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your local homocultural magazine ISSUE 57 AUG / SEPT 23 £4.95/€ 4.95 Claire
Artsdesk Evening Standard Daily Telegraph All That Dazzles Guardian WhatsOnStage ‘A PERFECT PRODUCTION. IT’S (FORTY) SECOND TO NONE’ Daily Mail TUE 24 � SAT 28 OCT

An introduction from our editor...

It’s been a minute, the past few months have been mental. My life continues to be a juggling act between working 2 jobs, performing, life commitments and going through the motions of starting a family which is so daunting and exciting.

With the BIG 40 only 3 months away I’ve been back at the Gym, my PT Jaden has been great at keeping me motivated and the sessions fun, of course I have had a few slip ups though for the most part I’ve been good - I’m looking forward to the next few months.

My Sister Linda and Brother-in-law Andrew welcomed their first baby together into the world. Little Cora arrived last month and she is just perfect. We are all delighted for them, this little one brings the tally of nephews/nieces to 10.

I took a 5 day trip to Portugal which was much needed though not long enough. I caught up with Claire, Daniel, Charlie & Kiera in Northampton whom I haven’t seen since before covid, it was lovely. In September, 6 of us are off to Magaluf for a pre 40 party - it is going to be mess-express , between now and then I have a couple of city breaks planned and my friend’s Caroline & Aarons wedding to keep me amused.

I have to mention Kylie Minogue with Gay anthem and the hit of the summer with Padam Pamdam. I’m living for it, she has just announced a Vegas residency which I’m so tempted to book for journalistic purposes of course lol.

Enough about me, other things that have been going on:

The divides seem to deepen across the world, Kenya and other African countries are trying to outright ban and criminalise everything to do with being or showing support for LGBTQIA+ people, prohibiting Parades, Drag Shows, Rainbow Flags, Colours and Emblems - it is such a sad state of affairs while the U.K government is due to compensate up to 20,000 veterans for behaviors such as Jailing, Dismissal

and Outing pre the laws passing in the year 2000, this is great news for the thousands who were persecuted.

Belfast had another successful Pride, with more companies than ever showing either support. And other countries stride ahead, Latvia for example has just sworn in the E.U’s first openly gay President - will there ever be a day that people can believe in what they want?

On to Issue 57 and what’s filled within these pages. I interviewed such an array of talent including Claire Richards, Mae Muller, Ben Cohan, AJ Jenks and Joe McFadden ahead of Richards O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Picture Show coming to the GOH.

We cover so many subjects including Fostering, Body Dysmorphia, Lauren shares her ‘Real Life’ transition story, we have a new PT Ellise on board, in our wedding section we feature 2 recent ‘BIG DAYS’ we have fashion from Aussiebum and Another World and so much more.

In our Try section we have a buckload of recommendations, Gary shares his Hot Hits & Celeb Bits, Marty Kearny is back with a new column called ‘Casting Couch, Danny Malone talks Hair, we learn were The Gourmet Boys have been eating, I stayed at the Maldron Belfast City Centre and dined at Flame - be sure to check out my reviews. Gavyn takes us on a trip to Gran Canaria and we also have features on new books, what to Binge on and a new false tan from Lidl - plenty to keep you all entertained.

Thanks as always to our Columnists who share what’s been going on with them, our advertisers for their continued support and most importantly you, our readers.

Enjoy Reading xx








































Daniel May Operations Director

Pauline Fitzpatrick Sales Executive

Tony Day Design

Thanks to... Claire Richards / Mae Muller / AJ Jenks / Ben Cohen / Joe McFadden / Joe O’Hagan / Connor Mills / Tailor Maid / Martin Murray / Ellise Richards / Danny Malone / Gary Campion / Martin Kearney / The Gourmet Boys / Gayvn Andrews / Lauren Dempsey / Hugh & Michael / Victoria & Niamh / Suki Hollywood / Colleen Dornan / Aussiebum / GOH Belfast / Action For Children

/ Another World / Maldron Hotel Belfast / Flame / LIDL / Halestorm

PR / Chuff Media / Project Publicity

/ Neil Reading PR / Kiko Gaspar Communications / Good Relations

PR / LK Comms and all clients who submitted editorial / Jules Boyle

GNI MAG is published by: Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd.

13 Union Street Belfast, BT1 2JF

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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 2023


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Claire Richards, one of the greatest and most unmistakable voices in British pop, is back with her 2nd Album Euphoria which brilliantly showcases Claire’s powerful and stunning vocals on a lovingly curated collection of covers of songs by female singers who have helped shape Claire as an artist and singer. The title and sense of intense pleasure it promises captures what the album means to her and what she hopes it will mean to fans.


We have been spoiled this last four to five years, Steps have had so much in terms of new material, this is now an overdue hiatus that you are all planning on taking. Has it been gruelling for you or have the last few years been fun?

No it is great, it’s always great but I think you can tell when you are coming to the end of a period of time where you think we have all just got to take a step away from everything because it is very intense being in Steps world. It’s a different kind of vibe compared to everything else we do, it is quite intense. We are five strong characters and we have all got very strong opinions, so it is like fighting for your voice to come out a lot of the time. Not actually fighting, just to be heard because we all like to talk quite a lot.

It’s great, but it kind of lasted longer than it should have done because of the whole Covid situation and we ended up doing one more album. ‘What Future Holds Part One’ was the only planned album because of the tour being put back a year, trying to breathe extra life into it I suppose. Then we ended up doing Part Two and then we released like four albums. That’s a lot.

When it comes to taking a break is it a collective decision?

This time we just said, ‘We need a break’, because in that period of time it’s nice to go off and find yourself as an individual again, so we all go off and do our individual projects. It gives you a little boost to go back to Steps and I think it is rewarding to be able to do that. This time however we hadn’t really put a time limit on it. We have got a gig in a couple of weeks, we are doing Brighton Pride on 6th August, which is our only gig that we are doing this year. It is one that we have wanted to do for a long time and it’s possibly the only opportunity we will get to do it, so we said yes. At least until the end of this year we are not going to talk about what might be next and then we will just go from there. If we had a time limit there would be pressure and it takes the pressure off us all. Yes, we all have to be in the same place at the same time, mentally as well as physically, but generally we know when we are ready.

You mentioned about Brighton Pride, that’s going to be a scream. Do you find that concerts that are specifically for an LGBT audience are a bit more loud? How do they compare to other concerts?

I think when it is an outdoor festival there is definitely a significant difference. I think when you do an arena show, everybody is there to see us and everybody

knows what they are going to get. But I think, some of those outdoor festivals, if it isn’t a Pride, sometimes people are a little more subdued can I say. I love doing Prides, it sums us up in a nutshell and selfishly it gives me what I want as a performer from an audience. It definitely puts a smile on my face, that’s for sure.

How does it work in terms of rehearsals or are you always ready?

Well, the older I get the less ready I feel! To a degree, yes. All the choruses are here, it doesn’t take much to remember a chorus. Sometimes over the years routines change and formations have changed. It does take a little bit of remembering.

Is it safe to say you will get the vocals right but you might veer off in the wrong direction?

Yes, you might see me wondering around at the back of the stage but the words will be right. I will be singing my heart out. If you just see me singing and standing still, it’s because I’ve forgotten the moves.

I read that Steps were the first ever mixed group to have a Number 1 album in four separate decades. How amazing is that?

It is incredible and obviously it’s not like we have had a 40 year career. We have released albums in the 90’s the 2000’s the 10’s and the 20’s and it is incredible. It’s actually spread over, as it was last year 25 years, and it is what dreams are made of in a way. You never set out to think you are going to achieve those kinds of things but it’s amazing. It is very humbling and it gives me a little bit more confidence in being proud of Steps. I am proud of Steps and everything that we have achieved but sometimes I always wonder about other peoples perceptions of us as a band. Some people kind of thought we were a bit of a joke in the 90’s and we were a bit of a novelty band but I think statistics over the last few years do speak for themselves. We have got a track record and we have got such a loyal fan base that keep giving us those things it makes us want to continue on, keep releasing albums and performing to a standard that we always have done. We are always mindful of that and that is why there was quite a big gap with no new material. When we first came back with ‘Tears on the Dancefloor’, it took us a long time to devise that was what we actually wanted to do because we had such a legacy from the 90’s and the 2000’s and there was a real chance that we could mess all that up by releasing new material in 2017. That balance of how do we do that, still makes it what our audience wants and expects, but thanks to the team that we

have got around now, they continue to help us and we have managed to achieve that so far.

Let’s get onto your new album Euphoria. The songs are so different and they all complement each other. The title is Euphoria, why was that not the first single to be released?

Most of the album was recorded at the beginning of this year. We started working on it a couple of years ago and it has evolved and changed a bit from when we first started. I recorded most of it in February/ March/April and for weeks we were trying to come up with a title, between myself, my producer Steve and my management. I have to admit, I was struggling. I knew the essence of what I wanted to say and I also wanted it to be strong and powerful, but nothing that we came up with was right. I had been through every word in the dictionary, all of us, and nothing seemed right. Then, quite late on, in relation to when the show was, I was asked to do the Eurovision Village just before they streamed the actual contest for all the people that had bought tickets for the Saturday night in Liverpool. In the whole week leading up to it they had acts playing and for some reason I was asked to headline. I had my set list ready for the summer shows that I was already doing and we were having conversations about what the set lists should be and someone said you should probably do a Eurovision song. I think it was my manager who said you should do Euphoria it is the perfect song for me and it is one of the best Eurovision songs ever. I think I did make some sort of comment on stage that night about her winning and this was all on a WhatsApp conversation, in the back of a car on the way to the album cover shoot. So we were shooting the cover of the album and didn’t have a title. Then we decided we were going to do Euphoria and I was like ‘Do you know what that is actually a really good album title’. So I sent that in a message to the group and as soon as I sent it everybody said ‘oh my goodness, YES’. I then said it is such a shame we should have done it for the album and my manager asked ‘have we got time?’. We still had a week before the deadline, so he said do you think you could get in and do a vocal and get it ready and we decided to do it. As soon as I heard it with the intro and everything I said it has to be the first song on the album. By this point we already knew ‘I Surrender’ would be the single and to a degree there is an element to it. It is quite a recent cover compared to the rest of them. ‘I Surrender’ is over 20 years old , so compared to the rest it is quite new and I think sometimes when you do a cover , especially as a single, there needs to be enough of a


gap. I think Euphoria is have as the opening song, it is great for live shows and it fits perfectly with the theme of the whole album.

You mentioned I Surrender which is a fabulous song. I know you love Celina Dion, but that key change! Are you wise, that must be a nightmare singing live? I know. It hasn’t actually been in the set up until now because nobody knew about the album or it was going to be a single. But my next show is in a couple of weeks, and I obviously haven’t sang it since I recorded it but it is a song I have done quite a lot over the years and I did sing it on tour every night in 2012 with Steps, but it’s been a while... Celine’s vocal is incredible on it and it’s an epic song. People just don’t write songs like that anymore, her song is a ballad and I have only ever sang it as a ballad, but now it is more upbeat.

In this album you have two duets, one with Andy Bell and one with Delta Goodrem. Did you have the

opportunity to record with them live or was it all studio magic?

Even when I record with Steps we are never in the studio together, as generally it is down to peoples schedules. Especially with Delta, she lives on the other side of the world anyway, so she recorded her vocal in the Maldives, which is so much more glamorous compared to where I did mine. Andy did his with the producer that he is working with and who is very good friends with my producer so it worked out well. Delta did hers in the Maldives, I think she was in a show, and she sent it over to us. I am just so grateful to both of them that they managed to get it done and I think they both sound great. I am so excited that I have got the two duets on the album and I am so happy with both of them.

How do you pick someone to do a duet with?

With No More Tears, I knew I wanted to put that on this album as it is one of my all time favourites and I was obsessed with it when I was younger. I was

also obsessed with Barbara Streisand and Donna Summer. It was like a revelation to me up until I came across that song. I had only ever sang it as a ballad and I would be trying to find anyone who would sing it with me at a karaoke, and there wasn’t that many people that wanted to.

My producer, my management and I sat in my kitchen and we were trying to figure out who would be best to do it with. Then Steve Anderson, he knows Delta, said she was wanting to do more of this kind of music and he suggested Delta. I said, ‘Are you joking?’ He said he would ask her and he did. He then rang me a couple of weeks later and said, ‘Are you sitting down?’, she said YES! She was the top of the list and it has just worked out so well. It all just feels like everything is falling into the right place at the right time. I feel really lucky that it has happened that way because it doesn’t always go to plan. Up until now it just feels so right and I think the fact that the duets have worked out and each song has gone really


well, I feel like everything happens for a reason. I’m really excited and happy about the whole album.

13 songs made it onto the album. When you look back is there any that stand out and you wish you had put on the album?

We had a list of songs and there were a few that we tried that right from the start you either know or you don’t know if it is going to work or not. Even just singing something through once, you get a feeling of whether it is going to work. There are some other songs that I would have loved to have done but they were ballads and I wanted this album to be big and euphoric. I wanted it to be an album that gets people up and makes them happy, apart from Goodbye to Love, because I just had to include Karen Carpenter in this album. She is my ultimate idol, my ultimate influence, that is the reason I sing how I sing, there is so much of her influenced in me. The Carpenters up tempos are not necessarily conjusive to this album. Goodbye to Love was the first song that I ever sang to an audience, outside of my home and my parents, and again it is the reason why I started singing properly. We have slowed it down a bit and got rid of the electric guitar, and I think it is a really beautiful ballad. It felt right to put it on the end and rounded off everything perfectly.

Do you have a favourite song on the album?

I don’t think I have a favourite. I think Goodbye to Love is the one I feel more connected to in terms of where I started and where I am now. I think I was 11 when I sang that song at a school assembly! I don’t know how I did it, I didn’t want to, I think a teacher told me to do it. I was a very good girl during my school days. If my music teacher hadn’t told me to do that I might not even be here today so I have got a lot to thank him for.

People love to see you tour and join live concerts. You have a few booked in August and September. Do you have any others that me be joining the list before Christmas and any possibility of Belfast or Dublin?

I am always on the lookout for things coming in. I don’t have anymore booked at the moment. As soon as the album is released and we see how it goes I would love to do a little tour and I would really like for Belfast or Dublin to be included as I love going over there and performing. If I get the opportunity, then absolutely 100 per cent. I would love to do my own little tour. We will just have to wait and see. People will just have to buy the album and demand it. Lol.

Can you reveal what the second single is going to be?

To be honest, I don’t know if we are necessarily going with singles there are focus tracks. Next week I am going into Radio 2, it’s going to be Summer Night City.

I have to mention Cooking with the Stars. Was this a while ago or when did you take part in the programme? We recorded this in April. I was still recording bits of the album, but it was quite an intense record. I think we recorded it in an entire week, but it was really great fun. It was very, very stressful, very intense, and who knew that cooking a curry would be so nerve wracking! Give me a time limit and I fall to pieces. I can cook anything you ask me to cook, as long as I have got time to make a mess and just do it in my own time, but that was intense. However, I made such lovely friends and everybody was such a laugh and so funny, the time just flew by. It was a lovely experience.

I read that you were going through pre-menopausal symptoms when you were taking part in The Masked Singer. How are you feeling now?

I seem to have become a bit of a mouthpiece for it, in a very, very small way. I think it has actually really helped me hearing other people talk about it and hearing their experiences and knowing that it is going to happen to all of us. There is no getting away from it, however it depends on what extreme. Some people get away with it and don’t really have any symptoms, some people get even more extreme symptoms than I have had so far. I think it is really interesting to learn that this whole peri-menopause thing asI never really understood it. It is actually very different and you can

start getting symptoms younger. I am 45 and I really noticed it during The Masked Singer, mostly because I was on my own most of the time. I get nervous but the anxiety and palpitations that I was getting and there was nothing I could do about it. It almost made the experience really difficult for me because I couldn’t calm myself. Normally there are techniques I would use and I can calm down but this just wasn’t normal. I was getting an upset tummy which would never really happen, it was out of the ordinary for me. It is recognising those symptoms as something that is not normal, and I have only been on HRT for about a month, so it has taken quite a while for me to address it and do something about it. I knew it was happening and it was getting worse, and I am now addressing it and managing it. Things are better and I am definitely much calmer.



I had always assumed that my secondary school education in an all-boys school in Longford and then a village in Donegal, that I wouldn’t be learning about the inner workings of queer relationships and sex. I feel since both schools social, personal and health education classes were undertaken by the local priest, my learning of this subject was very one sided. There were huge gaps in my education of sexual health, the rights I had as a gay male, and what were safe or unsafe practices, unless I just hadn’t been reading between the lines of the New Testament correctly for the daily “lines recital”. With the only actual community representation being down the hall on the music room’s wall with a poster of Freddie Mercury.

This is why my heart sang when seeing the recent inclusion of LGBTQIA+ issues in the Irish junior syllabus. Yet now living in the North of Ireland I cannot express just enough my complete bewilderment in Northern Irelands response on the same topics. Looking through the Relationships and Sexuality Education guidance on the CCEA website you can plainly see a want to support and protect LGBTQIA+ youth with a section even detailing the negative impact language can have which again is a clear contrast of my experience; in particular a teacher laughing when a student called Shakespeare “wile gay”. Personal opinions of Shakespeare aside, the guidance offered on topics is inclusive and wants to create more positive school environment for all.

Yet, this is not the actual case, The Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) report (based on a survey of more than 14,500 primary and postprimary students from 500 schools) shows that over 80% of schools in Northern Ireland are failing to provide sufficient teaching on LGBTQIA+ topics. Shockingly almost half are even failing to give “adequate” lessons on consent. So even with a strong guidance on how to teach LGBTQIA+ topics it is at the school’s discretion on which parts of the curriculum it wishes to cover usually determined by the school’s individual ethos.

The report also states that out of students who had openly identified as transgender to a member of staff, less than half had then received further support from the school. With our headlines or social media feeds full of transphobic hate or stories of non-consent it begs belief these would be the topics that didn’t match with a “Schools Ethos” in order to educate and help better understand the student populas.

What also makes the whole situation more mind boggling is the fact that most post primary schools were reported saying the main safeguarding concern was for students’ mental health. Missing the irony of that in 2021 the charity Just Like Us have reported that young people in Northern Ireland are three times more likely to contemplate suicide than their non-LGBTQIA+ peers. Belong to Youth’s survey on the subject showing Northern Irish LGBTQIA+ youth were twice more likely to self-harm, three times more likely to experience suicide ideation and were also four times more likely to experience anxiety and depression than their nonLGBTQIA+ friends. Thus, showing that clearly if the biggest safeguarding concern was Mental health than surely topics covering LGBTQIA+ issues should not be the first to be thrown on the pyre in over 80% of schools.

I personally spent 10 years with my local music school teaching private

music A-levels and GCSE’s the given curriculum can be daunting and sometimes you feel a need to spend less time on topics than others based on an overall goal. I was able where possible to inject personality into topics by teaching needed skills in a manner that could be topical and educational overall, for example during pride month I was able to teach the ideas of production through queer artists. It was not necessarily relevant in view of it being a music lesson to expand on the fact the artist identified as queer, yet if a student asked who the artist was or wanted to seek out similar artists I was able to supply them with this information. Even during my own leaving cert one of the song case studies was “Bohemian Rhapsody” (explaining the Freddie Mercury poster) and you best believe seeing the live performances I wanted to learn more information, and this was unfortunately the way in which I first leaned about the AIDS crisis of the 80’s. This again in the music room, down the hall, and separate from the place I was supposed to be learning about sexually transmitted infections and diseases.

The reason this is something that I feel as a community we should be aware of is that it shines a bright light on how attitudes towards the LGBTQIA+ community are coloured. The lack of education at an early age is something that bleeds into adulthood and hurtful or criminal behaviours that we see on the news and in our own streets can be avoided with an education and understanding. Even within our own community were not free from the stigma a lack of education can bring towards sexual health, relationships etc. So, perhaps it is about time even half our schools start actually acting upon their safeguarding concerns and protect the mental health of all students, not just those whose topics match their “ethos”.

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

MAE Mullar


You’re finally about to release your long-awaited debut album, the brilliant Sorry I’m Late. What can you tell us about it?

Some of the songs that are on there I wrote about five years ago, some I wrote only a year ago, so it really shows a real span of how I’ve grown over that period as a woman, as an artist and just as a human being. It was really important to me then, to show a different, more vulnerable side to me on the album. I’ve built most of my songs on the past on a platform of women empowerment, not taking any sh*t and basically never letting them see you sweat. The other side of that coin though, is actually being really vulnerable and allowing yourself to be hurt, because all these experiences that make us be strong women and strong people, they can come from a place of pain. For a while, I really wanted to hide that, but for this album I really wanted to embrace that vulnerability and show people that I could do the sassy, ‘bad B’ thing, which is an important part of who I am, but it’s just as important to show the other side, so I hope I’ve done that. I feel like I have though, so that makes me really happy. Women in general, whether it’s in the workplace, in relationships or as mothers, sisters and so on, are meant to be this strong, empowered fixers who are the emotional careers, the ones who hold everything together. There’s a lot of pressure in that, so I think it’s actually really powerful when you can just go ‘I’m not feeling powerful or strong today!’, then you actually come out the other end feeling empowered for being able to do it. I think we need to stop holding women up to such high expectations. We’re not just the strong statues that can power through anything, we have our moments and that’s alright. So there are a lot of songs on this album that, if you are feeling down or under pressure, you’ll be able to connect with and relate to.

You could easily have released your debut album a lot earlier than you have. Now it’s actually here, are you glad you didn’t rush it in the end?

The one big thing for me was that I really wasn’t rushed to get this album out, which was really nice, but that also ties into the title, as I know it took me a while, so I’m sorry I’m late, but I’m here now and I’m so happy I took my time with it. I don’t think it sounds like a bunch of songs that have been thrown out together in a rush, as it really tells a story and has a message to it, which is so personal to me. It did take a span of five years to get there, but it was absolutely the right thing to do. You don’t want to be sitting in five or ten years, looking back at your debut album and wishing you’d taken more time with it, do you? Especially with your debut album. I really didn’t want that, so I’m glad we took our time with it.

There’s a strong thread of storytelling running through the record. It feels like that’s an important part of who you are as an artist? Oh, it definitely is! When I was releasing my early stuff like Anticlimax and Therapist, the storytelling was so important, but I do feel like after the pandemic, I kind of lost that for a little bit. I love my songs that have had chart success and streaming success obviously, but my storytelling was getting a bit lost with then, which as an artist, is something that’s really important to me, so on this album, that’s exactly what it is, it’s me getting back to telling stories. I’ve always considered myself a songwriter first and foremost, as that’s my real passion, so it was important for me to show that I can write. That’s my first true love.

The album’s themes are very personal, but at the same time there’s a universal quality to them at the same time. You’d imagine they’ll really resonate with fans when they hear them?

I really hope so. Being a woman myself, I feel it’s really important that I write

music that young women can relate to, but it’s also for anyone that has just been put down in their life. I have so much love for the LGBTQ+ community, because they’ve been so accepting of me, so it’s really important that they listen to this album and feel accepted too. I wanted it to be an album that everyone can enjoy and feel empowered by. That’s my main aim.

Your single I Wrote A Song was everywhere due to being the UK’s Eurovision entry, but the album must have been finished before the the you were picked for Eurovision?

The album was done and dusted long before Eurovision. In fact, it was meant to come out a lot sooner, but when that came up, the whole plan had to change. It was a shame, but it was so the right thing to do as so many more people know who I am now. It was actually so perfect, as right after Eurovision, I had an album ready to go! I think it was really important too that, after pretty much doing one single song for four months, as much as I love it and am so proud of it, I had to be able to day ‘here’s 16 more songs for you all!’, so it really has come at the wee perfect time for me.

How much have things changed for you since competing in Eurovision?

Even at the few shows and festivals I’ve done since then, it feels like there’s more of an audience there, there’s more support and just more people knowing who I am, which can only be a good thing. It’s quite nice too, as even when I’m walking down the street, there’s a whole new and different range of people who will come up and say hi to me. I’m now getting older blokes coming up to tell me how much they loved me in Eurovision, which I’m really not used to, but it’s so nice when they do.

Has it opened up any doors in regard to working with new people in the music industry?

When you’re in front of an audience like that, it definitely opens you up to working with more people, more writers and more producers, so I’m slowly starting to get back into the studio now, as there was just no room for writing songs for so long there. So I’m definitely going to work with some new people, but I’ve already got such an amazing group of writers and musicians that I really enjoy working with too, so I’m going to figure it all out soon.

Did seeing all that high-end production first hand give you any inspiration for your own live shows?

It was all on such a huge scale, but I was definitely inspired by the choreography that I saw there, so I want to have the freedom to do more of that. My stage style is actually very different to Eurovision, as I love to chat and have audience interaction, as in I like my shows to almost feel like you’re in your front room with your mates, but I’m definitely looking forward to bringing some of that more polished choreography into the mix.

You have your own headline tour coming up, which is your biggest yet. How are you feeling about it?

I’m so excited about it! Touring and playing live is definitely my favourite thing about doing music and being an artist. Doing a headline show too, that’s just the most rewarding thing, having people sing your words back at you and just seeing how much it means, it’s the most rewarding thing in the world, but I also have such a good time doing it, too! I’m very, very lucky that I get to do it, that’s for sure.


You have a full festival season calendar as well this summer. How different is it playing one of them as opposed to your own shows?

It’s a different energy for sure. When you do a headline gig, you know every single person in that room has left the house to see you and you only, which is an amazing thing, whereas a festival is just like a big party. You don’t know what to expect and a lot of the time, you’ll be playing to people who might not know much about you, so you have to win them over, which is always fun.

The people that do know you though, seem to really, really adore you and it looks very much that the feeling is mutual, would that be right?

Without your fans, you’ve got nothing, absolutely nothing. Some people think record labels and maybe artists run this sh*t, but it’s the fans. Without them, nobody at the record labels would have a job! Nobody would be able to do this thing that we all love without them. So I think it’s really important that you respect them, but also personally, I feel very, very close to my fans. I’m very protective of them and of course I’m very grateful to all of them, as their support over the years has always been incredible, so I try really hard to have a close relationship with them. They mean the world to me.


Mon 20 Nov - Glasgow SWG3 (TV Studio)

Tue 21 Nov 2023 - Manchester O2 Ritz

Thu 23 Nov 2023 -London Roundhouse

Fri 24 Nov 2023 -Birmingham O2 Institute

Sat 25 Nov 2023 -Leeds Beckett Student’s Union

Mon 27 Nov 2023 -Dublin Academy

Summer Festival dates

July 8th – Silverstone Circuit, Northamptonshire

July 21st – Truck Festival, Oxfordshire

July 22nd – Tramlines Festival, Sheffield

August 5th – Brighton Pride, Brighton

August 25th – Victorious Festival, Portsmouth

August 27th – The Big Feastival, Cotswold’s

September 1st – Coca Cola Music Experience, Madrid, Spain

September 3rd – Sundown Festival, Norwich



Interview By Jules Boyle, July ‘23


Tailor Maid

“I Swear in 100 years’ time, people will look back at past generations and think the gender ideology that we grew up with was crazy, including the dolls we had growing up. Give me a My Little Pony any day. At least I haven’t grown up worried/ concerned that I don’t look like one. Lol”

Hello Dolls. How are we all?

Tailor Maid here with some thoughts directly from my wee head to these wee pages…

At the time of writing this article Belfast Pride is just around the corner, and there is a buzz in the air. Wigs are being styled, outfits are being stoned and nearly every buisness in Belfast are waving their inclusive pride flags in support of everything LGBTQIA+ (for a few weeks at least).

Pride for any city is a HUGE money maker for local businesses. The influx of people that Pride brings to a city is incredible, the Hotel sector, transport services, clubs, bars and retail stores all benefit from the “pink pound” around this time of year, and it’s great to see the support and the colour all around our wee city.

Yes, Pride is a time for celebration and for most it’s our favourite time of the year. We hang out with our friends, march for equality, and get seriously inebriated whilst dancing to our favourite tunes whilst being surrounded by like minded people. It can be a lot of fun.

But for me, speaking as a nearly (gulp) 40-year-old, Pride this year is about remembering some of my favourite pride memories over the years and some of the LGBTQIA+ people that I’ve lost in my life to date. I don’t’ want to bring the mood down at all, I’m not about that vibe, but I find myself reflecting a lot as I get older on the people and experiences that have helped shape me into the person that I am. I am very grateful to still be here, with the knowledge and wisdom granted to me with each year that passes but it’s always good to reflect and remember people that have touched us in our lives and to keep their memory alive whilst we celebrate our Charisma, uniqueness, Nerve and Talent. This year in Belfast, I feel we will be partying in the rain as the weather looks shite tbh. But we are a tough bunch and a little rain won’t stop us…. Alexa… play Rain on me by Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande. Lol. Luckily, I know the full choreography, and I’ll be equipped with a fabulous light up Umbrella…. Ahh. The little things.


I’m sure that you are all aware that there is a new Barbie movie that has just released in the Cinema. You literally can’t swing a cat at minute without hitting some sort of Marketing around this new movie. It’s absolutely everywhere. It’s both a bit annoying and kind of genius. It’s a masterclass in marketing!!! We have Instagram filters, and templates, Tik Tok videos to recreate, it’s on billboards, in magazines, and all over YouTube. I was in town a few days ago, granted I was looking for a Barbie outfit as we had a theme day in work! Ha ha! But there was Barbie collaborations in at least 5 shops I was in.

Talking about brands cashing in on the pink pound, Mattel and Warner Brothers knew exactly what they were doing when marketing this movie and releasing it when they did. Pride Season and Barbie, a seamless combo, you can go out to a bottomless brunch and head straight to the cinema afterwards. It’s an ultimate girls n gays day out. Most of the LGBTQIA people I know have seen it already, and a few have seen it twice. Madness. Have you seen it yet? I think I’ll have to go see it soon, I can’t have everyone talking about it and not being able to give my 2 cents to the conversation …. That being said I’m sure I will see more than a few Barbie and Kens at the Pride Parade so that might give me my Barbie fix … for now.


All this discussion around Barbie got me thinking…. and I know I won’t be the only one to feel this way, maybe the release of the movie has been a catalyst in my evolutionary thoughts on this matter, but I’m just going to say it. Dolls are fucking creepy.

Yes, I know they are great to play with when you are younger, and I can see the attraction. When I was a kid, I loved anything with long hair. My granny bought me a My Little Pony in Woolworths in town. I was totally invested, and I remember imagining myself as a My Little Pony and what that would be like, with all that hair and beauty. Lol. But as an adult…. Seeing kids play with an idealised version of plastic “perfection” makes me feel uneasy. The impossible beauty standards and alien body measurements are weird and unachievable. Children are heavily influenced by what they play with, and playing with a doll as perfect as Barbie can’t do much for self-esteem. (My thoughts) Unless off course you are Margot Robbie, in that case it could be seen as a form of preparation or method acting.

I had an interesting conversation with my mum around this subject last week. We spoke about my mums’ memories of Barbie when she first arrived on the scene. The first Barbie doll released in 1959, my mum didn’t have one until the mid 60s. Up to that point my mum had a doll version of a baby, and girls of that time were encouraged to change, nurse and feed their “babies” as a form of play. Thus, preparing them for what they would be doing later in life. (Mums words not mine). I know back then this was the norm, but I find the obvious social conditioning and manipulation hard to swallow. Boys were not encouraged to do any of this, because showing compassion or care were not desired masculine features. They had Action Man, which was a whole issue in itself that I’m not getting into.

I Swear in 100 years’ time, people will look back at past generations and think the gender ideology that we grew up with was crazy, including the dolls we had growing up. Give me a My Little Pony any day. At least I haven’t grown up worried/ concerned


that I don’t look like one. Lol

The only dolls that I like to spend time with these days are the fabulous LGBTQIA+ artists that I perform with. We have created our very own dolls in ourselves through, creativity, imagination, and self-expression. Using our artistry to push boundaries through the power of transformation to create unique and authentic identities. If Mattel could create a Tailor Maid doll exactly as I am, with my exact measurements and flaws, I would be happy to buy one, at least it would be a real depiction of who I am.

I hope you enjoyed my wee rant today, had to get a few things off my chest.

I want to wish you all a very happy pride and have a great end to your summer.


I have been super busy recently with Brunches across Ireland and have a lot more coming up in Drogheda, Belfast and Dublin during August and the start of September.

I have corporate and charity gigs in August in Belfast, as well as Drag Fest Manchester, Drag Fest Maspalomas AND Cruz 101 All coming up very soon.

I will be hosting the fabulous Sasha Colby in November at the Belfast Empire; we are nearly sold out of tickets for this event. It’s going to be incredible. More about that in the next issue.

If you are wanting to check where I will be, please check my socials for updates and confirmed dates.

Thanks for reading.


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.

AJ Jenks


Buddy Holly tragically passed away 64 years ago yet his story and music live on, to date over 22 million people have flocked to see The Buddy Holly Story and it’s popularity continues. Not many people can boast playing Elvis and Buddy Holly on stage, we caught up with AJ ahead of The Buddy Holly Story arriving at The Grand Opera House on 15th August.

Thanks for taking the time to chat AJ, thought we could play a game of would you rather to break the ice, quick fire questions, one word answers , unless you feel the need to elaborate lol

Party Island or Deserted Island? Deserted island

Hands or feet? hands

Cook in or Eat Out? Eat out

Summer or Winter? winter

Sing or Act? act

Chocolate or Crisps? crisps

Boxers or Briefs? ummmm?

Weights or Cardio? weights

Book or movie? movie

Elvis or Buddy Holly? buddy

One thing you can’t leave the house without?

My boxers

That was fun, thanks lol

Sorry, I haven’t even asked how you’re doing :) I’m doing great thanks.

Before we chat about the show I wanted to backtrack a little, tell us about your upbringing, family life and where your love of theatre came from?

I was born in Birmingham and grew up there for a while and then spent my teenage years in Cornwall. My love of theatre came from actually watching the show buddy as a kid.

So many of our audience are into the arts, you did your training and graduated from Mountview, can you tell us how the whole experience was for you?

I don’t think I’ve got long enough to tell you haha, but it was fantastic. I trained in acting and music so we had to learn instruments as well as everything else. But i loved it.

Do you think formal training and qualifications are as important now in this ever changing digital age as they have been historically , we ask as people can literally become famous overnight with Tiktok

Sometimes yes sometimes no, the main thing is if you’re a true entertainer or not.

If MT didn’t pan out, was there a plan B career you would have pursued? I never class myself as an mt really always an AM, but i was always very interested in music. So maybe just a musician or a music producer

What’s the big dream or dream role you would love to play?

Buddy was always my biggest dream!

I have to ask about your other half Joanne Clifton who most people will know from Strictly, she is so lovely. We featured Joanne in the past when she was in Flash Dance and Rocky Horror, my question being so committed to your craft and touring, how do you get time to spend with each other?

We find as much time as we can to see each other, the main thing is, is that were both working and happy!

You will be over in Belfast in a couple of weeks, are you familiar with the city ? and apart from the show will you get much free time to explore and have a compulsory pint of the black stuff (Guiness) ?

Now we’re talking! I really love Belfast! I was there last year with Saturday night fever and it was a blast i had such a good time! And yes I visited a lot of pubs last time and will be planning to this time! I’ll be trying many pints of Guinness

Right on to the show, its fare to say that everyone of a certain age will know the tragic story of Buddy Holly, is there added pressure playing a character that so many people idolised?

When I first took on the character there was a stupid amount of pressure, playing someone that was real that people have listened to since they were kids, it can really sit on your shoulders. But I didn’t want to just be a tribute, I like to honour the person and do my own version of the character.

Forgive me I haven’t seen the show myself - I am looking forward to watching and reviewing on opening night - what can I and audiences expect - is it a full life story, does it focus on a certain period of his life ?

It’s mainly looking at the 18 months of buddy’s life, watching his rise to fame and fighting that cultural norm of country music bringing in his ‘devils music’ rock and roll, going all the way up to meeting his wife and then ending at the inevitable .

Are all his hits included? And on that note what’s your favourite song either that you or another cast member sings in the show? Oooo it really changes day by day and what the audience love, id have to say right now its a toss up between true love ways and peggy sue

It’s crazy to think that Buddy achieved so much in such a short space of time, what do you think made someone of only 22 years old stand out all those years ago?

It was so many things put together really, he wrote his own music which hardly anyone did back then, also his look even though slight made him such a character, not sexy or anything like that the glasses gave him that individual edge. And then the obvious tragedy of his death and the song ‘the day the music died’ elevated his legend more.

What would say to younger people maybe not familiar with Buddy Holly to attract them to the show?

As I was a teenager myself seeing the show the main thing id say is there’s a full cast playing everything live while acting singing and dancing, it really is a spectacle of a show to watch and it may change your life like it did mine!

Describe the show in 3 words - If you can. Rock and roll

Thanks so much AJ

You can see AJ and the cast of The Buddy Holly Story at Belfast’s Grand Opera House from 15th August, tickets are available via




Irish Mythology has always had a strong hold on my imagination. Growing up I was surrounded by tales of Fionn mac Cumhaill, fairies and the legends of Cú Chulainn. I remember passing every mountain and christening it “Knocknasheega” after watching the movie, Darby O’Gill and the Little People, and being somewhat traumatised by the Banshee’s appearance. I mean, who wasn’t at least a little traumatised by her? It’s no wonder that a book centred around Irish mythology was on the cards at some point in my life. That’s where Black Bridge comes in.

The truth is, Black Bridge popped into existence on a trip back from one of our many family stays in Donegal when I was a young teen. Watching the mountains and landscape race by, I imagined all of the myths and legends that had circled about in ancient culture and the grand tales they must have told one another. The story materialised from nowhere, almost fully formed and ready to write. I could see it! Arriving home, I dove in, finishing the first chapter in an evening and… that was as far as I got. I wanted to write it but felt ill-equipped to tackle what I saw as a huge undertaking. I needed to grow.

Over the years I made a few futile attempts to restart the book, always claiming that I had this killer book idea in the back of my mind. It wasn’t until 2020 hit and we were all locked in our homes with nothing but our thoughts that Black Bridge in its current form finally emerged. The first draft was hashed out in a whirlwind month of writing, researching, staring blankly at computer screens and non-stop thinking about the world I was crafting. Not just crafting, but inhabiting a pantheon of stories that so many others had imagined before. My research before, during and after the book uncovered stories from ancient Ireland and Celtic cultures that would shock and fascinate anyone whose perception of Irish folklore hadn’t yet extended beyond a leprechaun and a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Stories that wouldn’t look out of place in the highest of fantasy. This was what I wanted, the ancient stuff, the real stuff.

My goal was to explore this Otherworld, to delve into what Irish mythology had to offer beyond the relatively bland pop culture version that permeates the media and my characters were vehicles to do so. What I didn’t realise, however, was just how important the characters of Lorcan, Maeve and Oisin would become to me and how they would go on to influence and shape the story I believed had already been set in stone. I might be guilty of burying the lead here, but I think it’s important that you, the reader, know the journey that led up to the writing

of Black Bridge. Plus, that’s the hook of most stories. Come for the adventure and fantastical stuff, stay for the characters. Now that you’ve made it this far, I suppose it’s time to talk about the contents of the book.

The plot of Black Bridge is set in the fictional rural village of Droichead Dubh, a sleepy place nestled in the mountains of Donegal and inextricably linked to the ancient past. One of our main cast, Lorcan, finds himself forced to live here with his aunt after the sudden death of his parents in an accident. Lucky for him Droichead Dubh’s connection to the Otherworld has given him the chance to commune with his parents once again. Thus the inciting incident for the story sets everything in motion, with Maeve and Oisin becoming embroiled in the adventures of the Irish Otherworld and the dangerous politics that lie within. Along the way they encounter a host of different characters and creatures from Irish mythology, one of the most menacing being the Dullahan (or headless horseman as we may know him) who seems to have it out for the group. They also explore a version of the Otherworld that has been built with and warped by centuries of ideas and perceptions as to what this realm of the dead and Irish legends is.

In writing the book I came to adore Irish myths and stories so much more than I had before but, as I alluded to before, it was the characters and their own exploration of the world that came to define the experience for me. In my previous attempts at writing Black Bridge I thought that I had lacked the knowledge or temerity to put my own stamp on Irish mythology. What I really lacked was the emotional maturity or empathy to handle the themes I had established for the characters. Those themes being intense grief and choosing to live with that or letting it consume you. In finding that empathy I was able to laugh with them, be angry with them and shed tears with them. It may sound trite, but spending time with Lorcan, Maeve and Oisin felt real and I still feel guilty for the trials and tribulations that I’ve put them through.

It’s all well and good to feel for your own story but the early readers were instrumental in identifying the areas that resonated. I was heartened to find that they too enjoyed the adventurous escapades in the Otherworld, theorising their own ideas of where they thought the plot might go and being surprised at the twists along the way. Though, I was even more heartened when they identified with the characters, their relationships and their struggles. A stand out moment was being sent a tearful selfie accompanied with the words “I hate you!” - yep, I hated me too and I

also knew then that this story might have legs. After all of the editing, feedback sessions, designing and formatting (self-publishing is a lot of work) Black Bridge is now a fully-fledged published book. It was a terrifying yet exhilarating experience releasing this story, which had been mine and ever so personal to me, into the world. However, I couldn’t be happier at the initial feedback from readers and publications.

“The characters’ emotions and thoughts were well portrayed in a descriptive manner that made everything in the book seem so real…The storyline itself was original and new, unlike most of the books I have read recently.” -

“The book is emotional, funny and adventurous. It is easy to read and flows very well. It genuinely left me tense, anxious, frightened and wanting more. I can’t wait until book 2 comes out!” - Amazon review

“I haven’t read a book in one sitting in years but I was glued to this one. It’s not your average YA novel but a book for all ages. Such an interesting story, well written characters, even things to learn about Irish mythology!” - Amazon review

The experience has even sparked my own series of videos covering various aspects of Irish mythology I’ve learned about in bite sized chunks. Notably, TikTok seems to have an audience eager to hear about the more unknown myths and tales, which I never would have guessed, but it’s been fun engaging with people on the topic.

Black Bridge is only the first in a series, with book number two well into the research and draft phase, but I’m happy that for now, people might be introduced to another side of Irish mythology that is often overlooked. Maybe they’ll be inspired to research and explore the Otherworld themselves.

Right now, Black Bridge can be found on Amazon on Kindle or paperback.



Facebook: Joe O’Hagan & Black Bridge Book Series

Insta: johphotos

LinkedIn: Joe O’Hagan

TikTok: @blackbridgeseries

GNI MAG [22]

A contemporary fantasy novel that draws from ancient Irish mythology, reinterpreting it for a modern audience. Our perceptions have shaped the Otherworld. What will happen when two worlds collide?



Facebook: Joe O’Hagan & Black Bridge Book Series

Insta: johphotos

LinkedIn: Joe O’Hagan

TikTok: @blackbridgeseries

£46 £47 44

BEN Cohen


Over 11 years have passed since we last caught up with Rugby champion and longtime LGBTQ+ ally Ben Cohen, and there is no time like the present as he will make his acting debut in a new LGBTQ+ series. Patterns is a British camp comedy where each episode tells its own humorous and heartfelt story, but all episodes take place in the same queer universe so that a minor character in one episode may reappear as the lead in another and vice-versa.

People, companies and charities across the world are struggling more so now than ever with the cost of living and the after effects of the pandemic - I read you were considering closing your charity ‘Stand Up Foundation’what is the situation atm?

We’re closing the Foundation because of the cost of living crisis and COVID. Donations began drying up during the pandemic and then the cost of living crisis came along and people are rightly concentrating on their ability to put food on their tables or heat their homes. Disposable income is what charities depend on and unfortunately there is little of that going around these days. This is a real pity because charities are more needed now more than ever.

I noticed a few posts on your instagram for NOMO - No Missing Out , Vegan Chocolate - Do you work together or are you a fan - tell us a bit more about the brand and would you recommend it ?

I love NOMO -- Kristina is vegan, and I tried it for a while, and enjoyed it - I enjoy a greater diversity in food. Overall, I love different and healthy foods and it was a great partnership for me with NOMO.

I can’t recall if I’ve tasted vegan chocolatedoes it taste much different?

All chocolate tastes different, whether vegan or not.

We both have something in common - I neglected my hearing for years and suffer a lot with tinnitus. Does it affect your daily life and do you wear aids?

I have hearing aids but I do not wear them because I hear too much when I put them on. It is overwhelming and gives me a migraine. My condition really can be a pain but I’ve learned to live with it and it gives me a daily challenge to overcome. I made it my strength and I used it to my advantage when I played rugby.

Let’s move on to Acting - this is your big debut , have you been taking acting classes/lessons?

No, no acting lessons. I kind of jumped into it two feet first.

Why this move now and why this project?

I need to ask about you tying the knot to the beautiful Kristina, has it happened on the QT? I read ages ago that the plan was this summer though not heard a peep since - spill lol

It has not happened yet -probably in the near future. We are happy where we are at the moment.

You now have 3 daughters, any plans for more children ?


The director, Rex Glensy, has been a friend of mine for a long time. He told me that he and the writer, Asad Moghal, were developing this series around LGBTQ+ stories and wanted to know whether I would accept a role in a couple of the episodes. I jumped at the opportunity because it aligns with a lot of stuff that I’m involved in. It was nice to be involved with something that I have felt passionate about for a long time. One of the episodes I’m in involves a coming out story. In real life there are horrible coming out stories. The character Liam, who is a teenage boy in the process of coming out, sees me as a role model and with a little help from me,


is able to have a good coming out story and be true to himself. Self-belief and honesty are core values that I believe in and this project reflects those values.

Tell us about Patterns and the characters your portray without giving too much away.

to the script but the atmosphere was great. I can still hear Rex saying after a few takes “those weren’t your lines Ben.” I think there are a lot of funny outtakes of me.

What’s the big dream - has George Clooney anything to worry about lol ?

Realistically, I’m not going to be the next Bond.

There is so much scope in the acting world, soaps, stage, panto’s etc - have you any further plans?

Retire from acting. Actually, at the moment I’ve just finished filming a TV documentary for ITV, and I’m going to be involved in another fun TV project for charity. Also, I am very focused on Kristina’s and my wellbeing center SooYoga in Northampton.

Thanks for taking the time to chat Ben.

Interview with Daniel May

Patterns premiered on Dekkoo on July 27, 2023. Dekkoo is the first subscription streaming service dedicated to gay men. Launched in 2015, Dekkoo offers feature films, shorts, episodic series, and exclusive originals. Dekkoo is available at Dekkoo. com and via apps on Apple, Google, Roku, Samsung, and more. Dekkoo is also available as an add-on channel with Amazon Prime US and UK, Comcast Xfinity, and YouTube Primetime Channels.

Patterns is also available on DVD and Download to Own via TLA Releasing

Well, I play myself, or at least, a version of myself as imagined by a teenage boy. The character Ben is this boy’s superhero and appears at random when the boy most needs him. And for the rest, you’ll have to watch it.

How has the experience been for you, have you been bitten by the acting bug ?

I absolutely loved it. The production took great care of me. Rex was wonderful and very supportive. However, it was so nerve-wracking to remember lines, emotions, movements, etc .... Playing rugby for England was much easier. In fact, the toughest thing was to stick




Scottish actor and winner of Strictly Come Dancing Joe McFadden will join the 50th Anniversary tour of the legendary smash hit musical

The Rocky Horror Show for a limited four week run in Belfast, Southend, Nottingham, and Swindon. Richard O’Brien’s legendary rock ‘n’ roll musical celebrates 50 years of non-stop partying with this special anniversary production that continues to play a newly extended tour through 2023 to sell-out crowds. Tickets are on sale now from

Joe, known for his extensive work on both stage and screen (Holby City/Heartbeat /Priscilla Queen of the Desert/The Mirror Crack’d), is excited to be hitting the road to add to the frivolities. No stranger to the dancefloor, Joe is more than qualified to don his fishnets as the Narrator and join this extraordinary cast to deliver a guaranteed party not to be missed.

Joe said: “I’m really excited to be joining the Rocky Horror Show during the 50th anniversary tour. I’ve seen the show countless times over the years and am a massive fan so I can’t wait to join the celebrations of this iconic show. I am looking forward to donning my fishnets as the Narrator and Time Warping up and down the country with this amazing cast”.

Since it

first opened in London in June 1973 at the Royal Court Theatre

The Rocky Horror Show has become the longest continuous run of a contemporary musical anywhere in the world. The show has been seen by over 30 million people worldwide in more than 30 countries and translated into 20 languages as it continues to delight audiences on its sell-out international tour.

Without doubt the Rocky Horror Show is as iconic as it gets. Lighting up the stage this phenomenal cast will perform songs that are embedded in pop culture. The celebratory tour will continue throughout 2023, visiting Aylesbury, Crewe, Woking, Portsmouth, Belfast, Southend, Nottingham, Swindon, Canterbury, Norwich, Aberdeen, Bradford, Ipswich and Hullwith further dates to be announced. The cast are in full throttle and ready to honour this monumental moment, delivering a guaranteed party that leaps off the stage and transcends into the audience.

Producer Howard Panter said: “Rocky Horror has always been a show I loved, since its earliest days in the Kings Road. Richard O’Brien and I are delighted this non-stop party continues to thrill audiences across the world, and we look forward to the next 50 years!”

Richard O’Brien said: “Back in the 1970’s when someone asked me to entertain the Christmas staff party at the EMI Film Studios and I turned up with a song called Science Fiction Double Feature who would have known this was the germ of the idea to turn into today what is The Rocky Horror Show. To be celebrating fifty years is beyond my

wildest expectations - from the humble beginnings back in 1973 at the Royal Court Theatre in London. The fact that The Rocky Horror show continues to delight audiences as it tours the UK fifty years on is simply thrilling. The Rocky Horror Show is one of Britain’s most performed and beloved musicals of all time.”

A brilliant cast are already wowing Rocky Horror audiences up and down the country, with West End star Stephen Webb (Jersey Boys/ Legally Blonde) continuing in the iconic role of Frank, slipping into a corset and heels with ease, Richard Meek (Hairspray/Spamlot) makes a welcome return as Brad and is joined by fan favourite Haley Flaherty (Mamma Mia/Chicago) as Janet.

Kristian Lavercombe (Jersey Boys/Jesus Christ Superstar) once again reprises his role as Riff Raff, following more than 2000 performances around the world, with Darcy Finden who made her professional debut last year as one of the Phantoms now stepping up to play the role of as Columbia. Ben Westhead (Oliver/The Sound of Music) plays Rocky, Suzie McAdams (School of Rock/Kinky Boots) takes on the role of Magenta and Joe Allen (Little Shop of Horrors/Charlie & The Chocolate Factory) plays Eddie & Dr Scott. Playing the Phantoms are Stefania Du Toit (Starlight Express/Singing in the Rain), Beth Woodcock (Bat Out Of Hell), Reece Budin (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical/Man of La Mancha) and Fionán O’Carroll (Theatre whilst training: Urinetown/Children of Eden) who is making his professional debut. Nathan Shaw (Walk Like A Man) and Tyla Nurden (Funny Girl/ Carrie, The Musical) are Swings.

Directed by Christopher Luscombe, The Rocky Horror Show is ready to thrill you with fun and naughty moments, and features timeless classics including Sweet Transvestite, Damn it Janet, and of course, the pelvic thrusting show stopping Time Warp.

The Rocky Horror Show is the story of two squeaky clean college kids – Brad and his fiancée Janet. When by a twist of fate, their car breaks down outside a creepy mansion whilst on their way to visit their former college professor, they meet the charismatic Dr Frank’n’Furter. It is an adventure they’ll never forget, filled with fun, frolics, frocks, and frivolity. The Rocky Horror Show is a guaranteed party, which famously combines science-fiction, horror, comedy and music while encouraging audience participation - meaning, of course, getting dressed-up in the most outrageous fancy dress.

Ready to thrill you with fun and naughty moments, The Rocky Horror Show is the boldest bash of them all. But be warned, this show has rude parts!

This fantastic show arrives in Belfast’s Grand Opera House on 7th August, running until 12th Aug, get your tickets via



FOSTERINGChanges Lives

What was your childhood like? Did you grow up knowing you were loved? That should be the experience of all children. But sadly, it isn’t. Some children grow up in isolation. Some experience neglect. For others, their reality is one of abuse. Action for Children believe every single child has the right to a safe and happy childhood. That is why fostering is so important.


Quite simply, fostering changes lives. Fostering is looking after a child or a young person who can’t live with their family. They may need a home until they become adults, or only for a little while. However, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of children in need continues to soar, but the number of foster carers can’t keep up with the increasing demand.


To foster you’ll need a spare bedroom. You’ll also need to be over 21 (there isn’t an upper age limit). Whilst many people have the space and time in their lives – and hearts – to foster, they are put off by myths which make them believe their lifestyle or circumstances are a barrier to them being accepted.

Avery Bowser, Fostering Services Manager in Northern Ireland, is passionate about busting the myths around who can foster. He said: “As we know, families come in all different shapes and sizes. There is no one-size-fits-all foster carer. We need carers from all walks of life, of all ages and from different backgrounds.”

Action for Children recruit ordinary people who do something extraordinary – become a foster carer. You can be single, in a same-sex couple, part of a civil partnership,

married or living with a partner. It also doesn’t matter whether you own or rent your home. You don’t need to be a parent to foster, either. The most important thing is your ability to meet a child’s needs.


Foster families can often be a child’s first positive experience of family life.

Avery says: “It makes a huge difference in children’s lives to be able to live in a family home and have that experience of family.”

By giving a vulnerable child a safe and loving home, foster families provide them with the foundations they need to thrive. As well as providing love, care, and stability, foster carers advocate on behalf of the children and young people they look after. This includes supporting their educational needs, nurturing their health and social wellbeing, and helping them reach their own developmental milestones.


Action for Children is dedicated to finding the best foster carers to look after the most vulnerable children in our society. Whilst the fostering application process is a commitment, it allows time to get to know carers inside and out because young people deserve the best care possible.

Every child and young person is unique. Foster carers are, too. That is why Action for Children places such an emphasis on finding the best possible match between a child and a family. Doing this builds strong relationships that last. Fostering Team Manager, David Montgomery,

says: “The matching process is looking at you as a family and how a particular child could fit into your circumstances of life.”

When joining the Action for Children family, foster parents will be supported every step of the way. As well as being assigned a dedicated fostering social worker, they will get to know the whole service team, from administrative staff to support staff. They also have access to a 24/7 helpline and comprehensive training to ensure they are equipped with all the skills they need. David says: “It’s our role to provide you with all the training and support necessary for your growth and development.”

The team at Action for Children get to know the children and their carers as individuals; this allows the service to provide wrap around care for the child and the whole foster family. The organisation also runs regular support groups for carers and organise family outings. These outings allow foster carers a space and opportunity to interact with others who know what they are going through.

Fostering with Action for Children is very flexible. Whether you have the ability to welcome a child into your home on a full-time basis or for planned short break care, your time and dedication will be instrumental in helping make a difference to that child’s life.

If you would like to become part of something special, enquire about joining the Action for Children family today. For more information contact the friendly fostering team on 028 9046 0500 or email

Start your fostering journey today: 028 9046 0500 @AFCNIFostercare Everydifferentfamily’s But the one thing they should have in common is love. Registered charity nos. 1097940/SC038092. Company no. 4764232. © Action for Children 2021.1655.
SUMMER IN BELFAST CITY AT TEN SQUARE HOTEL | 028 9024 1001 | 10 Donegall Square S, Belfast BT1 5JD


My name is Lauren, I identify as a trans woman and have been living as my true self since 2021. I am going to tell you my story of my journey of becoming Lauren and struggles of not just my past, but some of the general struggles that trans people encounter on a daily basis.

People have this misconception that I woke up one morning and decided that I was trans. I want people to know that it’s not a choice, nothing has happened in my life to make me trans. From an early age in my life, I always had a feeling that I was born into the wrong body, there are a number of different stages in my life that I felt that this was the case.


My earliest memories date back to my childhood around the age of 8-9, in my head I felt I was different. Living in a small rural area in Mid Ulster, change wasn’t accepted in the 90’s. Being gay was considered taboo, so identifying as transgender was a different level! Because of this, I did not have the confidence to openly seek help and I did not know who to talk to. This resulted in me conforming, as I thought this was the norm. As the years went by, during my teens, these thoughts and feelings never really went away, however there was still the struggle to openly talk about them.

Without going into details, here is an example of how I felt. I remember seeing other women in the flesh and even pictures of other women and I would get a sense of jealously. This feeling was overwhelming, due to what they were wearing, how they were presenting themselves, and the body. I remember on numerous occasions, my thoughts where I wanted to be like that. One of those was a Britney Spears, with the hot pants, crop tops, shoes and that was just the start. Some people would say, “ sure this would mean that you are a cross dresser and not transgender”. A cross dresser is someone who likes to dress up in the other genders clothing and that’s it. For me, how I wanted to present was one thing but what my body looked like added to this dysphoria as the years went on. The lack of chest and my genitals were areas that I really struggled with.

I was a difficult child to dress, and deep down inside, I was not wanting to wear what I was wearing. When I spoke to one of my closest friends, Stephanie, she had actually picked up on this from an early age. She noticed my trends, but wanted me to say it to her firstly, as she didn’t want to put words into my mouth. An example of this trend, was when I noticed what other women were wearing. I would show interest in the clothes/hair/bags whilst the other lads where more interested looking at their chest and bums.

My thoughts and feelings never really went away, yet I still struggle to open up about my true feelings, and this spanned over 20 years. Around 2015, is when my mental health started to take a real toll on me, and this carried on for some time. I was so wrapped up trying to hide my feelings, that I became someone that didn’t want to live. I visited my doctor, who tried to offer medication, which I knew wasn’t the fix. There were several trips to the doctor, and it always was medication that was offered. At this stage, I couldn’t even tell my doctor but did admit that I had

deep inner issues that I needed to surface and sort. My GP referred me to a mental health therapist. This fight for help took some time and during this time, there were several times that I had thoughts to take my own life.

During my time with my therapist, Lisa at The Olive Branch, I spent around 7 months working on myself. I learnt different techniques and coping mechanisms, which helped me to allow myself to open up and admit that I felt that I was born into the wrong body. I felt I should have been born a woman, and my therapist was the first person that I openly admitted this to. As soon as I said it, it felt like I had lifted so much weight off my shoulders. During my time with Lisa, I talked a lot about a “Russian doll” that was hidden deep inside, and I struggled to pull out. I spoke with her recently and she recognised the challenges that I presented as a client. This helped her in her own journey as a therapist whilst she was able to provide guidance and support that I required.

What the process looked like in terms of transitioning

I wasn’t 100% sure. Lisa admitted that, whilst they would love to help me on that journey, they felt that they were not in the position to offer this. The suggestion for further assistance was to reach out to the rainbow project, as they would be able to offer the support I needed.

I set off to refer myself into The Rainbow Project to continue my journey when it comes to understanding transitioning, this is where I met Elaine.

I had alot of therapy with my previous sessions, and working in conjunction with the project, meant I could focus on understanding what transitioning looks like, and how this could be achieved. I quickly learnt that whilst there were services offered on the NHS for this, these came with lengthy waiting times, which were not acceptable. Through Rainbow, I did learn that there were options to undertake medical treatment through two private clinics based in the UK. With this being private, the service does bring a cost.

Armed with more information I was able to start and put some plans together what a transition might look like, things like to name a few:


- Laser Hair Removal

- Voice Coaching

- Fertility

- Surgery

- Name change - Therapy

For me I did not start transitioning until I was 32, and at that I have pretty much self-funded the vast majority of this. I do now receive my hormone medication through the NHS, but the rest is entirely self-funded.

I want to talk about some elements of my transition.

One key point is laser hair removal. I eventually found a place that took me on. My first appointment was with a lovely lady, called Carleen. She was so friendly and welcoming, and recommended a cream to get from my doctor or privately (at a cost of £80 a tube). This would help to slow the growth of hair on my face along with the laser. Armed with this info, I went off to speak to one of my GPs and I eventually got support from one for both obtaining the cream and supporting me in my transitioning journey. It is worth noting that not all GPs will have a level of understanding on transgender care and may not be as keen to support. If this is your case, try another GP in your practice and talk to them. This could be an easier solution.

The next thing that came was fertility, and this is what has presented the biggest challenge I had to process and accept; I will not go into the details, but I did investigate freezing some of my fertility should I ever want kids. In my case, and this was before I started anything, I discovered that I had no fertility. With some follow up tests, I was informed that I had no serious health issues, but I just had zero count.

Once the dust settled on fertility, it was then time to start the process and be seen by the clinic. The clinic would undertake assessments to allow me to start HRT to begin my feminization pathway. Due to the lengthy waiting times on the NHS, I decided I would go down the route of one of the private clinics as this helped to access treatments somewhat quicker at a cost. The process to accessing HRT required assessments to be carried out to understand fit to consent to start the process. The team I worked with were very friendly and guided me on my pathway, this is an ongoing journey.

It is worth noting that going on hormones from Male to Female will not do everything, careful research and homework is required to understand what can and cannot be achieved. For the things that can’t be achieved by hormones, what is out there to help you


will require further research.

One area that I did work on before starting the medical side of things was the training of my voice to make it more feminine. I found a coach, the lovely Sophie, who I still work with. She is helping me use natural methods to help change the pitch and tone of my voice, and since I have started this, I have noticed the tone of my voice has gotten softer and that the pitch is work in progress.

One of my early career aspirations was to be a hairdresser but I never had the confidence to take the step to do this. Eventually in 2021, I decided to undertake a night class in level 2 hairdressing which lasted 2 years. I am now qualified in this and delighted I took this step.

One other area that I was keen to take up was pole dancing as I was always interested in the fitness side of this. I started this towards the end of 2020 where I was first introduced to the gorgeous Rydenwilde (Cailin) who first trained me, this training took place in Polercise which is ran by El. Along my pole

journey I have came across many different amazing people, too many to name.

My support network has been key in my journey and continues to be very important and this is important to have, I want to spend a little time talking about the support network I have.

Those that have been in my support circle for some time (people like Stephanie, Kirsty and Tara to name a few) but after the lockdowns and when offices begun to open, I was introduced to a person at the front desk of Kainos called Jess. I never imagined how close we would have become. Jess has supported me whilst I have made some pretty big decisions in my transition, and she has been there when times got hard as well as being there at the good times. One time was when I received news that I had no fertility, therefore I was unable to preserve anything in order to have a kid later on in life. This at the time was a hard pill to shallow however Jess was on hand to help pick me up, dust myself down and move forward.

There are other individuals in my work life that also have been very supportive of me. One to call out is a customer of mine, and his name is Paul. I opened up to Paul about my choice and he was delighted for me based on his own experiences of being the parent of a kid who was also transgender.

The changes are slow, but they come at their own pace, you must allow yourself time to grow and develop. However, you must be aware of the mental impact that transitioning can have on a person. Due to the nature, transitioning is one of the hardest things a person can do and it’s of real importance to have the correct support in place.

Coming next, I am looking at surgery and this is something I will likely have to go down the private route for as the NHS waiting times are quite lengthy. Surgery itself, can be quite expensive and if it’s something that you would like to support me on, please have a look for me on social media under my alias name “blue champagne”.




Connor Kerr and Becky Bellamy, founders of Another World Belfast CIC and SHOW SOME LOVE charity share their recent experience working in the wardrobe team for the ‘bop star’ herself.

In the world of entertainment, few stars shine as brightly as Lizzo. Known for her empowering music and unapologetic attitude, the multitalented artist has captured hearts worldwide.

Beyond her musical prowess, Lizzo is a true advocate for inclusivity, body positivity, and spreading love. In a remarkable display of kindness and collaboration, Lizzo invited a Belfast wardrobe team, including the founders of Another World Belfast, to help to dress her and the cast for her ‘Special’ world tour. Little did they know that their work would soon make their way across continents, making appearances as far as Australia and gracing the stages of world-famous gigs like Glastonbury.

The team included a group of NI’s leading creatives including Another World Belfast founders Connor Kerr and Becky Bellamy who had a blast working alongside Angeline Murphy who’s best known for her appearance on BBC’s ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’ and designer and stylist Sinead Nelly.

Their mission was to ensure that everyone on tour looked fabulous and felt empowered in their costumes, while also contributing to the smooth execution of the show.

Connor commented “it’s still a little unbelievable to us that collectively we had the chance to contribute to something bigger than our imaginations, while showcasing our skills and passion on a global stage especially for an artist that puts so much energy into spreading a message of love, acceptance, and support for the LGBTQ community.”

Embracing the Opportunity: Another World Belfast

Another World Belfast is more than just a charity; it is a movement that strives to SHOW SOME LOVE and make a difference in our little part of the world. Committed to supporting various causes and marginalized communities, this queer-led organization believes that love is the foundation for building a better society.

Here at GNI we have been following their journey since their launch back in 2017 and when they received the chance to join Lizzo’s world tour, we knew this was a chance to do what they do best - spreading a little love and bring joy to the hearts of people everywhere.

Becky commented “In the world of music and performance, fashion plays a pivotal role in creating a memorable and iconic stage presence. Artists like Lizzo understand the power of costumes, using them to not only express their individuality but also to connect with their audience on a deeper level. It was a pleasure to work with her travelling team and to soak up the atmosphere behind the scenes and on stage too”

Behind the Scenes: A Labor of Love

From the moment the Belfast team arrived for what turned out to be a 15 hour shift they felt fully immersed in the world of Lizzo. They had to handle everything from the smallest details, like washing socks and steaming garments, to more intricate tasks like sewing custom pieces to perfection. Their role was vital in making sure that Lizzo’s Belsonic performance was visually stunning and seamless.

The wardrobe team was in constant motion, working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that every outfit was well-fitted, meticulously cared for, and ready to dazzle the audience. Their dedication and passion were evident in every stitch, bead, and accessory as they poured their hearts into their work.

Angeline Murphy commented:  “it was an unreal opportunity and amazing experience! My day with

team Lizzo was non stop stitching to make sure Lizzo and her dancers outfits were stage ready.

I was one of the contestants on BBC’s ‘Great British Sewing Bee’ and I have to say sewing for Lizzo brought me right back to working under that pressure. I loved every minute of the day and loved the teamwork. What an incredible space to connect and bond with other local creatives at the top of their game”

As the spotlight shone on Lizzo and her cast, the wardrobe team watched with pride as their creations adorned the stage that they had the opportunity to stand on and watch some of the iconic performance . Seeing their garments being worn by such talented artists was a surreal experience.

Sinead Donnelly commented: “Something that I will never forget is that we to go side stage and watch her performance, I will never forget it. I even got a video off the Belfast crowd singing “Blame it on my juice” back to Lizzo, so special! This is massive for Belfast and the whole LGBTQ community. Lizzo is one of the artist I put on when I need to feel empowered ‘its ok to love yourself’ and now everytime I hear a Lizzo song it has a whole new even more wonderful meaning! Wow! Bizzo for Lizzo!”

From Belfast to Glastonbury: A Journey to Remember

One of the most memorable moments for the Belfast wardrobe team was preparing the outfits for Lizzo’s performance at Glastonbury, one of the world’s most prestigious music festivals. The thrill of knowing that their work would be seen by thousands of festival-goers, along with millions tuning in worldwide, was both exhilarating and nervewracking.

Spreading Love and Supporting the LGBT Community

For Another World Belfast, Lizzo’s immense energy and unwavering support for the LGBT community

resonated deeply. In a region where acceptance and inclusion are still evolving, her advocacy for LGBT rights touched the hearts of the Belfast team. They saw a kindred spirit in Lizzo and her commitment to empowering and uplifting marginalized voices.

They learned to work under highpressure situations, collaborate with diverse personalities, and adapt to different performance styles. This adventure has undoubtedly enriched their lives and careers in ways they never imagined.

A Lasting Impact: Spreading Love Beyond Borders

The wardrobe team’s involvement in Lizzo’s ‘Special’ world tour has left an indelible mark on their lives and on the global stage. Their commitment to spreading love, acceptance, and support for the LGBT community has reached farther than they ever thought possible.

As they returned to their superstar free lives with hearts full of gratitude and pride, the Another World Belfast team were more determined than ever to continue their mission, making a lasting impact on their local community and beyond.

As the world tour continues, the wardrobe team from Belfast will forever cherish the memories they created, the friendships they forged, and the message they helped to share. Through their work with team Lizzo, they have proven that love knows no bounds, and together, they are making the world a better place, one stitch at a time.

Watch this space for what Another World Belfast are working on next. A project to reimagine fabric waste, support marginalised communities and bring people together in a ‘never seen before’ creative community space.

Find Another World Belfast by searching on most social media platforms and find out more, donate or volunteer at www.



Situated in the historic heart of Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter, The Merchant Hotel provides the grandeur of a stately home with the convenience of a city centre location.

The timeless elegance of both the Victorian and Deco wings of The Merchant Hotel are complemented by all of the contemporary facilities you would expect from a five-star hotel. We have 62 sumptuous bedrooms, three fabulous restaurants –from fine dining to relaxed and cosy; a luxurious spa and a host of options for a tipple or two. We also offer a wealth of diverse locations for photography to capture the magic of your big day. The Merchant Hotel is dedicated to offering sumptuous luxury and exceptional service, both of which we combine into stunning and unforgettable weddings. Yours will be the only wedding celebration in the hotel so our focus is solely on your needs and on creating your perfect day. Our wedding specialists bring a wealth of experience and the utmost care to the planning of your wedding day.

Please feel free to call us on 028 9026 2717 or email us at to discuss your dream day.



Body dysmorphia, a mental health disorder characterized by excessive preoccupation with one’s perceived flaws and a distorted body image, affects millions worldwide. In today’s digital age, social media platforms have become ubiquitous, shaping societal norms, and influencing perceptions of beauty. As individuals strive to meet unrealistic standards set by the media and online communities, it is disheartening to witness the detrimental consequences of these pressures on some of our beloved public figures. Recent revelations from prominent celebrities Megan Fox, Lili Reinhart, and Demi Lovato have shed light on their struggles with body dysmorphia, sparking concern among mental health professionals and experts worldwide.

Megan Fox emphasized recognizing the unrealistic beauty standards that dominate social media and their detrimental impact on individual self-esteem. Lili Reinhart, star of the hit series “Riverdale,” publicly acknowledged her battle with body dysmorphia. She stressed the need for increased conversations surrounding mental health and the power of social media platforms to perpetuate unattainable beauty ideals. Reinhart’s honesty has resonated with countless fans, inspiring them to practice self-love and embrace their unique beauty.

Singer-songwriter Demi Lovato, known for her chart-topping hits and advocacy for mental health, has been vocal about her journey with eating disorders and body dysmorphia. Lovato’s honesty has empowered her fans, demonstrating that even those in the public eye face internal struggles. Through her personal experiences, Lovato highlights the significance of seeking help, raising awareness, and

challenging societal beauty standards.

“These revelations serve as a wake-up call for society to reevaluate the harmful effects of intrusive societal expectations,” - says psychotherapist Eduardo Omeltech.

Eduardo Omeltech highlights the dangers posed by the pervasive aesthetic pressures found on social media platforms and emphasizes the urgent need for collective action to mitigate these detrimental effects. In analyzing the experiences of Megan Fox, Lili Reinhart, and Demi Lovato, Eduardo Omeltech explains that body dysmorphia, a condition characterized by obsessive thoughts about one’s appearance, arises from constant exposure to unattainable beauty ideals. The incessant comparison to Photoshopped and meticulously curated images leads to distorted self-perception, low self-esteem, and emotional distress.

Social media platforms have magnified the negative impact of these pressures by fostering a culture of perfectionism and fostering an environment where likes, comments, and followers equate to self-worth. The relentless pursuit of validation through the lens of physical appearance erodes individuals’ mental health, leading to anxiety, depression, and even more severe psychological disorders.

“Social media acts as a double-edged sword, providing us with unprecedented connectivity and opportunities for self-expression while simultaneously subjecting us to unrealistic beauty standards,” - says Eduardo Omeltech. “We must acknowledge the power of these platforms to shape our perception of self and actively

counteract the harmful narratives they perpetuate. Adding a filter to validate if the images or lifestyle fits you is healthily acceptable. Before navigating new waves, you must be aware if you are doing this on your own or their opinions.”

Eduardo Omeltech calls upon society, technology companies, and influencers alike to take responsibility for promoting body positivity, diversity, and self-acceptance. Moreover, he encourages users to cultivate a healthier relationship with social media by curating their feeds to include diverse body types, following body-positive influencers, and prioritizing mental well-being over external validation. On the other hand, Eduardo also says: “It’s important not to pressure ourselves to be someone who needs to accept our bodies, because we need to find the middle point to be in instead of going from no comparing yourself to I need to accept myself, or I will not be health. Baby steps are important to measure those new ways to face your new self-esteem.”

It is imperative to prioritize mental well-being, challenge unrealistic beauty standards, and foster a culture of self-love and acceptance.

EDUARDO OMELTECH eduardoomeltech/

Photo Credit: Instagram @meganfox | @lilireinhart | @ddlovato



A Decade of equality, a lifetime of love: Kuoni launches its first LGBTQ+ honeymoon report

From the Seychelles to Sicily, for the past ten years destinations around the world have been welcoming LGBTQ+ couples on their honeymoon - ever since legislation was passed on 17 July 2013 to allow samesex couples in England and Wales to marry.

To celebrate the milestone anniversary, worldwide travel company Kuoni has launched its first report celebrating 10 years of marriage equality.

The report shows that the world is welcoming newly married LGBTQ+ couples and favourite honeymoon choices over the past ten years include Greece, Italy, Canada, the USA, Australia and Thailand.

And another trend is emerging too – destinations such as the Maldives, Dubai, the Caribbean and East Africa frequently appear on the honeymoon wish list which shows that even in places where same-sex partnerships are not condoned, couples will choose places based on their own preferences, research and advice from trusted travel experts.

The report also highlights countries which have taken steps to be more LGBTQ+ positive in the past ten years. Barbados, Antigua & Barbuda, St Kitts & Nevis and Singapore repealed anti-gay legislation and it’s hoped Sri Lanka is moving that way this year. New polling data commissioned by Kuoni as part of the report indicates some couples are still hesitant about ticking bucket-list destinations off their list though due to concerns about negative reactions to their LGBTQ+ identity, which emphasises the importance of having advice from trusted travel experts and fostering LGBTQ+ inclusivity worldwide.

Kuoni’s research revealed 44% of LGBTQ+ travellers prioritise the overall destination experience regardless

of feelings towards LGBTQ+ people.

The data further reveals that 57% of respondents actively seek out LGBTQ+ friendly destinations, with many same-sex couples planning a honeymoon having done their own research before they speak to a travel company.

Kuoni’s own insight and data demonstrates an increasing desire amongst LGBTQ+ couples to explore diverse destinations including those traditionally considered less LGBTQ+ friendly, so they’re able to celebrate their love without barriers. As part of its drive towards inclusivity Kuoni is introducing the ‘Kuoni Promise’ – a commitment to providing exceptional service for everyone throughout their honeymoon journey and beyond. The new Promise is underpinned by the company’s long-standing dedication to LGBTQ+ inclusivity and its track record in providing unforgettable travel experiences.

The Promise acknowledges the diverse nature of Kuoni’s clients, and showcases commitments including a promise to listen, respect choices, and collectively share travel expertise to empower customers in making informed decisions. The report showcases real-life case studies and testimonials from LGBTQ+ individuals who have chosen Kuoni for their honeymoon travel, highlighting how Kuoni goes above and beyond to understand and cater to the needs and desires of LGBTQ+ honeymooners.

A key trend is privacy and exclusivity, with many LGBTQ+ couples have identified private villas as their preferred choice of accommodation, potentially to ensure privacy in countries without true marriage equality. A large quantity at 56% of respondents stated that it was either important or extremely important

to have LGBTQ+ inclusive accommodation while travelling. This finding highlights the desire for inclusive spaces where LGBTQ+ individuals can feel comfortable, valued, and supported.

By releasing the report Kuoni aims to celebrate the diversity of honeymoon experiences, whilst at the same time raising awareness about the challenges still faced by LGBTQ+ honeymooners who want to explore and enjoy the world. The report not only celebrates the progress made in the last decade but also serves as a roadmap for the future, ensuring that LGBTQ+ couples can embark on their honeymoon journeys with confidence and joy.

The LGBTQ+ community also stated on the poll that they would likely recommend LGBTQ+ inclusive travel services to their friends or community, a resounding 64% of respondents expressed likelihood or extreme likelihood. This demonstrates the positive reputation and trust that LGBTQ+ travellers place in specialised travel services tailored to their community. Mark Duguid, managing director of Kuoni, said: “With LGBTQ+ travel, the talk can often turn reactive quite quickly – boycotting certain destinations and so on. In reality the conversation is much more nuanced than that, so we give our customers the information to make educated choices and navigate those issues in a very individual way with our staff. And we can have those chats because many of those staff have experienced those destinations themselves.”

“We want to inspire confidence with LGBTQ+ honeymooners that they can trust Kuoni to provide exceptional service, inclusive experiences and expert guidance every step of the way.”

Visit for more information FEATURE HONEYMOON REPORT GNI MAG [46]
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Recently local queer led charity and social enterprise Another World Belfast took to the streets around Smithfield to showcase the very best in vintage and pre loved looks from their Winetavern Street shop. 

Styled by Dutch fashion favourite Amarens Joustra and shot me by Laura Crosier on the day they were joined by models from across the worlds of entertainment, activism, the arts and media including Radio 1 DJ Gemma Bradley, Tik Toks ambassador to Ireland India Sasha. local drag legend The Only Sassie and former Miss Universe Ireland Nadia Sayers. 

Search Show Some Love on most social platforms or visit www. to find out more. 

Photo: Laura Crosier @lensoflucro

Styling: Amarens Joustra @amarens.atelier 

Art Direction: Connor Kerr @anotherconnor




Ulsters LGBTQ Sports Scene Leaders of 2022 / 2023


Belfast LGBTQIA Social Basketball

“Basketball should be about having fun, playing a game with your friends, and feeling free to be yourself in the moment.”


Belfast Blaze

“Football is for all and not just for some, we welcome everyone to Blaze.”


Belfast Queer Skate

“Move over toxic straight boys and bring on queer girls, gays and theys and skate without Hate.”


Belfast Azlans

“The Azlans are more than just a team. We are a little rugby community,where we have each other’s backs on and off the pitch.”


“I see Sports as the last great frontier for LGBTQ Equality”


The Lagan Mermaids

“Age, Gender, Sexuality are irrelevant in rowing, all that matters is teamwork.”


Out & About Hiking

LGBT Tennis NI

Aeracha Uladh GAC

Donegal Gay Walking Group


LGBTQ Ju Jitsu

LGBTQ Squash


Belfast Frontrunners

“A great way to get out and be active with other queer people. I was always running away from my problems so I thought, why not make friends at the same time”


NI LGBTQ Golf Society

A society where all are welcome and the game and social aspects are equally important. Experienced golfers and beginners welcome.

Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.
Kingfisher Country Estate, Paradise Walk, Templepatrick, Ballyclare BT39 0DD Tel 028 9443 5500 Email

OUR BIG DAY Michael & Hugh

So tell us how you met, were you single for a long time before you started dating?

Michael and I met through an aunt of his, Vera. I was fund raising for a charity, doing car boot sales on a Saturday. Vera came to every car boot sale for many weeks, on occasions she would just browse however never spoke. At one stage I thought it strange that this lady was there every Saturday. I once asked the friend I was car booting for who is that lady, I think she is stalking me. With a laugh my friend said that is just Vera. I thought no more until one day she revealed herself. Her introduction was I have been watching you for sometime, oops where was this going. She revealed that she had a Nephew Michael living in London as I was living in Jersey  at that time. She felt that I would be a suitable match for Michael. She took my email address and said she would get Michael to e mail me. I knew by her slightly bossy nature that some how she would follow through on this, however did not think much more about my encounter with her.  Michael did email however not sure what the time frame was. Vera made contact with me once Michael started e mailing. I was summoned to meet her for lunch following the e mail and this became a weekly event and we became good friends. She was a lovely lady, with a great sense of humour. she since passed away R.I.P and would have love to have been part of our wedding. Michael and I e mailed for sometime, then I phone him and eventually he came to Jersey for a visit. We had a brilliant weekend on his first visit, we got on really well. Michael became a frequent flyer to Jersey. He eventually moved over and we stayed for a further year. We k to London for 10 years and now live in Southern Ireland.

How long after you started dating did it take to pop the question, was it an immediate yes?

We had been together for 17 years before we decided to get married. We felt it was the right and natural thing to do. We also felt strongly that people in the past had fought hard for the right for same sex couples to get married and we should honour that right. It was our time to get married.

Tell us about your big day, location, amount of guests etc. Was it planned pre Covid, had you to alter many things?

We decided to celebrate our wedding in the Lord Bagenal inn in Leighlinbridge, Co Carlow. We planned it after COVID-19 in March 2022 and set the date for the 29 of June 2023. The Lord Bagenal is a brilliant location it’s a Family-friendly hotel located


in a heritage village on the banks of the river barrow. The wedding coordinator Sue Baldwin was was excellent, very professional, efficient and organised. She was so supportive from start to finish.

Niall the events Manager coordinated and organised the day and what an excellent job he done to make our day so special. The food was excellent served piping hot thanks to Niall and his team. Connie and Mary looked after our table and they were so attentive. Guest commented on how nice the food was and the choice of menu was fantastic. We had 85 adult guests and 12 children.

There were no major hiccups although we had a last minute dash to get Michael a jacket as the original jacket he was fitted for was not to his liking.

What about the food and drink?

We decided to give the guests a taste of Irish hospitality by giving them Irish or Bailey’s coffee after the meal and we had Irish dancers to share an Irish experience with them. Thank you to Rachael Morgan and her team of Irish dancers who were brilliant. Her  daughter Alannah (6) added to the amazing proformance. Rachael you did us proud and the guests from abroad absolutely loved the experience.

Have you or are you going on honeymoon?

We decided not to have a honeymoon at this time. We have planned to visit Michael’s brother Alan in Florida later this year and take in a few American sights on route and whilst there.

In your day to day lives are you into the same things? What interests do you have that are different?

We have some difference in hobbies. Michael enjoys swimming and I am more of a walker. We both like music however have slightly different taste. We both enjoy cooking and travelling. We do most things together definitely a unit.

Have you a family, is this something on the plan for you?

We have no plans to have a family. Our family is our cat Sky loves getting all of our attention. We plan to have a few more cats and possibly a dog or two in the future. Sky is too precious and would not like other other family members.

Tell us who made your day possible in terms of rings, flowers, photographer, cars etc

Our day was very special and made possible by the following people.

The rings were by Bramleys jewelers in Carlow. Thank you to Philip who made Michaels ring from Michael’s mother’s wedding ring. He wanted to use his Mother’s ring as she passed away 5 years ago. The ring had an intricate design on it and Philip made it bigger perfect to the original design.

The flowers were by Louise at Darling buds in Leighlinbridge, Co Carlow. We both love flowers and wanted sometime different than traditional bouquets. We loved the idea of Hawaiian Leis and Louise did an amazing job and spent endless hours making them perfect for our us.

Thomas Sunderland land photographer in Carlow, he coordinated the guests to get amazing photos.

Michaela Fortune at Little White Chapel in Kilkenny. Michaela did an amazing job bringing our dream together for the ceremony and evening reception.

Our Sister in Law Mary Langton Baldwin on making the stunning wedding cake, three tiers of chocolate biscuit cake, each tier a different flavour. Amazing cake...

Caroline Stapleton Harpist who played throughout the ceremony, very calm and sarrine.Thank you to Fiona Corless Baldwin,

Willie Collins Humanist Celebrant.

who sang our entrance song so beautifully. The song by Christina Perri 1000 years.

Our band and D.J. Disco heros who were amazing they definitely got the crowd going and their play list was perfect for our day.

Big thank you to our attendees. Flower girl our Niece Ella, ring bearer our Niece Sarah and hand fastening barer our Niece Emma Readings by our cousin Carol, Niece Niamh and Sister in law Sue. Thank you to all those who carried things significant to our cermony down the isle also.

Cousin Terry and Michael’s Brother Alan, Nephews James and Andrew, friends Veronica and Audrey, Niece Niamh. Thank you Terry and Bernard for lighting the memorial and  unity candle. Patrick for his speech.

A big thank you to my Brother Patrick for making our visitors from abroad journey to and from the airport stress free. He did several runs to and from the airport with Michael in his Mini bus collecting and dropping guests off.

Thank you everyone for making our day so special and memorable....



Established in 1970, the Four Seasons Hotel & Leisure Club in Monaghan is a prestigious four-star haven that is perfect for hosting your dream wedding day. This family-run establishment is dedicated to providing you and your guests with an unforgetable experience, allowing you to immerse yourselves in the charm of Monaghan Town in Ireland’s Ancient East.

At the hotel, you have the option to move in the night before your celebration with your wedding party, creating a sense of anticipation and excitement. Our exquisite Sakura Suite serves as the ideal backdrop for your ceremony, boasting romantic pastel tones and opulent wall panelling. This elegant setting allows you to infuse your own unique touches, making your special day truly personal and memorable.

To ensure a warm Irish welcome for you and your guests, they will be greeted in our private prereception Limewood Suite with refreshing drinks and delectable snacks. They can then relax on our

plush crushed velvet sofas, creating a cosy and inviting atmosphere.

When it’s time for your wedding feast, prepared with fresh, locally sourced ingredients and accompanied by fine wine, your party will be escorted to the beautifully refurbished Seasons Suite. This versatile space can accommodate parties of all sizes, ranging from intimate gatherings of 25 to grand celebrations of up to 350 guests.

Our grounds feature mature and intimate gardens, providing picturesque locations for capturing your precious wedding moments. In addition, they offer the perfect opportunity to bask in the sun’s rays, should the weather be on your side.

To help prolong the party, wedding couples will receive a discounted rate for a selection of comfortable guest rooms. Furthermore, they will have complimentary access to the Superior Suite and two additional guest rooms. All guest rooms


Located in the heart of Donegal, An Grianan Hotel is a family run business, and one of Donegal’s top wedding venues. In December 2022, An Grianan was voted Top Rated Ulster Wedding Venue and Top Rated 3* Wedding Venue in Ireland - two prestigious accolades to be proud of. These add to numerous other awards and recognitions received over the years, earning its title of the North West’s Premier Wedding Venue. Laced with elegance and oozing quality and class, the hotel is poised to make your wedding day truly special.

Weddings are our main focus at An Grianan. Our experienced team, headed by award winning wedding co-ordinator, Deirdre, offer a comprehensive service, helping you plan and imagine your day at An Grianan - ensuring that you have a wonderful day that is unforgettable.

Join us on Sunday 24th September for our Wedding Showcase in association with Perfect Bliss Wedding Events. | +353 74 93 68900 |

‘Make it Special - Make it An Grianan’

*Note: Wedding Fayre in association with Perfect Bliss Wedding Events will take place on Sunday 24th September 2023

include full access to our award-winning Leisure Club and a wholesome full Irish breakfast. With a rich history spanning over half a century in the hospitality industry, the esteemed team takes great pride in providing a truly personalised and customisable service. The team are committed to ensuring that each wedding hosted receives undivided attention, which is why a strict one wedding per day policy is adhered to. This guarantees that every couple can bask in the lavish experience available, tailored to their unique vision and desires.

Speenoge, Burt, Co. Donegal, F93 YA0P +353 (0)74 93 68900 Make it Special, Make it An Grianan The North-West's Premier Wedding Venue
Photo: M77 Photography
Contact a member of the wedding team today on or +353 (0)47 81 888 to arrange your private or virtual viewing. Visit the website today

Contact a member of our team and together we can begin the journey of planning your flawless celebration:

E || W ||

Photo credit: Sheena T Photography


Set within the beautiful Ashford Estate and offering spectacular views of Lough Corrib, it’s hard to imagine a more romantic and picturesque setting for your special day.

Situated on the outskirts of the charming village of Cong, in the heart of Mayo, The multi award winning Lodge at Ashford Castle is one of the west’s leading wedding venues with many offerings for your special day. As part of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection, The Lodge embraces the philosophy of ‘no request is too large, no detail too small’.

Whether you desire an intimate celebration with close friends and family, or favour a more elaborate affair, The Lodge offers a choice of exceptional spaces to really set the scene. Enjoy al fresco drinks on the lawn overlooking Lisloughrey Pier and dine in the elegance of the Harbour Room with its sparkling chandeliers and panoramic vista.

The lodge offers breathtaking ceremony locations for all to enjoy.

The Executive Chef Jonathan Keane creates a faultless and memorable dining experience for you and all your guests’ using ingredients from artisan suppliers throughout the Connemara, Mayo and Galway regions. At the end of a perfect day, their sixty-four luxurious rooms and suites will accommodate your guests in style. Providing the perfect backdrop for wedding photographs with unlimited opportunities, the estate also offers plenty of activities to keep your guests entertained – the perfect excuse to stay longer!

For a wedding unique to you contact our

award-winning Wedding & Events Manager Cora on - Email: Website: Phone: 094 9545400 OUTDOOR Silverbirch Wedding Ad GNI Mag AUG23.indd 1 28/07/2023 10:19
Lorraine and Melanie’s Wedding Day - Image by Elizabeth Toher Photography




• Intimate and larger weddings catered

• Award-winning Executive Chef Jonathan Keane

• Indoor & outdoor civil ceremonies

• Picturesque lakeside setting

• Splendid gardens with breathtaking views

• Award-winning personal wedding planner

For further details contact Cora Duggan at the Lodge at Ashford on +353 (0) 94 954 5400 or email

The Lodge at Ashford Castle, Cong, Co. Mayo



Can I legally say ‘I do’ in a humanist marriage?

Humanist weddings are non-religious ceremonies which are totally centred on the couple, their values and their unique story. They can take place anywhere indoors or outside, in the woods or on the beach, in the garden or on a mountain, and are officiated by a humanist celebrant. They can be traditional or unconventional, formal or relaxed – however the couple wants it to be.

In Northern Ireland, humanist marriage is legally recognised, which means that non-religious same-sex couples can marry wherever they choose, and in the way which best reflects the two of them as individuals. There is no need to have a ceremony in a church or at the register office.

The 2021 census showed that 63% of those who identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual do not have religious beliefs, so humanist weddings are an important option for same-sex couples who want to commit to one another with a meaningful and memorable ceremony, true to their beliefs, in a safe and welcoming environment in front of their family and friends.

Five years ago the Court of Appeal in Belfast ruled that couples must be able to have legal humanist marriages, following a campaign by Laura Lacole and Eunan O’Kane which was supported by Northern Ireland Humanists. Since then, its celebrants have led marriage ceremonies for hundreds of same sex couples. Highly trained and re-accredited yearly, they ensure delivery of a gold standard service on this most important of days and, as trusted partners, they work to create custom-made,

deeply personal and heartfelt ceremonies which truly capture the essence of the couple.

You can find out more about humanist marriages, and meet our network of Humanist Ceremonies Northern Ireland celebrants, at Any of them will be happy to have a no-obligation initial conversation to talk though ideas and how they can work.


A Humanist Ceremonies wedding gives you the chance to celebrate your marriage with a memorable and meaningful ceremony, totally and authentically personal to the two of you. Warm and welcoming to all, it allows you to mark your special day wherever and whenever you want - the choice is entirely yours.

Our trusted network of Humanist Ceremonies celebrants are experienced in working with couples to create special and significant non-religious marriage ceremonies, capturing your unique and individual stories. Trained to a gold standard by an organisation with more than 125 years’ history, they are all annually accredited, insured and DBS checked so that you can be sure of a professional and reliable service on this most important of occasions.

We have campaigned for marriage equality for decades, and were instrumental in making humanist marriages in Northern Ireland legally recognised. To find out more, and to meet our Humanist Ceremonies Northern Ireland celebrants, visit

OUR BIG DAY Victoria & Niamh

So tell us how you met, were you single for a long time before you started dating?

We met outside the Kremlin (how original lol) I was out for a friends birthday and Niamh came with another friend of ours and the rest is History!

How long after you started dating did it take to pop the question, was it an immediate yes?

We were together about 3 years before I asked the question lol and she said yes straight away lol I (Victoria asked Niamh) lol

Tell us about your big day, location, amount of guests etc. Was it planned pre Covid, had you to alter many things?

We had been engaged 5 years and had a few weddings planned lol Covid halted everything and we then planned to get married abroad but I (Victoria) wanted to get married at home! Lol we got married in Basil Sheils in Armagh such a quirky place right up our street. Was around 170 guests honestly the day couldn’t have went any better apart from the rain lol we had the best photographer out there Melissa & Stacey at Gorgeous Photography were amazing such lovely women! Video me Productions done our Videographer again couldn’t ask for better! Be here all day listing all the vendors but everyone was fantastic.

What about the food and drink?

We had a 5 course meal cesar salad, veg soup, either turkey and ham or roast beef (guests decided on the day) trio of desserts and tea and coffee we done round of drinks at each table rather than wine which worked for us as people could get what they wanted. Food was outstanding Basil Sheils do a great feed.

Were there any hiccups or did all go to plan? Everything went pretty well no major hiccups any wee issues we had we got sorted straight away so didn’t cause any issues.

Have you or are you going on honeymoon?

We went to Turkey and going to Gran Canaria at the end of the month aswell so kinda have got to honeymoons out of it lol

In your day to day lives are you into the same things? What interests do you have that are different?

Yeah we do have a lot of the same interests sport being the main on and we are very competitive as a couple which works but


sometimes not so much - we aren’t really into the same kinda of music or the shows which can make picking shows to watch together a serious struggle lol.

Do you do everything together or do you like to keep independent?

We do tend to do lot together but we also have our own independence aswell

Have you a family, is this something on the plan for you?

Yes we have a 16month old son our iarlaith (I put his name in lower case as always looks like a l but it’s an i) lol he really is our whole world family is very important to both of us

and starting our own was the best decision either of us ever made! We would like to have at least another one hopefully someday that happens.

Tell us who made your day possible in terms of rings, flowers, photographer, cars etc...

We got our wedding rings from Ernest Jones in Victoria Square, my auntie Aine done our flowers Photographer as said before Gorgeous Photography cars we used my parents cars Range Rover and G Wagon! Cake was done by a friend of ours Ciara’s Cakes NI she even done gluten free cupcakes for my friend! Dresses I got my from Jill Jones Bridal and Niamh got hers and the bridesmaids from Reflections Lisburn men’s

suits Bogarts in Belfast our band were from Galway’s they were amazing especially for a proper shindig lol there called Sin a deir sí

Has anything changed since you said “I Do”?

No not really we already live together have a son so business as usual in the Hannon household lol.




I’m Ellise, the coach behind EFR Coaching. I am based in Revolution Fitness.

I’m the coach that has brought the Pride2Power programme to life in person and online!

As a coach, I am dedicated to helping members of the LGBTQIA+ community finally achieve a sense of confidence and belonging within the gym environment. I take pride in providing a safe inclusive training atmosphere through my coaching.

My reasons for getting into the health and fitness industry are a little different than most. I didn’t come from a sporting background, and I was overweight throughout my life. If anything, I was more of a creative and went on to qualify in Related subjects. I would say being able to express myself in a creative environment was a massive factor in being comfortable with who I was. Helping me find my safe space within the LGBTQIA+ community after high school.

Growing up and my teenage years I really struggled with my weight. I had tried every slimming club and fad diet, wondering why I always threw the towel in and felt worse than before I had even started. I didn’t have the knowledge or confidence to know how to go about health and fitness the correct way when it comes to training and nutrition. I would spend pointless hours doing cardio thinking it was going to factor into my weight loss alone. I went through stages of not eating the right foods and having no energy, undereating out of frustration leading to poor health to then end up binging and gaining more again.

I moved away to study, at this time my mental health was in bits I was living a life I wasn’t happy in, lying about who I was and as a result I fell into unhealthy habits, my mental health deteriorated. I ended up moving back home leaving everything behind that I loved. I felt lost, lacking all passion for what I had set out to do. I got a job as a support worker, I always wanted to be able to help others and thought this would be a rewarding job. To help make a positive difference to someone’s life; I witnessed a lot of positive and sad eye-opening moments during my time in this line of work.

This come to be one of the many factors as to why I got into the health and fitness industry today. To put it as honestly as I can, life goes on, we get older, and things become more and more taxing to the body and mind. For this reason, we want to build a healthy body and mind that can cope with the changes that life brings.

It wasn’t until my early twenties and making the decision to get a coach, to train within a community of likeminded people that I really started to notice a change in my overall health and mindset.

It wasn’t just my body composition that changed but also my mental health and confidence completely switched.

A few years into training and one of my coaches, now good friend, had mentioned I would make a great coach if I put my mind to it. Little to his knowledge I had already made the decision to go and get my coaching qualifications.

In those years of training, I had become so comfortable with who I am and what I wanted. My confidence grew in and out of the gym. I was stronger both physically and mentally and knew that my knowledge on health and fitness had expanded. Never would I have thought I would get the opportunity to be part of other people’s health and fitness journeys today, whilst still progressing with my own.

During this time, I had a friend approach me about wanting to better her health and fitness. I advised that getting a coach would be beneficial as this way she would be held accountable and be advised on how to work towards her goal correctly. She was open about her bad experiences that she previously had with coaches and in gym environments.

My friend is transgender and got turned away from coaches and gyms for being herself. As we know this still happens time and time again and is unacceptable. Everyone is entitled to improve their health and fitness.

I got asked recently why I choose to coach the LGBTQIA+ community and how it differs from coaching other members of the public.

My response was: ‘I am part of the community therefore I can relate with my clients. It doesn’t overly differ in terms of general health and fitness advice. I wouldn’t say it’s anything physically either unless a client specifically wants to work towards a more Masc or Femme physique. It’s the mindset, lifestyle factors and feeling part of an inclusive and proud community that makes it different. Especially when it comes to the added stress of rejection, false judgement, and guilt, something that no person should ever have to deal with.’

I’m becoming who I needed at a time I felt very lost. I am now that person for others.

Health and fitness advice can be very dependent on an individual’s goals and differ from person to person. I could write a book on the do’s, don’ts and why’s, but a lot can factor into it all. Not every rule will apply to every person throughout their own journey.

Setting yourself daily targets is a guaranteed way to stay consistent with your health and fitness efforts. These are my Non-negotiables I set for both myself and my clients that you can try:

7-10k daily steps

2-3L+ water daily

Sleep for 6-9hrs

Strength train 3-4x a week

Rest and recovery days

Cardio for cardiovascular health

Keep daily protein intake high

Focus on nutrition for your individual goal (a lot can factor into this) Be grateful for what your body can adapt to and do

I surround myself in nature and the outdoors in my free time to help with stress levels (find what works best for you).

Consistency is key here, not motivation. I would go as far as saying motivation does not exist. People continue to search for it to start making healthier choices. We’ve all heard the phrase ‘I just need to find the motivation’. What we should be focusing on is staying consistent with our efforts. Staying consistent even on the difficult days. This will not only lead to the desired results but will build up your resilience both physically and mentally.

People can get overwhelmed with the amount of health and fitness information we have access to these days, especially on social media. Some great, some not so great. Don’t compare your day 1 to someone’s day 100. It’s your journey.

If you master the basics everything else will become less overwhelming and results are sure to follow. Remember that progress isn’t just down to our physical appearance, number on the scales or performance. It’s about how we feel, our energy levels, our mental clarity, and our overall sense of well-being. If we’re consistently finding that our progress isn’t equating to these areas of our lives, we need to adjust our approach.

If you are feeling lost, unsure, and confused with your health and fitness journey. Reach out @efr_coaching.





As summer peaks, many fashion enthusiasts are eager to refresh their wardrobes and embrace the latest trends. However, some individuals may have concerns about the financial impact. To address these worries, fashion expert Satria Schneider provides practical tips on mastering summer style on a budget.

Celebrities, known for their fashion choices, embrace trendy yet affordable options ideal for the season. From vibrant prints to comfortable athleisure wear, these style icons set the tone for summer fashion.

Hollywood starlet Emma Watson leads the way with her effortless execution of the bohemian chic trend. Watson wore flowy maxi dresses paired with wide-brimmed hats, creating a relaxed and elegant summer look. By incorporating these key pieces into your wardrobe, you, too, can achieve an effortless and feminine style.

According to Schneider, “One of the best ways to achieve

a budget-friendly summer style is by investing in versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched to create various outfits. Opt for staple items such as a classic white t-shirt, denim shorts, or a lightweight maxi dress that can be accessorized differently to suit different occasions. By maximizing the use of these versatile pieces, individuals can create a wide range of stylish outfits without constantly purchasing new clothing items.

Ryan Reynolds is another celebrity who effortlessly makes a statement while prioritizing comfort. Reynolds has been seen sporting athleisure wear, a major trend this summer. Whether out for a jog or grabbing a coffee, Reynolds combines style and functionality seamlessly. You can easily recreate his relaxed yet fashionable look with affordable options from various brands.

Denim is always in style when it comes to summer fashion. Supermodel Gigi Hadid has been rocking the

double denim trend by pairing jeans with a denim jacket or shirt. This timeless look is perfect for summer and can easily be replicated with affordable denim pieces in stores. By layering different denim items, you can achieve a trendy and effortless outfit suitable for any occasion.

Fashion-forward celebrities are also embracing vibrant prints this season. Singer and actress Zendaya has been wearing bold, colorful patterns that exude summer vibes. From floral dresses to tropical-inspired outfits, Zendaya proves you can have fun with your fashion choices while staying on-trend. By incorporating vibrant prints into your wardrobe, you can elevate your summer outfits and make a statement wherever you go.

Fortunately, some practical tips and tricks can help individuals master summer style while sticking to their budget.


Embrace Thrift Shopping: Thrift stores are a treasure trove of unique and affordable fashion finds. Take the time to explore local thrift shops and discover hidden gems that can add a trendy touch to your summer outfits. From vintage denim to flowy sundresses, thrift shopping offers endless possibilities for affordable and sustainable fashion.

Mix and Match: Instead of splurging on an entirely new wardrobe, get creative by mixing and matching items you already own. Experiment with different combinations to create fresh and stylish looks. Layering is also a great way to incorporate other pieces and elevate your summer outfits.

Shop Sales and Discounted Websites: Watch for summer sales and discounted websites that offer fashionable clothing at reduced prices. You can use these

opportunities to snag trendy pieces without straining your wallet. Online platforms like TROC and ASOS regularly provide attractive deals on summer fashion essentials.

Opt for Versatile Basics: Invest in versatile basics that can be easily mixed and matched to create various outfits. Pieces like a classic white t-shirt, denim shorts, and a lightweight cardigan can go a long way in building a stylish summer wardrobe. These timeless essentials can be styled differently for various occasions, making them cost-effective choices.

Accessorize Wisely: Accessories have the power to transform any outfit. Instead of splurging on expensive accessories, explore affordable options like statement earrings, colorful scarves, and trendy sunglasses. These small additions can instantly elevate your summer style without breaking the bank.

Another tip from Schneider is to take advantage of summer sales and discounts. As fashion brands and retailers offer promotions this season, it’s the perfect opportunity to snag trendy items at a fraction of their original price. Schneider advises setting a budget and sticking to it while searching for the best deals online or in stores.

Embrace your creativity and experiment with your existing wardrobe. By mixing and matching different pieces, trying out various accessories, and exploring new combinations, anyone can create a unique and stylish summer look. With creativity and smart choices, your summer wardrobe can be fashionable and budgetfriendly.

Photos Instagram @ gigihadid & @ zendaya www.



Danny Malone

What’s hot and in the trend Beach Waves Beach waves are a classic look that never goes out of style. This year, loose, messy waves are particularly popular. To achieve this look, use a curling iron or a wand to create loose waves. I used Orofluido Elixir to make the waves more loose and messy. The oil doesn’t weigh hair down, it improves hair texture and adds shine

Bold Colours

Bold hair colours are all the rage right now. Anyone that knows me knows how much I love using bright and bold colours from vibrant orange to bold blues and greens, there’s no limit to the colour you can achieve. If you’re not ready to commit to a full head of bold colour, why not add some highlights of colour for a more multi-tonal result.


Bobs are a timeless hairstyle that never goes out of style all year around. This year, the long bob or also known by the name of lob,” is particularly popular. The lob is a great option for those who want a shorter cut without going too short and will be easily styled at home with the right home care products, from a sexy sleek straight to a beautiful loose wave.

Natural Textures

Natural textures are becoming increasingly popular as people embrace

their hair’s natural texture. This includes curly hair, wavy hair, and even afros. If you have naturally curly or wavy hair, try using a texturising spray or mousse to enhance your hair’s natural texture. There are a number of different Revlon products that would work wonders and help you get a great end result. I would recommend Revlon Style masters creator memory spray which is a texturising flexible lightweight hold hairspray with memory effect that creates rework-able styles, allowing the look to be changed throughout the day. This product is great for all hair types by preserving colour while adding volume to create a natural looking texture to your hair.

For more information why not call into macc hair salon on Royal Ave where we can help you with all your hair needs and recommend the best revlon professional home care and get your hair back on track.

Award winning hair stylist mark lesson predicts the spiral perm will make a come back this year . Keep an eye out

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


During Pride week we were given the opportunity to stay in the Maldron Hotel Belfast City Centre.

In terms of location you don’t get much more central, Europa Station on Great Victoria Street is less than 2 minutes in one direction and City Hall is maybe 4 minutes the other way. So if you are planning a trip to the Theatre, a day shopping or a night on the tiles everything is on your doorstep.

My friend Tony and I booked in for a Sunday, we arrived for check-in around 3pm in anticipation of an early evening meal then a super sunday overindulging on everything imaginable. From the outside, the building is impressive - stretching into the every growing city skyscape. Large swathes of glass offer an intriguing glimpse of what’s ahead, what a transformation from the old BIFHE (Belfast MET) campus I vaguely recall attending briefly some years ago.

Stepping inside doesn’t disappoint. The social aspect of this hotel is an obvious intention, the reception is stylish and compact and leads straight to the bar and dining areas which of course is a hub of activity - a great vibe when entering the hotel, immediately giving off a

We checked into our room which I think was on the tenth floor. I’m a sucker for a view, and I got it from this room. I could see down into the lively square behind Robinson’s Bar, up the street towards Donegal Square, and over the rooftops towards Stormont on one side and Cavehill on the other. The room was fresh, tidy, clean, contemporary and well thought out. A fabulous big bed, large flat screen TV, great storage to hang our clothes, a table for the essential pre-drinks, and the ensuite was uber-cool (who doesn’t love a rain head shower?).

friendly and lively feel. With it being Pride week they really went all out in showing their support, the reception desk, bar and coffee station were all decorated in pride flags and bunting, this made me feel extra welcome - I vote for it to stay all year round lol

Ashleigh the Sales and Marketing Manager went over and above leaving a goodie bag for us complete with Whiskey & tin mug, vouchers for hot drinks and a good ole packet of Tayto Crisps though it was the personalised note that made it for me, mentioning things we had spoke about in the past that I wouldn’t of that she would recall due to the amount of people she must look after. This was just lovely, thank you so much.


Once we’d settled in we headed to the hotel restaurant for dinner. Not to diminish how great the room was, but the food in this place is totally gorgeous. I’ve stayed in lots and lots of hotels, and often the food offering is, well, mediocre. And, if I’m brutally honest I was expecting the same here. But no, the food was outstanding. Both my friend and I indulged. We had a few glasses of wine and a three course meal.

I’ll not go through each dish independently, though will mention a few that really impressed me, first it was the Cauliflower fritters, I now have a new appreciation for a vegetable that can often be lackluster - it was in the thinnest, crispiest batter served with guacamole, sweet chilli dip, I could have eaten a bucket full lol, nom nom

Then the Braised feather blade of beef must be mentioned, this was cooked to utter perfection, it fell apart, it was served with the most umptious pommes-puree and the perfect amount of tender stem broccoli. I must ask what the

secret was in that puree, I would love to try and recreate it.

To say I/we would recommend this restaurant is an understatement, the head chef has created a menu that caters for all tastes. Regardless of whether you stay over in this hotel (maybe you live near the city and are just in for the day), I’d definitely recommend that you try this restaurant!

The night went on, we went out into the city, and after getting fairly merry we made our way back to the room for the night. The bed was super comfy and made for great slumber. Breakfast in the morning was great - perfect for helping with the hangover.

All in all, yes, if you’re looking somewhere to stay on your Belfast City break try out the Maldron. Staff were friendly, professional and knowledgeable, and when you put that together with the rest of the review - this is a no brainer for you.

Thanks for you the invite and looking after uswe will be back

Review by Daniel May

Maldron Hotel Belfast City 20 Brunswick Street

T: 02890 001680



The power of 3 will set you free! If you don’t get the reference we can’t be friends lol! Anywho here I’m back with my 3rd column, these are fairly flying as we say down in Tyrone!

My top 5 hits on repeat

What I am listening to!

I figured I would do a featured artist top 5 this time:

Rita Ora ft Fatboyslim - Praise you - I never thought I would be saying this but I love a Rita Ora track,albeit a modern remake of a classic from the ’90s.This has my blessing!

Hailee Steinfeld ft Anderson Paak - Coastyes her from Hawkeye, Bumblebee & the pitch-perfect films has brought us yet another catchy tune to have you humming it without realising.#starving #lovemyself

Dean Lewis ft Julia Michaels - In a perfect world - a beautiful track about the fear of falling in love and being open with someone. Julia Michaels doing what she does best a pure heart-on-thesleeve track!

Kim Petras Ft Nicki Minaj - Alone - yet another 90’s sample,this time from Alice DJ’s better off alone,this much-anticipated collab with the big-arsed one, will be one of the big songs of the year.

Confirmed New Album Releases I am beyond excited about!!

This issue is a tough one for me to only write about 1 or 2 album releases in detail when there are over 4 albums being released that will be tickling my eardrums. So I figure I will give you all a summary of the top 4 instead:

Olivia Rodrigo - Guts - 8th Sept - the sophomore album from singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo, following the huge success of her debut album SOUR. The lead single, “Vampire,” was released at the end of June. The album mainly focuses on the events in Rodrigo’s life as she navigated being nineteen years old, and the challenges that came with it. A year “filled with lots of confusion, mistakes, awkwardness & good old fashioned teen angst,” her experiences came together to form GUTS.

Roisin Murphy - Hit parade - 8th Sept - One of music’s most innovative artists, Queen of Electronic Music and the Avant-Garde, Róisín Murphy is back with a much anticipated new album – her sixth – in collaboration with the legendary producer DJ Koze. Hit Parade, sees the idiosyncratic trailblazer masterfully spanning genres such as disco, soul, pop and house. Róisín Murphy is a

Charlie Puth ft Dan + Shay-That’snothow this works - I am slightly biased on this one as I adore Charlie Puths’ voice (among other things lol!) This song is about a person who left a relationship without explanation and then tries to come back.

multifaceted and Mercurynominated singer, songwriter, producer, director, podcast host and screen actor

Kylie - Tension - 22nd Sept - Kylie’s brand new studio album, ‘Tension’ is going to be a record of euphoric, empowered dance floor bangers and sultry pop cuts. ‘Tension’ is eleven tracks of unabashed pleasureseeking, seize-the-moment, joyful pop tunes with the hypnotic electro of ‘Padam Padam’ opening the album. Discussing ‘Tension’, Kylie says, “I started this album with an open mind and a blank page. Unlike my last two albums, there wasn’t a ‘theme’, it was about finding the heart or the fun or the fantasy of that moment and always trying to service the song. I wanted to celebrate each song’s individuality and to dive into that freedom. I would say it’s a blend of personal reflection, club abandon and melancholic high.”

Beverley Knight - The Fifth Chapter - 29th Sept - My old client is Crowning her 50th birthday celebrations in style, being the undoubted Queen of British Soul she is releasing her 5th studio album, The

GNI MAG [86]

Fifth Chapter. No stranger to the spotlight, Beverley can do it all. An Olivier award-winning star of the West End stage, a Saturday night TV regular on the latest series of Starstruck, and an astounding singer with a prolific music career. She finds herself aged 50, bigger than ever. The lead single “Last One On My Mind” is a sassy no-nonsense but joyous-sounding song with a big nod to modern disco, It’s about taking your power back from a former lover and striding into the future.”

Industry Whispers - Just Between Us

Kylie Minogue might have her own Las Vegas residency soon, she is currently on her US press tour for her upcoming 16th album ‘Tension’ and has teased the idea of having her own Las Vegas residency one day in a recent TV appearance. On the 11th of July she was asked would she do a “tour or Vegas residency,” for the US. In response, the star squinted her eyes mischievously and said, “Very possibly.” She was asked, “Would it be more of a stripped-down show?” Her reply was she would do that any day of the week because she loves it when you can hear a pin drop. It’s a completely different approach, a completely different set of skills, but it’s really exciting to do” she added. The Sun has since reported that Minogue will be doing her Las Vegas residency this October. The report claimed it will be held in the 1000-capacity nightclub Voltaire inside The Venetian Tower. The singer hasn’t signed a deal that bars her from performing elsewhere, so she will still be able to embark on her 2024 UK tour. Sounds like things are moving forward pretty fast, would you fly to Las Vegas to see her?

Rylan has become a bit of a multi-million-pound property guru….yes you’ve read that correctly! It has been revealed that the presenter is sitting on a multi-million-pound property business, with his total business assets now taken up to almost £ 3 million. Accounts discovered by an old journalist mate of mine found that increased property boosted Rylan’s private business Luxenoa by a cool £300k. The latest property built by the firm to hit the market took the overall value of the company to over £1.3m. The former Celebrity Big Brother winner set up the property firm in 2018, but his business mind has been in gear since 2013 after he set up Rylan Limited, which deals with his TV earnings. Previous accounts from 2022 found that the personality had a total of over £1.6m in his TV firm, with the company’s net worth skyrocketing throughout his career. Most recently, accounts found that Rylan’s TV company was valued at over £1m in 2019, I wonder if would he lend us a few quid?!

Vinyl of the Moment!

The way all the greats should be played!

My Top 5 Rediscovered Tunes - The Freshers Version

Seeing this will be out just in time for the freshers’ season I thought I would do a throwback to mine!

Kylie Minogue - Spinning Around - This was the biggest comeback of the century for everyone’s favourite Princess of pop following a period of dabbling in the indie music scene.


Fragma - Toca’s Miricle - A dance classic that is still doing the rounds and remakes, I remember seeing them live at the opening of the red square part of the Kremlin. #Ifeelold!

Moloko - The time is now - I am sorry but everything Roisin Murphy touches is phenomenal as far as I am concerned. If you don’t already know it, welcome!you’re

Mary Mary - Shackles (Praise you) - pure dance floor bop, enuff said!

Britney Spears - Oops I did it again - bring on the latex red catsuit, hair flips and twirls… the gays were in heaven!

Jessie Ware - That Feels Good! Following writing about it 2 issues ago, I got my hands on a signed copy and it has been on repeat….. let’s just say Camp Kitch Disco at its best! I cannot wait to see her live for the 1st time in Manchester in November!

this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI

Please note,
Publiccations Ltd. COLUMN GARY CAMPION GNI MAG [87]
or Romeo & Julian


Martin Kearney

Hello GNI readers after a hiatus away I’m back with a new Column.  Casting Couch. (No not that kind of casting couch) Each issue I will be covering the rumour mill of Hollywood casting along with those cast in future projects and my own casting choices.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it this issue will be James Gunn’s Superman Legacy.

Peter Safran and James Gunn who directed all three Guardians of the Galaxy movies has been giving the task of breathing new life into the world’s greatest heroes Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and more popular and obscure characters from DC Comics. He is going to need super breath, as apart from a few movies the DCU has been a disappointment to say the least.

The recent announcement of the casting for the latest Superman film has sent tremors through the world of DC fandom. David Corenswet, best known for his roles in ‘The Politician’ and ‘Hollywood’, and if like me the first time you saw him on screen your thought was, he looks like Superman has been chosen to don the famed red cape and play the Last Son of Krypton, aka Kal -El aka Clark Kent. Fans will be excited to see if he can give the Superman role the gravitas and screen presence it deserves, a quality that, in my opinion, was absent in previous interpretations by Henry Cavill. Corenswet has more charisma unique talent and nerve in his pinkie than Henry Cavill has in his whole body.

The role of Lois Lane, that savvy reporter with a knack for finding trouble, has been claimed by none other than Rachel Brosnahan, the shining star of Amazon Prime’s ‘The Marvellous Mrs Maisel’. Whilst an excellent choice, in fact any actress who has played the part I’ve enjoyed. Margot Kidder was iconic and even the TV versions of Lois bought to life by Teri Hatcher and Erica Durance stole the scenes from their respective supermen Dean Cain and Tom Welling. Although I’d be remiss not to mention how tantalising the prospect of seeing Daisy Edgar-Jones, the brilliant young talent from BBCs ‘Normal People’ and the horror black comedy ‘Flesh’, in the role. I just envisioned her falling from a helicopter. There’s hope we may yet see her in the DC universe, perhaps as Supergirl?

Of course, every Superman story requires a robust supporting cast. Lex Luthor, the man with the mind to match Superman’s might, has had a few cinematic iterations that haven’t hit the mark. We’ve seen him played by the likes of Gene Hackman and Kevin Spacey, and the less said about Jessie Eisenberg performance the better but I’d venture that Denzel Washington could bring a charisma and gravitas to Lex that would be a game changer. Now that you have read that I bet you I can read your mind. You are thinking fuck yes Genius casting.

And what of Jimmy Olsen? A radical idea, but why not flip the script? Euphoria’s Hunter Schafer, playing a “Jenny Olsen”, could be just the spark the Daily Planet needs. For the role of the Planet’s Editor in Chief, Perry White, who else but Jon Hamm, a leading man with enough charisma to command any newsroom?

Superman’s Kryptonian father Jor-El have traditionally been played by Hollywood heavyweights, from Marlon Brando to Russell Crowe. Staying true to that tradition, who better than Nicholas Cage, the Oscar winner who was so tantalisingly close to playing Superman himself once? As for his onscreen partner, Sarah Jessica Parker could be a winning choice, as Lara Kal Els birth mother. Why I hear you say? Still reading your minds, because I love her because why not and because their chemistry already tested and proven in ‘Honeymoon in Vegas’.

For Clark’s earthly parents, the Kents, we need actors who can channel that quintessential Kansas charm. I’m thinking a “daddy”! Dylan McDermott, donning a trucker cap, open flannel shirt could be a compelling Jonathan Kent, while Diane Lane’s superb performance as Martha Kent in previous iterations warrants an encore. James Gunn and Peter Safran decided to keep on Viola Davis as Amanda Waller same could be done for Lane as in my opinion was one of the only relatable, likeable characters in Man of Steel, Batman V Superman and Justice League

Finally, the role of the villain. Whether it’s Lex Luthor in a kryptonite suit or a face-off with the formidable General Zod, a character famously portrayed by Terrence Stamp and Michael Shannon, we need an antagonist with a real punch. Daniel Craig, with his rugged charm and steely gaze, could make a worthy adversary for Superman.

Of course, James Gunn writer and director might decide to take a different path altogether, introducing Brainiac as the main antagonist. In that case, I can think of no better choice than Daniel Day-Lewis, a man who can truly embody any role.

The DC universe is teetering on the brink of a new era, and under the direction of James Gunn, we can only wait with bated breath to see what unfolds. The stage is set, the players are chosen, and I, for one, am eager to see how this new chapter unfolds.

COLUMN MARTIN KEARNEY GNI MAG [88] Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.


It’s been a few years since I’ve dined in Flame, since then they have moved to their new premises just off Bedford street, those unfamiliar with the centre of Belfast will be happy to hear its less than a 2 minute walk so do not fret.

Here is a little backstory: Our restaurant opened its doors in 2013. The theme of the 140 seated restaurant was to create drama from a full visible kitchen whereby chefs with their culinary skills prepare and deliver their cuisine from a purpose-built wood burning fire grill (“Asador Grill”), delivering some of the finest meats from Ireland.... To compliment this our chefs are also seen working on Tandoori prepared dishes, char-cooked from a purpose built copper cylindrical tandoori oven.

Offering a mixture of “east meets west” cuisine, Flame restaurant prides itself with its highly skilled mixologists, preparing specialty beverages and combining selected spirits to create some of the finest cocktails the city has to offer. Our extensive range of wines, spirits, premium draught beers, and our renowned cocktails give our patrons an experience second to none. With light entertainment, our weekends are generally remarkably busy, and we recommend that bookings are made well in advance.

On entering I was immediately impressed, wherever pre conceptions I had concocted in my head were blown out of the water in terms of decor, design and ambiance. We were greeted with a welcome smile and while being seated I admired the fixtures and fittings, while clearly brand new they are styled to give the impression and grandeur of days gone by, tables and chairs with charm, walls filled with glorious paintings though the piece de resistance in full view by all was the hugh bar, illuminated with

warm emerald lighting - WOW. You really need to see the place with your own eyes to appreciate it. Ok so let’s move on to the food, even though I previously examined the menu, making a decision was such a struggle, this wasn’t due to the fact of too much choice on the contrary it was due to the uniqueness of the options.

To start there are 7 options, I could have easily ordered the Pork and Chilli Wontons or Grilled Garlic Mushrooms though I settled on the Pea & Chorizo Aranchi, they were so delicious , perfect little balls of heaven, super crispy with a filling that was rich with just the right amount of spice and salt. My guest Emma ordered the Cured Salmon, this was like a work of abstract art. The dish was served with Potato, Pickled Summer Vegetables with Creme Fraiche and dots of Dill and Puree.

The main was another battle though having recently traveled to Portugal it was serendipity to see “Portuguese Marinated Chicken’ on the menu - I was simply called to order this and I have no regrets, the chicken was so tender, I loved the rustic pieces of onions and roasted veg through the sauce, this was served with a large portion of Braised rice.

I ate 90% of the meal, though I thought it best to leave a little room for dessert (I’m so glad I did) My guest ordered the BBQ Short Rib of Beef - omg this was delicious, I had to sneak a taste, the meat literally fell apart, i’m guessing it had been slow cooked or sueveed for many hours, ,this came with a large helping of Potato Wedges and Red Pepper and Sweetcorn Relish.

Other dishes of personal interest to me were the Rump of Lamb, Smoked Cooley and Cote De Boeuf - I guess several more trips are needed.

Dessert time, I have such a sweet tooth, I could live on chocolate and treats if it didn’t have such an impact on the waistline lol , when dining out I always have a rule that if Sticky Toffee Pudding is on the menu I must order it and it it’s not I am to behalf, well there was no behaving insight as the offering was the aforementioned with the ultimate twist - Sticky Date and Raisin Cake with Pecan toffee sauce and Irish Liqueur Ice Cream - this is a big statement but I must say I have NEVER had a nicer dessert , it had everything I personally love and want in abundance - Bravo to the Patissier/ Pastry Chef.

My guest completed her meal with the Apple and Candied Ginger Crumble, served with traditional ice cream.

Oh I must add that while I was designated driver and on the H20 my guest did enjoy a few beverages, a classic Malibu and lemonade and a beautiful Passionfruit Daiquiri, she assured me they were both delicious. When I next visit I will be making up for it and definitely sampling some of the amazing wines they offer.

Thank you kindly for the invite and your hospitality, we had a wonderful evening, thanks to the owner, management, chef and staff.

A typical 3 course from their Pre-Theatre Menu

Costs a wallet pleasing £27

Review by Daniel May

Flame Restaurant Ground Floor, The Ewart

3 Bedford Street, Belfast

T: 02890 33 2121 |



STREET FOOD The Gourmet Boys

As we know all too well, the guarantee of summer sunshine in our fair isle can be somewhat hit and miss, so Al Fresco dining isn’t always on the cards. But, we do have some fabulous culinary venues with incredible views to enjoy come rain or shine! Here are some of our favourites.

Established in 2021, Shanty Bites and Brews situated in the old lifeboat shelter in Portrush is an absolute must for any visitors to the North Coast looking for a brilliant foodie experience in stunning surroundings with gorgeous sea views. We started with some delicious sharing plates; a Bread Selection with herb oil, romesco, Chimichurri, & fig confit, a wonderful platter of fresh Fritto Misto, and some smoky, charred Padron Peppers.

Our mains included a Kilkeel Coley with patatas bravas, Lemon and Coriander Marinated Monkfish with lobster rice, Chimichurri Chicken, an enormous, golden Fish & Chips, and a delicately marbled Ribeye Steak with peppered sauce.

Accompanied by delightful tunes courtesy of the talented Oonagh Clark, and with a spectacular sunset behind her, what an idyllic way to spend a summer’s evening enjoying fine food and wine.

AC Hotels by Marriott Belfast

AC Hotels by Marriott opened its only NI venue in April 2018 and with the addition of the Jean-Christophe Novelli Restaurant, the hotel quickly became a popular choice for dining whilst enjoying unrivalled views of Belfast’s Titanic Quarter and the River Lagan. That fantastic view is being celebrated even more with the opening of The Terrace, a gorgeous outdoor space serving a varied menu with a selection of tapas, Mediterranean inspired dishes and traditional Irish classics, as well as an extensive cocktail and wine menu, making it the perfect spot for an al fresco catch-up with friends and family. We were invited down to try the new space, and couldn’t believe our luck. Bathed in sunshine, glass of chilled white wine in hand, a bowl of olives and some smoked almonds to nibble on, we could have been quayside at any Mediterranean port! We sampled lots of delicious dishes from The Terrace menu; herby bruschetta, focaccia with houmous, tapenade, and roasted tomato dip, crispy squid, patatas bravas, and an authentic artisan Formaggi Caprini Pizza, with a marinara base, crumbled goats cheese, caramelised red onion, and confit garlic. And the new Terrace Cocktail list is superb, with a variety of traditional favourites and new inventions, especially the “1847”, a tribute to the Harbour Commission, and two of our go-to classics, “Penicillin”, and “Corpse Reviver No.2”. What better way to spend a lazy summer lunchtime, than enjoying great food & drink, and excellent company, all in this luxurious new outdoor space right in the city centre.

The Mariner

A Bar & Restaurant in the heart of Newcastle, with superb sea views from the first floor Bistro, ‘The View’ at The Mariner has a great menu celebrating seasonal local produce. We were shown to our window seat with panoramic views of Newcastle’s expansive shoreline, and while we decided what to choose for our meal, we had a couple of great aperitifs; “The Dead Rabbit”-a whiskey cocktail with apricot, lemon, honey & bitters, and “Kraken Punch” with rum, Campari, lime & pineapple. To start, we had a portion of beautifully meaty mussels in a creamy cider & apple sauce with homemade bread to mop up the juices, and some perfectly pan roasted scallops with apple purée, confit apple, and foraged sea greens.

The main courses of pan-fried hake with broccoli and potatoes, in a light wine sauce, and the pan-seared chicken with fondant potatoes, pickled mushrooms & an absolutely incredible black truffle purée, were both inventive and comfortingly


And speaking of comfort food, the dessert of Toffee Apple Crumble with Salted Caramel Ice Cream and Sauce Anglais was a lovely, warm bowl of fruity, caramelised deliciousness. A thoroughly enjoyable evening of quality cuisine, great service and some of the best sea views from any Newcastle restaurant.

The Nines

The Nines……whether it’s the “lucky number 9”, endowed with the gift to serve others and to create an easy and relaxed atmosphere, or that “nine in the evening” feeling, watching the sun set spectacularly over the Lough, or simply an opportunity to get “dressed to the nines” and enjoy a night of fabulous food, scintillating service, and quality cocktails, The Nines Restaurant & Boutique Hotel in Bangor is an absolute delight. Launched in April, as part of the first phase of development of the iconic Bangor building, a full refurbishment of the ground floor has taken place resulting in a new, contemporary bar area with an intimate yet relaxed restaurant, and a terrace offering beautiful sea views. While we perused the menu, we sipped a couple of terrific cocktails; a warm and spicy Margarita Picante, and a Bergamotto-a gorgeous fragrant creation perfect for lovers of a gin martini. We were also impressed with the rather excellent wine list. To begin, we shared a smoky Baba Ganoush with zaatar, mint and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds, with triangles of Lebanese bread to scoop up this heavenly aubergine dip. And the Meze of creamy Buratta with heirloom tomatoes, pesto, and sourdough crostini is a delightful sharing dish. In fact, all of the Meze dishes are great value, and perfect to share; we also loved the Charred Greens with miso and dukkah, and the Falafel Crumble with shawarma roasted baby carrots on a bed of labneh with coriander. But the Fish of the Day, a beautifully cooked sole on the bone with samphire, golden raisins, almonds and capers served with crushed potatoes, was simply superb. To finish, the “70% Chocolate”, a bittersweet dark chocolate tart with salted caramel and vanilla ice cream was another outstanding dish.

Killeavy Castle

Killeavy Castle’s contemporary fine dining restaurant, with awe inspiring views of the surrounding farmlands, offers a four-course or seven-course Tasting Menu; a culinary experience showcasing a passion for using the freshest, seasonal ingredients, sourced from the onsite working Farm, Walled Garden, and carefully selected local suppliers. Our incredible tasting menu featured seven exceptional dishes designed around the bounty of the Ring Of Gullion; from foraged ingredients to artisan suppliers, from historic slate to fallen timber, from gifts from neighbouring orchards to an homage to the swirling mystique of the misty mountain in the final fabulously dramatic dish. The menu was a triumph.

Fivemiletown Goat’s Cheese Victoria Sponge with Kombucha, was followed by a cornucopia of delightful flavours and textures; beetroot, mushroom, Kilkeel crab, salt baked carrot with Killowen whiskey, poached cod, lobster, “The Peacock Egg” championing our favourite NearyNógs chocolate, and that incredible petit fours finalé….. utterly sublime! As local author Michael J Murphy wrote, “ The spirit of the mountain breathed out of the clay, I turned, and hours of labour went by without knowledge of toil.” An inspired and enchanting food experience.


The New Quays

When you’re in the mood for some simple, fresh, well prepared seafood at reasonable prices, then head down the peninsula to The New Quays Restaurant in Portavogie. We were meeting some friends for Sunday lunch, and as we had eaten here before quite recently, we knew we were in for a treat. The New Quays’ menu focuses on locally sourced seafood, and is constantly changing to reflect the daily catch. We thoroughly enjoyed the Sharing Platter which included golden battered cod goujons, Thai-style fish cakes, smoked salmon, prawn cocktail on homemade wheaten, and mussels in a creamy shallot and garlic sauce, with lots of crusty bread. The Baked Brie is a generous wedge of warm, oozing cheese served with a fruity chutney, the crispy-skinned Seabass fillets accompanied by asparagus, broccoli, green beans and cauliflower were beautifully cooked, and the Scampi and Chips is an absolute classic.

Desserts also come highly recommended, so make sure you leave some room to enjoy traditional favourites such as the tangy Citrus Lemon Tart, Jim’s special Tiramisu with a hint of orange and a side of Affogato, Salted Caramel Chocolate Brownies with ice cream, and a rich Chocolate Profiterole Cheesecakesheer indulgence on a plate! And to make it just perfect, when the clouds cleared and the sun came out, the views from the restaurant across the Irish Sea were stunning. A lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon.


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The New Quays

AC Marriott Shanty Killeavy Castle

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TRAVEL Gran Canaria


Playa Del Ingles Pride week review

This round Spanish island has been a mecca for gay travellers for a very long time way before I was born and well I was born in the early eighties. The Island is part of a cluster of Spanish islands just off the coast of Northern Africa with the main islands being Gran Canaria, Las Palmas, Tenerife and Lanzarote. I have been very lucky to have been to them all so far and each of these small islands has its own unique character, landscape and speciality for tourism but it is Gran Canaria that stands out for the Gay Traveller because it holds one of Europes Biggest Annual Prides alongside Winter Prides and many many ay Fetish events for Bears and Leather. Also the little green Dinosaur at the entrance to the Yumbo Centre is the 3 tiered square dedicated to all things gay from, Cafes, Bars, Shopping, Drag Bars, Clubs, Gay Saunas and more aka Gays rules in this town. Gran Canaria is also one of the very few destination around the world which offers LGBTQ+ community its very own Gay Beach space.

Personally I had not been to the island for about 15 years or more and I was excited to return for my birthday celebration and to take in the annual Gay Pride Parade and some free events of the week long festivities . Compared to my previous multiple trips to the island as a single GAY man this time I was going as part of a couple and due to this we wanted to both upgrade the type of accommodation and the area we planned to stay in. So rather than being in the very heart of the resort I booked a package holiday with Jet2Holidays direct from Belfast to Gran Canaria staying at the 4 star Gran Princess on the outskirts of Playa Del Ingles actually not too far from the other famous Irish Centre..

Our package included Insurance ,Flights, Private return Airport transfers and the Hotel was on a Half Board basis for the week. As it was the 2nd week of the Gay Pride 2023 celebrations the Belfast flight was full of young gay singles, couples and friends all heading to the island to enjoy the Beach, Clubs, Sun and all things Yumbo.

Upon arrival at Belfast airport everything was great and we got into the holiday mood straight away with a good breakfast and a drink or two. To kick start the holiday The flight was just over 4 hours but didn’t seem that long and it wasn’t long until we where standing in the hotel reception ready to check in. The Gran Princess is an older hotel which has been renovated and offers a fresh funky Adult only , couples vibe, which seemed to have a very international feel that night.

Overall the hotel is adults only and I would say just


below the 4 Stars given compared to some of its nearby competition like RUI and Servitour hotels. The bedroom was clean and comfortable but a little on the small side but with a nice balcony which over looked the hotels entertainment stage and pool which came in handy for pre dinner drinks and some fun before heading down to Yumbo. Centre most evenings.

It surprised me to see that not much has changed in Playa Del Ingles with the same cafes, Bars and restaurants still open and offering tourists pretty much the same thing they have always done. I was expecting a more upmarket Gay Vibe for 2023 like you get now with Mykonos and even Sitges but it appears this wasn’t the case.

Day time in Yumbo is very much quiet and pretty chilled affair with many of the cafes bars etc not opening to mid afternoon. Our daily routine was get up have breakfast at the hotel which offered self service buffet which I could not fault. We would often then take a long walk down to the centre of the resort stopping off having coffee and sometimes cake along the way.

About 3 times during the week we ventured to the Gay Beach at Maspalomas which was a surprise because I am not normally someone who enjoys the beach. However we enjoyed the Gay Only Beach and the nudist sections and felt comfortable mixing with all the other Gay singles and Groups each day discussing the day and night before events. The Beach areas offers comfortable sun-beds for hire and also has a few different cabins offering drinks and snacks as well as music helping you get into the spirit.

I would say it would be better to bring some proper food from a supermarket with you for lunch and 100% to come down as early as you can because sun-beds with umbrellas get snapped up quickly. I would also suggest if you love your gay apps like Grinder and Scruff then bring a battery pack fully charged as this place is mental for hooking up and well making out. Personally I loved the freedom of it all and admired all those people confident to simply

be themselves and enjoy the space. If your wanting a chilled daily life then I would defiantly recommend hitting the beach even for a few hours as well as for taking in some of the beautiful scenery. We would often take the long walk from Maspalomas Gay Beach all the way down on the beach to Play Del Ingles Beach before walking uphill to our hotel at the rear of the resort.

Toms Cruising bar is on the top floor so a little away from the madness of the Lower levels but again offers similar vibe to Cruise Bar with food dark room action.

Yumbo is an entertainment centre with everything a Gay man could want or need from , food , shopping, entertainment in the way of drag shows, cheesy pop bars, dance cubs, cruising bars and gay saunas.

As it was Pride we the community offered tourists multiple events to book such as Pool Parties at the Axel Beach Hotel, Or maybe an All Gay Cruise and then night events such as White Parties etc. My partner and I are not really into pre planned events and we much preferred working our way nightly down to the Yumbo after having food at the hotel and checking out the multitude of bars available.

Eden was our favourite starting point each night to take in the nightly sights and sounds before then deciding which bars to hit next. I guess as the Yumbo is a sunken square you will always manage to see something no matter where you. Personally we enjoyed BearCave which is very small but spills into the square and is everything bear. The staff are very friendly and clientele was a real mix of ages and looks from bears to jocks and even those in rubber and puppy gear.

Cruise Bar does well pretty much what it says allowing men to cruise for pleasure in a safe and friendly environment. Again the venue isn’t huge but clientele is very mixed depending on the time of night.

My overall opinion on Gran Canaria is that it hasn’t really changed much in the past 15 years since my last visit and for some people this will be a good thing but for myself and my partner we need something more and feel that if we ever returned to the island then it would be to a different resort. We did say that maybe Summer Pride was just too busy and not for us and maybe winter Pride or one of the Bear or fetish events might suit us better so I guess never say never.

As a Gay Traveller I think you should try it all and find what suits you best, should you be a young solo traveller or an older couple each destination will have something for you but don’t expect just because its seen as a gay destination, service or product that it will be right for you.

Support the countries and destinations which offer LGBTQ+ travellers safe places to visit and experience but don’t shut the rest of the world out in fear of being a Gay Traveller because more and more countries are welcoming us everywhere around the world.

Stay safe keep travelling but most of all enjoy your life as its your adventure to be had.



Red, White & Royal Blue

Alex Claremont-Diaz (Taylor Zakhar Perez), the son of the President of the United States (Uma Thurman), and Britain’s Prince Henry (Nicholas Galitzine) have a lot in common: Stunning good looks, undeniable charisma, international popularity ... and a total disdain for each other. Separated by an ocean, their long-running feud hasn’t really been an issue, until a disastrous—and very public—altercation at a royal event becomes tabloid fodder, driving a potential wedge in U.S./British relations at the worst possible time. Going into damage-control mode, their families and handlers force the two rivals into a staged “truce.” But as Alex and Henry’s icy relationship unexpectedly begins to thaw into a tentative friendship, the friction that existed between them sparks something deeper than they ever expected.

Meg 2: The Trench

Cinemas - NOW

A literally larger-than-life thrill ride that supersizes the 2018 blockbuster and takes the action to higher heights and even greater depths with multiple massive Megs and so much more! Dive into uncharted waters with Jason Statham and global action icon Wu Jing as they lead a daring research team on an exploratory dive into the deepest depths of the ocean. Their voyage spirals into chaos when a malevolent mining operation threatens their mission and forces them into a high-stakes battle for survival. Pitted against colossal Megs and relentless environmental plunderers, our heroes must outrun, outsmart, and outswim their merciless predators in a pulse-pounding race against time.

TMNT: Mutant Mayhem

Cinemas: NOW

After years of being sheltered from the human world, the Turtle brothers set out to win the hearts of New Yorkers and be accepted as normal teenagers through heroic acts. Their new friend April O’Neil helps them take on a mysterious crime syndicate, but they soon get in over their heads when an army of mutants is unleashed upon them.


The Crowded Room

Apple TV: Binge NOW

The Crowded Room follows Danny Sullivan (Tom Holland), a man who is arrested following his involvement in a shooting in New York City in 1979. A captivating thriller told through a series of interviews with curious interrogator Rya Goodwin (Amanda Seyfried), Danny’s life story unfolds, revealing elements of the mysterious past that shaped him, and the twists and turns that will lead him to a life-altering revelation.



Netflix: Binge NOW

Marco, a young makeup enthusiast, is hired as an assistant to beauty mogul Madolyn Addison. Through his work for the company, Glamorous by Madolyn, Marco develops in his identity, navigates dating, creates new friendships, and more. Madolyn also undergoes character development as a result of being around Marco

Created by Jordon Nardino, starring Kim Cattrall and Miss Benny.The ten-episode series


Apple TV: Binge Now

Told in real time, “Hijack” is a tense thriller that follows the journey of a hijacked plane as it makes its way to London over a seven-hour flight, and authorities on the ground scramble for answers. This seven-part thriller miniseries was created by George Kay and Jim Field Smith, starring Idris Elba. Sam, a talented business negotiator, must use his skills to broker a peaceful end to a hijacking of a seven-hour flight from Dubai to London

Blue Beetle

Cinema: 18th August

Recent college grad Jaime Reyes returns home full of aspirations for his future, only to find that home is not quite as he left it. As he searches to find his purpose in the world, fate intervenes when Jaime unexpectedly finds himself in possession of an ancient relic of alien biotechnology: the Scarab. When the Scarab suddenly chooses Jaime to be its symbiotic host, he is bestowed with an incredible suit of armor capable of extraordinary and unpredictable powers, forever changing his destiny as he becomes the Super Hero BLUE BEETLE.

Heartstopper Season 2

Netflix: Available Now

Nick and Charlie navigate their new relationship, Tara (Corinna Brown) and Darcy (Kizzy Edgell) face unforeseen challenges, and Tao and Elle work out if they can ever be more than just friends. With exams on the horizon, a school trip to Paris and a prom to plan, the gang has a lot to juggle as they journey through the next stages of life, love and friendship.


Cinema: 25th August

Described by Seligman as “a campy queer high school comedy in the vein of Wet Hot American Summer, but more for a Gen-Z queer audience,” Bottoms dials up the awkward humor and doesn’t flinch from portraying its central female protagonists as desperate, horny, and funny as hell. The movie’s rapturous reception at SXSW, combined with its hilarious trailers, promises to close out the summer of 2023 with a few well-earned laughs ... and maybe a life lesson or two as well.


JESUS FREAKS Suki Hollywood

Jesus Freaks is a queer thriller and a mystery in every sense of the word. Officer Dana Fisher lives a simple life in her oppressively religious American small town, when the body of local girl, Ariel, disappears among four others. Dana’s younger brother, Gary, finds Ariel walking around, fresh from the grave.

Though Ariel may be an angel, this is no miracle –she has come back different, if not wrong. What will Dana sacrifice to find out what happened to Ariel?

Jesus Freaks is Suki Hollywood’s debut novel and, though set in America, was inspired by her upbringing in Lisburn and the Northern Irish ‘suicide epidemic’.

Jesus Freaks was inspired by pulp horror novels, American films, and the creepiness of Biblical resurrection. As a queer writer, Suki hopes to re-examine standard crime tropes in this twisted detective novel: bury your gays, then dig them up and perform an autopsy.

Jesus Freaks is currently available from Category Is Books (Glasgow), Lighthouse Bookshop (Edinburgh), Paperxclips (Belfast) and eBay. Join Suki at Paperxclips on August 19th, 6pm-7pm, for a reading and Q&A with free tea and coffee.


“In the god-fearing town of Lake in the Woods, five bodies disappear from their graves.

Dana Fisher, officer in the Sheriff’s Department, sleepwalks through life without her high school best friend, long presumed deceased.

Her teenage brother Gary, looking forward towards a future of graveyard shifts, hides a freaky secret in his bedroom.

Ariel Enckles, the preacher’s daughter, is dead. She probably should have stayed that way.”


Born in Belfast on Valentine’s Day, Suki Hollywood is a writer and a poet. Her debut novel Jesus Freaks is available now.

Her work has been published in Gutter, Clav Mag, Spam Press, The Selkie and Deleuzine.

Her debut poetry pamphlet This Suit was released in 2021 by OrangeApple Press, along with its companion film of the same name, which was included in the Scottish Queer International Film Festival 2021 line-up. Her second poetry pamphlet, Heart Eyes was

released February 2022.

Find out more at



We invite you to SWERVE the ORDINARY and DISCOVER the ORIGINAL Gin & Ginger Ale.


Articles inside

GNI MAG ISSUE 57 - CLAIRE RICHARDS article cover image


JESUS FREAKS Suki Hollywood article cover image

JESUS FREAKS Suki Hollywood

pages 98-99
& CHILL article cover image


pages 96-97
TRAVEL Gran Canaria article cover image

TRAVEL Gran Canaria

pages 93-95
Marbella Glow Tan article cover image

Marbella Glow Tan

page 92
STREET FOOD The Gourmet Boys article cover image

STREET FOOD The Gourmet Boys

pages 90-92
FLAME article cover image


pages 89-90
CASTING COUCH article cover image


page 88
Maldron article cover image


pages 84-87
HAIR Danny Malone article cover image

HAIR Danny Malone

pages 82-83
BUDGET STYLE article cover image


pages 80-81
FITNESS article cover image


pages 70-72
OUR BIG DAY Victoria & Niamh article cover image

OUR BIG DAY Victoria & Niamh

pages 66-69
HUMANIST CEREMONIES NI article cover image


pages 64-65
THE LODGE article cover image


page 62
AN GRIANAN HOTEL article cover image


pages 60-61


page 60
OUR BIG DAY Michael & Hugh article cover image

OUR BIG DAY Michael & Hugh

pages 55-59


pages 50-51
A DECADE OF EQUALITY article cover image


pages 46-48
BODY DYSMORPHIA article cover image


page 45
THE MERCHANT HOTEL article cover image


page 43


pages 40-42
REAL LIFELauren article cover image


pages 37-39
FOSTERINGChanges Lives article cover image

FOSTERINGChanges Lives

pages 32-35
JOE MCFADDEN article cover image


pages 28-30
BEN Cohen article cover image

BEN Cohen

pages 25-27
JOE O’HAGAN article cover image


pages 22-24
AJ Jenks article cover image

AJ Jenks

pages 20-21
HAPPY PRIDE 2023 article cover image


pages 18-19
MAE Mullar article cover image

MAE Mullar

pages 15-17
LGBTQIA+ ISSUES: TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL Connor Mills article cover image


page 14
Claire RICHARDS article cover image


pages 1, 9-13
JOLLYES THE PET PEOPLE article cover image


page 6
An introduction from our editor... article cover image

An introduction from our editor...

page 4