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LIFE & STYLE
RECOMMENDED Marty tells us about the best entertainment over the next month or so. GEMMA HUTTON I think she wants to start a revolution. GREG MCCAW Why we need Pride. ALICIA V PERRY The lady with the opinion! MEET THE STAR We meet Cherrie Ontop. SCENE OUT We’ve been out and about with our camera. THE VAMPS We caught up with these cheeky chaps just before their Belfast concert. ANDY BELL - ICON This man has contributed so much to our community throughout the years. BARRA BEST Everybody’s favourite weather man. VONDA SHEPARD Ally McBeal and so much more. PIXIE LOTT Music, work, and keeping her man happy. JOSEPH HARWOOD Youtube and life around it. UNA HEALY The Saturdays and beyond. BUSINESS NETWORK Keeping it in the community. ALL IN A DAY’S WORK Chris Love gives us a typical day.
THE PRIDE ISSUE CONLETH KANE His most honest interveiw EVER. STUFF Getting you through festival day. STAYING SAFE Dr. Glenn Mason gives us his tips.
EQUALITEE Fundraising for the community. FITNESS What you need to know. REAL MAN Daniel bares all for us. MEET THE ARTIST Mark Murray talks make-up. WHAT’S THE TIME Inspiration for your wrist. ADDICTED TO... Underwear!!! FOOD We check out two restaurants for you. GROOMING Back hair beware. HOMES Selling your house. CARS Sun’s out, tops down! MONEY Pensions, you need to know this. PHUKET Sun, sea and well you know what comes next. ONE NIGHT STAND We spent a night in Birmingham. DATING Eamon is back helping out lovers. GNI MAG WEDDING Absolutely beautiful. COMING OUT Paul tells his story. LGBT FAMILIES Two sisters tell their tale.
MANAGING DIRECTOR Tony Day email@example.com OPERATIONS & DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Daniel May firstname.lastname@example.org BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT EXECUTIVE / CELEBRITY EDITOR Gary Campion email@example.com SPECIAL THANKS TO Martin Kearney / Gemma Hutton / Greg McCaw / Alicia V Perry / Shania Payne / the Vamps / Andy Bell / Barra Best / Vonda Shepard / Pixie Lott / Joseph Harwood / Una Healy / Annette Wheelan & Chris Burns / Chris Love / Conleth Kane / Glenn Mason / Ciaran Green / Colin Maxwell / Piaras Smyth / CJ Simms / George Hutton / Laura Hamill / Jayne Robinson / Daniel Magee / Mark Murray / Gavyn Andrews / Eamon McAuley / Grainne & Jamie / Paul Fenty / Caoimhe, Saerlaith & Billy Forbes / Brad McClenaghan / John Man
GNI MAG is published by: Lamb Promotions Ltd 145 Holywood Road Belfast, BT4 3BE Telephone | 028 90654314 Website | gnimag.com
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Everyoneâ€™s favourite local weather man tells all about himself. PAGE 38
From The Saturdays to her own solo career. Country music becons. PAGE 26
We chat to ICON and Erasure front man about muic and activism. PAGE 36
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Recommended Marty Kearney
THE BEGUILED I’m not really in to period dramas although I do like a good civil war movie. Cold Mountain is one of my all-time favourite movies and Renee Zellweger’s Oscar winning performance as Ruby Thewes was well deserved and well over due. Cold Mountain starred Nicole Kidman who also stars in this movie which is directed by Sofia Coppola daughter of Francis Ford Coppola who directed The Godfather movies. My favourite actor Colin Farrell also stars in this and that’s what drew me to watch the trailer (https://youtu.be/iBoLK5z_FHo) first I thought ok a love story, boy was I wrong by the end of the trailer I was like WTF. The Beguiled tells the story of a wounded soldier took in by an all-girls boarding school and soon things take an unexpected turn for the worse. Put it this way if Annie Wilkes from Misery ever went to a school you better believe it this is the school she attended. The movie also stars Elle Fanning and Kirsten Dunst who has worked with Ms Coppola in her other directorial features such as The Virgin Suicides and Marie Antoinette. Even the tagline on the film poster gave me chills “Innocent. Until. Betrayed” Critics have lapped it up at the recent Cannes Film Festival where it won an award for best director. The Beguiled will be in cinemas July 14th.
IT Let’s play a game. Name me a horror movie remake that is better than the original. Carrie? No. Halloween? No. A nightmare on Elm Street? No (Even though the Elm Street remake had Connie Britton aka the late Rayna James still a big scary NO). Give up? Just hold on a minute a remake of Stephen Kings IT is coming out very soon and it looks scary, really scary. Most of you will all agree with Carrie Bradshaw “there is nothing scarier than a clown” and Tim Curry’s performance as Pennywise in the 1990 miniseries gave us all coulrophobia (fear of clowns). #THEALLFLOATDOWNHERE. Why should this remake be any different from the other disappointments mentioned previoulys? The trailer looks really scary? Well so did the trailers for all the other movies. The cast? This version of IT has a cast of unknown actors, no bankable stars, but that shouldn’t really matter the 2013 Carrie had Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore and still a disappointment. The Director? The director is Andres Muschietti who directed Jessica Chastain in Mama and although very good and some jumpy bits it’s still will never be one of the scariest movies ever. So ….here is way I believe that this new version on Stephen Kings IT will be better than the original, NO BORING ADULTS. I’m sorry but that love triangle between Richard Thomas, John Ritter and Annette O’Tool bored the trunks out of me. Poor Annette O’Tool, not only did she have IT the clown tormenting her she had John-Boy Walton fighting for her affections as well. There doesn’t look to be any older versions of the kids cast, Pennywise is a killer of children it should be the kids that kill him. Not the adults who killed a big stupid spider in the original. And that for me is when IT stopped being scary. IT is in cinema 8th of September
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DEFENDERS The Marvel cinematic universe so far has produced some great movies starting with Iron Man in 2008 since then we have had 14 other marvel movies to feast our eyes on and a Spiderman movie has just been realised. The movie universe is so huge that the movies have phases and they also have a number of tie-in TV shows. Over on Netflix we have Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist and this august these four come together to give us The Defenders. I know this is old news to a lot of people but I’m just so excited. I’m sure you will agree some of the marvel movies are better than others well the Netflix shows are just like the movies. Daredevil is great but that’s due to the character Karen Page played by Deborah Ann Woll who steals the show much like she did with her character Jessica in HBOS Ture Blood, and she will also be starring in the upcoming The Punisher another Marvel Netflix show. Luke cage for me was really hard to get into and Iron fist was good but not great, but alas Jessica Jones I FUCKING love Jessica Jones Not only do I think it’s the best show on Netflix I think she is the best thing to come out of the whole Marvel cinematic universe and that my fellow gays is why I’m so excited about the defenders. The Defenders will see Matt Murdock AKA Daredevil (Charlie Cox) Jessica Jones ( Krysten Ritter) Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and Danny Rand (Finn Jones) also known as the Iron Fist team up to stop a threat from taking over New York, it’s not really a job for The Avengers but big enough to make these four lone heroes team up. Sigourney Weaver has been cast as Alexandra the big baddy for this season and by the looks of the trailer (https://youtu.be/KtsUFqZpCIw) also fighting with The Defenders is Elektra (Elodie Yung) who was last seen being risen from the dead by The Hand at the end Daredevil season 2 she’s alive and butt kicking and seems to be on Alexandra’s side or under her control perhaps? Other stars from the solo shows will turn up now and again, fan favourites such as Luke Cages detective friend Misty Day ( Simone Missick) from Iron Fist Collen Wing( Jessica Henwick) Jessica Jones adoptive sister and best friend Patsy Walker ( Rachel Taylor)who I predict will eventually become Hellcat in later seasons of Jessica Jones and of course no Netflix Marvel show would be complete without Claire Temple played by the always amazing Rosario Dawson connecting all the shows together. The Defenders will only be 8 episodes instead of the usual 13 which means coming the 8TH Of August you’re all sitting inn.
GLOW GLOW- Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling the new show from the creators of Orange is the new black, is based on the original show from the 80s of the same name and as you can guess it’s about a bunch of female wrestlers. When I was doing research for this show I watched some YouTube clips of the original and thought “hell yea” this is going to be a camp guilty pleasure but upon watching the actual trailer for the show (https://youtu.be/AZqDO6cTYVY) I was surprised to find it seems so much more than that. A show set with a show GLOW stars Mad Men’s Alison Brie who plays struggling actress Ruth who had described her character as a female JR with hints of Cruella De Vil. Ruth ends up auditioning to be one of these gorgeous ladies but finds she doesn’t really have a gimmick unlike the rest of the other ladies up for roles. Also her estranged best friend, and Ex soap star Debbie played by Nurse Jackie’s Betty Gilpin has been bought in to be the lead of the show. This 10 part dramedy will take a look at what it was like to be a struggling actress in LA in the early 80s along with other side plots that you will be surprised to see and all without taking its self too serious. I love a show with in a show backdrop, I love workplace settings and I love love love female centric casts. And with a huge diverse cast I’m in for a treat. This is my new OITNB But without the jumpsuits and greasy heads of hair but instead sparkly Lycra leotards and big 80s porn hair. You can stream all ten episodes of GLOW on Netflix now.
GNIMAG.COM | 13
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COLUMN__ GEMMA HUTTON
BUZZ of the month
Hope for revolution...
I THOUGHT I WOULD GET this blog in quick before the apocalypse hits us after the fu*khawkery of political trauma we have coming.
SEASON 5 Orange is the new black Unless you’ve lived under a rock since 2013 you’re bound to have heard of this hit Netflix series. This Multi award winning hit show sees Piper Chapman (a public relations executive with a career and a fiance) have her past suddenly catch up with her. In her mid-30s she is sentenced to spend time in a minimum-security women’s prison in Connecticut for her association with a drug runner ten years earlier. This Netflix original series is based on the book of the same title. Forced to trade power suits for prison orange, Chapman makes her way through the corrections system and adjusts to life behind bars, making friends with the many eccentric, unusual and unexpected people she meets. Think ITV’s Bad Girls on steroids and set in the States! Check out the new 5th season along with all the previous on Netflix... sure who doesn’t love a good Netflix and Chill binge... we are tempted to watch it all again from the start.
all the performers, from poets to dancers... to drag and beyond. The night was an utter delight. We sold genital cupcakes and queer teapots, feminist candles and nongender tee shirts. It was something that was built from the desire to lift others up in our community and sharing opportunity. There was no competiveness, no hierarchy of talent, it was all just put out there and the reaction was more than we could have hoped for. It felt like there were some roots for us to bed in and grow from. Maybe there is hope for a revolution in our community after all…. Perhaps it needs to be in a non-commercial space without any agenda other than progress. It inspired me to test my boundaries in performance more and more, I can’t wait to test stuff out at my next gig in the Barracks. It feel amazing to be excited about performing again. Sometimes when you perform for venues you tend to get stuck in a repetitive rut, so to be free to play again has felt amazing. Sometimes you have to do things because you love them and not because you feel like you have to, and I think that’s the key thing that has changed for me.
We are told to be grateful for what we have so far... I will not be shamed into gratitude for inequality at a lesser level when I plan to bring my child up in this country.
I find it all rather heart breaking… and not for the reasons I imagined. Of course it is upsetting that DUP gained seats, and yes it is horrific that they may have a say more so in things across the pond. But why is there no revolts? No anarchy? No storming of walls? Why do we handle these things with nothing but memes on social media mocking them? How can we say that misgendering someone is a big fuck you to Arlene, when it’s ironically a big fuck you to your trans siblings? It’s a terrifying time where we have become a people of passive aggressiveness which allows these injustices to continue. We are told to be grateful for what we have so far… I will not be shamed into gratitude for inequality at a lesser level when I plan to bring my child up in this country. But we did get a Five guys sooo… silver linings eh? I shan’t go on about this too much, as people will only stop reading due to our adulting filters being set to avoid.
So speaking of revolution, this month I launched Queertopia with my partner in crime Electra La Cnt. It was the single most special night I have had in our community… n it felt just like that. A community. There was so much love and support in the room for
This is an opinon piece from the columnist/contributor and not the opinion of GNI MAG/Lamb Promotions Ltd.
GNIMAG.COM | 15
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COLUMN__ GREG McCAW
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Proud of Pride...
Greg McCaw ‘WE DON’T NEED TO KEEP rubbing it in everyone’s face it is 2017, no one cares that you’re gay anymore.’ – That statement came from a friend of mine, that was their view on Gay Pride and I don’t mind saying it, what a d**khead and it’s not the first time I’ve heard it, as well as those ‘straight acting’ gays that proudly laugh at the fact they are gay but slightly homophobic as they rebel against the male that dares to sit outside their idea of normal. My position on equality and inclusion is simple; we should have the freedom to express who we are, the way we choose, without being suppressed by societal norms and if that means sticking glitter on your face and feathers on your arse, do it. Be You. If you’ve fallen into the above category and found yourself making a statement less becoming of someone that’s a member of the LGBTQ community (or becoming of a good human being), you need an education, you need a lesson on why are you are free to be who you are and an education on why so many people are not and despite it being 2017 you’re naïve (or quite frankly thick as ****) if you think no one cares, the LGBTQ community still needs help and we still need to fight for our rights. There’s no freedom until we’re all equal - said two very wise men called Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. So, don’t be a d**ckhead like my friend, be a champion of inclusion and equality, behave and act in a way that breaks down barriers, be known as someone that allows people to express who they are, and here’s some reasons for you to check in with yourself when you question the purpose of pride: Sex with someone of the same sex is illegal in 73 countries, and punishable by death in ten. That
means 40 per cent of the world’s population live in countries where gay, lesbian and bisexual people can be imprisoned, just for being themselves. Over 400 million people live under laws which punish samesex sex with the death penalty. One in five (19 per cent) lesbian, gay and bi employees have experienced verbal bullying from colleagues, customers or service users because of their sexual orientation in the last five years. Nearly half (48 per cent) of trans people under 26 said they had attempted suicide, and 30 per cent said they had done so in the past year, while 59 per cent said they had at least considered doing so. Credit: Stonewall
My position on equality and inclusion is simple; we should have the freedom to express who we are, the way we choose, without being suppressed by societal norms and if that means sticking glitter on your face and feathers on your arse, do it. Be You.
So, no one cares anymore? Some people clearly do, it’s really easy to assume that inclusion and equality are values inherent of every member of the LGBTQ community and that’s simply not a realistic view. When you stand at Pride you stand proudly for equality and despite years of hatred towards us that have resulted in people losing their lives, we’re still here with pride, without shame and making a stand for equality and inclusion. Pride for me is much more than my sexual orientation it is about being me, every single part of me. So, whether I have glitter on my face or I’m standing next to someone in leather hot pants, or if you just come as you are, know that pride is much more than a parade, it’s our rallying cry – be you, be every part of you. BE PROUD OF PRIDE. This is an opinon piece from the columnist/contributor and not the opinion of GNI MAG/Lamb Promotions Ltd.
GNIMAG.COM | 17
COLUMN__ ALICIA V PERRY
Pride and prejudice...
Alicia V Perry ACROSS THE WORLD COUNTRIES, TOWNS and cities are all gearing up to celebrate the Pride
‘prove’ homophobia and transphobia even if it is
The imperative factor to remember however,
starring you in the face.
is that we should be proud of ourselves every
have become a lot more colourful and joyous for
disappear, albeit we didn’t want it to happen in
accomplishments. No matter how small or
are strategically planned, extravagant parades
some even feel like it’s too trivial. Some don’t
season with many at full throttle already. Things
the members of the LGBTQ community. Events designed, many scheduling days off to be able
to dress up, join in and blow their whistles with
pride. No doubt all attending will indulge in the sheer atmospheric delight, characteristic of such
Pride events; but for many, this delight will come and go, just like the intrinsic feeling of being proud.
Pride means different things to different
people but the fundamental feeling of pride does not discriminate. It manifests in each and every human being on earth and all of us have the
capacity to feel proud. However, it is important to recognise that there is a sense of hierarchy here.
It is all very well marching in solidarity with our
fellow LGBTQ brothers and sisters, safe in large numbers, surrounded in a hypothetical, carnival
cotton-wool but pride, the feeling of being proud, is important when you are alone, no one else around and in silence with your thoughts.
The old saying ‘pride comes before a fall’
is somewhat a harsh truth faced by many in
our community the rest of the days of the year.
Homophobia and Transphobia are an unfortunate realism experienced by a high proportion of the community ranging from derogatory comments
The majority of us just want it to go away,
the first instance. It can be a hassle to report,
Pride means different things to different people but the fundamental feeling of pride does not discriminate. It manifests in each and every human being on earth and all of us have the capacity to feel proud.
and biased treatment, to stereotyping, hostility,
intimidation and despicable assaults; physical and
even realise the abuse is unlawful. You can feel
picture of the breadth and depth of the problem as
very discreet about their identity or haven’t ‘came-
a lot does go unreported, determined by the level of acceptability of the affected individual. There is a certain commonality within our community
that being LGBTQ brings with it expectations of abuse from society, however wrong it is, justified
with reasoning such as ‘I’m used to it’ or ‘it could have been worse.’ Another added burden being
the significance of proof as it can be very hard to
irrelevant you might think something is, although it makes you feel uniquely proud, rejoice in that
and own it. Be mindful that a kaleidoscope would
not exist without all of its tiny particles and reflect on how beautiful all those segments are in the
phantasmagoria. When climbing a ladder of hope we forget about the steps we have already taken,
all too consumed and frustrated at the steps that
we are yet to climb. The more we permit ourselves to feel pride the more it will strengthen our selfesteem, self-worth and confidence, making us
more robust and resilient for future adversity. It is
not our inequalities and differences that divide us, it is our inability to appreciate, accept, understand and celebrate those differences.
My advice is simple, never judge others by
labels, classifications, stereotypical views etc. but
get to know others and appreciate their inimitable contribution to our society. Learn from others,
step out of your comfort zone and facilitate some compassion, as we all know how unexpected
events can change who a person is and quite
often these changes are for life; always keep that in mind. You never know what someone else is
experiencing within their own life, in private, so
be cautious with your words and filter comments,
especially on social media, on its potential to show prejudice and cause harm. Love is too valuable
psychological with adverse emotional implications. Moreover, we cannot obtain a truly accurate
single day and proud of our achievements and
ashamed, embarrassed and humiliated. Some are out’ yet to their family and friends, conversely
drawing attention to it treads on the risk of being ‘outed’ which can contribute considerably to a
to be ashamed of it and too fundamental to our
relationships and human survival to be ignored. If
God can wait until our final days to judge us, then what’s our excuse eh?
I wish you all a very Happy & Safe Pride 2017 and remember to take pride in all you do!
person’s intensions and expectations. Now, with the growing importance and significance given
to social media, online attacks, abuse, phobia and trolling has become rife in our community; and others.
This is an opinon piece from the columnist/contributor and not the opinion of GNI MAG/Lamb Promotions Ltd.
GNIMAG.COM | 19
MEET THE STAR__ CHERRIE ONTOP
MEET THE STAR She was wearing her mums tights when she was three, now Cherrie Ontop is gigging all over the country! How did you first get into drag? I have always loved dressing up, there is photographic evidence in my mum and dads house of me aged three in nothing but a pair of my mummys tights. It really started when I played the Part of Angel in the Northern Ireland premier of Rent the musical, back in those days I was ‘Estelle Ettos’ and I did a few guest spots at The Sunday Bingo Show. I decided after that stint that I didnt think I could maintain it as it is very expensive but then a few years later my best friend Neil Keery cast me as Frank n Furter in a Cabaret production of the Rocky Horror Show and I was spotted and asked if i would like to be a resident Drag Performer at the Cabaret Supperclub and the rest in history. Where have you worked? Cherrie started her life in The Cabaret Supperclub and for the first year I didn’t work anywhere else. Then I took on my own night in Maverick Bar every Wednesday. I have gigged all over the country from theatres to church halls. Who have been the best people to work with? In drag i owe a lot to Trudy Scrumtious, in my early days in drag she taught me makeup skills, she’d lend and give me clothes and got me gigs. I am also very lucky to be in a sisterhood called “The Queens of the Queer Quarter” working along side, Rusty Hinges, Portia Diamante, Blu Hydranga, Misty Falls, Titti, Lucy Fur and The Voice Bear. Within my job i get to meet the RuPaul Drag Race Queens aswell and the highlights for me have been, Alaska, Bianca and Ben dela creme. I am also very privilaged to get to work with two of my best friends Dj Neilsy and Dj Lady Luck. Where do you work at the minute?: I have a very busy weekly calender; Wednesday night, Cherrioke in Maverick, Friday night, Cabaret Supperclub Host and Performer in the Variety Show, Saturday Cabaret Supperclub Performer in Variety Show, Sunday afternoon Cabaret Supperclub ‘Cherrie On Sunday’, Sunday evening Sunday Service at Maverick What have you got coming up?: I am always working on new numbers for all my gigs but a side from that I am hoping to take ‘Cherrie On Sunday’ my two hour one woman show on tour. Contact: Instagram: cherrieontopbelfast Twitter: @MsCherrieOntop
20 | GNIMAG.COM
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SCENE OUT__ UNION STREET BAR
Just a typical Friday night in Union Street Bar, Belfast.
GNIMAG.COM | 23
SCENE OUT__ KREMLIN
Where else would you be? Kremlin, Belfast.
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Pride 2017 Northern Ireland
Unite for Civil Marriage Equality www.unitetheunionireland.org 20 | GNIMAG.COM
SCENE OUT__ THE ROOF
We went along to sing along with the Tinkle Belles on The Roof at Union Street Bar
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REDUCED TICKET PRICES COLLECT POINTS â€¢ PRIORITY BOOKING FREE TO JOIN
Ask a member of staff how to get XTRA or visit www.odysseycinemas.co.uk
Proud to be a LGBT friendly venue *Selected shows
NEWS__ GNI MAG AWARDS 2017
GNI mag AWARDS 2017 Proudly supported by
THEY’RE BACK! THE INAUGURAL GNI MAG AWARDS TOOK PLACE LAST YEAR IN BELFAST AND DURING THE GALA EVENING THEY CELEBRATED AND HONOURED THOSE INDIVIDUALS AND BUSINESSES WHO HAD MADE A POSITIVE CONTRIBUTION TO THE LOCAL LGBT COMMUNITY. THE 2017 AWARDS DATE HAS BEEN RELEASED AS 26TH OCTOBER 2017 IN THE CLAYTON HOTEL IN BELFAST’S CITY CENTRE. GNI MAG are thrilled to announce that Santander have come on board as headline sponsor of this year’s awards. Daniel May, GNI MAG Operations Manager said; “Last year’s ceremony was filled with pride and celebration, we are delighted that Santander are making this positive step in standing up and being counted within our local LGBT community, demonstrating their willingness in being noticed as an LGBT ally”. Susan Allen (Head of Retail Distribution) from Santander quoted; “Santander are delighted to be headline sponsor of the GNI Awards 2017. It is just one of the ways in which we show our commitment to the LGBT+ community. Santander is committed to supporting diversity and to creating an inclusive culture. We believe that all our employees should feel able to bring their whole selves to work and that this is only possible by helping to build a supportive working environment.” The Rainbow Project, Northern Ireland’s LGBT charity are back this year as the Charity Partner for the GNI MAG AWARDS. John Doherty from The Rainbow Project added; “We are honoured to once again be the nominated charity partner for the GNI MAG AWARDS. There are
many unsung heroes in the Northern Ireland LGBT community and the GNI MAG AWARDS provides us an opportunity to celebrate those who are committed to addressing the inequalities we experience.” This year there are twenty award categories including: Most Influential Local LGBT Person, Local Politician of the Year, and Business Contribution to the LGBT Community. Details on nominations and voting will be announced in August this year. Keep up-to-date on gnimag.com .
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Gay Lifestyle Toys, Chosen by Men, for Men Welcome to MissTique, Belfast. The premise of our erotic boutique is to provide top-notch service and products for gay men in an erotic boutique setting. Our selection of sex toys are chosen by experts in the adult entertainment industry, and are geared towards achieving these goals: amazing products, stocking trusted brands and great product knowledge. Only at MissTique, Belfast will you ﬁnd top quality items, a great selection of gay friendly products, and superb customer service. At MissTique, Belfast, you will ﬁnd a wide selection of top brands of lubes, underwear, penis pumps, condoms and toys. Additionally, we stock gifts, Belfast Banter cards, ﬁlthy sentiments pens and mugs. Along with the biggest selection of Aromas and Poppers that Norn Iron has ever seen! Our Commitment to You Is Rock Solid. In addition to providing great service
INTERVIEW__ THE VAMPS
VAMPS “Zak Effron for me, he’s well fit and that body and that bulge...”
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INTERVIEW__ THE VAMPS
Four hot wee lads from the UK who’ve been taking the world by storm. Writing their own stuff, playing their own instruments and doing their own stunts (see setting themselves on fire with the pyrotechnics). You’ve probably been singing along to more of their songs than you know, and these lads have ambitions of being here for the long-haul. Gary from TeamGNI caught up with them on the Belfast leg of their tour...
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OK BOYS, FROM UPLOADING VIDEOS TO YOUTUBE TO PACKING OUT ARENAS LIKE THIS ONE IN COUNTRIES ACROSS THE WORLD, YOU MUST FEEL LIKE THE PROVERBIAL DOGS BALLS – TELL US ABOUT IT… WHAT CAN YOUR FANS EXPECT FROM THIS TOUR? ANY SURPRISES IN STORE FOR THEM TONIGHT? BRADLEY: It’s been a very cool journey for us but obviously we all started out playing pub gigs in various parts of the UK and kind of met via Youtube and started doing covers as a band. We’ve all had that experience of playing in a pub over the noise of people that aren’t really listening to you, which makes us all extremely grateful to be playing to packed out arenas around the world, we feel very humbled and honoured to have such a loyal fan base. This has to be one of the best tours we have put on to date, so hopefully the fans will enjoy it and walk away happy remembering the show. JAMES: We are lucky that our fans are quite passionate and they always watch the shows on Youtube before they come, so even when we add like new tracks they already know it and are singing it back to us, so there are no real surprises anymore. CONOR: We’ve got lots going on while we are on stage, big screens, smoke machines, pyrotechnics and the like, things we haven’t really done before on a tour. (Gary:just be careful with the pyros not to set yourself on fire!) TRISTAN: Oh that’s already happened <group laughter> THIS YEAR YOU’RE DOING QUITE A FEW OF THE SUMMER FESTIVALS, DO YOU GET TO BE ALL DIVA LIKE AND DEMAND A RIDER LIST, AND WHAT’S ON IT? ALL: Manuka honey (Gary: so no white lillies, puppies or kittens then?) TRISTAN: Could you imagine how cool that would be, by the end of the tour we would have like 60 puppies or something running around backstage! JAMES: I’d be very against that, plus we would never get any diva requests even if we gave them anyways. YOU WRITE SONGS, YOU PLAY THE INSTRUMENTS AND YOU’VE LAUNCHED YOUR OWN RECORD LABEL, IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN’T DO? WHAT’S NEXT? JAMES: I can’t play drums, the rest of the boys can drum but I can’t, so I guess for me its drums, for The Vamps I’m not sure really, we’ve been lucky enough to do two feature collaborations on the new album with some DJ’s, so it would be great to be able to do something similar but with just us as a band doing everything from the playing to the DJing for a song, try and see how we fair doing another DJ song but without the DJ maybe who knows.
YOU’VE ALL ACHIEVED SO MUCH SO YOUNG, DO YOU SEE THE BAND BEING AROUND FOR THE LONG-HAUL, WILL THE VAMPS BE THE NEW ROLLING STONES IN THIRTY YEARS? BRADLEY: I think we would all like to think that as a band it will last, we plan to keep challenging ourselves as musicians and performers and putting out great new music, growing as artists, changing our style of music as we progress - like with our new album, which is quite a departure for us sound wise. As long as we keep doing that, I would like to think it will continue to be exciting for us as a band and keep us going to for the next 20-30 years. IN YOUR SONG “CAN WE DANCE” YOU SING ABOUT TALKIN A LOT OF SH*T WHEN YOU ARE DRINKING…..ANY DRUNKEN STORIES FOR OUR READERS? JAMES: One happened quite recently actually, I don’t like many things outfit wise when going out clubbing but I got this really cool denim jacket I wore out for the first time with really cool lining and stuff. We were out and I set it down on the bench and Connor’s cousin came with his GF and she wore a denim jacket too. I ended up in a drunken state of confusion wearing her jacket back to the hotel room and then for like a further week and began wondering why my jacket smelt of perfume and was so fitted, turns out I had lifted her Topshop jacket, I have no idea how it even fit me. THE NEW UPCOMING ALBUM, TELL US ABOUT IT, HAVE YOU GONE FOR ANY SOUNDS THAT THE FANS WON’T BE EXPECTING AND HAVE YOU ANY BIG COLLABORATIONS ON IT? BRADLEY: There’s a lot more on the album that sounds like the latest two singles that we have released “All night” and “Middle of the night”, they are good indicators as to what the album sounds like. There are also songs that have similar vibes to our previous albums and there’s even a Spanish sounding track that we put together from a Spanish guitar sample I found online that inspired us for the track. SO YOU LADS HAVE A BIG GAY FOLLOWING, WE HEAR YOU THINK THAT JAMES DESERVES THE CREDIT FOR THIS? WE’VE SEEN THE CHEEKY BUM PIX, THAT CAN’T BE IT THOUGH, CAN IT? ANY CHANCE OF A CHEEKY BUM SELFIE WITH ME? ALL: Erupt with laughter JAMES: Dean (their own professional photographer) has a naked pic of us all that he keeps threatening to leak, he may release it at some point I imagine.
INTERVIEW__ THE VAMPS
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INTERVIEW__ THE VAMPS CONNOR: A bum selfie how do you do one of those? (Quick explaination to the lads from me – no demo required thankfully LOL!) TRISTIAN: Damm, if we had known we could all have used Veet before the interview, better luck next time? WE’RE COMING INTO “PRIDE SEASON” IN THE UK AND IRELAND, IF YOU HAD TO PICK ONE OF YOUR OWN SONGS AS A PRIDE ANTHEM WHAT WOULD IT BE? JAMES: All night for sure. BRADLEY: Yeah definitely all night as it’s about being up all night partying and it’s quite an up lifting track. WE DONE A BIT OF RESEARCH AND FOUND THAT TRISTAN IS NUMBER TWO IN THE TOP TEN MOST COMMON GAY NAMES (THEGAYUK.COM), ANYTHING YOU WANT TO TELL US TRISTAN???? (JAMES IS AT NUMBER 64 BTW) TRISTAN: Oh that’s not fair what was number one? (Giggles) I don’t know any gay people called Tristan.
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(Gary: are you sure? WINK)
READ ABOUT YOURSELVES?
JUST TO PROVE YOU’VE MADE IT THERE’S SOME GLORIOUS FANFIC ONLINE, ONE OF OUR FAVOURITES IS “BRAD’S SECRET (A GAY). (““YOU ALRIGHT MATE” BRAD SAID WHILST GIVING ME A HUG. HIS BULGE RUBBED AGAINST MINE AND I TRIED NOT TO LET MY MIND WONDER.”) WHAT’S THE BEST FANFIC YOU’VE READ ABOUT YOURSELVES?
CONNOR: We once read that we had spent seven grand in a club when we actually had spent seventeen (jokes). JAMES: Yeah they said me and Tristan had like 150 shots and were drinking with the all staff, we were only there ten minutes! I’d be dead if I did that, I wouldn’t survive that, would anyone survive 150 shots?
BRADLEY, CONNOR TRISTAN: BALLS??!!! (Really loud bursts of laughter as they had misheard bulge for balls through my accent and asked me to read it over several times) JAMES: Our fanfic started appearing around three years ago we read some of them at the start but haven’t bothered now in ages but this certainly sounds like it could be our favourite... can you read it again before we go on stage? They are always so sexual though, I think they’ve let the “secret” out of the bag though! WHAT’S THE BEST, YET MOST OUTRAGEOUS TABLOID STORY YOU’VE
TELL US WHO YOUR BIG SECRET MAN CRUSHES ARE AND WHY… BRADLEY: It’s not secret that we all love Brad Pitt for obvious reasons. CONNOR: Johnny Depp as he seems dead cool and alternative. JAMES: Zak Effron for me he’s well fit and that body and that bulge… maybe that could be a new fanfic the hug, the bulge! TRISTAN: Paulo Nuitini to be different.
WORDS: GARY CAMPION
ICON INTERVIEW__ ANDY BELL
ICON Andy Bell
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ICON INTERVIEW__ ANDY BELL
Being a proud gay man in the 1980s UK was tough. Living as a gay man was illegal not long before, and the stigma that surrounded it was stifling. A new generation of 20 somethings coming through into the mainstream media marked the beginning of a cultural shift. At the forefront of this movement was Erasure, a pop/synth band made up of Andy Bell and Vince Clarke. Their music crossed the gender, generation, and sexuality differences – bringing everybody together to sing along to classics like “A Little Respect”, “Stop”, and “ Oh L’ Amour ”. Through the years Andy has never hidden his sexuality and has been an ambassador for our community speaking out on LGBT issues. Three decades on, Andy is still performing with Erasure, their latest album “World Be Gone ” was released at the beginning of June to wide critical acclaim, and they are currently on tour (check out erasureinfo.com for ticket information). We asked Andy to take a walk down memory lane with us…
You’ve never hidden your sexuality, how was that on the 1980s pop scene, did it feel empowering that you could actually make a difference when so many in our community were struggling? The gay scene was so small in those days in London that there really was a community spirit and we knew we still had a long way to go to fight for our rights, so that’s what we did. I couldn’t imagine any other way than being out right from the very beginning. Everything was much less commercialised on the scene and we didn’t have to “pay” to go to a gay pride march/festival because there were no sponsors, as soon as the corporate sponsors started taking part we were literally fenced in that’s why I hate wearing wristbands! Erasure’s music and videos have never conformed to heteronormative ideals while so many other LGBT performers have, how important was this for you and did you have to fight many battles to get these things passed by record companies etc.? Still to this very day you just have to nudge the various people because they’ll instantly make a video for the heterosexual community, quite often I’ve had to say please no wedding dresses or pregnant ladies. Not that I have a problem with them, it just seemed to me that was the way of broadening our appeal whether it were conscious or not! Our community has changed and grown so much, and although not always equal, we have gained rights that were never afforded to us before. Is there a campaign you’ve been involved with over the years where you stood back afterwards and thought to yourself “I’ve made a difference”? Most definitely I love taking part in grass roots organisations and was very much part of effort to allow same sex marriages in California. Being an ambassador for the Hetrick Martin Institute ( Harvey Milk School ) in NYC gives me great joy to know that maybe our help has helped a few people to get an education after being thrown out on the streets by their parents! You’ve had a broad spectrum of fans – straight & gay, old & young. Your music has brought people together – even when it wasn’t “cool” to like, or listen to gay performers. How do you think Erasure broke down those barriers? I think it definitely helped as you say and I think these days people don’t really seem to bother so much who’s gay or straight! Here in Northern Ireland we still have a bit to go in terms of equality for our LGBT community. You’ve worked with artists from all over the world, and recently performed with our own Lurgan man Conleth Kane. Music is an important tool to encourage people to think about issues which may be out of their comfort zones. Are there any songs in your back catalogue, or new songs which you wrote with our LGBT community specifically in mind? And Still It’s Not Over was written about my first visit to San Francisco, and Hideaway about the experience of coming out as a young teenager.
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INTERVIEW__ BARRA BEST
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INTERVIEW__ BARRA BEST WHAT CAN WE SAY, WE LOVE HIM, YOUR MUM LOVES HIM, AND YOUR GRANNY LOVES THAT YOU’RE GAY IF YOU CAN BRING HIM HOME TO MEET HER. LETS FACE IT WE TUNE IN TO HEAR BARRA CLASSIC BBC WEATHER DESCRIPTIONS – “MEATY RAIN” BEING A FIRM FAVOURITE OF MINE. BARRA BEST TOOK SOME TIME OUT TO CHAT WITH GNI MAG ABOUT HIS LIFE, HIS WORK, AND WHAT HE’LL BE UP TO THIS PRIDE SEASON… BARRA, TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD, DID YOU GROW UP THINKING “I WANT TO BE A WEATHER MAN”? As a child I always wanted to be a vet. I probably had way more pets than all of my friends growing up, rabbits, gerbils, fish, hamsters, a dog, cats – I even had a pet rat named Ben. Presenting BBC Weather was something I touched on later in life – and I love it. It was the most difficult job I’ve ever had to come up to speed with. All of our broadcasts on BBC Northern Ireland are unscripted so it allows us to provide you with weather lasting from 10 seconds to two minutes, and sometimes more. Knowing the story inside-out means that I can be as flexible with timings as possible. The best part is telling everyone that the weather’s going to be great – it’s also a lot of fun when people thank me for it, as though I control the weather – I wish it were that simple! SO WHAT WAS THE ROAD THAT LEAD YOU TO WORKING ON THE WEATHER ON BBC NEWSLINE? I’m a journalist by trade and I was working with the BBC Newsline team when the opportunity to cover maternity leave in the weather department came up. I took it, with the aim of becoming more confident in live broadcasting and also add another string to my skills bow. It was a challenge to say the least – it was nothing like I’ve ever done before. Thanks to great colleagues – Cecilia and Angie – I was able to come up to speed quite quickly. Unbelievably, that was seven years ago. They say that time flies when you’re having fun. It really does! HOW WAS THAT FIRST DAY IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA? WERE YOU NERVOUS WORKING WITH PEOPLE YOU’D GROWN UP SEEING ON THE TELE? I was definitely nervous. I had loads of practice to prepare for my first weather forecast on BBC Newsline at 6.30pm, but nothing really prepares you for the real thing. I knew I had to tell the weather for two minutes – which seemed quite long at the time – but all of a sudden, it was over. Those two minutes flew by. The adrenaline was flowing, and I wanted to go again! Thankfully, I’ve been able to relax into the role since then. I feel fortunate to be able to do a job that I love. YOU’VE GOT SUCH A BROAD APPEAL, AS WE SAID IN OUR INTRO, MUMMIES LOVE
YOU, GRANNIES LOVE YOU AND WE LOVE YOU. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS, SURELY IT CAN’T JUST BE YOUR WEE GINGER BEARD? The beard might have something to do with, but I think it’s genuinely because we all love to talk about the weather – even if we don’t like what’s heading our way. Often when we meet new people the awkward silences can be filled with “it’s a gorgeous day outside” or “wouldn’t that rain depress you”. It affects every single one of us on a daily basis and that’s probably why we all keep an eye on the forecast – essentially so that we can plan what clothes to wear, or what we can do with our day off. Of course, it’s always lovely to meet viewers and listeners whenever I’m out and about – they make the job even more fun. WE’VE SEEN YOU ON OUR SCREENS AWAY FROM THE WEATHER MAP, TELL US ABOUT SOME OF THE OTHER PROJECTS YOU’VE WORKED ON, WHAT’S BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE/MOST REWARDING, AND WHAT HAVE YOU GOT IN THE PIPELINE? I’ve enjoyed presenting documentaries for BBC Northern Ireland. The first programme was ‘Walk the Line’ exploring where the railways used to criss-cross our countryside, now lost to history. It was great to get out and do something new, and I learned a lot. I still get asked a lot when the next series of Walk the Line is coming? Hopefully we’ll get a third series at some point. From there we moved on to ‘Weather Watchers with Barra Best’. It was a lot of fun – hot air ballooning, gliding, and surfing. Essentially, figuring out how we all make the most of our ever changing weather. We’re currently filming a new series all about our coast, the people who live there, and some of its hidden treasures. Keep an eye on the television schedules for that one coming soon! WHEN THE CAMERA STOPS ROLLING WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO FOR FUN, WHAT SORT OF MUSIC ARE YOU INTO, ARE YOU AN AVID CINEMA GOER? I love travelling. It’s my passion. Every chance I get, I’m online hunting out the best deals – even if it’s just a weekend trip to a city I’ve never been too. Top of my list was Machu Picchu, and thankfully I got to see it last autumn. It was spectacular, well worth the trip. You’ll usually find me heading to the cinema when there’s a good thriller, horror, or sci-fi blockbuster. Horrors though are my favourite. As for music, I’m fairly eclectic but usually mainstream chart music. YOU’RE A LOCAL LAD, IS IT WEIRD WALKING THE STREETS OF BELFAST AND HAVING PEOPLE RECOGNISE YOU AND ASK FOR WEE SELFIES? WHAT’S THE STRANGEST REQUEST YOU’VE HAD FROM A FAN? It was a bit of a surprise at first. Thankfully, everyone I’ve spoken to or had a selfie taken with has been nice and up for a bit of craic. We all talk about the weather
and we’re good at complaining about it too, but even when it’s raining I can have a laugh as people jokingly hold me responsible. The best request I’ve had is for sunshine for a wedding which was a year away – if only I had the power! LIKE MOST OF US, YOU DON’T SCREAM YOUR SEXUALITY, BUT YOU’RE ACTIVELY PRESENT AT VARIOUS HIGH PROFILE LGBT EVENTS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR. TELL US ABOUT THIS… I’ve been fortunate to be invited to all sorts of events over the years and have friends from all backgrounds which is great. I’ve had some fab times at these events, meeting people and spending times with friends and family – my mum, sister, and dad usually come along too. The best part is socialising and meeting people. It helps when the weather is great too – I’m happy to take the credit. IS THERE A SPECIAL PERSON IN YOUR LIFE AT THE MOMENT? Not at the minute. The main people in my life are my friends and family. PRIDE SEASON IS UPON US, HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU WENT TO YOUR FIRST PRIDE AND HOW WAS IT FOR YOU? I think I was in my mid-20s when I was in town having lunch with my mum and we heard the music outside. We went out and watched the colour coming down the road in the city centre. Thankfully the sun was shining that day. We ended up staying out for a while and enjoying the atmosphere. BELFAST PRIDE HAS GROWN SO MUCH OVER THE YEARS, I’M SURE YOU’VE NOTICED THE DIFFERENCE YOURSELF. DO YOU THINK BELFAST AS A CITY IS BECOMING MORE ACCEPTING OF LGBT PEOPLE AND THE ISSUES THEY FACE? WHY? What I love about Belfast is its ability to embrace everyone and move with the times. Festivals such as Belfast Pride, the Belfast Mela, and Culture Night seem to make up the city’s calendar because they attract people from all backgrounds. I’ve always enjoyed Belfast Pride because all my family and friends come along to enjoy the day out, meet new people, and have a bit of craic. Belfast is a great city and has certainly been changing over the years WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR BARRA BEST, WHAT’S THE DREAM JOB? I’m fortunate in that I have a job that I absolutely love. No two days are ever the same and that’s what I enjoy about. To the future, I hope to be bringing good weather news to our audience for many years to come. It’s hard work. In fact, it’s been the hardest job I’ve taken on, but it’s great fun and very rewarding. I hope to present more programmes also. They’re a real joy. The 12-13 hour days can be very tiring, but they’re helped along by a great team of colleagues.
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THE OUTING DOES
EUROVISION L.G.B.T. Music & Matchmaking Festival October Weekend 6th - 8th 2017 Niamh Kavanagh "In Your Eyes" Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan "Rock 'n' Roll Kids" And Guest
E KI SS BE MIN ME 4EVER
GIRL MEETS GIRL
GIRL MEETS BOY
BOOK YOUR TICKETS NOW
INTERVIEW__ ASTON MERRYGOLD INTERVIEW__ VONDA SHEPARD
VONDA SHEPARD Golden Globes, Emmy Awards, and millions of albums sold, GNI MAG chats to this worldwide megastar... WORDS: GARY CAMPION
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INTERVIEW__ VONDA SHEPARD
HAVING SOLD OVER TWELVE MILLION ALBUMS, WON TWO GOLDEN GLOBES, TWO EMMY AWARDS, TWO
SCREEN ACTOR’S GUILD AWARDS, SHE ALSO HOLDS
THE BILLBOARD PRIZE FOR SELLING THE MOST T.V.
SOUNDTRACKS IN HISTORY, SO WE WERE JUST A LITTLE
EXCITED (AND SLIGHTLY FAN-GIRLED) AT GETTING THE
CHANCE TO CATCH UP WITH VONDA SHEPARD AHEAD OF HER UK AND IRELAND TOUR.
So Vonda you are best known for your role and music in one of our favourite TV shows “Ally McBeal” (yes we have all the CD’s and DVD’s) It must have been a crazy but fun time being involved in such an international smash hit of a TV show, can you tell us about it and what was your favourite memory from it?
Wow, you have all of the CDs and DVDs?? Cool!! Yes, I must admit it was a crazy whirlwind, but incredibly exciting and gratifying, after having spent several years writing, playing clubs and trying to figure out how I was going to survive after my Warner Bros. days. The cast and crew were a blast to work with — not to mention the
fact that I got to produce Al Green, Sting, Robert Downey Jr. and many more amazing artists! One of my favorite memories was when we all piled into a limo when we were nominated for a Golden Globe the first 1/2 of the first season! We were like teenagers getting dressed up for the prom! Then we WON! We were all over the moon. You were also the music producer for Ally McBeal, what was it like being in the driving seat as opposed to being just the artist? I’ve always produced or co-produced my own music, so by the time I got the gig on Ally, I had a lot of experience in that department. It felt wonderful to be trusted by David Kelley to fill that role, and I did it with a lot of gusto, if I do say so myself! Haha… I would read the scripts and interpret David’s message. We’d learn the songs the night before going in the studio — often we’d get songs added that morning. Hence the whirlwind! I loved working with such a pastiche of fabulous artists… some of them were divas, YES, but that was to be expected. Speaking of musical production who was the best and the worst musical appearance on the show to work with in terms of producing? (Go one spill the beans… we promise we won’t tell!) Haha! I can’t believe you’re asking me this!! As I said, there were a few divas, and they weren’t necessarily female!!! I won’t say who it was, but I cut a full track with the band before this artist arrived. I played him what we had cut and asked “does it sound good to you?” He responded “NO… IT DOESN’T
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INTERVIEW__ VONDA SHEPARD SOUND GOOD AT ALL!!! Haha! I had to deal with a little of that, but by the end he invited us to his show up North and we were very friendly. (We nailed the song the way he envisioned it.) After Ally McBeal people would have forgiven you for taking some time off but you kept writing, producing and touring your music around the world, what has been your favourite place to play and why? Yes, this is true — I knew that there would be a quagmire I would fall into, after having worked so hard for so long and I was nervous about this, so about 6 months before the show ended, I began writing the album Chinatown. I feel a great need to travel in my life. As soon as I get home from anywhere, I begin planning my next tour or trip somewhere. There is no one single favorite place… there are hundreds! I am thrilled to be coming back to Ireland after much too long. I love driving through the countryside — or finding some hidden street to sit in a cafe and write when I’m on the road. Those are the things I love, besides the actual show. I love Paris, I must admit… but who doesn’t? You are about to embark on another UK and Ireland tour, what can fans expect from this tour and do you have any preshow mantras\habits that you must do before going on stage? Yes, we are!! I’m bringing a full band this time and we’ll do several songs from my latest album, Rookie (so download it asap!!) as well as a couple of songs from By 7:30, Chinatown, It’s Good, Eve and of course, toward the end of the show, it’s the big Ally McBeal party!! We’ll do many of the favorites from that show… but we’ll mix it up in the beginning, as I have so many albums. My band is ridiculously good! I’ve been playing with my bass player for over 20 years — Jim Hanson. And James Ralston on guitar has been with me for 15 years now! We are inviting a German drummer to join us on this tour — he’s good, too! Christopher Hafer. There will be some intimate moments, a couple of solo pieces and the full on soul party! It’s been 10 years since you were last in Belfast, did you get a chance to see any of our tourist attractions last time? Will you have time to take some in this time (we recommend the multiaward winning Titanic Centre, Giants Causeway and Bushmills whiskey factory)?
I really appreciate when people tell us about the attractions of their cities! Usually we’re on the road, then having a nap, a workout, warming up my voice, doing soundcheck, dinner and the gig, then signing CDs after the show, so there is almost zero time for checking out the cities, unless we have a day off, which is seldom, but does happen now and then! Thanks for the suggestions!! You’ve been playing the piano since you were six years old and in clubs since you were 14 years old, did you always know that you wanted a career in music and at what point did you pinch yourself and go “I’ve finally made it?” I wanted to be an astrophysicist, actually! I used to read Science News and Isaac Asimov’s guide to science! And Carl Sagan, of course… but after playing my first gig, I had an epiphany that this was what I wanted to do. I feel lucky to have found my calling early in life. I can’t imagine the pressure of going to college and having to choose a major at the age of 18!! The moment I knew I had finally made it (sort of!), was when I got the call from my manager, saying that Warner Bros. was finally signing me. I was 24 and had spent four years doing “artist development” with them. Four years of demos and gigs, and they finally signed me!! It was a dream… but real. The second big moment was when Ally started taking off — that was exciting. Who have been your biggest influences for your music and is there anyone you would like to work with who you haven’t yet (here’s your chance to put it out there on the internet and in print for them to see)? Haha! Seal, Bono, The Corrs, Stevie Wonder… there are a few more… Snoop Dog. Just kidding… haha! We see from your blog that you love to cook and are planning on releasing a cookbook, what’s your favourite dish to create? Any news on the new cookbook release yet? You know… I really don’t think I’m that good of a cook after all! Although I get many credits on people’s albums who record at our house… and the credits are for cooking, not necessarily singing!! I actually am a great cook!! But I only know how to make about 17 dishes REALLY well. I need to branch out — Thai, Indian… those are next. I’m great at Italian food. I like fresh, local, organic vegetables in season… roasted or sautéed, fresh fish, grilled. I’m a sucker for pasta… it’s my WEAKNESS!!! Hence the extra 8
pounds (weight, not money!) So I don’t have any idea when the cookbook is coming… maybe in the next year?? Thanks for the encouragement… : ) What does Vonda Shepard do when she is not being Vonda Shepard? I have an 11 year old!! Basketball, homework, shopping for food, making the beds, cleaning out the fridge, making lunches, beach with friends. If we’re talking just me, I love to read. And learn the occasional new recipe. I am fascinated with politics, but it’s getting far too depressing these days. I love the beach… I can stare at the beach for quite a long time and contemplate life. I love laughing with my best friend Soupie. This is our Pride edition of our magazine, do you have a message for your LGBT fans? Yes, I love you!!! Catch Vonda on tour: 1st July Belfast Waterfront Studio 2nd July Dublin Pavilion Theatre 4th July Great Torrington The Plough Arts Centre 6th July Henley On Thames Henley Festival 7th July Maidstone - Pizza Express Live 8th July London - Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho 2 shows. GNIMAG.COM | 43
INTERVIEW__ PIXIE LOTT
Pixie Lott She was snapped up in a music industry bidding war when she was 15, three albums, a greatest hits, tours and now she’s a judge on The Voice Kids. We chat to Pixie Lott about all of this and how she keeps her man happy...
AT TWENTY-SIX YOU’VE ALREADY BEEN IN THE IN INDUSTRY FOR OVER TEN YEARS AFTER BEING “DISCOVERED AT 15”. WHAT WAS IT LIKE BECOMING FAMOUS SO YOUNG, HOW DID YOU DEAL WITH THE PRESSURES AND THE “PIXIE LOTT” BIDDING WAR AT THE TIME? I loved singing and performing from such a young age so I just knew it was what I wanted to do for a career. Sometimes it’s easier experiencing these pressures when you’re young as you let it wash over you, and not get too caught up on the rejections. YOU’VE ALREADY GOT THREE ALBUMS AND A GREATEST HITS RECORD UNDER YOUR BELT; YOU’VE APPEARED IN MOVIES, TV AND ON THE STAGE. WHICH DO YOU PREFER, MUSIC OR ACTING AND WHY? Music is always my #1 - I’ll always prioritise that over everything else I do. I love acting too, but music is what I love more than anything.
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INTERVIEW__ PIXIE LOTT WE LOVE THE LATEST SINGLE “BABY”. IT’S CLEAR THAT YOU’VE NEVER BEEN AFRAID OF MAKING BOLD CHOICES WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR MUSIC, ARE YOU WORKING ON MORE NEW MUSIC AT THE MINUTE, WHICH DIRECTION IS IT GOING, ANY NEW COLLABORATIONS AND WHEN CAN WE EXPECT TO HEAR IT? Yes I’m working on new music right now. I’ve been doing loads of studio sessions with some really talented songwriters and producers. Direction wise, I will always love anything with a soul feel to it, but I also like something you can have a dance to like Baby. It was fun partnering with Anton Powers, I’d never collaborated with a DJ before. YOU’RE ONE OF THE COACHES ON THE VOICE KIDS ALONGSIDE WILL I AM AND DANNY JONES. HOW’D THAT COME ABOUT AND WHAT ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT? WHAT CAN VIEWERS EXPECT? WHAT TYPE OF JUDGE ARE YOU? It’s such an honour to be a part of The Voice Kids. Those kids are just incredible, so talented and so fearless. They walk on stage and simply blow everyone away. I try to be like a big sister to all my team, but also give them constructive feedback so they can improve their performance. DO YOU THINK YOU’LL BE ABLE TO RELATE TO THE CONTESTANTS MORE THAN THE OTHER COACHES AS YOU WERE A KID YOURSELF WHEN YOU STARTED IN MUSIC? I think we can all relate to the kids. All three of us started out young and experienced the ups and downs of the industry, so we can all bring something and share our stories. I love them both - it’s so much fun working with Will and Danny. YOU TOURED WITH RHIANNA BACK IN THE DAY, WAS IT A BIT INTIMIDATING PERFORMING WITH SUCH A GLOBAL SUPERSTAR? WHAT WAS SHE LIKE; DID SHE OFFER ANY TIPS OR ADVICE? It was an amazing experience touring with Rihanna. I’d released my debut album the year before and it was so much fun to get out there and perform live. She is an incredible woman and performer. I also just love how her style changes all the time - she’s a fashion icon. SO, YOU’VE BEEN WITH OLIVER CHESHIRE SINCE YOU WERE 19, YOU GOT ENGAGED AT THE END OF LAST YEAR, AND HAVE BEEN QUOTED AS SAYING YOU KNOW EACH OTHER INSIDE OUT. HE’S A RESPECTED MODEL WORKING FOR SOME OF THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS BRANDS, AND YOU’RE OBVIOUSLY MEGA BUSY WITH YOUR WORK, WHAT’S YOUR SECRET – HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR MAN HAPPY? We’re both really laid back and like nothing more than just hanging out at home with a takeaway and watching
TV. It’s really important when you’re both so busy and at events all the time to just take time out to hang out with each other and not be distracted by everything else that’s going on. I’m really lucky that Oliver understands the craziness of my job. YOU DID STRICTLY, TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH IT? WHAT DID YOU LOVE AND HATE ABOUT IT? WERE YOU WORRIED ABOUT THE STRICTLY CURSE FOR YOU AND OLIVER? HAVE YOU KEPT UP WITH THE BALLROOM DANCING? It was such a fun show to be a part of, and all the girls from my series still have a whats app group and we all chat regularly. I try to keep up with the dancing but it’s tough sometimes with my schedule, and Trent who was my partner is always traveling around the world so I don’t get to see him as much as I’d like. YOU’VE PERFORMED AT PRIDE AND AT THE LEGENDARY G-A-Y IN LONDON. YOU’VE A MASSIVE LGBT FAN BASE, WHAT DO YOU THINK THE APPEAL IS AND WOULD YOU HAVE A MESSAGE FOR YOUR IRISH LGBT FANS THIS PRIDE SEASON AND OUR PRIDE ISSUE? I love performing at GAY and Pride - it’s always such a brilliant atmosphere and my friends and I have the best time. I hope all your readers enjoy Pride, wish I was there to party with you! SPEAKING OF PERFORMING IN G-A-Y, THE RAUNCHY OUTFIT WAS ALL OVER THE INTERNET WITH TALK OF NIPPLE SLIPPAGE LOL. TELL US ABOUT THAT? It’s fun to wear something a little OTT for GAY and I spend a lot of time with my stylist beforehand to find something perfect. Thankfully I didn’t suffer any wardrobe malfunctions! YOU’VE OBVIOUSLY GOT WHAT’S PERCEIVED IN THE MAINSTREAM AS PRETTY MUCH THE PERFECT BODY SO THERE ARE MANY GIRLS AND GUYS OUT THERE WHO WOULDN’T MIND YOU FREEING THE NIP, ARE YOU ONE OF THOSE LUCKY NATURALLY SLIM PEOPLE OR DO YOU HAVE A GRUELING EATING AND FITNESS REGIME? I don’t have a gruelling eating and fitness regime. I try to eat healthily but I don’t stop myself from eating anything if I want it. I love chocolate and can’t ever give that up. I also work out with (name) from ROAR Fitness who has been helping me to tone up. 2017 IS HALF WAY OVER AND THERE ARE RUMOURS THIS IS THE YEAR THAT YOU’LL BECOME MRS CHESHIRE, ANY TRUTH IN THAT? WHAT SORT OF BIG DAY ARE YOU PLANNING? The big day will be next year, so I better start planning soon!
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INTERVIEW__ JOSEPH HARWOOD
JOSEPH HARWOOD “You do get a certain type of man who has discovered trans porn and become infatuated with the idea of it and I think that’s so degrading.” WORDS: CLIFF CARTER
FAMED FOR CELEBRITY MAKE-UP TRANSFORMATIONS from Marilyn Monroe to Madonna and Miley, Joseph Harwood’s CV runs the gambit from the first teen model to walk London fashion week, in both male and female collections, to Grande Champion of Simon Cowell’s YouTube Talent search YouGeneration. Joe joins GNI for a chat about his life and work and to discuss the notion of visibility and “pride.” SO JOE, FOR OUR READERS WHO MAYBE DON’T KNOW YOU, WOULD YOU MIND TELLING US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF? JUST THE BASICS; AGE, LOCATION, BLOOD TYPE, CREDIT CARD NUMBER... Ha! Well I’ve just turned twenty-six and I’m currently based between Los Angeles and London. I travel pretty much every other month at the moment, but I was born by the seaside in Brighton and all my family are still there. AND WOULD YOU MIND TELLING US HOW YOU IDENTIFY? I was identified as a boy at birth, but I came home from pre-school at age four and said I’d found my husband and I
wanted to be a girl, haha! This was the language I used to try to communicate what was going on with me because I had an innate understanding, as we all do, of what I was but I didn’t really know what was going on with me at that age, I could just identify [something] in the same way someone who’s lost a limb would always feel like they were missing something - something was not quite right. As I grew up and didn’t develop in the same way as my male peers, who were growing Adam’s apples and going through the regular puberty you’d been taught about, I could see even clearer that I was going through a different process completely. I had an extreme hormonal f-up as many trans people do - it gave me all the symptoms a woman would go through during menopause, extreme dysphoria, even memory loss. I was always a very rebellious kid and so I ignored the rules and left all the gender specific classes at fourteen and joined the girls’ gym class - the teachers were oblivious. I started to use the disabled toilets not the male toilets. From that age I described myself as “androgynous” and then, from researching all I could find, “Two-Spirit” was the closest thing [to what I felt] as it made
much more sense [regarding my body and mind]. Today I consider myself a trans person - I’ve had the exact same experience with hormone replacement and surgery [as someone who transitions from assigned gender to actual gender], but my goal is not to have the physicality of a woman. HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN AWARE OF, AND OPEN TO, YOUR DIFFERENT IDENTITY(IES)? At fifteen I was lucky enough to have been spotted by an editor who wanted me to cast for Dazed and Confused magazine as a model. So I was so fortunate in that because I was praised for my differences and was able to make an income when many of my friends who had similar experiences never got that affirmation some of my closest friends were brought up with a constant shadow of shame, not being able to find work because many areas do not hire trans people. I know how fortunate I am that I could be myself and not feel passed over. I literally was leaving my GCSE classes early to go to London and have a room of people compliment me for my uniqueness - it’s not the normal situation that happens and I want to underline that.
I constantly went to see medical professionals thinking that I had BDD and was ignored and pacified; no one identified what was happening to me until I was twenty-four. I actually discovered by sheer chance, during a particularly vain consultation for liposuction, that it was likely I had different chromosomes and upon investigation I found this to be true. I have XXXY as opposed to the regular XY, which means I’m male in body but I have more feminine features and proportions than [is typical]. Now I know why I had a different experience and there is a physical reason for it, I’m hoping to stabilise it. I just want to be in control of what I’m working with and I’m currently going through several procedures to regulate my hormone levels and re-proportion my torso. I’m very comfortable discussing this because I think we need to see more people speak on the reasons why - there’s a lot of vague moments where people have had the media platform and spoken about an innate feeling. That’s very much part of it but there more often than not is a reason why we have those feelings of disconnect. So I embrace being a trans person and think it’s a blessing.
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INTERVIEW__ JOSEPH HARWOOD DO YOU YOUR FAMILY TRULY GET IT, OR DON’T THEY CARE - IN THE UNCONDITIONALLY LOVING SENSE OF COURSE! My family wanted to protect me from being different - they honestly did not get it. They never stopped me being myself but it was hard work. My dad is the polar opposite to me in every sense and it was a trial growing up that I don’t really delve into. But when I started to be recognised in the street by fans of my blogs, or I could buy a dishwasher for my home or whatever [from being myself and being paid for it], they got it; I took my mum to the opening premiere of Kinky Boots in the West End and I think she saw me in context and it like clicked into place. She’s amazing, a huge inspiration to me and I’m super grateful for her constant support. IN THE PAST YOU’VE EMPLOYED “BOY MODE” AND “GIRL MODE,” CARE TO ELABORATE ON THAT? IS IT SOMETHING THAT CHANGES WILLINGLY ON HOW YOU WISH TO PRESENT, OR IS IT MORE SPONTANEOUS? DO YOU SUFFER DYSPHORIA BETWEEN TIMES? This is totally a YouTube trick; when I started online, there was zero content. It was a blank page and the people I saw that were doing male beauty were Petrilude, Alex Reed Thompson, Richie Nickel, Wayne Goss. Misty Eyez and Blanche Babcock did drag tutorials. There was a handful of other people, my group from the channel Five Awesome Trannys which was a collaborative blog that did social justice content in 2007, they were more diverse and alternative in their style. But there was absolutely no people on the platform who were making the same credible tutorials or making money like the girls were. They were being sent PR packages by Lancome, which was like an alien concept to me and I knew that if I wanted to get to a point where I could reach that mainstream audience, I’d have to bait and switch. I created the first Boy to Girl tutorial on YouTube that spoke about facial structure and contouring. I brought a lot of reference to Way Bandy, Kevyn Aucoin, Mathu Andersen, who were the people I looked up to, so I modified their techniques for me and switched them. I basically wanted to create a sensation to get people to watch the content and it worked, and now it’s the way many of my peers have started their own channels. For me, I don’t ever think today I’m going to be a boy, tomorrow I’m going to be a girl. If a brand has paid me to be specifically in a beard campaign or
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something like a bra campaign, then I’ll consciously style myself to meet their client ideals, but for me I wake up and I am myself. I documented the full process of having my face worked on surgically on my channel and it’s reduced my dysphoria completely, but my body is an issue for me and that’s next to work on. So it’s reaching a level where I can fit the body I’m in; at the moment I feel like I’m navigating through a machine that ignores half of my instructions.
“I’ll consciously style myself to meet their client ideals, but for me I wake up and I am myself.” YOU’VE ALWAYS BEEN VISIBLE THEN, LIVING YOUR TEENS MORE IN “GIRL MODE”? BUT NOW YOU’RE EXPLORING YOUR “BOY” SIDE AS DEFAULT TELL US A BIT ABOUT THAT: I honestly never called myself female during this time, I let the rest of the world do it for me. I used female bathrooms and still do to this day and my aesthetic choices came from female references. I styled myself on a mermaid, or a female video game character, and that was my inspiration. Mainly, I thought I would never be able to do a masculine image because even when I had a tiny beard grow as a teenager, I would be called miss in stores and still do - I thought it would be impossible, but I needed to see if I could do it, and I cut my hair off. I stopped laser hair removal on my face, got a few of my friends to style me as a boy and it honestly is like experiencing the world as a different person completely. People’s reactions to you if they perceive you as a man, is a totally different experience and I needed to see that for myself. HOW ABOUT DATING? Dating is a mission for anyone, before I ever did a, “quote unquote,” male look, I would go to an LGBT venue or club and be completely ignored by the guys there. You do get a certain type of man who has discovered trans porn and become infatuated with the idea of it and I think that’s so degrading. Today,
I think finding confidence in myself and exploring my male side and female side, I know how fickle dating really is because I’ve still got the same morals and sensibilities whether I have a beard or a barbie look. If someone can’t see past that then they aren’t gonna get anywhere with me, and I’m grateful to be dating someone at the moment who totally respects and supports me as me. YOU’VE HAD HANDS IN MANY PIES OVER THE YEARS:MODELLING IN LONDON AND TOKYO, MAKING OVER SOME OF OUR FAVOURITE DRAG GIRLS AND YOUR FAMOUS FRANCOIS SAGAT MADONNA TRANSFORMATION - WHAT’S NEXT ON YOUR AGENDA? I’ve been working for a year now on a book called AGITPROP. It’s basically a concept book that shows makeup and photography in a coffee table style, I want to show how the media portrays situations with an agenda, and flip it on its head. Like propaganda. I’m working on an exhibit to coincide with this at the moment. I am always working with brands on new products - I have had success with the brand BeeGood - you can purchase my lip balm collaboration with them across the UK. Next is the release of my own brand and some secret projects I’ve been keeping up my sleeve. IN SPITE OF PAST CENSORSHIP, YOU’RE OFTEN CAUGHT EDUCATING THE CHILDREN ON THE SCIENCE AND HISTORY OR BEING TRANS IN WAYS THAT MANY ‘INFLUENCERS’ AVOID - HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT? Yes I’m so focused on this, I want to see more examples of trans people talking about science and gay history. Even so, watching videos on YouTube is not enough - you need to research when laws were changed, what the media headlines were at the time, what creates stigma. Interacting with homophobic people and understanding their view point, then you start to see that they’re navigating from a source of misinformation. How do you counter that? Facts. There’s so much science behind what we’re attracted to, what we develop as, and that’s not something I see anyone talking about. So I’m excited to throw in anything I find to my social streams. YOU’VE BEEN NOMINATED
FOR A POSITIVE LGBT ROLE MODEL AWARD WITH THE NATIONAL DIVERSITY AWARDS? CONGRATULATIONS! IF THAT DOESN’T SCREAM PRIDE... WELL I’M SURE SOMEONE WILL GET DRUNK ENOUGH AND DO IT FROM A FLOAT. I’M LOOKING AT YOU TONY DAY. (EDITOR) I know! What the heck! So insane. I’m blown away constantly by these things, ha ha. May was a very impactful month for me because for the previous year and a half, I had been essentially taking a break to explore my gender. It was the third reunion of winning my contest, a lot happened and I consciously decided to go back to work. It’s been nothing but amazing since, I’m so grateful to have been recognised and even that is a win. THANK YOU JOE FOR SHARING WITH GNI. Thank you so much for taking the time to hear my story! YOU CAN FIND JOE ON YOUTUBE, AND ACROSS ALL SOCIAL MEDIA ON HIS HANDLE @JOSEPHHARWOOD.
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INTERVIEW__ INTERVIEW__ UNA UNA HEALY HEALEY
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INTERVIEW__ UNA HEALY
From The Saturdays to going solo.
WITH THE SATURDAYS YOU ACHIEVED 13 TOP 10 HITS AND 4 TOP 10 ALBUMS DO YOU FEEL THE PRESSURE IS ON-GOING OUT AT A SOLO ARTIST AND WITH (IF YOU DON’T MIND US SAYING) A VERY DIFFERENT SOUND? I am doing my own sound now, almost full circle back to my original sound before my time with the girls; the sound is very true to me. I achieved so much in The Saturday’s the statics are there, we enjoyed great success I am very proud of everything with the girls but , I don’t think you can compare the two, it would be like comparing your children. OUT OF ALL THE SATURDAYS HITS WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE AND WHY? HAVE YOU TRIED PUTTING YOUR NEW MORE ACOUSTIC COUNTRY SOUND TO COVERING ANY OF THE SATURDAYS HITS? I’ve got a few favourite but one of my all time favourites is “all fired up” because it has everything in it, I love dance music you see, you wouldn’t necessarily know it from the sound of my solo stuff but I really am a dance girl at heart. I loved performing it, loved my parts in it and the video is just class, “Up” would be a close 2nd. I don’t feel it would sound or feel right to perform any
of The Saturdays tracks without the girls, it our sound together. IT’S EUROVISION SEASON AGAIN AND BACK IN 2006 YOU WERE A BACKING SINGER FOR BRIAN KENNEDY’S ENTRY, WOULD YOU EVER CONSIDER ENTERING YOURSELF? HAVE YOU HEARD THIS YEARS ENTRIES AND WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE UK AND IRELANDS ENTRIES? I absolutely love Eurovision and was very honoured to perform with Brian, he did very well all things considered, it was a great experience and I have to say that Brendan Murray for Ireland with “Dying to try” is a great tune, I’ve met him a few times at events and that with Louis (Walsh) and I hope he does well, he deserves to he’s worked really hard, I wish him all the luck in the world. YOU WERE A JUDGE ON THE VOICE IRELAND, HOW DID YOU FIND BEING IN THE FAMOUS SEAT AND WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO WIN WITH PATRICK JAMES? ARE YOU STILL IN CONTACT WITH HIM IS THERE A POSSIBILITY OF A DUET? It was an amazing experience for my two years on the voice, it isn’t on anymore but if it was still around I
would still be doing it I’m sure. Winning with Patrick James really was the cherry on top for the last season, he worked so hard for it and is so extremely talented, but I think at the moment he is trying to put together his own album and sound. We wrote a dance record together, I did a gig at the Sugar Club not that long ago and I got Patrick up on stage to sing with me, so I guess you never know what will happen in the future. DESCRIBE EACH OF YOUR FELLOW JUDGES IN ONLY ONE WORD: Bressie: Serious Kian: Joker Rachel: A Lady YOU ARE NOW A MUMMY TO AOIFE BELLE AND TADHG, ARE EITHER OF THEM SHOWING SIGNS OF MUSICAL TALENTS AND IF THEY WANTED TO PURSUE A CAREER IN MUSIC LIKE MUM WHAT YOU THINK/SAY TO THEM? I would just support them in whatever they wanted to do whether it was music or sport or academics whatever. I would just support them the way my parents did me. I sometimes think it must be hard for a parent to hear that their child wants to go into music, My mum knows how hard the industry is as her brother Declan Nearney is in it, she encouraged me with my studies
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INTERVIEW__ UNA HEALY 1st, I tried university twice but kept coming back to music if it was her supporting me with my dreams that helped me in my music career. I will be doing the same with my kids whatever they want to do they will have my love and support unconditionally. They would just need to know that you have to work really really hard and not expect anything overnight and only a small percentage of people actually get any success, its like everything else you have to work for it, you have to travel, sacrifice commitments, don’t worry I will let them know all about it.
All the songs were ideas of my own, I don’t mind co-writing as it helps grow ideas you already have, it like sharing experiences and creating your own little baby together. I get my inspiration from life just, my feelings there is a little bit of fiction in there but I draw a lot from my experiences with my friends, family who are all part of my inspiration and would play tracks back to them.
He was delighted for me, he certainly influenced the country sound, he’s been on the country scene his whole life so he is always good to run things by with, I don’t bombard him with demos but if I feel a track is particularly strong I will send it to him for his opinions. I grew up listening to country music so it all happens quite naturally. The album isn’t exclusively country there is a poppy, country rock sound throughout the album like with my new single “Battlelines.”
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I would probably tell them to listen to “battlelines” my new single because I wouldn’t want to alienate them too much as the Saturdays were just pure pop, ease them into what I call “CPR” (Country Pop Rock) I would love to hear it remixed so if any DJ’s want to have a go I would love to hear it. BATTLELINES IS YOUR NEW SINGLE, TELL US ABOUT AND TELL OUR READERS WHY THEY SHOULD GO OUT AND BUY IT AND YOUR ALBUM NOW! It’s a really positive song about how love isn’t going to be brilliant every day, you have to go through the tough times and work together. In real love it’s not like on the TV, you get battered and bruised along the way (not physically I mean emotionally) any relationship is worth fighting for if you love someone enough. The album “The Waiting Game” is out now and available online to download and in all good record shops. It’s a mixture of up tempo tracks to ballads, but I think it would be for anyone if they see I am performing somewhere to come hear me live, for me once you’ve seen an artist live it makes you enjoy the album more, or if you’ve already got it, I expect to hear you all singing the words back to me at my next gig.
HERE IN THE OFFICE WE LOVE HOW PURE AND TIGHT THE HARMONIES ARE IN “STAY MY LOVE,” WE WERE SURPRISED WHEN WE WERE RESEARCHING TO FIND OUT THAT YOU ARE COUNTRY SINGLE DECLAN NERNEY’S NIECE, DID HE HAVE MUCH OF AN INFLUENCE ON THE STYLE OF MUSIC FOR YOUR DEBUT ALBUM AND WHAT DID HE THINK OF YOUR DUET WITH NASHVILLE’S VERY OWN SAM PALLIDO?
WE SEE YOU ARE CREDITED WITH WRITING ON ALL THE TRACKS ON THE ALBUM, WAS CREATIVE CONTROL IMPORTANT FOR YOU AND WERE DO FIND YOURSELF DRAWING YOUR INSPIRATIONS FROM?
SOMEONE WHO HAS ONLY HEARD THE SATURDAYS TUNES TO LISTEN TO AND WHY?
THE SATURDAYS HAD A BIG LGBT FOLLOWING WITH SO MANY HITS STILL BEING PLAYED IN THE CLUBS, WHICH TRACK ON YOUR ALBUM WOULD YOU TELL
UNA WILL BE PLAYING AT THE HARVEST FESTIVAL IN ENNISKILLEN ON 26TH AUG 2017 TICKETS AND FURTHER INFO ARE AVAILABLE ON WWW. UNAHEALY.COM.
Wishing everyone a happy PRIDE 2017. / Dentistry / Orthodontics / Injectables / Skin Rejuvenation
WORKING WITH PRIDE BUSINESS__ WORKING WITH PRIDE
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BUSINESS__ WORKING WITH PRIDE WE STUMBLED ACROSS THE WORKING WITH PRIDE NETWORK ALMOST BY ACCIDENT. CO-CHAIRPERSON ANNETTE TELLS US WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT... TELL US HOW WWP CAME ABOUT? The Working With Pride network is an informal network of corporate Pride networks. As the co-chair of the Citi Pride Network, I was keen to find out if other organisations within Belfast were operating a similar staff-led LGBT+ network. I liaised with the Rainbow Project and other external bodies to discuss this and quickly discovered that there was indeed a core group of corporate networks in place. I gathered a list of contacts and set up the first meeting in July 2015. I was chair of this group. It snowballed from there and now the group has gotten so big that we needed another co-chair. In January 2017 Chris Burns was voted co-chair. WHAT BUSINESSES ARE CURRENTLY INVOLVED? There are currently 25 member businesses involved. WHAT ARE YOUR CORE AIMS? We have 3 aims: 1 - Share best practice 2 - Ensure our respective employers are the employers of choice in NI 3 - Create safe platform for LGBT+/ Allies to network WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENTS TO DATE? It operates on the premise that each organisation is encouraged to open their events where possible to the network. Each organisation is then able to include those events in their respective Pride calendars. This has worked quite well to date. The biggest and most successful WWP organised event is the Pride breakfast. The owner of one of Belfast’s most famous bars, Willie Jack, enables WWP to host a Pride breakfast in the Dark Horse bar. Willie offers the use of his premises as a safe and inclusive space. He does this free of charge and provides a magnificent breakfast to all who wish to avail. It started out with only one company taking part in
2015. In 2016 we had 4 companies take part and in 2017 we will have 10 companies get involved. With the dramatic increase in numbers this year we will be using the Dark horse, The Duke of York and the Harp Bar. 450 people are due to take over Belfast’s most photographed street to kick off Belfast Pride celebrations in style! Breakfast attendees are invited to attend an after party in the Dark Horse where, once again, Willie Jack provides free entertainment and canapes. ARE YOU OPEN TO NEW MEMBERS? IF SO, HOW WOULD THEY BECOME INVOLVED? ABSOLUTELY!!! We are always on the lookout for new members. There is no membership fee and we only meet 2-3 times a year, the rest of the communication is via e-mail and a closed Facebook group. If your organisation has a staff-led LGBT+ network then simply contact Annette Whelan or Chris Burns on the following e-mail addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com GNI MAG AS A BUSINESS HAVE BEEN CRITICISED BY SOME HETEROSEXUAL PEOPLE, ASKING WHY THERE IS A NEED FOR ‘GAY-FRIENDLY’ TITLES WHEN THERE IS NO ‘STRAIGHT-FRIENDLY’ TITLE. DO YOU COME ACROSS THIS NEGATIVITY TOWARDS AND LGBT NETWORK? To date we have not experienced any negativity towards WWP. We know that through talking with our members that they experienced similar attitudes when setting up their company’s network. People asked why the need for an LGBT+ network when there is no Straight network. We find that the best approach here is to demonstrate how our organisations were originally set up to support straight people and thus are inherently ‘straight-friendly’ It is only in recent years that corporates in NI are recognising that their staff base is diverse and is not made up of straight, white married males and females. It is through the education provided by the WWP members that we help to break down these pre-conceived notions
that ‘everything is OK’ for LGBT+ people now. We have to say though that any criticism is minimal and all our members have had their networks warmly received. FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE DO YOU THINK THAT MORE BUSINESSES ARE BECOMING MORE AWARE OF THE BENEFITS OF HAVING REPRESENTATIVES ON AN LGBT NETWORK? Most definitely. We are hearing more and more senior members from organisations in Belfast encouraging the introduction of staff-led Pride networks. They are discovering that the benefits of ALL STAFF bringing their full selves to work are vital in order to encourage greater productivity as well as positivity. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS? Having people take part in a staff-led LGBT+ network are threefold: The organisation: • It promotes diversity and demonstrates the employer’s commitment to diversity and equality • It allows for talent management whereby participants learn new skills and widen their networks • It facilitates compliance with local employment laws and practices • It encourages communication amongst staff at all levels of the organisation • It improves a company’s reputation within the local community in which it operates The employees: • It encourages communication and an opportunity for staff to be heard • It provides an arena where staff can receive support from their peers • It can help with career progression • It allows participants to learn new skills and develop their talents • It enables participants to be visible role models in their organisations The Customer/Client: • It improves products and services by identifying any barriers that LGBT+ customers/
clients may have in accessing services or products It can support the customer/ client by providing expertise on LGBT+ issues and thus sharing best practice It can offer new ways to communicate with customers and support marketing activity
WHAT SOME MEMBERS SAID... JONATHAN STEWART - CITI Membership of WWP is also an effective way to build the Citi Pride’s network and ensure that Citi is promoted as THE employer of choice in Northern Ireland. Citi are keen to demonstrate that we embrace diversity in every form. We want to attract a talent base that will continue to grow Citi in Northern Ireland, we believe that our staff networks go a long way in helping to achieve this. BARRY O’DONNELL-MCCRORY ALLEN & OVERY We strengthen our position in NI by being an active member of Working with Pride networks, we find a huge benefit in sharing our experiences with other organisations and helping share best practice across the various industries we have relationships with. IAN STITT- BARCLAYS I am proud that Barclays has a strong LGBT employee support network. WWP is a great platform to publicise what we do, and how we do it. We are also free to share best practice with other local organisations in this forum. DENISE HART - PWC Being a part of the WWP network has opened up opportunities for our members to attend events and expand their business networks. It is also a fantastic forum to share knowledge and experience of what works in everyone’s networks and what challenges are being faced. WWP can provide support and advice for LGBT networks at every stage of their growth, and we certainly benefitted in our early days from having people from more mature networks to give us guidance.
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BUSINESS__ CHRIS LOVE
CHRIS LOVE CHRIS LOVE IS ONE OF THE TOP PR GURUS IN NORTHERN IRELAND, HAVING WON VARIOUS PRESTIGIOUS AWARDS RECOGNISING THE EXCELLENT JOB HE DOES. WE ASKED CHRIS ABOUT HIS WORK… WHERE WAS YOUR FIRST APPRENTICESHIP AND HOW WAS IT? I spent a year in London in the PR department of Amanda Wakeley (a fave designer of Princess Diana) and then on to Versace UK press office. AFTER THAT DID YOU HAVE SECOND THOUGHTS ABOUT YOUR CHOSEN CAREER? Although I was very much in a junior position, I loved the companies I worked for in London, they were small teams and very much looked after me and swooned over my accent. PR has changed so much from when I started out – the way we influence trends, culture and behaviour are using different tactics, more rapidly changing technologies to reach decision makers. AND YOUR FIRST ‘PROPER JOB”, TELL US ABOUT THAT. The first time I really stood on my own two feet running a PR and Marketing department is when I worked for Paul & Jeanne Rankin at the height of their fame – I was in the right place at the right time when I landed the job and the buck stopped with me. Like any office worker in the hospitality game, they’ll know when times are busy everyone is pulled to help out on the restaurant floor. You’d be surprised how many trays of glasses I smashed!! THAT MUST SEEM LIKE A LIFETIME AGO AS YOU’RE NOW THE MAN BEHIND LOVE PR. WHAT MADE YOU TAKE THE PLUNGE TO START OUT ON YOUR OWN? I had been looking for a change in my full-time employment but the right opportunity hadn’t presented
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itself. I had a few freelance clients and debated to roll solo, so I enrolled on Invest NI’s start a business programme and decided to give it a shot. People think starting a business is a big risk, but I literally worked from my bedroom and sofa for the first couple of years, keeping costs to a minimum. Ten years on and I’m still around. I love the clients I’ve had the opportunity to work with from established brand such as Coca-Cola, Nando’s, L’Oreal to smaller owner operated businesses Mourne Seafood Bar who I’ve worked with from day one. I’ve also represented Belfast Pride for a number of years helping to achieve positive mainstream media coverage of LGBTQ issues, developing the debate between political leaders and of course ensuring media coverage of the Pride parade. TELL US ABOUT YOUR TEAM… The team is me. I made a decision from day one not to employ anyone. I chose not to become a big PR agency where the bosses pitch for business and invariably the work is carried out by an inexperienced junior member of staff. When I’m hired by companies I’m the sole point of contact, I develop the strategy and implement it too. I’m lucky to work with other independent practitioners on big projects where we come together to deliver the end result. I’ve been involved with the PR industry body The Chartered Institute of Public Relations since 2005. I led the CIPR in Northern Ireland in 2014 and represented Northern Ireland on the UK Council for three years. I also sat on the CIPR Professional Practices committee developing and shaping ethical standards. TAKE US THROUGH A TYPICAL DAY… I receive a media alert every morning around 0430 (I’m
rarely awake) but it’s the first email I open at when I wake up. This provides me with all my client news and flags any issues that may have developed over night. In the morning I tend to meet with clients, journalists and suppliers which usually involves brain storming ideas. My office is based in the Ormeau Baths in the heart of Belfast City Centre, so it’s a great location to nip out to one of the nearby coffee establishments. Most of my day is spent devising strategies linked to client business objectives in order for their business to grow and looking at new technologies such as augmented and virtual reality alongside geo-targeting messaging where this can impact on purchasing decisions. I work in Dublin a couple of times a month and travel to London every month too so the days can be long but as I’m working for myself the reward comes in a job well done, not finishing a half an hour early! WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO FANCIES A CAREER IN PR? Forget the stereotypical image of Ab Fab, nothing could be further from the truth. PR is consistently voted in the top 10 of the world’s most stressful jobs, but don’t let that put you off. One small idea can transform the fortune of a business, create global trends and make a difference to society. It’s important that anyone considering a PR career has good business acumen, not afraid to work 24/7 especially when a crisis breaks and ultimately can influence the board of directors in a company or the business owner as to why communications is vital to the daily workings of their organisation. WWW.LOVEPR.CO.UK
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Heâ€™s described it as his most honest interview, read it here!. PAGE60
DR IN THE HOUSE:
Dr Glenn Mason tells us how to stay safe this pride season. PAGE 49
We take a look at all the cool stuff you can buy to get you through pride. PAGE 64
THE PRIDE ISSUE__ CONLETH KANE IMAGE CREDIT: ROSS MCBRIDE WWW.SILVERTHORNEPHOTOGRAPHY.CO.UK
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THE PRIDE ISSUE__ CONLETH KANE
LURGAN LAD CONLETH KANE LEFT OUR WEE PART OF THE WORLD AND HEADED TO THE BIG SMOKE OF LONDON OVER A DECADE AGO. THROUGH THE YEAR’S WE’VE SEEN HIM POP UP ON OUR TV IN BBC’S CASUALTY, HE’S GRACED THE STAGE IN NUMEROUS HIGH PROFILE THEATRE PRODUCTIONS, HE’S BEEN ON REALITY TV, AND HE’S HAD HIS SINGLES PLAYED ON SOME OF THE BIGGEST RADIO RADIO STATIONS ACROSS THE UK AND BEYOND. LOOKS LIKE THIS LOCAL LAD HAS IT ALL, LETS FIND OUT WHAT MAKES HIM PROUD… CONLETH, WHEN DID YOU FIRST REALISE YOU WERE GAY? Seriously? From a very early age. I was the boy who wanted ‘The Wizard of Oz’ on VHS in my Xmas stocking at the age of 6. I paraded around school in my Spice Girls T-Shirt at the age of 13. I was unapologetic. I spent my summer holidays rehearsing for musicals and I was the boy who refused to play football in PE at school because I didn’t think it was fair I was made to do something I hated. I never viewed myself as ‘different’, but others did. I embraced being gay from a very early age, despite the fact it gave me zero social credibility. WE’VE SEEN YOUR OBVIOUSLY VERY CLOSE TO YOUR FAMILY, WHEN DID YOU TELL THEM? I sat my mum down one evening at around 8pm when I was 15 and said ‘I’ve something to tell you...’. I actually didn’t say the words ‘I’m gay’ until it was about 3am. She was very supportive but
said it ’s something she’d find it hard to keep from my Dad, so I felt a slight pressure to tell him. I walked into my Dad the following week and he was watching the news. I sat down and just said it. He said ‘You’re still the same son you were 2 minutes ago’. Within days my entire family knew. I’m very lucky. I know people who haven’t been so fortunate. The irony of it all is that they are from ‘religious’ backgrounds. Their family and friends found it ‘hard to accept them’ or in some cases, packed their bags. Sometimes religion can be used as a unnecessary tool of hate. I’m very uneasy with homophobic characters who hide behind their faith and use that as an excuse. They are often hypocrites. I’m blessed my parents don’t divulge
in that ugly behavior, but unfortunately Northern Ireland is governed by a party who breeds this mentality into society. YOU WERE A LARGER LAD GROWING UP, DID YOU FEEL PRESSURE FROM THE COMMUNITY AROUND YOU TO LOSE WEIGHT AND CONFORM TO A STEREOTYPE? Oh I was a fatty growing up. I was just unhappy. I didn’t have many friends growing up. Can you imagine being a lad in Lurgan in the 90’s who had an obsession with the Spice Girls and Theatre getting into the cool crowd?! I was socially rejected. The only time I really started caring about my appearance and size was when I moved to London and I was finally doing what I
wanted to do in life. I had a real reason to get up every day. Now I’m healthy, trim and fit. I watch what I eat and I exercise lots, and in return I feel much better. Of course there is a pressure for me to look good in my line of work, but it’s a good pressure. I think everyone should should strive to be fit, healthy and well presented. YOU LOVE YOUR HOME TOWN, WHAT MAKES YOU MOST PROUD OF IT? I have made peace with Lurgan. For so long I wanted out of it, and understandably so. There’s only so much one can take of being an outcast in the local community, especially as a teenager when hormones are going wild. I’m proud of the love my family has for each other. I have really good neighbours at my family home. There is a growing understanding of the LGBT community in Lurgan and nearly every family has a gay member or knows someone in the gay community, and there is much
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THE PRIDE ISSUE__ CONLETH KANE more acceptance and tollerance compared to when I was a teenager there. I love to get home to my Mum and Dad’s house and do simple things like walk the dog. I will always call London my home though. It is where my heart is. Lurgan is where I was raised. It obviously holds a place in my heart for family reasons. In London I feel I am totally accepted. I still to this day feel like a second class citizen every time the plane lands in Belfast. It saddens me. There is a definite suppression in the air here for me as a gay man.
for myself, hence I went down the TV Drama and Reality TV route. Now I’m a Singer/Songwriter and my songs are getting airplay on the the biggest radio stations in the U.K. and Europe. One of the best moments was being in one of London’s biggest clubs last Summer and my track ‘Giving It Up’ came on! I almost wet myself with excitement! I still have a
meaning of PRIDE back then though. I just saw it as a big party. I used to live with Marcus Hunter (Lady Portia Diamanté) and we used to find bargains in River Island and completely spray each other from head to toe in glitter. Those were the best days of my life.
long way to go, I have more boxes to tick.
PRIDE EVENTS ACROSS EUROPE, HOW DOES THAT FEEL? Aaaargh! Unreal! I am a headline act this year at Gran Canaria Winter Pride in November and I’m I am doing 2 sets at Pride In London. I am being joined by the West End Gospel Choir at my London Pride appearance!
AND NOW YOU PERFORM AT
I cannot wait - one of the best choirs in the city singing MY song with me. I am so lucky. I’m also in talks to do a set at ‘Bear Week’ in Sitges which would be brilliant! I’m just so happy to be a voice for the Northern Irish LGBT community at these massive events, to still remind people that we are still a nation fighting for equal rights!
WAS IT A HARD DECISION TO LEAVE IT, WHY’D YOU DO IT? God no. As soon as I passed my GCSES I moved to Belfast at the age of 16, then to London at 18. I craved the city. I visited London at the age of 6 and knew it’s where I eventually end up. I wanted to be a successful singer and actor. Staying in Lurgan would never have catered for that ambition. I got accepted to one of the world’s most prestigious Performing Arts conservatoires, ArtsEd (people like Julie Andrews and Will Young trained here). There are only 20 places for boys per year and I got one. I set out to make my dreams come true. It was all a bit ‘ Billy Elliott ’. WHEN YOU ARRIVED IN LONDON YOU WERE A SMALL FISH IN A VERY BIG POND, HOW DID YOU BEGIN BUILDING YOUR NETWORK? Oh it was very daunting. I remember my mum crying as she left me at my new London flat and I knew that was it. I arrived with a few suitcases with the biggest of dreams. I was told on my first day at Drama School that I was fat and needed to lose weight immediately by my dance teacher. I did it. I worked my ass off at college. I wanted that agent. I wanted that big break. I would go in to college early and leave late. After graduating, I went straight into playing parts in big musicals but this still wasn’t quite enough. I wanted to make a name
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TELL US ABOUT ONE OF THE FIRST PRIDE FESTIVALS YOU ATTENDED… It was in 2001. I’m sure there are some very hilarious photos of me floating around somewhere. I didn’t quite understand the
Obviously the Pride appearances are an amazing platform for me to perform and promote my music too. YOU’VE SANG WITH ANDY BELL (FROM ERASURE) WHO WAS YOUR CHILDHOOD HERO… I first met Andy in 2015 when I
THE PRIDE ISSUE__ CONLETH KANE was in a play in London called ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’. I was a HUGE Erasure fan growing up and I invited Andy to see me in the play and became the following night. I remember peering through the curtain when the audience were taking their seats and I saw him and his partner. I was so nervous to have an idol of mine watch me perform. We met afterwards and since then have kept in touch, and a year later I came to see him in the same theatre ironically! I went to Andy’s apartment in April of this year as we were scheduled to perform together at the TROXY in London so we rehearsed ‘A Little Respect’ and my song ‘The Grass Is Greener’ as duets. We played each other our new music! Can you imagine how I was feeling?! I was Sitting there in Andy Bell’s flat getting a preview of the unreleased Erasure album! It was a definite ‘pinch myself ’ moment. Unreal! WE’VE SEEN YOU IN THE PAPERS HERE ACTIVELY VOICING YOUR OPINION ON LGBT RIGHTS FOR THE PEOPLE OF NORTHERN IRELAND. HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU TO FIGHT FOR THE RIGHTS OF THE HOME YOU LEFT? It’s something I’m very passionate about. I believe the DUP are discreetly enabling a widespread of homophobia. What is the difference between the DUP publicly calling gay people ‘replusive’, ‘abominations’, ‘immoral’ and the bullies in the playground calling gay people ‘faggot’ ‘queer’ etc? Nothing! By labelling the gay community as ‘different’ to the rest of society, the DUP are giving bullies of every age in Northern Ireland a basis on which they can justify their behaviour. The Northern Irish media has been a useful vehicle for me to voice my views and frustration on this. Since releasing my music, and seeing a boost in my profile in London I have been fortunate enough to have my voice heard in interviews in some of the city’s/world’s
biggest LGBT magazines (and radio) to try and create more awareness of the inequality back home. However, the British people don’t need me to highlight who the DUP are anymore, Theresa May has done a brilliant job in bringing them to the front pages of Britain’s media. It has also highlighted the insignificance of N. Ireland in the UK, as nobody
I STILL TO THIS DAY FEEL LIKE A SECOND CLASS CITIZEN EVERY TIME THE PLANE LANDS IN BELFAST. IT SADDENS ME. THERE IS A DEFINITE SUPPRESSION IN THE AIR HERE FOR ME AS A GAY MAN.
boy who happily wore a Spice Girls T Shirt in the 90’s. It has always been there. I kind of lost it somewhere along the way though, when I entered the acting industry - one is expected to be rather neutral. To blend in. You are expected to look and act like you could be cast in almost any role. The acting industry can be quite homophobic, and I mean that in the sense that you rule yourself for SO much if you let your ‘gayness’ come to the surface. I’m an artist now. It’s different. I write my own material, I’m not expected to deliver anyone else’s. I wear what I want, I am in charge of my photoshoots, my look, my sound. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been and I’ll say whatever the f**k I want. It’s liberating. WHAT’S NEXT FOR CONLETH KANE? Who knows. I don’t put pressure on myself like I used to. I was pretty ruthless in my younger years. I have mellowed out. A lot. I plan to return to theatre at some point. For the moment, I’m enjoying riding this artistic wave and I’ve quite a few major gigs coming up. Each and every one of my singles has received major radio play across the UK and Ireland. There is NO feeling like your song coming on the radio. My mum and I were in the car on Christmas Day (2015 and 2016) and both times my song came on the radio. It would be amazing to
continue to release good quality music and see it receive a similar reception. The sky is the limit for me. USING THE LETTERS PROUD, DESCRIBE YOURSELF… Passionate. Rebellious. Observant. Understanding. Daring. WHAT’S BEEN YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT?: Writing ‘The Grass Is Greener’ and turning what was a very negative situation into a positive one. I was so heartbroken after my ex partner and I split up, I found my only real outlet was music. You can hear how hurt I was in the song. The fact it went viral and made it on to national radio is proof that you can pull yourself out of the darkest situations and make them good. I’ll never forget I performed it at a WORLD AIDS DAY concert in London and when I came off stage my phone was going crazy saying it was on the radio. I’ve done some really cool things in my career and met quite a few superstars, but this song in particular will always be the work I’m most proud of. It came from my heart.
CONLETH’S SINGLES ‘THE GRASS IS GREENER’ AND ‘I WONDER’ ARE OUT NOW!
knew who they were. The DUP are finally famous across the UK now. Homophobia has no place in the mainland. That has been made very clear. YOU’RE OUT AND PROUD, VERY PROUD, AND RIGHTLY SO. WAS THAT A LONG PROCESS? Kind of. Like I said, I was the
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THE PRIDE ISSUE__ STUFF
Our essentials for Pride day...
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THE PRIDE ISSUE__ STUFF
START YOUR PRIDE MORNING WITH SOME CLASSICE MADONNA, THE TRUE BLUE ALBUM IS AVAILABLE ON APPLE MUSIC & SPOTIFY. KEEP THE PARTY GOING WITH RUPAUL ESSENTIAL VOL 2 APPLE MUSIC/SPOTIFY
PICK UP YOUR FREE SAFE SEX PACK (CONDOMS AND LUBE) COURTESY OF THE RAINBOW PROJECT. STAYSAFE PERSONAL SAFETY APP WILL LET YOUR FRIENDS KNOW WHEN YOU’RE HOME SAFE, DOWNLOAD FROM THE APP STORE. A PERSONAL ALARM IS ALWAYS HANDY TO HAVE ON YOU, GET THIS POLICE APPROVED PERSONAL ALARM WITH TORCH FROM WWW.NRSHEALTHCARE.CO.UK POLICE APPROVED FOR £4.79. A PORTIBLE PHONE CHARGER WILL BE HANDY TO HAVE ON YOU, GET THIS ANKER POWERCORE+ MINI 3350MAH POWER BANK FROM WWW.MAPLIN. CO.UK FOR £14.99.
NO PRIDE IS COMPLETE WITH OUT SHOUTING IT FROM OUR T-SHIRTS, THIS LOVE BASEBAL SHIRT FROM WWW.LITTELMSTEES. COM IS YOURS FOR £19.99. WHAT BETTER WAY TO CARRY YOUR PRUCK AROUND ON PRIDE DAY THAN IN THIS FUNKY BLEEDING HEART UNICORN BACKPACK FROM WWW. BLUEBANANA.COM FOR £12.74. LETS FACE IT, THE RAINS MAY COME, BE PREPARED WITH THIS RAINBOW GOLF UMBREALLA FROM WWW.UMBRELLAWORLD.CO.UK, IT’S ONLY £8.99. FOOD, YOU’VE GOTTA KEEP FOOD IN YOUR BELLY - ESPECIALLY IF YOU’RE ON THE BOOZE, YOUR TOWN IS FULL OF CONVENIENT TAKE-AWAYS - VISIT THEM. KEEP HYDRATED AND KEEP A BOTTLE OF WATER ON YOU IF YOU’RE OUTSIDE, AND IF YOU’RE DRINKING MAKE SURE YOU ALSO KEEP WELL HYDRATED - REMEMBER, ALCOHOL WILL DEHYDRATE YOU. RAINBOW WRISTBANDS, YOU’RE GOING TO BE DANCING ALL DAY, CATCH THE SWEAT AND LOOK LIKE YOU OWN THAT FLOOR WITH THESE FROM WWW.SUDDORA.CO.UK FOR £4.99. ONLY GAY IN THE OFFICE MUG FROM WWW.TWISTEDENVY.COM FOR £7.99, HANDY FOR A WEE CUPPA CHA BEFORE BED.
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THE PRIDE ISSUE__ DR GLENN MASON
Dr, Dr... We chat to Dr. Glenn Mason about staying safe this Pride season.
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THE PRIDE ISSUE__ DR GLENN MASON
CONSIDERING PRIDE Pride season is upon us! Over the past several months, events have taken place across the UK, Ireland and the world. With “Belfast Pride Festival” just around the corner, for a few moments I want to strip away the glitter, the sparkle and reflect on what “PRIDE” is about?
WHO AM I? I’m Dr Glenn Mason, a Belfast based psychologist and I support LGBT+ individuals through the process of “coming out” and beyond. I developed LGBT+ Sanctuary (www.lgbtsanctuary.com) to provide an online space to help people manage fears of rejection, work towards self-acceptance and be more visible in the world. For many LGBT+ individuals feeling invisible and different can be part of our story, fearing how others might respond if we were to “come out”. For many years, I found the very thought of attending Pride too overwhelming to even consider, as I struggled to “come out”. Now, Pride events and being part of the LGBT+ community are a common part of both my personal and professional life.
COMING OUT It is widely reported within research that “coming out” can be an extremely anxiety provoking time, leading to a complexity of issues. More than half of young LGBT+ people have suffered mental health issues, and around 40 per cent considered suicide. In a recent study, here in Northern Ireland, 90 per cent of their research sample, who identified as transgender contemplated taking their own life. To me, these statistics are a stark reminder of the challenges people can face, identifying as LGBT+. By developing LGBT+ Sanctuary I wanted to create a space to support people on their journey. There can be many issues stopping people from “coming out” and why I believe Pride events are essential, alongside other events and services to model acceptance and community.
HOW DID PRIDE DEVELOP? In the 1950s and 1960s, LGBT+ individuals in the United States were being subjected to legal and social repression. Back then, if you identified as LGBT+ you were viewed as having a mental illness. As a result, force and control was being implemented, with the view of changing sexual and gender identity. As time progressed, LGBT+ individuals united in a fight against the repression they were facing. A significant landmark in this process, was the Stonewall Inn. This gay bar, situated in Greenwich Village, became a haven for the LGBT+ community in the late 60s, but often underwent many police raids. On 28 June 1969, during a police raid
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members of the LGBT+ community fought back, unrest followed, riots unfolded and now known as the Stonewall riots. The riots are viewed as one of the significant historical events, which were pivotal in the fight for LGBT+ rights within the United States.
throw at us by identifying as LGBT+. Who you are attracted to or the gender that feels true to you, is only one part of who we are…we are so much more than our sexual or fender identity, so celebrate being YOU!
One year on, in 1970, to mark the anniversary of the Stonewall riots, marches took place in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. In 1971, further marches took place in Boston, Dallas, London, Milwaukee, Paris, Stockholm and West Berlin. LGBT+ activist groups spread across the United States and the world, in the fight for equality. As a result, of the Stonewall riots, many communities from across the world now celebrate Pride, to mark the challenging journey, gaining LGBT+ rights.
E – EDUCATION, there are lots of informative events that take place across Pride, go along to these, encourage others to attend these events. I believe education has a massive part to play, in working towards change within any society.
WHY DOES PRIDE MATTER? In considering LGBT+ rights, we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots. However, there is still work to be done here in Northern Ireland. I also feel we must consider other parts of the world, where being identified as LGBT+ can lead to punishment or even death. I’m sure you have seen references in the news and on social media to various stories highlighting the persecution that LGBT+ individuals and communities are facing. We must continue taking a stand, work towards changing attitudes and supporting those who have been subjected to horrific attacks. Bringing us back to Northern Ireland, we are still fighting for marriage equality, and challenging a society that still divides LGBT+ individuals from others. It is so easy to sit back and do nothing, as we feel others can do this on our behalf. I believe we must all be united on this journey, increasing awareness through education and standing together for equality. Turning our attention to Belfast Pride Festival, be mindful of what it’s all about. It's so much more than the parties, glitter, sparkle and vibrancy that are central to any Pride event. As Belfast Pride Parade passes through the streets in a few weeks, whether you are walking in the parade or watching on the street, remember we are showing up to stand united in our desire to see equality for LGBT+ individuals. Here’s my challenge to us all, that we continue to take that stand beyond Pride. We all have a part to play in overcoming the challenges around equality in our country and across the world.
S – SUBSTANCES, the safest option would be not to use drugs, however if you do choose to add these to your Pride experience here are some things to keep in mind. Know what you are taking and the effects that they may have on you. Let your friends know what you have taken, which means should you need medical attention they can let paramedics know what it is that you have taken. A – ALCOHOL, when out and about keep your drinks safe – watch out for each other and don't leave your drinks unattended. If you are drinking throughout the day, remember to hydrate at different points, with something non-alcoholic. Pace your alcohol throughout the day. F – FRIENDS, stick together and it might be helpful to think of an agreed meeting point should you get separated during the day and are unable to make contact by phone. Don't be walking around the streets alone, look out for each other during the day and ensure you get each other home safe at the end of the night. E – ENJOY, most of all have fun and enjoy the many events organised during this year’s Pride season. Whether you are celebrating here in Northern Ireland or at other Pride events around the world, enjoy the experience.
Just remember you are not alone and there is a community of people out there who have been through or are going through similar experiences to you! We need to unite together, supporting each other in the challenges were face and our journey for equality.
KEEPING SAFE AT PRIDE So, with “Belfast Pride” just a few weeks away, here are my top tips to keep safe and get the most out of the Festival – all you need to remember is “BE SAFE”. B – BE YOU, Pride is about celebrating community, equality, visibility and love…be PROUD of who YOU are, despite the challenges that society can
If you are struggling with your sexual or gender identity, do feel free to get in contact Glenn me via his website. There are also several local organisations that do a fantastic job at supporting LGBT+ individuals, so do check them out too.
THE PRIDE ISSUE__ DR GLENN MASON
By developing LGBT+ Sanctuary I wanted to create a space to support people on their journey.
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THE PRIDE ISSUE__ UK SUMMER PRIDE MAP
your summer pride
Weâ€™ve done the legwork for you and worked out where the PRIDE is at this summer...
Herefordshire Pride Liverpool Pride Norwich Pride
Margate Pride Wigan Pride
Croydon Pride Isle of White Pride Rotherham Pride Salford Pink Picnic Dundalk Pride Open Family Day
Bourne Free (Bournemouth)
21st - 23rd July
8th July Bristol Pride Pride in London
Northern Pride (Newcastle Upon Tyne) Pride in Hull
19th August 5th August Brighton Pride Belfast Pride Leeds Pride Plymouth Pride
Pride Glasgow Chester Pride Doncaster Pride Galway Pride Warwickshire Pride
Foyle Pride Manchester Pride
Pride Cymru (Cardiff) Cornwall Pride
2nd September Herts Pride (Hertfordshire) Leicester Pride Newry Pride
Remember Before booking any travel or going to any expense, check that Pride is happening when youâ€™re going. Be smart.
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‘Perfect in just about every way’ THE TIMES
Take a look at the latest fashion tees raising funds for the local community. PAGE 74
Team GNI took themselves off to Birmingham to test it out for ya... PAGE 113
Caoimhe and Saerlaith talk about their family when dad left home. PAGE 129
LIFE & STYLE GNI MAG |
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EQUALITEE The new range of tshirts from The Rainbow Project will leave us all feeling proud! ALL OF THE TSHIRTS IN THIS SHOOT ARE AVAILABLE FROM WWW.EQUALITEE.CO.UK FOR Â£9.99, THE SALE OF THESE WILL HELP RAISE VALUABLE FUNDS THAT WILL BE USED WITHIN THE NI LGBT COMMUNITY. CREDITS AND MASSIVE THANKS TO: CIARAN GREEN, COLIN MAXWELL, CJ SIMMS, GEORGE HUTTON, LAURA HAMILL, AND PIARAS SMYTH 74 | GNIMAG.COM
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OUR TOP PIX FOR HELPING YOU WITH YOUR FOOD PREP
Get back to it!
FITMARK THE BOX
Five fitness tips to keep you on track. WITH SUMMER BEING IN THE halfway stage I feel it safe to say many of us have taken our eyes off the ball when it comes to fitness, myself included. I had a goal a few months ago to get into tip-top shape for a photo shoot and a play that I had to be shirtless in so the drive was there to stay focused, now that it has passed I’ve been on a slippery slope - indulging in all the goodies I resisted while following a fitness plan. For the majority of others, the focus was getting that perfect beach bod for holidays though as that is a distant memory for some we daren’t mutter the word gym never mind make the effort to go to one. I have the solution to get back on track, five simple things that will make the whole process easier. 1. CLEAR OUT If there is junk in your house or at work it’s inevitable you’re going to eat it at some stage, when you feel down, angry or maybe even hungover, it’s time to bin it, we can live without chocolate, sweets, crisps etc. 2. FOOD PREP Preparation is the key to ensuring you have well balanced meals throughout the day. I’m guilty myself of waking up with nothing ready for lunch which results in constant bad snacks throughout the day and then a chippie or worse at lunch. There’s no trick behind it, take Sunday and Wednesday as cooking days, less than 30 minutes will sort a few days of healthy lunches, for me chicken is the go to as its quick and easy to prepare. Get a box of fillets and cook each fillet a different way, chili and garlic, cracked black pepper fried, fajita, or use your favorite flavoring/sauce and fry off in coconut oil. Box them up in the fridge and there are ready to go. Then it’s a simple case of serving with salad, rice, sweet potato or whatever
tickles your fancy. 3. EXCERISE Not many of us like it but it’s really important, 30-45 minutes a day will truly make the difference. I know it’s hard to find time for classes and sports activities though following Step 2 should free up some time in the morning. Aim to go to one or two classes a week; spinning, cardio, circuits etc - having a trainer will help you stay motivated. The other days go for a run outside or do some exercises at home, no need for equipment - own body weight exercises are perfect, planks, squats, bicycle crunches the list is endless, have a look online for some tips. 4. REST This may sound silly but rest from the gym is important and so is making sure you get enough sleep. Think of your body like a car it starts to overheat if you drive for too long. Two days out of seven don’t do any strenuous exercise let your body rest, go for a 20-30 minute walk instead, for me it’s always slap bang in the middle of the week, a Wednesday and a Sunday.
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5. TREAT YOURSELF Never think you’re not allowed something, I find constantly staying away from things you like will make you crave even more. Pick one day per week and indulge, pizza, chinese or maybe chocolate and crisps. These five tips should help you stay on track fitness wise, the important thing to remember is come up with an overall plan that works for you, both eating and exercising should be fun and enjoyable it’s all about moderation. WORDS BY DANIEL MAY
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LIFESTYLE__ REAL MAN
NAME: DANIEL MAGEE AGE: 25 HEIGHT: 5’ 5” WEIGHT: 10st 4lb
& My own level of fitness varies. I’m human. I’m not at the gym seven days a week. I lead a busy lifestyle so I do what I can to try and stay confortable in my own skin. My workouts include a lot of cardio with a few weights here a there. Just enough to stay lean and trimmed.
TRIMMED OR NATURAL? I’m trimmed BOXERS/BRIEFS? I prefer boxers DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE GROOMING PRODUCT? Wahl Matt Finish Syling Clay WHAT IS YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE? McDonalds WHAT ONE PRODUCT COULD YOU NOT LIVE WITHOUT? Moisturiser
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Celebrate Christmas at Clayton Hotel Belfast
Festive Lunch with Warren Attwell
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MEET THE ARTIST__ MARK MURRAY
MARK MURRAY WHAT SORT OF ART DO YOU CREATE? I specialise in both brows and makeup mainly beauty makeup such as formals, bridal & evening makeups then I spend the rest of my life striving to give clients the best brows possible to suit their age, hair colour and face shape etc. I trained in high definition brows in the Newry school and haven’t looked back really. HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTO THIS, WAS IT A JOURNEY THROUGH DIFFERENT CREATIVE INDUSTRIES? I’ve worked in a couple of different makeup schools over the last few years and picked up lots of different hints & tips along the way. Some I use and some I don’t but I’m always striving to know more and I love to watch great artists working. I couldn’t find a decent bag to hold my makeup kit so basically I created my own and branded it DragBag. They can be purchased from mydragbag.
MEET THE ARTIST
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com along with some other equipment I use on a regular basis. WHAT DO YOU MOST ENJOY CREATING? I enjoy hollywood glamour style makeup most, the kind of makeup you see at red carpet events such as the oscars etc.. I’m always looking online at the stars to see how their makeup looks and to see the trends. I also enjoy editorial makeup and have had some of my work appear twice on the Vogue Italia website which I’m very proud of but you can never sit still with makeup. I’ts always evolving with new products coming on to the market weekly but that also keeps it fun and interesting. WHAT ARE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS? facebook MarkAnthonyMua twitter @markmurraymua Snapchat markmurraymua Instagram markmurraymua&brows
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We Would Like To Wish Everyone A Safe And Happy Pride 51 Donegall Street, Cathedral Quarter, Belfast 028 90233768
ADDICTED TO... We take a look at the latest underwear styles from Addicted
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FOOD__ DEANES LOVE FISH
DEANES LOVE FISH (and so do we) WORDS/REVIEW BY DANIEL MAY
LOCALS AND VISITORS ALIKE WILL be familiar with Deanes due to them having eight establishments spread across the city. Just a stones throw away from city hall on Howard Street is were today’s lunch review took place in the elegant DEANES Love Fish. I must confess while working in the city centre I walked past the restaurant twice daily though never ventured inside for food, therefore I was particularly looking forward to getting to sample the food today. We arrived around 12.45 and the restaurant was particularly full with a great mix of people, families, couple’s , friends and local workers exactly what would one would expect in this classy cosmopolitan establishment. The restaurant had a real light and bright feel and the interior was stylish yet minamilistic, the staff were extremely friendly and we were immediately shown to our seats, perfect position in my opinion, almost in the middle of the restaurant with a clear view of the serving/ bar area and surroundings. As much as I would have enjoyed wine we decided to behave as work beaconed after lunch so we ordered water while looking through the menus, we had a choice of ordering from the Lunch menu, nine main dishes for a pocket pleasing £6.50 or from the a la carte menu, this had many options such as oysters, small plates, seafood platter, surf ‘n’ turf and there was even an option of a Homemade Burger for the traditional carnivor. My guest is openly not adventurous when it comes to sea food so he had his lunch decided in less than two minutes while I on the other hand was like a kid in a playground intrigued and extremely indecisive with what
I should go for. After much deliberation I decided to go with the salt and chilli squid from the lunch menu - this was cooked perfectly, crispy light batter surrounding soft succulent squid, served with a lovely light chilli dipping sauce. To accompany this I ordered the catch of the day after recommendation from our waiter, this was a delicious fresh fillet of hake which was served with broccoli, green beans and a side salad. This fish was cooked to perfection, haven’t tasted anything like it before, I was glad I went with the waiters choice. My guest played it safe and ordered the fish ‘n’ chips, beer battered haddock served with mushy peas and tartar sauce, he had no qualms as the plate was cleaned in no time. Normally at lunch I would never order a dessert but as the say when in Rome... the menu had a selection of sorbets, cheeses and more traditional desserts. I opted for the chocolate pot; this was pure heaven in a bowl - so rich and creamy, served with a milk ice cream which was amazing. My guest went with the set custard which was served with a strawberry compote and freshly baked shortbread. Both desserts were amazing and in hindsight one dessert between two people over lunch would of been enough. All in all we had a lovely afternoon, I will definitely be back to tackle a few small plates and experience more of the great dishes on offer. The staff were so friendly and helpful, and service extremely quick which is important over lunch, I would highly recommend visiting DEANES Love Fish. Thanks to the manager, chef and staff.
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FOOD__ BOSTON GRILL
BOSTON GRILL WORDS/REVIEW BY DANIEL MAY
THIS REVIEW TAKES ME BACK to my old stomping ground Lisburn,. Being from Craigavon I regularly visited Lisburn’s Leisure Park as it was the closest cinema to me for many years. Now that I am living in Belfast I don’t really have the need to go to Lisburn until now. Approx. 8 months ago Boston Grill opened its doors, from then this American Diner has wowed and pleased thousands who have come to sample their menu and more recently tackle their man vs food style meals which have been a hugely successful and popular by diners. On entering myself and my guest Julie were greeted by our amiable host Darren who as front of house made us feel welcome and at home in the bustling restaurant. We dined on a Tuesday evening and the place was surprisingly busy which gave a great atmosphere. For me it can be somewhat uncomfortable dining in an empty restaurant though thankfully this wasn’t the case in this instance. We were seated and immediately presented menus and offered a drink, we both went for wine, Rose for myself and Cabernet Sauvignon was the tipple of choice for Julie. The first thing that struck me was the number of dishes available in the menu, in the starters section there are 10 choices in total, 9 solo dishes including homemade nachos, salt and chilli beef and duck wings and 1 sharing platter that was made up of elements from 6 individual starters. After much deliberation, I decided to semi behave and ordered the chicken cesar salad, this was the perfect temperature, portion size was large and was as fresh as could be, I particularly enjoyed the miniature croutons and the smoked crispy bacon which really added to the flavour. Julie opted for the breaded chicken goujons, these were served with an ample side salad and choice of 2 dips, the combination she went with was sweet chilli and garlic mayo. Julie said, “It was undoubtedly a large portion for a starter but was so tasty I happily cleaned my plate”. While eating the staff were attentive ensuring everything was ok. Once we had finished our starter we had the pleasure of getting to chat with the Manger Darren while we waited on our mains being prepared. Such a fun, friendly character, it was clear he loved his job, his knowledge in relation to the dishes and ingredients was apparent as we discussed their high-quality meat from Portadown and daily fresh bread from the Yellow Door. Moving on to our main, this was a real challenge as again there was so much choice on the menu,
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Pasta, Hot Dogs, Burgers (Beef, Chicken & Turkey) Sizzlers, Pasta, Chicken, Ribs, Steaks and a section of other dishes. In total I counted 53 main dishes hence why I was struggling to choose only one lol. Typically when dinning out I I’m drawn to the steak think this is because I simply cannot cook them anywhere near as good as a restaurant, though on this occasion it was the meat stack that caught my eye, a generous helping of colcannon (mashed potato and cabbage) chicken breast, 2 pieces of flat iron steak (this melted in your mouth) and a bacon chop all smothered in a creamy peppercorn sauce, this main could of done 2 people though I devoured 80% of it, would definitely order again, each piece of meat was cooked to perfection and the sauce was to die for. Julie being stuffed from the starter decided to go with the 8oz steak, this is in fact the smallest offering in the steak section as they have everything between 8oz and 16oz, her main was served with a side portion of chunky chips, mushrooms, onion rings, tomatoes & a hollandaise sauce. “Far and away one of the best steaks I have tasted for a long time and believe me, I love my steak. This was cooked medium rare and done completely to my taste”. By this stage of the evening we had very little room for dessert, but the tempting treats on offer and with Darren also explaining his puddings were too good to miss we couldn’t pass this opportunity up, so I plumped for the hot sticky toffee pudding which was served with salted caramel ice-cream which Darren recommended. I completely surprised myself and cleaned the plate, this was sticky, sweet and extremely satisfying, I’m salivating now as I type even thinking about it lol. Julie’s choice was the Pavlova, topped with lots of summer in a bowl strawberries, which she thoroughly enjoyed. American Diners are famed for their salt of the earth atmosphere and good hearty food with infamous sizeable portions and Boston Grill did not disappoint. We both had a fantastic time and will most certainly be back but next time though in stretchier jeans. Faultless service, menus to suit all tastes and relaxed environment are things important to me when eating out Boston Grill ticked all the boxes therefore I highly recommend making a point of visiting, weather as a couple of a family you won’t be disappointed
Thanks again to Darren, the Chef and all the staff.
FOOD__ BOSTON GRILL
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WHILE YOU’RE SPLASHING ABOUT HERE ARE OUR FAVOURITE SHOWER ESSENTIALS
Smoooooth! An easier way to get rid of that back fur. I’M A HAIRY BLOKE, LITERALLY from my toes to the top of my head, I’m covered in fur. On the whole I embrace the fur - I’m a proud cub. Occasionally I’ve been known to trim the chest hair back a bit but the bane in my life is by back jacket. Starting on my shoulders and working the whole way down my back is a thick, gingery mane, and in my view; not pleasant at all. In an effort to tackle this over the last few years I’ve tried waxing - it hurts too much for me though, and it’s embarrassing when your beautician can’t focus on pulling the wax strips off for laughing so hard at my bitching and screaming. I’ve tried shaving it, well getting a friend to shave it for me - this works, but it’s not often one of my mates will rush to the front of the queue to do this for me. Then there’s the hair removal creams, for me, this had so far been my most successful remedy for ridding me of my fur with minimal pain and inconvenience. This month we received a baKblade to the GNI office, and having been subjected to seeing my furry back more often than they’d like to, my colleagues thrust it into my hands and told me to give it a go. So the next morning I took my baKblade to the
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shower with me. As you can see from the picture above, it’s got a long handle (which you can adjust the bend on) and on the end in the head there are two protected, changeable blades. I’m going to admit that I was worried about literally hacking the back off myself and ending up looking like something out of Carrie. I set to work on my back, there was absolutely no coordination in me, I just reached back and hoped for the best. I have to say (and I did on my personal Facebook) this is the best invention ever for people like me. It was easy to use, comfortable, and gave excellent results. Imagine the best razor you use on your face, think of it bigger scale, and use it on your back. Because of the angled handle it’s easy to get into the hard to reach bits in the middle of your back. After rinsing my back off in the shower, and taking a selfie in the mirror to show my fella my new smooooooth back, I was getting dressed and heading to the swimming pool with no shame in people seeing my newly hairless back! GET YOUR OWN BAKBLADE AT: WWW.BAKBLADEEUROPE.COM
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SEOUL STONE GIVE THE GIFT
Public Initiative for Prevention of Suicide and Self Harm REGISTERED CHARITY NUMBER: XT23768 PIPS Charity delivers Suicide Prevention and Bereavement Support Services, Counselling and Therapies across Belfast and throughout Northern Ireland.
PIPS offer a range of high quality services which include: Counselling & Alternative Therapies Crisis Suppor t Befriending OCN Accredited Training Outreach counselling for over 65’s Family suppor t group PIPS OPENING HOURS Monday, Wednesday & Friday: 9am-9pm Tuesday & Thursday: 9am-5pm | Saturday & Sunday: 2pm-6pm IF YOU WOULD LIKE ANY FURTHER INFORMATION ON OUR SERVICE PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT US AT: PIPS Char i t y, 281 Antr im Road, B elfas t BT15 2HE Tel: 02890805850 | Freephone: 080 0 088 6042 w w w.pipschar i t y.com | Email: info@pipschar i t y.com
We would like to wish everyone a safe and happy pride. PRIDE WEEK OFFER: large breakfast fry or healthy folk breakfast pitta with tea or any coffee all day for £5 sit in or takeaway. Join our Facebook page for special promotions and competitions. Outside catering available upon request or quote 02890 230888
146 Ormeau Road Belfast BT7 2EB
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5-7 Glenmachan Place, Boucher Road, Belfast, Co. Antrim, BT12 6QH Tel: 028 9023 0433 | www.carlanto.com
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Most people don’t sell their houses during the summer months, but if you’re off work it could give you the time to get it ready for market... IT’S SAID THAT BUYING OR selling your home is one of the most stressful things that you do in your life. Some folk get lucky and things go smooth as clockwork, but for most of us there’ll be a snag or two along the way. The summer is notoriously a quiet time for selling your house, but for many it’s the time when they’ve the chance to get the house ready for sale. We take a look at some do’s and don’ts of selling your home. 1: Do you really want to sell? Ask yourself why you want to sell your home. If it’s a decision based purely on financial issues there may be ways around having to sell your home, speak to a good financial advisor, try to get one who’s been recommended to you by a friend. I’ve been in this position myself before and it was with the help of a good independent financial advisor that I managed to keep the home I loved. If you’re selling for more space, stop and take a look at the house you’re already in, look for under utilized areas; maybe the loft could be extended into, the garage could maybe be converted to living space, or if there’s outdoor space there’s always the option to extend out there (of course these are all subject to current local planning regulations). If you’ve a personal reason for
selling, maybe you and your new partner are putting all your eggs in one basket and buying together, or maybe you’re sick of the nosey neighbours - whatever the reason make sure you home is ready for the sale... 2: Step back If you’ve been in your house for a while it’s easy to become accustomed to the little imperfections - you probably don’t even notice them anymore. But now’s the time to take a step back, detach yourself emotionally, and walk through your home looking at it from the eyes of a potential buyer. Here are a few things you may not notice but that could make a big difference to a buyer - remember, on the whole they’ll want to walk through your house and see themselves living there. Remember, you’ll have competion from other houses in the area, you want yours to be the one the buyer picks. • Torn or peeling wallpaper - if it needs replaced then replace it, or if it just needs stuck down then get out the Prit-stick. • Dirty marks on paintwork - this is a no-brainer really. Try cleaning the paintwork first, and if that doesn’t work then get out the paint pot and either patch it up or re-do it. • Tiling - check for cracked or loose tiling
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Paul hampton home and pm lighting
e are embracing the Danish concept of Hygge (pronounced Hue-gah) here at PM Lighting and Paul Hampton Home. With no English translation, Hygge is a feeling, a moment of togetherness, something that makes your heart smile. Introducing Hygge into your home is an important concept in putting together your interiors. We love to create the perfect atmosphere through lighting and using Natural materials in our furnishings like wood and leather, Raw Edges, Fabrics, Simple designs and Organic Shapes which can modulate and transition into any space. Lighting is such a key element in the hygge approach and Lighting Design is the quickest, easiest way to create a warm and cosy atmosphere. We offer free instore design consultations and we can arrange house visits to help bring your ideas to life. Bring a little Hygge into your Home this season with Paul Hampton Home and PM Lighting Follow us on Facebook and Online PM Lighting- 02890743254 www.pm-lighting.co.uk Paul Hampton Home- 02890997645 www.paulhamptonhome.com
5 Harry's Road, Hillsborough bt26 6hj & 14 boucher way, belfast bt12 6re www.pm-lighting.co.uk / 028 9074 3254 www.paulhamptonhome.com / 028 9099 7645
>>> continued • •
and repair or replace it. Lightbulbs - sounds silly, but make sure all the light bulbs are working. Nobody wants to walk into a room an not be able to see it. Kerb appeal: How does your house look when viewers walk or drive up to it? Is your lawn tidy and have the hedges been cut? Look at your patio or decking area, maybe it could do with a quick power wash. Check your guttering too, make sure there’s nothing growing out of them. There’s an opportunity here to add some flowerpots or window boxes to make your home even prittier - don’t forget, you can take those with you when you go.
3. The estate agent So now you’ve got your home looking great, it’s time to get the estate agent out to provide you with a valuation. You’ll want a realistic price so it’s standard to get more than one agent out and compare the market valuation they’ve given you. Don’t be swayed to go with the highest if even you feel it’s unreachable. Pick a price to list your property that is achievable, if you put it on too high then it’ll sit on the market too long and you’ll probably end up reducing it in the end, this’ll give potential buyers false hope that there’s more negotiation to be had - and you’ll lose out in the end. Pick an agent you feel comfortable with, you’re trusting them with what is probably your biggest asset. You’ll want to be able to feel like you lift up the phone and chat easily to them whether the news is good or bad. Again it’s good to speak to your friends and get a few recommendations on estate agents. 4. Viewings Hopefully you’ll get viewers to your home shortly after it’s listed. Most agents will list it on more than one property site online. Have your home clean, tidy and smelling good for the viewers come. There’s no need to put bread in the oven or have the coffee perculator out - just clean and fresh. If you’ve pets, it’s probably best not to have them in the house - you don’t know what fears or allergies your potenital buyers have. Be polite and courteous to your viewers, sometimes it feels intrusive having someone poke and prod about your home, but it’s one of those things so grit your teeth and bare it. 5. Offers When offers come in your estate agent will keep you up-to-date and they should be able to tell you what the status is of each of your potential buyers (whether they have property to sell, whether they’ve been approved finance etc etc.). When you settle on an offer you’ll need to be sure you’ve got a solicitor in place. If you had a good experience with the solicitor you used when buying your home then there’s no reason not to go back to them. If you’re in the market for someone new, again, seek recommendations from family and friends. You’ll need someone who’s on the ball and can deal with the legalities in a timeley and professional fashion. 6. Completion So it’s all gone through, the surveys have been done, everyone’s happy and the contracts have been exchanged. You and your purchasers have agreed a completion date and everyone’s excited. Again, take a look around your house, there’s no point bringing all that crap you’ve accumulated with you to clutter up you next house - be ruthless - if you don’t need it then bin it. Organise the removals company, or hire a van yourself. I’m a firm believer that people get paid for jobs for a reason, if you can afford a removals company then go down that road, pick one that comes recommended and is reliable and insured.
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A CONVERTIBLE FOR UNDER A GRAND... The summer’s here and you want to get your top down (on the car), but a convertible isn’t practical for the rest of the year. You’ve searched down the back of the sofa, missed a few nights out and you’ve managed to scrape together a grand to get a wee, fun, used car for the summer. We had a look to see what we could come up with...
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STREET KA (FORD) We found them online from about £650 The Street Ka is probably one of the cheapest used convertibles you’ll find online. They were produced between 2003 and 2006, so if you buy one it’s going to be over a decade old - and with that you’re probably buying a few problems with your car. In saying that this is a very fun wee convertible. The roof is manual but literally takes a minute to pop down. This car has a definite sporty feel, it’s small with a 1.6 engine - definitely nippy. You’re pretty low to the ground in this wee beauty too, so you get an authentic bumpy ride.
206 CC(PEUGEOT) We found them online from about £800 I remember these popping up on the roads when they first came out, they were definitely one of the most desirable small roadsters about. They are eye catching, there’s four seats (Lego people fit best in the back seats), and the roof is automatic. The first models came out around 2001, so they’re pretty old but that’s why you get them at the price you do. Boot space is particularly good for the size of the car so handy for carrying the picnic and portable bar-be-que packs!
MEGANE (RENAULT) We found them online from about £900 I have to admit to owning one of these in the past so I might be a bit biased. I loved this car. With the top up it didn’t feel at all like a convertible, just a lovely bright (it has a glass roof ), well equipped car. It comes with all the extras you’d expect from a Megane, but at the touch of a button the roof folds down and pops into the boot. With the roof down the boot offers minimal space. But this is a great car, both fun to drive and pretty sensible too. This version was on the market around 2006 to 2009.
MX5 (MAZDA) We found them online from about £750 This is the oldest car we’re looking at today. But, it’s a classic and there are still plenty of them on the roads. It has a definite head-turning retro look about it. A bit of a vintage bond feel to it. In comparable terms with it’s age vs the price they command, it’s held it’s value well for a car that was produced between 1990-2005.
‘eventually’ & ‘remixed:eventually New Albums Out Now! Available on
There will come a day when you’re going to retire, either by choice or because you have to. What provisions have you in place?
age 55. This means that the older option of buying a pension annuity (a fixed sum of money paid at regular intervals for the rest if your life), those in retirement can manage their income flexibly via a series of regular or lump sum withdrawals – all of which have their own tax and risk considerations. Typically, 25% of a persona pension savings will be completely free of tax and the remaining 75% will be taxed as income – like your employment income. This money can be taxed at 0%, 20%, 40% or 45% depending on your total income in any given tax year.
BACK IN THE GOOD OLD days it seemed fairly straight forward, we worked, we paid our “stamps” and when we retired we had our state pension to fall back on if we had nothing else in place. As our population became older it became apparent that there wouldn’t be enough money in the pot for us all when we reach the state retirement age. Gradually over the years, regulation (in the UK) has changed to make it easier for us to save regularly and help to fund our own pension income via changes to employer responsibilities and significant tax relief for both corporations and individuals who choose to make pension contributions. You may have heard of the new Auto Enrolment rules which will affect every employer and employee in the UK. Now, by law, every employer must make contributions at set minimum limits which will increase to 3% of the employee’s qualifying salary in 2019. Equally, employees that do not ‘opt out’ must pay a minimum contribution which will rise to 4% of their earnings by 2019. Employers are given ‘staging dates’ by which time they must have arranged a suitable pension for their staff or they will face significant financial penalties from The Pensions Regulator. Pension regulation is ever changing and can be very confusing so, we will try to answer some questions you may have here.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON TYPES OF PENSION? There are many different types of pension but the main types can be broken down into the following three categories. (You may need to read this a couple of times to get your head around it.)
WHAT IS A PENSION? A pension is, in basic terms a saving plan, a tax efficient one at that. The idea is that once you retire, your pension will ‘buy’ you a long term sustainable income in the years when you will no longer be working so that you have your state pension and an additional income from your workplace or personal pension savings that will enable you to enjoy a similar quality of life in your retirement years. Pension income options have changed over the years – the most recent changes in April 2015 introduced pension flexibility rules allowing pensioners flexible access to their savings once they reach
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DOES MY PENSION HAVE TO GO THROUGH MY WORK? No, you may have a workplace pension, but you can also set up an additional separate pension scheme. It is important to be aware that there are limits to the amount of pension savings a person can save in any year and in their entire lifetime. The limits are relatively high and your financial adviser will be able to guide you as to how best to invest your funds if you are likely to breech the pension Lifetime Allowance rules.
Defined Benefit Benefits are accrued in a defined benefit scheme through years of ‘service’ with an employer. For each year that you work for the employer and are a member of their scheme you accrue a fraction of your pension entitlement – normally one sixtieth or one eightieth – these benefits will grow by set minimum levels and can also benefit from investment growth over the years. These pensions aim to pay a set annual income (or a Defined Benefit) when you retire. You might hear these types of pensions referred to as “final salary schemes” or “career average schemes” because they pay an income that is linked to your earnings with the company. With a defined benefit pension your employer has pledged to pay out a certain amount of income every year and they must take responsibility for funding that. While you may still be contributing to the pension, your money will go into a big pot with every other member. These pensions have been in the press a lot in recent years as they are proving to be very expensive for employers and as more and more large schemes become underfunded and employers fail to meet their obligations, the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) has been set up to ensure that employees are protected should the fund go bust. These pensions were historically more often found in the public sector but NHS and teacher’s pensions follow a similar structure. Defined Contribution A Defined Contribution (DC) pension depends more on the contributions that are actually paid in to the pension over time rather than the level of income of the member. These pensions don’t promise any set level of income when you retire. When you pay in, you are building up a savings
pot that can eventually be used to provide you with an income for life via an annuity or you may take advantage of the more flexible options for taking pension income that have been introduced in recent years. Most workplace pensions now follow the structure of a DC scheme. As the employee, you pay a percentage of your salary and your employer will match some or all of what you put in. The Auto Enrolment pensions that employers must provide to their staff are typically set up as DC plans although some of the older Defined Benefit plans do qualify under Auto Enrolment rules. (Confused yet?) All the money saved into a DC pension is invested, typically into funds that hold a balance of cash, property, bonds and stocks and shares investments and over the years they aim to grow and provide an investment return to the member. While you are paying in to the pension, you can track which investments your money is going into and how they’re performing – your financial adviser should review this regularly with you. With a DC pension it’s your responsibility to build the pot you need and although employers must contribute, they do not have to guarantee a minimum level of income with this type of pension. Personal Pensions These are also Defined Contribution pensions and any UK resident with relevant UK earnings can choose to set up a personal pension, this may be alongside your workplace pension or as your sole pension provision if you are a selfemployed person or not directly employed. Personal pensions vary greatly in cost and investment potential from plans that limit charges to below 0.7% per year and have a limited number of investment strategies to Self-Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs) which allow many different types of investment but are typically used for more experienced investors who want to be more hands on with their investment decisions. Again, with a personal pension, there is no final fixed benefit and the pension income that is available in retirement is directly influenced by the contributions saved into the plan and the success of the investment strategy. WHEN SHOULD I START A PENSION? The younger you are when you start a pension the more time you have to make
savings into your pension and the more time you have for your investment to yield positive returns. The longer you pay in the bigger pot of cash you will create for when you need to retire. HOW MUCH SHOULD I PUT INTO MY PENSION? A good starting point is to ask yourself what you want to get out of it when you retire. What level of Tax Free Cash do you want to take as a pension Commencement Lump sum? What level of income do you need each year when you stop working? What other income can you depend on when you stop working? What is your entitlement to the State Pension? The minimum percentage that employees must pay into their workplace pension scheme by 2019 is 4% of their salary. The state then gives tax relief of 1% on top of the employee’s contribution and then the employer must pay a minimum of 3% each year by 2019. So, employed people should see pension savings at no lower than 8% of their salary in any tax year. It is easy to see how this level of contribution can build over time but it is also important to be aware that when you retire, other than the state pension your personal pension savings are likely to be your only income until you die – so it is important to fund your pension well and be aware of the level of income that your savings may achieve for you. WHEN CAN I GET MY HANDS ON THE MONEY? At the minute you need to be at least 55 years old before you can access your pension and this is likely to increase in the coming years to be more in line with state pension age, less ten years. If you’re in your twenties that might seem like a long way away - but it means your money is out of your pocket and out of your reach, growing in a tax efficient environment… so you don’t blow it all on a big holiday! Your financial adviser will be able to examine your existing pension provisions and advise you in detail about your future income and retirement. If you have not yet started to save into your pension, speak to your financial adviser and have a full review of your finances. Typically, the first consultation with an adviser is free and will allow you to start putting a plan in place that will help you manage your finances and live comfortably in retirement.
Your relationship, Your choice, Your wellbeing.
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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. Fuel consumption and CO2 figures based on standard EU tests for comparative purposes and may not reflect real driving results. 2017 Fiat 500 Lounge. Offer based on a 60 month Hire Purchase agreement consisting of £1,695 deposit followed by 59 payments of £169 per month. Offer not available in conjunction with any other offers. Offer maybe withdrawn at any time. Offer subject to status and over 18 years of age. Finance provided by MotoNovo Finance, Austin Friars House, 2-6 Austin Friars, London, EC2N 2HD. Subject to model availability. For full details contact your nearest Donnelly Fiat showroom.
PHUKET A gay travellerâ€™s paradise. WORDS: GAVYN ANDREWS
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TRAVEL__ PHUKET Phuket has so much more to offer a traveller than simply hot weather, lady boys, and cheap food & drink (Great start though). In this article I invite you to think about Thailand for your next holiday and realise the fantastic experience it offers each and every one of you. First and foremost Thailand has to be one of the most connected destinations from the UK & Ireland with hundreds of direct or connecting weekly departures. If you like to travel in style or it’s luxury you prefer then look no further than Emirates Airlines business class ex Dublin via Abu Dhabi. Personally I highly recommend the Etihad Airlines Business or Premium economy ex Dublin to Phuket which touches down in Abu Dubai (Fares start at £359 per person return). For that added bonus why not include a few nights stop off at either Dubai or Bangkok as your airline ticket can often include additional stops at no extra charge and hotels are plentiful. Bangkok has to be at the top of any stopover list when travelling to Phuket simply because it instantly throws you in the world that is 24 hour Asia. Bangkok is a wonderful diverse city, so to give you a few hotel hints I would recommend either the Avani Hotel or the Rembrandt Hotel both offer excellent standard accommodation in the heart of the city. If you however are like me and what some Sea, Sand and Sex then Phuket will come calling after a night or two in the Big City. As you fly over the white sandy beaches into Phuket’s Interactional Airport you will instantly feel that very warm Thai Welcome which it is famous for, and the countries spirit will encapsulate you. All UK & Irish passport holders do not require a Visa if staying less than 30 days. Phuket might be an island but it has so many different resorts catering for a multitude of budgets and individual traveller’s needs. If you are a first timer to Phuket then I would recommend that you head straight to the South of the Island to the buzzing resorts of Patong, Karon and Kata Beach. These resorts are all pretty close to each other but off something slightly different in each one. All of them have mile after mile of white sandy beaches, restaurants and bars with Patong being the largest and by far the liveliest. Kata Beach (about 15 minutes’ drive away in a Tuk Tuk)
is built around a fantastic bay and offers a much more relaxed family resort with some of the best rated restaurant and sporting activities on the island.
and Centara Hotels.
So why Phuket? Phuket has been a tourist destination for over 50 years and attracts a large mix of international travellers. The island does have key areas dedicated to different markets such as UK, Nordic and Russian but the larger resorts are all highly mixed and cater for everyone. When it comes to Holiday accommodation the island offers everything and anything depending on your budget. Patong is one the oldest resort on the island and due to this has the highest density of accommodation on the island from Hostels, Private Villas and apartments. As a young gay
Phukets Bangla Road is the beating heart of this party resort for night time holiday makers in the mood to enjoy drinking, dancing, food and some local Thai men or ladies. Gay travellers will not only enjoy the excitement of Bangla Road but enjoy the enhancement of the Paradise complex which is another short street just back from Bangla Road which offers a full street of Gay Bars, Restaurants, Nightclubs, Gay Saunas and more. If like me you want to stay in gay friendly or gay owned accommodation in Patong you will have plenty of options to choose from. Most of the LGBT accommodation will be very small and friendly which I feel offer a much more intimate option if travelling alone. Patong however
traveller I like to be in the heart of the action and have everything I need within walking distance to me so I would recommend the following properties in Patong: Banthai Beach Hotel is directly across from Patong beach and around the corner from the lively Bangla Road complex, or the Holiday Inn Express resort which offers European style accommodation at the quieter northern end of the resort but still within east access of the beach shops and restaurants. If money is no object then Patong also offers some really amazing luxury Hotel & Spa retreats which will give you a completely world class experience such as Marriot, Amari
also offers some larger properties solely aimed at the LGBT market and you will find a good mix of nationalities at these properties. My quick pick suggestions would be the Royal Paradise Hotel & Spa or the Aquarius Gay Guesthouse & Sauna right in the heart of Patongs just off from the Bangla Road complex and situated on the gay street. If you don’t want to be right in the heart of everything but still wanted to be connected to the local gay scene and prefer a much larger gay owned complex then a persona favourite of mine is CC’s Hideaway resort which is located in the next resort down from Patong in Karon Beach. The complex offers excellent onsite accommodation
with some amazing hill side views overlooking the beach. They have weekly themed LGBT Events and offer free transfers to the beach and connecting resorts. LGBT night tours are also often run due to the number of single LGBT guests bringing them together to experience the true spirt of the local LGBT scene If you can peel yourself away from the hangover from the night before then Phuket has way more to offer than drinking venues and fantastic beaches. Due to the islands location the Andaman Sea offers you the opportunity of exploring the coastline by speedboat. You can take day trips James Bond Island, Krabi or the Similan islands for example allowing you to snorkel, dive, experience nature reserves, go fishing, or explore some of the world famous islands for movies such as the Beach. Phuket also has some fantastic day or night markets and going on Phuket island tour. I recommend heading to Big Budda in Kata, Trying a Thai Cooking Class by the sea at Phuket Town or going Elephant Trekking at one of the many Elephant sanctuaries. No trip to Phuket would be fulfilled if it didn’t include a Ladyboy show and Patong has one of the largest nightly shows on the island. Phuket’s Simon’s Cabaret is a purpose built venue and it really has to be one of the best tongue and cheek shows on the island as well as one of the cheapest nights out. If you do feel inspired and want to find out a little be more about Thailand’s culture and past then you must book the out of the world evening excursions to the almost Disney like of Phuket Fantasy Park and show (Kamala Resort or and Siam Niramit theme park show). LGBT travellers can also avail of tailored excursions, Gay boat cruises BBQs, Gay Night tours etc. but I would personally recommend Phukets Pride season which usually runs in April each year and is run over a 2week period. The event gets bigger and bigger every year with street carnivals, pool parties, Charity dinners and more. CC Hideaway Hotel is one of the chief organiser of the annual Pride events along with others from the local LGBT community which really pulls together to promote inclusivity of what’s on offer not only in Phuket but in Thailand as LGBT friendly destination.
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one night stand
BIRMINGHAM TEAM GNI TOOK A TRIP to Birmingham to see what it had on offer for a fun filled night. This is what we got up to…
International Airport we hopped on a train that took us directly to Birmingham New Street Station.
for those that work out there’s a complimentary on site gym. We were literally only 10 minutes walk from New Street train station.
ACCOMMODATION FLYBE – We flew direct from Belfast to Birmingham from George Best Belfast City Airport with Flybe. It was one of their Turboprop planes that took us there, a comfortable one hour flight on leather seats. We started the trip as we meant to go on – making the most of the on-board drinks menu!! VIRGIN TRAINS – Once we got to Birmingham
STAYCITY APARTMENTS – We decided to book an apartment rather than a hotel, being fans of “predrinks” we wanted somewhere to start our evening in comfort. Our apartment was in a modern block, the main reception area was funky, manned 24 hours a day and offered snacks and drinks. We had two double bedrooms, two bathrooms and a great living area with kitchen and big table to sit around. The overall feel was very contemporary and fresh. Also
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NIGHTINGALE CLUB – Set out over a few floors this was definitely the biggest bar we were in. It’s everything you’d expect of a big city club; a great variety of music, any drink your heart desires, and a mass of people loving it on the dance floors. They say you haven’t tried Gay Birmingham till you’ve been to “Gales”.
What I loved about the bars here was that they were all very close together. So we were literally able to bar hop…
MISSING BAR – There’s no denying you’re in a LGBT bar when you walk in, the rainbow streamers hung from the ceiling, the glitter wall by the stage, the gorgeous glittery bar and the camp classics bursting from the speakers give it away. This is a fun, vibrant bar. Out of all the bars we visited this one seemed to have the biggest mix of ages – all mixing together on the dancefloor – great to see!
RHAPSODY – There’s a bit of a retro feel to this bar with the white walls, black leather sofas and chrome and leather stools. There’s a nice open bar area with separate dance floor a few steps up – this is nice if you want to sit and have a drink away from the flashing lights and people bumping into you. Rhapsody also have a great cocktail list with cocktails named after all of our favourite gay icons.
THE VILLAGE INN – don’t be fooled by the name, this place is no sleepy inn, and it’s like a tardis, once you’re inside it just gets bigger and bigger. A great long bar area with a pumping dancefloor at the end, then walk around the corner and there’s an area to lounge with comfortable sofas, head outside and there’s an outdoor courtyard with tables and heaters. As the night gets late a gate opens in the courtyard to reveal a staircase to a basement club area. Lots of staff on the bar here too so you’re never waiting long for a drink.
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EDEN – This for me was the most comfortable relaxed bar we were in. There’s a very friendly vibe in here and an almost homely feel. There was karaoke going on the night we were here and the stage was never empty. There’s a pool table for pocketing a few balls, outside there’s a beer garden, and there’s a big covered outdoor area with separate bar for when there’s acts performing.
SIDEWALK – This is a big bar, and almost as busy outside on the street as it is inside. There are greeters at the door and we were given a voucher for a free shot on the way in – always a winner there. Inside there’s a loft feel with high ceilings and a big open bar. This by the way was the cheapest bar we drank in. The music is loud and there’s such a great positive vibe in here.
BOLTZ CLUB – Describing themselves as the horniest and hottest club in the West Midlands, we thought we’d pay it a visit. If you’ve visited cities like Amsterdam you’ll be aware of the cruisy type bars like this. There’s a big central bar area so you can sit and have a drink, then there are different areas to go on the prowl – with plenty of action in them all! It was a fiver in and the drinks are reasonably priced.
BULLRING – This is the place to shop. A beautiful big shopping centre brimming with all the shops you’ll know and love as well as places to eat. There’s a link tunnel that brings you to…
THE LOFT – Absolutely beautifully styled with friendly, chatty bar staff. We took our drinks outside to their garden – WOW, stunning. Obviously with the weather being great this was where everyone was, plenty of tables and seating with music in the background just loud enough so we could still hear each other speak.
GRAND CENTRAL – This is another big shopping centre which is part of New Street Train Station, anchor in this centre is John Lewis. There’s a great selection of places to eat in Grand Central. CANALS – Birmingham has a stunning network of canals, perfect for walking off the hangover.
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MOCA The Culture Club
Sat 5th Aug
LIFESTYLE | DATING
Ask Eamon! Our resident dating expert Eamon McAuley is ready to solve your shameful dating mishaps
It’s pride season and I’m still single, I’m really really shy and even on the biggest gayest day of the year, and even with a few bevvies in me I find it really hard to approach guys. Any tips for me to help me man up and say hello to what could be the man of my dreams?
Since I was young I’ve had an attraction to guys, but also to girls. I’ve been out with girls for years and just recently I started hooking up with guys too. I enjoy both equally. I’m constantly told by the guys I meet that I’m gay and that saying I’m bi is just a stepping stone. I disagree, but since I came out as Bi I’ve found it difficult to get girls interested in me – I think they assume I’m going to cheat on them with a guy. I don’t know what to do, it seemed easier before I told people I was bi.
Gary, Kilkeel Hi Gary My advice to you would simply say hi and engage in small talk. It’s not hard! They are human beings just like you. The key step is having the confidence to believe that you are worth it and worth dating. There will be many guys who find you attractive. But you will never know unless you put yourself out there. Remember always stay true to yourself. Good luck.
I’ve been called a slut by my mates, truth be told I just enjoy recreational sex, I don’t think it makes me a bad person. But as I’m getting older I am realising that I’d like to settle down with one guy who fits into my life and we can grow old happy together. I worry that my history as the slutty one of the group will put any potential guy off. It’s inevitable that when he would meet my mates they’d sleg me about my “colourful” past. Any suggestions?
I found myself in a similar situation, and I used to get the same comments. I personally think you can be bisexual and like both men and women and be attracted to both as long as your honest with yourself and others it will get easier, believe it or not more and more women are getting use to the fact that men are bisexual and like wise more and more men are accepting that women can also be bisexual. Whether you are in in a same sex relationship or an opposite sex relationship trust is important and a straight guy can cheat as easily as I bi or gay guy. Give it a bit more time and remember your happiness is important stay happy, honest and trustworthy and you will meet the right person whether that be a man or women!
The main thing is not to beat yourself up about having these feelings. It’s normal to be attracted to other people sometimes. The truth is that for most people feeling attractive and wanted boosts confidence and getting this sort of attention from someone will most certainly make you feel good about yourself. Sabrina you need to be honest with yourself is it worth throwing away a relationship for a bit of cheeky flirting? You should speak to the other girl and find out how she feels. If you both feel something for each other and want to see what lies ahead then you are not doing your girlfriend any favours by continuing this relationship. End it! However if the feelings are one sided and you’re the only one having them you need to ask yourself what is lacking in your current relationship that you have been drawn in by this other person.
Dear Eamon I love my girlfriend with all of my heart, but… there’s a new girl started at work and right from day one we have just cliked. We flirt the whole way through our shifts and now we’ve started messaging each other – we do it on SC so there’s no trace left. I feel I’m getting drawn further and further, but I don’t want to hurt my girlfriend. What should I do?
when you are ready to tell your brother. Being gay is totally acceptable today and you might be actually surprised by his reaction. The chances are he may already have his suspicions and waiting for you to tell him. Talk to him and let him know your concerns. After all he is your brother and will want the best for you.
I moved to Belfast two years ago from Poland. Back home it wouldn’t have been accepted as freely that I’m a gay man, but here I feel comfortable to be who I am. With one exception – I live with my brother and haven’t told him I’m gay. I’m worried that he will report back to my family at home. I feel my life is here in Belfast now and that I should live it like I want to. Macieck, Belfast Dear Maciek My advice to you is you should tell your brother
Joe, Dublin Hi Joe Everyone has Skeltons in their closets and everyone has a past. Your past is YOUR past. Don’t forget that! My advice would be focus on being the person you want to be. Organise a few dates, have fun but take things slowly. When you meet the right guy he will ignore the past and look towards the future.
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GNI MAG Weddings
They knew each other for a year before dating, their wedding was a beautiful occasion with 140 friends at Larchfield Estate.
SO TELL US HOW YOU MET, WERE YOU SINGLE FOR A LONG TIME BEFORE YOU STARTED DATING? JAMIE I’d already known Grainne probably about a year before being properly introduced (joys of a small gay scene). GRAINNE we met through a mutual friend, being a bartender in Union St, and Jamie being a customer, it was probably hard for her to take her eyes off me lol. HOW LONG AFTER YOU STARTED DATING DID IT TAKE TO POP THE QUESTION, WAS IT AN IMMEDIATE YES? JAMIE It was a few years in the making but it gave us time to
grow as a couple and make that commitment to each other. In those years we partied and enjoyed our early twenties together, and then started to become proper adults (sort of lol). We had opportunities to live away from each other and then live with each other and to really become part of each other’s families before taking the leap. It was an easy yes because it felt like a natural progression for us. GRAINNE Hmm, three years. We took a trip down to Donegal for a spa trip at Lough Wake Castle. I don’t think Jamie quite knew I had proposed, as I just threw the ring box at her as she got out of the shower! I had the intentions of rose petals all over the bed, but I quickly threw them off the bed as I heard her getting out of the shower! My nerves were shattered so I hid behind the curtain, but yes, she did say yes when she realised it was my way of proposing! Thakfully!
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GNI MAG WEDDINGS__ JAMIE & GRAINNE
“I’d say we’re more opposite than alike but that works for us. We balance each other out.”
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GNI MAG WEDDINGS__ TELL US ABOUT YOUR WEDDING DAY… JAMIE We had 140 friends and family attend Larchfield Estate for a humanist ceremony. I was anxious about the service because I’ve only ever attended religious denomination weddings. I was worried that a civil partnership ceremony somehow wouldn’t feel enough, but we couldn’t have asked for better. We had debated waiting until such time as same sex marriage becomes legal in N.I but we’re stubborn and neither of us liked the thought of other people dictating what we could and couldn’t do and when. To us we are married despite what the document might say. After the ceremony everyone was able to mingle outside during the drinks reception in the Orangery. Our reception was held in the main barn. We wanted it to have a rustic but romantic feel. Blue Moon helped us to decorate with fairy lit backdrops, lace beam runners, and draped entrances. A lot of it we did ourselves with family assistance though. I was completely overwhelmed by the speeches. Gordon Crawford Aka Trudy Scrumptious was our Master of Ceremonies so our guests were entertained from the outset. Everyone put so much effort into their words and in the case of my best women she put it all into song while playing her accordion.
After dinner Manouche Swing played in the barn to get everyone on their feet. We kicked off the dancing to Runaway by The Corrs but were quickly joined by our friends on the dance floor. DJ Kenny Kane played in the side room just off the main barn. I blame him for the state of my dress the day after because I spent the whole night swinging it about the stage and floor dancing. GRAINNE It was magical from start to finish, Larchfield estate was the perfect venue, it was like a fairytale! Everything went perfect! We couldn’t have wished for a better day! WHAT ABOUT THE FOOD AND DRINK… JAMIE We used Janes Kitchen for the food. They regularly cater in Larchfield so it was seamless. We’d had a tasting about a year before when we were choosing a caterer and Jane’s Kitchen didn’t disappoint. It was all delicious, even our two Dads who are notoriously fussy finished their plates. Although Grainne might not be able to tell you how it tasted. She was so nervous I ate most of her dinner too. A friend made our Victoria sponge VW wedding cake to tie in with Grainne’s love of campervans. We had a mini theme of VWs running through our
JAMIE & GRAINNE
day which I’d tried to resist at the start lol. The bar staff were great. We didn’t go without a drink in our hands all day. They even brought us Refresher Bombs during the evening do to keep us topped up. The only issue was (as we found with several vendors in the run up) was the immediate generic ‘thank you Mr and Mrs Bowman’ email the day after the wedding. Perhaps it was even an oversight of the letter ‘S’ in Mrs but it had been an issue in some of the planning. After that notorious cake incident (and especially as a girl with a boyish name) I felt we needed to be upfront in every email / initial contact about being a same sex couple incase it was going to effect the service we were requesting, and even with that prewarning we still turned up to meetings were they assumed I was Grainne and had brought my friend not fiancé for assistance. GRAINNE The food was beautiful, we used outside caterers Janes kitchen, they were a great choice! With our wedding being in October we wanted a nice warm menu for our guests. For our evening guests, and incase anyone was feeling hungry after a few drinks, we had staff bring round trays of mini steak burgers and chip cones.
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GNI MAG WEDDINGS__ JAMIE & GRAINNE
DID YOU HAVE A HONEYMOON? JAMIE We went to Orlando two days later. It was so funny because as soon as we stepped on the first flight one of the cabin crew had seen our wedding photos on Facebook and recognised us from a friend of a friends photos. On the next flight a friend had arranged champagne when we got to our seats so we were spoilt from take off. GRAINNE We did, we went two days after our big day, to Orlando FL for just under three weeks - it was the best time! We done all the theme parks, ate all the food and just had an all in all great time together! It was nice to just be alone after all the madness and build up of the wedding. ARE YOU INTO THE SAME THINGS? WHAT INTERESTS DO YOU HAVE THAT ARE DIFFERENT? JAMIE Hmmmm I’d say we’re more opposite than alike but that works for us. We balance each other out. For instance I love going on shopping sprees after payday whereas, Grainne would be more controlled
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with saving and managing money, it helps that we aren’t alike in this regard because we’d be bankrupt lol.
when she’s off alone. We’re lucky we have lots of friends who are happy to keep us occupied when the other one is working though.
GRAINNE Well, we like socialising and going out for nice meals and cocktails, we both enjoy going to plays and concerts, I suppose the main thing we both love doing would be a spa day for sure, or overnight hotel breaks, we tend to do these frequently! What interests do you have that are different? I’m a massive Football fan, Bow is a massive Britney Spears fan LOL so they would be complete polar opposites!
GRAINNE We do most things together, everything tends to be co ordinated around the days off we get together (they don’t come often enough) but when we do have time off from work we make sure to spend it together or together with friends, I’m not the best at remembering Jamie’s Rota so I tend to work the days jamie has off, but I suppose that give her free time to catch-up with her girls LoL, if I do manage to have a day off whilst Bow is working I’ll no doubt get myself in trouble for going for “one drink” I’m getting better at not doing that now! All in all, marriage is everything I thought it would be, and I could never imagine my life any other way, we are both thoroughly looking forward to the future together.
DO YOU DO EVERYTHING TOGETHER OR DO YOU LIKE TO KEEP INDEPENDENT? JAMIE We do a lot of things together like meeting up with friends, entertaining at home and going to concerts/ plays throughout the year. If we are both off we tend to stick together but we both work shifts so it’s as well we like our independence. I’m an only child so I must say Im probably the one who enjoys just chilling and reading a book by myself the most, whereas Grainne would rather be socialising and doing something with company
ALL PHOTOGRAPHS PROVIDED BY LAURA J CURRAN PHOTOGRAPHY. WWW. LAURAJCURRAN.COM
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COMING OUT Paul Fenty, 28 year old entrepreneur from Belfast tells us his story.
“I told her not to expect me coming down the airport in leather thigh high boots being carried by men.” WHEN DID YOU FIRST REALISE YOU WERE ATTRACTED TO THE SAME SEX? Wow this is so embarrassing, I always knew something was going on but I never really understood what because I didn’t really know anybody who was openly gay around me. What confirmed it for me was when me and my friend watched High School Musical and I got excited over Zac Efron as Troy Bolton, wanting him to sit at the edge of my bed and sing “Breaking Free” to me like he did for Vanessa. DID YOU TELL ANYONE AT THE TIME? WHY/WHY NOT? People I spoke to online knew I was gay, I was comfortable with that... So I joked with them about “Troy Bolton, it became a bit of an obsession of mine and my friends used to buy me High School Musical merch. WHEN DID YOU ACTUALLY COME OUT? I was 19 or 20, I can’t remember exactly. I got so comfortable with being okay with myself knowing and not having to tell anybody because it’s nobody’s business so I thought; I’ll do it when I’m ready. Realistically though I was probably just kidding myself, I was actually afraid to come out. WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO DO IT? I was just over being “comfortable”. It’s true what people say you literally can’t hide it, it starts to gnaw at you because you aren’t truly being yourself if you are hiding parts of you. Between 18-21 I really matured a lot, I started to think like an adult and I started to realise who my real friends were. As cheesy as it sounds I knew I’d made friends for life who loved me for who I am regardless for who
I choose to love. I guessed my friends and family wouldn’t care and nobody else’s opinion mattered to me. HOW DID YOU DO IT? I told my friend Aimee first, the reason why I told her was because she’s so lighthearted and is always smiling, it was hilarious really because I remember messaging her on MSN messenger and asking her did she want to meet me at 12am one night in the rain as there was something I wanted to tell her. I wrote my mum a letter and posted it to her because she was in staying in England at the time. I made the letter lighthearted and told her not to expect me coming down to the airport in leather thigh high boots being carried by men. Then I slowly told the rest of my friends. I was so scared about telling straight male friends I had because I started to get paranoid thinking they’ll overthink it and stop talking to me, but the more I thought about it, they literally called me “Gay Paul” for years hahaha, so it wasn’t a shock. WHAT WAS THE REACTION OF YOUR FAMILY AND CLOSE FRIENDS? One of my best friends Louise cried because she was so happy that I could finally be myself, I’ll always remember that. I built it up to a huuuuuuuuuuge climax and it was such a nonfactor, I was waiting on people fainting when most of them were probably thinking “it’s about time”. My mum and I have a really close relationship, so when she received the letter she kept calling my phone and I was literally s**tting myself, I remember watching my phone ring and ring and then I plucked up the courage and she was like “I’m happy as long as you’re happy”.
ANY NEGATIVE REACTIONS? HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THESE? It’s funny, before I came out I used to hear homophobic remarks and used to panic and think I’m going have to marry a woman and pretend to be straight, now that I’m out when somebody is homophobic I just roll my eyes and pity them, it must be awful to be so ignorant. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHERS THINKING ABOUT COMING OUT? So cliche but come out when YOU are ready, don’t feel forced to come out. Everybody does it at different ages, for example I remember being so proud of my friends nephew, he came out when he was around 16 - that takes balls. I remember being 16 and not even understanding myself. Nevermind allowing others to judge me for who I am. It seems like the scariest thing you could go through but honestly those who you truly matter to won’t care and those who care truly don’t matter. ANY FUNNY STORIES ABOUT WHEN YOU CAME OUT TO SOMEONE? The girl Aimee I mentioned, when I met her in the pouring rain at 12am and told her it was like a scene from a Hollywood movie. The first thing she asked me was “have you ever got s**t on your penis during sex?” - This is why I told her first. ANYTHING ELSE.... Don’t take life too serious, have fun... go to a gay club, go see Trudy Scrumptious perform in Union Street bar she’s hilarious, so kind hearted and friendly. I remember my first night out before I officially “came out” at the Kremlin and it was SO GOOD.
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CAOIMHE & SAERLAITH’S STORY
LGBT FAMILIES Sisters Caoimhe and Searlaith share the story of their dad coming out to them... CAOIMHE: I remember when my parents first separated; to say I was shocked was an understatement. They never argued, the relationship was full of love and affection, to me, we were the perfect family. My Mum, who is a pillar of strength, was very much affected by the breakdown of the marriage. She lost a lot of weight, appeared distracted, understandably so, and spent a lot of time in the presence of her sister. My Mum would try her best to hide this, I never seen her cry, nor did I ever see her make things difficult for my Dad in terms of our relationship, spending time together etc. I think from a young age, I was very in tuned with people’s emotions hence my career in psychology. I was about 14/15 years old; I knew my Mum was not okay, despite her very best efforts at fronting otherwise. I would say things like ‘Dad is crazy leaving you, he must be going through a midlife crisis’ or ‘He must be gay because you are incredible.’ But I never believed or thought further about him being gay, to me it was a figure of speech, something immature and silly I said to make my Mum feel better. Then one evening my Dad took me for dinner. He asked why I thought the marriage broke down and I repeated what I was told, ‘because you don’t love each other anymore.’ My Dad then asked if I thought of any other reasons, but I sat there bewildered. He then repeated what I had been telling my Mum, that maybe he was gay, I remember laughing, but then the stark reality hit when my Dad said, ‘I am.’ I felt instantly protective of him. He was emotional, and I could see the fear in his eyes. We cried together and I told him ‘that I love him and that it didn’t change anything.’ We talked about it some more, but to be honest that part’s a blur. I remember it being a night filled with emotion, but I wanted to make sure that my Dad knew it would not affect our relationship. I felt a little like roles reversed, because this was the first, and probably only time in my life that I have ever saw my Dad as vulnerable. I just hope I made that process easy for him. When I got home that night and saw my Mums face, my heart broke for her. Not because he was gay, but because of the pain she must have be feeling. I
felt equally as protective of my Mum. We come from a small village; we are Catholics, all of which would make this much worse for both my parents. Following him ‘coming out’ I wanted to know if he had an affair, for me, this is what I found most hurtful part. This made me angry, and upon reflection, probably links in with my mistrust of others. His sexuality was never the problem, it was the deceit I found most difficult. Over the weeks following, I became angry at my Dad, not because of his sexuality, but because he lied to my Mum and to us for so long. He made us live a life that was born out of secrecy to hide his sexuality. I was only born because my Dad wanted to hide being gay. Despite everything my Mum had previously gone through, he now added to that, and I thought at that time it was selfish. During this time we had a difficult relationship. I was the only child out of three told (as my parents wanted to wait until we were adults, but they believed that I knew). As time passed, and upon reflection, I believe that we were probably raised to be very open minded in relation to all aspects of life, I think that fits with both my parents outlooks on life, but equally because my Dad knew he was gay. This helped me, because I never had any negative thoughts about my Dads sexuality and being gay did not change how I viewed him. When I started University I completed a dissertation on ‘Coming out’ and I spent time with my Dad asking him various questions about his past, and his sexuality etc. I think doing this helped me gain a better understanding of the situation. I now understand why he hid this, it was deemed a mental health problem, it was illegal, the abuse you would become subject to was real and rife and the fear of being rejected. I think this is an important part when parents come out gay, giving the child an understanding, no matter how difficult it would be. I think family therapy could play a massive part in this process. My relationship with my Dad now, is wonderful, I now appreciate the courage it must have taken to accept who he is, and to ‘come out’ to those closest. Amidst the difficult times, we have had some fun times too, when he told his
Mum he was gay, he didn’t go into a great deal of detail, and she later pointed to a transsexual on the TV and told me it was a man like my Dad. I am very proud of my Dad, and of our family and I would not change it for the world. SAERLAITH: My Mum and Dad separated when I was around 11/12 years old. It was months later that Dad informed me he was gay. This did come as a shock and I had never heard of this before (in my defence I was young and it was 2002) however I feel this did not affect me as much as my parents separating did. When my Dad left our family home, the atmosphere was strange, none of us talked about it and each of us were fighting our own battles. I was never a talkative person; my Mum organised counselling however I was unable to open up about my feelings. Instead in internalised all my feelings, desensitised myself and I stopped eating as a way to cope; unintentionally of course but ended up losing a lot of weight. As mentioned before everyone was fighting their own battles and no one noticed, not even me, until it was pointed out to me approximately six months later by my sister. I was also too young to have an awareness of how it was impacting on others. I remember telling my friends about my parents’ separation but I did not tell them about my Dad being gay. I didn’t feel that it was my place; my Mum, Sister and Brother may not have felt comfortable with it – plus it didn’t define me as a person. However as a child, it was never going to be easy. I live in a small town and people did find out eventually. I personally never took anything said to me as an insult however this was not the case for my siblings. My younger brother in particular would have got a lot of grief about it and of course being the big sister I held the emotional trauma for him and would have started fights with those who bothered him. I was never ashamed of my Dad and I needed to stand up for what was right (even if I insulted others on the way). My Mum was so strong through the process; she maintained a relationship with my Dad and ensured he did not miss anything in our lives and I am eternally grateful for this. My
relationship with my Dad never changed; if anything it was stronger, he was more laid back, more open to new experiences and wanted us to seize all opportunities in life. He was happier and this made life a lot easier (he even let my boyfriend come on holidays with us)! As I grew into my late teenage years I began to understand how this had a huge impact on my mother. We would discuss it through tears and laughter, to this day we have an ongoing joke about how did she not know, he chose and bought her wedding dress for her (he has impeccable fashion sense and still does). I almost went down the same path until my Dad met one of my previous boyfriends and told me to get rid of him because he was gay (he is now!); what can I say, like mother like daughter ha ha. I did eventually talk to my close friends as a teenager, at this stage it was old news to me and I forgot how big of a deal it was. I am forever thankful to my friends who were open minded and normalised it when I had told them. This gave me the confidence to talk to others about it (although I have lost friends because of their reactions, this was my choice and their loss). Although there were some really tough times growing up it did get better. It was ‘old news’ after a few years, I’m not sure if this was to do with the gossip seizing or that people were becoming more attuned to gay rights or it was becoming more common. Nonetheless, we have had some great times, from shopping trips, holidays, gossiping and carer advice to attending gay pride and having our inside jokes (Harrods in London and Christian Dior in Rome). Growing up, Dad was always there for me. More than he probably knows. He is one of my best friends and I wouldn’t change him for the world. I am so proud of my Dad for taking, probably the scariest leap of faith and living a happy life and for being who he is today. All in all, as mentioned at the beginning, I feel the thing that affected me personally was the separation of my parents. My Dad being gay was just so matter of fact in my mind, yes there were repercussions however this was more about me fighting for what was right.
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Galway Film Fleadh 11th-16th July 2017
Galway Film Fair 13th–16th July 2017
Galway Film Fair 10th–12th July 2014
Our biggest ever issue! Conleth Kane gives his most honest interview ever - talking about what makes him proud. We also caught up with ico...
Published on Jul 3, 2017
Our biggest ever issue! Conleth Kane gives his most honest interview ever - talking about what makes him proud. We also caught up with ico...