourite Ibiza. I think for me the combination of outdoors events and the fact it’s sunny and allows you to see some amazing eye candy in well let’s be honest not so many clothes helps ha ha. Ibiza has always welcomed our community with open arms and the fact that it is a global clubbing holiday destination makes it attract some top class DJS who put sets on during Gay pride. Ibiza Pride runs from the 10th-18th June in 2022 and includes lots of different aspects such as the key main Parade, evening street parties, Theme Club nights, opening and closing events, boat trips, and even Drag Funk. You will also find many fetish pride events take place around the world sometimes as part of a city’s major pride event or at a different time of the year such as Leather and Rubber Prides. Cities like San Francisco, Berlin and Belgium to name a few. Regardless of the Pride you attend I recommend that you engage with it and have an open mind because this way you will get much more out of it. Larger Prides will often be sponsored by global brands that wish to engage with the LGBTQ+ community and showcase its commits to LGBTQ+ rights. Once you decide which Pride event you want to go to go online and have a good look at the individual events that will take place. Most Prides will release a Pride guide bringing all of the events into one space such as a website or blog. If like me you like some build up buzz it’s good to engage and follow the events pages online i.e. Instagram, Facebook and even twitter. You

will also often find some event deals for parties, excursions and maybe even hotel or apartment deals. You will also find some opportunities to build your social media group for the event and meet other attendees and providing opportunities to make friends and plan some different aspects of your trip in advance. Tel Aviv Pride has become one of the key events in the cities annual calendar and if you have never thought about going to an Arab country due to fear then please know that Israel is unlike any other Arabic country and offers the LGBTQ+ community support and Freedom. One of the absolute highlights of the week, the Pride Parade is filled with vibrant colours, music, and is a celebration of freedom and inclusiveness. The Parade brings the city together and is not to be missed! Last year, some 250,000 people came to celebrate. The 23rd instalment of this annual event runs from 10:00 to 17:00, showcasing dazzling floats with thousands marching and celebrating through the streets. The Parade commences from Ben Tsiyon/Melchet and makes its way through Tel Aviv ending in Charles Clore Park where the famous beach party will commence and last all night long. My advice is expect the unexpected , try and pre book and plan as much as you can in advance simply for packing planning reasons and of course the most important of all your budget. If you have a particular scene which is more you like leather or rubber then aim to attend the prides more geared for your taste so you won’t be disappointed and then you can pack some of those kinky outfits to showcase yourself at the chosen events and clubs. Prides are about bringing the LGBTQ+ communities of the world together to celebrate and be fun but please don’t forget this takes a lot of money and effort from the destinations putting on the events so make sure you keep some money to help the LGBTQ+ charities which are often at the very heart of the events. As for what to pack for your Pride adventure well I will leave that very much down to you. All I will say is you can either go Big or as small as you like IE Angle Wings or a small jock strap or speedo of course this all depends where in the world your Pride event will be. Remember we even have Ski Prides held in winter months in some of the most famous Ski resorts in the world. My final words are simply be yourself celebrate your Pride holiday or Day however you want but know that you are never alone. Happy Pride everyone.

GNI MAG [41]


UK and Ireland Pride Festivals

Each year across the U.K/Ireland over 200 pride related events and parades take place many have already passed, here are a select few you can consider attending...

Pride 2022 Scotland

Pride 2022 Northern Ireland

Perthshire Pride | 13th August 2022 Oban Pride | 10th September 2022

Belfast Pride | 30th July 2022 Mid Ulster | 13th August Derry Pride / Foyle Pride | 27th August

Pride 2022 England

Pride 2022 Ireland

Pride In London | 2nd July 2022 Bristol Pride | 9th July 2022 Newcastle Pride (Northern Pride) | 23rd July 2022 Hull Pride (Pride In Hull) | 30th July 2022 Liverpool Pride | 30th July 2022 Leeds Pride | 7th August 2022 Brighton Pride | 7th August 2022 Birmingham Pride | 25th September 2022

Pride 2022 Wales Abergavenny Pride | 16th July Powys Pride | 16th July Llanelli Pride | 17th July Cardiff Pride | 28th August 2022

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Dublin | 25th June Mayo | 3rd July Limerick | 9th July Drogheda Pride | 7th August Sligo | 7th August Galway | 14th August


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As with any festival, there is a list of essentials you must not forget when heading over the rainbow. Here are 9 things you should always remember to bring when attending Pride. Things You Should ALWAYS Bring to Pride

the day starts great then your parade is literally rained on. Then on the flip side we can also get amazing weather, apply a strong sunblock to your visible body bits at least 15 minutes before heading out into the throng. And if it’s likely you will remove layers make sure you lotion-up.Post-pride peel just isn’t pretty.

Rainbow flags... A colourful, cool AF outfit

Okay, so you don’t have to dress up in all seven colors of the rainbow flag, but pride is your chance to be seen and stand out! Whether you just want to sling on a colorful T or want to have some fun and dress up in drag, this is the one time in the year to put a little extra effort into your outfit and turn yourself out to look Insta-ready!

Prepare for all types of weather - Raincoat, Sunblock and shades

We love all the colors of the rainbow, but no one wants to end up rooster red or a drowned rat during pride. Keep a light raincoat handy, so many times GNI MAG [44]

Obvs. Show the crowds your true colors with a rainbow flag or a flag you relate to.. Put your hands in the air, and wave ‘em like you just don’t care.

Comfy footwear

OMG this is a must. Following after floats and t h e n voguing at the afterparty means you’re going to be on your feet for most of the day and night. So, pack a decent pair of trainers or something you are comfortable in. However much you may be tempted, don’t wear new shoes, they are either going to hurt your feet and/or get destroyed.


Yes most places take cards though it is likely that stalls and people offering a service won’t, e.g face/body painting, food vans etc. Take a few notes with you to be on the safe side. Also



about the practicality, you can safely store so many items, phone, keys, money, snacks, mints, condoms, portable phone charger etc). A Bum Bag means you can party hard at pride without fear of having your belongings lost.

it is almost a given that cash machines surrounding

the festivities are likely to be queued out or out of order.

An open mind

Those of us under the LGBTQI+ umbrella encompass a wide variety of genders, sexualities and races — not just your own. Take pride as a chance to engage and celebrate with other members of our community, especially those you might normally not hang out with. Also, bear in mind that these days many of the bigger gay prides also attract the hetero crowd: we say as long as they’re LGBTQ-allies, the more the merrier!

A Bum Bag

Might not be the most trendy thing to wear though if you think

Your best underwear

Because you never know where the night may lead you… ;)

Your positivity and pride

Last but not least, make sure you bring your pride and show it off ! As members of the LGBTQ community, we don’t get many other chances to come together, so stand up, be proud and be counted: this is your chance to show the world who you really are and champion how far you - and LGBTQI+ rights as a whole - have come. It’s your day: live it up and be proud! Happy pride season, peeps!

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How to make your workplace and colleagues more inclusive. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

FOUR Order Stonewall resources including posters, research and reports to have in your workplace.

ONE Things move that fast that many people fear referring to someone incorrectly, brush up on terminology so you can talk about the issues confidently.

FIVE Set up an LGBT staff network group (or LGBT + Allies/ Friends group).

TWO Use a Come Out For LGBT mug or wear rainbow lanyards to show your support. THREE Call out offensive, negative or abusive language and ‘banter’ when you hear it. GNI MAG [46]

SIX Organise a lunch and learn about LGBT history, stories or experiences. SEVEN Open up space to talk – you could mention LGBT issues you’ve seen in the media and get some real conversations started.

EIGHT Work with your HR department to make sure their policies and procedures cover diversity, inclusion, rights and protections for LGBT employees. NINE Celebrate Pride, LGBT History Month or other awareness days and campaigns to show support. TEN Volunteer/Fund raise or become an advocate for a local LGBTQI+ charity or organisation.

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Pride Fashion Fashion brands and retailers across the UK are continuing to inspire and thrill shoppers with vibrant collections, activations and charitable pledges in support of Pride Month - the annual month dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ+ communities around the world.

We take a look at a few brands that are either supporting the LGBTQ+ community, LGBTQ+ owned or have produced inspiring pride items for 2022.

Olympic diver and activist Tom Daley has released a Pride collection through his knitwear brand, Made

New Look New Look’s Pride collection is made up of seven unique styles, all inspired by the Progress Pride flag. The genderless t-shirts are also available in kids and curve sizing. New Look commented: “We are proud to be donating 100% of our Pride collection profits to LGBT Foundation”. The LGBT Foundation provides a wide range of support services to lesbian, gay, bi and trans people. The charity also works with healthcare professionals to help make public services more accessible and inclusive for LGBT communities. Made With Love by Tom Daley GNI MAG [48]

With Love. The collection features cotton t-shirts and vests with rainbow text reading “love” emblazoned

across. 100% of all profits of this Pride collection go to Rainbow Railroad, a charity to help people in the LGBTQ+ community escape state-sponsored violence and get them to safety. Fashion brands and retailers across the UK are continuing to inspire and thrill shoppers with vibrant collections, activations and charitable pledges in support of Pride Month - the annual month dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ+ communities around the world.

PRIDE FASHION takes a look at 15 brands that are either supporting the LGBTQ+ community, LGBTQ+ owned or have produced inspiring pride items for 2022.

In support of Pride 2022, Fabletics is making a $25,000 donation to GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer advocacy organisation.

tion, Levi’s is also making an $100,000 donation to OutRightAction International, a global organisation working to advance human rights for LGBTQ+ people.

Boohoo & BoohooMAN Boohoo Group has dropped a large range of apparel as part of its “Love Is Love” campaign. Boohoo Group has continued to showcase that fashion is genderless by offering the same collection across both of its sites, Boohoo and BoohooMAN.

The company has also created a ‘United in Pride’ capsule, putting a spin on Fabletics’s core styles to inspire self-love and support the LGBTQ+ community. The collection includes a number of genderless pieces, reimagined in a joyous rainbow. Kelli Dugan, Chief Design and Merchandising Officer at Fabletics, commented: “This year’s capsule offers a variety of gender-neutral styles intended to promote love and awareness. Inclusion and representation are core values at Fabletics, we hope customers wear their Pride and show their true colours this Pride season and beyond!”

Dr. Martens Dr. Martens have been worn by activists, campaigners and artists since the Stonewall Riots. Generations of wearers have used the brand for a myriad of reasons, from their timeless aesthetic, queer coding or even as a rite of passage.

In a press release, Boohoo described the collection as

“Expressing yourself boldly through fashion.” It continues “To represent all our LGBTQ identifying fam, we’ve created a pride collection celebrating love and defining your own identity, with style.”

Levi’s Levi’s has been a constant supporter of the LGBTQ+ community across the world. This year the brand has created a retro-inspired genderless and size inclusive denim-focused collection.

10% of proceeds from the sale of the collection will be donated to Outright, an LGBTQ+ human rights organisation that addresses human rights violations and abuse against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people.

Drawing from the powerful messaging and signs and posters from the queer liberation era, Levi’s has created a collection that “aims to inspire tomorrow’s generation”. The collection includes denim jackets, 501 denim jeans, pronoun t-shirts and various accessories.


In support of the collec-

Boohoo has continued to showcase that fashion is genderless by offering the same collection across both of its sites.

Pride Generations is Dr. Martens first unbranded campaign, which features the talents of Lady Phyll (co-founder of UK Black Pride) and Lucia Blayke (founder London of London Trans+ Pride). The brand is hosting a series to discuss LGBTQ+ individuals vital work in activism, personal background and the history of important queer organisations. The brand has released a small capsule including socks and the 1461 shoe, which features sole to stitch in monochrome white, alongside the Progress Pride flag on the leather upper. This year Dr. Martens will be donating more than £200,000 across the globe for charities including AKT in the UK, ReBit in Japan and Black Rainbow in Australia.

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AS COST OF LIVING RISES - NEW DATA REVEALS 120% INCREASE IN SEARCHES ON “HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON ENERGY BILLS” With the cost of living increasing rapidly, and energy bills and fuel prices reaching a record high - a new study by This is Fresh offers tips on how to save £££ on energy bills. With the current financial crisis taking place it is not the best time for current energy costs rising at record rates. The average household spends around £1,277 a year on heating and power, yet this cost is set to keep increasing over the year. Due to this, new data reveals that there has been a whooping 120% increase in searches for "how to save money on energy bills" as Brits scramble to afford life. Luckily, This is Fresh has provided five fresh tips on how to save on your energy bill! Four FRESH tips on how to save energy:

Be more efficient with your laundry •

Flick the switch! •

That little switch on the wall next to where your microwave or TV is plugged in - turn

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it OFF! If the appliance is not in use there is no need for it to be on standby. Turn off any lights in your house that you are not using. If the kitchen lights are on whilst you’re in the living room, this is wasting energy. Consider switching to LED lights, they cost as little as £2 from IKEA! A LED light bulb uses over 75% less energy than a regular bulb.

Washing your laundry at 20 or 30 degrees rather than 40+ can help you to reduce your energy usage. Invest in an airer so you can leave your clothes to air-dry. Tumble dryers use a LOT of energy and therefore, a LOT of money. If you do need to use your tumble dryer,

ensure you clean your tumble dryer's filters to keep it efficient.

Smart Meters are actually SMART •

Know where your energy costs are coming from. Call your energy provider and ask them to install a smart meter. This should be FREE of charge, and helps you to monitor where you are using the most energy in the house, and where you can therefore cut back.

Turn down the heat! •

Almost half the money spent on energy bills is absorbed by heating costs. Turning your heating down - even by just one degree could save you up to £80 a year.

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Scandalous CELEBRITY ROBBERIES How Much Did They Really Lose?

Celebrity robberies are in the spotlight. In recent news, Sheridan Smith, who you might recognise from her role in Gavin and Stacy and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, has fallen victim to a robbery while filming her new sitcom, Rosie Mollie Gives Up on Nothing. The thieves, who have been named the Movie Takers after a string of incidents, stole thousands of pounds worth of jewellery from the star’s trailer.

($4 billion). Most of these precious items have not been found to this day.

The rich and famous are often targeted by professional criminals. Associated Security, a leading provider of home safes throughout the nation, has investigated some of the most scandalous celebrity robberies of all time to uncover how many valuable possessions were stolen.

There are currently 12 suspects incarcerated and awaiting trial. A select few, however, have been released on bail due to health conditions, including Yunice Abbas. In recent months, he has released a memoir named I Kidnapped Kim Kardashian (2022), detailing his experience during the high-profile heist.

Molly-Mae Hague

Tamara Ecclestone

Molly-Mae, an influencer and television personality, has recently fallen victim to a scandalous robbery. In 2021, burglars stole £800,000 worth of belongings from the apartment she shared with her partner, Tommy Fury. This included most of their belongings, from clothing to shoes and jewellery. The burglary forced the couple to move homes, and recent sources have revealed that Molly has gone to therapy to help her deal with the incident, as well as hiring security and 24/7 confidential personnel. Aside from Molly’s personal camera being stolen this year, things seem to be looking up for the celebrity couple as they consider the possibility of building their own home.

Tamara Ecclestone, daughter of former Formula 1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, has been victim of one of the most scandalous celebrity robberies of all time. In 2021, burglars broke into her London mansion and stole £25 million worth of cash and 400 pieces of jewellery, including a Cartier bangle worth £80,000.

Paris Hilton

The traumatic burglary had a devastating effect on Kim, who has gone on to speak about her experience with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) since the incident. This was further fuelled with the start of the global pandemic and the manifestation of agoraphobia.

The burglars in question ( Jugoslav Jovanovic, Alessandro Maltese, and Alessandro Donati) have been linked to two other celebrity raids, totalling £26 million worth of stolen goods. As a result, all three have been convicted and are now serving time in prison.

The ‘Bling Ring’ will go down as one of the most scandalous celebrity heists in history. Between 2008 to 2009, a group of teenagers broke into the homes of multiple celebrities, including, but not limited to, Lindsey Lohan, Orlando Bloom, and Paris Hilton. Over £2.4 million worth of clothes, jewellery, and cash was stolen during their escapades.

Tamara, her partner Jay, and their daughter had taken a trip to Lapland that morning, meaning that they were luckily out of the house during the time of the robbery. Even so, the ordeal has no doubt had a lasting impact on their well-being, and the couple has reported that their daughter asks whether they will return.

Paris Hilton, although unharmed, was targeted on multiple occasions. In fact, the gang of teenagers broke into her home on five separate occasions, stealing £1,619,094 ($2 billion) worth of stolen jewellery. They even compared this experience to “visiting an ATM”.

There you have it – some of the most scandalous celebrity robberies of all time. Even the rich and famous fall victim to burglaries, so make sure you’re taking the right steps to secure your home.

The teenagers eventually ran out of luck, facing various sentences for their robberies, from 60 days community service to four years imprisonment and a £485,010 ($600,000) fine.

Kim Kardashian Kim Kardashian, entrepreneur and reality television star, has also experienced a burglary. On a seemingly normal evening during Paris Fashion Week 2016, Kim was held at gunpoint and robbed of £7.4 million ($10,000) worth of jewellery, such as her engagement ring worth an astonishing £3,424,950,766 GNI MAG [52]


Real Life BODY DYSMORPHIA My name is Allen and I suffer from body dysmorphia. A bold statement to open with I know but as they say “facts are facts”. Now to try and understand all of this a bit better, I guess it’s important to go back and have a look at life as a kid. I had a pretty average upbringing in a loving household. I’m the youngest of 4 and my parents are still happily married. Life as a kid was much like everyone else I’m assuming. I was a bit of a nerd and spent my break times swapping Pokemon cards or playing on my gameboy. I loved to read, still do in fact, and you’d often find me lost in the worlds of ‘Harry Potter ‘or ‘The Lord of The GNI MAG [54]

Rings’. But I also had a fiercely competitive side, from a very young age. Sports Day at school was a favourite of mine, always coming home with an armful of medals and trophies. And from the age of 4 hockey was at the forefront of my sporting ventures. Hockey was a sport in which I vastly excelled over my career, representing my University, county and playing at premier league level for quite a few years from a young age. As I moved into High School I became somewhat of an awkward teenager. I realised in school that I was ‘different’. I didn’t talk about girls the way the other boys did and I have distinct

memories of feeling very awkward in the changing rooms. And the wasn’t due to the fact that I was gay - that was down to how I felt about how I looked in comparison to others. As a teenager I was acutely aware of my body and how it looked. I was already 6 foot 1 but didn’t have much of a shape despite the amount of time I spent playing sports. The gym wasn’t on my radar at this point, but it was on others who I went to school with and I distinctly remember idolising those physiques who were distinctly athletic and strong. In my later years at High School I can remember


my Mum purchased a set of dumbbells for herself to use at home and this initially peaked my interest in weights. I’d also saved up some pocket money and bought myself a bench and some more weights for the house but I’d still never set foot in a gym and had zero clue what I was doing. Back then I was embarrassed to use the weights. I’d sneak up to the loft and do what I thought was a workout using some basic internet searches and then deny all use of the weights if anyone asked. It was like a dirty little secret and I was borderline ashamed. Hindsight is a wonderful thing - I was clearly embarrassed by my own body and further embarrassed at my attempts to change it. I was never slim as a teenager and into my early 20’s, and I always carried a little excess weight. Let’s just say I did enjoy my food and I have a real sweet tooth! As I went off to University I moved into halls in my first year and in my flat there was one guy in particular who sat on a pedestal. He was, at that time for me, the epitome of masculinity and strength. He worked out a lot clearly and I was in awe of the physique he had built for himself. I knew then that this is how I wanted to look. I didn’t want to look how I did anymore, but I still lacked any real knowledge on how to go about changing. University took priority so another 3 years of my life passed me by without me making much headway with my desires to look a certain way. Sadly then in my mid 20s I had to retire from hockey due to extensive injuries and I was crushed. Hockey was my life and it offered me a lifeline to be included and to be a team player. I never realised it back then but it affected me very profoundly, having to walk away from it all. Hockey gave me a social circle and it was a way for me to connect with my ‘masculine’ side. I wasn’t very good at making friends, especially males and now that I’d lost this gateway, I felt a great sense of loss that lingered for quite some time. I had no idea what to do with all this spare time on my hands and my competitive side was crying out for something to get stuck into. During my physiotherapy I was given quite a lot of gym work to do and I realised this was my opportunity to explore this avenue further and that’s exactly what I did. I can still remember going for my first ever 1-1 PT session in DW Boucher Road and it was a most horrendous experience, but only because it truly showed me how little I knew of the gym and

how naive I was about how it all worked. However, looking back, I’m thankful for it. It gave me the insight I needed to start and make the changes I’d always longed for. I read books. I watched videos. I consumed protein like it was going out of fashion. I drank protein shakes day and night. I went to the gym - repeat. By this stage I’d managed to put on a little mass and actually have some shape and definition but I was by no means satisfied. So a friend at the time convinced me to look into getting a PT if I was serious about taking it further, and I was so I did. This was the first real time that I got to know my body and just what I was capable of in the gym. Little did I know that this experience would change my entire life. It resulted in doing a photoshoot and a change of career. At the time I was a teacher and I sacked it to become a PT myself. I was totally obsessed with fitness. I loved helping others and I had a fantastic career. But it came at a price. During these years I pushed myself and my physique to new limits that led to an even unhealthier obsession. I became incredibly critical of myself. I’d stand in the mirror poking and prodding at parts of my body I was unhappy with, even though I had a single digit body fat! I would workout obsessively, sometimes up to 4-5 hours per day. I tracked every last piece of food that went into my mouth and I became an insufferable housemate (we are still best friends to this day thankfully!) UKBFF was the next goal I set for myself. I wanted to stand on stage alongside others and show off my physique. I wanted to make my mark and my thinking was that this would be the pinnacle. This would be what defines me and this would finally give me the satisfaction and contentment I so desperately desired surrounding my body and how it looked - oh boy was I wrong and the universe had other plans. I did manage to compete and I must say looking back, yes I looked great but I felt terrible not to mention I’d broken my shoulder 6 weeks before I was due to step on stage, but I soldiered on regardless. Silly me. My stubbornness and carelessness for my body resulted in me requiring surgery to repair the damage and this set me back massively. I couldn’t exercise and ended up in a deep depression. My rehab was aggressive at my request but I couldn’t

bear not to lift weights and exercise. I was losing what I thought made me, me. This was a hard time and I learned a lot about myself whilst I couldn’t lift weights. This was the start of a small turning point. I started to realise that my exercise was helping me not only physically but mentally. It was alleviating my stress and depression in a way I didn’t expect. Fast forward a few years and I was invited to go to my first Circuit Party Weekend in Barcelona. Now, I thought I was in good shape but boy was I wrong! I’ve never seen as many cover model ready men in one space in my life and that awkward teenager came to the fore. I swore to myself I’d never go back to one of those parties looking that way and I came home and hit the gym as hard as I could. I’d stack on as much muscle as I could and return bigger and better. In my eyes, how I looked was directly linked to how attractive I was, how desirable I was. There is no denying that there is a huge part of this in our community and there is no getting away from it. It’s very much an alpha male complex that reduces us to our base animal instincts but removes all sense of self worth and esteem. We place our own self esteem and self worth in the reflection of a mirror, in the eyes and hands of others and that’s a dangerous place to be in. But I was a man obsessed. I wanted to be desirable. I was too skinny. I wasn’t muscular enough. My abs were misshapen. My veins didn’t pop enough. My shoulders weren’t big enough. My lats didn’t flare enough. My chest wasn’t the right shape. As far as I could see, my body was lacking in every department compared to others and thus the cycle continued. The gay community is rife with it. It makes it impossible to focus on things that actually matter. Going to the gym supersedes everything else. Friends, social engagements, work and family. My priority was to get bigger by any means necessary. I think we can all agree that lockdowns were a pain in the backside and they hit me in a way I didn’t expect. Without the gym, who was I? I couldn’t workout the way I wanted. I was losing all the hard work I’d put in. I felt undesirable. I felt miserable. I did try and do home workouts but my motivation quickly waned and I turned to food for comfort, even though I knew this would end in disaster. I very quickly put on a lot of excess weight and I pretty much refused to look in the mirror and face it, oh the irony! I felt so uncomfortable, unsexy and ashamed. My confidence took a nosedive and my GNI MAG [55]


self esteem was non-existent. It was during lockdowns that I realised just how bad my relationship with my body image was. I was never content or happy even when I was absolutely ripped. What was I missing? When gyms reopened I didn’t rush straight back into it. I wasn’t ready mentally or physically. I bought 3XL t-shirts to wear to the gym because I didn’t want people to see the extent of the damage I’d done by over indulging. I tried to go a few times a week to break myself in and I very quickly realised that I wasn’t going to be able to do this on my own so I invested in a PT in January of this year. We had a holiday booked and the pressure was on to look good for it. I soon realised that Brad was just as invested in me as I was in him so I opened up to him about my fears and my issues and I’m so glad I did. He was fantastic and talked me off a ledge more than once. As we worked through the 16 weeks together he not only challenged me physically, but mentally. I was forced to look at myself in a way I never had before. I managed to get into great shape for going away but a small percentage of me was still discontent. I could’ve been leaner. I could’ve been bigger. What I achieved in 16 weeks was something to be proud of but all I could do was focus on the negatives at times. Don’t get me wrong I was happy with how I looked, but I still have days where I get GNI MAG [56]

up first thing in the morning and go straight to the mirror to see how I’m looking. I obsess about my food one day and relax the next. I toss and turn at night thinking about those 1000 steps that I didn’t do that day. I kick myself for not pushing out an extra set. I compare myself and my journey to others who are miles ahead of me and get disheartened. I worry about what others think and seek approval from those who don’t really matter. But this time I have learned to be more open about how I’m feeling with those closest to me. I share the good and the bad days. I know that my self worth and esteem does not lie in the reflection of a mirror or in the eyes of others but some days are harder than others to believe those statements. As I get older and hopefully a little wiser I am starting to settle more in my own skin, however I don’t think I will ever truly leave these issues 100% behind. It will be a daily practice to keep my mind in the right lane when it comes to the gym and exercising. Yes, going to the gym is great for the body but it’s also great for the mind and it is this that I’m going to focus on more going forward in my journey with my physique. That doesn’t mean that I won’t work hard and push myself but it does mean that I will be doing it for me and not for someone else. Body Dysmorphia Disorder (BDD), Bigorexia - call it what you will, is on the rise, particularly in the gay community. Although there is limited clinical data

surrounding it, its prevalence is undeniable. Back in 2018, it was estimated that 5 out of 1000 individuals suffered from some sort of BDD with noticeable rises in adolescents. We are so impressionable at that time in our lives and looking back over my own life which I’ve briefly shared with you, I can see all the signs right there in front of me, I only wish I’d known then what I know now. Fitness and exercise is a journey, a lifelong journey, not a destination. The goal is to build a body that will see you through this life so that you can enjoy each and every day you are on this Earth. Be kind to yourself. Love yourself. Look after your body and your mind and learn to love the skin you’re in as they say!


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Queen: Veda Photo: Babs Daly



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TEAMM8 Celebrates the Skin We’re In The “Skin” line from athleticwear designer, TEAMM8, is intended to reflect how all people and all races are beautiful and that any differences should be embraced rather than challenged. The collection consists of underwear with matching tanks in striking skin tone shades: “Amazing”, “Fabulous”, “Gorgeous”, “Marvelous”, and “Stunning”. “While past collections have all heralded sporting values, Skin takes the idea of team spirit a few steps further,” Michal Nicolas, the founding director of TEAMM8, explains. “It’s about finding the strength and determination to be comfortable in your own skin. It’s also about declaring that true community is unity and we must shun antiquated beliefs and play the game by our own rules.” For its campaign, TEAMM8 gathered models from China,

Australia, Spain and Kenya. They shot the men in gear that matched their skin tones but also allowed the models to shoot in shades they simply wanted to try. “The end game was about choice,” Nicolas says. “We learned there can be something powerful about wearing a shade of color that is different from your own.” Michal Nicolas launched TEAMM8 from his living room in 2008 with two styles of underwear. In the beginning, he operated and managed every facet of the business on his own. That quickly changed. Today, the line has grown to include a wide range of underwear styles, swimwear and athletic wear. “The world is a very different place today than when we launched fourteen years ago,” Nicolas reflects. One of the biggest changes he has seen is the perception of what makes an activewear brand. “Sports gear is not just for working out anymore,” he says. “Men wear it in their everyday lives.”

His customers are not necessarily athletes, but what he calls the ‘everyday champion.’ “He is a man who is a champion in whatever field he chooses to play on.” In addition to its Skin line, TEAMM8 is introducing its first bamboo collection this summer. It will include a bikini brief and a matching T-Shirt, as well as the brand’s first ever boxer short. A boxer short and matching rib tank is also being added to TEAMM8’s classic underwear line. For sexier lewks, TEAMM8 recently unveiled its AERIAL brief and jock. It features seethrough mesh in brooding dark hues.

stand out from the crowd and we are serving it to them,” Nicolas continues. If there is one piece of advice Nicolas has for guys this summer, it is to say no to fast throwaway fashion. “Don’t be fooled by cheap gimmicky trend pieces you will wear once and toss out. Overcrowded landfills are damaging our planet. Purchase quality gear that lasts and that is timeless so you will want to wear them year after year. Be a mate to the community. Be a mate to the Earth.” Visit BY JOHN STEIN

TEAMM8’s swim collection features recycled fabrics in bright, delicious colors and its new AERO athletic wear line has nine pieces that are designed to mix and match: shorts in two lengths, tank top options in two different cuts and a running tight. “Our customers have asked for stylish gear that makes them GNI MAG [63]

Call free day or night on

Be you Be proud You can talk to us about anything that’s troubling you

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Whatever your views on prostitution the fact of the matter is that it is one of the oldest professions in the world and as ubiquitous as religion, IKEA or indeed online shopping. A great number of gay men have either worked as a hooker or fucked one and these days it’s a bit like online shopping really isn’t it? I once heard a saying that goes like this “A city without whores is like a house without bathrooms”. >>> GNI MAG [65]

REAL LIFE TANTRIC >>> Well, I worked as a sex worker for ten years in two cities and two languages and I have written a book about my experiences called Bad Choices which will be published later this year and in this article, I shall endeavour to summarise it for you. So let’s start at the beginning, shall we? Few of us wake up one morning and think “I’m going to be a prostitute!”. It’s a bit like getting a tattoo on your face. You kinda want to be fully committed. For me, it started when I was in my early twenties living in London and I met a photographer who asked if I’d like to pose for a gay wank mag. Naturally being young, dumb and full of cum I jumped at the chance and after several photoshoots and a few low budget porn films, I found myself photographing escorts for BOYZ magazine. Surrounded by beautiful creatures from exotic countries with huge cocks and even bigger egos I became fascinated with their world and one day after a shoot in my studio in South London I asked a handsome young man what it was like to work as a whore. His reply was short and to the point. He said, “Hunny If you want to know what the steak tastes like you gotta eat it”. And that was it. I started. Several years and many de-spunked clients later I found myself living in a shared flat in West Hampstead with five straight guys. I had worked on and off as an escort in between disastrous relationships the last of which had just ended in a catastrophic and rather painful manner and I once again felt the craving within me to return to the dark side. Sex work is a bit like extreme sports you see. It’s not just the money which is alluring but also the thrill, the danger, the ability to create a character and to act out our deepest and darkest fantasies free from judgement. The anonymity of a big city provides the perfect platform to become intoxicated in a world of glamorous hotels, expensive cocaine and depravity the likes of which would make your granny turn in her Irish Catholic grave. But above all else, it fed my desire to be watched as I am and always have been an exhibitionist. It is not that I consider myself beautiful. Far from it. Believe me, having worked in London for years I have seen the most exquisite examples of the male form and I am far below their standard of perfection. Exhibitionism is something else. It allows you to temporarily fill up the hole that is created by, in my case, an unhappy childhood, lack of acceptance and approval and the pain of years of depression. But I had grown tired of the scenarios I was forced to create, the roles I had to play be it leather guy, rubber dude, aggressive top, gentle top, the boyfriend experience, fisting top, bottom, vers bottom, aggressive bottom, kinky bottom, adult baby, dom, school teacher or twink. Frankly, I just couldn’t be arsed anymore but I knew I still wanted to make easy money from sex work, I wanted to be my own boss and I wanted to call the shots and so one day a solution presented itself whilst I was working as an artists’ model for the major art universities in London. “Why don’t you become a Tantric Masseur”, my friend said to me. She had trained as a physiotherapist and knew many masseurs and sex workers and she told me I’d be great at it as I had a basic knowledge of anatomy. Working as a life model means that you can learn alongside the art students and by this stage, I had almost four years under my belt. And so I started. Luckily I met an amazing masseur in London by the name of Seb Cox (I’m certain it’s a pun!) and he taught me the subtle art of lingam and prostate massage. He also introduced me to coconut oil! And so I happily started milking punters in my little room in my shared flat in West Hampstead pretending that I just had an active social life on Grinder until one day I was found out and I knew I needed to get out and fast before the other tenants told the landlady. She was pretty cool, took a ton of drugs and partied with her DJ boyfriend in Ibiza most of each summer but I doubted that she would be very happy with a sex worker renting a room from her and working out of it without giving her a percentage of the profits! I needed a plan and a bloody good one. I knew I was onto a winner with this massage game after all I had the experience of working as an escort for GNI MAG [66]

years, and I’d previously worked in ‘customer service’ for four years (and yes I’m laughing at the irony as I write this dear reader) and although I was not as stunningly beautiful as the top class hookers working in London from Argentina, Milan or Paris I did have one secret weapon! Being half Irish I’m hung like a fuckin’ horse baby. Now I just needed the right place to get those punters in. After weeks of searching the internet for something that was private and within my limited budget I found a decrepit studio apartment in the bowels of Bermondsey. It was under a grand a month and above a car wash. It looked more like an industrial unit than a home and had tiled floors throughout and no central heating but it was close to the City of London and that’s where all those rich horny city boys worked. It was perfect or at least it would be with a lick of paint and some second-hand furniture from the British Heart Foundation charity shop on the Old Kent Road and sure enough just two weeks after moving in, I went from seeing five clients a week to fifteen! I was so proud of myself. In this secluded little spot in South London not far from Tower Bridge I had single-handedly created a little piece of Tantric paradise. For each client, I lovingly lit up to 30 candles and sticks of incense. I chose the perfect relaxing Tibetan meditation music. I bought fluffy dark purple towels that I had laundered in the local laundrette each week to remove the jizz, J-lube and coconut oil and despite the discovery of a massive World War Two bomb the size of a fuckin’ small family car in the adjacent building site, which meant I had to stay with a friend for a few days, I worked there happily for many months until one day a client walked into my Wankatorium who would change my life forever. “I’ve got a studio flat to rent under my house near Benidorm”, he told me as we chatted over tea afterwards. I think a nice cup of tea and a biscuit is the perfect way to relax after an orgasm don’t you? “I’ve been learning Spanish for years!”, I told him. “It’s been my dream to live in Spain, how lucky you are!”. “Why don’t you come to visit and if you like the place you could move out?”, he said as he showed me photographs of his beautiful home, the swimming pool in a garden filled with palm trees and the majestic mountains surrounding the sleepy seaside town of El Albir which lies 10 kilometres outside of Benidorm. And the seed was planted. We kept in touch and he sent me many more photos of the area and naturally, I fell in love but the thought of moving countries terrified me. I was happy living in London as half my family are Londoners and so it is like home to me. But still, the idea of living in the sunshine was so incredibly inticing. The announcement that my building was to be demolished was the deciding factor and by July I found myself at Alicante airport. I was as giddy as a schoolgirl and rather shit faced by this stage as I’d had one too many G&Ts on the plane but I had arrived and my new life in Spain was about to begin. El Albir is stunningly beautiful but is filled with Norwegian coffin dodgers and the average age of the permanent inhabitants is 103 so in order to get a bit of hot man on man action one must go to Benidorm. Now how to describe this behemoth of drunken debauchery? To one side of the ‘Old Town’ lies Levante beach and to the other Poniente. Despite being crammed full of tourists in the summer much like sardines are crammed into a can, the beaches are actually very beautiful and kept immaculately clean and lying 3.5km out into the azure sea is the oddly sloping triangular shaped Peacock island which is depicted on so many postcards and which is used by the Benidorm council as their logo. I have never visited the island myself but I am told it reeks of bird shit so I do not feel that I have missed out in any way, shape or form. Benidorm gets its name from the Arabic word “Beni” meaning “sons of ” like many other towns in Spain (Benitachell, Benicàssim

REAL LIFE TANTRIC and Beniarrés are other examples). Of course, most tourists who visit Benidorm will never know this as they are mainly interested in cheap beer and spend most days drooling over tits on the beach. Tits tend to be the main attraction and there is no shortage of them to be seen although it has to be said that most of them are attached to overweight, screeching, intoxicated girls from Manchester called Tracey, Diane or Linda who proudly show off their lower back tattoos partially concealed under rolls of fat and layers of fake tan. The names and dates of birth of their offspring are usually to be found tattooed upon their wrists and one wonders if this is to help aid memory? After 27 shots of tequila, 8 pints of Stella and several Jägerbombs the mind must indeed become rather misty. Curiously the ‘city’ seems to have more mobility scooters than there are elderly or indeed immobile people there to use them. Overweight, drunken, barely dressed couples with matching and often misspelt tattoos, bleached blonde hair and brightly coloured bathing suits two sizes too small can often be seen careering around the narrow streets of the old town going from bar to bar before crashing into lamp posts on the way back to the all-inclusive hotel. In worst-case scenarios and depending on just how cheap the larger was in the last establishment visited the scooter would be tipped over altogether and the inebriated passengers would end up laughing and shouting in a drunken neon coloured heap on the pavement. These accidents were common in Benidorm and shortly afterwards the scooter would be abandoned, upside down, and the pair would go to relieve themselves and share a fag in a quiet street nearby before searching for kebabs and chips to soak up the vast quantity of alcohol they had consumed that day. The next morning they could be seen walking up the streets with no apparent difficulty in search of the nearest Full English breakfast or a pharmacy to purchase paracetamol to cure the hangovers of the excesses of the day before and then once satisfied and their vision sufficiently restored they go in search of their mobility scooter not wishing to lose the deposit they had paid as God forbid they could not purchase the all-important week’s supply of fags, vodka and souvenirs for the grandkids back home in Scunthorpe. If one is in search of culture, art, history, museums, haute cuisine or fashion this is not the holiday destination for you. But of course, when I first arrived I knew nothing of this. It was only later once I had fully removed the rose-tinted spectacles that I saw the horrors of this hellish holiday hotspot. Once a peaceful little fishing village it has now grown into a gargantuan concrete nightmare comprised of Bacardi Breezers, Barf, Beverlys, Brendas, Betseys, Barbaras, burgers, bad spelling, even worse blowjobs and of course Brits abroad. My illusions shattered into tiny pieces... I watched in shock and disappointment as my little Spanish dream swiftly turned into my worst British nightmare and I found myself trapped in a culture less void from which there seemed no escape. Welcome to Benidorm. Ok, so my new life wasn’t exactly as glamorous as I had imagined but I was determined to make the most of it. Unfortunately along with renting a studio flat, I had also been roped into dog-sitting duties as my landlord regularly had to go away on business. The penny finally dropped with a thud. “Ah!”, I thought to myself, “Maybe that’s why he wanted to rent me the flat in the fuckin’ first place!”. “What the fuck am I gonna do with you?”, I asked the dog. He had pissed on the porch of my flat yet again and a client was due at any minute. I quickly filled the mop bucket with water and a little bleach and poured it over the concrete. “Great that’ll be nice, the smell of bleach upon arrival for a fuckin’ ‘Tantric Massage’.” I rolled my eyes and downed yet another shot of gin. Yes. I know. Straight gin. I had picked up this habit from watching the locals in the bar on the corner. They drank their’s cold but mine was at room temperature. I’d had about 5 already. Maybe just one more before it was time to work. Alcohol doesn’t affect me in the same way as it did normal folks. I could polish off a bottle of gin in a day, just as well they were only 5 euros eh otherwise it would be an expensive habit.

So. Here was the problem. If I left the doggie up in the main house with the door closed he would bark to get in. If I kept him in my studio he would A) be in the way or B) potentially piss somewhere. Imagine that happening just as one is about to reach orgasm. I took him out into the yard quickly and mercifully he did a wee. “Good boy,” I said patting him on the head and taking him back inside. The massage table stood upon a very large and very thick and shaggy rug about 5 feet wide by 7 feet long. Naturally, the dog liked to lie on the rug directly under the massage table. At the top end of the table was a padded circle through which the client would rest their head. This meant they would be staring directly at the arse of the dog for a large duration of their massage. Not the best view. But if I allowed the dog to get up on the leather sofas he would probably wee on them. I wasn’t going to let the dog sleep on my bed, no way. So the rug was the only option. I cursed my landlord as the client texted to say he was at the gate. One hour and 20 minutes later my wrist was getting tired. Usually, I can finish them off within the hour but I had a bit of a shy cummer on my hands today. But he was “super guapo” as they say in Spain, meaning “super sexy” and I wanted him to have a happy ending and when I say I’m gonna make you cum I mean I will not stop until I make you cum! So I kept going trying every trick in the book. He started to tense up his stomach muscles, always a good sign, so I gently slipped my finger up his arse and kept going. It works, trust me. If you ask first they’ll usually say they don’t like it but let’s face it most men whether top, bottom or sideways secretly do. “That feels amazing”, he cried out, “Don’t stop”. “Christ would you hurry up my arm’s gonna fall off,” I thought to myself. Just as he started to moan I felt a long wet tongue lapping around my testicles and I nearly jumped across the fuckin’ room letting go of Mr “I’m almost there, I’m almost there, I’m almost there” and shouting “Jesus Christ!” at the top of my lungs. “Fucking dog!” I yelled. The frustration of not getting my client to orgasm within the usual hour but instead spending an extra twenty minutes on the job and ending up with what I believe is known as ‘wanker’s claw’ had led to this uncontrollable eruption. “Oh Shit,” I thought to myself. “That’s not what a masseur is supposed to say during a relaxing session of lingam massage”. The client looked at me in horror, I looked at the client, the client looked at the dog, and the dog looked at me. The three of us looked at one another. It was like a tantric crime scene. “I’m so sorry” I finally said as I tried desperately to think of a way to make this situation better. “You see I’m dog sitting for my neighbour who’s gone away for a few days and well he surprised me didn’t he you know when he, well, he licked my balls under the table and that made me jump and yell out.” “Please allow me to offer you another session on the house”. “Oh I see!”, the client smiled and then mercifully started to laugh. “I was wondering why you jumped”. “I was just about to..”. “Yes I know, I’m so sorry”, I said wondering if 11-year-old dogs frequently suffer from heart attacks. “Please accept a session on the house”, I said looking deep into his eyes. “Sure he said, you have great hands”, “but maybe next time.. leave the dog outside”. “Oh you got it!”, I said. The client showered and dressed and I walked him to the gate. “Same time next week?” he asked. “Sure, perfect!” I breathed a sigh of relief. The landlord would be back by then so I’d be off dog-sitting duty. I returned to my studio. “Well thank you very fucking much”, I said looking down at my nemesis. The dog looked up at me with those sad eyes that doggies have when they know they’ve done something naughty and of course, my heart immediately melted. “Aww, you poor old thing”... I said hugging him. “Never mind pet”, “He probably wasn’t gonna cum anyway! In fact, you might well have saved me from getting Carpal tunnel syndrome.” XAND GNI MAG [67]




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56 Abbey Street, Bangor, BT20 4JB 56 Abbey Street, Bangor 028 9145 9100 BT20 4JB

028 9145 9100

GNI_Landscape_Guildhall Wedding_128.5 mm high x 180 mm wide.indd 1

30/05/2022 11:56:22

OUR BIG DAY SHARLEEN AND DEBORAH Tell us how and when you met, were you both single for a long time before you started dating ? We had both been single for nearly a year before we started dating. We met on an online dating site. We talked for a couple of weeks, then went on a date to Laverys, which turned into a pub crawl around Belfast. We both got on really well and had a good giggle with eachother. Meeting for lunch turned into a full day of laughter and Sharleen rushing to getting the last train home to lurgan. How long after you dated did it take to pop the question, was it an immediate yes ? And who asked who ? We were together for three years before we got engaged. Deborah took me to Venice for my birthday, when I hijacked it into a surprise proposal. I had the ring for about four months before but couldn’t find the right time. It took me all day to pluck up the courage and proposed on the rial-

to bridge. Deborah was definitely surprised but said yes straight away, with some happy tears. We got a big cheer from some lads that were passing by and noticed what had just happened. Cute and embarrassing at the same time. Tell us about your big day, location, amount of guests etc. Was it planned pre Covid, had you to alter many things with restrictions? We got married at the Galgorm Hotel and Spa, everything was amazing from start to finish they couldn’t have done enough for us and were very accommodating with our requests and ideas. We think the staff enjoyed it as much as we did, as they couldn’t wait to see the eight foot inflatable unicorns. We had 86 guests as planned as we always wanted a smaller wedding. The timming of the wedding was impacable as we had no restrictions at the wedding so we were able to have full numbers, music and dancing. We think everyone was ready for a party by then.

What about the food and drink? The food was amazing, there was a great variety to choose from. We laid on beers, cocktails and prosseco at the drinks reception, with a full spread buffet, including mini burgers etc. The sit down meal had five courses with wine, and a glass of prosseco for toasting during the speachess. We gave our guests a free drink token to redeem a drink at the bar on us, so I think the guests were well chuffed. The evening food was scampi and chips, followed by our gorgeous semi-naked cake by Sarah o’hara from Sweet’n your day lurgan. We had chocolate, raspberry and white chocolate and lemon drizzle. It was definitely an amazing cake exactly what we wanted. Everyone loved it. Did you go on honeymoon ? Tell us about the trip, any recommendations or did any nightmares occur? We went away to Rhodes in Greece for a week it was all inclusive and a very chilled holiday. The food and drink was great

and the hotel was lovely with a massive swimming pool and a private beach minutes from the hotel. We had our own private pool at our room which meant we could have some private time to chillout since it was all go for the wedding. We did a boat trip to Lindos which was beautiful, lots or little restaurants running down to the sand, it was very romantic. It was a great feeling to swim in the warm sea again after being in lockdown for so long. The hotel was stunning, very clean, and the staff were very friendly, but we had mentioned before and a few times while on our stay that it was our honeymoon but they didn’t do anything special for us as other couples who had previously been got treated completely different. That was abit disappointing, but they caved in in the end and gave us a bottle of processo to shut us up. We then had a second honeymoon to new york it was brilliant and we stayed at Pestana CR7 times square. The staff were brilliant and so friendly they couldn’t

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OUR BIG DAY SHARLEEN AND DEBORAH accommodate us more. They made our stay so special and we would definitely recommend this hotel. New york was amazing, we were non stop everyday trying to see as much as we could everyday making the most of our time. We even had a few drinks in stonewall bar where pride first began. It was good to learn the history first hand from the locals there. They told us about a lesbian owned and ran night club, which we went to check out, it was good fun. In your day to day lives are you into the same things? What interests do you have that are different ? We do have alot in common we both have the same sense of humour, we love to travel, we love food and trying new types, and partying. We both love animals and being out in nature, and enjoy getting out in the fresh air for a walk with the dogs. Sometimes we take a picnic with us to sit and enjoy the sights. We do have completely different tastes in music. Sharleens likes rock/metal, while Deborah likes dance music. Do you do everything together or do you like to keep independent? We both work long days so don’t really get alot of time together during the week, but at the weekends we try to spend as much time together as we can getting

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out and about. If we have family committments or separate friends days, well always met up again later. It is still good to have time for friends and family, and talk about our day when we get home together Have you a family, is this something on the plan for you? We are not planning on having any children, but we do have three rescue dogs that are treated like children. Tell us who made your day possible in terms of venue, clothes, rings, flowers, photographer, cars etc . At the Galgorm Megan was our wedding co-ordinator and Stephen looked after us all day, making sure everything went smoothly. We really appreciated all his hard work on the day, and he stayed until the end near 4am. Paul Moane at Aurora Amazing photographer. He made it really fun and the pictures were incredible. He listened to what we wanted and captured us perfectly. Darragh Haddock at Forever Endeavour Films The videos were amazing he got everything from morning to night. He got every little detail, and made the videos very original

and personal to us. Stevey Lennox Professional makeup artist Stevey was 100% our only choice for makeup, and she did not disappointed. Amazing job on both of us and our 7 bridesmaids Aoife Ferguson Bridal Hair Aoife was amazing. She done exactly what we had wanted. Everyone looked gorgeous, and Deborah’s upstyle was still perfect the morning after. Ronda from Ballymena Council was our lovely registrar. She was so friendly, and so happy for us. She really did make it special. Rachel Toman ceremony/drinks reception music Rachel was really professional and has an amazing voice. She worked with us to make sure all our songs where perfect for the ceremony, and had a great range of songs to keep our guests entertained while we where away getting our pictures taken. Fundamentals band played at our evening entertainment. They were brilliant and had a full variety of music for all ages. Ryan Nicholl DJ came on straight after the band and what a job he did. We went from full on rave to metal music. He listened to


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OUR BIG DAY SHARLEEN AND DEBORAH the crowd and even put on the most random requests, absolutely brilliant. Flowers by mairead Breen from lurgan. She did an amazing job with the flowers. Everyone commented on them, saying how beautiful they were. Both of our beautiful dresses where from Chantilly Lace Bridal Boutique lurgan. Agnes at Sewgood did the alterations and did a fantastic job. The wedding cake that was absolutely amazing from Sweet’n your day. Everyone loved the cake. Have you noticed any changes in life now that you are Mrs & Mrs ? Nothing has really changed much apart from it feels nice to say this is my wife and feeling proud about it, knowing that our friends and most of our family have accepted us as a couple and support us. Still feels strange saying this is my wife, it takes abit of getting

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used too. Anything else you may want to add/mention that we make have missed? It’s a good feeling to know a same sex marriage can be carried out in this country and be treated with the same respect as a straight couple throughout the process with suppliers. Also not having to hide the fact that we’re a couple is a great comfort. I hope these stories are a good example of what can be and we hope many other same sex couples will follow in the footsteps of the others who have already taken their vows so far.

Civil ceremonies can be held inside the ballroom or there is an option for an outdoor ceremony in our fabulous garden.

Belle Isle Estate Lisbellaw, Enniskillen BT94 5HG 028 6638 7231

your fairy-tale castle wedding venue




Time off work booked- Check Outfit planned- Check Pride/Summer season bod- Err… So, it’s that time of the year again and with all the different Pride celebrations across the nation looming now’s a better time than ever to get active and get yourself feeling good for the big day. Don’t get me wrong, we all come in different shapes and sizes and all body types should be celebrated, that’s what pride is all about right? True acceptance of one’s self and being proud of who you are! Can I get an amen? But for those of you who are a bit more body conscious, and wanting to feel a bit more confident in yourself I have put together a really simple workout you can do at home with no equipment needed, just a comfortable area you can use or a soft mat. The idea is to just get you moving and getting a bit more active. The workout only takes around 25 mins including rest periods and hits the upper/lower body and core. And to make it a bit easier to remember the first letter of each exercise spells out the word PRIDE! Here’s the setup: 4 rounds x 1 min of each exercise back to back with a 1-2 minute rest in between each round. The name of each exercise and how to perform is below. P ushup (Use knees to make it easier if needed.) R everse lunge. I nchworms ( A good one to test your mobility and flexibility.) D iamond Pushup. E levated leg raise.

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Get down on all fours, placing your hands slightly wider than your shoulders.

Start by standing straight and bracing your core muscles. Then take a giant step backwards with your left foot. Bend your right knee until it’s at 90°, and lower your left knee until it is also bent at a right angle. Then push back up and return to the starting position. Now repeat with the right leg and vice versa.

Straighten your arms and legs. Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor. Pause, then push yourself back up. Repeat.





Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.

Position your index fingers and thumbs so they’re touching, forming a diamond shape, and extend your arms so that your body is elevated and forms a straight line from your head to your feet. Lower your chest towards your hands, ensuring you don’t flare your elbows out to the sides and keeping your back flat.

Lie on your back, legs straight and together. Keep your legs straight and lift them all the way up to the ceiling until your butt comes off the floor.

Bend over and touch the floor with the palms of your hands. Walk your hands out, as far as you can while keeping your legs straight, and pause.

Slowly lower your legs back down till they’re just above the floor. Hold for a moment. Raise your legs back up. Repeat.

Walk back up to the starting position and repeat until the set is complete.

So there you have it, hopefully it got you into a bit of a sweat! Try to do this 3-4 times a week and you will soon start to see and feel the benefits. And a huge happy pride to everyone, stay safe and have the best time! Coach Anto.

@tony_cools on instagram GNI MAG [77]



Martin Murray In 1982, LGBTQ Olympian Tom Waddell founded the Gay Olympics in San Francisco but they were quickly renamed the Gay Games following an injunction from the International Olympic Committee who sued on the grounds that the term gay Olympics could harm the Olympic brand. By the end of the 1980s a group of German and Dutch sports teams inspired by the Gay Games came together to organise the Eurogames with the same purpose to celebrate athletic excellence regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. Now, 40 years later, Northern Ireland has hosted its first LGBTQ

Sports day bringing together from a diverse range of backgrounds. My

Tuesday evening in Ormeau Park.

GAA team alone had representatives from Antrim,

We can’t forget to mention the biggest news in in

We had participants from nationalist and unionist

the first in my lifetime a UK footballer has come out

Down, Armagh, Tyrone, Donegal and Fermanagh. backgrounds and international students from as far as Asia.

Representatives stopped by and donated a range of treats for the goody bag. This included representatives

from Ulster University, GNI Magazine, Jordanstown

Park Run, The GAA, The Rainbow Project, Aeracha Uladh GAC, Belfast Blaze, Azlans Rugby, All Skate Girls and El Polercise.

Performers included a local band “End of the

Episode” & Drag Queens Onya Becks, Pure Bent and Cara Van Parke. While running the event, which was attended by almost 150 men, women & non binary people aging from 5 to 75, I was delighted by the diversity of those attending and honoured by the

response of other organisations reaching out to get involved in the next one.

I am excited to watch the event grow and see

who from today could one day represent us at the Eurogames.

This reminds me we have two exciting launches. The first is the launch of Aeracha Uladh GAC kit. This will be featured in the Belfast Pride Parade and released to the public from August 1st. The second is the release of Team Irelands Eurogame jersey which

you can order now to support your representatives via Sporting Pride. Aeracha Uladh GAC has grown over the last month since its inception. The team

now has almost 60 members, over 600 followers, is sponsored by

UK LGBTQ Sports Industry in over 30 years. This is as gay. The reason this is of such great significance

compared to say Tom Daley is that football is at the heart of UK Culture. Many communities across the UK centre their culture on their football team. You

can’t walk through a town or city without spotting a number of football jerseys.

It’s also centred on masculinity. Nearly every father’s

day card or boys’ birthday card has a football on it.

We have all had that teacher or lecturer use a football

analogy to relate to a male class room. We see the

football pictures in nearly every pub in the country

and hear the teenagers on the train talking about the recent match. The UK public idolise their footballers

and the games are connected to some of the largest

corporate sponsors in the world so for a footballer to be gay goes against the stereotype of masculinity and

alpha male ideology in the culture. It’s also a sign of changed times. The media and public scrutinised

Justin Fashanu out of the country and eventually lead to his suicide.

Now we have hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ football fans in the uk ready to stand up and support

Jake. The community is uniting. Following the

LGBTQ Sports day my GAA team Aeracha Uladh has been chatting to Irish News, The Gaurdian and the BBC and making collaboration plans with

Belfast Blaze FC, Belfast Azlans RFC for future training and with O’ Neills, The GAA and Na Gaeil Aeracha for Belfast Pride.

GMG Aluframe, trains with guest coaches every Saturday morning at Cardinal O’Donnells Club and has a social training session every GNI MAG [78]

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


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THE MOST SEARCHED DIETS By Health Expert Stephanie Taylor at StressNoMore

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It’s time we got more out of what we put in: The most searched diets and their overall health benef its It’s no secret that men are silent sufferers when talking about health issues or seeking professional help. According to the Mental Health Foundation, men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women and have been found less likely to use primary healthcare services before hospitalisation. The theme for this year’s Men’s Health Week is ‘Time for Your MOT’ – where men are being encouraged to consider what’s going on with their bodies and mind and do something to improve their overall health. In aid of the International Awareness Day, Health Expert Stephanie Taylor of StressNoMore discusses the most searched diets and how you can test and refresh yours to boost your overall health. Mediterranean Diet – 49,500 monthly searches The most searched - the Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional cuisine eaten in countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, such as Greece, Italy, and Spain. It consists of whole grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds, fish, and poultry. Meals generally follow a plant-based approach, with healthy fats and olive oil – with added healthy fats from lean meats like fish. Red meat, sugary foods, and excessive dairy are limited, while processed foods are forbidden. Adopting this can improve physical and mental health by decreasing the risk of heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, and mental health issues like depression. Plant-Based diet – 12,100 monthly searches A fairly new phenomenon that has become increasingly more popular, vegans and vegetarians will reportedly make up a quarter of the British population by 2025 – with a recent study revealing that 46 percent of Brits are considering reducing their animal intake.

A Plant-Based diet consists of foods that primarily come from plant sources, like fruit, vegetables, grains, pulses, legumes, nuts and seeds. It can limit or eliminate any food derived from an animal, such as meat, eggs and dairy products. Similarly to the Mediterranean diet, a plantbased approach – or flexitarian diet (where you cut down your meat intake) is scientifically proven to help lower your chances of heart disease and other chronic illnesses like diabetes and digestive disorders. It has also shown favourable results for improving prostate health – one of the biggest killers among men in the UK. DASH Diet – 6,600 monthly searches With men more likely to develop hypertension or high blood pressure before they turn 65 they should make lifestyle changes younger to reduce the risk of serious conditions such as heart disease, developing later in life. To prevent or treat the issue, researchers created Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, which consists of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins, such as chicken, fish and beans. It reduces your natural sodium intake by limiting red meat, salt, added sugars and fat. Those who follow a regular programme should have one teaspoon of salt per day, while the lower-salt version recommends just three-quarters of a spoonful.

nuts and legumes – has been found to increase life expectancy by 10.7 years in females and 13 years in males. However, remember that making lifestyle changes is also important if you want to sustain your health and live a longer, happier life. So, what about supplements and vitamins? While it’s evident that you can kickstart a healthier lifestyle physically and mentally by tweaking your diet, the popularity of vitamins and supplements has risen significantly. But with people taking MultiVitamins purely to ‘take control’ of their health, it’s hard to know if they know the actual benefits. Here are a few supplements men could add to their daily routine to aid specific concerns: • Vitamin D, Zinc and Magnesium – To boost testosterone • Vitamin B – Prevent cancer • Vitamin B12 – Improves brain function • Probiotics – Maintain a healthy microbiome and immune function

So, if your MOT does show that your blood pressure is high, then the DASH diet has been found to lower blood pressure in older age and reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome, cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Longevity Diet – 210 monthly searches Rather than ignoring your health and burying your head in the sand, which could ultimately see you shaving the years off your life, a simple change in your food could be what you need to live longer. Changing from the typical Western to a pescetarian diet by cutting out processed or red meat, sugar and refined grains in favour of plenty of GNI MAG [81]




Sleepover HASLEM, LISBURN I was born and raised in Lisburn, long before it became the city it now is. I grew up in a town in the 80’s that was thriving. Bow Street (the main shopping street was thriving, and the Bow Street Mall was new and exciting. Over the years I think the city lost it’s direction and soul, the town died a wee bit as more and more shops left the town centre for out-of-town options. The Lisburn Square centrepiece of the town even lost it’s sparkle a bit. Giving up on the town, I abandoned it myself for the big smoke of Belfast over a decade ago. Growing up there I obviously still have friend and family connections, and Lisburn itself still offers some great bars and restaurants. It’s always been a bit of a pain in the hole to go out in Lisburn though because inevitably there’s an issue getting home, we all know GNI MAG [84]

taxis can be a nightmare, and I hate waking up in someone elses house -so crashing at a mates isn’t an option. Now I’m not saying there hasn’t been a hotel option in Lisburn before - there has, but for me it’s just not central enough after a night out, I’d still need to get a taxi there. Anyways, I planned a night out in the City of Lisburn with my husband and two of our very good friends. I’d arranged for my husband and I to meet our friends for dinner in Haslem at 7pm. We arrived an hour early to check in to our room. Let me firstly tell you a bit about where the hotel is located. Years ago I’d have popped into the exact same building to use a wee small pencil to fill in my order coupon at Argos, but walking up to the building you’d never imagine it. As you walk across Lisburn Square you can see

SLEEPOVER HASLEM Haslem perfectly positioned at the far corner which gives it the opportunity for outside seating. Immediately you’re hit with a casual yet modern sophisticated vibe. Entering the foyer there is no grand reception desk - infact it’s all rather understated. Instead priority is offered to creating a really cool space with a fun vibe. You’re immediately in part of the entertaining / bar zone, there is seating and booths around you with people having the craic and the buzz of fun is in the air. We checked into our room and headed up in the lift. Our room was spacious yet simply and tastefully designed. No over the top, unnecessary frills. But the is an obvious attention to even the smallest detail in the bespoke bedroom furniture. The bed is big and more importantly comfy. There’s a big TV on the wall to watch when I’m hungover in the morning, and the windows look out over the bustling market street part of town. As expected from a hotel within the Beannchor portfolio everything is well thought out, the ensuite shower room is beautiful with a great, powerful rain head shower. Oh, and not forgetting, and this is a particularly important one - the room has a full length mirror in it, that might sound a bit dramatic but have you ever tried to get ready in a hotel and it only has a wee mirror above the dressing table - absolute nightmare. After showering and getting ourselves ready we headed down for dinner. The restaurant is next to the bar, again it’s all pretty open so there’s a great flow and you can absorb the at-

mosphere from the bar and hear the live music (it was a Friday night). We were shown to our table and our friends joined us shortly after. The choice of dishes is great, not too over the top but enough to cater for all tastes. I had lamb (I always do, everywhere), hubby had Pork and my mates both had burgers - all totally gorgeous. I’m not going to dive into great detail about the ins and outs of the food, just to say it tasted beaut, was presented perfectly, and the staff serving it were amazing, friendly and attentive. Really this hotel is more about rooms and food - it’s more of an experience. After dinner we headed out into the lobby bar for a few cocktails and beers. There was a live acoustic singer on who was great - really added to the cool vibe, people were generally chilled and enjoying

themselves. This alone was a refreshing change for me when having a drink in Lisburn. And please don’t get me wrong there are some great bars in town and I still go to them - but the vibe in here was, well different. No notions of community divides or ownerships, no lary drunk people shouting abuse from the corners - just a bit more, well, Belfast City Centre to be very honest. We stayed here for a few and then headed across the square to the Lark. Again a great bar, bustling and busy with more of a high energy vibe. After this we went on a bit of a bar crawl around Lisburn. A great night was had, bumping in to some old familiar faces along the way. At the end of the night we retired back to the Lobby Bar at Haslem for a wee nightcap. In the morning we draggeed our hungover-selves out of bed and down to breakfast. It tasted great, but I’m sure to be honest if I’d been fresher I’d have appreciated it more - but sure what are wee hotel nights for. All in all, like I’ve mentioned previously. Haslem isn’t just a hotel for Lisburn. It’s an experience - a long over due one at that. For me the rooms (although very necessary in my situation) were secondary. The tone and atmosphere this venue brings to the town with it’s food, drink, and community crossover are what makes it stand out.

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CHILL Sandman



Coming to Netflix: August 5th One of the most ambitious TV releases of 2022 for Netflix is undoubtedly The Sandman led by Tom Sturridge who plays the role of Dream. It’s a series adapted from the Neil Gaiman comic books which has been impossible up until this point to adapt. Here’s the basic premise of the new series: “Upon escaping after decades of imprisonment by a mortal wizard, Dream, the personification of dreams, sets about to reclaim his lost equipment.”

Disney+ in August Attorney at Law follows Jennifer Walters as she navigates the complicated life of a single, 30-something attorney who also happens to be a green 6-foot-7-inch superpowered hulk. The nine-episode series welcomes a host of MCU vets, including Mark Ruffalo as Smart Hulk, Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky/ the Abomination, and Benedict Wong as Wong. The cast also includes Ginger Gonzaga, Josh Segarra, Jameela Jamil, Jon Bass and Renée Elise Goldsberry.

Baz Luhrmann sets his singular vision upon Elvis Presley, played by Austin Butler, chronicling the complicated relationship between Presley and his manager Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks). Starring: Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Helen Thomson, Richard Roxburgh Directed By: Baz Luhrmann Released June 24th

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Lightyear (2022)

Love Victor


Chris Evans goes to infinity and beyond in this Pixar prequel of sorts that charts the journey of the “real-life” Buzz Lightyear whose adventures inspired the action figure in the Toy Story films. Starring: Chris Evans, Taika Waititi, Keke Palmer, James Brolin Directed By: Angus MacLane Out Now

Disney+: If Heartstopper was your thing you must watch this, obvs catch up on the first 2 series first. This season finds Victor going on a journey of self-discovery — not only deciding who he wants to be with, but more broadly, who he wants to be. With their posthigh-school-plans looming, Victor and his friends are faced with a new set of problems that they must work through to make the best choices for their futures.

Details on Jordan Peele’s latest spine-tingler are few and far between, but we know it centers on a California horse ranch where mysterious forces begin to terrorize the human and animal populations. Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun, Barbie Ferreira Directed By: Jordan Peele Released 22nd July

Thor: Love and Thunder

Bullet Train

Black Phone

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) just wants to retire in peace, but a new threat in the form of Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale) forces him to lean on old allies, with some surprising twists. Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Christian Bale Directed By: Taika Waititi Released July 7th

Based on a Japanese novel, this action comedy stars Brad Pitt as an assassin looking to retire who is tasked with a final job aboard a bullet train that turns out to be more complicated than he expected. Starring: Brad Pitt, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry Directed By: David Leitch Released 5th August

Scott Derrickson reunites with his Sinister star Ethan Hawke in a new thriller about a kidnapped boy trapped in a basement who realizes he can communicate with his captor’s previous victims. Starring: Ethan Hawke, Mason Thames, Madeleine McGraw, Jeremy Davies Directed By: Scott Derrickson Released June 24th

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Oliva By Daniel May

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Anyone that knows me will be familiar of my jet setting, I’m of the view that there is a big world out there that needs exploring, I have been fortunate to travel across South Africa, America and many places in between and was super excited when Sean and Tony reached out and asked if I would be interesting in doing a review of their home in Oliva. Sometime ago we discussed the idea, though with covid and restrictions it just wasn’t a good idea. Fast forward to February of this year and thankfully restrictions around travel had been eased , allowing me as fully vaccinated to plan my stay in the Oliva Courtyard Guesthouse, quarantine free First off let’s address the elephant in the room, where is Oliva? You’re not alone, I hadn’t heard of it either, Olivia is a traditional town on the east coast of Spain, nestled midway between Valencia and Alicante on the breathtaking Costa Blanca. With the Mediterranean Sea in front, mountains behind, and beautiful white-sand beaches, Oliva is a picture-perfect town with a population of around 25,000. The bulk are locals though I discovered around 30% of the occupants were immigrants, spawning from more than 50 countries with the many coming from Bolivia, Ecuador, Morocco, and the United Kingdom as well as our European Neighbours from Romania ,France, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. With such a mix of people one would assume English being a global language would be widely spoken by the Spanish residents, this isn’t the case, Spanish is mainly used and encouraged ,so be prepared to have google translate at the ready. I personally loved this as it made Oliva that little more appealing being away from a typical holiday destination and also gave me the opportunity to pick up a few words and phrases - blanco grande (Large White Wine) came in very useful . So let’s delve into my trip - prior to leaving Sean was so helpful with planning the trip, giving me loads of info about the town, assisting with the Covid Cert phone app and honestly making even the packing hassle free as he was adamant that I had no need to bring towels, toiletries, hair dryers etc which was a godsend when trying to travel with a limited about of luggage. Now that the airports and most routes are back open I had the option of either flying from Belfast GNI MAG [90]


or Dublin, due to flight time I decided to fly out of Dublin. Many airports are struggling with staff numbers, meaning a lengthy process getting checked in and through security, I did foresee this and arranged to arrive well ahead of time, thankfully I had no issues at all and was through the airport in no time giving ample time to chill in the bar. My flight was a breeze with Ryanair, I had a vino and a much needed snooze. Once in Valencia I expected a security cue to show covid status though I was just ushered straight through, maybe with my olive toned skin they thought I was a local lol.

milk, juice, wine and others things which I genuinely wasn’t expecting at all, and there was also fresh bread/croissants which I happily devoured. There is also an area with a weight machine if you fancy working out while away. On the upper floor ,which you access via stairs in the courtyard is the bedroom, bathroom and stor-

I didn’t time the journey though from memory it was only 45 minutes, we arrived in Oliva at 10pm, it was dark so didn’t see much of the place.

They have Double ensuite rooms in the main house available for holiday makers though I was staying in separate accommodation, split over two levels, the guys have really thought about everything a guest could ever want or need. The lower level has a kitchen and seating area, this is perfect as you don’t need to access the main house if you want to make a cuppa, something quick to eat or have a much needed cold drink. The fridge was stocked with

I had 4 days planned in Oliva though that is where the plans started and stopped, at home I am constantly on the go juggling 2 jobs and rehearsals so this was very much to be a chilled trip ,free from emails, without deadlines or a care for when I slept, ate etc and I couldn’t wait to do virtually nothing. On the first day Sean spoiled me with a lovely cooked brunch which again I was not expecting, I thoroughly enjoyed this then decided to venture out to get my bearings and a feel for the town. While out walking it became apparent how big Oliva was, the length of the main town has been designed with pedestrians in mind with a central walkway making getting around very easy and super safe, there are so many establishments to choose from if you fancy a spot of people watching while having something to eat or drink, I for sure lapped this up, I had a few glasses of wine, lunch and ice cream from various locations , it really was blissful and just what the doctor ordered, one thing to remember though is Siesta is very much a thing, some businesses won’t close though many do so be conscious of this.

From Valencia you can get Buses to most places, taxis are also available and for those wanting to explore ,a rental car can be booked, though Sean being super hospitable arranged to collect me from the airport, a service they plan to offer everyone wishing to stay with them.

Sean and Tony’s home/Guesthouse is as few short minutes from the town centre, we parked up and Sean gave me a mini tour of where I would be staying, my initial thoughts were WOW from the street the house is so deceiving, you have no idea of how spacious the place is, let alone that at the back of the property through the trendy courtyard would be private guest accommodation.

As check-in’s go it was completely effortless and screamed of hospitality and attention to detail, I felt so welcomed and after minutes I already knew I was going to be looked after and have a great time getting to know the guys and everything Oliva has to offer.

age/dressing room. Like the rest of the house the room is a mix of Spanish tradition with those much needed mod cons. If you fancy just chilling watching a movie or Netflix you’ll be glad to hear there is a smart TV in the room already equipped and ready to use, also by the bed was a multiport USB charger so there was no need for travel plugs. The Bathroom had a large walk in shower and was stocked with a variety of toiletries, its little added elements like this that really make an impression, deodorants, toothbrush, shower-gel, shampoo you name it the guys had thought about it all.

The guys are great for recommendations, in the room they had a handbook with many suggestions and information which I found really helpful. My phone decided to play silly buggers for the first couple of days so as a solo traveler having the assistance of Sean and Tony was very much appreciated, I would also recommend downloading mapsme, it is free and works without data or Wifi, this really came in handy while out walking about. For many people top of their holiday list is a beach, well Oliva has this in abundance. It is 10 kilometers of heaven , all blue flag ,you have to walk for approx 25 mins to reach though with no agenda this wasn’t an issue at all, in fact i really enjoyed strolling along the river bank ,looking at the orchards and old houses. It was so peaceful being the middle of May I’m guessing it was quieter than peak season though it most certainly won’t be as busy as your typical tourist hotspot which was a dream for me. By the beach GNI MAG [91]


is Oliva Nova, I only visited here once though it is a great area with shops, bars and restaurants, I definitely suggest going for a nosey.

that isn’t dominated by fast food in fact unless I am mistaken there was only 1 familiar name which rhymes with Lurger Bing.

If you are a naturist be sure to ask Sean about the secluded nudist beach which is also beside the gay beach . He brought me on my 2nd day, again it was very quiet but if that’s your thing you’ll have to make a point of going.

If you are interested in architecture and/or religion there is plenty of offer, I ventured up to Castell de Santa Anna, it was built in the 1520’s, there isn’t much left of what would have been a grand building though it was great to see and you get the most wonderful views of Oliva from up there, be prepared to get a sweat on, it is steep and kind of challenging.

In terms of LGBTQI+ venues there are no loud/ proud gay bars in Olivia though many businesses are gay friendly and some are owned by LGBTQ+ couples, you won’t have any issues. Quick fact the local’s held their first pride event last year with the 2nd one planned for late June this year. Holiday makers can visit Oliva knowing that their business is very much welcome and appreciated. I briefly touched on food, there is so much choice in terms of cuisine, I really suggest immersing yourself by sticking to tradition, I honestly didn’t have one bad meal and it was a real delight being in a town

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In all I had the most wonderful stay, in hindsight it wasn’t long enough though holidays never are, I highly recommend staying with Sean and Tony, in terms of accommodation, location and hospitality all boxes are ticked, Oliva is definitely worth visiting if you want to experience the more traditional side Spain has to offer, though you can easily take a trip to Benidorm or Valencia and get the best of both worlds.

Thank you so much for a wonderful time, I will definitely be back The guys are giving all GNI readers a FREE welcome pack of goodies when you book simply mention GNI MAG & like the Facebook page

For more information and booking , visit Facebook : Oliva Courtyard - Guesthouse , you will be able to see loads of pictures & videos and ask any questions Double rooms are available for 60 euro per night, minimum stay 2 nights. Airport transfers from Valencia or Alicante can be arranged as can day trips to either place and Benidorm.

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In 2022, we made it our mission to try out some of Belfast’s newest eateries, so here are f ive terrif ic recent additions to the local food scene which really impressed us this year.



Situated in a Belfast City Quays location, facing the Harbour Commissioner’s

Lottie is a very welcome “new kid on the block” in Ballyhackamore. Created by

environment; a place to meet & mingle with friends and colleagues or to taste

menus ensure there’s something to suit all tastes, whether you’re popping in

Office, Gnostic Bar and Restaurant offers its customers a cozy and intimate and tipple with excellent food and drinks options. We called in to try the Small Plates selection, and were very impressed with the dishes on offer. The Asian

Crispy Duck Salad was a definite winner, as were the Spiced Panisse Tacos, and we were delighted to find a great favourite of ours, Fried Green Olives, on the menu: absolutely perfect bar snacks! And the Charred Broccolini with miso mayo and a soft poached egg, and the Mac & Beer Cheese with whipped

feta were terrific vegetarian options. With a variety of small tasting plates to

share, main courses or platters of your favourite Cheese and Charcuterie Boards, Gnostic has something for everyone. It also holds a large selection of Premium Wines and offers an extensive Cocktail List.

the team behind Yugo East, the restyled interior and selection of food & drinks for a coffee & pastry, a lunch with cocktails, or an evening meal, Lottie does it

all with aplomb. We called in one Saturday night, and the venue was buzzing. To start, we shared a generous Irish Cheeseboard, crispy Bread & Tapenade, and luxurious little Cauli Cheese Croquettes. We followed this with Lottie’s

stunning Langoustine Arnold Bennett, a dish of perfectly cooked Scallops, and a rich, tomatoey Prawn Linguine. Drinks are also top notch; the Revolution is a fantastic spirit-led creation perfect for whiskey lovers, and the Seasonal Spritz is

a refreshing glass of rhubarb and vermouth based fizz. And the Cora de Loxarel Penedès is an aromatic & fruity vegan white. Lottie’s relaxed, informal wine bar vibe, with delicious plates and great quality drinks absolutely hits the spot.


Bafflingly, it’s been many a year since Belfast has had a Greek Restaurant (Greek

Located on the Lisburn Road, Cú is one of Belfast’s most exciting recent

cuisine, adored by tourists when visiting those gloriously idyllic islands on their

local produce with Mexican influences. The atmosphere is lively, the service

Symposium, anyone?) and it has been a mystery to us that this hugely popular holidays, isn’t in huge demand on their return. But finally, those whitewashed

windmills and the azure of the Aegean can be revisited, food-wise, with the opening of Tzatziki, a local, family-run restaurant offering a variety of dishes in Greek, Mediterranean, and BBQ styles.

This relaxed and welcoming restaurant is located a short walk from Queen’s University on Botanic Avenue, and the authentic menu features a range of

starters, mains, and desserts which will soon get your mouth watering. Tzatziki

is unlicensed at present, but has a BYOB policy. And make sure you’re hungry!

openings. Describing themselves as “Always Punchin’”, the focus is on the best is efficient and friendly, and the food is terrific. Every dish was excellent, in

particular the plate of Grilled Padron Peppers with lime whipped feta which was an unusual twist on an old favourite, and both the Cod Cheek, and Oyster

Mushroom Tacos, were delicious-especially when topped with the smoky Burnt Morita Salsa. The desserts are also fantastic, so leave some room for either

the silky Chocolate Mousse, or the New York Style Burnt White Chocolate Cheesecake. Or have both. La vida es demasiado corta!!

We ordered the vegetarian Meze for two, featuring the ubiquitous Tzatziki,

Madame Pho

olives, feta and pita. The Spanakopitakia were delicious filo parcels stuffed with

The brainchild of William Chan, who has made it his mission to highlight the

with oregano and peppery olive oil? But the star of the show was the whole

Vietnamese food in a casual dining setting on Belfast’s Botanic Avenue. The

Houmous, a phenomenally good Melizana Salata, minty Dolmades, with

spinach and cheese, and who can resist a fresh and herby Greek Salad, fragrant Seabass, charcoal grilled, and presented beautifully on a circular wooden platter with rice and salad.

For a great value feast of simple, authentic, healthy Greek favourites, drop into Tzatziki.

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reputation of Vietnamese cuisine, Madame Pho offers great quality, authentic Small Plates are perfect for either a light lunch, or a sharing feast, and we found

it impossible to choose a favourite; the Veggie Spring Rolls wrapped in lettuce and dipped in Nuoc Cham Sauce are a deep-fried delight, and the Summer

Rolls are stuffed with deliciously fresh shredded vegetables served with a peanut sauce. We can never resist a bean curd dish, and the Salted Chilli Wok Fried


Tofu is a super-spicy vegan option, as are the Crispy Cauliflower Wings

with vegan Sriracha Mayo, and

the Stir-Fried Broccoli in Garlic. And for seafood lovers, the Banh

Mi with Panko King Prawns is a sandwich with serious attitude! No

Vietnamese meal would be complete without a traditional Vietnamese coffee. Hot or iced, the Madame Ca


Phe District 1 Coffee has notes of

cocoa, almond, and caramel, and is served in a traditional Phin filter.

From hand-rolled summer rolls to

spicy curries and healthy noodle


salads, Madame Pho has something to suit all tastes.





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recommendations send us a message and we’ll get right back to you.

Madame Pho GNI MAG [95]




Fish City on Anne Street has become a firm favourite to diners from it was established back in 2013, over the past 9 years they have won many prestigious awards including being named the UK’s healthiest and most sustainable fish and chip restaurant, with accolades like this and personally being somewhat health conscious I was super eager to get in a sample the food. This family run restaurant has an ethos worth shouting about, sustainability is so important so much so that they are the first retailer in Ireland to be certified by the Marine Stewards Council (MSC) in over 20 years. Those not familiar the MSC are part of the global effort to keep our oceans healthy and full of life As their name ‘Fish City’ suggests the vast majority of their menu is based around Fish/Seafood although do not fret it fish isn’t your thing, you can most certainly dine with family/friends as in both the Starter and Main Menus have alternatives including Chicken, Beef and Vegetarian dishes. Though today for me is not about alternatives I fully intend to dive and try what the restaurant does best. Go, so let’s talk about the evening and food. We arrived as agreed at 5.30pm on a Tuesday night, in honesty I was so surprised at just how busy the place was, there were so many more dinners that I would expect then also a large group of around 20 people arrived, I am unsure if this was a pre arranged private function though regardless it was great to see so many people dining, this is surly a testament to the food and service we were about to receive. We were swiftly seated, presented menus and ordered drinks. As first impressions go, I have to give a massive tick for the beautiful decor both inside, also to the service/speed of the waiting staff.

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Being a planner I had already looked at the Menus online and was already 90% decided on what I was going to order.

Julie, a pasta lover, decided to try the Seafood Linguine. I tasted this and it was delicious. Similar to my dish it was filled with so much fresh produce.

To start I went with the Salt and Chilli Squid, it is one of my favourite dishes also I was keen to see how it was cooked, so many times I have ate out and the Squid has been over, thankfully this wasn’t the case today, it was cooked to perfection, so crispy and moorish, served with Lime & Ginger Slaw and the most delicious Chilli Jam, I adore spicy food and this had a nice wee kick to it.

Unfortunately we had another commitment to attend and had not time to stay for a dessert which really pains me to say as they serve one of my favourite puds, Sticky Toffee Pudding, this is my go to when it is on any menu, this surely will be ordered when I return.

My guest Julie ordered the Grilled Halloumi to start. I didn’t try it though she assured me it was lovely, it came with Field Mushrooms, Baby Leaf Salad and a Balsamic reduction. For my main I was sold on the Fisherman’s Curry, I have honestly never eaten a more flavorsome curry, this is so far removed from something you would get in a chinese restaurant, this dish alone will have me back, it was packed with fresh fish and loads of veg including Prawn, Mussels, Tenderstem Broccoli and Green Beans, it was came with a portion of Basmati Rice. I left only a tiny amount though had I not over indulged on the starter I would have devoured the lot. If spice is your thing you really need to try this, I let my friend try it and it was a tad too hot for her though it was perfect for me.

All the dishes were so well presented and I cannot fault a thing. I must say thank you to Grainne, one of the owners, she made a point of introducing herself and checking if everything was ok, thanks to Aaron for arranging our review and also the amazing chef ’s who prepared such wonderful food and lastly to the attentive waiting staff. We had such a wonderful time. Bravo Fish City is on 33 Anne Street, Belfast. If you wish to make a reservation you can email, call 02890231000 or reach them across social media, they are on all the usual platforms including Facebook and Instagram. Review by Daniel May


33 Ann Street, Belfast BT1 4EB

GNI MAG [97]


Paperxclips My Journey to Opening a Queer Bookshop

It all started with The Famous

gender-confused 13-year-old I

wasn’t prepared for, but it was

to be a boy.” I spent a lot of

My Mind by Nancy Garden

we needed at the time.

Five, and George who “wanted

my childhood tucking my long hair beneath a baseball cap and imagining being a boy who solved mysteries, just like George. I

felt a kinship with George that I didn’t understand, and turned

to every charity shop and library to find as many books in that

series as I could get my grubby ten-year-old hands on, hoping Enid Blyton would answer that mystery as well. (She didn’t).

Then as a newly-out queer, GNI MAG [98]

asked for a copy of Annie On for Christmas. That copy still

the closest we could find to what

lives battered and well-loved

Thankfully times have changed

around all of my queer friends

for queer people of all ages and

on my shelf, having been passed and back again. It didn’t answer my questions and it didn’t have

a happy ending, but for the first time since George I got to read

about people who felt like me, living lives that could be similar to mine. The next book my queer

friends and I passed around was Tipping the Velvet, which veers into




and there is a wealth of literature

identities. When ‘Category Is’ (a wonderful queer bookshop

in Glasgow) opened we made a pilgrimage to visit it. After

being kicked out of the pool in our hotel for holding hands

while being read as two men, stepping




felt like coming home. So I’m opening the bookshop I needed

at 10-years-old, and that Belfast needs now.

Paperxclips is opening in the last week of July in Blackstaff

Mill. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or keep an eye on our website for updates. Every penny profit supports the work of The Rainbow Project





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