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GNI mag Conleth Kane Is the grass really greener on the other side?

Awards GNI MAG AWARDS, we’re all winners, right?

Mary Mac

THE LOCAL HOMOCULTURAL MAGAZINE Issue 24 November / December 2016 £3.95 / €4.95

Matt Alber The album, the tour and remembering Matthew Shepard.

She’s everywhere!

CHRISTMAS Money, Gifts, MARKETS, and getting yourself ready.

New york It’s not ALL JUST sATC

MELANIE C Is this another version of herself?


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GNI mag MANAGING DIRECTOR Tony Day tony@lambpromotions.com DIRECTOR Fred Scott fred@lambpromotions.com OPERATIONS MANAGER Daniel May daniel@lambpromotions.com SPECIAL THANKS TO Martin Kearney / Greg McCaw / Gemma Hutton / Mary Mac / Melanie C / Matt Alber / Conleth Kane / Tom Dingley / Citizens Advice Bureau / Aussiebum / Patrick Hickey / The Real Shaving Co / Nick Pierpoint / Raymond O’Toole / Bullitt Hotel / Eamon McAuley / Gemma & Stacy / Adam / Sabrina / Christopher Megrath / Colin Maxwell / John Man GNI MAG is published by: Lamb Promotions Ltd 145 Holywood Road Belfast, BT4 3BE Telephone | 028 90654314 Website | gnimag.com


All submissions to GNI are made on the basis of permission to publish the submission in GNI and its licensed editions worldwide. In the case of a picture selection, the editor’s decision is final. Any material sent is at the owner’s risk and although every care is taken neither Lamb Promotions or its agents shall be liable for loss or damage. We take great care to make sure all elements of GNI are accurate. However we accept no liabilty for any misprints that appear in this magazine. You should seek professional advice prior to following any advice offered in this publication. Lamb Promotions Ltd 2015


@ gni@lambpromotions.com @GNImag #TeamGNI /gnimag




 Marty takes a look at the best of TV, Music, Movies and Theatre over the next month or so. GREG McCAW
 What’s Christmas like for a middle class gay? GEMMA HUTTON Shes’ back into the GNI fold. Hello again. MARY MAC Scotlands finest tells us which Queens she loves more, UK or International. MELANIE C Talks about her new album and putting on a show fans will love. MATT ALBER The pin-up bear on memories, music and romance. CONLETH KANE Is the grass actually greener? GNI MAG AWARDS It was one hell of a night, roll on next year. #OUTCOME LGBT project reflecting on the people we were and who we grew up to be.

THE CHRISTMAS ISSUE MONEY MONEY MONEY The Citizens Advice Bureau are here with some advice on staying in the black. BEING ‘THE GAY ONE’ We all know the feeling.


GIFT IDEAS We scoured the web so you don’t have to. CHRISTMAS MARKET Some things you didn’t know about the Belfast Christmas Market. OFFICE PARTY TOP 5 TIPS Preparation is key here.


AUSSIE FASHION Look at these lovely undies from down under. MEET THE ARTIST Patrick Hickey tells us what inspires him. GROOMING Beard be gone. Daniel tries out some shaving products. WINTER WOOLS Wrap up warm, there’s a cold one ‘a comin’. FITNESS
 Keeping check during the greedy season. REAL MAN Raymond talks about his routine. HOMES We take a look at kitchen gadgets. FOOD Literally biting the Bullitt. TRAVEL New York, it’s not just SATC. DATING Eamon is back with more answers. GNI MAG WEDDINGS Gemma and Stacy share their big day with us all. HEALTH Diabetes type two is on the increase. COMING OUT Adam tells us his story - watch out granny. LGBT FAMILIES Sabrina comes to terms with her husband coming out.

EDITOR’S letter Summer is but a distant memory to us all now and sausage leg pix are a thing of the past. Halloween sped by us and literally the next day there were Christmas trees and selection boxes in the shops. It was a busy autumn for all of us here at Team GNI MAG with our inaugural GNI MAG AWARDS which took place at the end of October at a red carpet gala awards evening in Belfast City Centre. The evening was a huge success filled with pride and recognition (and copious amounts of alcohol, and a few broken awards - ooops). We can vaguely remember rocking into our hotel rooms in the early hours of the morning. The world around us has changed so much this year, Brexit, terror attacks and then the USA presidential race and outcome, like WT(actual) F??? I think it’s a time to keep a cool head and carry on. We don’t know how any of these things will effect us long term - only time will tell. And then there’s the celebrity death count this year, what’s that all about? At least you have us, GNI MAG, still here and still proud, and thankful. We’ve had a great time putting together this issue. We were so excited to chat with Melanie C and have her on our front cover (I’m old enough to remember when The Spice Girls broke out). Matt Alber took a break from touring in the USA to talk about his life and becoming a Bear pin-up. Conleth Kane is back performing in Belfast this December, he chatted to us about his massive viral hit - The Grass is Greener. With the silly season upon us we also took the chance to offer out some tips, stories, and advice. The Citizens Advice Bureau helped us out with information on keeping in the black this season, our gift guide will give you ideas for those “hard to buy for” friends and relatives, and we also have a few tips for those attending the office party so you don’t make a tit of yourself. Our big fashion feature this month is from the guys at Aussiebum, everyones favourite underwear. In our life & style section this issue we also chat to Sabrina about what it was like when her husband told her he was gay. And for a bitta eye candy local lad Raymond strips off to show us his physique in our Real Man feature. Enjoy

@ gni mag Bucky Isotope @buckyisotope PAUL RYAN: blah blah boring policy stuff TRUMP: Imma fuck that sandwich MIKE PENCE: good one Donald MELANIA: I voted for Hillary

So the world finally went mad, specifically the US, by electing an over-tanned, reality ‘star’ as President after months of debates with, what felt like, a toddler on steroids. Poor Hilary lost out, Bernie will forever be in our hearts but at least we found something to laugh at, even though most of us are currently crying hysterically at whats to come.

ClapbackQween @eleauxel michelle: and you know, the negative effects of gentrification are so significant that we have to question it, do you agree? melania: hello

Kyle Griffin @kylegriffin1 MICHELLE: Hi. MELANIA: Hi. ... MICHELLE: So. You liked my speech, huh? DVSN @willis_cj Wow! A Harvard graduate and Princeton graduate in the same room...........Michelle Obama has both of those degress. Eric Scribner @itsericscribner Due the current emotional state of the U.S. I feel like it would do us all a little good to revisit Hilary Duff ’s

Metamorphosis album. smh @crybabytearsx I cant wait to walk into conversion camp seeing all the other gays Tea Pain @TeaPainUSA Lets think of this election like it’s food. A buncha crackers voted for a cheeto to undo everything accomplished by a brownie. c @riversbyers BERNIE WAS GOING TO GIVE YOU FREE COLLEGE. BERNIE WAS GOING TO LET YOU SMOKE WEED. Y’ALL LET HIM GO. paul rudd @philsadelphia the one that got away by katy perry is about bernie sanders







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Recommended Marty Kearney

LA LA LAND A musical, Ryan Gosling, & Emma Stone - what more could we ask for?

A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS Neil Patrick Harris is the villainous Count Olaf in this 8 part series.

Coming to Netflix in January is Lemony Snickets A Series of Unfortunate Events based on the extremely popular children’s fantasy book series. Also a successful movie in 2004 starring Jim Carey as Count Olaf the main antagonist of the series. Taking over the role as the villainous Count Olaf is fellow Gay and How I Met Your Mother star Neil Patrick Harris. Also staring Supergirl Actress Malina Weissman as our heroine Violet Bauderlaire, along with Joan Cusack and Patrick Warbutton as narrator Lemony Snicket. The 8 part series will follow Violet and her brother Klaus Bauderlaire as they face Grimm as well as extraordinary situations and adventures as they look for justice for their parent’s deaths. If the popularity of the books and success of the movie as anything to go by this will surely be another hit show for the streaming service giant. All 8 episodes are available to stream from 13th of January. Only on Netflix.


Who doesn’t like musicals? Who doesn’t like Emma stone? And who doesn’t like Ryan Gosling? Written and directed by Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) Academy award winner for best picture 2015.Put all four together and you have a romantic musical comedy drama LA LA Land. This love story follows an inspiring actress and jazz player as they meet and fall in love, but as the pressures of fame and success begin to mount will they be able to maintain the love they have for each other but still follow their dreams to stardom. Already award winning at film festivals and Surrounded in Oscar buzz especially Emma Stones performance this could see her with her second Oscar nomination before the age of 30. This is the third collaboration between the two leads who previously played each other’s love interests in Crazy, Stupid, Love and Gangster Squad, so we should expect some dazzling chemistry. Could these two be helmed the next Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire? Also starring J.K Simmons, American Horror Story alumni Finn Wittrock and an appearance by John Legend. LA LA LAND dances its way into theatres 13th January.

EMERALD CITY Dorothy Re-imagined!

Based on the original tales by L. Frank Baum this upcoming fantasy TV show shows us the dark and twisty side to OZ. Starring newcomer Adria Arjona as Dorothy Gale, Vincent D’Onoffio as the wizard and playing Glinda is Joley Richardson. Already ordered for a 10 episode season this will be a modern reimagining of the tales that lead the wizard of oz. The preview trailer was a huge hit at this year’s San Diego comic con. Have your android boxes ready. Premiere date 6th January.

T2: TRAINSPOTTING 2 Twenty years later, same cast, same writer - bring it on!

T2. Nope not Terminator 2 I’m talking about the other T2: Trainspotting 2.We all remember that harrowing scene in Danny Boyle’s 1996 masterpiece Trainspotting when the parents of Ewan McGregor’s character helped him get clean and the vision he had of the dead baby doing a Linda Blair in the Exorcist style 360 degree head turn. It all made us promise never to do drugs. Here we are 20 Years later with the same cast and writer director Danny Boyle. Continuing the story catching up with Renton and his “pals” in the Edinburgh drug scene. Upon viewing the trailer we can all agree with “sickboy”what the fuck has everyone been up to the last 20 years. It still has the same look and feel as the first movie, dirty and grimy and totally realistic in setting all of what made us fall in love with it in the first place. Danny Boyle has directed some of the world’s best films over the years “The Beach” “Slum Dog Millionaire” “28 Days Later” but this will be his first sequel. He was able to round up the original gang but will the audiences follow suit 20 years on? I have no doubt we all will. In theatres 27th January.



A Memoir : Taraji P Henson.

The R&B drama series Empire is the most watched show on American primetime TV. With on average 16 million viewers per week. The character of cookie as already become a pop culture phenomena, The Oscar nominated (Queenie in The curious case of Benjamin button) and Golden Globe Award (Cookie Lyons in Empire) winning actress Taraji P Henson could take sole credit for the shows success. Her breakthrough role came in the 2005 movie “Hustle and Flow” also staring alongside her television co-star Terrance Howard. From their she has had numerous film roles, The karate Kid remake and had a bit part in the Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts rom com Larry Crowne as well as Tyler Perry’s “ I can do bad all by myself ” to name just a few. As well as starring in the television crime drama person of interest.

Available to stream on Netflix. But it wasn’t until the role of Cookie Lyons came along that she became a household name and in 2017 has top billing on her new movie “Hidden Figures”, where she plays the real life role of mathematician Katherine Johnson who was an African American women who helped launched NASAs first successful space missions . Here in her first memoir she speak of the highs and lows of family life in DC. The transition from An Engineering major at college to Hollywood. And the all too real struggles of being a “Black Actress” in Hollywood. With the poise and humour we see on red carpet events and interview shows we are sure to be in for an honest heart-breaking and funny read. A page turner we won’t want to put down but never get to the end either.

Xander Cage returns for a deadly mission to save the day!

Next up sees the return of Vin Diesel to the XXX franchise. The first movie was released back in 2002 and a sequel XXX: State of the union, in 2005 Vin Diesel didn’t return for the second instalment, instead Rapper Ice Cube took on the lead. Now over a decade later we see Xander Cage who was long thought as dead return for deadly mission to save the day. Also marking his third retun to the franchise is the legend

Samuel L Jackson alongside new cast members Toni Collette, The Vampire Diary’s Nina Dobrev, Lesbian icon and orange is the new black star Ruby Rose, Rory McCann who plays Sandor “The Hound” Clegane in HBOS fantasy epic Game of Thrones and are very own UFC fighter Connor McGregor will have a cameo. From viewing the trailer I expect this movie will do exactly what it says on the tin, in an over the top spectacular extravaganza. This popcorn flick with the return of its original hero and new cast additions should kick-start this once forgotten franchise into the money making machine that Hollywood movie executives dream off. In Theatres 20th January


THE FULL MONTY Looking at that picture above we just don’t know where to start!!!! Showing at the Grand Opera House, Belfast is The Full Monty. Based on the 1997 hit film about a group of unemployed steelworkers who form a male striptease act in hopes of making enough money to pay the bills. Adapted into a Broadway musical also having a run on the West - End, then eventually a play in 2013. Winner of the UK Theatre award for best touring production, and nominated for a Laurence Olivier award for best new comedy this touring production stars former Hollyoaks and footballers wives hunk Gary Lucy and also making his return to acting is Coronation Street and Dancing on Ice winner - up Chris Fountain. Featuring hit song “you sexy thing” and “you can leave your hat on”. Book now to avoid disappointment. Mon – 30th Jan- 4th Feb.

NASHVILLE I want to talk about a returning show. Nashville. One bright spring evening in May 2016 I got the news that my 3rd favourite show had been cancelled and not only that, the finale episode ended on a major cliff-hanger. So understandably I was very bummed out. But alas a few weeks later all was all right with the world as the show was resurrected thanks to the power of a #. A petition #BRINGBACKNASHIVELLE was created with over 174,000 signatures in a short period of time. The show was picked up by CMT for a 5th season consisting of 22 episodes. But it’s not all good news Connie Britton star of the show is rumoured to only be appearing in a handful of episodes out of the 22 ordered. Now that leaves fans with many questions like how will they write out the star of the show? Tour? Death? Surely not a re-cast? Will they draw up a new contract and have her appear in all 22? Please God. How do you have Nashville without the queen of country? Time will tell. Also reported not to be returning at all is Will Chase and Aubrey Peeples who played Luke Wheeler and Layla Grant retrospectively. Which is a shame as Layla had some great songs last season her music got better and better. And the writers gave the actress some great material to work with and made the character of Layla Grant grow. On the plus side Hayden Panettiere (I guess they found Juliet’s plane, but more importantly did she win the Oscar?) is back full time appearing in all 22 episodes along with the rest of the regular cast. Nashville returns 5th January


THE GRASS IS GREENER CONLETH RELEASES HIS VIRAL HEARTBREAK HIT. Well what a summer it was for Lurgan lad Conleth Kane. His heart was broken, so what do all tortured singers do? Tell the world about it in a song. This song is so relatable, whether you’ve been dumped, fell out with your bestie, or lost a loved one - it covers all bases. Not one to listen to when you’re hungover and emotional - you’d be in tears. But this is a truely beautiful track, with a stunning video to accompany it. You’ll instantly be able to sing along with it’s moving lyrics, and I bet you’ll have it on repeat. Conleth is performing in the Black Box, Belfast on the 18th December. Get your tickets at blackboxbelfast.com

MARVEL UNIVERSE LIVE Featuring over 25 Marvel characters! Upon writing this I realised “sh*t I don’t have tickets for this”, I stopped what I was doing and purchased 2 with some difficulty. So I imagine by the time you read this the show will be sold out if I am wrong stop what you are doing and get on to Ticketmaster ASAP. This January the SEE Arena will host Marvel Universe Live. A live arena show featuring over 25 Marvel characters. Including Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawk Eye. As well as Spider Man the X-Men and more. We will get to see our favourite super heroes save the world from Super Villains right out of pages of a comic book and the movies such as Loki, The Red Skull, and The Green Goblin. 3 Years in the making with live stunts, state of the art 3D projectors and the largest flying system ever to be used it’s no wonder this spectacular has almost sold out in every city it performed, in south America, Europe and now Belfast this is a must for every comic book nerd. Move over Disney on ice Marvel have took your arena.

THE COMMITMENTS You know yourself that you wont be able to stop singing along. With soul classics “mustang sally”, “try a little tenderness”, and “I heard it from the grapevine” It is safe to say soul is coming back to Belfast in the very popular award winning show, The Commitments. Adapted from Roddy Doyle’s novel of the same name and based on the 1991 hit movie. The Commitments tells the story of a young man who dreams of forming the best soul

band to come out of Dublin. With a cast of colourful, relatable and loveable characters and a soundtrack of over eighteen soul classics including “Knock On Wood” “What Become Of The Broken Hearted” and “River Deep Mountain High” you will sure to be dancing and singing long after you leave the theatre. Playing in the Grand Opera House from 23-28 Jan 2017.


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Netflix you’ve done it again! Amazing cast, great show, and we even get to see Matt Smith’s bum. CHRISTMAS MARKETS

The only place where it seems acceptable to eat reindeer balls and drink giant sized beers.

Christmas for a middle class gay.

Greg McCaw


That time of the year when we finally have valid reasons to be late for work. BUSTED

What happened? They’re back and sounding amazing! NAKED CALENDARS

From hot firemen to those beautiful rowers, the shelves and the web is full of hot naked calendar options. Buy at least two, after all it’s for charity. HOT CHOCOLATE

Winter calls for hot chocolate, lovely and milky. Spoil yerself and throw on cream and mallows.


WTF happened there then? HAT HAIR

Keeping your head warm in the cold or having crap hair - first world problems eh? MONEY

There never seems to be enough at this time of the year, and Janurary is a loooon month. FLIGHT DELAYS

Whether you’re travelling to come home, or getting away from it, prepare to be late.

We approach Christmas with seismic changes on the horizon in our world culture, we have been stricken from the EU Christmas card list and a reality TV star has become President Elect of the greatest super power on earth. Let’s face it the world is in an utter mess but can we just pause for one moment and will someone tell me if I need to buy a British Organic Free-Range Pembrokeshire Bronze Turkey from Marks and Spencer now or do I wait? Will my dinner guests question why I didn’t purchase the silver or gold Turkey even though there is no such product and how do I explain that there isn’t a tiered Turkey standard without sounding like I’m defending my social status, forget real world problems and enter the world of an anxious middle class gay.

3 Parts Tonic Water and 3 thinly sliced rounds of cucumber (Laugh awkwardly). Then your acquaintance greets you half way through the night and says ‘Oh we’ve ran out of cucumber so I’ve just put in a lime, same thing really’ What…’SAME F*******G thing, are you for real?’ and there you have it, the middle glass gay shows his true colours. Secret Santa Anxiety Another thing that really heightens my anxiety – SECRET SANTA, everyone else in the room is quite comfortable buying another inflatable sex toy or buying 60 year old Joan a vibrator because that’s apparently funny as she complains about how flaccid her husband is at every opportunity, the MCG thinks on Secret Santa differently. 1. I have no concept of budget so when someone says ‘Let’ stick to £5.00’ all I can think is ‘I can’t even park my Audi for £5.00 to purchase a Secret Santa.’ 2. How do I keep quiet when someone opens their Jo Malone candle and the rooms says ‘Someone hasn’t stuck to budget’ and I bite back and say ‘I was in House of Fraser and Jo Malone is on sale and really when you break it down it’s only £19.00 per 100 g’ (Candle is 600g) 3. Do these people know what the word ‘artisan’ means or am I going to end up with factory made fudge again.

“I can’t even park my Audi for £5 to purchase a Secret Santa. “

Social Anxiety All of a sudden you go from working tirelessly to keep a busy social life to being in demand and receiving invites to parties from acquaintances that I would have ordinarily done a ‘drop and roll’ from if we bumped into each other in the gluten free isle in Waitrose. ‘Greg is that you?’ as I attempt to explain why I’m trying to squeeze under the shelf of the gluten free, fat free, sugar free brownies. I get social anxiety for the reasons no other human would and reduce my social circle by at least 1o% as a result of my behaviours every year. Last year I was anxious about bringing Hendricks to a social gathering (Middle Class Term for Party) because: 1. People might judge me for not bringing the more financially attainable Gordons. 2. Will they have tonic water, oh I wonder if its Tesco’s own brand, why would anyone buy Tesco own brand. WHY? 3. I wonder if they’ll have cucumber and if I’ll be judged for bringing cucumber. I’ll bring cucumber anyway. 4. I wonder if they’ll have a peeler to thinly slice the cucumber. I better bring that as well. 5. What if they offer to pour me a drink, is it over powering to say ‘I’m sure you know this from the Ocado website but its 2 Parts Hendricks’s Gin,

So when you’re pondering global uncertainty this Christmas because of Brexit, spare a thought for the Middle Class Gay with Christmas Anxiety, who fights a daily battle to get the right delivery slot with Ocado, who is now considering pre-peeling cucumber to place it inside Tupperware so I can avoid an awkward social outburst and is currently deliberating over the appropriate colour of gel pen to write Christmas Cards in.


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CRUSH of the month

Life behind the curtain...

Gemma Hutton So. I have returned to the pages of GNI

We are going to Amsterdam in the morning with

in on all the T since I was last writing. Well, lots has

them all she is hiring me a hooker so she can go

once more. I suppose this first blog should fill you

changed in my life. I am now remarried to woman

who is part mermaid, and delights in nothing more than watching my face when she walks in with

something that we don’t need that cost more than it should. She can do this mainly due to the massive

thumb print on my forehead there is now. I always thought that marriage would dull me if I did it again, but

JOSH BOWMAN LEVEL UP You’ll probably recognise 28 year old hottie Josh Bowman from the globally popular series Revenge or maybe Holby City. He’s made the leap to the big screen however in the gritty British thriller LEVEL UP. He plays a directionless 20 something whose life is turned upside down when his girlfriend is kidnapped and he wakes up locked into a body vest which contains a package that he must deliver. Level Up as available on DVD and Bluray now.

it has quite the opposite affect… especially since

hitting 30. This urban legend of the queer or lesbian couple who sit in and use catch up on demand as foreplay just simply isn’t true for a lot of us.

2017 is also the year we

kick off our plans to make lil’ Fitzhuttons. This is a

new, exciting and terrifying instalment in our lives, but equally something I never

the queens of the queer quarter and Stacy has told shopping…. she has sent me links…. and booking images and I am now genuinely terrified she has

taken our game to some next level shit. I will let

you know how we get on…. and if I get my happy ending. But if she has indeed hired me a hooker, I will have no choice to come back and retaliate

“This urban legend of the queer or lesbian couple who sit in and use catch up on demand as foreplay just simply isn’t true for a lot of us. “

really hear about happening.

with something equally as

disturbing/ * To clarify I will not be going anywhere near a red light lady unless it’s

for directions to the waffle house.*

I suppose this is what is a bit different about my

writing this time. Before

I talked mostly shite about things I had done during

the week, and whilst you can guarantee I will continue

to write about that stuff, I

feel that I wana have more of a voice on other things

that I observe from a queer

Whilst we will be keeping a lot of the details private,

female perspective in our community. We just do

and lows, and things we have had to find out the

community. I guess that’s why I bit Tony’s hand off

I guess it would be good to share some of the highs hard way etc. So aye, this article from me every

issue is gonna be a patchwork quilt of what life really

is like behind the curtain. So many people see me on stage, this heightened version of myself, and take it

verbatim that is who I am off stage. But the strong,

intimidating power haus I am onstage is really just a socially awkward person who can’t handle her drink too well. I get excited at the thought of pj nights in with chicken and a movie. My favourite place

to relax is Waterstones… but my favourite hobby is torturing my wife. We constantly prank and wind each other up until we either can’t speak or won’t speak.

not have enough representation in any aspect of our when he asked me would I come back into the GNI family. Also I have a lot of exciting things coming

up over the next few months and into 2017. I will be transformed into a queer gay bear who performs on

a pirate ship... yes… you read that right. Think Maxi More with tits, women’s conferences, cabaret shows,

queertivities, Sunday service and a few other random gigs. Between Amsterdam and lace front beards, I

already cannot wait to fill you all in on the inevitable disasters that are coming my way.

Check out Gemma’s Facebook for updates on gigs etc.



MEET THE STAR Mary Mac the “ridiculously masculine” drag superstar.

Mary Mac came about almost by chance after “proper acting” gigs dried up for the Scottish superstar. The usually “ridiculously masculine” actor was approached and asked if he’d ever considered drag. A spark was ignited and Mary has never looked back. From preforming in a little studio theatre Above The Stag in London, Mary Mac can now be seen all over the UK, and also has gigs in the Canary Islands (where she now calls home), and even in New York. For fear of falling off so many queens Christmas card lists, Mary tells us she loves working with all her UK queens as they “mostly get each others humour”, but she’s enjoyed working with tons of the Ru Paul queens hosting their shows or judging G-A-Y Porn Idol with them. As silly season is upon us, Mary can be found deep in the madness of Panto (which she’s done for five consecutive years now). This year she’s playing Dame Dolly Do It in Beauty and the Beast at Royal Spa Centre, Leamington Spa. After that 2017 will be filled with lots more cabaret shows and tons of travelling - taking her tartan trail wherever the bagpipes blow.

You can find Mary on Facebook: Mary Mac Twitter/Instagram/Snapchat: @marymacofficial “AND Grindr/Hornet/Scruff: If she’s nearby you”

Photo: Chris Jepson





MEL C Often in the music industry you can have people around you that say, ‘yknow, your fans expect this kind of thing’ and I just thought I have nothing to lose GNIMAG.COM | 23


Version of Me...

Words by CHRIStopher MEGRATH

You may think Brexit and the Rio Olympics were

has certainly raised the bar even further with its

year but you’re disgustingly wrong. 2016 marks the

always had a theme and were written for a specific

some of the biggest talking points and events this

20-year anniversary of one of the biggest and most influential girl bands in history, the Spice Girls.

One of the biggest headlines was when the world

audience in mind, this is her most carefree and relaxed album to date.

“This time I was just looking to make things

found out the group would be reforming, Mel C

that I love. Listening to artists that I’ve listened to

tersweet news that broke the hearts of anyone who

lowed throughout her career. I just wanted to make

and Victoria Beckham being the exception, bitwas forced to spice up their life.

We’re sure Victoria is doing posh things in her

in the past, Massive Attack. Sia is an artist I’ve folan album I would want to buy,” she gushes.

“The big thing for me with this album is I

private life but we know for fact Melanie C is on a

wanted to do something more electronic and I

of her seventh studio album, Version of Me. Al-

because of my voice and my experience, I’m very

warpath to steal the limelight through the release

ready being in the public eye quite a bit due to her absence from the group, Melanie did something not many do, she refused

to use it as a platform for her album. The album speaks for itself as an

impressive, high quality

release. Mel, Sporty Spice if you’re nasty, has already received rave reviews on

what is her most carefree and fun album yet.

“I’m so excited about

this record. It’s being

received so well and when I was making it I felt so

excited because I thought

wanted to approach things differently. I think

much a pop artist, but I wanted to think about

it differently, try and achieve something creative.

I just want everyone to be bouncing for these shows.

I was doing something

Not stick to a formula

that I’ve learnt over the

years of working in pop music.”

The Spice Girls’ iconic

lyrics were primarily ‘I’ll tell you what I want,

what I really, really want’ and ‘Spice up your life’.

What kind of rock would one need to live under to not know this? Version

of Me is extremely well written, managing to

keep an upbeat feel while keeping the classic Mel

quite bold and I was being quite ruthless. Often in

C style of impacting and meaningful lyrics. Even

that say, ‘your fans expect this kind of thing’ and I

stripped back.

the music industry you can have people around you just thought I have nothing to lose, I’m just going

some of Mel’s biggest hits had meaning when

“What I love about music and what I want

to do what I want to do.”

from my listeners is that I want people to identify

the album manages to flawlessly combine multiple

ten from personal experience,” she explains.

The pride is ripe in Mel’s voice and rightly so,

genres of music into what feels like the perfect

with it. I’ve really spoken from my heart, I’ve writ“I find speaking about my issues, my problems


my thoughts and feelings and writing them in my

and it’s getting great reviews, internationally as

be helped and find strength and empowerment

“I think it helped make it a really good record

well so it’s very exciting times.”

Between the giggling like school girls and

compliments, Mel went on to show great affection for the overall sound of Version of Me. Her dis-

cography has only been improving and this album


glowing success. Disclosing her previous albums

lyrics I find it helps me. And if the listener can through that then I’m very happy. Every single

song is so special to me and I have not allowed

anything to go on the record that isn’t up to that standard so all eleven tracks are my favourite.”

There have been speculations some of the songs




on the

album are

directed at

a feud with


Mel B, some-

thing yet to be

confirmed. Her


daughter, Scarlett,

has changed Mel’s

perception of the

heard two of these songs once or twice and

by the second night ‘Something for the Fire’

was the one people were already singing back to me [laughs]. People already connected with it like that, it’s brilliant.”

After several minutes of discussing music

and club atmosphere with Mel discussing her love for EDM, not a joke, it was only

natural her upcoming tour was mentioned. Composing herself from laughing, Mel explained:

“Well this is quite a different sound for

world and uses this

me so it’s going to be a challenge for myself

ration, saying she has

sound like the album but also to kind of pull

as a source of inspi-

a very different view

of the world.

“I’m much more

aware of how my

daughters affected by

things. I am a Madonna

fan and when I was six-

teen she was singing ‘Like

A Virgin’ and that was

and the band to not only get this show to my back catalogue into line with my new

sound but it’s going to be really exciting to

have that.” Her first tour in five years kicks

off this Spring, including all her new music

from the Version of Me album, including all of the old-school favourites such as ‘Turn

to You’. “So yeah, I just want everyone to be bouncing for these shows.”

pretty shocking then, she

was being very provocative

in the 80’s so I don’t think it’s

anything new. I just feel like

children are exposed to a lot

more these days.”

Being one of the most influ-

ential singers in history, natu-

rally the job has its perks. Queue

jumping in Starbucks, great

seats in the cinema, worldwide

recognition and fame and fortune

to name just a few. Mel, however,

has managed to stay humble, happily

and willing to chat off topic and not

simply get another interview over and

done with. Performing live is always a

highlight for any artist.

“I think it’s getting out there and

doing it live, going out and getting the

reaction from the audience. I did some

launch gigs in London a couple of weeks

ago and it was incredible. We did two

nights in a row and people had already


Version of Me is available on iTunes now.




IMAGES | daniel ellyot

When we reached out to Matt Alber about talking to us, we did so with an air of hope, naivety and trepidation. This guy is not your run of the mill singer/songwriter. Born in Kansas, he studied his craft in Missouri before moving to San Francisco to sing in the Grammy award winning all-male choir Chanticleer. Matt’s fourth studio album Wind Sand Stars has received critical acclaim across the globe. We chatted to Matt during his US tour... 28 | GNIMAG.COM

Matt, it’s an honour! Tell us about the tour so far… Back at ya! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. I’m currently in Chicago. My friends and I are a bit stunned by the news of our new Commander in Cheif, but I’m more grateful than ever to have the job of I do. Tonight I get the honor of singing at a benefit for survivors of Cancer and their families. It’ll be a good chance to put some good will back into the world. So, Wind Sand Stars is a beautiful collection. Your effortlessly charming voice sailing over the deep piano notes and orchestral strings. Was this album a personal journey for you? That’s mighty kind of you to say. I’m a sucker

Photo: www.stuartgregoryphotography.com



“I switched to Red Bulls & natural highs this year and I’m looking for a partner who’s on the same wavelength.”

for strings. My friend Nick arranged those and introduced me to The Friction Quartet who just knocked it out of the park. I’m lucky to know such gifted musicians. To answer your question, the album is indeed a bunch of personal melodized moments. (I might have just made up that word.) Handsome Man off your Wind Sand Stars album is a song most gay guys are lucky enough to relate to at some point or another, and the “Joe Wolfe” track is almost a coming out story. Was it a conscious decision to include LGBT content, or did it just come naturally as part of who you are? My boyfriend at the time and I started calling each other Handsome Man on the telephone when I was away on tour. We were probably not the first ones to use this endearment, but it sounded like a good song to me, so I gave it a go (check out the beautiful video for Handsome Man on Youtube). Joe Wolfe was a member of the gay senior citizen chorus I directed in Los Angeles a while back. Joe passed away shortly after I moved north, and he was such a wonderful fellow I wanted folks to meet him. So, I created a track of Joe’s stories about coming out at age 80 and included it on the album. I guess the answer to your question is I don’t know how to write from inside a closet anymore. We’ve obviously done some “Matt Alber stalking”, and came across some beautiful images. How’s it feel being a pin up for our Bear community? Oh gosh. I don’t know if that’s true, but if so, I’m glad sculpted abs aren’t a requirement anymore. My best mate from London sure is doing his part with all of that. When he asked me to pose for meat magazine (www.meatzine. com) I was honored. And I’m glad I waited til age 40 to do it. Photo: www.stuartgregoryphotography.com

Is there a “Handsome Man” in your life at the moment? If not why not (and can we apply)? That position is currently open. I’m not in a rush to change that but I do have a weakness for sober beardy gingers with good manners. I switched to Red Bulls & natural highs this year and I’m looking for a partner who’s on the same wavelength.

released Considering Matthew Shepard. This is an amazing piece of work with some heart wrenching pieces. You weren’t long in San Francisco when Matthew was brutally attacked and murdered – what sort of effect did this have on you? I remember the day Matt was found strung up on that fence in Wyoming. I was horrified and angry and I still am. 18 years later, gay & trans American kids are still being abused & terrorized by the adults charged with their care & protection. This new musical telling of Matt Shepard’s story is already helping to heal some of the wounds I felt that day and is an effort to end new ones. I travelled to Laramie, Wyoming and made this music video to help spread the word about the album: We Tell Each Other Stories ~ from Considering Matthew Shepard : https://youtu.be/lggIrJnf9gE Your music inspires, motivates, uplifts and is in parts essential in “normalizing” being gay to generations both old and young. Would you have a message to a young gay guy or girl finding their way in this world? I hope that’s true, man. Life’s hard enough without an extra battle for a place at table. This year I met some increeible young gay & trans singers at home in Portland, Oregon. They’re called Bridging Voices and they are living breathing revolutuonaries, bravely being themselves. I tell them simply how proud I am to know them, and encourage them to open up to each other and offer their friendship. We’re all in this together.

Matt is planning a European tour from Estonia to London in April/May, and you can track him on Bandsintown (http:// bnds.in/townEF) or sign up at www.mattalber.fanbridge.com to get personal notes from me about that tour. You can find Matts music on iTunes, Google Play Store or at www.mattalber.com/store

You appear on the recently



conleth kane Heart break sent him into a downwards spiral, he picked himself up and penned the proudest work of his career. We ask him about the break up, the aftermath, and whether the grass is greener on the other side.




he Grass is Greener has been a massive viral hit. You obviously Penned it from a very dark place. Who put you there? I know, I never thought in a million years a song I would upload to facebook would achieve almost 100,000 views in a few days. As for who I wrote it about... Oh dear... I knew all of this would resurface around the promotion of this single. The answer is yes, I wrote it during a very emotionally turbulent time. I was so in love with my ex partner and my relationship collapsed down around me like a tonne of bricks, literally within a few hours. I was devasted. This man had really pursued a relationship with me. We had the most beautiful connection and all of his friends were telling me they’ve never seen him this happy. We went on holiday togther and the week we came back he told me he felt I was his ‘life partner’. I really was pinching myself. I had been single for 7 years previous to this because I was solely focused on pushing my career so when he came along, I truly felt my life enhance in a different way as I was nourturing a side to life I had neglected for so long. I loved being his partner. I had forgotten how special it was to have that other person. To cut a long story short, I happen to be walking through Soho and I see him standing outside a gay bar with someone else after he told me he was at a work function. I felt sick. Our relationship was over.

a weird way I felt I had to tell everyone because I had been so public with my feelings for him whilst the relationship was a thing. I deleted the status within hours of posting it, but it somehow got back to him, you can imagine what happened next. It’s a lesson learned. The next person I am in a relationship with will hardly feature on my social media, if not at all. I am not making the same mistakes again.

So you’d seen a future with that guy and feel it was snatched from you, did you do any creepy/mental/offender type payback? Listen, I rarely spoke about the ‘future’. He did. He was incredibly intense from the word ‘go’. I went with it. I fell for it. I loved the feeling he gave me. However, looking back on it, I got into a speeding car with a wreckless driver who convinced me it was ok to not wear a seatbelt. When he pulled those breaks I was the one that went flying through the window. I was the one who got hurt. We spoke briefly on the phone the following day and we detached ourselves on all social media platforms and that was it - officially over. See ya. I was awake for almost 4 days. In my extremely sleep-deprived and upset/angry state I took to facebook to basically tell the world all about it (which probaly wasn’t the smartest move), but you know something - I was so proud of my relationship and was constantly posting pictures of me with my ex. I loved him. I really did, and I genuinely thought he loved me too. In

Heartbreak is terrible. It’s said that it’s easier to hate the person you break up with rather than trying to be their friend, what do you think? You know something, I wouldn’t wish heartache on my worst enemy. It sounds like such a cliche but you actually do feel something physically hurting in your chest. I swear that the heart does break a little. Listen, as much as it took me a long time to get over my ex, I absolutely realise now that as hard as the immediate cut off in contact was at the time, it was probably the best thing for me. I never fell out of love with my ex. My relationship rug was pulled from beneath my feet in seconds. Our split was not mutual or amicable. In an ideal world I would love to have had a friendship after we split, but I genuinely felt he had no respect for me after catching him lying. I felt extremely disposable which was the most dirty feeling. I was a good, solid partner. Do I hate him? Absolutely not. I don’t hate anyone, but the way things ended we could never be friends, which is hurtful considering some of the


Was there revenge sex or a rebound fling? Hahahaha! Erm......... I did take myself to Sitges for 5 days on my own 4 weeks after my split. Next question...

I got into a speeding car with a wreckless driver who convinced me it was ok to not wear a seatbelt. When he pulled those breaks I was the one that went flying through the window.

beautiful moments we shared together. Life can be funny sometimes. The single seems to have been very theraputic, was it a cathartic experience and have peoples reaction to it given you a renewed sense of worth? Oh my god. ‘The Grass Is Greener’ completely saved me. I heard this song in my head in a yoga class in Fulham and I knew, I just knew there was something special about it. I had the piano part recorded a few days later and I went home, sang it into my iphone and uploaded it to my facebook and BANG! 75,000 views, 900 shares later. It’s hilarious because when I watch the video now I laugh because I look like such a MESS! You could see I had lost weight, I was knackered, the break up had definitely taken it’s toll on my appearance and this is when my video decides to fly around the internet. I was messaged by people all over the world who just loved the song. To say I was overwhelmed is an understatement. Radio stations were calling, journalists, I was getting hundreds of new friend requests on Facebook and followers on Twitter and Instagram, all over this song. I hosted and performed at Belfast Pride a week later and the crowd went crazy for the song, and people in the audience were singing it back to me. That was the moment I decided to really invest in it properly and release it as a single. I think the reason the video really exploded was because of the sheer rawness of it. People could see I meant every word I wrote.

You decided to come home to NI to shoot the video for the single, and part of it was shot in a chapel. tell us about that... You know, I decided to do it in a chapel because the song is so much more than me just breaking up with my ex. So many of the people that got in touch about the song said they related to it because it made them think of a loved one who had passed away. The song is essentially about ‘loss’, and looking back at my split, it really was like my partner did die, as the cut off in contact was so severe. So in a way my relationship ending was similar to a ‘death’. I recorded the song at Miloco Studios in London where Adele, Florence and the Machine and Oasis recorded alot of their stuff and when I sang it I tried to think about my grandmothers instead, so when it came to doing the video I wanted to film it in


a place that made me feel close to them. Yes, I wrote the song about my ex partner but it’s about so much more than that now. The finished product is absolutely stunning. When I watched the final edit I have never been prouder of anything I have done in my entire life. I felt so at home doing this in this chapel. This is the chapel I went to with my family frowing up. I have my own relationship with God and I felt extremely welcome there. When you all see it you’ll know he would have been more than happy to have been the host for the evening. The video looks as beautiful as the song is, but you worked with film maker George Clarke on it - who is usually known for his thrillers and horrors. How’d that work? George has made this video everything I wanted, and more. We shared the same vision and St Peters Chapel in Lurgan is such a beautiful setting. Initially we were going do do an outdoor shoot near grass but I didn’t fancy getting frostbite. Lol. When the chapel said ‘yes’ to the filming I screamed! To get this building at

night was amazing. We lined it with candles and it looked magical. He is such a lovely guy and his partner Kenny was there helping too. I suppose with George’s experience with Horror Movies, he really knew how to manage and play with the lightling in the chapel. The atmosphere and feeling caught in the video is exactly what the song required. I feel for the first time ever, I have discovered exactly who I am as an artist - and it’s right here in this video. We completely love the song (and you), what are your hopes for it? Awh shucks. Thanks! Well, I am releasing it on all the major platforms (itunes, Apple Music, Spotify etc) on November 28th and the video will be released onto YouTube that very same day too. If the facebook views transfer into sales I could go to number 1. Ha! Listen, the song speaks for itself now. The finshed article is good enough to chart and go global. The lyrics and melody to this song are extremely relatable so I hope people fall in love with it as much this time round, as they did with the initial facebook video. In years to come it would be a dream to

see an artist like Josh Groban take the song on, and I can sit back and enjoy the royalties. Lol. is the grass greener on the other side? Well, I can only assume if you mean ‘Am I happier being single without my ex?’. You know something, the split was devasting and I wish it could have ended differently. He made a massive impact on me and I think you can see/ hear that in the song. I dealt with this is true Conleth-style. I turned to my work, to my craft, and you know something? It didn’t let me down. As much as this summer was one I would love to forget, it surfaced the best piece of work I have ever produced. He often pops into my head. I hope he’s ok and I would never wish bad upon him, if anything, I hope he’s happy. Everything happens for a reason, and a few months ago I used to ask myself ‘What would you prefer - That none of this mess ever happened and him be back in your life? Or the song?’ I am so glad I can finally say ‘the song’.






Winners The Local Politican of the Year Sponsored by The Rainbow Project NAOMI LONG Nightlife Award Sunday Bingo Show - Union Street LGBT Ally of the Year ALLiance LGBT LGBT Friendly Facilitator Equality Commission The GNI MAG Media Award Gay Blood Ban Investigation - BBC News NI Online Personal Contribution to the LGBT Community Micky Murray Most Influential Local LGBT Person Sponsored by Kremlin John O’Doherty Mosty Stylish Woman of the Year AMy Thompson Best Local Drag Act TRudy scrumptious LGBT Friendly Business of the Year ALLEN & OVERY Peoples Choice Charity Sponsored by Kellys Cellars The Rainbow Project Best Same Sex Wedding venue Sponsored by The Wedding Village The Merchant Hotel


Twenty Sixteen After a year of planning, the GNI MAG AWARDS - Twenty Sixteen took place at the end of October, at a sumptuous red carpet, ticket only event in Belfast City Centre. Guests started arriving just before seven and were offered a glass of bubbly to get their evening started. The pop of the photographers flash was non-stop as attendees posed in their finest suits and dresses for photos. Excitement was in the air as nominees wondered who was going to win the prestigious awards. Almost 40,000 public votes were cast, and tonight was the night that those who’ve made a difference to our local LGBT community here were going to be honoured and recognised. As the GNI MAG team buzzed about in the background sorting out last minute preparations over 200 guests made their way into the room, sat down at their allocated table and tucked into a delicious meal, settling the nerves before the awards ceremony began.

Project do for all of us. Then Jayne from “Rainbow” graced the stage to draw and announce winners of the Rainbow Project raffles. After this the presentations were ready to start... Our hosts for the night Mr Andy West and Miss Trudy Scrumptious were greeted with a massive cheer. The Ceremony began. Whoops and claps were deafening as nominations and winners were announced. By the time the awards were over, we were all ready to party. Fusion Band got the crowds onto the dance floor with their mix of 80’s, 90’s, 00’s, and even the odd country tune thrown in. Then afterwards the afterparty continued at Kremlin.

Once the desserts were all scoffed, Daniel from GNI MAG took to the stage to introduce our Charity Partner; The Rainbow Project. A short video was screened, outlining the important job The Rainbow

Most Stylish Man of the Year Michael Quinn The LGBT Friendly Financial Institution Santander Best LGBT Local Entertainer Gemma Hutton Breakthrough Charity Gender Jam Moment of the Year Andy West The “I Really Wanna Win an Award” Award Lisa Walker


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How LGBT role models are still so important, despite a perceived improvement in equality. WORDS | TOM DINGLEY

July 2017 will mark an anniversary of great importance. It will be 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales. It was not until 1980 for Scotland and 1982 for Northern Ireland. A lot has changed over the last 50 years, more so in recent times with the introduction of civilpartnerships and gay marriage for almost all of the United Kingdom. There is currently a legal challenge to Northern Ireland’s ban on same-sex marriage pending in the judiciary. On paper, it would appear that equality is moving into the positive for all concerned. However, opinion polls and attitudes do not always reflect that. It is true of the saying ‘one bad apple spoils the bunch.’ For example, opinion polls regarding the support of same sex marriage in Northern Ireland, found that out of those who expressed opinion, just 50.5% supported gay marriage. Hardly a majority. What does this tell young people who are growing up gay? Knowing 50% of people do not think you deserve the same rights because of your sexuality puts a dark cloud over the perception of yourself. In 2014 it was reported by the PSNI that hate crimes against the LGBT community had slowly increased year on year since 2007. It is not easy growing up feeling isolated and fearful about coming out, young people may not even want to approach the subject. It is easy – and was for me – to protect yourself by avoiding the issue, or playing a tricky game of hiding your true self from those closest to you. It is a difficult life to lead. This is why such resources like ‘Stonewall,’ ‘RUComingOut’ and my own portrait project, ‘#Outcome,’ are important. Supplying young people with LGBT role models, coming out stories, support and guidance. Personally speaking, I allowed fear to overcome me and hold me back. It was not until a few days before my 24th birthday that I had the courage to come out to my parents. With hindsight, I wish I had done so sooner. I am sure that I could have come out earlier if I’d the same resources available today; which is why, as a photographer, I wanted to start a project, to show others just how good it is being out and proud. Working on #Outcome, a project where I photograph LGBT+ people as they are now, holding their own childhood photograph has shown that there are a wide variety of people who identify as LGBT and there is plenty more room for others to come out and be part of the community. Role models, from all walks of life are vital for others growing up. There was a time when there were no LGBT role models –

or at least out and proud ones. It is good to see that there are now out celebrities, politicians, sportspeople and equality campaigners to help remind us it’s ok to be gay, lesbian, bi, trans or other. Knowing other’s struggles with coming out – or even the anti-climax of some – is a reassurance that coming out is a good thing. I have met people whose instances were not so good, but they were able to make good of their life, choosing the family around them and still grabbing all of life’s oppurtunities. I think, as a community we need to look out for each other and be the person we needed when we were 13, 16, or even 24 years old. In our own little worlds, it is to be complacent about how lucky we are to live in a western world where, generally, it is OK to be out. Others around the world are not so lucky and we fight for equality on behalf of those around the world too. If they can get some joy and reassurance from our work, accessible online, then this is only a good thing. #Outcome is a collection of LGBT people of all ages and successes, also helping to breakdown stereotypes of what an LGBT looks like and can achieve despite some narrow perceptions; because there is no absolute definition. Included in the project is a Lord, Bake Off winner, actresses, writers, dancers, politicians, business professionals, chefs, emergency services, to name but a few. Role models are there to remind us that coming out can be achieved and you can get over that fuzzy, confusing, questioning stage . Role models are there to be a good example that you do not have to fit into certain stereotypes or social norms. Role models are there to remind us, it’s OK to be you.

Twitter / Instagram: @OutcomeLGBT Website: http://alumni.gre.ac.uk/outcome Tom Dingley Photography: http://www. tomdingleyphotography.com/





18th december





2017 *



Tickets available from the venue or online through Ticketmaster and all usual outlets nationwide. Ticketmaster - 0844 277 4455 SSE Arena - 028 9073 9074







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Most people look forward to this festive season but it can be a really stressful time for others – a lot of families feel under immense financial pressure at this time of the year - particularly for those on low wages and who are already finding it hard to make ends meet. Christmas isn’t worth getting into debt for, warns Citizens Advice as the festive shopping season looms. Citizens Advice volunteers see a spike in people seeking their help and advice after Christmas. In Northern Ireland, Citizens Advice are already helping nearly 800 people per month with debt related issues - from to credit cards, store cards, personal loans, mortgage debt and rent arrears to name but a few. Kathy McKenna, Project Manager of the free debt advice service, said: “Some budgets are at breaking point, with January the time when people take stock of their finances. People who have never experienced money worries before are finding their finances increasingly tight as rises in day to day spending like keeping their home warm, getting to work and putting food on the table are sending them over the edge. “Payday loans, credit cards and overdrafts are being used to top up people’s income as wages are static. There are things people can do to get on top of their finances, including making sure they’re getting all of the help available, aren’t paying over the odds for things like gas and electricity, and prioritising their spending to make sure there is money for essentials like rent, energy bills and water. It’s important people don’t wait for debts to mount before they seek help. A few early actions could stave off a future financial meltdown.” It is important that anyone thinking about turning to credit to help pay for Christmas understands the full costs involved and if they can actually afford to pay it back. “With over a month to go, there’s still time to plan and budget for the festive season. Anyone worried about their finances should seek advice before taking on credit to help them avoid starting 2017 in debt.”

TOP TIPS • • •

Spend time shopping around, researching what deals are on offer and getting advice. Always look at the total amount you will have to repay when borrowing money. A shorter repayment period may be better than a slightly

• •

• •

• •

lower Annual Percentage Rate (APR) amount. Never borrow money on the spur of the moment, and think about payment options beforehand. Work out your budget and stick to it so that you can afford the repayments. Be careful about borrowing more money to pay off existing debts. Additional borrowing can seem like a good idea and may well help in the short-term, but can too often lead to more serious longer-term problems. If you are currently in financial difficulty and struggling, contact your local Citizens Advice office, call us on our free phone advice line 0800 028 1881, or chat to an adviser online on our website www.citizensadvice.org.uk/nireland.

Nicola’s Story Nicola is a single mum in her mid-30s with one dependent child. She works part time and rents her home. Before her child was born Nicola had been working full time for a number of years, was reasonably well off and was able to pay all of her bills. However, now on a reduced income Nicola began finding it extremely difficult to pay even the minimum payments. Her debt had increased to £12,000 and included a number of credit cards, a catalogue debt and a personal loan. Nicola answered a text from a fee charging Debt Management Company and entered into a plan to try and pay the debt off. At the time she said she felt desperate and knew of no other option. When she contacted Citizens Advice she was unhappy that most of her small monthly payment was taken up with fees and it was going to take her another 20 years to pay off the debt. Citizens Advice helped Nicola explore all of her options and Nicola decided that she would opt for a Debt Relief Order given that her circumstances were not going to change over the next number of years. Once all the paperwork was collected an adviser completed the online application at our offices. Nicola paid the one off fee of £90 at the post office. For the next 12 months Nicola’s debts are put under a moratorium and she makes no more payments. If her circumstances remain the same she will be debt free in 12 months time.

0800 028 1881 GNIMAG.COM | 43 www.citizensadvice.org.uk/nireland

Struggling with debt? You can talk to us. 0800 028 1881 (free from mobiles) debt.advice@citizensadvice.co.uk www.citizensadvice.org.uk/nireland Visit your local Citizens Advice office



the gay one at christmas WORDS | JASON OWENS

Christmas is great, right? That’s what we’ve been told since we were able to understand Santa, or even the Nativity. Christmas is the time when we think about people, everybody in fact, people we see all the time, people we’ve lost touch with, and people who are no longer with us. Christmas can feel like a hugely loving and supportive time for most of us, but unfortunately for lots of us it can be a time of emptiness and loneliness. This isn’t going to turn into a sermon telling you to look around you and notice people who are struggling - you already know you should do that. Instead I’m going to talk about being the “gay one” at Christmas. Thankfully we’ve come a long long way, but lets face it, it’s always there... The Work Christmas Party The pressure is on. You’re out and you’re confident in who you are. But, and you know this; all your colleagues expect you to rock up looking like you’ve just stepped off the runway. Gays have style right? We know how to dress, we’re on the cusp of fashion and style - apparently. So slowly as the day of the party arrives, you’ve told yourself that you’re not going to worry about it, then by about 11am blind panic sets in as you worry that what you’ve ironed and left out the night before just won’t cut it. Instead of work, you sit at your desk scouring the webpages of your favourite high street fashion retailers, hoping that there’s something you can nip out in your lunch hour and grab. Just as you’re about to run that marathon mile up high street your boss calls you in for an emergency meeting, stuff needs done urgently before you get home. Finally, hours later, you finish and rush home. You relent and dress in the clothes you’d originally planned. Arriving at the party you feel an air of expectation. The reality is though that either nobody bats an eyelid, or you’re told you’re looking well. Maybe the expectation is all in our heads, but damn you look good! Receiving Gifts We all love to get gifts. But what do people who don’t know us too well fall back on, for their token

gay friend? It seems there are a few options for this. The standards seem to be the “grow your own boyfriend”, a ridiculously tight shirt, or prosecco (that’s what us gays drink, right????). Then some of our distant friends have educated themselves a bit, and think they know about our tribes; twinks, bears, etc. So you get yet another teddy bear, another leather strap, or yet another pair of discounted designer underwear. Start spreading the whispers now, if they feel the need to get you a gift, and don’t really know you, money in a card will do just fine. Christmas Cards This is a personal peeve of mine. And to be fair, it’s a minority issue in my home rather than the norm. For those of you who, like me live with my partner, doesn’t it piss you off when cards arrive to the house from his family, and you’re not acknowledged in it? On occasion this has started fights in our home. You wonder if the person is just plain rude, ignorant to the fact you live there (you know they know you do), or are they just looking to cause a reaction. Maybe I’m being high maintenance, does this happen with straight couples too? In our house we’ve learned to expect this each year, usually from the same people. So those cards go immediately in the bin. Visiting the Family I love being around my family at Christmas, not just my immediate family, but those aunts and uncles that you don’t see from one year to the next. It’s great to catch up with the cousins you ran the streets with when you were growing up, seeing how their own lives are going, watching their own children grow from one year to the next. But, and here it is again. You’re the gay relative, most of your family won’t have an issue with this - well not to your face anyway. But where your siblings may have been encouraged to bring their partner to do the rounds of the family, maybe that invitation wasn’t extended to your other half. “Your granny is from a different time, she wouldn’t understand”, or “Your uncle Dave just doesn’t get how two men can be together”. Unfortunately, at this time, that’s just life. The other side

of the coin is the ones who love having a gay relative. Those ones who want to introduce you to every other gay they know in a hope of introducing you to the man of your dreams. Or the ones who want to show you their new clothes for Christmas day, wanting your style tips to finish of their look. Whatever the case, try to enjoy time with your family. Christmas Dinner This apple doesn’t fall far from the tree of Visiting the Family (above). The first decision if you have a significant other is who’s family you go to (it’s the same for everyone, LGBT or straight). Or do you split up and go it alone? Lets say you go together (remember you’ve pissed off one set of parents), you arrive at the house and the nephews and nieces come running to greet you. This is a great feeling, kids are brilliant, and they’re young enough that they love you for just being you - no conditions. Sitting down in the living room for the pre-dinner bant hopefully you’ll plonk down beside your man, or sit on the arm of the sofa next to him. But maybe you don’t want to make people feel awkward so you’ll stand, or sit beside your sister instead. Dinner is at the table, you’re all having a great time, everybody loves your fella and the criac is ninety. During a joke you grab your man’s hand or put your arm around him. Immediately you notice a slightly uncomfortable look from across the table so you shyly remove said hand or arm from your partner. Dessert was delicious though. All of these situations have happened to me, and do you know what, it doesn’t really bother me... much. It’s made me a stronger person. It helps me to realise that there are a lot of people who love, think about, and care for me. Sure you can’t please everyone all the time - but that’s life. Live your life, be yourself, embrace the good things. We’re gay, so what, the world still turns!

Those that matter don’t mind, and those that mind don’t matter.



GIFT IDEAS It’s great to recieve a gift, but it’s an even better feeling (trust us) to give a gift. Gifts don’t have to be extravagant expensive things, sometimes token gifts are more welcome recieved gifts. Here’s some of the best gifts we could find, from low cost, right the way up...



Pet Rock www.thegiftoasis.com £8.29

X-Men Deadpool Costume www.azcostume.com £327.18


Be a mermaid

Sweetest thing ever

Golden Girls Boxset www.classicmoviestore.co.uk £74.97

Endearing Multicolored Knitted Mermaid Blanket www.trendsgal.com £6.03

Little Bag of Happiness www.notonthehighstreet.com £6.00


What a watch


GIN & TONIC GIFT PACK www.thefoodmarket.com £34.95

BRADLEY CLASSIC www.eone-time.com £299.00

Lindt Chocolate Gift Basket Product ref: 254 www.hampergifts.co.uk £54.99






Captain Fawcett Shaving Cosmetic Set I www.beautyspin.co.uk £81.90

Personalised Song Sound Wave Print www.notonthehighstreet.com £15.00

Taste The Rainbow Bag www.littlemstees.com £16.50



Stress Balls www.findmeagift.co.uk £3.99

Pink & White Unicorn www.papertrophy.com €59.90


Bears with attitude


Star Wars X-Wing Knife Block www.gifts.co.uk £99.99

William Mark Feisty Pets www.amazon.com £21.99




The Belfast Christmas Market The Belfast Christmas market returns to the stunning backdrop of Belfast City Hall on 19th November... This year a wide range of new innovations at the Market will include the addition of 20 new chalets offering even more unique local food and crafts than ever. Dutch pancakes, giant bratwurst from the iconic Schwenkgrile, and Spanish paella will invite visitors to take a culinary trip around the world before relaxing with a warming Gluhwëin or a stein in one of the bars. Come and support our local producers and help us celebrate the finale event of Year of Food and Drink 2016. The Market will open on Saturday 19 November and provide festive treats until Thursday 22 December, plenty of time to get in those last minute presents. For further information and live updates, follow them on Facebook at Belfast Continental Christmas Market and Twitter @ BelfastXmasMark.

THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT THE BELFAST CHRISTMAS MARKET It’s become such a familiar part of the festive landscape in the city we take it for granted, but there are some things you might not know about the Belfast Christmas Market ONE There are 32 different nationalities represented at the Christmas market from as far away as South Africa and of course our closer to home local traders who make up over 30% of the market. This year the market is celebrating the final month of Year of Food and Drink 2016 with the addition of lots of local food producers from across NI TWO Santa’s Grotto is donated every year to the Lord Mayor’s charity of choice so they can raise much need funds. This year that charity is the Children’s Cancer Unit. The Children’s Cancer Unit exists solely to support the work of the Children’s Cancer and Haematology Unit at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children and their families. THREE The vintage Dutch Pofitjes stall which serves up bite size Dutch pancakes, has been in the Visser family since the 1880’s. They have travelled the globe serving up millions


of tiny pancakes with an array of toppings, the most popular one being the traditional Dutch topping of icing sugar and butter, yum. FOUR The first Christmas Market was in the grounds of City Hall in 2004 and consisted of just 20 gazebos. One of the local traders at that market was Suki Tea who used it as their first trading event, they are now recognised across the globe for their delicious tea flavours. FIVE There are over ten thousand screws used to put the Christmas Market together. The construction team who are all local, begin building work off site in March. The actual build onsite takes ten days and a team of over 30 people. SIX The Christmas Market sponsors young businesses through an initiative called Pitch Perfect. Winners receive a free pitch at the market and lots of business mentoring. This year the wining business is the Belfast Beard Company offering beard oils and accessories for the perfectly coiffed beard!! SEVEN Our traders buy their fresh produce from St George’s Market, keeping it in the trading family!

19 NOV - 22 DEC BELFAST CITY HALL OPENS SAT 19 NOV AT 12 NOON Mon - Wed: 10am - 8pm Thurs - Sat: 10am - 10pm Sun: 1pm - 6pm



TOP FIVE TIPS Getting ready for the big office Christmas party. We wait all year for the big office Christmas party. In the days before it you’ll maybe be stressing about what to wear, what about your hair, what if you get drunk and embarass yourself. Here are our top five tips to help you out...


Be like a boy scout - always prepared This may sound ridiculous, but be prepared. Plan for your office party. If you’re like most of us around the festive season and you’re counting your pennies, and if your not lucky enough to have a boss that’s covering the cost of everything, set yourself a budget and remember to hide a few quid in your purse or wallet so you’ve the money for the taxi home .


Is it black tie, suits, or casual?

Be very clear on the dress code well before the day arrives. If there’s any doubt be sure to ask a few different people, if they’re all singing from the same hymn sheet then you’ll know for sure. There’s nothing worse than thinking it’s black tie, turning up in your finest penguin attire just to look around the room and everyone else is in jeans and a jacket!


If it’s wrong there’s no going back Getting an appointment with your regular stylist at this time of the year can be a nightmare so book well in advance. This isn’t the time of the year you want to be experimenting with a new hairdresser - if it goes wrong you’re going to be stuck with it, or there’s always the option to shave it all off and wait for it to grow back.


It’s not just for christmas

Christmas parties are the one time of the year that we seem to think our boss is our friend, and the consumption of alcohol only seems to add to this. We feel the need to tell them how we think the company should be run. Stop. Don’t do it. When you’re sober and back to work on Monday you’ll be hiding behind the photocopier in the hope that they won’t remember - they will!


The party fling It’s not love. You may have been secretly besotted by them all year, and now you’re both relaxed and the sparks seem to be flying. Be careful. The rest of your colleagues are there and the last thing you want is the rumour mill going into overdrive about the two of you. Take it slow and don’t do anything you’ll regret in the morning.









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down under wonders We take a look at the latest range from everyones favourite underwear brand. Once again the folks at AussieBum haven’t failed to give us what we want...




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MEET THE ARTIST What sort of art do you create? I am primarily a painter working in oil paint. Currently my work diverges into two strands that are interlinked - an imaginary, fantastical landscape and the male figure/nude within this imaginative world. Within my work I wish to interrogate the heteronormative visual culture we have become accustomed to. The goal of my paintings is to subvert the norm of the heterosexual male gaze and the objectified female and to depict the male figure as the object of desire. How did you first get into this, was it a journey through different creative industries? I have always had a love for art so it was only natural I followed a creative path. I always felt comfortable painting & drawing and at school I had amazing teachers who really encouraged and nurtured my love of art. As I continued my studies at the Belfast School of Art, this only intensified and I realised early on that life as an artist was for me. What do you enjoy most creating? I love every step. For me, life as an artist is constant. It feels as if I have a thousand odd browser tabs open at any given time - I can never not think about art. From building and stretching my canvases to actually drawing and painting. I quite enjoy the thinking process too: sourcing images to work from and then sketching and jotting down ideas. I am constantly getting inspired, whether it is an idea for a painting or a name for a piece of work. My notes app on my phone is filled with these little ideas.

Web: www.patrickhickeyartist.com Instagram: patrickhickeyartist


PATRICK HICKEY “The goal of my paintings is to subvert the norm of the heterosexual male gaze and the objectified female and to depict the male figure as the object of desire. “



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For a comfortable, clean shave you should follow a three step process, this is what Daniel used...

Step one face scrub £3.99

It’s not all about the beards anymore. Smooth is back! Daniel from Team GNI MAG tried out the range from the Real Shaving co... THE REAL SHAVING CO gave us products from their three step shaving range to try out Preparation and maintenance are important though for me Shaving is key (STEP 2) Not sure if it is just me but ever since I was a teen I have found shaving to be such a chore, over the years I have tried so many products though because I find the experience boring and sore at times I have stuck to the same regimen of shaving once every 7-10 days. The Real Shaving Co have thankfully introduced me to a long awaited and much needed solution to my shaving woes, this world renowned brand have been at the forefront of male grooming from 1953 although I must hold my hands up and admit that this is the first I have used their products. Ok so what’s different and what makes it great – Over 50 years in the making they have combined expertise with modern formulations which gives a professional barbershop experience in your own home, shaving at its simplest all products are free from SLS, SLES, parabens and microbeads

meaning you don’t need to worry about what’s in the bottle and even if you have sensitive skin you will have a great experience The point of shaving is to remove unwanted hair, right? This clever formula is designed to lift your unwanted whiskers from your face, this reduces friction, helps prevent cuts or burns and results in a healthy and nourished complexion and silky smooth skin There are 7 different shaving products available to suit your own preference, Traditional Creams, Gel’s, a sensitive selection and even a Travel size cream for those trips away. Remember to check out the STEP 1 Preparation and the STEP 3 Maintenance products to maximize your experience and ultimately give you younger and firmer looking skin The Real Shaving Co. range is available at Boots, Sainsbury’s and online at www.realshaving.com you can also get more info from their Facebook page, search RealShavingCo Tested by Daniel May




READ IT FIRST ONLINE go like our page. you know you want to!




we would love to see you at our special christmas show! The Christmas shows start on the 17th-24th December and run at 11am, 1pm & 3:30pm Price £12.00 per person, this includes an hour long show, free sweets, a quiz, prizes, full candy making show, and everyone will get a present from Santa. Plus meet Willy Wonka’s cousin! This is a magical show from start to finish as we track Santa’s journey from Lapland to Belfast, then disaster strikes as Santa’s sat nav breaks down and he is left circling City Hall! Can he make it? Can Rudolph guide him with the children’s help? All will be revealed on the day!

Contact us aunt sandras, 60 castlereagh road, belfast, bt5 5fp telephone; 028 9073 2868 email: hello@auntsandras.com

There is no minimum number of people (from 1 to 40) and everyone is welcome! The show is pitched towards 3 years old and right up to the older generations. When booking one to three people please pay in full by card, three plus people £30.00 deposit or pay in full.

To check dates, times or to book telephone 028 9073 2868 check out our great reviews on trip advisor


winter WOOLS wrapping up warm this winter with FynchHatton

Complete look available from Fynch-Hatton Check out www.fynch-hatton.de for stockist details



Complete look available from Fynch-Hatton Check out www.fynch-hatton.de for stockist details



Complete look available from Fynch-Hatton Check out www.fynch-hatton.de for stockist details



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In Ink

Semi Permanent Make Up

By Alexis James


City Council Registered. 255 Woodstock Road, Belfast, BT6 8PQ Tel: 028 9045 5022 | Mob: 07471 479 455 www.prettyininkbelfast.co.uk

PRETTY IN INK BELFAST is run by Alexis James, a fully qualiďŹ ed and insured, semi permanent make-up artist and trainer who has carried out over 7,000 PROCEDURES in the last ten years. Alexis offers a pre-consultation, mineral test and example of what your new eyebrows will look like. PERMANENT MAKE UP PROCEDURES & BEAUTY TREATMENTS INCLUDE: Eyebrows, Lip Liner and Blush, Eyeliner Micropigmentation and Alexis works with cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and also alopecia sufferers - If you have lost your eyebrows or waiting for them to grow back, permanent make up offers a great, natural looking alternative.

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Christmas food and drink tips Here are a few easy to follow tips that could help keep you from over indulging this festive season. Ok ,with Crimbo just around the corner we all need to think about how to avoid the Christmas bulge over the festive season while still enjoying ourselves, let’s face it we all over indulge so why not come to a comprise and give a 2nd thought to that extra helping of Christmas pudding.

Winter is here, and so is the harsh weather. We took to the web to find the best gear for you to use if you’re excercising out doors in the cold and rain...

few boiled eggs. If your involved in the cooking switch up the starters with a healthy soup or salad and reduce the portion size of the desert. Another good tip is to remove sharing plates from the table, is there really any need for extra cocktail sausages and potato crochets? Pile on the Brussel’s instead, keep the door open though it may get drafty lol!

These are my top fitness tips to stay on the right side of the scales this Christmas . Be aware of the Calories in your favorite tipple and make adjustments One of the main reasons for decreased fitness levels over Christmas is excess alcohol, having that extra one while visiting Aunt Sally, the quick one when dropping gifts off at the neighbors, the concoction of drinks at the family party, there is no hiding from it alcohol is always on full flow. My trick is the educated swap, changing mulled wine to regular wine will save you 83 calories per glass and for the spirit lovers swap your regular branded mixer to a calorie free alternative, tastes just as good and so much better for you. Just because its Christmas don’t pig out Usually we snack on fruit, nuts, seeds etc, but not over Christmas. Bring on the cakes, chocolates, mince pies and multiple 3 course meals and because its Christmas we tell ourselves its ok. Take the same view as with alcohol make a few changes to ensure that all this extra food does not destroy your fitness goals. Kick the day off with some fruit, a protein shake or even a

Stock up on the supplements and vitamins We all plan to stick to our exercise regimens though we all know it’s not going to happen with all the extra food and drink knocking about. Also the dreaded cold is a great excuse to stay indoors. Therefore, it’s a no brainer to overcompensate on vitamins just like we are with everything else. Taking a multivitamin in the morning will make all the difference, or adding a key vitamin such as Vitamin B, C, or D (you can check the pros and coms online). Another great product is Red Krill Oil; this will help your head after all the booze and give your body the Omega 3 is can’t produce So that’s my 3 tips, all in all no point beating ourselves up, it’s inevitable and expected to overdo it over Christmas. Just be conscious of what you are putting in, then you shouldn’t be too surprised with the numbers on the scales come the 2nd January. If all fails get the exercise DVD on that your mum got as a present, or join the local gym as your new year’s resolution, but most of all remember to enjoy some quality time with your family and friends.

Montane Power Dry Glove £22.00 www.cotswoldoutdoor.com

Muc-Off Luxury Warm Up Cream 150ml £15 www.wiggle.co.uk

Bioglan Red krill oil extra strength Holland & barrett £21.99 Bioglan Red Krill Oil Extra Strength is a more advanced, better absorbed Omega-3. It is super small, easy to swallow and has no fishy aftertaste guaranteed. Each capsule of Bioglan Red Krill Oil Extra Strentgh has 500mg pure krill oil. The EPA and DHA within Krill Oil can help support: Heart Health, Brain Health, and Eye Health. The unique composition of krill oil means it can contribute to better absorption and utilization of EPA and DHA in the body’s cells



NAME: Raymond o’toole AGE: 31 OCCUPATION: Primary school teacher

HEIGHT: 5’ 9” WEIGHT: 63kg TRIMMED OR NATURAL? I’m not averse to natural but I’m a trimmed fan. BOXERS/BRIEFS? Boxers all the way. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE GROOMING PRODUCT? Teeth whitener - the first thing I notice in a guy is his teeth.... so I like to have good teeth too! WHAT IS YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE? Well I don’t tan naturally so a cheeky sun bed and a lil bit of Quick Tan does wonders. WHAT ONE PRODUCT COULD YOU NOT LIVE WITHOUT? Colgate Optic White Toothpaste - I am obsessed with visibly clean teeth.

& Fitness is at the centre of my daily routine. I train 6 days a week, 3 times a day in Just Active gym in Larne. I’ve always wanted to be fit and in shape. I am now competing and most recently won Mr Body Transformation at the NIFMA competition in Dublin in October.



It’s Christmas, you’ll be spending a lot more time in the kitchen. SHARPENER PEELER AND SLICER www.ECRATER.CO.UK £3.20

Make cooking the turkey and all the trimings a bit more bearable this year with our top five kitchen gadgets. It’s the festive season so we thought we’d look at the kitchen in this issue. The kitchen gets a bashing over Christmas, not just from cooking the biggest meal of the year, but from the parties (we know it’s where everyone will end up) and then there’s the morning after too. Staggering to the kitchen to find a cure for your hangover.


All details and prices correct as of 08/11/16


We’ve trawled the internet to find the finest must have kitchen gadgets for you. Things that will make your life better and easier, things you’ll show off to your mates when they visit over the silly season. So here we go.... Picture the scene, you’ve spent the day out Christmas shopping, you’ve landed home laden with bags and you need that quick pick me up. It’s too early for a beer, besides which you’re driving later. You reach for the mug, yes, a nice strong cup of coffee will do the trick. And here’s where I introduce you to something amazing, something you’ll wonder how you ever done without it: the Aerobie AeroPress Coffee Maker (see images below). This has to be one of the

simplest, easy to use, magnificent inventions ever! Even without me telling you how it works you’ve already got it figured out, and probably wondered why you haven’t gotten one before now. Gone will be the days when you’ve to make a full percolator full of coffee and make yourself ill trying to drink it all (goodness forbid that coffee would get poured down the sink), and you can chuck out that jar of instant! Instead you’ll grab your Aerobie AeroPress, slip a filter in the cap and pop it on the bottom of the mixing chamber, and add your coffee and boiling water,. Give it about 15 seconds before sliding in the plunger and push down; the air pressure pushes the water through the coffee beans and down directly into your cup. Instantly giving you the perfect cup of percolated coffee with no waste. To top it all of it’s ridiculously easy to clean! You can grab one of these for between £25 to £29 online. Check out aeropress.co.uk for more information and details on stockists.

Oxo good grips poultry lifter www.Lakeland.co.uk £9.99



Taylor & Clay We try out the Taylor & Clay restaurant at Belfast’s newest hot spot, the Bullitt Hotel.

Do you ever think when the weekend is drawing to an end, “oh no boring old Monday is here again”? I know I usually do, though not today, instead I was going out for a nice catch up and a wee chin wag over lunch, walking into Taylor & Clay restaurant in the Bullitt Hotel in Belfast I was amazed at how beautiful and spacious it was. The exterior was very deceiving, as the true scale is only apparent from within, the décor was wonderful, dark walls with amber lighting made you feel so relaxed, the seating was quirky and dining area was so unique, the table tops were hand carved with everyone slightly different. When greeted by the welcoming staff I knew I was going to have a lovely time, and definitely no sign of the usual Monday blues. We were escorted to our table by the waitress who was really bubbly, out going and had fantastic knowledge of the menu, explaining to us all about the different kinds of foods and sauces to accompany each meal. The menu was well thought out will something to suit all from the selection of hot plates, cold plates, nibbles, flat breads, salads, side dishes and the all-important Char & Smoke mains. I opted to have the beef shin fritters to start which was served with roasted caramelised onions and a cauliflower tahini sauce, I was not disappointed it was exquisite and just the right size for a starter, my main course was a modern take on chicken and chips, Irish Cornfed, which came with pit fired veg, my side was parmesan fries, complemented with an onion cream, yet again it did not disappoint, the food was exceptional. We all have a sweet tooth so off course I had to have desert, sea salted caramel cheese cake. ONE WORD WOW! I shall definitely be attempting to recreate it myself. My guest was as equally as satisfied with their choices, hot pickled sausage to start, Irish Wagyu Beef for the main and bramley apple tart with vanilla ice cream for dessert. One of the highlights was getting to see your food being prepared on the wood burning Asador Grill, it really added to the whole experience. After dinner we relaxed outside with a cup of tea, yet again plenty of space and great atmosphere for all to enjoy. From comfy seats to an outside bar, very impressive, my overall experience was perfect from start to finish. If you fancy something different and new I would highly recommend Taylor & Clay restaurant in the Bullitt Hotel. It’s a perfect location and an ideal setting for meeting that someone special or a group of friends. I can comfortably say the restaurant will impress in every aspect. The cost was middle of the road with your average 3 course Lunch coming to around £25pp




Travel__ NEW YORK


Travel__ NEW YORK

NEW YORK NEW YORK I have set myself a challenge - to

the right places, you’re guaranteed to find a weirdo

and not mention that TV show. You know, the one

and I went to what looked like a very wholesome

write an article about New York in a gay magazine

about those four women and evem more first world problems. Ready, steady, go...

What’s left to say about eh world’s most famous city? Images of skyscrapers, yellow taxis and that big green statue have been printed on everything from coffee

cups to baby bibs. I can’t help but crnge when I see a canvas print of teh Empire State Building in the

living room of someone who hasn’t ventured past the Spar up the road.

That’s because New York is so much more than the

Holywood Blockbusters would have us believe. All the stereotypes are there, bold as brass, but it’s only when you peer below the surface that you find the

weird and wonderful. New York is the true melting pot of America. People of every colour, shape and

temperament layered on top of one another means that whatever your taste or interest, if you look in

just like you. On one visit, my American friends

Pacman. Just accept the fact that your airline seat may feel a little snugger on teh journey home.

and normal bar. You know, bar stools, a pool table

Once you’ve filled up with pastrami on rye, maybe

in a laytex suit crawled through the bar; being led

of Manhattan, Brooklyn is pretty much the yipster

and neon Budweiser sign. That was until a man

on a dogs lead lead by a bearded man in a wig. I

exclaimed to my american friends, “A man on a dogs lead” They were taken aback, “A lead? Weird. You

mean a leash, right? Your accent is so funny.” They

were more interested in my dialect. They see weirder things on a daily basis. You could probably find an

example of anything you’ve ever heard of somewhere in New York. However, too much choice means

you have to fight the urge to wander towards the

warm glow of the usual fast-food suspects when your

it’s time to feed your curiosity and venture outsid capital of the world. With a guitar-playing

douchebag decorating every street corner, you could very easily be put off, but try and befriend some

locals and you might just get an invitation to a trippy warehouse party. Whilst in New York I ended up living with 11 other people in an artist collective. It was the realisation of all my Andy Warhol wet

dreams. But after three months I looked a litlle more like a Jackson Pollock painting.

stomach starts rumbling. Try that grotty but busy

If you’re planning a trip to New York, and everyone

usually a good tip for finding great food. Indulgent

famous tourist traps. You’ll be rewarded with some

deli on the corner, because following the crowd is

food is unquestionably America’s forte. But if you’re

not careful you can find yourself chomping your way round the New York grid system like a gluttonous

should at one stge in thier life, venture outside teh amazing and unique experiences. It’s easy to find

something or someone, to satisfy your deepest desires. But, that’s such a Samantha thing to say... SHITE!


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Fuel consumption in mpg (l/100km) and CO2 emissions for 500 range: Urban 49.6 (5.7) - 64.2 (4.4) Extra Urban 65.7 (4.3) - 78.5 (3.6), and Combined 58.9 (4.8) - 72.4 (3.9). CO2 emissions 113 - 90g/km. -\LSJVUZ\TW[PVUHUK*6Ã&#x201E;N\YLZIHZLKVUZ[HUKHYK,<[LZ[ZMVYJVTWHYH[P]L W\YWVZLZ HUK TH` UV[ YLÃ&#x2026;LJ[ YLHS KYP]PUN YLZ\S[Z. -PH[   767 6Ñ&#x153;LY IHZLK VU H  TVU[O7LYZVUHS*VU[YHJ[/PYLHNYLLTLU[VMVULWH`TLU[VMÂ&#x2030; WS\ZWH`TLU[ZVMÂ&#x2030; WLYTVU[O YLZ[YPJ[LK[VUVTVYL[OHUTPSLZWLYHUU\T6Ñ&#x153;LYUV[H]HPSHISLPUJVUQ\UJ[PVU^P[OHU`V[OLYVÑ&#x153;LYZ 6Ñ&#x153;LYTH`IL^P[OKYH^UH[HU`[PTL6Ñ&#x153;LYZ\IQLJ[[VZ[H[\ZHUKV]LY`LHYZVMHNL-PUHUJLWYV]PKLK I`-PH[-PUHUJPHS:LY]PJLZ76)V_:SV\NO:39>


FESTIVE ROMANCE FACTS Here are a few festive facts for you, some of which you may wish you didn’t know (mistletoe - yuck!)

ENGAGED If you’re thinking of popping the question during the festive season then you’re not alone. Statistically Christmas Eve is the most popular day of the year to propose (even beating Valentine’s Day), with over 40% of all proposals happening over the Christmas period.

MISTLETOE While you’re standing under the mistletoe this year, smootching on the love of your life, bear this in mind. Mistletoe (Viscum album) is from the Anglo-Saxon word misteltan, which means “little dung twig” because the plant spreads though bird droppings. Nice eh?

TRUE LOVE Remeber that festive favourite tue “Twelve Days of Christmas”? Well the “true love” mentioned in the song does not refer to a romantic couple, but infact the Catholic Church’s code for God. The person who receives the gifts represents someone who has accepted that code. For example, the “partridge in a pear tree” represents Christ. The “two turtledoves” represent the Old and New Testaments. Everyday’s a school day!

BREAKING UP Don’t be getting too comfortable because according to data analyzed from Facebook posts, two weeks before Christmas is one of the two most popular times for couples to break up. However, Christmas Day is the least favorite day for breakups. So if you make it to Christmas Day you’ll probably be ok lol.

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

Dear Eamon, Christmas party invites have been sent out, and i’ve about three parties to go to. Thing is, for the last couple of years I’ve been going alone, and this year looks to be the same.

of the time. What should I do, I don’t want to

However, I’ve been meeting a f**k buddie for

push him away?

a while now and I’ve been thinking of asking hime to come along with me as a kind of

Paul, 27, Dublin

psuedo-date. Is this a slippery slope to disaster? Edward, 32, Belfast Hi Edward, Unfortunately Christmas is a time where people

can feel alone especially at parties where there are

lots of couples enjoying the Christmas spirit. Firstly, you need to speak to you “f**k buddy” to see where he stands in relation to dating. It would seem you

have developed an emotional attachment. He may not feel the same. If he doesn’t have any emotion

towards you, protect yourself! You have two options in this case, continue with your arrangement

but protect yourself emotionally or end it. If he

Dear Paul I’m happy to hear you are deeply in love. However

a lot of the time one person falls deeply in love

quicker than the other. The other may need more

time to determine their actual feelings. If he is using words such as smothering or suffocating this may be a sign that you need to take a step back to give him the space/time he requires otherwise it may push

him away. It is unhealthy to be with someone all of

the time and they say absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Good luck Eamon.

is in agreement then I suggest you have a date

beforehand to see how you get on in each other’s company out of the bedroom and mixing with

others. Either way, alone or not alone I’m sure you will still have fun at the Christmas parties. Happy Christmas Eamon Eamon, you master of love, I’m so ridiculously deeply in love, which is great. However, I feel he’s starting to pull away a bit. He keeps throwing out the words smothering and suffocating. But i’ve never felt like this before so I just want to be with him all





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GNI MAG Weddings

Stacy & Gemma met on Gaydar Girls many moons ago. After spending time finding themselves they found each other again.

So Tell us how you met, were you single for a long time before you started dating? Stacy: I hadn’t been single long, as I wasn’t previously “out” as a lesbian, but was curious. I had joined the dating site “Gaydar Girls”. Gemma had been the one to initiate the conversation. Originally it was her striking eyes and winning smile that had attracted me to her, but I will never forget the first message she sent me “Get that sexy ass down to this plus size models hoouse now!” (Gemma modelled for Evans at the time). I mean what girl could resist that? It’s as romantic as Renee Zellweger’s “you had me at hello” in the movie Jerry Maguire. Gemma: Well we initially met on Gaydar Girls 10 years ago, and consequently she beat me in a wet tshirt competition.

We were both very young and only out, so it was all a bit Hollyoaks messy, and we parted ways for a number of years while we sorted ourselves out. I had only been out a matter of months when we met, so we were both… erm… liberated and exploring our way through this new way of life. How long after you started dating did it take to pop the question, was it an immediate yes? Stacy: Although Gemma jokes that she proposed one night when she was blocked 7 months into our relationship without producing a ring or getting down on one knee, because obviously she had changed her relationship status on Facebook, so it was a done deal. The real story is that she proposed after 6 months. She had just moved in with me and I was helping her sort through her stuff. She



However the best part of the meal had to be the best woman’s speech sang in the tune of the “Golden Girls” 84 | GNIMAG.COM

GNI MAG WEDDINGS__ came across her grandmother’s jewellery box, which contained her engagement ring and decided that this was the perfect time to get down on one knee. The ring was a perfect fit… just like Cinderella’s glass slipper, it was obviously meant to be. So the answer had to be an immediate yes.. Gemma: We were dating for about a year before I got drunk one night and told her to look at Facebook and I had changed our status to engaged… I was a romantic bitch from the start. Tell us about your wedding day…. Stacy: The weddin,. although it was an amazing day with all my friends and family. It wasn’t without a reddner or two. There was me with my embarrassment over the Twisted Sisters lyrics, Sex Toys, Blow Jobs and Clitoris are not words I wanted my nan to hear, luckily my grandad saw the funny side and apparently so did my nan as she rang me the next day to ask me would I buy her their album. Two of my friends also walked away blushing when they stole a mobility scooter and drove it round the dancefloor whilst voguing only to have a minor hiccup… I don’t know which was shattered more their pride or the window.


Gemma: Our wedding day was awesome… I knew she was the woman for me when she agreed to let us walk up the aisle to the piano guys version of Jurassic Park. Our theme was Dr. Who and Little mermaid our two fave things, so the day was filled with tardis keys, dingle hoppers, and the twisted sisters who performed for us whilst dressed as the Drs companions and mermaids. What about the food and drink…. Stacy: Growing up in the country… we farmers love our spuds and gravy. So we went for a traditional turkey, ham and stuffing dinner. Everyone seemed to enjoy it.. I mean what’s not to love about meat and 2 veg.. The drink… well what can I say the prosecco was drunk dry and the bartenders didn’t know what hit them what with all the gays and the parents on a rare unsupervised night out. However the best part of the meal had to be the best woman’s speech sang in the tune of the “Golden Girls” (Gemma’s favourite programme) and also of course being able to sit at the top table on white thrones like the tv show “Game Of Thrones” it suited me perfectly because everyone always calls me a princess anyway… Gemma: We went for a traditional 3 course sit down meal, and then a huge buffet in the evening. We had candy



carts, Ferris wheels and jars upon jars of everyone’s favourite sweets. We were too busy schmoozing to even get so much as a vol au vent. Gutted. *Brides and grooms… eat a big breakfast you will either be too busy or too nervous to eat the rest of the day. Did you have a honeymoon? Stacy: Our two friends Peter and Lee sent us on honeymoon to Alicante and by coincidence we happened to be on the plane with Roxy Tumbledryer, a friend of ours and local Belfast drag queen. Who we ended up going on a night out with. Let’s just say the wine was flowing like water that night and there were more cocktails consumed than Tom Cruise could ever make. Thank goodness we ended up on the right train back to the resort that night. Gemma: Our best men Peter and Lee booked us to go to Alicante for a week for our honeymoon. It was fantastic just getting away to relax together. We used the time to rest and enjoy some quiet time to ourselves. Are you into the same things? What interests do you have that are different?


Stacy: If I had to describe my clothing style I’d say Vintage Vixen and my main interests are shopping, documentaries and vampires. I love the Ariel and the ocean… So basically I am 99% sure that I actually am a proper mermaid. I also have a Unicorn who makes me do things, however Gemma’s fashion is more Modern Muse and I am convinced she is the lovechild of Michelle Visage and Jack Black. But I guess, like the Paula Abdul song says “Opposites Attract” Gemma: For the most part, we love cooking, going out to good restaurants, films, our dogs, the paranormal and are both involved in performance. Stacy wouldn’t be a big drinker, so we would have very different ways of having a ‘night out’. She gets addicted to crappy vampire/werewolf/hybrid/alien rubbish shows with 78 episodes a series, so I spend a lot of time in the bedroom plotting her demise. Do you do everything together or do you like to keep independent? Stacy: Gemma is a social butterfly and is always out and about at different events, however I am a home bird and love relaxing in my pjs with my pooches. So we

are fairly independent. although we still obviously enjoy doing things together like most couples. We love spending time with mutual friends, travelling, fine dining and going for long walks (not in the rain) sorry Mr Manilow. Gemma: We are incredibly independent people. I am always so busy with work, and she has been the perfect partner in supporting me in all the things I do. She has always let me fly rather than trying to clip my wings. I do think that is in part, due to the fact that I am an annoying pain in the ass when I am around her. I am like a needy cat who hasn’t been fed in three days and will literally sit with my face in hers until she gives me the attention I demand.

6XSHUE ZHGGLQJ IDFLOLWLHV LQ WKH KHDUW RI %HOIDVW FLW\ FHQWUH Corick House Hotel and Spa is the ideal venue for a Civil Ceremony/Partnership with a variety of suites available to cater for your wedding party, from our secluded Library Room which accommodates intimate celebrations for up to 20 guests, to seating 200 guests in our elegant Garden Room and 350 guests in our stunning new Orchid Suite. The advantage of having your civil ceremony in Corick House Hotel and Spa is the professional dedicated time and attention devoted to you and your wedding day. From the initial planning stages right through to your wedding day we will ensure that you get the highest level of personal service. No request is too big and no concern to small. For more details contact our wedding co-ordinator today on functions@corickcountryhouse.com or 028 8554 8216


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DIABETES TYPE 2 Diabetes type two is on the increase with more and more of us being affected by it, either ourselves or a close friend or relative.

There are so many myths surrounding this terrible disease, and we’ve all heard the reports about the strain it’s putting on our national health system. We had a chat with Brian from Belfast who was diagnosed with Diabetes type two when he was 36. Brian’s Story As silly as this sounds, I first knew there was something wrong with me when I pee’d the bed. I mean, I was thrirty-six, my days of peeing the bed were long behind me. Looking back on it, in the lead up to that I’d been going to the toilet during the night (something I’d never really done), I’d lost weight (but was still eating like a pig), and my usually perfect eyesight felt ‘funny’. I had a chat with my friend who is a doctor and he told me that the chances were that I had diabetes type two. But, I was going on holiday the next week and really didn’t have time to go see my doctor until I got back. During the holiday my symptoms got worse, it got to the stage where I couldn’t focus, I’d be standing in front of the till in McDonalds and not be able to read the menu. When I got home I went to my doctor and he confirmed it. When he tested my bloods, they were sitting at almost 20mmol/L, he explained that the levels in a person without diabetes would be between 4-6mmol/l (when fasting). Immediately he put me on metformin medication - two pills a day. Initially these worked a treat, and as a newly diagnosed

patient I also immediately altered my diet. But the honeymoon period soon wore off and I was back to my old eating and not exercising habits. Also the side effects of the metformin was rough on me - if I wasn’t going to the toilet (number twos all the way), I felt like I needed to go. I went back to the doctor and he reduced my metformin, and introduced another pill, saxagliptin. I believed this new pill would be like a wonder pill. Again, my diabetes seemed under control. At my next annual check up all was not good. My levels had crept up again and it was decided that I would need to start injecting with a slow release insulin before I went to bed at night. The thought of injecting actually terrified me. I’m not afraid of needles, I’m grand with the odd injection and giving blood is just an inconvenience. But the thought of sticking a needle into myself didn’t sit well with me. When my diabetic nurse showed me the insulin pen and needle, I thought it looked much less scary than I’d thought. I’d visions of syringes with big long needles. In reality it’s about the size of a Sharpie, and the needle itself is tiny, only about 4mm long. I literally don’t even think I felt it when it went in. About six months or so later I started to feel very very sluggish. It had been a very gradual thing. One Sunday morning, sitting feeling sorry for myself because I’m normally the happiest chap around, I carried out a blood test on myself. My levels were




just below 30mmol/L. Again, I checked with my friend the doctor. I heard in his tone that it wasn’t good. I was actually petrified and took to the internet to self diagnose - worst thing ever to do for me. It filled me with dread, I was sure I’d be falling into a diabetic coma at any minute. Obviously this didn’t happen. The next morning I made an emergency appointment with my own doctor. Between him and my diabetic nurse, they decided that the best treatment going forward for me would be another injection, a fast acting one this time to be taken when I eat. I had to take some responsibility myself tho, my diet was shocking - I have a terrible sweet tooth, and my exercise was nonexistent; I’d quit the gym six months previously. Thankfully, almost two years on my Diabetes type 2 seems under control. For me, it’s an awful condition. My luxury in life is food, sweet food. I’m not a fan of vegetables. But I intend to be here for a long time yet, and I know what this disease can lead to if it’s not properly managed. So gradually I introduced more vegetables into my diet, I started walking more, I reduced my workload to de-stress my life a bit, and all is good.

So Diabetes Type two can be managed, and people with it life a complete and full life. here are the facts... WHAT IS TYPE 2 DIABETES? Type 2 diabetes develops in people when insulinproducing cells within the body are unable to produce enough insulin, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly - this is known as insulin resistance.

messenger that helps your body use the glucose in your blood to give you energy. Try thinking about it as the key that unlocks the door to the body’s cells.

“The thought of injecting actually terrified me. I’m not afraid of needles, I’m grand with the odd injection and giving blood is just an inconvenience. But the thought of sticking a needle into myself didn’t sit well with me... I’d visions of syringes with big long needles. In reality it’s about the size of a Sharpie, and the needle itself is tiny, only about 4mm long. I literally don’t even think I felt it when it went in.”

Who typically gets Type 2 diabetes? Usually Type 2 diabetes will appear in people over the age of 40. Although it is becoming more common in younger people. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 8595% of all people with diabetes. In some cases it can be treated with a healthy diet and increased physical activity, in others, medication and/or insulin may be required. With Type 2 diabetes there is not enough insulin (or the insulin isn’t working properly), so the cells are only partially unlocked and glucose builds up in the blood.

Once the door is unlocked glucose can enter the cells where it is used as fuel.

What is insulin? Insulin is a hormone that works as a chemical

SYMPTOMS Just because you may have some of these signs or


symptoms doesn’t mean you have diabetes, don’t stress yourself or pour over hundreds of sites online convincing yourself. If you’re in doubt, go see your GP. The most common symptoms are: • Going to the toilet a lot, especially at night • Being really thirsty • Feeling more tired than usual • Losing weight without trying to • Genital itching or thrush • Cuts and wounds take longer to heal • Blurred vision Like we said, if you’re in doubt, contact your GP, it doesn’t mean you have diabetes if you have some of these symptoms, but you’re better checking - early diagnosis, treatment and good control are vital for good long term health and will reduce the chances of developing complications. TREATMENT Lifestyle changes are a big part of treatment. Alterations to what you eat and exercise will be part of it. Some people with Type 2 diabetes will also need additional treatments, possibly in tablet form, or insulin injections. Medication is not a substitute for following a healthy diet and taking regular physical activity – you will still need to carry on with this. Medication This is not always necessary - your GP will advise on the best treatment plan. Diabetes medication lowers blood sugar levels. Diabetes medication cannot cure diabetes, and most people will have to take it for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately you may find that, despite keeping to a healthy diet, physical activity and taking your diabetes medication regularly, your diabetes control is not as good as it was. This is because Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition and, over time, you may need more help to manage your blood sugar levels. Insulin Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas, which helps you body to use the glucose in the blood. Everyone with Type 1 diabetes and some people with Type 2 diabetes need to take insulin to control their blood sugar levels. For more information check out www.diabetes.org.uk

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COMING OUT Adam Greene, 25 year old hairstylist from Lurgan tells us his story.

“After telling my family I felt invincible, I didn’t care who knew; I was out, happy and proud...” When did you first realise you were gay? When I was very young, I can remember being in primary school and always feeling differently towards boys than I did to girls. I didn’t fully understand what it meant until I went to secondary school. Did you tell anyone at the time? I did have a friend in first year that I trusted, he was going through the same thing so we had each other to confide in. When did you actually come out? I struggled a lot throughout my school years, being bullied severely, and had been “going” with girls right up until I came out. I was unsure for a long time about how my life was going to change, I had basically become depressed because I knew I was living a lie. I had literally no self worth and I had tried a few times to end my life. Eventually I took control, realized that this was MY life and I should be able to live it as I want to. I came out on the 13th November 2010. How did you do it?

was wrong. I blurted out “Jess I’m gay”! I couldn’t believe I’d even said the words. She looked at me and laughed, “so what, as long as you’re happy” she told me. It was as if the weight of the world had lifted off my shoulders - I was instantly happy! I knew that now I needed to tell my parents, I didn’t want them hearing from someone else. That Friday night at about 10pm I tip-toed into the sitting room, my mum was there and I burst into nervous laughter. “I’m gay mum”, I ‘d said it. She went from laughing with me to crying. She sat for a few minutes looking at me, then she grabbed me, hugged me and told me to never be afraid to be me, even if other people don’t like it. Mum told dad, he came to me and asked me was I happy, because as long as I was happy, I was still their son and they will always love me. What was your friend’s and families reaction? After telling my family I felt invincible. I arranged a night out with my friends the Saturday night. During the pre-drinks I just came out with it, “I’m Gay”. Everybody looked at me with shocked faces. A few had questions which I answered, then we got on with our night, they all accepted me for being myself. How has coming out affected you?

I’m quite close to one of my sisters, ultimately she was my best friend and I trusted her completely. I was so nervous, I eventually just sent her a text message saying “you need to come home, I need to speak to you”. The twenty minutes it took her to come home seemed like a lifetime. She came into my room and was frantically asking me what

Coming out has altered my life significantly, but I can honestly say I’m thankful for it. It was the best decision I’ve ever made for myself. Thankfully I’ve no regrets about coming out, I live my life how I want to and I’m not afraid to be myself. I can’t be anything more than what I am, and I won’t try to be.

What advice would you give to others thinking about coming out? Just do it. You’re never alone when it comes to it, surround yourself with good friends and just explain how you feel. Talking is the best thing to do. Like I say, you only have one shot at life so why not make it the best possible. There is a massive LGBT community now in Belfast that offer a lot of help for anyone who is going through what we all in turn have went through. Any funny stories about when you came out to someone? I think I had it pretty easy coming out compared to others, that was until it came to my granny. I’m quite close to my granny as she was my only living grandparent. I had no idea how to tackle this, there was a generation gap, she was from a different time to me. My sister had just found out she was pregnant, so we were both feeling like “how are we going to do this?”. My sister thankfully said she’d tell her. So we went to visit my granny, knowing full well what was ahead of us. My sister made us all a cuppa and just turned around and blurted out “granny I’m pregnant”. Tea was spat out and my sister quickly followed with “but it’s ok because Adam’s gay”. I was mortified, I didn’t know where to look. We had hit this woman with a double whammy and I thought she was going to pass out. After some quick explaining she was grand. After that she turned into a bit of a Cilla Black/Paddy McGuinness combo, everytime I went for tea she was trying to get numbers of any guys she knew who she thought might swing the same was as me.


If you’re in distress or despair call Lifeline 0808 808 8000

LGBT FAMILIES Sabrina tells her story...

“I can remember the day he [my husband] told me he was gay... I was shocked, angry, confused and very upset.”

I was married to my husband for ten years,

the crazy ex-wife. To this day we do lots of things as a

ups and downs. I can remember day he told me he was

foreign family holidays together, and each year we take

most of which was good. Like any marriage we had our gay. We had already decided to separate but somewhere in my head I think I always thought we might get back together. So when he told me he was gay I knew then

turns to move into each others homes so that we can spend Christmas as a family.

and there that it was final. I was so shocked, angry,

My ex-husband and his partner got married last year

questions buzzing around in my head. Was our marriage

for them and it was an honour to have been one of their

confused and very upset. I had all these emotions and

real? Did he ever love me? And how am I ever going to

cope with two young kids? I even felt a bit embarrased

as to what everyone else was going to think. Thankfully most of these feelings faded fast. Yes, I was still very

upset but I have no doubt that my husband did love me, and I believe that the life we had together was real. I still loved my husband very much, he was and still is

an amazing dad to our children. I thought to myself,

Sabrina, it ’s better to have him in my life as a best f riend than not in my life at all.

About seven months after we separated my husband

told me he had met someone. I had mixed emotions

about it. Although I was happy that he was happy, I was

(six years after they met). I couldn’t have been happier

groomsmaids. My son walked down the ailse with both of his dads, and my daughter read out a beautiful poem

during the ceremony. Sometimes people ask me whether

I wanted to hurt my ex-husband (emotionally), or how do I cope with being part of his life, and how has it affected the kids. I love my family life, my kids have grown up

with two dads and a mum who love them. They’ve grown up in a family which embraces respect for everybody, and respects that not everyone is the same. They know that they can fall in love with whoever they want. My kids

are happy and have never questioned our family. From

an uncertain beginning, seven years later I dont think I could have asked for things to turn out better.

obviously gutted that he’d moved on. I was worried that

You hear so many stories about mums and dads splitting

new man of his going to want my kids to be part of his

even be in the same room as each other. Our wee family

he wouldn’t have time for us (the kids and me). Was this life, and if he did then where would that leave me? As

it turned out I worried for nothing. From the beginning my ex-husband’s new partner loved my kids and acceped


family, all five of us. We go on family days out, we do

up, and then they fight, use the kids as pawns, or can’t

might not look the norm to some people, but to me it’s perfect.

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SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! We've only gone and got ourselves a Spice Girl on the cover! Melanie C speaks to our Chris about her new album and tour...


SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! We've only gone and got ourselves a Spice Girl on the cover! Melanie C speaks to our Chris about her new album and tour...