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Daniel May Operations Director

Pauline Fitzpatrick

Sales Executive

Thanks to...

Paloma Faith / Declan McKenna / Conleth Kane / Karim Zeroual / Roger Kuhn / Amanda Verlaque / Connor Mills / Xand / Gavyn Andrews / Megane Herrick / Colleen Dornan / Danny Malone / Gary Campion / Martin Kearney / The Gourmet Boys / Martin Murray / Paul Mc Allistar / Scott Aldred / Noel Bradley-Johnston / Larry Olsen / Matthew + Chris / Ryan + Ian / Molly and Tommy / Titanic Hotel / Four Seasons / Millar’s Grill & Seafood / The Rainbow Project / Action For Children / Another World / HERe NI / Blast 106.4 FM / Project Publicity / GOH / Chuff Media / Halestorm PR / Here Be Dragons / and anyone else who submitted content.

GNI MAG is published by: Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd. Union Street Belfast, BT1 2JF instagram @gnimag

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

An introduction from our editor...

I cannot believe I’m saying these words - GNI MAG IS 60! - what a milestone and achievement for our wee GAY magazine to reach. Flick over to Page 17 to read more about it.

Ok so before I fill you in on what’s contained within the pages of this issue I thought I’d bring you up to speed on what’s been going on with me.

I had a wonderful month in South Africa traveling and staying with family, had many exciting times, loads of much needed lazy days and enough cigarettes and alcohol to do a football team. My trip however was bitter sweet, 2 days after returning home I got the devastating news that my uncle Colm Burns, whom I had been staying with unexpectedly passed away, writing this now I still cannot believe it, he is/was a true icon and will be missed terribly by so many, I wish I was still in South Africa to comfort my family, Maureen, Zena, Jack, Emma and Donald. Thoughts are with you all.

On to some positives, my rehearsals started for Kinky Boots, this is on from 5th April in Portadown Town Hall Theatre, tickets are already on sale - search MADS Drama Society on Facebook and you’ll get the link. Other news, my foster journey continues, I had a few play days last week with a little boy who just turned 3, he is a livewire and will probably have me bald in a matter of weeks though I’m so excited for him to move in, at the time of this going online he will have been with me just 5 days - wish me luck.

That’s enough about me - Let’s move on to this Issue and what’s filled within the pages...

I interviewed the amazingly talented Paloma Faith, she is our cover star. It was so lovely getting to chat with her about her new album ‘The Glorification Of Sadness’, which is OUT NOW.

We also have Declan McKenna, Conleth Kane, Karim

Zeroual, Amanda Verlaque and Roger Kuhn on board. Megane Herrick explores Bullying and how to deal with friendship breakups. We cover varying topics such as Fostering, Drag Storytime, New Safe Creative Spaces, Lonely N.I. and plenty more.

We feature stunning underwear and swimwear by fashion brand Molly and Tommy, a fashion - keep your eyes peeled in the coming weeks and we will be running an online competition for a lucky reader/follower to snap up £100 worth of range.

We have ‘Real Life’ stories from Matthew & Chris, Co Founders of Millar’s Grill & Seafood who tell us of their personal and business relationship, and we also have Scott Aldred ‘Grumpy Old Bugger’ who shares his dating and relationship revelations.

Our Try section has tonnes of recommendations, Gary shares his Hot Hits & Celeb Bits, The Gourmet Boys share their latest food experiences. I reviewed Millar’s Grill & Seafood, Martin Kearney talks about his ‘GAY GODDESS’ and Gavyn tells us everything we need to know about Malmo in Sweden - those not aware it is the host city for the 2024 Eurovision

We also hear all about Ryan & Ian’s big day and share wonderful images by Photographer Paul Moane.

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

Here’s to the next 60 issues.

Enjoy Reading xx

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Joining them will be the fabulous DIVA DOLLS, the hilarious BELFAST MA, the incomparable TRISHA McCLUNEY as LADY GAGA, the fantastic YEARS & YEARS Tribute Experience, the sensational LOVELIGHT ABBA TRIBUTE, the amazing Q Radio & Kremlin Resident DJ GARETH WOODS keeping us all dancing to classic poptastic tunes, as well as ALL of Belfast’s favourite DRAG STARS on one big stage.. plus the Queen of Belfast herself.. Hostess TITTI VON TRAMP! A

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Hey everyone! Hope the new year has been treating everyone well, that resolutions are kept and your not being hard on yourself if not, I didn’t consider them this year, waking up new years day with a blown out check from an abscess and a limp from over doing it at work my thought was that the yearly attempt at a “glow up” would be easily achieved given a little TLC.

While catching up with friends my phone began chiming an unfamiliar tone with unusual urgency, not having a clue what the alert sounded like shows just how little I use the actual messaging function (who doesn’t use WhatsApp). After getting a blast about how tech illiterate I am and not saving numbers, including the two woman I was groomsman for sitting next to me. I looked at the messages assuming it’d be a dominos deal.

The messages were long winded requests for me to contact this person so we could “meet”, calling me by name, spelt correctly which even my nearest and dearest struggle with. Thinking it was a bad joke I ignored the messages. Within an hour more messages of how they’ve seen me about, they sent me their address and said how they love seeing me especially in, and then named my workplace. This is when the subtle panic started building, and I showed the messages to my friends, us all beginning our own amateur detective activities to work out who this was. My phone began ringing again CONTINOUSLY.

Thinking I’d recognise the voice I answered the call to silence, putting on my best scary voice, saved for times Cooper decides to nibble at something he shouldn’t, I asked who this is, I was met with an unrecognisable voice. I explained that this is odd and that I am not interested, to which he responded, “aww come on babe”. Asking how he even got this number he fumbled an excuse of finding it on a cruising website, which I didn’t even know Omagh had a thriving enough cruising scene to even warrant a website never mind anything else. I said how that’s not possible, and he then hung up. My friend showed me how to block phone numbers, yet I started receiving messages of the same kind from a different number. Feeling spooked but second number blocked we all continued to enjoy our night.

After a week of walking as quickly as possible to work I got my second tooth infection of the year and once again looked like what was lovingly described by my partner as the character from “The Whale”. Being informed by an emergency dentist the swelling’s too bad to remove the tooth, I resided myself to living in agony and spending each second explaining to myself that Castaway is a film, and I shouldn’t in fact “go D.I.Y” on this bitch. I couldn’t sleep due to the pain but when I did, I’d be woken up by a series of dings at odd hours in the morning. One night while in bed with my partner I got an alert of 39 new voicemails. My partner shocked asked what they were, I responded saying probably spam I’ve been getting recently, listening to the first voicemail sent chills down my spine. It was him again, me assuming that blocking a number meant they couldn’t call, the voicemail was a speech of how I’m special, how they know exactly who and

where I am, and how I need to stop ignoring him and “fucking about”. I made it through four of the voicemails, all long, all creepy, some detailing when I went to or left work.

I spent the next day googling what to do yet at this point all I wanted was to sleep. Again, a night of voicemails and avoiding listening to any of them, I gave up and took Cooper for a walk at the earliest time I could without seeming like a psycho. I decided to listen to the most recent one just to know what potentially the police would be hearing, and it was the most unhinged yet. Calling me a tease for being so nice when he came into my work, about how I’m horrible for not responding when he just wants to love me, how nice I looked with “my wee puppy” and that I must call him now otherwise I’m still interested and just playing with him. Just nonsense but it’s from this I realised exactly who it was. Feeling a sense of empowerment, I sent the most direct message I could, making it clear they aren’t to come near me and that I’d be phoning the police if they contact again. Being honest I hoped he would just to get the satisfaction of seeing him get some form of judgement for the harassment. Luckily were about two weeks later and stalker free.

The situation got me thinking, with my past and unfortunately that of others I felt desensitised to the situation, it’s weird that one of my thoughts was hoping he doesn’t make a show at my workplace. It brings into question the line of consent, how someone can collect information about you and use that information to contact you inappropriately and my thought wasn’t “oh that’s messed up” it’s I hope he gets bored and leaves me alone. It made me think about how I deal with other situations that have my stomach churning yet instead of speaking out I’ve just carried on, obviously there’s context to be placed on our emotions but where is the line, why is it different for everyone and why do some feel implied consent doesn’t relate to them, seeing resistance as a challenge? It’s given me a lot to think about going forward and how I need to adjust my responses to not always be go with the easy non-confrontational route, that and maybe don’t have the last dentist appointment you went to be 2014.

Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd. 0800 137437 Take Control of Your Sexual Health Get Tested Today




Paloma Faith’s comeback single, How You Leave a Man, is a zero-tolerance barn-burner about not sticking with the monotony and neglect of domesticity. Instead, the British pop superstar suggests packing your bags, emptying the bank account and driving off into the sunset, ideally soundtracked by epic violins and a distorted guitar solo. “Remember what I told ya,” she sings, her voice towering and severe: “This is how you leave a man.”

End scene, happiness guaranteed… right? Not quite. The clean break of How You Leave a Man is a fantasy in many ways, one that Paloma knows the brutal reality of well. Since she released her last album, the silver-certified Infinite Things, in 2020, she split from her partner of nine years and father to her two children. If her acclaimed 2021 BBC documentary As I Am showed the brutal realities of being a mother and a pop star, the challenges of being a single mother and a pop star (not to mention also a lauded actor and homewares designer) are even starker. The “coparenting” that still puts all the mental load on the mother. The public’s assumption that the split must be her fault, or that she should have tolerated misery for the sake of her kids. The realisation that just because you leave in search of greater happiness doesn’t mean you’ll find it quickly, or even ever.

Paloma’s ferocious sixth album, The Glorification of Sadness, is an epic, expansive, deeply personal record that turns over these feelings by taking a chronological journey through the cracking of an adult relationship, and with it a family. There are no conclusions, just empathetic questions from an artist obsessed with interrogating the status quo and upending assumptions. (Plus one petulant rager called, brilliantly, Eat Shit and Die.) After she completed Infinite Things by learning how to self-produce in her basement during the pandemic, Paloma is billed here as executive producer, having meticulously tweaked mixes, orchestrated the writing teams and co curated the album’s visual world. The documentary showed her previous creative struggles with her label; this time, she made the record privately, inspired by

her earliest musical experiences in a rock band, and delivered the completed product, to the surprise of her team. “It sounds how I wanted it to sound,” she says. “My note, most of the time, was either ‘angrier’ or ‘darker’.”

Despite Paloma’s clear creative directive, the album’s title sums up her ambivalence about a culture in which “there’s quite a sick and twisted call for any artist to turn the most awful things that happened to them into a commodity,” she says. “It’s a strange idea, to sell your own grieving process. Writing about it was a therapeutic experience for me but at the same time now that I’m left with this object for sale, it is a bit sinister.” She felt she had no choice but to write about her experiences “because it’s all I think about”. Compelled by the nuanced television adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes From a Marriage, Paloma also wanted to counter the prevailing societal concept of victims and villains in the breakdown of a relationship. “How to Leave a Man is meant to be empowering,” she says. “It’s about taking control and responsibility for your own happiness as a woman. And not listening to the din of social pressures saying: you’re only accepted as a woman if you’re a victim. There’s no room for a woman to say: actually, I just wasn’t really happy. It’s not really seen as acceptable, especially when there’s kids involved. You’re just a bad mother, selfish or whatever. So in this album, I’m trying to pull it in the direction of it being OK to take ownership of your own happiness and not be a victim. Re-establishing ideas of how we demonise women.”

The striking video, conceived by Paloma and creative director Theo Adams, shows a provocative, vampedup version of her walking out on an unseen man then “decadently sprawling all over the car bonnet”, she says. “Then I land back in the driver’s seat and the camera pans across to two children sitting in the back, and they say: ‘Can we go home now, mummy?’ I’m trying to make this big statement about women that’s so complex, words don’t even do it justice.” Throughout the album’s visuals, no man is ever seen. “The overarching theme is about a woman’s personal internal journey and experience of life,” she says. “Quite


often people make breakups about two individuals: what was his side? But in a psychological sense it’s not really ever about who did and said what because you can survive anything if you choose to, maybe you just choose not to.”

In recent years, Paloma has become a lifeline for many women who find solace in her unadulterated honesty as she shares her candid experiences of birth, babies, postnatal depression and the challenges of having your basic needs met as a woman and mother expected to sacrifice herself over everyone else. When she was younger, she admits, she wanted to “achieve global success on a large scale, like Adele or Beyoncé. I’m really happy with what I’ve got now because it’s allowed me to make a work-life balance for my children, and while I get recognised, I have people approaching me in a really nice way because they’ve seen stuff I’ve said and they want to speak candidly and intelligently about those subjects. Particularly after the documentary I had a lot of women approaching me in the street, and sometimes they get quite emotional.”

Paloma is in the final stages of writing a book about her experiences as well and her aims for the feminist movement. Sharing her life, she says, is about several things: it helps her, it helps others, it raises awareness about the reality of women’s lives. “It makes me feel less alone,” she admits. “We live in this very separate society now because of the internet, dating apps, Chat GPT, the illusion of community online. How many times do we actually truly engage with each other? It adds another wall between us. Friends I’ve had for 20 years have said to me recently: why don’t you just call us when you’re not feeling good? And I don’t know how to. I’ve forgotten how to.”

That’s a theme that runs across The Glorification of Sadness: that brokenness is a facet of humanity to be celebrated and interrogated, not smoothed over by technology that only further divides us. It’s been an existential period for Paloma, who mounted her 2022 tour in the wake of the end of her relationship and the deaths of five friends, including her beloved bandmate BB Bones. “All that makes you go inside yourself,” she says. “I think a lot of people had the same experiences post-pandemic. I didn’t feel that during the pandemic I was that affected by it. But afterwards I think we realised that we were. We’re in the middle of a depression historically where lots of things feel unstable. Environmental issues, political issues, community-based issues, there’s less money for

everything. It’s all imbalanced.”

The suggestion that we could build a better society in the pandemic’s wake didn’t come to pass, she says, creating a wave of resentment that the government conveniently directs towards marginalised groups such as refugees and trans people. “A lot of the anger is so misdirected – what’s the problem if someone wants to transition? Leave them alone. If you’re angry with your own life, fine, but it’s not really any of your business. People don’t like anyone who makes them think they’re maybe partly to blame for their own unhappiness because they’re too scared to do anything about it, so they’re just going to hate anyone who takes responsibility for theirs.”

Paloma’s ability to marry lavish, skyscraping pop fantasy with funny, plainspoken practicality is key to why she’s become one of the most successful British pop stars of her generation, with four platinumcertified albums (three of them double platinum) to her name and five Top 10 singles. “I’m a female artist that began at a time where female artists’ careers didn’t really last,” she says. “There’s very few of my original female peers that still have a career.” Paloma mentions two recent mirrors to her attitude towards longevity: Doja Cat’s victorious new track Demons, and Madonna’s declaration: “The most controversial thing I’ve ever done is to stick around.” Paloma cried when she came across it. “I just found it so unbelievably moving. I felt seen”.

Paloma has stuck around – and stuck to her guns. Earlier this year, she visited Ukrainian refugees in Poland to learn about the experiences of young mothers fleeing the war. And when she performed at King Charles’ coronation concert in May, she thought carefully about how to do it in an authentic way. “I’ve come up through the British system, the NHS, state schooling,” she says. “I think it’s important that working-class people like me are represented in those situations. And I was helped by Charles’ Prince’s Trust charity when I was a kid because I was from a lowincome household, so it felt respectful to do it. A large part of opportunity for underprivileged artists and creatives has come from that charity, which is really important – otherwise all creativity would be ruled by people from privileged backgrounds.”

To the preshow she wore a Vivienne Westwood T-shirt emblazoned with “CLIMATE” to foreground the environmental crisis and acknowledge Charles’ work on environmentalism. “I feel when you’re given

an opportunity, you should take it because otherwise change doesn’t happen,” says Paloma. It could be her life MO. After all, every reality starts as a fantasy.

Paloma Faith is back with her 6th Album ‘The Glorification Of Sadness’, it’s been almost 4 years since her last release. We had the pleasure of chatting about new music, festivals, touring, love of cinema and so much more.

Before we chat music and your new album, I wanted to pick your brain on a few other things

I’m addicted to the movies and go at least once a week and It’s no secret you are a real movie buff. Is there a certain genre you are drawn to and what is the most recent movie you’ve seen ?

I think it is thought provoking and really creative stories. But at the moment it is Oscar season so I have just seen three amazing films in the space of 10 days. I’ve seen ‘Poor Things’, ‘American Fiction’ and ‘The Holdovers’.

I absolutely loved ‘Poor Things’, actually I really enjoyed all three of them for different reasons. ‘Poor Things’ is probably one of the most perfect films I have seen in a decade, because it is just so detailed.

We’ve seen you act in Dangerous Liaisons and Pennywise, any other projects in the pipeline?

Acting wise no - not at the moment because I have got this album coming out and then I have got a book coming out in the Summer, so my acting agent said she is not putting me up for anything at the minute.

I watched your TikTok promo video which I thought was so hilarious, do you enjoy engaging with your audience via the platform? There was a video posted about a week ago and you were talking about your new album and I just laughed the whole way through itwith your different characters and American accent.

That’s the QVC advert. Actually I have a friend that sometimes makes videos with me and he is quite good at it. He is also a musician.

You are so creative, a lover of fashion and interiors, do your fashion choices inspire your Palmona Home products and collections?

My house is basically - every room is like an outfit! I


don’t think they inspire each other. I think that is just what I am like. I am very much a person who likes a lot of tat.

I read you have a book coming out called MILF - what can you tell us about it and when can we get it? It is mainly just about female identity, I guess in what they call ‘middle age’, but I don’t feel ’middle-aged’, so it is sort of two fingers up to that!

OK LET’S GET INTO THE NEW ALBUM - ‘The Glorification Of Sadness’

OMG it is so so good, I’ve been listening to it all week. This is your first time working with Producer Martin Wave - how was the experience?

It was amazing and we worked really well together. He is very open-minded as well about my whimsical and experimental ideas. I feel that I was really fortunate to have worked with him. Working as the Executive Producer and breathing down his neck the whole time, I can say that this is an album that I am quite proud of. I like the sound of this album. In the past I have had certain production issues with previous albums on some of the songs, but I can say with this one it is exactly how I wanted it to be.

You collaborated with so many people on this album, including Charlie Puth, is everything now pre arranged and decided upon or do you get the chance to be in the same room with people and create?

I still get the opportunity to create. This album was like a sort of post-lockdown and everyone was like we can all go back into the studio together which is great.

I think during lockdown everyone felt really isolated and it felt like the worst thing that had ever happened to me.

Bar the 3 released tracks , my personal favourites have to be ‘God In A Dress’ and ‘Divorce’ - is there 1 song that you are drawn to more than others?

I think ‘Divorce’ is the most harrowing one for me to sing and listen to and it is definitely the saddest.

The next few months are going to be bonkers for you, touring Europe, U.K, doing festivals, though elephant in the room - no Belfast date ? Tut tut tut, can we expect any?

Honestly, I would travel the world if I had the opportunity to but every time I ask why they say it is to do with numbers, we just have to go to increase demand in those territories before you can go and play in them.

I am probably more gutted than you actually because it is my life and my career and I was like, “Why not even N.I???”

Is there anywhere in particular you are most looking forward to playing?

Well, I am going to Ivy Gardens which I am excited about. I also absolutely love playing in Scotlandthere is a similarity between the audiences in Ireland and Scotland - I think that is why they are my favourite territories. People really know how to have a good time at those shows.

The U.K leg of the tour has 26 dates though 15 are

already SOLD OUT, that is incredible.

Yes but I am one of those people saying “why aren’t they all sold out” , I really am chuffed though from the response even prior to my new album being released.

This album is all about finding yourself and empowerment, any advice for our readers struggling with their identities/sexuality?

I think it is a difficult time actually particularly for the LGBTQ+ community because we have such an ignorant and disgusting Prime Minister. I actually feel embarrassed at the moment. So I understand why people are maybe feeling even more upset about their sexual identity or their gender identity. I am very much my authentic self and I believe that everyone has the right to be their authentic self and to be praised, loved and celebrated for it. Even though it feels sometimes you are not, with life experience as well for different reasons, it is like if you are your authentic self sometimes you have to be ahead of everyone else and then eventually they catch up.

It is disgusting and embarrassing what is happening at the minute.

I totally agree, it is just a sad state of affairs that is being brought up within the government?

Well, he (the PM), just thinks that it’s like an open forum for him to make a joke, which is disgusting and reflects on everything to me. It just makes me think that he is a hideous human being across the board. How can we have someone making any decisions for our country when he has got views like that or he thinks that those things are trivial, which they are not.

Lastly, let’s end with a positive high, describe your album in 3 words to entice people to buy it?

Three words - Euphoria, empowerment and acceptance!

Thanks for taking the time to chat Paloma

Interview with Daniel May

Paloma’s new album ‘The Glorification Of Sadness’ is OUT NOW! You can purchase via this link, you’ll also find all her upcoming concert dates, music and much more





WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT THAT what originated as a website and free a5 directory would grow into the multimedia publication and company we see today.

Crazy to think that this is our 60th BIRTHDAY edition, reaching this milestone is a massive achievement for any printed publication though particularly for us as a niche LGBTQIA+ Magazine.

In October I will be with GNI for 9 years, it genuinely doesn’t seem like even 1⁄2 that time.

From joining the business I have witnessed first had so many changes, mainly in attitude, I vividly recall the constant occurrence of being hung up on or ignored when businesses heard the dreaded words GAY or LGBTQIA+ publication, though this is thankfully changing at a rapid pace as more and more people and businesses understand the importance and see the benefits of reaching out to and engaging with our niche yet growing demographic.

It is great to see such change though don’t get me wrong we still have some ways to go.

On a personal level for me my role has changed dramatically within the company, starting off in a developmental role, this slowly expanded to doing food and show reviews. Now almost 9 years down the road I’m Director/Editor/Dogs Body and running the show - who would have thought.

Prior to GNI I worked for various daily and weekly news publications though there was always something missing, that was GNI, a publication that I could personally relate to, be proud of and passionate about.

99% of the time I love my job, it remains interesting, challenging, fun and rewarding, I have a great work-life balance, have had the pleasure of interviewing so many amazing people, engaging with forward thinking brands and clients and have the opportunity award those who work tirelessly to improve the lives of LGBTQIAl+ people. None of this would be possible without the support we receive and the contribution of many.

It has been a blast thus far and I am excited with what the future holds for the business. Here are a few words that have been submitted by some people and businesses who work with us.

Daniel May - Director


From everyone at the Rainbow Project we wholeheartedly congratulate GNI Mag on the milestone of their 60th Edition. An LGBTQIA publication in Northern Ireland is a hugely important thing for our community. It’s a space where our stories, struggles, and achievements can be highlighted in a society where stigma and discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people persist. The partnership between the Rainbow Project and GNI allows us authentic representation, and a vital platform at a crucial time as we progress our equality objectives and continue our work to support Northern Ireland’s diverse LGBTQIA+ communities. We look forward to many more editions.


The One I Love Bridal is proud to team up with GNI MAG for our great €1000 bridal gown voucher giveaway. We are delighted to work with this wonderful publication full of informative and entertaining articles, with a glimpse into LGBTQI+ culture

and lifestyles.

Its fantastic content appeals and extends beyond its intended demographic and builds bridges towards a more inclusive community with better understanding of often marginalised groups.

Altogether a fantastic read.

Congratulations on your 60th Birthday GNI MAG!

Here’s to many more fabulous issues!

Lorren x

The One I Love Bridal, Ballinlough Village, County Roscommon


The Lord Bagenal Inn is proud to be featured in the GNI Mag on its 60th issue. The dynamic magazine has flourished since its inception, creating a legacy of inclusivity, advocacy and empowerment and is committed to representing diversity across all borders.

The Lord Bagenal Inn wishes you continued success.


The Humanist Association of Ireland is the only body authorised to carry out legal secular marriages in the Republic of Ireland and we have performed hundreds of same-sex marriages over many years. Collaborating with GNI demonstrates our commitment to being an ally and advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights and inclusion. It is important because it helps foster a more inclusive society where all individuals are seen, heard, and valued.


We at the Four Seasons Hotel & Leisure Club, Monaghan, firmly believe in promoting inclusivity and diversity in all aspects of our work. We understand the unique perspectives and experiences that the LGBTQIA+ community brings, and we acknowledge the importance of providing a platform for their voices to be heard. By working alongside the only LGBTQIA+


publication in the country, we can contribute to fostering a more inclusive society, breaking down stereotypes, and creating a more accepting environment for all individuals, because love knows no boundaries after all!


We are so proud to work with Daniel, Pauline and the team at GNI and join them in celebrating a momentous 60 years in print, representing and connecting Northern Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community. We applaud the invaluable work that GNI has done over these many decades to further equality, provide support to and champion dynamic, vibrant and powerful LGBTQ+ communities across Northern Ireland.

Aaron Norton


Coast Rosslare Strand is always thrilled to collaborate with GNI Mag, honoring its pivotal role in LGBTQIA+ advocacy. As GNI Mag commemorates its 60th birthday, Coast Rosslare Strand honors the publication’s legacy of inclusivity, advocacy, and empowerment, echoing its commitment to diversity and representation. We wish them a massive congratulations to everyone, past and present, on the team and wish them many, many more years of success


Our Humanist Ceremonies celebrants work with couples to create non-religious, inclusive wedding ceremonies, and are delighted to conduct same-sex weddings.

We’ve campaigned for marriage equality for decades and were instrumental in making humanist marriages in Northern Ireland legally recognised.

It’s been important for us to work with GNI to raise awareness of Humanist Ceremonies within the LGBTQIA+ community in Northern Ireland, Congratulations to GNI magazine on reaching its 60th edition!


“At Belfast City Skinworks, we’ve had the great pleasure of working alongside GNI mag for years now, we feel that representation in the LGBTQIA+ community is so important and we pride ourselves on being an inclusive business, which is why we have chosen to consistently share a platform with GNI and will continue to do so in the years to come”


“Happy 60th Birthday to GNI Magazine from Relate NI! We have been working with GNI Magazine for a few years, a publication that represents and celebrates LGBTQIA+ culture and creativity. Thank you for giving us a platform to promote our relationship support services to everyone who is in need of them. Here’s to many more fantastic publications!”


As a leading hotel brand, it is not only essential but also deeply meaningful for us to collaborate with the only LGBTQIA+ publication in Northern Ireland. Embracing diversity and inclusivity is a fundamental aspect of our brand for fostering a welcoming & respectful environment for all of our guests and employees. By partnering with the GNI Magazine we demonstrate our commitment to supporting & celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community. This allows us to ensure that all of our guests feel valued, respected and represented during their stay.


Having an LGBTQ+ publication in any area should not be taken for granted and the significance of having one is quite something - especially in Belfast, where the community is so tight and interwoven. I have such fond memories of really finding my feet as a young gay man in my teenage years in Belfast and I recall the scene being so warm and supportive.

The fact that there is such a classy, wholesome and quality magazine like GNI celebrating everything that’s brilliant about the scene back home is just wonderful. I take my hats off to Daniel and all of the team over the past decade who have elevated the magazine to great heights, from amazing content and features to the amazing annual awards show. I want to personally thank GNI for offering me such unwavering support throughout my career and helping me feel included and celebrated over the years, despite living across the water in England. I wish you all the best going forward.


We are here to help people celebrate love and what better way to make sure everyone is included in that celebration than to work alongside the only LGBTQIA+ publication in Northern Ireland. We thank GNI Mag for all that they do.



Three Organisations to Collaborate on new LGBTQIA+ Heritage Project

A collaboration between HERe NI, Cara- Friend and The Rainbow Project has been awarded a grant of £337,131 by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to deliver an exciting new heritage project that will capture, preserve and share local LGBTQIA+ history.

The LGBTQIA+ Heritage Project was launched as part of LGBT+ History Month at an event at Belfast City Hall hosted by the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Ryan Murphy on Tuesday 6 February.

The three year heritage project will review the period between the introduction of Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act in 1998 to the present day and will record the heritage of the LGBTQIA+ community and the campaign for equality.

The personal history of the LGBTQIA+ community around these legislative changes is broadly unrecorded and will be preserved through a series of activities. These include the creation of an online archive of local LGBTQIA+ history, a podcast uncovering forgotten stories, a heritage trail in Belfast city centre plus an LGBTQIA+ film club and history club.

The launch was attended by the Chair of The National Lottery Heritage Fund Northern Ireland Committee Mukesh Sharma MBE DL, key staff,

a range of organisations and volunteers who are involved in the project. Amy Finlay Jeffrey one of the project volunteers spoke about the benefits of volunteering for the Heritage Project and Cara McCann Director of HERe NI spoke about the development of the project.

Cara McCann, Director of HERe NI stated: “For many years our heritage has not been recorded by LGBTQIA+ people. This is an exciting opportunity for members of the LGBTQIA+ community to be part of something special and to tell their untold stories. This project is community-led and community implemented. The benefits from participating in a project like this range from increased positive health and wellbeing and employability skills.”

Scott Cuthbertson, Director of The Rainbow Project welcomed the funding:

“For all our lives our history as LGBTQIA+ people has been obscured and hidden. The launch of the LGBTQIA+ Heritage Project is the beginning of changing that, and what better time to do so that LGBT History Month. The Rainbow Project is proud to be a part of this project and looks forward to the many hidden histories it uncovers.”

Adam Murray, Community Development Manager from Cara-Friend continued:

“Cara-Friend is delighted to partner with our colleagues at Here NI and The Rainbow Project on the LGBTQIA+ Heritage Project. We look

forward to the next three years as the project continues to explore and utilise the rich history of the LGBTQIA+ community, bringing the stories of LGBTQIA+ life to new audiences in exciting new formats. The huge interest the project is already generating is testament to how timely and valued it is. Cara-Friend wishes to express our thanks to the Heritage Fund for making this work possible.”

Mukesh Sharma, Chair of The National Lottery Heritage Fund Northern Ireland Committee said: “We are proud to be supporting this important project that will address a gap in our social and political history in Northern Ireland. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, this heritage will now be shared with the wider community and will highlight the local people who have paved the way for social change

Our Heritage 2033 strategy is committed to supporting greater inclusion, diversity, access and participation in heritage and we wish HERe NI, The Rainbow Project and Cara-Friend every success with their project.”

To get involved with the project please contact Mary Ellen or Joe at HERe NI and

Follow the project on X, Facebook and TikTok using @lgbthistoryni on and visit the online archive


Declan McKENNA

GNI MAG [22]

Declan McKenna is excited to announce details of a UK headline tour for 2024 in support of his third album, What Happened To The Beach? The new dates kick off on 23rd March and will conclude on 14th April. Midway through the tour you can catch him in The Ulster Hall, Belfast on 1st April and 3 Olympia Theatre, Dublin on 2nd April. The 14-date run which stops at London’s Alexandra Palace, Declan’s biggest headline show to date.

What Happened To The Beach? IS OUT NOW!

This is the follow up to Declan’s acclaimed second album, Zeros, which debuted in the UK album chart at number 2.

You can get the new album, tour dates, tickets, listen to music and much on via

We have had the pleasure of interviewing and featuring Declan in the past though for those not familiar keep reading...

Cheshunt, Hertfordshire to Los Angeles is a fair trek. A world apart. As the crow flies, the commuter town’s train station to LAX is a little under 5500 miles, and whilst Declan has long since flown the nest from his childhood in the pretty but practical suburb, his new life by the sea, found just off the East Sussex coast, remains an ocean from LA, and some. But Declan sought change. A reboot. If the demos of his new songs fizzed with the suggested scorch of a sunshine haze and bright blue skies, why not go catch some sun?

Los Angeles, it transpired, proved to be the ideal setting to capture and bottle it. Almost as soon as he landed in California earlier this year, Declan got to work with producer Gianluca Buccellati, perhaps best known for his work with Arlo Parks and Lana Del Rey. It was with Bucatelli that the sound of a new album started to come together orchestrated by the sounds swirling in Declan’s head.

If he sought more space in his recordings, he needed to loosen up and let them breathe. Where previously his biggest tunes tended to hurtle along at 100mph, economic with the notion of simply taking a quick breath, he taught and trusted himself to take his time and let the listener soak in the ambience. The result, What Happened To The Beach?, is an album that revels in both space and atmosphere. It evokes the sunshine Declan basked in, and it returned to the UK sounding beautifully baked.

Returning single, Sympathy, a song with a peace and love message, represents the effortless and uncomplicated style of writing that runs throughout the album. “It was important to use fewer words and not over-explain things this time

around,” McKenna confirms. By stripping away the layers he found that his songwriting became more revealing and, ultimately, satisfying. “Any time I tried to be too serious, the songs would get too heavy and the thing I was trying to get at, this idea of a release, was weighed down,” he adds. There is an undeniably buoyant energy across the album, from Nothing Works’ frustrations of record label interference and criticism, to Elevator Hum, a call to arms of sorts if the rallying cry was for everyone to let loose. “They sound a lot like the music I listen to,” McKenna says about the new tunes, citing St Vincent (“She takes the guitar to a really cool place. Everything can be manipulated”) and Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s hypnotic and spacey energy as influences. Naturally, an album written in response to the intensity of the last few years, both personal and globally, has moments of darkness running through it. The demons McKenna once focused his writing on as a teen, such as corrupt FIFA officials or the oppressive grip of the right-wing media are left aside this time around. Album closer It’s An Act is a frank admission that getting through life can often feel like a never-ending performance. The track brings the party that precedes it to a stark ending, like the lights being switched on the dancefloor at 3 a.m. “It’s pretty dark,” McKenna says of It’s An Act. “It expresses the other side of all of this. Sometimes you’re just pretending and going through the motions. The past few years have been intense and it was important to get across where these songs came From.”

For this smart, sharp British singer-songwriter, the success of his previous records brought about a period of ill-health while touring America, leading a doctor to recommend therapy. It was a stride out of his comfort zone, but something McKenna soon found hugely rewarding. “It was the first time I’d been able to open up and unload,” he says. “It helped me deal with the pressures of making music and mature as a person.”

As he prepared for the release of his second album, 2020’s Zeros, McKenna’s imposter syndrome had already begun to kick in hard. He spoke in interviews about how the album’s numerous delays, caused by the uncertainty of the global pandemic, had given him far too much time to think and that doubts about his ability had begun to take over. The album itself maintained his preoccupation with environmental disaster and social media addiction but pushed them into dystopian sci-fi narratives. This conceptual approach was matched by a glittery smear of highkicking glam rock.

It is easy therefore to see his forthcoming third studio album as a release, not just for himself but for the fans who have come of age in an era defined by instability and precariousness. What Happened To The Beach? is an album full of tone

and colour, the majority of which was written with no ambition bigger than making people feel good. Musically, it’s a bit weirder and wonky, and the sound of a songwriter enjoying himself and gleefully defying expectations. “In the past few years there has been a bit of weight behind making music,” he says. “I wanted to open up and not worry about things so much. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself in the past when I just needed to drop the intensity a bit and have some Fun.”

McKenna is still in his early 20s but is approaching a new era in his journey as a songwriter. He is aware that writing a more personal album, particularly one that focuses on joy over disaster, might suggest a line drawn in the sand between Declan and Declan 2.0. “I will always speak my mind with music, but we live in a time where the conversations I wanted to contribute to previously are much more out in the open now,” he says, while stressing the importance of pushing himself and not repeating ideas. “If every song features a lyrical statement then it loses some of its impact, too. I haven’t let go of that aspect of myself but I don’t want to live out that style forever.”

Ultimately, McKenna feels settled in his creativity and more able to venture into new territory than ever before. “My idea of ambition has changed,” he says. “I struggle with the industry definition of that term, which tends to be playing it safe. That’s the opposite of ambition to me.” What Happened To The Beach? is the sound of an artist operating at the peak of his confidence, all while pushing himself in new directions. As McKenna puts it, in appropriately straightforward terms, “Opening up and embracing the simple things in life has helped me make something that is more authentically me than ever before.”

Declan’s been out on the road across the US touring, readied for a late Summer return to the UK for Reading & Leeds Festival, posited high up the line-up on the main stage. Match fit. Good to go. Ready to grab it all with both hands. And with just a cursory listen to What Happened To The Beach?, you wouldn’t bet against him taking it all.

Declan’s new album ‘WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BEACH’ is out NOW, you can purchase via


KARIM Zeroual




Best known for anchoring CBBC and reaching the final of Strictly Come Dancing in 2019. We spoke to Karim in rehearsals about taking on the role of everyone’s favourite eccentric Lemur!

How are rehearsals going?

It’s going really well, I’m having so much fun. I think the best thing is I’m working with such a talented cast. It’s been a long time since I’ve done musical theatre, really since I was a kid. I’ve done panto and a few dance tours but not the full shebang! I’m loving being back onstage acting, singing and dancing with some incredible human beings. They are definitely keeping me on my toes and I’m loving every second.

I love the process of rehearsals too. We are all watching each other performances and really enjoying them – the cast is so supportive and its great to be in a room with so much creativity. It’s a real privilege.

How do you feel about taking on the iconic role of King Julien?

I’m hugely excited and it feels like a real honour. I’ve not seen the stage show before, although I know and love the films, so it’s quite nice to bring my own twist to the role. I have been honing in on what King Julien might actually be like as a human – which may sound a bit ‘method’ but I’m trying to get some insight into what he is like and why, and how he has pulled together this ‘crew’ where whatever he says goes! There is a sense of responsibility in bringing to life a character that everyone knows so well and loves which is a little bit scary too but I think I’m doing a good job so far!

King Julien is such fun to play. Theres a lot of room for playing with the character and improvisation which is great. I also get to perform arguably the most iconic song from the show with Move it Move it. It’s a real laugh, it kind of feels like a mini rave on stage! I feel very privileged to have this part and to be honest I think it’s really well suited to me…

Are you telling us there is a little bit of King Julien in you?

I’m not sure I want to say but I think there actually is you know! I’m quite small and look like a lemur…(haha kidding) I can a little flamboyant and a bit cheeky and naughty and thinks he is right all the times, so I think some traits yes, maybe just a hint…!

I also play Zeke at the start of the show. He is like a zookeeper who introduces all the animals. That feels a bit like a home from home for me to, as it’s something I have done all my career as a presenter which is really nice. Playing a human role, I’m able to show a little bit more of ‘me’ – although in character. It’s great to play these two separate parts, one which is more like me and the other where I’m really in character and hardly recognizable.

Yes as King Julien we would hardly know it’s you! Are you looking forward to getting your lemur on?

That will be the cherry on the top. The costumes in this show are just amazing. As we speak, I’ve not been in full costume but I can’t wait to get it on as that’s when the character will really come to life for me. I go all out in the rehearsal room and give it everything I can, but once the makeup and the costume is on that’s when King Julien will really come to life for me.

Without giving to much away you are having to test your dancing skills again – this time on your knees?

Haha Yes, I have been rehearsing on my knees. I have kneepads and I’m sure by the end of the tour I will build a bit of resilience and have the toughest knees in the world of musical theatre!

When King Julien appears it’s a real ‘moment’ which marks a gear change in the show as the Zoosters find themselves thrown into this crazy new world of Madagascar having been used to the creature comforts of the Zoo and are surrounded by these non-conforming animals who are just wild! It’s hilarious as all the other cast towers over me and he is just this mad delusional lemur thinking and behaving as if he is king of the universe even though he’s only about 3 foot tall…

Do you think he is your favourite character in the show?

He is amazing and I have some great lines and fun scenes but honestly all of the characters in the show are brilliant. They are all so individual and all bring something totally different to the stage, much as the characters in the film. Each character has something really special about them no one really outshines anyone else. I have to say though the Penguins are hilarious… they really are.

What are you looking forward to most about touring?

I’m most excited to be on the stage performing live and hopefully really getting the audience going! There is no feeling like performing on stage. I love TV and have done it for a long time and it’s one of many passions, but there is no feeling like being on stage and having that immediate reaction from an audience.

To be able to take this incredible show up and down the country and internationally is awesome. We get to visit some fantastic places and the lovely thing about touring is that each audience in each city is like a new show for us. You get a whole new buzz.

Speaking of audiences who do you think will enjoy Madagascar?


This is a show for everyone – it is a family show but I think there is something for everyone. There are some cheeky parts and King Julien definitely has some of those moments. Also everyone knows and loves the film, every generation still knows it, and it’s always popping up on the TV and steaming services! So to see some of these iconic characters played out in real life is just fantastic. The concept and characters never seem to get old.

So aside from getting to Move it Move it with King Julien why do you think people should come and see the show?

Genuinely this show has everything; superb singing, dancing, acting, alongside the most beautiful costumes and amazing puppetry work, it’s colourful, it’s bright and it’s funny and the talent on the stage is incredible. If you want a good night out and to have a really good laugh and leave the theatre with a smile on your face this is for you. It’s a show for all the family whether you come with your Grandma, Great Grandma, Kids, Nieces, Nephews or a group of friends, I guarantee you will have a great night.

You can join Karim and his Zooster Friends Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, Gloria the hip hip Hippo and those hilarious, plotting penguins as they bound onto stage in the musical adventure of a lifetime.

Filled with outlandish characters, adventure galore and an upbeat score, you’ll have no choice but to “Move It, Move It!”

Find out more at www. or follow on @MadUKTour on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and X. #MoveItMoveIt #MadagascarMusical

You can catch Karim and the cast of Madagascar when they arrive at Belfast’s Grand Opera House from Wednesday 6th March 2024. Tickets are available via



Conleth Kane releases his new single ‘City of the Lost Boys’ it is out today, Friday 23rd February 2024. The single was produced by hit-makers 7th Heaven, who have recently produced/remixed for chart-toppers Cher and Steps. The official music video premieres on Youtube on release day.

The song will have an official record launch at London’s famous ‘Royal Vauxhall Tavern’ on 24th February 2024.

Described by OK Magazine! as ‘the breath of fresh air we all need right now’ and QX Magazine as “an infectiously energetic, refreshingly cheerful Singer/ Songwriter’’, Conleth Kane recorded his debut album ‘Proud - Live in London’ at a sold out show at The Crazy Coqs in London’s West End in Oct 2018 seeing him shoot to Number 2 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter Charts in Feb 2019. He released his self-penned debut EP in August 2020 which went to Number 7 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter Chart. He then released an EP ‘Just A Dream’ that saw Conleth emark on a whirlwind promotional tour in May 2022 with a sold out album launch at Century Club in Soho, Mighty Hoopla, Pride in London, The House of St. Barnabus, Zetter Town House, The Ned, Wembley Park Pride, Bradford Pride, Leeds Pride and Malmö Pride in Sweden. Conleth has also been doing live performances of ‘Proud’, as well as public speaking, for corporate companies in -

cluding the likes of The London Stock Exchange and Shell during Pride month. Conleth was recently nominated for ‘Best LGBTQ+ Entertainer’ at the GNI Magazine Awards in Belfast in April 2023. He performed a full set live at the awards as well as appearing at the Women In Sport Awards for Local Women Magazine Awards at the Europa Hotel. Conleth once again teamed up with 7th Heaven for a 2023 summer single, a cover of the classic All Saints hit ‘Pure Shores’ - the single was released in June 2023 and went to number 16 on the Commercial Pop Club Charts in August 2023 . Conleth performed the song live on stage at an official launch at The Two Brewers in London, followed by Pride in London 2023, Century Club, Lancaster Pride and Morcambe Pride.

Conleth has performed live sets of his own songs on both BBC Radio London, BBC Radio Ulster, and Northern Ireland’s Number 1 Radio Station, Cool FM. 2017 saw Conleth win the ‘Personal Contribution to the LGBTQ Community’ at the annual GNI Magazine Awards in Belfast - voted for by the public.

‘City of the lost Boys’ was mastered by 360 Mastering, the team that mastered Kylie Minogue’s grammy-award-winning single - ‘PADAM PADAM’.



Hello readers what’s been happening? I know it’s been awhile since I’ve caught up with you all but I’m back in my rightful place among these little sheets. Yes I might of missed last episode of GNI magazine because the last few months have been totally hectic in my little world. Between my day job at BPerfect, teaching makeup, drag gigs and hosting events. It has been a mental few months. Oh yea and filming a tv show all at the same time it’s been hard to find any spare time to give to my thoughts never mind jotting them all down for you to read.

One of my biggest obstacles in life is that I have far too many interests, and I don’t like sacrifice opportunities in any of them. However, I’m very thankful to be provided space to shine in everything that I do, and I hate to let anyone down. So I say yes to nearly everything and worry about the “how” later.

You’ve heard me say this before, but I really struggle sometimes with managing a crazy work schedule, personal life and having time to relax.

As a matter of fact right now, at this moment, I’m sat in a hotel room in London, just after a sell out one hour live QVC show for BPerfect and I would class this as “relaxing time” even though I have a deadline and it’s a work evening, that’s how little time I actually have to switch off.

So let’s do a quick summary of the past few months to get you up to speed. I obviously I can’t fit everything in but I’ll give you the general jist of what’s been happening.

My drag gigs really kicked up a gear from July last year and I now have a residency in Happy Endings in Dublin, which is a gorgeous fusion restaurant that hosts amazing drag branches every Saturday, and I host at least 3 a month. I really find this fits my schedule and performance style and gives me a new fresh batch of 120 people to entertain each Saturday.

debuted in December on the tele. It was a really fun snapshot episode that gave the audience a glimpse into our wee world in the lead up to the busiest time of year. As well as catching everyone up on our storylines from the main show.

If you haven’t seen #MUIB catch it on BBC IPlayer now!

Up coming GIGs

This year I am levelling up. I know I mention this a lot, but I really like to build on what I’ve achieved and constantly strive to be better. This year ain’t no different. I am going on tour in May with a certain Drag Race Queen. (Can’t mention their name yet).

I have been booked to perform and co host at Salford Pride, which I’m really looking forward too. I will also be back with the crew at Cruz 101 in Manchester to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day in March!

I have work trips away to Italy, Cyprus and Dubai all before the summer and I might be bringing Tailor along with me. All of this, as well as my normal Brunch gigs in HAPPYS . I will also be back in Belfast performing some brunches at Margot and the Boneyard. Keep an eye on my socials to find out where I’ll be.

I have been performing a lot in Dublin, and to be honest, I love it because I get to travel which I love to do, as well as entertaining new audiences and work with a whole batch of new talented queens. On the 1st of December I had and amazing opportunity to perform in the George in Dublin with the iconic Veda Lady, and the POZ VIBE crew for world AIDS Day officially coming out as HIV positive Performer. This was a powerful moment for me, as it meant a lot to finally share something that has been a big part of my journey. I even won an award, I am Miss Undetectable 2023. Hold for applause! Ha ha! More about this to come in a later issue.


If you didn’t Manage to catch our little BPerfect reality Tv show last year, well you will have a another episode to watch, as we filmed an extended Christmas special that

That’s all for now!

Before I go, I just want to wish the whole crew at GNI a BIG HAPPY 60TH EDITION! Here’s to many more!

Loads of love , Tailor xoxo

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

GNI MAG [30] COLUMN TAILOR MAID Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.

Hi! We’re Concentrix + Webhelp, a leading global provider of customer experience solutions and technology. We support some of the world’s best brands to improve their business performance and provide exceptional experiences to their customers. Our vision is to be the greatest customer engagement company in the world, rich in diversity and talent – powered by creativity and technology!

We love the things that make our people unique. We passionately promote our peopleled Staff Resource Groups which organise events and initiatives, building communities within our business where peers can support one another and grow together. Our support of the LGBT+ community doesn’t just mean Pride Month celebrations. Throughout each year we organise Diversity & Inclusion events and inspirational sessions which cover topics such as how to be confident at work while living authentically, how to support people who may be LGBT+ and supporting people with neurodiverse conditions or disability! We also love to celebrate what makes us all different and encourage our allies to get involved in the conversation.

At Concentrix + Webhelp, we don’t see just see Diversity and Inclusion as optional extras, but as a key element of our business. Doing right by and for our clients, their customers, our people, our community and our planet is in our DNA.


“I always knew I was different from the other kids my age,” says musician Roger Kuhn. In addition to standing out as bi-racial and bi-cultural - his father was of German and Russian descent and his mother is a tribal Poarch Creek woman - Roger says he never felt quite settled in his skin. “I didn’t feel like a boy, nor did I feel like a girl. I grew up loving He-Man, Thundercats, Barbie, and She-Ra. I used to pretend I was Madonna and David Bowie at the same time.”

It wasn’t until his mid-twenties when Roger discovered what it meant to be Two-Spirit. Coined by native tribal Dr. Myra Laramee in 1990, Two-Spirit is used to signify male, female, and intersexed individuals who combine activities of both gender traits. In most tribes, they are considered neither men nor women; they occupy a distinct, alternative gender status.

Roger describes his gender and sexuality as circular and not on a fixed binary. “It’s like peering through a kaleidoscope and seeing multiples shapes, colors, expressions, and beauty,” he explains. He sings about it in his new single, “Kaleidoscope,” a song rooted in classic house and progressive EDM

that champions finding inner strength and celebrating liberation, and his new book, Somacultural Liberation, out this month. “For me, freedom is living my truth and pursuing my dreams,” he continues.

It is why, after working as a psychotherapist for the past decade, Roger Kuhn decided to take time away from his practice to prioritize his creative expression once again. He explains more from his home in Los Angeles.

Growing up in conservative North Dakota had to be difficult for you.

Roger Kuhn: If I wasn’t being picked on for being bi-racial, I was being made fun of for my perceived gender and sexual orientation variance. I was always a target, and it was sad because feeling included is so important. Being treated with equality and equity is vital to one’s wellbeing. One of the primary reasons I became a musician and author was to break free from the limitations that others placed on me my whole life. I discovered that through writing and song, I could share my truth.

What is your truth?

That I am an Indigiqueer person. There are few examples of Indigiqueer people in mainstream media. I’ve had to learn new ways to navigate systems that were put in place to silence and control Indigenous people.

Have you faced discrimination within the LGBTQ community?

Countless times, both personally and collectively. Being Indigenous and LGBTQIA+ presents with unique complications. We face different issues and challenges that others in the community do not experience or understand. I have stood my ground with many Caucasian gay men who have tried to convince me they were as marginalized as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color LGBTQIA+ people are.

What exactly does it mean to be Two Spirit?

Two-Spirit is a term used by Indigenous people who have gender and sexual orientation variance and a deep connection to their Native identity. I first learned the term in 2005 from another Two-Spirit person who upon meeting said to me, “oh you’re like me, Two-Spirit”. He then explained what it meant and I immediately resonated with the term. I identify more as Two-Spirit than I do as gay because being a Native American person is as important to me as my identity as a gay person. Two-Spirit allows me to not have to choose.

What pronouns do you prefer to use?

I use he/him pronouns though I am also comfortable with they/them. If we are homies, she works too.

I’m curious to know how you feel about Demi Lovato switching her pronouns from they/them back to she/her after she grew tired of having to explain her gender identity.

I believe it’s important to recognize that some people come from a privileged place where they don’t have to explain themselves. For others, living in our truth requires work and a willingness to be witnessed in our vulnerability.

Is “Kaleidoscope” intended to be a Two-Spirit anthem?

It’s an anthem for all of us really. Kaleidoscope is about trusting our vulnerability and pursuing our inner most truth. For me, part of that was to embrace my identity as a Poarch Creek Two-Spirit person and to advocate for other 2SLGBTQIA+ and all marginalized people.

In 2022, you were featured in the Levi’s Pride campaign, promoting awareness and acceptance within the Two-Spirit community. How did that come about? Six years ago, I made a sign that I carried with me in the San Francis-

co Pride Parade. It read: Decolonize Sexuality. It got a lot of attention and was featured in several media outlets. I carried the sign again in the next year’s parade and it caught the attention of Levi’s. They reached out and invited me to partake in a photoshoot that they ended up using in their Pride campaign. The campaign ran in Target and Macy’s stores in the US and appeared internationally on Levi’s social media.

Where are you in your quest to find happiness and satisfaction in your life?

I am at a really great place in my life. I know that all the work I have done on myself over the years has paid off. I have a great connection with all of my family and friends and this year, I will celebrate my eighteenth anniversary with my husband, fifteen years married.

What advice would you have for someone still struggling to find their place and/or their people?

Don’t put on facades. I am careful to always be open, honest, caring, and supportive. I don’t give my time or talent to people who don’t respect my boundaries and limitations. Ultimately, I love myself and know myself enough to recognize that I still have a lot to learn and unlearn. I welcome growth and change. I encourage others to do the same.

What do you hope fans take away from “Kaleidoscope”?

The power of vulnerability will lead you closer to your liberation. Trust that you have wings and you can soar.

Roger Kuhn’s “Kaleidoscope” is being distributed by So Fierce Music/The Orchard/Sony Music Entertainment and is available on all digital platforms. Visit



You may have heard the term or concept “New Earth” being discussed if you frequent any form of spiritual practice or maybe from that one Woo Woo friend, who carries a rose quartz crystal in their underwear to meet their soulmate.

The notion of a new earth is grounded in the belief that humanity is undergoing a collective shift in consciousness towards a higher state of awareness and unity. This shift involves a transformation in how individuals perceive themselves, others, and the world around them. This process involves letting go of ego-driven desires and embracing qualities such as love, acceptance, and gratitude. The vision of new earth is one of a world where people live in harmony with all, guided by principles of compassion, cooperation, and respect for all life.

Though how can this be achieved in a world that often seeks to categorise and define us within rigid boundaries.

The term Two-Spirit predates the arrival of European settlers in the Americas. Indigenous people who identify as Two-Spirited are revered and esteemed in their communities for embodying both masculine and feminine spirits. They often assume roles as healers, medicine practitioners, and visionaries, playing integral roles in their culture. This reverence stems from their unique ability to perceive the world through both masculine and feminine perspectives.

The Native American belief holds that certain individuals embody the spirits of both masculine and feminine energies, expressing them seamlessly as if possessing dual spirits within a single body. Within Native American tradition, love and sexuality are not morally graded; individuals are evaluated based on their contributions to the tribe and their character. Two-Spirit individuals are highly esteemed in Native America, with families including them being considered fortunate. Native Americans associate Two-Spirit individuals with high intellectual abilities, artistic talents and deep compassion. Colonisation had a devastating effect on Two-Spirit individuals as heteronormative roles were forced upon them.

In the book “Journey of Souls” by Michael Newton, he describes how individuals that identify as queer have a more advanced soul. He states that if a soul chooses to be queer in this life; they have deliberately chosen to exist in a society that would be prejudiced against them, in a society with rigid gender role stereotypes. These brave individuals must rise above any public abuse in order to find self-esteem and selfidentity.

Over the past four or five years I have frequented many different spiritual circles and have struggled to be my full expression in the fear of being rejected or shunned. These are my own internal wounds that I take full ownership and responsibility for. I am learning and navigating through these shadow aspects; bringing compassion and forgiveness to these parts of myself.

However, within such a small spiritual community it can be difficult to fully express

when we have so-called leaders or mentors in the community making comments such as “just let boys be boys” or sharing some batshit article that drinking tap water can make you gay . In Northern Ireland we have already lived through years of oppression, pain and social conditioning and this attitude from so-called leaders is creating more of a separation in a community which claims “all of you are welcome” and “this is a safe space”.

When it comes to human sexuality and identity within the context of “New Earth” consciousness, there are several key themes that we need to consider:

• Embracing, accepting and celebrating diversity in all its forms, including sexual orientation and gender identity. Encouraging and honouring the full spectrum of human expression without judgement or discrimination.

• Breaking down traditional binary constructs in favour of more fluid and expansive understandings; recognising that individuals exist on a continuum rather than fitting neatly into rigid categories.

• Equality, liberation and advocating for the rights and dignity of LGBTQIA+ individuals and challenging systems of oppression and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

• Sacred sexuality as an integral part of human experience with a greater emphasis on approaching sexuality with reverence, mindfulness, and respect for oneself and others.

• Reclaiming personal power and embracing authenticity.

Ultimately, the goal is to cultivate greater awareness, compassion, and harmony both within ourselves and in our relationships with others and the world around us. Integrating, harmonising and taking responsibility for our experiences, allowing us to move towards a more holistic understanding of self; embracing one’s unique combination of masculine and feminine energies, regardless of biological sex, gender, orientation or societal expectations. Love is not about possession, it’s about appreciation. Cherish the heart that beats with yours, for it is a melody that resonates through eternity.

Paul McAllister- Aho Wellness IG: aho_wellness

Facebook: aho.wellness.belfast


GNI MAG [34] COLUMN PAUL McALLISTER Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.
MARRY THE ONE YOU LOVE IN THE HEIGHT OF LUXURY Ten Square Hotel , 10 Donegall Square South, Belfast, Northern Ireland BT1 5JD 028 9024 1001




For those readers who know nothing about you, your career or plays, give us an overview of who you are and how you got to where you are today.

I am a queer woman in my 50’s, I am a fiery feminist from a working-class background. I have worked as a freelance journalist and an arts and entertainment journalist. I then moved into TV development and production but I always wanted to write. Writing was something that had burned in me for a long time but I was afraid to do it, it was when I hit the age of 50 I decided that I had to stop thinking about it and start doing it. I have been writing full-time now for 6 or 7 years and the majority of my work has been for theatre. I love writing plays but I am currently dipping my toe into TV land so who knows what else will happen in 2024.

You have been lucky enough to have worked for the BBC in various positions.

How did you get to that level?

I gained my initial training at the BBC, I started as a reader of unsolicited manuscripts, it was great onthe-job training as I got to fine-tune what was good, bad and indifferent in the scripts for television. I’ve worked for various companies and broadcasters since then, as a script editor, storyliner, producer and eventually as an executive producer.

What advice would you give any budding writers from your vast experience?

Don’t just watch TV, devour it!

Download all the free scripts from the likes of the BBC Writers Room, read your favourite scripts and then go back and watch that show to see how they have been constructed. Keep writing one word after the other, something Stephen King famously said when asked how he writes.

Keep asking yourself questions as you are writing, live and breathe your characters, if they drink wine know what wine they drink.

Develop a thick skin and never submit a first draft Script. Give yourself enough time to write it, then put it in a drawer and forget about it for a while. Then go back and read it. You’ll see loads of options to improve it and opportunities to edit out lines that you’d be mortified if anyone had read. It’s called a “Vomit Script” for a reason!

One final and most important piece of advice I would give anyone wanting a career in the arts is to support each other’s wins and celebrate local talent. If we work together and support each other opportunities will come, we have so much amazing talent here.

You are currently promoting your play “This Sh*t Happens All the Time,” I was lucky enough to see it during its run at the Lyric Theatre in 2022. (FYI I thought it was Brilliant!)

Can you tell our readers what they need to know about the play without giving any spoilers?

A young woman falls in love, her girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend responds with murderous intent. It is a love story that goes off the rails because of homophobia and misogyny. It is a story about homophobic hate crime when the term didn’t even exist. Whilst we have made so many strides in terms of equality

and visibility it’s still not good enough as “this shit happens all the time,” still! My favourite strap line for this play is “Who we love shouldn’t come with a death threat.”

What was your process from initial thoughts for this play to what we can see today?

I wanted to write about it because it always stuck in my craw that something like this could have happened and still happens. I wanted to tell my story, my lived experience. I tried to write it so many different ways but it just wasn’t ready. I ended up doing it as a 10 x 9 event at the Black Box, where you have 10 minutes to tell a true story. It is just you at a podium, with your script and if you go over the 10 minutes a Klaxon sounds and you have to stop. My script was timed at 9 minutes 30 seconds and I realised I had the bare bones of the story. I used this as the spine for the script that exists today, helped along by funding from the Imagine and Outburst Festivals, the Arts Council and the support of many, many people.

How close to your real-life experience is the play? Practically all of it, especially the emotions I went through, the fear I experienced and how I came out the other side. It’s amazing how you can think about things \ experiences in your life and they can be quite sketchy and other things like this are engrained and stuck in your head and you remember every single part with great clarity. I think that’s because it was so traumatic. There are a few moments that are dramatised for effect or the demands of the production but there is something creatively freeing about that when it comes into play.

If I were to put a percentage on it I would say 85% of this is my actual real-life experience.

Why did you choose for it to be a one-woman show?

It’s strange as I can never actually pinpoint how or why it ended up working out the way it has, maybe it’s because I did it myself as a 10x9 and then it developed from that.

I can see how it would look with more than one person on stage, but its power lies in the fact that it’s just one person telling the story in all its joy and despair and ultimate positivity. It’s a lot of work for an actress, to carry 65 /70 minutes with no interval but Nicky Harley is an amazing performer and Rhiann Jeffrey is one of the best directors in the business.

If you could pick one Oscar-winning actress to play the lead, who would it be and why?

There’s a line in the play “Jodie Foster isn’t going to come knocking on your door anytime soon.” If you are of a certain age then you grew up with Jodie, from her roles in Freaky Friday to her Oscar winning turns in later years. She’s got an amazing presence and knocks it out of the park to this day. If there was ever a chance of this becoming a film I hope that her agent tells her this is the perfect part for her! So, it’s Jodie Foster!

Were there any things you were unable to include in the play for whatever reason?

There wasn’t much I didn’t / couldn’t include. I think if anything the bits that were edited out allows the play to pack a bigger punch. It is a very lean show where every moment counts. You know sometimes

when you watch something and think to yourself this could’ve ended 20 minutes ago? I didn’t want that to happen.

If you could go back to where the start of the play is set and give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Listen to your gut, I wish I had listened to mine. I knew there was something wrong and I regret not listening to my gut. I don’t beat myself up about it now but I did back then.

If something is too good to be true it generally always is!

A lot has changed in the law since your experiences, but there is still some way to go for better equality and protection within the law. What would your advice be to anyone who potentially is experiencing any sort of homophobic hate crime?

Report it, report it, report it. If you don’t feel you can go to the PSNI then go to The Rainbow Project, HereNI or Cara friend. They all have Hate Crime officers who will support and help you through it all. By reporting it you are helping build accurate figures which have a real purpose and life to them, they are evidence that “This shit happens all the time!” The only way we are going to stop it and challenge it is by reporting it and calling it out. This play isn’t just for the LGBTQIA+ community, this is a play for allies and people who don’t even realise they are allies yet.

Finally, what is next for you after This Sh*t Happens all the time?

I am working on a play for the National Theatre for their Connections season 2025 for and it’s about challenging homophobia, not surprising I hear you say! This particular play is about challenging the normalisation of homophobia and hate crime.

I have just started writing a play about older lesbians and I am also developing a female-led comedy drama for TV, but I don’t want to talk too much about that cos I don’t want to jinx myself.

I would love someone from a production company to come and watch this play and have the guts to say right let’s transition this to TV or film. You only have to look at what has happened with the Post Office scandal and the power that drama has had with that true story. There’s a real power in TV dramas that call out homophobia and hate crime so let’s keep telling our stories!

I am going to keep writing about complex, flawed female characters, about the world and my place in it and hope that the generations coming after us see positive reflections of themselves in every walk of life.

This Sh*t Happens all the Time! Tickets available at



We are a small team of LGBT+ counsellors who are passionate about supporting mental health within our community and have set up a collective to offer private counselling services across NI. Find out more in relation to each of us below and please reach out if you feel we can be of service:-


I am a Queer Integrative Counsellor with a Holistic approach and an accredited member of BACP and NCPS. I believe in the principle of mind body connection which is the link between a person’s thoughts, attitudes and behaviours and their physical health. Talking can be a way of releasing stresses, trauma, worry and unhealthy patterns of thinking - this is the Counselling part of my work. When we talk we may recall and release painful times in our lives that may effect our emotional and physical wellbeing and require healing. A way of doing this is through energy healing - this is the Holistic part of my work. I offer private counselling for ages 15 plus in the following areas: sexual identity and gender confusion, anxiety, depression, suicide ideation, self harm, loss, low self esteem and more. I have extensive experience working with the LGBTQIA+ community and Neurodivergent clients.

I offer remote sessions and in person sessions from my bespoke practice on Belfasts Antrim Road facing Belfast Castle with the option of walk and talk therapy in the beautiful surrounding gardens. I will work with you to help make sense of your situation and to allow you to move forward with hope.

Elaine McIvor NI Therapeutic Counselling BACP 390702 NC 23-00103 | Email: | Phone: 07903411076


I am a qualified and accredited (NCPS) integrative counsellor, registered with BACP and EMDR UK and Ireland and a COSRT student member (Sex and Relationships) meaning that I hope to have tools that will support any presentation that is brought into the room. I set up the first FND counselling service and in addition to trauma (EMDR) and emotional wellbeing anxiety; depression; bereavement; (integrative and CBT) I also work with sexual health presentations such as erection and ejaculation issues; pain and penetration issues; vaginismus; porn and sex addiction & compulsivity; kink positive; sexuality and concerns re low sexual desire.

My practice is trauma-informed, pluralistic and underpinned by a biopsychosocial model, which experiences the client in the context of their emotional wellbeing, life experiences and their present reality. I am EMDR qualified and am a COSRT student member. Working with sexual functioning presentations and intimacy issues within relationships. Whatever life challenge you are facing you do not need to do so alone. As an integrative counsellor I can offer to walk with you whilst we detangle whats happening in the here and now. I have been fortunate to have worked with, and trained, by multiple services to work with

Raymond Blayney | Website: | Email: | Phone 07939 908197


I started my journey as a therapist 15 years ago right in the middle of the LGBTQIA community in Belfast. I qualified at Queen’s University and after a week’s holiday  I immediately started working for the main community organisations. Right from the onset I was working with individuals and relationships around sexuality, gender and relationship diversity.

Great days with lots of creativity and gaining lots of experience. I also had studied with Pink Therapy London and am an accredited therapist with them and the BACP and can be found on their directories and Linkedin. I am based in University Street Belfast and I also work online and would have appointments with clients anywhere in the UK, Ireland and abroad. Living at this time can be fast and stressful but the upsides are the ability to talk with someone across the globe and they are in contact with home.

I have studied different styles of therapy which means now I have a lot to offer you in finding ways through your concerns and into a clearer and brighter part future. Individual Therapy, Relationship Therapy, Group Therapy (Polyamorous...etc.).

Martin Rolston | Phone 07734914778.


Considering Fostering?

The new year is often an opportunity to explore new beginnings. Such as taking the first step to becoming a foster carer. If it is something you are considering, read on as Avery Bowser, Fostering Services Manager at Action for Children in Northern Ireland, discusses how to know if it’s the right time to start your fostering journey.

Fostering is a big commitment and not a decision that you should take lightly. Here are some steps you can take to find out if fostering is right for you.


Discuss what you are thinking with your family and friends. Ask their honest opinion whether they think you have the skills to be a foster carer. Things to consider would be: are you empathetic, caring, resilient and patient? If you know anyone who fosters, talk to them. They can explain the realities of fostering and discuss what a typical day looks like.


There are a lot of resources out there that will give an insight into fostering, so start reading. The Ac-

tion for Children website features fostering blogs filled with tips and advice. You can also find real stories from our foster carers who discuss what fostering is like for them. (Visit: fostering-and-adoption-blogs/)


Now is the time to ask questions. Are you unsure if you meet the criteria to foster? Do you want to know more about fostering? Then contact our fostering team. They will send you a copy of our information pack. This will give you an overview of fostering, the application process, and the types of fostering we offer. They will be happy to chat through any questions you may have. We want you to have all the information you need to make your decision, so remember, no question is too small.


Have you recently had a relationship breakdown, lost a job, or experienced bereavement? If you have had a major change in circumstances in the last year, now might not be the best time to foster. The application process, whilst often therapeutic, can be time intensive and go into a lot of depth. We

want you to be able to commit to the process, but we don’t want you to feel overwhelmed.


Honesty is at the core of fostering and so, from the very first step, you need to be honest with yourself. There are questions you need to ask yourself. Such as, are you ready to invite someone into your family and your life? How is your general health, fitness and wellness? Do you have other commitments or stressors in your life? When you foster, you need to be able to say to yourself honestly that any children who live with you, will be your priority.

Fostering is not easy. But, watching a young person thrive in a safe and loving home is such a special and rewarding experience. If you are in a position to invite a child into your life, we would love to hear from you. To foster you need to be over 21 years old, have a spare room and have a lot of love to give. To find out more call 028 9046 0500 or visit:



Moore Policy, Campaigns and Communications Manager

LGBTQIA+ communities in Northern Ireland don’t currently, and have never historically, had an easy time of it. From decriminalisation, through the various battles towards same-sex marriage, lifting the blood donation ban, and the fight to ban abusive conversion practices, LGBTQIA+ communities have battled through an overwhelmingly hostile political and media establishment in order to advocate for change and progress society.

While it may be difficult, it remains absolutely vital to continue this work, and to show solidarity with other marginalised communities facing a similar pushback, as those in the women’s, disability, migrant and refugee, and other communities and sectors continue to show solidarity with us.

As a young trans woman growing up in Northern Ireland, I, like so many other trans people out there, have had to advocate for myself and my rights in every institution and community I have ever been in. Attending single-sex schools with religious ethos’ throughout my childhood and being forced to advocate for my own basic human rights within those institutions taught me several valuable lessons.

One of these was a lesson in perseverance: knowing, despite feeling like I was banging my head off a brick wall, that eventually some of those bricks would fall loose. Another was that the view of societal issues as portrayed by established institutions like our schools, our politicians and media should not be taken unquestionably as the truth.

The third was the most important lesson: that we cannot wait for someone else to do something to fix what we see as the injustices in our region and in the world. We must take that mantle up ourselves and create the change we believe in. Without LGBTQIA+ communities taking the fight to those in power, none of the advances we have seen in recent decades would have occurred.

I say all of this because the reality is that for most people working to advocate for change or advance human rights for a specific community, and especially in the LGBTQIA+ sector, it is a personal fight as well as a professional one. We’re all either LGBTQIA+ people, their family members, or staunch allies and supporters of the community. This is deeply personal and emotive work to be doing, especially in a time where LGBTQIA+ and particularly trans communities are under such sustained attack from those in power.

As The Rainbow Project’s new Policy, Campaigns and Communications Manager, I believe firmly that we can harness the power of LGBTQIA+ communities and our allies to argue, lobby and campaign for positive

change. We’ve done it before, mobilising thousands to come out on the streets in favour of marriage equality. We do it every day, working closely with our colleagues in the women’s sector to fight back against transphobic narratives in the media and in politics. And we will go on to do this across all of the areas that LGBTQIA+ communities in Northern Ireland tell us are impacting their lives.

There is a large job of work to be done. The past few years have been marked by rapid deterioration of public services – a deterioration that has specific impacts for LGBTQIA+ communities, in housing, in healthcare, in education. Progress that we were promised, including a hate crime bill and a legislative ban on conversion practices, have stalled due to the Assembly collapse. Work on the LGBTQIA+ social inclusion strategy has ground to a halt, and even when this work was ongoing, there was no timeline or ringfenced funding behind any of the recommendations.

Access to healthcare for trans individuals is an area where deterioration is starkly visible, and requires vital attention. I, myself, have been on the waiting list for Northern Ireland’s sole adult gender identity service, the Knockbracken Clinic, since January 2018.

Gender affirming healthcare - from hormonal interventions, hair removal, speech and language therapy, up to gender affirming surgery - has been almost completely inaccessible to trans adults coming out over the past 6 years. The situation is similar for trans children and young people, who are currently forced to languish for months in the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service, and don’t receive the care they need even when they eventually break through to the Knowing Our Identity service.

Trans people and their families shouldn’t have to be paying extortionate amounts of money to access private healthcare, or to source hormones online and selfmedicate. But that is the situation we have been forced into, not just here but across Ireland and in other parts of the UK, due to a complete failure of both the services and the decision-makers in charge of allocating funds and directing reform.

It’s an unacceptable state of affairs, and we must build momentum within our communities and our allies across sectors to deliver ground-up reform, moving away from a psycho-sexual model of care which treats trans identity as a mental health issue and places countless barriers in the way of accessing basic care, while also improving the funding and staffing behind services.

Violence and abuse experienced by trans people, and LGBTQIA+ communities more broadly, has also been

on the rise. There is currently no hate crime legislation on the books, and while “stirring up hatred” offences exist and are currently used as a stand-in for hate crime offences, they are no replacement for properly defined and recognized hate crime legislation.

It’s vital that, unlike in existing legislation, transphobic hate crime is fully recognised and included in this new hate crime law, while also ensuring that the intersectional nature of violence and abuse can be fully accounted for when prosecuting hate crimes. Alongside this legislation, we are advocating for a well-resourced, comprehensive strategy to proactively address antiLGBTQIA+ attitudes, not just to prosecute hate crime after it occurs.

Banning conversion practices remains high on our agenda for campaigning and lobbying. Prior to the Assembly collapse, our Ban Conversion Therapy Campaign built a significant political consensus in favour of a comprehensive, inclusive ban on all conversion practices, with no loopholes or equivocations around the inclusion of trans and gender diverse people. While the political context has changed over the past few years, the lived reality of LGBTQIA+ people who are subject to attempted conversion has not: these practices are abusive, cause untold harm, and legislative action to ban them is long overdue.

These priorities sit alongside our existing work to improve the wellbeing of LGBTQIA+ young people, including through engagement within mental health and housing services as well as in schools. Educational institutions have the power to stifle and bring harm to queer youth within them, but also have the power to nurture and support them through their journey. We will continue our work with colleagues across the sector to advocate for robust anti-bullying strategies targeting homophobia and transphobia, as well as inclusive and comprehensive relationships and sexuality education. While we are unlikely to get everything we’re asking for, we will continue to engage and build a greater political consensus for supporting and affirming LGBTQIA+ young people in schools.

The political and media environment in the UK may not be the friendliest, or fill us with the most hope, but that simply isn’t reflective of the attitudes of wider society. Every year, every day, society is becoming more accepting, more inclusive and understanding of LGBTQIA+ experiences. Attempts by the media and politicians to sow division and stem the tide of progress will fail if we work together, if we show solidarity with other marginalized communities, and if we continue to do the ground work to build support for LGBTQIA+ communities in the grassroots. Here at Rainbow we remain committed to doing this work, and improving the lives of all LGBTQIA+ people in Northern Ireland.




What have you been up to since we last spoke?

Wow it’s been a mad year! Although we’re starting to get used to the fact that this is the pace that we set ourselves. We realised that high energy and perpetual forward motion is how we like it. We try things, we see how they work, or not, and we keep going.

Something new that we are really proud of is our weekly podcast called ‘SHOW SOME LOVE LIVE’ that we launched towards the end of the year, we have been absolutely loving it. We met a dream producer in Sean McDonnell from 1620 Audio, and we’ve found that the long form style of conversation really suits us. We’re chatty Cathys so being able to discuss local issues and talk with people who inspire us, and a pure geg is a great way to share progressive messages using humour and hot takes. It’s also offered us an opportunity to let people know who we are, and share some of our personal experiences. Good and bad. The podcast realm is pretty straight/ male dominated so to be able to offer queer voices, and talk to a huge array of creatives, and change makers, in a ‘no holds barred’ style, feels like an honour and a privilege.

We’re also working in partnership with the wonderful folks at Bullitt Hotel on a very special series of fundraising events and parties to celebrate inclusivity, fashion and music. More to come on that soon!

Last time we spoke we had just done a fashion street shoot in our beloved Smithfield. Where we had our little pink shop for a glorious 18months. We’ve just closed the doors of that unit, and the 1600sq ft unit we had in west Belfast. We have taken on a much bigger site and been able to combine all our projects into one bigger, better and more efficient and impactful space, which will be city centre based. It’s called ‘Green House’ and it’s launch and year one will be supported by Belfast City Council as part of the Belfast 2024 yearlong cultural festival in the city.

Tell us about Green House

Green House is something completely new to the city, but is a culmination of all the different types of work we’ve done over the years to help raise money, share issues, bring people together and give stuff away free to people who need it. It will be a sustainable fashion hub, an artist members club, and a community learning and social space. We will be able to invite artists in to create a community and a place to work and learn. With participation and the sharing of skills and resources at the heart of it. Onsite we’ll have our usual free clothing provision, however now those donated items can be used not only as something to wear, but also as a resource, to remake or break down and repurpose into some-

thing completely new or different.

We will be providing free workshop and meeting space, equipment and resources to local community groups and other charities. We will be a home for current and post grad students to be able to share ideas, feedback and enjoy the camaraderie that they experienced in Uni.

What’s different about Green House is that instead of offering an ‘own room’ structure, like many existing artist studios in the city, our plan is to offer space that is flexible and available to be used by as many people as possible. We will specialise in sustainable fashion, textile arts and offer programmes to help young or fledgling creatives to hone their crafts into something commercial if that’s their goal. Like all our projects, we will also have a focus on mental health and the community itself.

We are delighted to be partnering with some incredible people to help us bring this project to life. First up is Alison Gault Senior lecturer at UU BSOA, a guru of all things sustainable fashion, materials and heritage. Alison will provide a meaningful link with the existing and current fashion students. Next is a powerhouse of community Impact, Professor Kathryn Higgins, the director of The QUB Communities and place team. Whose team of experts will help us with measuring our impact to demonstrate the power of community and creativity to help with mental health and wellbeing. We are delighted that our friend designer Sara O’Neill, whose beautiful brand Eadach many will know from being seen most recently on the red carpet at the Oscars, and dressing The Edge at U2’s iconic Sphere Las Vegas shows.

Local finalist of ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’, and an absolute darling of a human, Angeline Murphy is on our lineup of stars to guide us and share their expertise in teaching people to sew and create in an accessible and fun way. Last but not least is stylist and designer Lucinda Graham, whose insights many years ago about her experiences as a student, and knowledge about how to help people work more sustainably helped us form the plans and ideas for Greenhouse. Lucy is now London based but will continue to inform our decision making, and of course pop in for masterclasses and advice when she is home visiting her lovely boyfriend and family.

We will continue to be powered by incredible volunteers, but we will also have two talented new team members joining us. The fabulous Aoife McCrory, who has been programme and participation manager for Arts Ekta for the last 8 years, and who impressed us with her creativity and production

prowess when she commissioned us to provide a sustainable fashion show with looks made and modelled by local young people for Belfast Mela last summer. Aoife is joining us to head up our community impact and charitable delivery side of things. We are also welcoming home the supremely talented Tony Webster (Big Bad Llama) who we have tempted back to Belfast from his internationally acclaimed creative director world working with Schuh, Office as well as globally recognised artists to help us drive the commercial side of things that help us retain our independence and ensure that there is fun, creativity and dignity behind our work.

What is Belfast 2024?

Belfast 2024 will be the city’s biggest ever creative and cultural celebration, beginning in late spring and running until November. We first applied back in March 2023 via an open callout for submissions. It was a long, pretty arduous and highly competitive process to go through but we are delighted to be one of 17 locally-led projects which have been selected, out of 194 entries.

Our project is part funded by Belfast City Council, who announced in October 2023 that they would be investing £5.9 million into the city’s arts and cultural sector. In our case, we applied for our staff costs to be covered plus a nominal amount towards other costs. We will be fundraising like mad this year to ensure that we return enough back into the project to fuel our costs for next year, retain our independence and keep our staff employed, and our lights on for years to come.

We are looking forward to taking part in so many of the other events too. The lineup is incredible. Really something to be proud of- see belfast2024. for more.

How can people get involved?

We’re inviting people to come and participate in loads of ways. Volunteering is open now to help us to get the space ready for April. People can find a link to sign up in our social bios.

We have an ‘expressions of interest’ form online as well. In that we’re inviting people to share their needs, expectations, thoughts, feedback and ideas. People completing this form will also be invited to feedback sessions to help us shape the structure and offering.

Green House will bring people together, and help foster a sense of purpose, understanding and cohesion, and we’ll be doing so with making stuff, learning stuff, and throwing legendary parties.


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Scott Aldred

They say you should never ask a lady her age, a gentleman his salary or gay guys how they met. We all know why. If we could have children with one another, by now there’d be a lot of funny looking babies being born. We’re fishing from a very shallow pool so it’s probably for the best we’re (largely) the fun uncle in the family. Everybody knows everybody… KNOWS everybody.

I think most gay guys didn’t get the ‘Don’t ask how they met’ memo. It’s a known phenomenon that new couples now decide on a meeting story before going public with the relationship. Largely as they know the second you let your guard down someone will pump you for the details.

On some of the more popular ‘gentlemen’s apps’ you see lines such as ‘I’ll say we met in IKEA’, or ‘Willing to lie about how we met’. They’re being honest. It wouldn’t have any meaning if it wasn’t an actual real life concern for some.

Admittedly, if you’re at a big family wedding and your favourite aunt comes over to meet your new squeeze and asks, chances are you don’t want to have to explain to her what a dark room is.

I prefer a story that’s a bit more over the top. Say you were hiking Machu Picchu for charity. Raising money for orphaned donkeys. Or working at a soup kitchen over Christmas. Something to simultaneously pull the wool over people’s eyes AND create the illusion I’m a decent human being. What can I say, I’m English, I need all the help I can get.

But some guys really want to know. Need to know. Generally single guys. Asked without a hint of malice, they think you have cracked the code. They too want a boyfriend. They have a very skewed view or memory of what having a boyfriend actually means. They think it means Sunday mornings in bed with the papers and a dog. They think it’s doing a boomerang on Instagram with you jumping off the back of a yacht. They think its wearing matching kilts at a friend’s wedding just to upstage the bride. They don’t realise all of those things are a front for arguments over whose turn it is to de-ice the car at 5am on a Monday morning or who’s left hair in the bath.

To them an argument means make up sex. (I don’t do make up sex. If

I’m in a mood with you there’s no way I’m giving you the pleasure, you can wait.)

“It’s not fair”, they cry on Facebook “I’ve not had a boyfriend for 3 years” before someone else pipes up ‘I’ve not had one for 10’ just to make them feel it’s even more hopeless. The someone else having a profile pic that looks like they’ve taken it in the back of a spoon. You know the type. They’re on every app going whilst simultaneously describing everyone on the apps as dirty scum – and they wonder why they’re single.

On online forums they ask ‘Does anyone know any decent gay apps? I’m sick of the guys on [insert name of every gay app here]’. They think a new one is the answer to their problems. That a new secret hidden pool of gay people lies tantalisingly just out of reach. They hear rumours of a hidden functionality on Tinder that’s invite only for the rich and famous (true apparently – but if you’re struggling with the average people on Tinder there’s no hope for you and you should walk round ringing a bell). They know they are ‘Quite shy at first but really chatty once you get to know me’, which is gay speak for ‘I’m socially awkward and you’ll put your back out carrying this conversation’.

However, all of this chatter stems from one central premise. That the idea of meeting someone online is somehow less real, less organic or meaningful than had you met ABSOLUTELY ANYWHERE ELSE. It’s true in the old days, (God it hurt writing that) guys would meet in a bar. If you saw someone you liked, you’d smile. Say hello. Buy them a drink. That puffing noise you hear is a million introverts breathing into a paper bag.

If you needed pluck up the courage to speak, you’d wait and plan your week around being in that bar at that exact same time. You didn’t exchange numbers; you didn’t have a number. You just hoped they’d show up again. It’s no wonder public toilets became so popular.

But now, you have the like of Grindr and Scruff. Before you get all high and mighty, there are pluses and minuses.

On the negative side they have made people as disposable as a cheap vape, and with slightly less sucking. Before social media, people used

“So…How did you two meet?” Words that, for some, are like an ice cube down the spine.

to have to do tangible good in a community before word of mouth got out about how decent a person they were. Now they just have to film themselves giving money to tramps. If you wondered if you looked nice, you’d wait for someone to say… ‘You look nice’. Now you just clean the skirting boards wearing a jockstrap and write #housework and the fire emojis flood in.

That instant dopamine hit is addictive. Soon you’re comparing likes and lifestyles. Before you know it, you’re filming yourself opening your eyes and getting out of bed like it’s the most normal thing in the world. Setting up your phone in the fridge to catch you opening the door to reach for the orange juice. Face it…you aren’t an influencer. You aren’t on a yacht. You’re on a glider going for a face to face interview over benefits sanctions. Wise up. (listen to me, adopting the lingo)

If you’re honest, or as honest as anyone can be when meeting someone new, you can make connections with people that you probably wouldn’t have looked twice at in the real world.

That is the biggest problem with online apps - the filters. Fortuitously hidden behind a paywall, you can weed out anyone that isn’t your type. The reality is, if you’re single and complaining about being single, you need pipe down about your ‘type’. You need to start looking at little deeper.

than saying what you don’t want. You can talk, make the effort, ask questions…see the goods.

Be sociable, forget about a relationship. Meet people. If you both wanna hook up then go for it but make that a bonus not the objective. In talking to people you may not think of as your type, you may suddenly find yourself talking to someone that pushes buttons. Makes you think. See the world through fresh eyes.

So, I did…

We met in IKEA *cough

My own story…after two long term relationships, one with an ex-wife, one with an ex-boyfriend I found myself single at 47 for the first time since I was 15. After a couple of years of believing nobody would want me and throwing myself at anyone that so much as looked at me, I chilled a little. Decided I was no longer looking for a relationship. I started to enjoy the freedom that came with being single. I figured online sites and apps were a harmless diversion and a way to meet new people. Having taken my own advice, I answered a message online from a Belfast boy who said ‘I think you should get on a plane to Belfast’.

On the plus side, with social media you can set your stall out. Market yourself. You can say what it is you’re looking for. Always better

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



We all know that when you are young, you get bullied. It happens to pretty much everyone in some shape or form, although obviously some get it considerably worse than others. However, its not just kids that get bullied. It takes merely seconds to comment on someone’s Tiktok or Instagram and now more than ever we have adult bullies. Full grown people that clearly have nothing better to do than try to make anyone’s life miserable that doesn’t fit into their ideals. The things being said are also getting more and more outrageous, because hiding behind a screen with a throw-away account means that these imbeciles don’t ever have to face the reality of their own consequences. They can spread their hate with no repercussions.

Now, I could sit here and say there is steps to take to stop this, and I will. The truth of the matter is that you can block them, and they can make a new account. It can feel inescapable, especially if these trolls have a target on your back. However, it doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do.

If you are being cyber bullied, or trolled or cancelled, try not to react. A lot of bullies thrive off the reaction that they get back, if you just don’t respond then chances are that they will get bored and leave you alone.

Now this is easier said than done. When someone is saying horrible things to you, it can be hard to walk away, and even harder for it not to affect you in anyway. Of course, you are going to feel hurt or angry if someone is trying their best to make you feel that way, but you don’t have to show it to them. Get someone you trust and talk about it or if you prefer to feel your feelings alone, do something that makes you happy. Whether that be making your favourite dinner or watching your favourite movie, try to not to let it get you down. You are not what haters on the internet say that you are.

What if its hate speech? Yeah, that happens a lot, especially within the community we are in. Ignorant people and their ignorant minds and fingers are going to use the facelessness of social media to tell you that the way you are is wrong. Spoiler alert, it isn’t. If you are new to this community, or even if you aren’t, it can still hurt. You can be out and proud for years and still feel the sting when someone uses your identity as an insult. Maybe it takes you back to the early days of your journey or maybe you are just exhausted because when is the fight going to be over? Saying ‘just don’t react’ is naive at best, whether that be inwardly or outwardly. Remember that you get more bees with honey. While the best course of action is to ignore it, move on, and not let their simple minds annoy you, if you feel the need to react, try to educate rather than retaliate.

If the situation is more aggressive and they have progressed into slurs or threats, this is no longer a matter of being the bigger person, and in some cases can be classed as an online hate crime. The laws are tricky on this in the UK, as they can’t seem to come to an agreement that makes online hate speech illegal, whilst also protecting freedom of speech. In England and Wales it can be an offense to spread hatred online on the grounds of race, religion or sexuality – but not gender or disability. However, depending on whether this hate threatens violence or not – it can be classed as illegal for all of the above. It gets tricker online, because UK law doesn’t cover comments or messages from other countries. All of this to say, it’s not right, and there is more fighting to do, but there is hope. Organisations such as Stop Hate UK are working against this and have a helpline of where to report it. They can also help you deem whether it is an illegal offense.

If you are in this situation, block or delete the person, but screenshot everything before and report it. Most platforms have policies against cyberbullying, so reporting it with evidence can get the account removed. Of course, the bully in question can just make a new account, and if that happens, a different course of action is needed. If this is coming from someone known to you in university, work or any other organisation you are part of, report it directly. It may stop the harassment, or get the person removed, fired or expelled. Many people don’t do this as they fear the repercussions may get worse on them, or even turn into physical acts of violence, but in most of these cases, the police have to get involved anyway, so you will have a level of protection. If the person isn’t known, the authorities or organisations such as above can help to get the content online removed, or point you in the right direction towards a solution for your specific situation.

Whilst we can talk about how to stop cyberbullying, and how to report it, that doesn’t necessarily make it any less hurtful in the moment, especially if it is recurrent. It can be overwhelming, isolating and generally just hurtful and horrible. You don’t have to do any of it alone, talk to someone supportive. While there is nothing embarrassing, some of us might be too proud to admit that it is affecting us so deeply, and in that case, you are still not alone, there are so many online platforms and helplines that can support you, even if you just need to vent for a while. Don’t suffer in silence, and don’t let them get away with it either, report it. If not for you, for the next person, who might not have as thick skin.



Chris you are from Coleraine and Matthew you are from York, how did you meet ?

Matthew: We actually met on a night out in Manchester in 2016 at Cruz 101. Our best friends were dating each other but we hadn’t met and didn’t know each other until that night out.

Were you both single and actively looking for love ?

Chris: Not particularly to be honest! Obviously when the right person comes along you know the connection instantly.

Matthew: Yeah we were both not actively looking to be in a serious relationship at that point but you never know what is around the corner.

Cliche as it sounds but was it love at first sight?

Chris: We definitely fancied each other let’s put it that way.

Matthew: I wouldn’t say love at first sight but there was a connection right off the bat.

At the time of meeting what were you both doing for work?

Matthew: At the time I was a retail manager for a huge high-street fashion brand and Chris owned and was the head chef at The Hoose Bistro in East Belfast.

Chris: We still have The Hoose Bistro today, it was my first foray into owning my own restaurant.

As you are based in N.I i’m guessing that you Chris enticed Matthew to move over here ? Was this a hard decision to make?

Matthew: After we met, we didn’t see each other or even keep in contact for around 3 months or more. Chris then came back to Manchester, and we met up again on a night out and spent a few days together. That’s when we realised there was something there.

Chris: Essentially, some months after that, I offered Matthew a job over in Belfast to be the Restaurant Manager for The Hoose Bistro and he went for it. Obviously I was hoping he would say yes and he did thankfully!

7 years down the road you seem to be just as much in love now as you were then, any secrets to a long and happy relationship?

Chris: It sounds cheesy but communicating with your partner really is key. We always make sure we are honest with each other and if one of us is having a bad day or feeling off, we vocalise how we are feeling rather than bottle it up and lash out. We are there for each other when there is harder days and talking openly is a great tool to keep everything running smoothly.

Matthew: We like a lot of the same things. Similar tastes in food, wine and same obsession with dogs so that helps!

Without being presumptive, is it the 2 of you, have you children? Is a family on the cards in the future?

Chris: It is the two of us and our four dogs! They are like children to us.

I am keen to have children one day however we are super invested in the new business at the

moment. Right now, it’s the best time but it is something we continually discuss for the future. Matthew initially didn’t want children, but I think I’ve talked him round.

Matthew: Yes, I didn’t think I would ever want to have kids but as I have gotten older I think it is something I would like in our future. As Chris said it doesn’t make sense right now with how busy we both are with the restaurants. When we decide to make that jump, we want to have all the time to be fully involved.

Ok we need to get on to work

Prior to the opening of Millar’s, did you both have experience in the hospitality industry?

Matthew: We had both worked in hospitality but Chris has more experience than me in the industry.

Chris: I started out in The Anchor in Portstewart around the age of 12 as a kitchen porter. I’ve not had a day off since! I worked my way up within that business and become Front of House manager. This is also where I learnt to cook and honed my culinary skills in this environment initially.

We had the pleasure of reviewing when you first opened, the food, atmosphere and service were impeccable, hospitality especially lately has had its ups and downs, what is it that you feel Millar’s offers that keeps bringing people back?

Matthew: I think because Chris and I are massive foodies, we know what works in a restaurant environment and what doesn’t. Any time we have


a day off we go to local restaurants. We try to opt for a new restaurant each date.

Obviously we have our favourites we like to go back to, but we like to explore and try what’s new on the scene.

Chris: Yes, from visiting so many restaurants at home and abroad, we’ve almost realised what the perfect formula is for a successful restaurant. Don’t get me wrong, the industry can change in a heartbeat, but we think we’ve cracked the code.

From local sourced, premium meats to the ambience of the restaurant itself, we constantly review everything! The décor, the staff, the music, the menu, the drinks and more, we are always evaluating and obsessing over every single detail to have the recipe for a perfect restaurant that people love. We want people to enjoy their food, drinks and our hospitality and we especially want them to return, which they do!

opportunity came around for Lanyon Quay, we knew this was the one.

And from one roaring success to another you opened your Millar’s Grill & Seafood on Lanyon Quay just across from the Waterfront, was this a work in progress for a while ?

Matthew: We’ve always wanted to open a restaurant in city centre. We had been looking at a few potential units over 2021 and 2022 however nothing was working for us at the time. When this

Chris: When we viewed the location we were instantly excited. With the Waterfront on our door step, close proximity to Victoria Square and the beautiful views of the River Lagan, we were sold within minutes. It was the exact bright and modern format we wanted for our vision.

We have heard so many great things about the new restaurant, how has it been for you and how do you

have time to breathe running 3 successful businesses?

Chris: We don’t! We are delighted with the reception to Millar’s Grill and Seafood. It has been beyond our initial expectations. We want to keep at it for a few months and then finally have some time off (we’ve booked Vegas).

Matthew: Vegas is keeping us going and motivated!

Chris, we heard you were shortlisted for Chef of the Year category at LCN Awards 2023, OMG what an achievement, you were bound to be over the moon?

Chris: Absolutely! Obviously, I don’t do the work for any awards or accolades however it was lovely to be shortlisted. It’s great to get the recognition alongside some other chefs I have admired for years and years!

And the final question is the focus for 2024 on the 3 restaurants or do you have other plans/ventures up your sleeves that we need to know about ?

Matthew: We would love to open a hotel or a bar, something completely different for us. It’s not on the cards just yet but never say never...



I remember the first time I ever saw a drag performer. It was a warm but cloudy July day in Belfast and I was in the city centre doing some shopping for an upcoming holiday. I had noticed there were more people in town than usual and the streets seemed more colourful and vibrant than I had ever seen. People of all ages were lining the streets in anticipation for something special, but I didn’t know what. There was a buzz of excitement in the air and I wondered what had brought all of these spectators to what was normally quite a grey part of the town. Then I saw the first float and it dawned on me. I was an 18-year-old closeted boy who had somehow stumbled upon the annual Belfast Pride Parade.

It’s heart-breaking to say, but I had never attended a Pride parade at this point in my life, nor had I had any encounters with the LGBTQ+ community. Pride was not on my radar. Then I saw her – a fabulous tanned blonde wearing an azure-coloured bikini dripping in jewels, along with rose-tinted sunglasses perched on the end of her nose. She strutted down the road as if it were her own catwalk and

seemed to tower over everyone else. That was when I noticed the heels. The spectators’ cheers grew as she approached us and I could tell that this person was loved, admired and embraced by everyone who came out to see her. I turned to a lady beside me and awkwardly asked, “Who is that?”. “This must be your first Pride, love,” she replied with warmth and sympathy, “That’s Titti Von Tramp.” Shocked

and tickled by the name, I retorted “Who is Titti Von Tramp?” Twelve years later, I would be sitting in a radio studio with a tanned, polite but confident man asking him the same question.

I am now thankfully an out and proud 30-year-old gay man who has met many more drag artists since then, many of whom I count as great influences


in my life. I am also a radio broadcaster and have been presenting on local Belfast-based radio station, Blast 106.4FM, for nearly two years. In October 2023, I was given the opportunity to host a new weeknight show, moving from two shows a week to four. I was daunted at the prospect of how to keep the show fun, fresh and informative, especially with many more hours to fill. One night, while speaking with my partner about my concerns, we talked about how fun it was to hear some local drag artists on other radio stations around the time of Belfast Pride that year. I remember thinking to myself, “Why do we only have queer voices talking about queer issues on the air during Pride?” That was when Drag Storytime was born. I decided then that I wanted to use my platform to give space for our local drag artists to share about their lives, their art, their successes and struggles, and to give a “peek behind the curtain” of what I consider to be one of the most beautiful and important art forms we have.

Since then, I have been very fortunate to have had a fabulous array of local drag performers on the show, from drag queens to drag kings, from cisqueens to gender-bending performers. The gorgeous tapestry of drag we have here in Northern Ireland has provided hours of entertainment, powerful storytelling and important education to listeners who otherwise may never have heard much about these important and under-represented issues before. In the four months that the show has been airing, these fearless heroes have raised awareness around issues such as HIV/AIDS, homophobia, gender identity, transphobia and disability with such passion and heart, and this makes the show all the more worth it for me.

It’s not always serious though – we have talked about dating horror stories, make-up tips, funny drag names and other X-rated topics that we had to keep off air! I firmly believe that only our drag artists could achieve such a perfect balance of wit, emotion and activism and I feel very lucky that I get to facilitate this. I recognise that although I am queer, I am still an able-bodied cis man and there are experiences and issues that I am unqualified to speak about. Having performers on the show who can speak about more sensitive themes just adds to the richness of the conversations and gives the show a sense of credibility and intimacy that could not be achieved by me alone.

Since starting Drag Storytime, I have learned a great deal about drag performers and would like to

impart some of this wisdom. Here are the top five things I have learned:

“Drag Queen Time” is a myth

“Drag Queen Time” is a term used to mock how stereotypically unpunctual drag performers are. However, my experience has been the complete opposite. Not one drag artist has been late for the show and, in fact, most have arrived at least fifteen to twenty minutes early! Our local drag artists are professional, honey.

The drag scene in Northern Ireland is exploding Let’s face it, Northern Ireland is a small place. Belfast is, of course, even smaller. However, there is an ever-expanding drag scene here with a beautiful, diverse assortment of drag styles and categories.

“Drag Storytime” was actually named “Drag Queen Storytime” when I first started it, but once I realised how vast the drag spectrum is here, I knew the name had to change to make it inclusive for everyone. We are truly blessed to have such a vibrant community of performers in our midst and I’m excited to see it grow even more!

The drag talent in Northern Ireland is mind-blowing Granted, this comes as no surprise. What I have loved exploring on the show, though, is the broad range of talents that our local drag performers possess. I have interviewed artists who write songs, who can dance like J.Lo, who are scientists, who organise LGBTQ+ sporting events, who design and make their own clothes. The sheer talent we have

here is extraordinary and every drag performer I have interviewed has been able to talk about their own unique skillset, which has been a joy to learn about.

The drag community in Northern Ireland is a real community

The last question I ask every artist on the show is “Who is your favourite local drag performer and why?”. Without exception, every person has chosen another artist because of the support they have given them as they have grown through their drag career. It has been so heart-warming to hear the stories of how fellow drag artists have helped each other through personal and professional struggles and this shows how tight-knit they are.

Drag artists are human beings

Again, not that I had any doubt. However, it has been eye-opening for me to hear about the individual personal journeys each guest has been on as a drag performer. These wonderful people have grown up with the same joys and pains as the rest of us, especially as queer people. It has been particularly interesting to see people who I consider to be confident, outgoing and expressive powerhouses become nervous in front of the microphone when they are sat in that chair in the radio studio. Talking personally about yourself isn’t always easy and I thank them all for opening up to me and the listeners.

So, what does the future hold for “Drag Storytime”? I want to continue this show as long as I can, and I know we have enough drag performers here to keep it going for at least ten years! I have recently considered moving the show to a podcast format to allow for deeper, longer conversations and to allow listeners to hear what we couldn’t say on the radio. However, I love the adrenaline rush that comes with interviewing an unpredictable guest live on the radio, so I am still undecided about this. Regardless of how the show is broadcast, I am excited to continue learning about the amazing drag performers in this land and to give more opportunities for queer voices to speak about queer issues. I believe that we, as queer people, stand on the shoulders of giants in giant heels. “Drag Storytime” is just a way for our local drag artists to stand a little taller.

Drag Storytime with Noel Bradley-Johnston airs on Blast 106.4FM every Thursday evening from 8-9pm.




There are a million articles on how to get over a break-up right? There is crying and watching rom-coms, eating an entire pint of ice-cream or drinking an entire bottle of wine. Your nearest and dearest are all telling you that it’s okay because they just weren’t the one.

But what about friendship break-ups? In theory you aren’t committed to them, there’s no real ‘break-up’, but it hurts just the same – if not more. Most of the time there is no real ‘end’, there is no closure and there is nobody sitting telling you that they wern’t the one. I mean sure, there’s all the quotes saying that ‘some people are in your life for a reason, others only for a season’, or ‘with friends like that who needs enemies’, or the less poetic ‘you’re better off without them’. Do you ever take the time to really grieve it? Does anyone give you the space or support to?

Friend break-ups can be messy. Especially close friend breakups. This was a person you went to when you needed to cry about breakup breakups, and who fiercely took your side. Who knew your dreams and showed up at the milestone achievements for them. Who had met your family, who knew about their dramas and had maybe even witnessed the dramas. Who you loved at one point, who loved you at one point, and maybe that love is still there but they aren’t.

Friendship breakups can happen for all kinds of reasons, so let’s talk about them.

The first, and probably most dramatic is the messy breakup. Your friend has stabbed you in the back. They have lied to you about something important, they’ve tried to get with your partner, or they’ve had one too many drinks and gotten physical. Whatever the reason, this one is fast ending, we-re over, mic-drop and over-the-topmovie walk away type moment. This one can be the easiest because you know that they are not a good friend immediately, and that you are better off. However, it is also the hardest because how could they? This person that you knew so well, that knew you so well, that you trusted, just betray you like that? Did you ever know them at all? How could you not see it coming? The betrayal might’ve hit quick but the questions might leave you spiralling for months. All this love is there, but for who they were, not who they are, and you have absolutely nowhere to put it. It sucks. I hate to be cliché, but in this situation, you are better off without them, and with friends like that who needs enemies. At the same time, let yourself grieve the friend that you did have, before they showed their true colours, if you need to. Try to take the high road. I know that it is unbelievably tempting to tell every man and his dog about the time they got the clap off that one-night-stand, or post on Facebook about how horrible they are, but don’t stoop to their

level. You’re better than that. Remember the good times, but don’t forget the bad and move on with your life anyway, with your new friends, who will come, and who won’t hurt you.

The next type is the one where they just aren’t that good of a friend, and you have to walk away. Maybe they always show up 30 minutes late to see you, or they only talk about themselves the entire time you are together. Maybe they are missing big moments in your life because they need to wash their turtle or some equally terrible excuse. This one usually develops slowly over time and might be worth a quick conversation and trying to mend before calling it quits, the friend might not even realise it. If you have had the conversation, and nothing has changed, or this behaviour has been going on for years and you just haven’t noticed, walking away can be an extremely difficult thing to do. You love them, but you hate how you feel when you are with them or the things they do. You don’t have to have a ‘break-up talk’, it doesn’t have to be a big thing. You can simply be busy if they try meet up, or if the problem is that it is always you reaching out, then you can just stop. You’ll have more time to spend with the people that actually make you feel good about yourself.

We just want different things. You might have met in primary school, high-school, uni or even work but as you’ve grown you may have realised that you have grown out of the lifestyle you had when you became friends, or they have. One of you wants to go to the club on a Saturday night and one of you just wants to watch strictly and be in bed by ten. Alternatively, it can be more of a values thing, they strongly believe in something that you feel strongly against, or maybe they just keep doing things that you just don’t agree with. Regardless of specifics, you two are just becoming increasingly incompatible as friends. It can be good to reminisce about the old times, but if it’s all you can talk about you have a bit of an issue. After all there is only so many times you can talk about that one wild night you had 7 years ago. If you still care though, can hold a conversation, and want to know about their life, this doesn’t have to be over. You can put in the work, find a middle ground, and have a catch-up every once in a while. It can still be upsetting to know the person that was your best friend is now a once in a while friend, but you don’t have to lose them entirely.

The final type is the most common, widely experienced by all, we just grew apart. Maybe one of you has moved away and you have lost contact, or it’s a similar situation to above but you just don’t seem to talk anymore. You watch their life on Instagram and you found out they were engaged with the rest of Facebook, and aren’t holding your breath for an invite to the wedding. The worst part about this one is that it’s usually

the friends you make when you’re a bit younger, it’s the people that helped you grow and shaped you into the person you are today. Somehow you still don’t recognize the person you were when you loved them. You still love them, and wish them well, but you hardly even know them anymore. It gets to a point where it’s been so long that reaching out seems a bit weird, maybe even a bit far-fetched. You never know though, because there is a good chance that they are also watching your life online, feeling the same way, and would be absolutely buzzing to meet up for a coffee or a glass of wine. They might just miss you as much as you miss them.

In most cases, a friendship breakup doesn’t have to happen, it can just be a change in perspective. Just because they’ve been a bit off recently isn’t a reason to walk away, have a conversation. They might not know they have been off or there might be something deeper going on that’s causing them to not have the time to put into the friendship. A little bit of understanding can go a really long way. In other friendships, it might just be that although you were best friends, you don’t have to always be. Re-evaluating the level of friendship might be what is needed to not breakup, but to see each other a bit less and still keep the love. If neither of these is the case, and it has been, or has to be, a break-up, allow yourself to treat it as such. Cry, think about the good times, watch movies about friendship and have one too many drinks when you’re out because it sucks. But know that in the same way as breakups, you’ll get another friend, a better friend, and you will be just fine.

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Gary Campion

It’s the first issue of 2024 Happy New Year! There is so much to look forward to on the music scene that we should all be excited about….Let’s get stuck in:

My top 5 hits on repeat What I am listening to!

The latest releases from all the stars established and new that you need to listen to:

Becky Hill - Never Be Alone - This vocal powerhouse has admitted she doesn’t make her songs easy to sing….she will be blasting these vocals live at Belsonic later this year.

Dannii MinogueThinking ‘Bout Us - Dannii doing what she does best, a pure dance-pop banger with the help of Autone… …I think we need a new album ASAP Ms. Minogue!

Calum ScottLighthouse - following on from the successes of “Whistle” & “At Your Worst Last,” year my favourite BGT finalist/interviewee hits all the right spots with this upbeat ballad!

New Year Album Releases I’ve previewed:

Paloma Faith - The Glorification of Sadness - 16th Feb

You will have already read the interview with the cover star herself that our Daniel was lucky enough to get by the time you have got to these pages. Paloma has called this her 6th album “the divorce album without the divorce,” having split up with her partner of 10 years when she started writing and recording it. She has written songs of contradictions, self-destruction and euphoria as is evident in the lead singles “How You Leave A Man” and “Bad Woman” and their associated promos. Paloma has never been one to pull the punches when it comes to being honest (sometimes too honest) in her lyrics and interviews but I do unequivocally feel this is the most personally revealing, thought-provoking album of her career. I have always thought talking on and between tracks a bit twee, but there is something almost enlightening and comforting from Palomas additional spoken thoughts and statements scattered throughout the album. With a whopping 17 tracks on this album, she hasn’t done things by half, but then when has she ever throughout her chameleonic career? Stand-out tracks for me are the string-lead vulnerable ballad “Divorce,” the rockier sounding “Let it Ride” with its full electric guitar solos and the drum and bass-filled “Cry on the Dancefloor.”

Kygo ft Ava MaxWhatever - Such a summer vibe, I predict this remix sample of Sharkia’s Whenever, Wherever will be huge!

Cat Janice - Dance You Outta My Head - Cancer survivor and modern-day alt-pop disco diva brings this dancefloor number that will have you doing exactly as the title says!

Gossip - Real Power - 22nd March

12 years since their last release Gossip are back led by the original plus-sized icon Beth Ditto and this album is bringing the indie-sleaze rock movement back to the forefront of the music industry and hopefully just in time for festival season bookings. If you have ever been lucky enough to see Gossip live, you know that Beth and the guys give their everything to every performance and every song while also using their platform to bring queer politics to the fore. This album is no different and will translate perfectly from the studio to the stage, especially with the title track “Real Power” which was penned by Beth in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests amid the COVID pandemic when she saw the power of the people first-hand, showing up to protest despite the risk of potentially becoming seriously ill. “Act of God” has a stage at Glasto written all over it with its bass, drums and guitar rifts. Welcome back guys, lets not leave it so long for your next album eh!


Vinyl of the Moment - The way all the great music should be played!

Girls Aloud - What Will the Neighbours Say?

Reissue - 8th March

On the back of a massively successful reunion tour launch and the statement of no new material without Sarah, the Aloud girls bring us a reissue of their 2004 2nd album on vinyl for the first time with a special picture disc. The double platinum album features five of their top 5 singles including one of my overall favourites of theirs “The Show” along with “Jump,” “Love Machine,” “Wake Me Up” and the No.1 single charity single “I’ll Stand By You.” This is a vinyl I will most definitely be using to wake me up before I drop out on you!

Tia Kofi - Read My Lips - 29th March

New music release timing is quintessential. Tia has timed this debut album release perfectly to coincide with her 2nd chance at grabbing a drag race crown in RuPaul Drag Race UK vs The World season 2 coming to air, giving her the spotlight focus for this debut album to do as well commerially as her prior hit single releases with over 3.5million streams incounting on spotify alone. All 11 tracks have the addictive commercial electro dance sound that she has become known for from her collaborations with Little Boots on hit singles like “Outside In” and “Loving me like that,” both of which feature on my personal getting ready playlist.

I am so excited for all the new music, tours and festival dates this year, there really are some massive things coming our way and I hope, as always to be able to bring you the best of it here in my wee column.

Until next time Happy Listening! Kisses G xx

Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or

My Top 5 Rediscovered Tunes - New but not so new version

With the revival of so many tracks from the past via TV, social media and Cinema I am revisiting some of the best New but not-so- new tunes!

Sophie Ellis-Bexter - Murder on the Dancefloor - I remember this the 1st time around (Gawd I’m old!) brought back to popularity thanks to a certain scene in Saltburn. Go Google it if you live under a rock!

Kate Bush - Running Up That Hillthankfully I’m not old enough to remember this 1st time around but I am loving its continued revival due to Stranger Things Season 4.

The Cramps - Goo Goo Muck - That now iconic and TikTockcrazed dance by Jenna Ortega brought this track back to life with over 48 million streams on Spotify alone.

MMMBop 2.0 - Busted x Hanson - a modernisation of a 90’s Pop classic with the addition of Busted guitars and vocals just in time for their tour last year!

Elton John - Hold Me Closer - We have Elton playing fairy godmother to the Gays to thank for getting Britney back into the charts with new material, is this the end of that though? I hope not!

Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.


In 2021, Sporting Pride, the volunteer organisation tasked with getting more members of the LGBTQ+ community active, created a new role of Northern Ireland Liaison Officer to develop Diversity, Equality and Inclusivity (DEI) initiatives across all sports in Northern Ireland.

Since then, Sporting Pride and the NI Liaison Officer has collaborated with many National Governing Bodies (NGBs), including the GAA, LGFA, IFA, IRFU, Rowing Ireland, Athletics Ireland and Squash Ireland, on a number of EDI programmes, which has resulted in the number of Ulster LGBTQ+ inclusive sports clubs increasing from 3 to 10.

In February 2023, Sport NI were invited to Sporting Pride’s AGM in Belfast where they met with Sporting Pride committee members, as well as representatives of some of the LGBTQ+ sports clubs. Among topics discussed were:

• Ways for Sporting Pride to be formally recognised as an official Sport NI partner;

• The need for financial support to help continue with DEI sports programmes specifically targeting LGBTQ+ community members in Northern Ireland.

Unfortunately, since that meeting almost a year ago, there has been little or no communication between Sport NI and Sporting Pride, despite Sporting Pride’s NI Liaison Officer trying to reach out to their Sport NI counterpart a number of times.

including the LGBTQ+ community.

Who is Sporting Pride?

Sporting Pride is the recognised sports association for the LGBTQ+ community in Ireland, whose mission is to inspire the LGBTQ+ community to get active.

In light of Richard Archibald’s (Director of Sport, Sport NI) recent interview with the BBC where he revealed that £1 million in funding has not been spent and therefore returned to the Department of Communities, Sporting Pride urges Sport NI to reach out to Sporting Pride - and other sporting organisations representing minority groups – to find ways for future funding to be spent on around diversity, equality and inclusion initiatives, campaigns and programmes specifically targeting those who have traditionally been excluded from sport,

Working closely with Sport Ireland, 60+ National Governing Bodies (NGBs), 29 Local Sport Partnerships (LSPs), third level institutions and 40 LGBTQ+ sport clubs, Sporting Pride aims to:

• Increase the number of LGBTQ+ people leading active lives; and

• Promote the positive benefits of fitness and exercise to one’s physical and mental health and well-being.

We want to help sporting organisations develop inclusive programmes that will continue breaking down barriers, increase participation rates and making sport in Ireland a safe and welcoming place for the LGBTQ+ community at all levels, whether players, supporters, coaches, officials or volunteers.

For further information, please contact:

Martin Murray, Sporting Pride


T: 07746 097323


COLUMN MARTIN MURRAY GNI MAG [68] Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.
MARRY THE ONE YOU LOVE IN THE HEIGHT OF LUXURY Ten Square Hotel , 10 Donegall Square South, Belfast, Northern Ireland BT1 5JD 028 9024 1001

Big Day | Agnieszka Marsh Photography Image: Dates available for 2023 and 2024 |


Titanic Hotel Belfast, Northern Ireland’s Leading Hotel, and your unique wedding venue in the heart of Belfast. Our historic hotel, located in the former headquarters of Harland & Wolff, provides a stunning backdrop for your special day. From the moment you arrive, you will be immersed in the history and grandeur of the iconic Drawing Offices and Heritage Rooms.

Our expert wedding team will work with you to create a wedding package that reflects your personal style and ensures that every detail is taken care of. With award-winning cuisine, exceptional service, and a one wedding per day policy, Titanic Hotel Belfast is the perfect venue to make your dream wedding a reality. Talk to our skilled wedding team to create a package that truly captures your style and ensures your big day runs flawlessly.

Drawing Office One at Titanic Hotel Belfast is a stunning and unique wedding venue, located in the heart of the hotel’s historic building. The room’s striking architecture, including high ceilings and elegant décor, provides a dramatic backdrop for your ceremony or reception. The abundance of natural light from overhead skylights creates a bright and airy atmosphere.

Drawing Office One can accommodate weddings of up to 220 guests.

The Heritage Rooms at Titanic Hotel Belfast are steeped in history and elegance. These beautifully restored rooms are located on the ground floor of the hotel and offer a unique and intimate setting for your wedding. The Boardroom has a long and storied history, and includes the original safes from Harland & Wolff, high ceilings and long windows; the room captures the light wonderfully. The Boardroom can accommodate weddings from as little as 20 up to 50 guests, and an adjoining door to The Chairman’s Office allows the two rooms to be combined making them ideal for smaller and exclusive celebrations.

Discover an unparalleled luxury experience in the hotel’s Presentation Room, the perfect one-of-

a-kind venue for your dream wedding reception. With a choice of sophisticated settings accommodating up to 60 guests, this breath-taking space is where the renowned Harland and Wolff once presented their detailed plans and designs to esteemed clients. Overlooking the stunning Drawing Office Two, it boasts a spectacular view, making it the ideal choice for an elegant, exclusive celebration. Coupled with the bedrooms in the executive wing, your guests will be treated to a truly opulent experience.

Your special day is not only about the ambiance, but also about the exceptional dining experience. All our wedding packages include a sumptuous 3-course meal, carefully curated by our talented culinary team, featuring locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. To complement the meal, each guest will enjoy a half bottle of house wine, selected to enhance the flavours of the dishes. Our packages also include tea, coffee, and delightful petit fours. Select packages have an indulgent evening buffet that is served up as day moves into night.

The world-renowned Titanic Belfast visitor attraction is just a stone’s throw away, while the towering cranes of Harland & Wolff and the slipways, where the Titanic and Olympic liners were built and launched, are also nearby. Explore the SS Nomadic, the last remaining White Star liner in the world, or pay a visit to HMS Caroline, the last surviving ship from the Battle of Jutland. For whiskey connoisseurs Titanic Distillers at Thompson dock and Pumphouse, the sole whiskey distillery in Belfast, offers daily tours.

For a personalised touch, we also offer a menu tasting for each wedding couple, allowing you to sample and choose the dishes that best suit your tastes and preferences.

At Titanic Hotel Belfast, your wedding celebration is more than just a single day. This extraordinary venue demands to be savoured, and you will want to make the most of every moment with your loved ones. Share a meal, raise a glass of champagne, or enjoy a perfectly brewed coffee in one of our five Heritage Rooms. Private dining is also available, allowing you to seamlessly extend your celebration beyond the wedding day itself.

You will be swept away by the charm and character of Titanic Quarter. From the moment you arrive, you will feel right at home, surrounded by stunning architecture, visitor attractions and some of Belfast’s most famous landmarks. Whether you are here for your dream wedding or an intimate celebration with close friends and family, Titanic Hotel Belfast is the perfect base for exploring our exciting and vibrant city. Get in touch on 028 9508 2000 or email weddings@titanichotelbelfast. com, and visit our website



Love in Every Season...

With luxurious amenities, stunning surroundings, and personalised service, the Four Seasons Hotel & Leisure Club in Monaghan is the perfect choice for your dream wedding day!

Located in the charming town of Monaghan, the Four Seasons Hotel & Leisure Club has been celebrating love and marriage since 1970. This prestigious four-star establishment is renowned for its exceptional service and luxurious amenities, making it the perfect venue for your dream wedding celebration. As a family-run hotel, they are dedicated to providing you and your guests with an unforgetable experience, allowing you to fully immerse yourselves in the charm of Monaghan and Ireland’s Ancient East.

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, the talented chefs will prepare a mouthwatering meal using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. This will be accompanied by fine wine and served in the beautifully refurbished Seasons Suite, which can accommodate parties of all sizes,

guest rooms. All accommodation includes full access to our award-winning Leisure Club and a wholesome full Irish breakfast.

Beyond the stunning aesthetics, the team takes care of the finer details, from exquisite menus crafted by top chefs to impeccable service from dedicated staff. Every aspect of the wedding is carefully coordinated and executed, leaving the couple and their loved ones to simply relax and enjoy the momentous occasion.

The hotel allows the option to move in the night before your wedding with your wedding party. This grants you to start your celebrations as soon as possible and create a sense of anticipation and excitement.

The elegant Sakura Suite serves as the ideal backdrop for your ceremony, with its romantic pastel tones and opulent wall panelling. This versatile space allows you to infuse your own personal touches, making your special day truly unique and memorable.

To ensure a warm Irish welcome for your guests, they will be greeted in the private pre-reception Limewood Suite with refreshing drinks and

from intimate gatherings to grand celebrations of up to 350 guests.

The hotel also boasts stunning grounds with mature and intimate gardens, providing picturesque locations for capturing your precious wedding moments. These gardens also offer the perfect opportunity to bask in the sun’s rays, should the weather be on your side!

To help prolong the celebrations, wedding couples will receive a discounted rate for a selection of comfortable guest rooms. As an added bonus, the wedding couple will also have complimentary access to the Superior Suite and two additional

The team’s dedication and attention to detail have earned them a reputation as one of the leading wedding venues in the industry, with countless happy couples and their guests raving about their experience. With a commitment to excellence and a passion for creating unforgetable memories, the team continues to exceed expectations and set the standard for lavish weddings. Whether it’s a classic and elegant affair or a modern and chic celebration, the team at this venue will go above and beyond to make every couple’s dream wedding a reality. So, if you’re looking for a truly exceptional wedding experience, look no further than this iconic venue and its dedicated team of professionals.

They will not only meet but exceed your expectations, making your special day a truly unforgettable one.

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

Coolshannagh, Co. Monaghan, H18 Y220 | | +353 (0)47 81 888 Contact a member of our dedicated wedding team to arrange your viewing:

OUR BIG DAY Ryan & Ian

NEW WEDDING PACKAGES FROM €45PP Way Carlow. stunning heritage South East. Your Lord Phone. Multi award winning village of Leighlinbridge, NEW WEDDING PACKAGES 2024/2025

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

We met in the Kremlin nightclub in Belfast on 26th August 2001. Both single for some time, we were out for the night with friends who got chatting to each other and subsequently we did the same. Although meeting someone was not on the agenda for either of us, we both felt an instant connection and attraction which ignited the start of our journey together as a couple.

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

On the night we met, we exchanged numbers and started dating instantly. It didn’t take long for our bond to grow from strength to strength with the realisation of so many common interests and we just felt so comfortable with each other. We identified our favourite bars & restaurants, past times, hobbies, and in particular a great love of travel. Before long we commenced living together, enjoying each others company and developing plans for our future. We continued to build a great life as a couple and experienced many highlights that we are so proud of and were able to share together.  Marriage wasn’t really a priority consideration for us, however 21 years after meeting, we felt the time was now right. We were on holiday in our favourite village in Spain in September 2022 when we made the decision to get married. Neither had any intention of proposing however the question “Are we saying we are getting married?” was the output of a general conversation whilst just chilling together. We decided to go for dinner to our favourite restaurant that evening to tease out

further and as a result, agreed it was what we both wanted. From there on, the planning commenced!

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

Given our love of Spain, the initial thoughts were to have a small wedding there, however logistics, finding the right venue and choosing who should and shouldn’t be there proved difficult. As we had been together for so long and this was to be the first same sex wedding for either family, and as we are no spring chickens, we decided to bite the bullet and go all out at home. We narrowed potential venue’s down to 2 and arranged to go and see them meeting with the event co-ordinators at each. Ideally we wanted a summer wedding in 2023, preferably July or August, and on a Saturday. When we visited venue number 1, the only Saturday left that they could offer was Saturday 26th August 2023 which would subsequently be the date that

we met 22 years on. Instantly we agreed that this was a positive sign and therefore decided this was to be the date for the big day. That said, we didn’t opt for that particular venue and instead chose the stunning Hillsborough Castle who could also facilitate that date.

We shared our day with 120 guests and had an absolute blast loving every single moment of it. We had a humanist wedding in the beautiful Throne Room, a drinks reception in the Drawing Room & terrace, and our guests had the pleasure of exploring the remainder of the castle and stunning state rooms at their own leisure. For the main


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

reception, we positioned a marquee on the south lawn where we enjoyed great food, drinks and entertainment including a fabulous live band, an illusionist, show girls and a Vegas themed casino. There really was something for everyone and the night just kept on giving.

What about the food and drink?

We hired Yellow Door as our caterers and they absolutely exceeded our expectations both on the quality of food and the service they provided throughout the day. Drinks were complimentary for all throughout the day and in exchange of payment, donations were made by guests to our chosen mental health charity. Given our love of travel, our cake was themed and designed as a globe of

the world set on some suitcases. Unfortunately our two dogs Motsi and Ernie were not permitted at the venue, so some icing sculptures of them took pride of place on the cake.

Were there any hiccups or did all go to plan?

Our day was absolutely amazing for us and fortunately everything went according to plan with no hiccups at all. The team at Hillsborough Castle were instrumental and had everything totally under control with the finest attention to detail. A fantastic group of people and an absolute pleasure to work with.

Have you or are you going on honeymoon?

Given our love of travel, a honeymoon was an absolute must! We are very fortunate to have travelled far and wide and our honeymoon was no exception. French Polynesia had always been on our bucket list and we felt this was a great excuse to go there. We set off 2 days after the wedding for a 3 week trip, travelling to Hawaii, Tahiti, Bora Bora and Palm Springs in California. What an amazing trip. We experienced different cultures, met some lovely people, had some fabulous food, fun activities and relaxation and just constantly reminisced over our big day which we enjoyed so much.

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


We are fortunate to have so many common interests. Working away from home regularly means we really enjoy our time together whether it is chilling at home, out with our dogs, entertaining or being

Generally we tend to do a lot together given our interests and shared social circle however both like our own time and space and therefore enjoy a degree of independence also.

out with our friends, as well as our weekends and holidays away.

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

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

We are very happy as a couple and never have or plan to have a family together.

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

We had so many fantastic suppliers who contributed to making our day so special. From a piper who greeted guests, Kim Smart and the team at Hillsborough Castle who looked after our every need, Jo Colgan who provided music for the ceremony and the amazing Aria String Quartet who played classical pop tunes throughout the

drinks reception. Our ceremony was conducted by Humanist Celebrant Liz Peel who tailored the ceremony exactly to our liking. Our marquee was supplied and fitted by AR Marquees and dressed by Millies Parlour with beautiful flower and table arrangements. Yellow Door provided the food throughout the day and our cake was provided by Sugar Flower Cake Company. All our stationery from invitations through to seating plans and place cards etc were designed and made by Wellwood Wedding Stationery. Our suits were made by Favourbrook’s London and Bridesmaid dress by Pronovias London. South Africa is our favourite travel destination and as a nod to there, we had our rings designed and made by South African jewellers Browns. For entertainment, we had a first class illusionist Shane Black, the fantastic band The Untouchables, Show girls from Sapphire Entertainment and Casino by Entertainment Ideas. From being at our home early in the morning through to late in the evening, Paul Moane was our incredible photographer who captured the day and all our special moments.

Has anything changed since you said “I Do”?

Yeah, a massive hole in the bank balance!

Celebrate your love for each other with a Humanist ceremony.

Our ceremonies are all about love, not religion, with your story at the centre of everything.

The Humanist Association of Ireland is the only organisation which is legally approved to conduct secular wedding ceremonies in the Republic of Ireland.

Celebrants available nationwide.

BIG DAY RYAN & IAN Lorren: (+353) 0863307410 Ballinlough Village, Castlerea, Co. Roscommon, F45HP08

Millar’s have done it again! REVIEW

Opening late last year Millar’s Grill & Seafood is already proving to be one of the most popular eateries Belfast has to offer. We were invited along to review though first a little info from them __

Established in 2023, Millar’s Grill & Seafood is located at Lanyon Quay on the Waterfront.

Sat facing The Waterfront Hall, a short stroll from the Iconic Belfast City Hall.

With an abundance of Local Produce, From the Land & Sea, Northern Ireland is Spoilt for choice when showcasing quality fresh Seafood & Steaks.

Our Passion for bringing these

to your table led us to open Millar’s Grill & Seafood, with a menu full of inspiration from Home & Across the World.

Relax in our Main Dining Room, holding 70 people, enjoy an excellent selection of Wines, Local Whiskeys, Gins & Beers, and of course, The Food.

Our Private Dining Room can Accommodate up to 40 guests, separated from the rest of the restaurant, with your own Bar Area, this room is perfect for Corporate Events, Parties & Weddings.

Without further ado let’s talk about the evening and our experience!

We (Pauline and I) arrived at 6pm, the restaurant was already filled with diners. Matthew, one of the owners, was there to greet us, he was so friendly and welcoming, while chatting he shared that we have a mutual friend whom he went to college with in Newcastle, England, small world. He kindly took our coats


and escorted us to our table.

While examining the menu a server being super attentive came to take a drinks order. Any other Friday or day for that matter the first thing I’d typically order is wine though unfortunately with a todo list the length of my arm and a car parked outside it was H20.

Having read the menu prior I had a rough idea of what I was going to order - as the name of the restaurant suggests they specialise in Steaks and Seafood so I made a conscious decision as a fish lover that I would stick to that as it’s not often you get to try good seafood.

To start I ordered the Dublin Bay Gambas - aka Prawns, these were absolutely divine, fresh and cooked to perfection, I loved the smokey flavour from the Chorizo, they were cooked and served in a rich oil filled bowl of Chilli and Roasted Garlic - so moreish. For a starter I’d say the portion size was big though i’m not complaining, I ate every bite. The Focaccia bread was also a delight, perfect for spreading the roasted garlic and mopping up the sauce.

Pauline ordered the Buttermilk Chicken, she said it was so nice, super crispy, cooked in Ginger + Soy and served with a lovely lite Salad.

On my next visit I think I’ll try either the Lemon Pepper Squid or Crab & Crayfish Risotto. There are 7 choices in the regular Starter Menu, 4 Vegetarian/Vegan options and a sharing starter, so definitely something for everyone.

For the main event while sticking to my seafood plan I opted for the Monkfish, again I cannot fault the cooking, it was so good, poached in butter and served with a Cashew Curry sauce, Pak Choi and Crispy Noodles. I was elated with my choice, the portion size was perfect especially after a starter and with the intention of a dessert.

Pauline being somewhat of a plain eater ordered the Haddock, this was Beer Battered and served with triple cooked chips and mushy peas. I must divulge that Pauline is Tiny, her face was priceless when she saw the size of the Fish. I knew she would never eat it all, she did however make a good attempt. I had to steal a little bite myself and it was very nice.

When I return I’d like to try either the Seabass or Pan Fried Hake.

I must also add the people seated to the

right of us all ordered Steak, I’m pretty sure it was a Ribeye, it looked incredible and overheard the lady saying it was deliciousso meatlovers you will be well pleased.

On to the pièce de résistance, the pudding, although trying to be good once I saw the magic words ‘Sticky Toffee Pudding’ on the menu the diet went out the window. I am a sucker for sweet things and this is my favourite dessert. The cake was so moist and the salted caramel sauce was so decadent, there was lashings of it and I was in my element. This was served with Honeycomb Ice Cream and was honestly perfect. The dessert alone would entice me back.

Pauline ordered the Baked Alaska, it was such a spectacle and tasted just as good as it looked. Although being pretty full and ready for a sleep I simply had to have a few bites, it was so light, I loved the Italian Meringue and the Ginger & Apple Sponge.

There were 6 dessert choices on the main menu and a few specials though you won’t be surprised to hear that when I next visit I’ll be ordering the Sticky Toffee Pudding again

Those in Belfast or planning to visit the city I cannot recommend Millar’s Grill & Seafood enough, be sure to pop in, asides from their evening menu they also have an Express Lunch and Pre-Theatre Menu

We had such a wonderful evening, thanks to Matthew and Chris, the Chef and Staff for a great evening, we look forward to coming again.

Review by Daniel May

Millar’s Grill & Seafood is situated at: 1D Lanyon Quay, Belfast, BT1 3LG i | 02890490873




The Gourmet Boys

Sometimes, when asked to recommend some of our current favourite Belfast foodie hotspots, our reply is immediately followed by the response, “But where exactly IS that?!” So, just to clear up any confusion, here are four of our favourite “hidden gems”, to which we frequently make return visits. With an old-fashioned address, just in case!

Marcel, at No 4 Belmont Road, East Belfast, serves stunningly good dishes, cocktails & wines in a warm, contemporary venue, featuring a menu with a modern French slant.

The snacks are not to be missed, including the deliciously oozy Gougéres, and the Mushroom Arancini under an avalanche of grated Parmesan. We also loved the Baguette with smoked butter, and the mild, buttery Nocellara olives.

The starters were also delicious; Smoked Haddock & Salmon Fishcake on fennel salad with tartare sauce, Moules Marinière, Chicken Liver Parfait, and a sensational Egg Meurette: runny poached egg on brioche with mushrooms, bacon & a red wine sauce.

Our Main courses featured some wonderful French Bistro staples; the Steak Frites was cooked perfectly pink, and there were nods to Italy and California in the delicious, crispy skinned Seabass Cioppino with squid, mussels and prawns in a lightly spiced tomato sauce, and we also enjoyed our favourite Marcel pasta dish, a creamy, earthy Mushroom Rigatoni. The Marcel Burger was a meaty treat with a beef patty and braised beef smothered with smoked cheese & caramelised onion in a brioche bun.

To finish, the Apple Tart with vanilla ice cream was gorgeously crumbly, the intense Chocolate Delice was decadently moreish, and the Baileys Panna Cotta was a wobbly, boozy delight.

There are also Sunday Roast options available, and a Lunch and Pre Theatre Prix Fixe Deal all night Wednesday & Thursday, 12:00-15:00, & 17:00-18:00 on Fridays & Saturdays, and all day Sunday.

Bank Square Brasserie

At 56-58 Berry Street, Belfast, Bank Square Brasserie’s Head Chef Jonathan and manager Lea have a passion for celebrating local ingredients, food, and wine, and provide a unique dining experience with plenty of options for everyone: Bank Square’s Plant Based menu is probably one of the best in Belfast.

The Salt & Chilli Mock Duck was zingy with lime and chilli, accompanied by Asian slaw and a delicious dressing, and to follow, the Cauliflower Burger was a crispy fried delight in a sesame bun with vegan mayo, Korean dressing, pickled red cabbage and skinny fries.

For fish lovers, the Portavogie Prawns were swimming in a fabulous garlic and caper butter with sourdough to mop up the juices, and the crispy Pan Fried Seabass was perfectly complemented by the flavours of the Mediterranean in the

Tuscan Potatoes with broccoli, salsa verde, tapenade and Parmesan.

With its casual atmosphere, attentive service and excellent European Bistro style menu, Bank Square Brasserie is a brilliant restaurant where you can enjoy high quality food and drink right in the centre of Belfast.


Serving the finest local ingredients, Roam is a terrific restaurant at 6a Callendar Street in Belfast. With beautifully presented, delicious dishes, the menu changes with the seasons.

As always, lunch at Roam is incomplete without starting with the gorgeously moist Stout & Treacle Bread with Whipped Sea Salt Butter. We then enjoyed the Portavogie Langoustines with Tomato, Red Pepper, Lemon & Sourdough, and a bowl of Celeriac Tagliatelle in a delicious creamy broth with Miso Onion & Oyster Mushrooms.

To follow, the Pollock with Mussels, Potato and Smoked Butter, and the Jerusalem Artichoke with Salsify, Pearl Barley and Veg Jus were served with sides of buttery Garlic Crushed Baby Potatoes, & Organic Veg with Herb Dressing. And make sure to leave room for Dessert; we loved the pretty little tart of Roasted Plum and Blackberry Sorbet with Oats, and the cocoa-rich 55% Chocolate with Miso Caramel, Cacao Nibs, Hazelnut and Vanilla. There’s also a fantastic Irish Cheese Plate with three great favourites: Durrus, Young Buck, & Gubbeen.

Roam: attentive but informal, simple but sophisticated. A city centre culinary gem.

Millar’s Grill & Seafood.

Millar’s Grill & Seafood, a terrific new addition to Belfast’s city centre food scene at 1D Lanyon Quay, provides a wonderful way to spend an evening enjoying great food and company.

With subtle lighting enhancing the atmospheric decor, Millar’s main dining room is a perfect fusion of modern and traditional design.

We started with our favourite Signature Cocktails; a frothy, citrusy “Sea Lemon”, like a lemon meringue pie in a glass, “Curiously Fashioned”, smoked and fragrant with cinnamon & fig aromas, and a tangy “Apricot Gimlet”.

We ordered some snacks and starters to share; a fresh Japanese Tuna Tartare with squid ink tuile and creme fraiche wasabi, flaky Monkfish Sausage Rolls with mushroom ketchup, Thai Steamed Mussels in a creamy coconut broth, Tempura Enoki Mushrooms, and a Bread Selection with tapenade and seaweed butter.


The seafood in Millar’s is sensational; the Tuna Steak was perfectly cooked, seared on the outside and moist and pink in the centre, served with Béarnaise Sauce, Fries & Salad, the Seabass was accompanied by Romesco, chicory, toasted almonds & crushed potatoes, the Pan-Fried Cod was moist & flaky with salsify, mussel sauce, parsley oil and crispy mussels, and the Beer Battered Haddock and triple cooked chips was a traditional crowd-pleaser with crunchy golden batter.

To finish, the dessert special of Caramelised Banana Eclair with almond brittle and miso custard was an imaginative take on the flavours associated with banoffee pie, and the generous Cheeseboard was more than enough for our party to share.

The wine list has many excellent bottles to choose from, and is exceptional value, as are the PreTheatre and Express Lunch menus.

Using the very best local produce, Millar’s Lanyon Quay restaurant is a superb showcase of quality local seafood & steaks, with faultless service, a buzzing vibe and delicious dishes.

Follow @thegourmetboys on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok & LinkedIn

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If you have any requests for restaurant recommendations send us a message and we’ll get right back to you.

Bank Square Marcel Millars Roam


Expert warns against hidden ‘secret sugars’ in our diets - how to unlock a healthier lifestyle through 2024

Sports nutrition expert warns against the dangers of ‘secret sugars’ for those looking to eat healthier in 2024 . Expert reveals what secret sugars to look out for - plus other health tips for 2024 to have you feeling your best self.

People are still trying to tackle the xmas buldge. Weeks of over-eating, over-drinking, and sitting back on the sofa are fun for a while many will be looking to get back to a healthier lifestyle. With that in mind, sports nutrition experts, from have offered some super easy tips to implement. These simple tips are small changes that can be made to help improve your health such as avoiding secret sugars in your diet or filling up on bulkier vegetables.

So, since plenty of people are looking to change their lifestyle habits and achieve their New Year’s resolutions to be healthier, an expert from has revealed five tips for easing back into a healthier lifestyle - including the hidden sugars to look out for in your diet!

Top five expert fitness and nutrition tips for easing back into healthy habits:

1. Avoid secret sugars

Sucrose, fructose, and dextrose are all scientific names for different types of sugar, easily missed by the undiscerning consumer. You might also see high-fructose corn syrup, barley malt, and molasses hidden in the ingredients list, which are all just sugars in a different form.

What’s more, natural sugars are presented as being much less unhealthy, but they’re all still just as calorie-dense and potentially harmful. Watch out for products filled with fruit juices and honey which claim to be a healthy option but can have just as many calories in.

2. Walk everywhere

Walking is arguably the simplest and cheapest exercise available to us all. It’s almost entirely free since all you need is a pair of trainers or shoes that you’re comfortable in.

Swapping out short drives to the shops or your daily commute is a great way to sneak exercise into your day without really noticing.

Walking has many benefits to your health: it builds stamina, burns excess calories, and is great for a healthy heart. Experts say that a brisk walking pace is best for your fitness –making this a simple and effective way to feel healthier.

3. Drink less alcohol

It can be difficult to reduce the amount of alcohol we consume, but it’s crucially important if you want to improve your health.

An effective strategy for cutting back on alcohol intake is substituting alcoholic drinks with alcohol-free alternatives. These are not only delicious but also contribute to better overall health, helping to reduce the negative side effects your body feels from alcohol consumption.

4. Fill up on vegetables

Processed foods are dangerous, as it can become easy to consume hundreds of calories in small meals. Vegetables are generally much bulkier and less calorie-dense than other foods, they’re also full of essential fibre, vitamins, and minerals.

Filling up your plate with plenty of vegetables can be an easy way to control your calorie intake without feeling like you’re eating less. It can be hard to improve your diet without feeling hungry, but by bulking up your plate with veg you’ll still feel like your stomach is full.

Sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots, and brussels sprouts are among the most filling and low -

est-calorie vegetables, consider filling up your plate with these.

5. Start slowly with exercise - everything in moderation!

The hardest part of exercising regularly is often not getting started but having the strength to maintain a regular routine. This is often due to aches and pains. To avoid overworking yourself at the beginning heart rate-based workouts can be a great way to ensure that you’re only pushing yourself as hard as you’re ready for.

Start your exercise plan with a frank and honest assessment of your fitness to avoid injuring yourself.

At-home exercise videos are an excellent way to get into fitness in a comfortable and convenient way. There are also many great apps and online services to help guide your fitness journey.

Finally, don’t forget to stretch! Stretching is essential to avoid injury and to reduce the amount of aching you’ll feel in the days after exercise, consider following a stretching tutorial online after every exercise session.

Sources: HDR_2 the-risks-of-drinking-too-much/ heart-matters-magazine/nutrition/cheese Credit




Malmo Eurovison Host Country 2024

What to expect from a visit

Well what can I say Sweden is famous for many, many things but for the LGBTQ community its mainly all about the Eurovision song contest and the fabulous city of Malmo which will once again be the events Host city and be propelled onto our screens globally after winning the show in 2023 with Loren for her 2nd time. ( I am already seeing the fireworks the glitter and amazing stages as I type)

Sweden is recognised internationally as a very safe and welcoming country for the LGBTQ+ community. So if your the kind of couple who love to hold hands and kiss in public your in safe hands. If you are an avid global community Pride follower you will know that Sweden has held the famous Euro Pride no less than three times in the last few decades. Malmo was also joint host city for WorldPride in 2021 with Copenhagen. As a country the Swedes themselves like to say that it has been Gay since 1944 due to its early decriminalisation of homosexuality making it way ahead of many European counterparts.

As I alluded to before Sweden really does embrace the rainbow flag and communities it represents and this is hugely showcased during the countries 20 plus Pride events. The cities of Stockholm, Gothenburg and the fabulous Malmo all host annual Prides. Its true to say that no matter what time of the year you generally travel to this welcoming country a Pride /Rainbow festival event will typically being celebrated in some part of the country.

Unlike many other European cities Sweden does not tend to segregate the LGBTQ community and instead showcases us alongside the city mixing the cultures into the day and night atmosphere. Due to this when looking out accommodation like hotels or even apartments etc I would always look to keep yourself focused in the heart of the city centre areas. Like many European cities you will find plenty of options from cheap hostels to spoilt rotten luxurious options which I often prefer myself lol what can I say I like to feel wealthy even when I am not.

Sweden has endless visitor attractions from an amazing history, unique landscape with 100s of islands, beautiful cities and towns, vibrant traditions and a creative spirit that makes itself known in everything from science, technology and the arts to the country’s ever-evolving culinary scene. The country is a nature lovers paradise and 60% of its land is covered in stunning forests and over 1000,00 lakes captivating many for water-sports adventures.

Malmo is Swedens 3rd largest city and like many

areas of the country life is based around outdoor life, Malmö is full of great shopping, Sodergaten Street is the main shopping street in Central Malmö with a wide range of stores and a must for any shopping connoisseur, architecture, cultural experiences, great food and of course friendly Swedes wanting to make your visit the best it can be.

The best things to do in Malmo range from the medieval to the futuristic. The Old Town of the Swedish coastal city features cobbled squares that are home to open-air bars, restaurants and cafés, as well as historical buildings dating back to the early 14th century.

Malmo is also known for its modern setting, including a twisting skyscraper and an award-winning library. If you are looking for cultural experiences in Malmo, there are dozens of museums dedicated to art, natural history, and the sea.

Malmo Castle was built in 1434, and is one of Sweden’s oldest surviving Renaissance castles. Surrounded by a moat and lush gardens, the restored fortress houses the Malmo City Museum, Science and Maritime House, and the Natural History Museum, among others. There’s also the U3 submarine that was used during the Second World War, which you can explore on your own or by joining a guided tour. Admission to Malmo Castle is free for those younger than 20 years old, making it a great place to visit for families.

Stortorget Square is a good starting point for sightseers in Malmo, as its pedestrian streets are lined with some of the city’s oldest buildings. Built in 1540, an equestrian sculpture of King Karl X Gustav stands in the middle of the square. Stortorget Square is also close to important landmarks like Apoteket Lejone (Sweden’s oldest pharmacy), the Town Hall of Malmo, and Sankt Petri Kyrka (St. Peter’s Church). There are restaurants and cafés nearby, where you can have breakfast before starting your exploration of the city centre.

Ribersborgs Kallbadhus is a wooden bathhouse located at the end of a pier on Ribersborg Beach. Since 1898, it’s where locals enjoy recreational activities all year round. You can swim in the outdoor pools and sunbathe on the beach. The bathhouse has 5 traditional saunas, 1 of which is open to both men and women. Note that swimwear isn’t allowed in the saunas, but you can bring towels if you’re uncomfortable about being nude with strangers.

Little Square (Lilla torg) is at the heart of Malmö’s casual nightlife. Its central location in the city’s old town (Gamla staden), just a few minutes away from Malmö Central Station, makes it easy both to get to the square and to move on to nightclubs and concerts later in the evening.

This cute, cobblestoned square is flanked on all

sides by historical buildings in brick and the region’s traditional half-timber style, as well as some of the city’s most popular terraces. Even if you aren’t visiting in the summer, it may still be worth your while pulling up a chair at one of these terrace spots – they normally boast outdoor heating as a nice way to extend the season.

Étage is a solid choice if you want a booming nightclub experience while on your visit to Malmö. Over the years, this classic nightclub has become an important staple of the Malmö club scene, with its central location at Stortorget square – just a 5 minute walk away from Malmö Central Station and Little Square – making it a convenient destination to round off the night.

Several dance floors featuring different genres mean that this is a nightclub to suit practically every taste. On certain evenings the age limit creeps down to 18, making Étage a suitable spot for younger travellers who want to dance the night away.

Getting to Sweden from the UK or Ireland is pretty easy these days with low -cost flights available from most airports with airlines such as Ryanair, SAS Airlines and British Airways serving many of the different cities in Sweden. The country also has a brilliant rail network which is very fast and efficient. Malmo itself is a very walkable city and so you will really get to see most of it in short 2- 3 day stay. If you are lucky enough to be heading off to attend Eurovision 2024 I won’t lie I am jealous and I am sure the city look stunning and its atmosphere will be amazing so colourful and euphoric . I hope for anyone attending that its an amazing experience but if like me you will be at home having a Eurovision party supporting your country of choice to win I know it will be brilliant night also.

I know for many Sweden would never even enter your head when thinking about a city break destination or even a summer vacation destination but I really do urge you to think about it. I have friends and family who have lived and worked inside the big key cities and even in the outskirts all of whom have loved the country its people and its stunning food.

I might just catch you beside me some day on a plane with ABBA blasting out from my head phones and you can tell me all about how you travelled to the country with the Blue flag with the Yellow cross and how it made you fall effortlessly in love with it and I personally think anyone who does travel to the country will have a lasting fondness for its cities and its people.

Until next time happy travels in 2024.



Just the other day I had a conversation with a guy who, despite having pretty major relationship problems and a long-suffering boyfriend with trust issues, had suggested to his other half that they open up their relationship. At that moment a quote came to mind which goes like this. “Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity!”. And it got me thinking about times in my life when my schlong dong led me astray and that naughty purpled headed warrior and his rampant appetite for peaches and cream caused me to throw all caution and common sense aside and end up making some rather catastrophic mistakes.

Picture the scene. Barcelona, June, 2018. Having left my cheating boyfriend 500km behind me in the sprawling concrete jungle that is Benidorm filled with tattoos, tits, Tequila, theme parks, thugs, and more than a few twats, I found myself alone in a youth hostel sharing a room with 11 other people. At first, I had a fabulous fuckin’ time getting thoroughly shit-faced and singing songs in the basement of the building every other night with a deeply stoned, super sexy, blond-haired, Russian named Alex, or fucking my way through most of the rich shaggable neighbours who lived in grand Gaudi inspired apartments near to the Sagrada Familia whilst I was as high as a Ryanair Boeing 737 packed full of shit faced larger louts on their way to a weekend Faliraki fuck fest on a cocktail of MDMA, Ketamine, Speed, GHB, and Tina. If you’re not sure who Tina is just google her and fisting and all shall be explained!

Yes, ok, I confess I used to dabble in Class A’s.. just a bit! Now, much as I enjoyed losing myself in this crazy Catalonian cock convention I decided after three months of debauchery it was high time I found myself a room to rent. My work as a night-time legal secretary necessitated the need for privacy and I got fed up lugging my heavy massage table, eh I mean typewriter, around the city so I decided to peruse the local immobiiliaria (try saying that after 10 vodkas) or letting agents to you and I, in search of a cheap yet spacious room to rent.

Turns out Barcelona is a lot more expensive than Benidorm when it comes to renting and after several days I was getting nowhere. And so I did what any desperate, broke, stupid, single, gay dude would do and I turned on


Grindr. Within 22 minutes of posting my shirtless photo showing off my toned tits and chiselled torso, I received a message from a charming Italian named Alfonso who told me he had a large room to rent not far from where I was staying. “Great!”, I told him and he sent me his address. I was thrilled but not as happy as he seemed to be the next night when he opened the door to his charming two-bedroom apartment wearing only a pair of Aussie Bum underpants and cradling a bottle of white wine and a tub of ice cream.

“Welcome to the underwear party!”, he cried out and led me by the hand into his bedroom which was the larger of the two rooms and which had a charming little balcony overlooking the streets of Gracia. “Take your clothes off and have some ice cream!”, he said pouring me an extra large glass of crisp, cool, white wine. Not thinking about the weirdness of the scenario and more than happy to relieve myself of my rather sweaty t-shirt I stripped off all of my clothes and breathed in the smell of the warm summer night.

Several glasses, two tokes on a joint, four large scoops of melting caramel ice cream, and a good deal of knob twitching later, my naked, hairy, soon-to-be landlord handed me a handwritten tenancy agreement which I had in my inebriated state managed to bargain up to the total of 600 euros a month to rent his old bedroom complete with my own private balcony and no en suite bathroom. Whilst I can’t quite remember signing it that drunken night I do remember waking up inside him the next morning.

A few days later I moved in and opened my wankatorium for business. At night we drank wine, ate pasta, and on more than one occasion engaged in a spot of mutual masturbation. All of this seemed quite normal to me being rather bohemian and so naturally after a few weeks, we opened up our tenant/landlord relationship and enjoyed many a drug-fuelled midnight threesome and all the while he happily collected his 600 euros each month telling me how excited he was about his forthcoming trip to India.

Of course one can only sustain that sort of lifestyle so long before everything comes crashing back down to the ground and later that year my client list and my bank balance began to dry up. I nervously asked him one night if I could negotiate the rent and he agreed to pay the electricity bill himself for one month. Every little helps as they say. It was at that point I realised I had never actually asked him how much the entire rent on the apartment was and so I did. I was expecting him to say around 1000 euros and so I was shocked to discover the rent was 750. “So you’ve been paying 150 euros a month for your bedroom and I’ve been paying 600?” I exclaimed!

I was boiling with rage but managed to contain myself not wanting to get kicked out onto the street. My landlord, though short and rather flamboyant, was of Sicilian descent and I was sure his family had roots in the mafia. Three months in a youth hostel is enough for one lifetime believe me!

A month later having completely run out of money I was on a Ryanair flight back to the UK. Gone was my bohemian lifestyle in Barcelona and instead, I found myself sleeping on a fold-up bed in my parents’ dining room for four months which was about as much fun as a sandpaper dildo. These days I avoid Grindr and Class A’s and try at all times to think with my head and not my dinkle. He’s caused me far too much trouble over the years! I don’t even like the taste of ice cream anymore but at least I have some tales to tell…

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


Martin Kearney

I recently seen a tweet from a comedienne posted on a LGBTQI+ community page. @calebsaysthings

When gay boys turn 13 years old the universe assigns them one woman working in entertainment. from that point forward their purpose on earth becomes supporting this woman so hard that the force of their love for her could literally kill them.

4:19 AM • Apr 7, 2022

As queer people we usually have a few idols that we look up to. You may be a “Swifty” and adore Taylor Swift or Maybe Lady Gaga is more your vibe and you’re her biggest “little monster”.

I myself have had more than one in my 42 years on this planet. My earliest recollection is as a toddler. My first Goddess being the Princess of power herself She-Ra I adored Adora, Prince Adam’s twin sister, much more than I should as little boys should prefer, He Man… but not me. I pulled my vest down, belted it with one of my mummy’s’ gold belts and pulled up my socks to make them feel more like a knee-high boot. I ran around the house with my She- Ra action figure (NOT A DOLL!) in hand shouting at the top of my lungs “FOR THE HONOUR OF GRAYSKULL I AM SHE-RA”. Why am I telling you this? I’m trying to paint a picture of how, from a young age, I lived and breathed my Goddess. I became a bit of a polygamist when it came to collecting Goddesses from the entertainment industry. One is Sarah Jessica Parker. I’m singling her out from the many I have, fictional and real (Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Jet from Gladiators, Rogue from X-Men, Kimberly the pink Power Ranger, Xena and Gabriel, the girls from friends, Buffy, Ally McBeal, all of the Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, Meredith Grey, her sisters Lexi and Amelia Shephard, along with following the works of Michelle Williams, Neve Campbell, Hayden Panettiere, Emily Blunt, Anne Hathaway and Taraji B Henson to name

just a) because I would say she has been the most consistent presence out of all off these celestial beings.

The story goes … its 1993, the internet isn’t on Belfast’s radar, yet I’ve just turned 11 and we a working-class family get Sky TV installed. By chance I come across a film called ‘Girls just want to have fun’. I watched in awe. No spoilers, but in the first scene SJP is the new girl at school, and she is telling the class about herself. In that second, as the screen closes in on her face, I was obsessed. Now like I said it was the dark ages so it’s not like I could go IMDB and see a list of credits. So, if I Wanted to see more of this glorious woman’s work, I must scale the local Extra-Vision (Video Shop) and check all the cases for her name or image. Nothing. Not a single movie. It wasn’t until I’d seen the top 10 films in the US (a segment between adverts) that I was able to compile a list for future rentals, such as Hocus Pocus, Striking Distance and Ed Wood. Soon more pieces would fit together. My Mummy and Aunt Carol recalled a TV show she was in called ‘A year in the life’. Anyway, you get the picture. To see her in something was largely by luck or coincidence. Even little articles from magazines would be cut out and saved in a little scrap book and I’d be lucky if this happened once a year. It’s not like she was Pamela Anderson or Sharon Stone (who I love by the way). She was however in a movie called ‘Miami Rhapsody’ that was shown on a flight home from Orlando to Belfast, but as a kid it went right over my head but the memory sticks out and that was from a holiday


30 years ago. Then, a few years later, a little show called ‘Sex and the City’ happened, and she soon became a household name. She launched a business that now encompasses perfume, clothing, shoes and a wine empire along with a few not so well critically received movies to boot. She even owns a family home in Donegal and stayed in the Europa hotel once or twice. My friend once saw her get out of an elevator. (I’ve one better, just wait for it.) My obscure actress, who no- one had heard of was being named one of the most influential people in the world. Now try to understand, you can see Beyonce and the likes in concert. You may not be able to get a ticket, but at least there is a better chance of seeing your hero in real life. I never dreamed I’d see Sarah in the flesh. I would, and still do, make “jokes” (some would call threats), about finding her and her house in Donegal. So, when news came, she was coming to the West End you best believe it I was first in a digital line getting tickets. Months passed. The show night finally came. My plan was to watch the show and then go to the stage door to catch a glimpse of this magical being. During one point in the play, she makes a paper airplane and as she threw it at her co-star (and real-life husband Matthew Broderick) it glided to the edge of the stage. When the curtain fell for the intermission, my boyfriend pointed it out. He had to yank my arm back from me trying to do a Hunger Games style dash to the stage to retrieve it. He explained it may be a prop. “No no no! Its past the curtain its mine!”.

I graciously and patiently waited (yea right!) while the usher radioed through to the stage manager to see if it was ok for some psycho (Me) to grab the paper flying machine. I got the go ahead. I ran my hand along the stage (I’ve shared the stage with Sarah Jessica parker is how this will be told to my grandkids), reached up and grabbed my prize like I’d just won a golden goose. I was, as my partner explains, GLOWING. As we left, the alleyway to the stage door was crowded and rammed. I was more than happy to just leave. I had, in my opinion, something much better. I had arts and crafts made by a living legend. My Goddess… Sarah Jessica Parker. What are the chances? It gives a finishing touch to my shrine of her in my living room (No, I’m not kidding). I told you I live and breathe my Goddess.

P.S I even have a She-Ra tattoo.

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



HEReNI is an organisation that supports and works with lesbian and bisexual women. HEReNI has a family group for LGBTQ+ Parent and Carers of children ages 0-25, This family group is split into two smaller groups one is called Start together and is for 0–7-year-olds and the other is Here together which is for 7-25.

My name is Sabrina I work for HERe NI as the early years family support worker, My role as an early years family support worker is to support LGBTQIA+ Parents and Carers with children aged 0-7, my group is called ‘Start Together’ and this is currently funded by Comic Relief. I support these families by offering one to one support and signposting them to the right information. I also run two activity mornings per month in the Belfast area, such as art and craft for the children aged 3-7 and rhyme time for the children aged 0-3. These groups give both children and parents the opportunity to socialise with other same sex families and to show the children that not all families are alike and that their family is special to them.

My group is a friendly and safe space where same

sex families can come together and feel comfortable and confident to talk about any issues and to share experience. For more information on my groups please contact me on

My name is Gráinne and I am the children and young people’s empowerment officer at HERe NI. I work with LGBTQIA+ parents and carers of children aged 7-25 years. Our group is called ‘Here Together’ and is funded by The Community Fund.

The aim of this group is to empower the children to feel confident and comfortable to talk about their family type and to give them a chance to come together with similar families that they may not otherwise meet. I also support the parents and carers by offering one to one support for any issues, signposting to relevant services and the opportunity to have peer support. We meet twice a month, one midweek evening session and one weekend session, there is also a very popular group in the Foyle area which meets at the weekend once a month. I run workshops for the young people including basic first aid, staying safe online and mindfulness and meditation as well as fun outings

to crazy golf and other events.

Another aim of the project is to meet with and share information with other organisations and schools who work with children and young people, to raise awareness of the diverse range of families and to offer training on working with other family types. We can offer “LGBTQIA+ families” training which aims to help organisations to be inclusive to all families, this training is free of charge and can be delivered in person or online.

We host a private Facebook page where we can share information, let parents and carers know about upcoming events and for them to ask questions to gain information from others who may have had similar experiences.

Please request to join the Facebook page and be sure to answer the questions: “HERe NI Family Group”

If you would like some more information about any of the groups mentioned here or to book us in for a free training session for your organisation please contact



Danny Malone

I’m still on cloud nine, feeling absolutely ecstatic and grateful beyond words for winning the prestigious title of British Hairdresser of the Year for Northern Ireland. It’s such an incredible honor, and I can’t thank everyone enough who believed in me and guided me in the right direction. Their unwavering support and encouragement have truly made a difference.

This achievement is a testament to the countless hours of hard work, dedication, and maintaining the right attitude throughout my journey. It’s proof that dreams can come true when you pour your heart and soul into them.

I hope that I can be a positive representative for Northern Ireland and inspire others, just like me. It’s my sincere desire to motivate and

uplift people, showing them that with perseverance and a belief in oneself, anything is possible.

Together, let’s create a ripple effect of inspiration and empowerment, painting a brighter future for Northern Ireland and beyond.

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

Articles inside


pages 98-99


pages 96-98


pages 94-95


pages 92-93

Malmo Eurovison Host Country 2024

pages 91-92


pages 88-89


pages 86-87

Millar’s have done it again! REVIEW

pages 84-86

OUR BIG DAY Ryan & Ian

pages 77-84


pages 74-76


page 73


pages 68-71

Gary Campion

pages 66-68


pages 59-65


pages 57-58


pages 54-55


pages 52-54


pages 50-51


pages 48-49


pages 44-47


pages 42-43

Considering Fostering?

pages 40-41


pages 39-40


pages 36-38


pages 34-36


pages 32-34


pages 30-31


pages 28, 30


pages 26-27

Declan McKENNA

pages 22-25


pages 21-22


pages 16-21


pages 13-15


page 10


pages 9-10

An introduction from our editor...

pages 6, 8
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