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GNI mag

THE LOCAL HOMOCULTURAL MAGAZINE Issue 31 April / May 2018 £3.95 / €4.95

Nadine Coyle The original Derry Girl

Julia Michaels

Her hit single Issues, writing for other superstars and what she has coming next.

Cynthia Nixon Our icon, from SATC to running for Mayor of NYC.

Mr Gay Europe Matt Rood uses his platform to promote LGBT fostering and adoption.


Woman’s Issue The Gender Pay Gap METOO Movement Period Poverty The Abortion Act Suffragettes



Trade in, trade up or buy a previously owned watch of distinction The Pre-Owned Collection at Lunn’s is a range of previously owned prestige watches. The collection has been selected for its quality and character by our expert buyers. Each watch has been restored to pristine condition ready for you to wear and enjoy. The Pre-Owned Collection offers you the opportunity to own a watch of distinction, at the right price, with a one year guarantee.



Northern Ireland

There is something wondrous about a spring road-trip. Packing up and taking to the open road — exploring littleknown places and uncharted acres. Northern Ireland is your perfect destination, somewhere different but not too far away, full of epic locations and luxurious accommodation. This place is teeming with spectacular panoramas. Epic ocean-hemmed stretches that you’ll recognise from movies and Game of Thrones®. Historical must-sees like the mythical Giant’s Causeway and Titanic Belfast that will make your spine tingle. Then there’s the shimmering cities and the unreal food, drink and shopping possibilities. Book a room with Hastings Hotels, Northern Ireland’s finest collection of hotels, and start planning your perfect spring getaway from £60 per person sharing.

If the legendary Giant’s Causeway is on your bucket list, now is the time to venture. With acres of ocean views, this extraordinary place takes on an otherworldly magic in the springtime. Make Ballygally Castle your base. This gorgeous, 17th century historical gem sits snugly on the Causeway Coastal Route, overlooking the stunning beach of Ballygally Bay. This four-star, four-hundred-year-old castle has been lovingly restored, but still boasts its traditional character and stately atmosphere — not to mention spectacular local cuisine.


rena • SSE A Centre City t s a lf e te •B ont Esta • Storm ninsula & e P • Ards rd Lough fo Strang

The suburban cool side of Belfast Love the city, but not the crowds? Just minutes from Belfast’s bustling heart is the tranquillity and sophistication of the Stormont Hotel, overlooking the gardens of Northern Ireland’s Parliament Buildings. This is a hidden gem for savvy holiday-makers, nestled in the vibrant east side of the city. If you’ve shopped till you’ve dropped, why not take a refreshing drive through the countryside? You’re perfectly placed to make a break for the scenic Ards Peninsula and Strangford Lough. Or soak up the scenery during a leisurely round of golf at Royal Belfast, Ireland’s oldest golf club.

Hotspots, hideaways and glorious hotels from £60pps

A castle and a giant’s coast


STORMONT HOTEL MUST-SEE: – Tuck into creations made from the finest local ingredients at La Scala Bistro – Take a stroll in the magnificent grounds of Stormont Estate

BALLYGALLY CASTLE MUST-SEE: – Visit the ‘haunted ghost room’ in the tower and see if the friendly ghost of Lady Isabella makes an ethereal appearance – Enjoy a fabulous themed Game of Thrones Afternoon Tea and take time to look at the magnificent Game of Thrones® carved wooden door in the hotel ®




of • Game® our s T Throne ast Road Co • Antrim Causeway s t’ n ia e G • k-a-Red • Carric ridge B Rope




Valley • Silent ountains M e • Mourn ounty Down C • Royal Course Golf st ore Fore • Tollym rk Pa

Dazzling resort in County Down For a mini-break with magnificent indoors and outdoors, drive to the resplendent Slieve Donard Resort and Spa in County Down. With luxurious rooms, gourmet food, and a sublime spa, you won’t want to leave the hotel — but make sure you do. You’ll be met by Newcastle’s beautiful coastline, within dandering-distance of the famed Mourne Mountains. Go adventure. Play on the globally acclaimed Royal County Down Links situated only a six iron from the hotel. Visit breathtaking Silent Valley, Castlewellan Country Park, or just cosy up by the fireside in a seafront pub. SLIEVE DONARD RESORT AND SPA MUST-SEE:

– Take a dip and enjoy the views from the amazing Vitality Pool – Enjoy a private Whiskey Tasting experience with our whiskey experts in Chaplin’s Bar

An icon in the heart of Belfast If you’re seeking a break with that cool city buzz, book the world-famous Europa. This stylish hotel is the darling of Belfast and a favourite amongst movers, shakers and the global glitterati. With its stylish rooms, elegant piano bar and sweeping marble foyer, this place makes for a magnificent city casa. Check in, and check out the best of Belfast. Outstanding theatres, Michelin-starred restaurants, boutique shopping destinations and atmospheric bars and liquor lounges are all within walking distance — not to mention must-sees like the epic Titanic Belfast. EUROPA HOTEL MUST-SEE: – Enjoy the bustling city vibe below with the great view from the luxurious Lobby Bar with classic cocktails or a delicious Afternoon Tea – Take in a show at the Grand Opera House right beside the hotel


• Titanic Belfa st • Ulster Mus eu • Cathedral Q m uarter • Grand Ope ra House


The city-side 5* spa sanctuary Torn between a city-break full of cosmopolitan cool and a restful spa-escape of mega relaxation? Don’t choose. Welcome to the Culloden Estate and Spa. A luxurious five-star sanctuary on the outskirts of the city, with spectacular views over Belfast Lough. You can spend the day in the Spa and then hit the shimmering city bars in the evening. Beyond the estate, browse the shops or explore Belfast’s biggest attractions — from Titanic Belfast to Belfast Castle, the Botanic Gardens to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. Or visit the renowned parkland golf course of Royal Belfast. Glorious.

The warmest welcome in the northwest Derry’s beautifully-preserved fortifications, steep cobblestone streets, and unique shops and galleries make it the heritage and cultural capital of Northern Ireland. Enjoy it all from the comfort of the Everglades Hotel, where you’ll be met with our famed hospitality, luxurious rooms with homely touches, and the best dining in the city. Wake up to glorious views across the Foyle, where the morning sunlight bathes the hills of Donegal. Then get out there — into Derry’s historic core, or up the Causeway Coastal Route to immerse yourself in its breathtaking landscapes. EVERGLADES HOTEL MUST-SEE: – Stay in one of the gorgeous suites with views out over Lough Foyle and towards Donegal – Savour their famous traditional Afternoon Tea in the comfort of the lounge I T I N E R A RY

• Binevenagh • Historic Ci ty Walls • Causeway Coastal Rout e • Royal Portru sh Golf Course

COMPETITION The newest jewel in the Hastings crown is the extraordinary Grand Central Hotel, opening in the heart of the city’s linen quarter in summer 2018. With contemporary luxurious design and a unique cosmopolitan atmosphere, the Grand Central will be the largest hotel in Northern Ireland. For your chance to be among the first to stay in this sensational new hotel and win a fabulous weekend break for 2 people, simply visit www.hastingshotels.com and answer the question below:

What is the name of the new Hastings Hotel opening in 2018?

For further information on Hastings Hotels in Northern Ireland visit hastingshotels.com or call 028 9047 1066

• Royal Belfa st Golf Course • Mount Stew art • Holywood Town • Belfast City Centre

CULLODEN ESTATE AND SPA MUST-SEE: – Explore the hotel’s 12 acres of secluded gardens and woodland – Relax with an ESPA spa treatment in the sumptuous spa


Kelly’s Cellars is Belfast’s oldest traditional Irish pub, often described as “a hidden gem that oozes old traditional values”. It’s famous for the best pint of Guinness in Belfast, served with our homemade Irish beef stew. Built in 1720, it is situated in the heart of the city. Kelly’s Cellars has changed very little in 200 years and still has most of its original features. Recently we refurbished upstairs into what is now a modern yet contempory bar, currently opened to the public at the weekend and available for private hire

30-32 Bank Street, Belfast, Northern Ireland (City Centre)

028 9024 6058 | www.kellyscellars.com | kieran@kellyscellars.com | www.facebook.com/kellys.cellars

GNI mag


MANAGING DIRECTOR Tony Day OPERATIONS & DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Daniel May daniel@gnimag.com CELEBRITY EDITOR Gary Campion gary@gnimag.com SPECIAL THANKS TO Martin Kearney / Greg McCaw / Gemma Hutton / Alicia V Perry / Nora Calder / Nadine Coyle / Tokio Myers / Cliff Carter / Cutkelvins / Julia Michaels / Tina Leggs Tantrum / Peter Alexander / Bull & Dagger / Anshika Khullar / Morso / Me & Mrs Jones / Kremlin Belfast / Paul and Darwin / Matt Rood / Gareth Myles A NOTE FROM US We have been made aware that there was an opinion piece in issue 30 which upset some of our readers - this is something we never want to do. These columns are the opinions of the writers and not that of the magazine. We actively try to promote positivity through our magazine, to our own community and our readers as a whole. We have taken steps to ensure this column has been removed from our online content and we want to again assure you that Team GNI would never want to offend any of our readers. GNI MAG is published by: Lamb Promotions Ltd 339 Albertbridge Road Belfast, BT5 4PY Telephone | 028 9045 5690 Website | gnimag.com

All submissions to GNI are made on the basis of permission to publish the submission in GNI and its licensed editions worldwide. In the case of a picture selection, the editor’s decision is final. Any material sent is at the owner’s risk and although every care is taken neither Lamb Promotions or its agents shall be liable for loss or damage. We take great care to make sure all elements of GNI are accurate. However we accept no liabilty for any misprints that appear in this magazine. You should seek professional advice prior to following any advice offered in this publication. Any opions expressed are those of the writers and not those of GNI MAG or Lamb Promotions Ltd. Lamb Promotions Ltd 2015


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

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 Marty tells us about the best entertainment over the next month or so. GREG MCCAW Workplace rigths. GEMMA HUTTON Five things she loves to talk about. ALICIA V PERRY Role models. NORA CALDER Take two. ROUND UP LGBT stories from across the globe. NADINE COYLE Talks album, possible Girls Aloud reunion tour and more. TOKIO MYERS Life after Britain’s Got Talent. CYNTHIA NIXON - ICON More than just SATC, could she be the next mayor of NYC. CUTKELVINS Straight off the X-Factor tour, our favourite group tell us what’s next. JULIA MICHAELS World domination is on the horizon for this upcoming songstress. STUFF All the things we love at the mo. SPRING IN HER STEP Alicia talks about going under the knife. TINA LEGGS TANTRUM Life after The Sunday Bingo Show.


ABORTION Controvertial subject on this little island

of Ireland. Nora gives you some facts you should know. PERIOD POVERTY Believe it or not in 2018 some girls are still struggling to get menstural products. THE SUFFRAGETTES Women who paved the way. THE GENDER PAY GAP Women still aren’t getting equal pay. #METOO This is a hastag that ‘s taking over the world.


FASHION Pyjamas by Peter Alexander MEET THE ARTIST

Anshika Khullar introduces us to their work. FASHION Bull & Dagger showcase their latest range. FITNESS Daniel talks about fad diets. FOOD We check out Morso in Belfast. SLEEPING OVER Spending the night with Me & Mrs Jones in Portstewart. GOSCARS Photos from the recent awards, and our sixth win. TRAVEL Gary takes a weekend to Bristol HOMES Making the most of your patio. BIG DAY Darwin and Paul let us in on their big day. LGBT FAMILY Mr Gay Europe Matt Rood talks about fostering and adoption. COMING OUT Gareth tells us his story.

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Releasing her EP fifteen years on from Girls Aloud. PAGE 27


Embarking on a UK tour after being crowned winner of BGT. PAGE 32


Talks about “Issues”, Ten billion streams to date and counting. PAGE 39


Recommended Marty Kearney

I FEEL PRETTY One of my favorite actress is Michelle Williams so when I get the chance to write about her in any capacity I’m going to grab that chance. Michelle Williams will appear in this comedy I feel Pretty which stars the fantastic and very funny Amy Schumer. Schumer plays Renee a under confident and insecure woman until a freak accident at a spin cycle class causes her to wake up to believe that she is the most gorgeous woman on the planet, even though she still looks exactly the same. The trailer has some LOL moments. Amy Schumer is brilliant in everything she does as is Michelle Williams who will Play Renee’s boss and I think act as the antagonist in this movie. Naomi Campbell is set to make a cameo. This Light heated comedy is written and directed by Marc Silverstien who wrote and directed the Drew Barrymore classic Never Been Kissed if I feel Pretty is as half as good as that wee gem then we are all in for a treat. I feel pretty is out in cinemas 04/05/2018

BREAKING IN I love a good home invasion movie, who doesn’t? And this one looks like it’s going to do exactly what it says on the tin. Every now and then a movie comes out that has you on the edge of the seat biting your nails shouting at the screen and Breaking In looks to be next Don’t Breathe, or Split . Starring the gorgeous Gabrielle Union. Union stars as a single mom who must protect her children from a gang of criminals when they break into her late father’s home to steal the contents of the safe. This isn’t going to be your damsel in distress, call for help kind of movie as Gabrielle union kicks some serious butt in the trailer and while were talking about Ms. union she will soon be seen in a yet to be named Bad Boys TV spin-off along with Jessica Alba. Union will play Syd the fan favorite charter she bought to life in bad boys 2. Breaking in will be in cinema 11/05/2018




TRA REDUCED TICKET PRICES Proud to be a LGBT friendly venue



DEADPOOL 2 In 2016 a superhero movie rated 18s smashed it at the box office setting the bar for a new type of hero. Even if you weren’t a comic book fan Deadpool was the movie to go see that year and everyone did as it made over 8 million dollars worldwide. In this sequel we will see sexy Ryan Reynolds put on that skin tight suit once more to become the sarcastic antihero Deadpool. Also returning is Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Stefan Kapic as Colossus from the X-Men, they will be Joined by a new comer Domino played by Zazie Beets (isn’t that just the best name ever) who’s mutant powers is Luck, together they form Team X-Force and must protect a young mutant from a time traveling soldier (Can anyone say Terminator) Cable ( Josh Brolin). Morena Baccarin, T.J Miller, Leslie Uggams and Karan Soni are all set to return Joined by Jack Kesy (if you remember in the last issue I told you to go google him, if you didn’t go now and thank me later) Will play the villain Black Tom Cassidy who in the comics is Irish so it will be interesting to see if he remains Irish on the big screen. Deadpool 2 will sure to be a massive hit this summer I can’t bloody wait. Deadpool 2 18/05/18

THE STRANGERS 2 PREY AT NIGHT It takes a lot to scare me but if you were to ask me what my favorite scary movie is id probably say The Strangers. That whole scene where Liv Tyler is in the house alone being tortured by three masked lunatics give me the chills and the thought stayed with me hours after the end credits rolled, put it this way I slept with my bedroom door open and landing light on that night. The Strangers was a massive hit and usually when a horror movie is a hit the producers and studio take the biscuit and knock out a sequel and prequels every year and the franchise just becomes absurd. But it has took a whole decade to get a sequel to The Strangers and we are long overdue a good scary movie. Mad Men’s Christina Hendrix and Martin Henderson who recently had a brief stint in my beloved Greys Anatomy star as the parents of Scream teen queen Kinsley played by annoying child actress Bailee Maddison and by the looks of things it is her who will receive the most screen time and torment from the 3 killers. Reviews for Strangers 2 have been split down the middle some saying its cliché, while others have been saying it surpasses the original. I guess we will need to go see for ourselves. More than likely you will all be sleeping with the lights on coming the 4the of May when The Strangers 2 will be released in cinemas.







Proud to be a LGBT friendly venue



RISE Jason






shows over the years, Friday Night Lights, Parenthood and he has created this little

gem Rise. Based on the book Drama high which focused on the real life teachings of

Lou Volpe who turned a small town high

school theater program into one of the most

recognized programs in the United States. Rise tells the story of Lou Mazzuchell an

English teacher who take over the schools

theater department and causes all sorts

of conflict and drama between teachers, students and parents when he decides to do a production of the controversial play Spring Awaking instead of Grease.


show is Glee meets Friday Night lights and

it has many conventions, qualities and similar Characters of both shows. Josh Radnor form

How I met your mother takes on the lead role

and is joined by a large ensemble cast but for me the stand out character is Tracey Wolfe the assistant director who was previously

head of the program before being replaced by

Lou, though she stays on and supports Lou.

Played by the under estimated Rosie Perez. Any Musical theater fan should check out this show it doesn’t have over the top musical

numbers and covers belted out every week but to see what goes on behind the scenes

in a school production is entreating and the

performances of the young cast have been enough to keep me watching.

STATION 19 All my life I’ve been obsessed with one TV from the other from She Ra, X-Men, Power Rangers, Friends Ally McBeal, Xena Warrior Princess, Buffy, Desperate Housewives but out of all these amazing shows my all-time favorite show ever is Greys Anatomy so when news broke that Greys was getting a spin off I was so excited. Plenty of cross overs and if anything like Private Practice (the other Greys Spin off ) it will introduce more characters for me to fall in love with like Amelia Shepherd and Charlotte King. Station 19 follows the fire and rescue crew from fire house station 19 as they deal with emergences and their personal lives. The show definitely has a Greys vibe to it, and Ellen Pompeo and Chandra Wilson have both made guest appearances and Bailys Husband Ben Warren is a regular and the latest recruit to join the station 19 team. The cast is ridiculously good looking especially the gay character Travis played by Jay Haden who I no doubt will be a fan favorite, if not he will definitely be mine. I’ll admit the show isn’t as fast paced as Angela Bassets drama 9-1-1 but it’s still very enjoyable. Any fan of Greys or any of Shonda Rhimes other shows such as How to get away with murder and Scandal should give this ago.



Recliner leather chairs, free parking, a free small popcorn & drink, a goodie bag, a drinks reception and entertainment The Notebook (2004) - May 18 • Hairspray (1988) June 22


GOOD GIRLS A lot of Mid-Season replacement shows have started this year and Good Girls hands down is my favorite. And I’ll tell you why… a strong female lead cast, Christina Hendrix from Mad Men and soon to seen getting terrorized in The Strangers 2, Stand Up comedian Retta and child actress Mae Whitman all star. The chemistry between these 3 women is what makes this show so great. It’s nothing that we haven’t seen before but still its amazing TV. Hendrix and Whitman star as two housewives and sisters along with their best friend Retta get in over there head when the rob a grocery store only to get into more trouble than they hoped for and get involved with a street gang and money laundering. Its light hearted and fun and Mae Whitman has grown up to be a very talented gorgeous young actress who can easily steal any scene. It not unlike claws which featured in the last issue of GNI so if you enjoyed that then why not give this a go.

THE AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR Everything has led to this epic showdown. Every Marvel movie since Iron Man in 2008 right up until now have had connections crossovers and have all linked together to bring us this big payoff Thanos ( Josh Brolin) is finally here with his infinity gauntlet seeking the remaining infinity stones and it’s going to take earths mightiest heroes, the guardians of the galaxy and Spiderman to stop him and save the universe once again. There is no stopping the marvel cinematic universe their last movie Black Panther is the 10thhiggest grossing movie of all time having made over 1 billion dollars worldwide and it’s still in the cinema. To be honest I’m a comic book geek and I never even heard of Black Panther until he appeared in Captain America: Civil War. That’s the power Marvel has, they can take a 3rd rate super hero and turn him into the most popular successful super hero ever. Over 30 characters will appear in this movie including the original Avengers line up. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawk Eye along with The Scarlett Witch, The Vison, Ant Man, Dr Strange, Black Panther , Star Lord, Gamora and the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy. With that many Hero’s all packed into one massive movie I can’t help but wonder will my favorite super heroes get enough screen time, dialogue and the action they deserve to satisfy my inner geek. I was a tad disappointed with the trailers but that’s not going to stop me from going to see the midnight showing. And if you’re planning on doing the same book tickets now to avoid disappointment. Avengers Infinity War 27/04/2018



Recliner leather chairs, free parking, a free small popcorn & drink, a goodie bag, a drinks reception and entertainment Mamma Mia! - Here We Go Again - July 20






2 for




Why Mums are still fighting for their careers and what needs to change now.

Greg McCaw When we think discrimination our minds often wonder to the most drastic of examples, when in fact, an accumulation of the smallest of actions, can often contribute to people feeling excluded and discriminated at work, we’ve all heard it and you’ve either stood by or contributed to it. We have all heard the following or similar in conversations: • • • •

‘She’s pregnant, she’s not ill’ ‘There’s no way that job can be done part-time’ ‘I don’t think they’re going to return from maternity leave’ ‘I can’t believe she’s late again, I knew this would happen when she got pregnant, she’s using her pregnancy as an excuse.’ ‘There’s no way she’ll be able to be a Mother and have a career’

During my career as an HR professional, I have heard and seen shocking examples of toxic masculinity, discrimination from females to females and the vast majority of people showing little or no understanding at all around how life changing becoming pregnant and going on maternity leave can be for a woman. According to the Equality and Human Rights commission: •

One in five mothers said they had experienced harassment or negative comments related to pregnancy or flexible working from their employer and /or colleagues; if scaled up to the general population this could mean as many as 100,000 mothers a year. • 10% of mothers said their employer discouraged them from attending antenatal appointments; if scaled up to the general population this could mean up to 53,000 mothers a year. *www.equalityhumanrights.com Businesses need to face into and help people unlearn the biases that are preventing brilliant women getting access to great careers. We can’t eliminate bias but we need to surface and face the hard fact that there is still an issue. I believe strongly that paid maternity leave should be a legal right with no caveats around length of service, there are so many fantastic companies

already making this happen but for me the change we need to see goes beyond benefits and policies, we need a seismic shift in culture. Culture is a buzzword, put it simply and it is how things are done and it is how we treat each other at work, you can have a suite of benefits but if your boss has a mind-set from the 1950’s and your co-workers contribute to the toxicity by making unfounded, throwaway statements like the above then your rights to be a Mum and have a career are not being championed. Some of the small (non-financial changes) business need to make happen now are: ONE: Offer support from day one, be conversational and be human. Thankfully there are many great HR departments that value people over processes however most will immediately jump to process. Fill in this risk assessment, get their MATB1 etc. These things might be important but offering your employee your unwavering support and understanding from day one for appointments and time off will really build a strong psychological contract between the employer and employee. TWO: Show you care by checking in regularly for some people pregnancy can be difficult, couple that with the anxiety they’ll feel about wanting a healthy baby, protecting their role and everything else new and expectant mothers need to plan for, so be an employer that recognises this is a massive change and show your support.

be used in the right way, it just doesn’t seem sensible to use these all at the last minute, there’s a common misconception that you can’t touch these until the last hour, this is completely wrong. FIVE: Be flexible. I am utterly fed up of hearing people say, that role can’t be done part-time or from x-location. Says who? You the Line Manager that’s just made a throw statement based on the fact we’ve been working traditional hours for decades. Unlearn your old-school way of thinking and be an advocate and champions of Mums, is that how you’d want your Mother, sister or friend to be treated? If there was a dramatic shift in your life that you are someone you loved needed to be cared for, would you want to be treated that way? There’s all the stuff that costs money as well: • • •

Inclusive Leadership & Unconscious Bias training to shift culture Improving your parental leave packages and benefits Training for Line Managers

THREE: Parents & Carers Network, create a network of roles models who employees can turn to for help, advice and guidance on all of the many things that they need to consider also include mentors in here who have families and successful careers.

We’re still going to see women face the same challenges until we address culture and we all play our part in that. If you have ever contributed to a conversation that questions whether someone can ‘juggle both’ or whether they’ll even return from maternity leave, you are part of the problem, you are contributing to a toxic culture in which people will not thrive. Remember discrimination doesn’t always take shape in one drastic action, it can be the accumulation of many small actions, so the next time you hear some kind of throw away statement, don’t be a bystander and challenge their thinking. If you’re a new or expectant mother and your experience hasn’t been great you can get help from Labour Relations or Citizens Advice, there’s also a wealth of information online.

FOUR: Keeping in touch is really important, women just get waved off on maternity leave with no contracting around the level of contact they’d like. Could you create a Newsletter, send monthly updates, meet for coffee, there’s loads of options but just not speaking to someone for months isn’t one. KIT days also need to

This is an opinon piece from the columnist/contributor and not the opinion of GNI MAG/Lamb Promotions Ltd.



! s s s s a a a Y

Opening dialog.

Gemma Hutton This month has all Ru Paul!!!

Finally, Ru has been honoured with a star on the Holywood walk of fame. Ru was introduced by legendary screen icon Jane Fonda. Ru said “This is absolutely the most important moment in my professional life.”

Drag Race is back for season ten! Who’d have thought all those years ago that this blend of style and trash would be here ten seasons later (yes we did too). We’ll be glued watching those queens glue, staple and strut their way to success.

SO WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT WOMEN. I must say women are one of my top five expert topics along with food, harry potter, films and the meanings of colours of baby poop. But I digress. It’s been a difficult time for a lot of people I know surrounding the rugby rape trial that has happened. I was woke many people of all genders into discussing respect and consent. I know I found it emotional, and I even lost a few friends over my views. The positive being that we opened up dialogues and highlighted the areas we need to look at more. That’s something I enjoy doing through performance; performance that is not necessarily humorless, but a bit more poignant than my usual work. I guess being a mum also hit me this month too, because most of my writing has been based around being a very busy mum. I have written so much, that I now need to do another show. I can’t reveal too much about it, but I am working with a wonderful team this time to help take my show to the next level. It’s called, ‘I can’t Afford to Die’, and the only real reason I am telling you lot first, is that if I put it down in black and white that I am making this show...then I have to actually do it no takesy backseys. It feels a lot like adulting writing this next show, so I am mindful to involve my usual filth and frivolity throughout. So yes, listening and becoming involved in online debates generated from this trail has motivated me to use my voice again in a more constructed manner. I have been embracing my inner feminist all month actually,

from protests to hosting alternative Ms.Ulster I have been surrounded by truly inspiring women of late. We are a great bunch. It has been a quiet performance with me, but it has been one of my busiest planning months in a long time for new projects. I am incredibly lucky to have the opportunities that are coming up for me, but I cant jinx them. Further proof of my adulting came when I entered Union Street last Sunday only to have my bloody card blocked for suspicious activity. That’s how long it has been since I got off my Nelly Furtados. I plan to rectify this very shortly with my Cabaret family... (I will deffo pass out after 3 ciders and be home covered in dirty goujon sauce by 11pm) That is the joy of parenting. We have managed to keep her alive for 9 weeks now, so I expect a telegram from the Queen or some sh*t, cuz seriously...it is a second job. If you wanna nosey at pics of my child all you have to do is breathe near me and I’ll have an album under your nose quicker than you can blink. Can’t stop guys, must go I am a busy mum now. Over and out. x

“I can’t Afford to Die’, and the only real reason I am telling you lot first, is that if I put it down in black and white that I am making this show... then I have to actually do it no takesy backseys.”

This is an opinon piece from the columnist/contributor and not the opinion of GNI MAG/Lamb Promotions Ltd.


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Perfect women.

Alicia V Perry Perfect Women! To celebrate our Women’s Issue I wanted to take this opportunity to pay homage to some of the remarkable women who never cease to inspire me with their attitude to life, words of wisdom and artistic integrity. Words, sentences, quotes and songs are more powerful and important in life than we give them credit for. The significance of the language we communicate should not be underestimated as it shapes the way we see ourselves, the world around us and each other. The words we use affects how others treat us and the words we hear, and read, can have a positive affect our behaviour and emotions. P!nk From rockin’ it out during my Uni days to Missundaztood, to working on the Belfast Big Wheel with Funhouse on repeat, to crying into my wine glass belting out The Truth About Love, P!nk has been an incredible role model for me personally for nearly 20 years. In particular, her resilience, her raw honesty and her ability time and time again to sum up personal moments in my life. Her song Perfect! came out at a time when I needed a creative kick up the backside and gripped me so much so that it inspired the names of the books in my Confessions Of A Nobody series, Mistreated, Misplaced, Misunderstood and Miss Perry. I admire her bravery to speak out against injustice and in particular animal rights, with the political statements she makes. Her song Dear Mr President has to be one of my personal favourites and sent chills down my spine the first time I heard it, live. And on that note, if you have never seen P!nk live in concert I cannot recommend it enough! Serena Williams Probably the most courageous, determined, and disciplined women I have the privilege to look up to is Serena Williams. Women’s tennis changed the day she hit that court, winning Grand Slams and smashing records! Her love and dedication to the sport of tennis goes way beyond a day-job! She is beautiful inside and out, and so statuesque! She is the only woman in the world who shares a Grand Slam Title with her child; discovering she was pregnant during and winning the Australian Open 2017. After TWO near-death experiences in her career BOTH

times she came back to the court and played. I think that is an achievement in itself but Serena being Serena will always want more; that’s why I admire her so much. If she were a man she would have been

“From rockin’ it out during my Uni days to Missundaztood, to working on the Belfast Big Wheel with Funhouse on repeat, to crying into my wine glass belting out The Truth About Love, P!nk has been an incredible role model for me personally for nearly 20 years.” named the greatest athlete in the world a long time ago and she’d have earned a lot more money too!! In a recent ad by Nike Serena was featured, to celebrate International Women’s Day and her voiceover was incredibly inspiring. I believe that ad has empowered all types of women all across the world; just like it did me. ‘I’ve never been the right kind of woman. Oversized and overconfident. Too mean if I don’t smile. Too black for my tennis whites. Too motivated for motherhood. But I am proving, time and time again, there’s no wrong way to be a woman.’ It was through Serena that I found great

strength in the works of this next fine lady. Maya Angelou Few years ago during Wimbledon they featured Serena’s pre-final build-up video with a monologue of shots and the words of the astounding Maya Angelou. Serena read the following words and it made me so emotional. ‘You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lies. You may trod me with the very dirt but still, like dust, I rise. Just like moon and suns with the certainty of tides, just like hopes and springing high, still I rise. Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling like teardrops weakened by my soulful cries? Out of the huts of history’s shame, I rise. From a past that’s rooted in pain, I rise. Into the daybreak that’s wonderfully clear, I rise. Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I rise. I am the dream and the hope of a slave. I rise. I rise. I rise.’ Maya Angelou was an American poet, author, and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry and was credited with a list of plays, movies and television shows spanning over half a century. She worked with the likes of Martin Luther King and was a leading black activist in her time. Her books and words are captivating, manifesting intrinsic motivational awareness. She would have turned 90 years old this month so I’d like to finish with two of my favourite quotes from this marvellous matriarch, enjoy! Happy Birthday Maya Angelou! ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ ‘When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.’

This is an opinon piece from the columnist/contributor and not the opinion of GNI MAG/Lamb Promotions Ltd.



Ding ding, round two.

Nora Calder WHEN I FIRST MOVED IN with my girlfriend

was is gone and there is most definitely a grieving

Fast forward to 2018 and in a few weeks we will

just over a year which is practically half a century

fine and don’t want her back anyway and the

she’s bought a new dish rack and God knows what

in October 2013 we’d been seeing each other for in Lesbian years. I was 19 and she was my first

girlfriend. To say I was truly madly deeply in love

would be an understatement. The first few months of living together were bliss. We were always

wanting to please each other, ‘I’ll do the dishes,’

‘No I’ll do the dishes,’ ‘No honestly love, let me.’ It wasn’t too long before we found an even nicer

home and laid down our foundations. Our home was beautiful and we spent bucket loads of cash

process. It comes in waves, one minute you’re

next minute you’re 6 vodkas done and texting her

ABBA lyrics. My Mother helped me through this a lot with one short recital of a Dorothy Parker

poem after a few glasses of wine, ‘In May my heart was breaking – Oh wide the wound, and deep!

And bitter it beat at waking, and sore it split in

sleep. And when it came November, I sought my

heart and sighed, ‘Poor thing, do you remember?’ ‘What heart was that?’ it cried.

were smiling from ear to ear. We had arguments,

yes, but neither of us doubted that we’d spend the rest of our days together. Love’s young dream. At no point during this honeymoon period

did I see what was coming. When you’re in a

relationship you often have blinkers on and hearts in your eyes. I can’t put a timeframe on it but at

some point in 2015 little cracks began to show. If you’ve ever dropped an Iphone you’ll know that one small crack, if ignored, will soon become a lot of small cracks and then eventually a lot of big cracks. I guess I could say my relationship

resembled the back of my Iphone X right now.

(What a shame! I’ll be letting the big cracks come as it’s a bloody rip off to get it fixed.)

Fast forward 1 month and we’d given up our forever home and gone our separate ways. The only single strings holding us together were our two bunnies Christian and Beckham.

“I need space, I think we need a break.” Fast

As it turns out my Mother’s recital was almost

home and gone our separate ways. The only single

the error or her ways, admitted I was always right

forward 1 month and we’d given up our forever

strings holding us together were our two bunnies Christian and Beckham. Naturally I insisted the boys come and live with me and she could visit

them on occasion. I’d love to say she didn’t use the children as a weapon but I’m pretty sure she was almost suing for full custody at one point.

Heart-broken I focused on rebuilding myself, it’s

hard when a relationship ends, your life as it once

house with new little dreams. I would never have

guessed when we first moved in together in 2013 that it would end in tears so I guess I don’t really

know how this part of our journey will end, I only know I hope it won’t end.

Hindsight is a great tool though and looking back we can both see where we went wrong, though

it has definitely taken some time to get either of women are always going to have their clashes

but in and amongst those head butting moments (not literally, though sometimes I do feel like it) you need to find the positives, the things about

your other half that melt your heart and prove to you that no matter what they are worth sticking around for.

Right now if I can say it without sounding like a

lump of mature cheddar, I do feel our relationship is stronger than ever. We have gone through

the painstaking process of learning the power

of effective communication and honesty. We’ve realised that we both like different things and

that’s okay, she’d rather be sitting in Spoons with

a pint after work and I’d rather be at home writing nonsense or reading about employment tribunals. What matters is that we both love our space but also love and appreciate the time we do get to

In August 2015 my girlfriend delivered that line

which is a breaking point for most relationships,

else and this month we will be back in a new little

us to admit any wrongdoing. Two strong minded

making it our own. We didn’t care if we sat in or went out, as long as we were with each other we

begin round 2. Ding Ding. Our bags are packed,

spend together.

prophetic and in November my girlfriend realised and begged me to come back to her. (Alright I

might be exaggerating that a little bit but that’s one of the perks of being the author.)

For the first while we lived separately before I

moved in with her at her Mum’s. The honeymoon period began afresh. Though this time it was

different, more mature for want of a better word.

This is an opinon piece from the columnist/contributor and not the opinion of GNI MAG/Lamb Promotions Ltd.



ROUND UP... WILL YOU MARRY US ADELE? Adele may have been quiet since the end of her phenomenally successful world tour but she took time out to get ordained to marry her long-term pal Chatty man Alan Carr to his partner of 10 years Paul Drayton in January past. Alan was on the One Show when he revealed that Adele had offered to marry them in the back garden of her Los Angeles home where he also described her as “the kindest, most sweetest, Loveliest person ever.” She has known the couple for a long time and offered to do everything for their special day which even included performing for their first dance (we would love to know what song!), organised flowers, the meal and even flew the couple to Los Vegas to Celine Dion after it was all over……(we want to be Adele’s mate now too!) The singer posted a photo of herself in front of a wall of flowered roses in a white dress robe and cross with the caption, “You know me any excuse to dress up… @chattyman #LoveisLove,” All that was disclosed about the ceremony was that they had joined in a “small, private ceremony”.

TORONTO PRIDE A NO GO FOR POLICE PLANNING TO MARCH Toronto’s Police Department has cancelled its application to march at the city’s Pride parade, as a backlash continues over their failure to identify serial killer Bruce McArthur sooner. Serial killer Bruce McArthur was charged this year with the murder of seven men – but was only arrested after years of messed up investigations into mysterious disappearances within the city’s gay community. Toronto Pride released a statement questioning whether it was appropriate for police to march at the festival as the backlash over the case continues. In response, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders has confirmed the force will be withdrawing from the parade. He said: “On multiple recent occasions, I have expressed my sincere commitment to the cause of strengthening and renewing the relationship between the Toronto Police Service and our city’s LGBTQ2S community. As we have heard from the community itself, we have been through challenging times and it is a personal priority of mine as Chief to build an even more constructive, trusting relationship for the future.” “With this very goal in mind, I had hoped to see our civilians and uniformed officers invited back to march in the 2018 Pride Parade. My hope was that it would demonstrate a shared commitment to progress and healing. In particular, I think of the many members of the Toronto Police Service who identify as LGBTQ2S and who wish to meaningfully participate in unity and inclusion.” He added: “I strongly believe that we should be working toward a time when this issue is no longer a point of controversy and where the participation of our members in the Pride Parade is accepted and welcomed. “The Toronto Police Service will work hard over the course of the next year toward that end and, ideally, the 2019 Pride Parade will offer an opportunity to demonstrate that progression.” LGBT activists recently called for “an immediate inquiry” into police conduct around an alleged gay serial killer in Toronto.




GAY PEOPLE HAVE FLED CHECHNYA Over 100 gay and bisexual Chechen men and women have fled the country to escape persecution based on their sexual orientation in the past year, a Russian LGBT rights group has reported. The LGBT Foundation, which is the leading LGBT+ rights group in Russia, has reported that a staggering number of LGBT+ people have fled the nation after a violent purge of gay Chechen men took place in 2017. The network reported that in the summer of 2017, at least 200 gay people were held in secret prisons throughout the region, where many are reported to have been beaten and electrocuted, reports The Moscow Times. Although Chechnya is a federal subject of Russia, it is subject to the rules of leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who has led the republic for more than a decade. “Ten years ago, in 2007, Moscow granted the authority over the Chechen Republic to a then 30-year-old Ramzan Kadyrov,” explained the group in the document. “Authorized to fight the Islamist separatists by the Russian state, he was exempt from the rule of Russian law. The immunity that the Kadyrov’s authorities were granted became the basis for the absolutist regime that exists in Chechnya to this day,” they added. Chechnya’s strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov has denied the attacks, stating that the republic has not purged any LGBT+ people because LGBT+ people do not exist in Chechnya.

Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black have said “legal challenges” with surrogacy in the UK have made the decision of where to raise their child more difficult. The couple, married in 2017, announced they are expecting a child to a surrogate mother on Valentine’s Day on social media. Black told BBC Radio 5 live that they had “no choice” but to go abroad to become a family because of the complex system in the UK, where commercial surrogacy is not permitted. However, they intend to bring their child up in Daley’s home country, with Lance Black leaving his native US to live full-time in London last year. The screenwriter said: “If I ever wanted to be truly loathed by this nation, I would take Tom away from this nation. “We would like to raise our son here and because of that we are going to face some real legal challenges. “It would be a much easier path if we decided to raise our son in the US but this country is home for us.” The pair also put on record some of the details about their child’s conception – confirming that they conceived the child via an egg donor using another woman, who has asked not to be named publicly, as a surrogate. Daley said: “We had the names for our children within a week of knowing each other. From the beginning, we wanted a family.” The pair also revealed that they don’t know and won’t find out which of them is the biological father, having both given sperm samples.








GIRLS ALOUD WAS A HUGE WELL-OILED MACHINE WITH 20 TOP TEN HITS, 4X NUMBER 1 SINGLES, 2X NUMBER 1 ALBUMS AND A BRIT, IT’S SAFE TO SAY YOU WERE SUCCESSFUL, WHAT DO YOU THINK IT WAS ABOUT THE BAND THAT MADE IT SO SUCCESSFUL? Gosh if we knew the answer to that people would be able to just sell the formula, there is no exact formula to it other than we were really prepared to work hard from the outset. At the start we were doing 3 shows in one night, going from say a radio show performance to a university gig then onto a gig at a small dark packed out nightclub. Even when we had the first number one everyone thought oh they have it made now, but we really had to start from the ground up, to get better performing together, better at live sets and being able to work the audiences better individually and as a group. YOU HAVE ALL GONE ON TO HAVE SOLO CAREERS TO VARYING DEGREES OF SUCCESS DO YOU FEEL UNDER PRESSURE TO COMPETE AGAINST WHAT YOU ACHIEVED AS A BAND? No, absolutely not what we achieved isn’t going anywhere it’s there it can’t be changed now. We all started so young with the band and I was like 27 when we finished I was hardly going to just retire, I could have but it would have been very boring. I just feel very lucky that 15years after we started as a band I am still around, performing, doing interviews with magazine like yourselves and that the fan base are still supporting me. I am still getting to do promo, tours putting out music I feel very fortunate to get to do the job I love and enjoy so much. YOU WERE OUT OF THE LIMELIGHT FOR A WHILE THERE WHAT WERE YOU UP TO DURING THIS TIME? I moved to the states with my family and became a restaurateur with my own restuarnt “Nadines Mist” in California and anyone that works in the hospitality industry will know, it’s extremely hard work, so although I was a little out of the limelight I was working really hard but my passion for food and for the business to do well kept me going. I also got to work with Michael Flatley and his new show, I didn’t realise he toured the world so much at the time which obviously wasn’t going to work with having a small baby, so I agreed to just do the London shows.


YOU ARE NOW BACK WITH A NEW SOLO TOUR AND FORTHCOMING EP, TELL OUR READERS WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE TOUR AND NEW EP. With the EP we have been putting out tracks every 2 weeks for the last 6 weeks which is tough going but I have just been loving doing it the way I want to do it and I get to have a wee release party every Thursday night as the songs go up on Spotify and Itunes at midnight on a Thursday. Spotify have been amazing putting my tracks into new music Friday, it started with Girls on Fire, then Gossip which is a real chilled out song that you can just put on in the background and chill to, then I covered the JP Cooper track “September song” which I just love and loved recording and putting out and doing as part of my live set and then there is “something in your bones” which is a sexy hair flipping type song for you to just have a good dance to. SOUNDS LIKE YOU ARE GOING REALLY BUSY WITH THE TOUR PROMO FOR THE EP BUT WHAT AFTER THAT? WILL IT MEAN TIME AWAY FROM ANAIYA?


Oh no Anaiya is at that age where she isn’t quite school age so can come on tour with me, we are just going to sort it out for a few days first and find our bearings first as I wouldn’t want to bring her into a situation of disorganised chaos as that wouldn’t be good for her. After the tour I will be straight into performing at the festivals and gay prides both here and in Europe there are quite a few already booked into my diary which I am really excited about as I just love performing to large audiences and watching their reactions to my tracks. I did New York pride a few years ago and would love to do that again. Then it will be working on new tracks for a new EP or Album and the promo then for that so it is all go, but that’s how I like it, I work best when kept busy. SPEAKING OF ANAIYA HOW IS SHE DOING? HAS SHE REALISED THAT MUMMY’S JOB IS IN THE PUBLIC EYE? WHAT DOES SHE THINK OF THE GIRLS ALOUD MUSIC? She doing wonderful she is such a good child she is really no trouble at all, she just loves to play and also has taken to wanting to help mummy cook. She hasn’t really figured out that my job is in the public eye yet, she’s got the concept that mummy has to go to work and says “you going to work now to mummy” and thing like that, though

she has sung and danced around to the chorus of “Something kinda ooh” and the other day she did a whole performance with a mini mic stand of “go to work” which was just adorable, I think she is just trying to figure it all out but I am way down the list of priorities after playing with her toys or on her trampoline and having fun. THERE IS A BIG DEMAND FOR REUNIONS LATELY WITH STEPS, BLUE, S CLUB 7 AND NOW ALSO TALK OF THE SPICE GIRLS IS THIS SOMETHING YOU AND THE OTHER GIRLS HAVE TALKED ABOUT? IT’S BEEN MORE THAN 15 YEARS NOW SURELY WE ARE DUE SOMETHING AREN’T WE? Well we have reunited before for the 10 album and reunion tour to celebrate 10 years together so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility I would certainly be open to talks but wouldn’t be able to commit to anything this year as I am just so busy with my own music and projects I have happening. I would say never say never to doing a tour or something else with the band again if that’s what the fans want. THERE HAVE BEEN A LOT OF RUMOURS GOING AROUND THAT YOU ARE JOINING THE NEW HIT SERIES DERRY GIRLS, CAN YOU TELL US WHAT’S HAPPENING THERE? BEING THE ORIGINAL DERRY GIRL WHY DO YOU THINK THE SHOW HAS BEEN SO SUCCESSFUL? Well I have been talking with the writer of the show she actually went to the same grammar school as me and based the show around her experience there and in her life so it is something that is in the pipeline but as to what sort of part I would play I am not sure but I am just excited to be in talks about it. I just think it is such an amazing show, the writing is so good, the actresses in it play their roles so well and it is just a funny show, I have been showing it to my friends here in England and even in the states and the humour just seems to carry so hopefully that will continue with the next series and hopefully I will be part of that. ON THE SUBJECT OF ACTING HAVE YOU GIVEN ANY THOUGHT OF GOING INTO TV, FILM OR THE WESTEND? OBVIOUSLY SOME OF YOUR BAND MATES HAVE GONE ON TO DABBLE IN ALL OF THE ABOVE. I was asked a few years ago to play Roxie in




Chicago but at the time I was working with the band and was really really busy and wasn’t able to do both. I wish now I had found a way to make it work as I’ve seen the show and it is such a well put together production and I could see myself in the role. At the minute I am happy just working on my own music, promoting and touring but if the right role came along I would certainly consider it, I always say never say never to these sort of things. WHILE WE ARE TALKING ABOUT TV WORK HAVE YOU EVER BEEN APPROACHED TO DO REALITY TV AND IS IT SOMETHING YOU WOULD CONSIDER? Loads of times, there are so many different shows on now, obviously you’ve got Strictly, Celebrity Big Brother and the Jungle, but to be honest I couldn’t ever see myself in the Jungle well not in front of TV cameras anyway, I love watching the show it is so good, and I would love to go do it with a group of friends to see who would last the longest but definitely wouldn’t want it being filmed, I think I’ll just keep to watching it but I am certainly open to offers from other shows if it was an interesting offer that fitted in my with schedule. YOU GET A LOT OF FLACK FOR YOUR ACCENTS AS DOES CHERYL, DO YOU FEEL UNDER PRESSURE TO SPEAK DIFFERENTLY TO BE UNDERSTOOD? WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS SUCH A FOCAL POINT IN THE PRESS BECAUSE WE HAVE NO PROBLEM UNDERSTANDING YOU? I have never really had any problems being understood anywhere, my accent has been pretty much the same since I first left Derry, it’s probably changed a little but I still have strong connections and contact with my friends and family that are based there. I think people just talk how they talk, I’d never be so rude to give anyone flack for how they talk, I might ask where they were from if I was unsure of their accent of had never heard it before, but I don’t think it’s polite to comment on things they cannot control. Should we all speak with the same accent? I think the world is a much more beautiful place because of all the different accents, cultures, colours and creeds so why would I want to change how I talk for someone else. AN EASIER QUESTION NOW, DO YOU EVER REGRET WHAT YOU DID WITH POPSTARS HERE IN IRELAND AND DID YOU EVER FIND THAT PASSPORT? Haha! Well I don’t have the same passport now as they only last so long, so I have a new one! I learned a lot from my experience with Popstars in Ireland, at the time there wasn’t a lot of shows like it around so it was a big learning curve that then obviously prepared me for Popstars the Rivals in the UK. It was a very valuable life experience and something I still look back on from time to time. THIS IS OUR WOMEN’S ISSUE; THERE HAVE BEEN SO MANY STORIES IN THE MEDIA ON SEXISM, THE GENDER PAY GAP ETC. DO YOU HAVE A MESSAGE FOR OUR FEMALE READERS? There is nothing that men can do that we can’t do. Just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean that if you work equally as hard as the men you should be paid the same. I don’t think men should be paid more just because they are men. Women have the right to stand up for themselves thanks to the likes of the suffragette’s 100years ago, so hopefully soon we won’t have to have conversations like this as everyone should be equally treated no matter if they are male, female, black, white, gay or straight everyone should have equality. Those that don’t agree with this should take a long look at themselves its 2018 for goodness sake get with the times. NADINE’S SELF TITLED EP IS AVAILABLE TO PURCHASE AND STREAM AT ALL USUAL OUTLETS AND SHE WILL BE ON TOUR AND PLAYING DUBLIN OLYMPIA THEATRE ON 19TH MAY 2018 AND BELFAST LIMELIGHT ON 20TH MAY 2018 TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE AT ALL USUAL OUTLETS.






A year after winning Britains Got Talent what have you been up to? Any advice for those applying this year? A lot haha! It’s been a very eventful and amazing 12 months I can’t believe some of the opportunities I have had given to me since winning. After the show I was signed Syco Simon Cowells record label and it was straight to the studio to start working on the single and album, it has been an amazing experience I got to go to Abbey Road Studios and work with some of the top producers, a live orchestra and a gospel choir which was pretty awesome. Lots of shows and gigs along with the single and album releases. I have got to travel loads between the States and Canada, I wish I kept lists of everything I have done as it has been so much. My only advice for anyone applying would be to have fun with it, prepare well and enjoy the experience.


You are about to embark on your first headline solo tour, what can the fans expect when they come to see you? I’m really excited to performing at some amazing arenas and venues during this tour, obviously the shows have had a lot of hard work put into them, I want the audiences to experience something different to a normal gig, I want it to be like being in a movie with a full on assault on the senses not just with the music but also visually. The set is going to be immense with have like a 7metre screen for the visuals on stage and I have been working with an amazing lighting specialist to bring my ideas and vision to life. Obviously I’m not a singer so it’s going to be so different to what people are used to when going to a concert, I like to express myself with my instruments, lights, images etc. I want people to be blown away and leave having felt a full range of emotions by the end of the concert; you should come along and check it out man! Thank you Tokio we certainly will and we will give it a review for our readers too. You are releasing a rework of Jerusalem for the Official single for this years Commonwealth Games, obviously Jerusalem is an icon piece of music and the games are a legendary sports event, how did you get this gig and do you feel under pressure for it to do well? To be honest with you when it comes to releases


I never really feel the pressure or put too much pressure on myself. I like to think I work hard put my heart and soul into my music and performances and that it speaks for itself, if the release does well….great and if it doesn’t do well commercially I still know I have done my best and I’m happy. Yeah Jerusalem is majorly iconic and I hope that people will like my interpretation of it, again we recorded in Abbey Road Studios but this time we had all the studios in use at once with the full live orchestra, the choir and obviously Jasmine taking lead vocals, she is an amazing vocalist it was a fun experience and I think like our athletes this year the track has a lot of potential. Many people probably don’t realise you have been in the music industry before Britains Got Talent. Tell them about your experience with Amy Winehouse, The Police and Kayne West and how that all came around. The thing most people don’t realise with a lot of these reality shows is that a lot of the contestant all have some sort of experience before entering the show, whether that’s gigging in their local circuit or having worked on tracks or whatever. I was a session musician looking to get by and make a bit of money so I was working with a band at the time that supported those acts it wasn’t like it is now were it’s just me on stage I was part of a team supporting these major acts which is quite an achievement if you think about it to be on stage with these massive icons. It was an amazing experience once in a life time that shaped me and gave me the confidence to do what I am doing now and obviously I got to meet these people on the side-lines before or after the gigs but really it was just me doing a job to make a living, but it was certainly a fun way to do it with people you looked up to growing up. Your album is called “Our Generation” what inspired you for this album? What inspires me is people, people all around me, different ages, races, beliefs and lifestyles. The people I grew up with really influenced and inspired me, they come from all walks of life and opinions and I hope that comes across in my music the diversity that I have experienced in my life. All the people and styles of music I have come into contact with during my life have helped inspire my sound

today from pop, techno, opera, classical there are elements of them all in the sound of the album. The other thing that really inspired the album was the messages I received from kids, teenagers and even adults while on Britain’s Got Talent saying things like because of you I am now going to take up piano or drums and that resonated with me, it made me realise that the album I put out is going to inspire the future generations the same way artists like Michael Jackson, Prince and other icons of the era inspired me. I called the album our generation because I want everyone from every generation to experience it, enjoy it and feel inspired that they can do anything they want to with determination and hard work. Who did you grow up idolising in the industry and why? I grew up listening to my parent’s music Michael Jackson, Prince and Freddie Mercury all iconic show men that knew how to not just perform but to entertain also. Seeing those guys perform on stage in their element really inspired me and made me want to make music and gave me the determination I needed to get to where I am now. From a pianist side there was the likes of Jazz musician Oscar Peterson and other famous classical pianists that were around in the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. Currently in the modern day I am looking up to the like of Kendric Lemar who is just a genius when it comes to his sound and performances and various other artists and bands from the punk, rock and indie genres so many to mention. Going back to Britain’s Got Talent, considering your taste of the industry before is, what made you apply? Tell us about you experience it. I think like anyone I just got to the point in my job working as a session musician were I was like ok I am done with this now, I’ve taken this as far as I can and I need something new or different to challenge me and push me further and help me grow. I had gotten to the stage were I had just exhausted the avenues available to me at that time and then next thing there was BGT with big lights round it saying if you’ve got a talent and like the unknown we want to hear from you and I just thought to myself YES sign me up where do I sign. The application and audition process is really long it starts obviously with a form, then auditions start in like January \


February and really the whole process before you get to the TV stage is probably around 6 months so if you are considering doing it be prepared to put your life on hold to participate not knowing what is going to happen from one day to the next with filming and rehearsals. You famously said after your Royal Variety Performance that ITV had chopped and edited your performance and it wasn’t what you had planned, what exactly happened there? Ummm it’s no big deal now what’s happened happened and I’ve moved on and progressed since I try not to dwell on it. I think at the time we had rehearsed the set, everything had been agreed by all involved and that’s what the audience on the night of the Royal Variety Show saw but unfortunately what went out on TV screens had been edited down by ITV which, as you can image I was a bit disappointing as that performance was part of my prize that I had worked so hard to win on Britain’s Got Talent and to see that it hasn’t been shown in its entirety left me a little down hearted over it all but onwards and upwards, it was still a great experience and I got to meet some of the Royal Family which you don’t get to do everyday so it was all good. What’s next for you after the album promotion and solo tour? After the tour I’ve got a number of festivals booked here in the UK then it’s off to the States for some promotion and to do some shows out there to promote the album. I’ve also got to record the 2nd album which is already in talks creatively, plus I would like to schedule in some shows in bigger venues like the Royal Albert Hall towards the end of the year so it’s going to be a really busy time with not much time off. So no holidays? I might get some time off at Christmas but other than that the closest thing I’ll have to a holiday is probably performing at the summer festivals so hopefully we get some great weather haha!



ICON Cynthia Nixon



And as I sat there trying to think of how to write this article without sounding like a reductive rehash of every magazine’s take on #WeShouldAllBeMirandas, I began to wonder: Would GNI readers really believe me when I say I’ve been on this story from the beginning? Would they get through all my attempts at being culturally relevant to the celebration of Nixon – the true intention of this piece? And would they appreciate my Bradshawian wit, and meme worthy syntax, or, is it that, terror of terrors – I’m becoming the reductive rehash? Look the truth of it is that I get the Carrie comparison a lot. But my girls aren’t my meal ticket. My wardrobe isn’t quite as overflowing with labels like Carrie’s. And I do actually use my stove for its intended purpose, which isn’t sweater storage. That said, my debt is certainly catching her up – so I’m going to level with you, good readers: Writers NEVER made enough money to pay for Manolo’s, and Louis Vuitton Bowling Bags for their token Black woman assistant; Sex and the City simply sold a generation of aspiring creatives one of the biggest lies going – you can’t just be a neurotic mess all your life and spin it to an editor to pay your bills. Trust me, I’ve tried. And I know it’s an absolute shock to most of the gay male community to hear this - because yes I’ve had enough of dealing with you all so go ahead and sue me for liable - but it won’t work for you either hun. The days of aspiring to be the Carrie Bradshaw of the group are over, because reality and society have both caught us up, and quite frankly Carrie is the problematic zeitgeist best left in her Manhattan Brownstone. (Which, incidentally, she could never have afforded either.) It ain’t cute to aspire to nothing but an inability to deal with your shit. But there is one thing SATC did do for us that we should appreciate – subtle, downplayed, and, perhaps not given enough airtime to truly build on her character development – Miranda Hobbes, played by ICON Cynthia Nixon, was the true success story of SATC, and the character upon whom we should really base our aspirations. Miranda, the 34 year-old with the great home, because she’s single (and hella successful) isn’t tragic – Miranda is #goals, girl. With that in mind the girls running the Instagram @EveryOutfitOnSATC rebranded Carrie’s infamous “We Should All Be Feminists” $710 Gucci t-shirt, which paid homage to the feminist writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk of the same name. Instead, they changed the slogan to “We Should All Be Mirandas,” because as creators Lauren Garroni and Chelsea Fairless state:

“It’s hard being a Miranda in the age of Trump and a seven hundred dollar feminist slogan tee…but if Mirandas ruled the world, the world would be a considerably less fucked up place. We should all be Mirandas: smart, pragmatic, ambitious and unafraid to eat cake out of the garbage.” And so finally to the point: Miranda is going to rule the world. Well, Cynthia Nixon, the Emmy winning actress who played Miranda, might. Maybe. After she potentially wins her campaign to be Governor of New York. With no political career behind her…it’s starting to sound like an episode they left of the cutting room floor now, isn’t it? But it’s the truth. Nixon has always been a political person - she puts this down to politically conscious parents raising her as such, however her rise to fame even as a child actress was pervaded by the left-wing ideologies that she has now chosen to pursue; a native New Yorker, Nixon went to Hunter College High School and then on to Barnard. At age 12 she was playing the stereotypical teen hippie, Sunshine, in Little Darlings. Handing out drugs disguised as vitamins, at a young age Nixon embodied a character representing the extremes and perhaps vilified clichés of the left-wing, but as her extensive career progressed her own character developed a truly New Yorker socialist perspective and a voice to accompany it. Playing two former First Ladies, Roosevelt and Reagan, as well as the reclusive poet Emily Dickinson, (whose sexuality was often speculated about,); taking the bus, and supporting the public school system; speaking at Women’s Rights movements, becoming an activist for breast cancer research following her own very private-then-public battle with it, and supporting moves towards environmental change through her collaboration on An Inconvenient Truth (Al Gore); this only conveys a brief snapshot of the type of person Nixon chooses to be. And now she has chosen to be a politician proper, entering the race to become Governor of the state of New York, representing the Democrat Party. The word “choice,” is, however, of particular relevance to Nixon and perhaps to our readers… In 2003, following a separation from long-time partner, and father to her two children, Danny Mozes, Cynthia Nixon caused quite the uproar in the LGBTQ+ community when she started

dating her now wife Christine Marinoni. The dating itself was of no consequence, it was her surprising move to state that she had made a choice to be bisexual which riled the masses. As you can imagine the response to this was not positive, nor particularly reflective of left-wing politics, however Nixon went on to clarify that her use of that word reflected more on the poststructuralist prerequisite of self-identifying with a socially understood label than of how she felt both about her sexuality and how sexuality exists and is expressed. Her “choice” was the particular label of bisexual to appease the press and the sycophants, but her reality was one of dating men throughout her life, then falling in love with a woman without a differentiation between genders being necessary for her. The mind-set of “coming out” and labelling herself simply wasn’t there for her – something I think we can all respect to a degree. That said, following her marriage to Marinoni, Nixon’s political values took on a vehemently LGBTQ+ advocacy and her push for marriage equality in the United States is well known. Her activism then lead to an Artist for Equality award from Yale University in 2013. Furthermore, she was honoured with the Visibility Award by the Human Rights Campaign in February 2018. Nixon’s move to revert from Brooklynite lawyer Miranda Hobbes, in regards to her acting career has gone from strength to strength. Her prowess as a thespian is not up for debate. But with a new career move, one which will be loaded with debate itself, I for one look forward to seeing Nixon embracing not only her New York socialist roots but re-embracing Miranda with Garroni and Fairless’ hashtag to boot: If we could all be like Cynthia Nixon, if we could all embrace being Miranda in a Trump era, perhaps a new age of freedom, love, success and equality could be on the horizon. And maybe writing would buy pay for those Gucci trainers I’ve had my eye on. Or at least pay my bills… After all, “unqualified lesbians” can be some of the most vociferous political enthusiasts going. Which is great, as long as it’s Nixon’s brand of empathic self-aware inclusion, education and equality. #WeShouldAllBeCynthiaNixon WORDS: Cliff Carter P.S. I packed in the Marlborough Lights after the Christmas issue backlash and realising I wasn’t Carrie Bradshaw. P.P.S Not really, I still smoke the menthols. Soz.




INTERVIEW__ CUTKELVINS So you’ve just completed the X Factor Arena tour, how was that for you and how different was it in comparison to the TV Show? It was totally different from being on the TV show in the sense that when you are on the show you are there to be judged and to perform to people in their living rooms via their screens. While on tour people are actually coming out to see you perform and there is such a different energy with the live arena. Being able to perform live with your family on stage in front of thousands of people is just a pure adrenaline buzz and getting to do it for weeks in different cities was just an amazing and one of the many highlights of this whole experience. Unfortunately we didn’t get to play our homecoming gig in Glasgow due to the weather, we got stuck on the bus for 11hours on our way and had to turn back, but we are hopeful that we will get to do some gigs there as just the Cutkelvins in the future for our fans there. Belfast was our first gig of the tour and the crowd were amazing, so loud they really got us and all the other finalists pumping we really didn’t want it to end. This Year the talent was immense with most of the acts performing their own original material, did you feel under pressure to do the same? Did they all really write the songs each week or do you think they had a back catalogue before coming onto the show? The talent was at a really high standard this year, we had songs we had already wrote months before we auditioned but during the show we were constantly writing and one of the songs we performed on the show we actually wrote the night before, we work so much better under pressure anyway. When you are on the show you have a good bit of artistic control but obviously everything has to be ran past the teams and Simon to see if it will work for the show. I think a lot of the other acts did have songs wrote before their audition like we had but also some did write from week to week with the Xfactor team also. Shereen you obviously have had a taste of musical success already with Neon Jungle, do you feel that gives you an advantage over Kyle and Jay?

How has it been different 2nd time round? No not at all at this is completely different to Neon Jungle on several levels in that the style of music is different and also I was in the band with 3 other girls I didn’t know manufactured together which wasn’t always the easiest as we were getting to know each other while performing and touring together which was quite hard and is totally different to being in the Cutkelvins who I’ve obviously known all my life with being family. I don’t think there really is any advantage really because as a family we work together and help each other whether that’s in music or in life in general which is so much better for me. Are you still in contact with the rest of Neon Jungle? What was it like to perform on the famous Victoria Secret stage with Taylor Swift? Yeah I speak with them now and again and I met up with one of the girls for lunch just before we started the Xfactor tour but obviously we are all busy doing our own things and leading our own lives now. Getting to perform on the VS stage was unreal and didn’t really sink in until I was back in Scotland after because it all happened so fast. They contacted our management and next thing I knew I was in New York performing it was so hard to take it all in. I’m hoping we can get the opportunity to do similar things as the Cutkelvins and Jay and Kyle look good in Victoria Secret Underwear haha! Obviously X Factor is a massive well-oiled machine and has produced some of the biggest stars in the music industry. What made you decide to audition? Take us through from your initial application to seeing you live on the TV, any advice for our readers that our considering applying? We were going to audition originally in Glasgow but we were in two minds and we couldn’t decide so we missed it and then when the Edinburgh auditions passed we were like we should have done that while it was here. So we then seen that there were more auditions in London and decided to take the train down from Glasgow to audition in London, we are so glad we did now. It was

the hottest day of the year the day we went to London and we were wearing velvet clothes the sweat was pouring off us. Once you get signed in through the desks there is loads of waiting around for hours and just before we were called in to perform in front of the judges we were in the bathrooms drying ourselves under the hand dryers because our clothes were soaking from sweat and we knew we were going to be on TV. You perform 2 songs and can be in front of the judges for up to 15minutes but you only get to see 3-5minutes of it on the TV and they don’t show that it is as late as midnight by the time they get through the 100’s of people that have got through to that stage, you have to find the energy and freshness from somewhere to impress the judges after waiting around all day not really doing very much. Our only advice would be do it! It can change your life and get your name out there, you learn so much within such a short space of time and also stick to what you believe in before the show and don’t be arrogant or big headed as that’s not what they look for at all. Simon was your mentor, how was it having the King of Mean for a mentor and is he as bad as the editing makes him look? Was he who you hoped for as a mentor or did you secretly want one of the other judges? Haha! He’s actually a really cool guy and he was who we really wanted as our judge, the boys had a feeling we were going to get him from the start and kept saying that if they put it out into the universe it will happen and it did. Did you know he is like a quarter Scottish? We felt a real connection with him and that he really got what we were about. He’s not at all like what they mean make him out to be, he’s really approachable and is very attentive to his acts and knows what works best for people. We were pleased that we got Simon but tell you what Louis is a very cool guy we hung out with him quite a bit backstage and he really knows about the industry and was giving us tips and pointers that really helped our confidence, especially when he heard us practising in our dressing room and put his head round the door the night we did “nothing like you” our original track and give us a real confidence boost about it just before we were about to go on stage with it.

Now the tour is over will you keep in contact with any of the other contestants? Everyone within this year has got amazing potential and most of us have projects on the go \ ready to go so our paths are going to cross at shows, studios etc. Also we were all so close this year it was like living as one big family in the house so no doubt we will meet up and catch up when we can. There is talk of your brother Brandon joining the band is this still going ahead? Why didn’t he take part in Xfactor? Do you think it’s fair for him to join now after you’ve put in all the work on the Xfactor? Definitely there is no more talk about it he is joining 100%, he is the best looking Cutkelvin and is definitely going to be bringing and getting all the girls. He didn’t join us on the show cause he wasn’t quite ready as it was all last minute plus he was still in school so we didn’t want to disrupt that. It’s all systems go now though we have been rehearsing and recording with him, since he came down to see us on the Live shows he said he was ready to do this and be part of it. We do joke about being the next Jackson 5, maybe we could be the Cutkelvin 6 as there are six of us. Course its fair that’s what big siblings are for to help and support their younger siblings, plus he will bring the group to a younger crowd and he brings a lot to the band’s sound also, it’s going to be a fun time when he joins. Whats next for the Cutkelvins and give us your social media links so our readers can keep up with what you are up to? We are planning to get a single out real soon followed by an album and our own tour; hopefully we will get back to Belfast too as it was amazing performing there. We just need to take our time to get it all right for the fans who have been amazing. Our social media is @thecutkelvins on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, plus we have a YouTube channel where fans can keep up to us with our videos.






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JULIA MICHAELS Songs she has co-written have surpassed 10 billion streams worldwide, hit single “issues” has went triple platinum and the release of her debut EP “Nervous System” Julia certainly hasn’t got any issues to worry about. She took time out from touring with Niall Horan to chat to us about what she’s been up to and her aims for total domination...


INTERVIEW__ JULIA MICHAELS YOU WRITE AND PERFORM UNDER THE STAGE NAME OF JULIA MICHAELS INSTEAD OF YOUR TRUE NAME JULIA CAVAZOS, WHERE DID MICHAELS COME FROM AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO USE IT? My father is Hispanic and when he moved to America to become an actor people told him to change his name to something more American (as most people couldn’t pronounce Cavazos) so he could go for a bigger variety of roles so he decided on the most American name he could think of which was Michaels. Then when I started song writing professionally I saved myself the hassle of having to correct the pronunciation of my surname and just took on Michaels too and I’ve not looked back since and I’ve grown to kinda like it. So do we for the record, it rolls of the tongue a lot easier than Cavazos lol! YOU STARTED OFF WRITING SOME BIG HITS FOR OTHER PEOPLE BEFORE BRANCHING INTO YOUR OWN CAREER AS A POPSTAR, WAS THIS ALWAYS THE PLAN? DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO BE A PERFORMER OR WAS THAT BY ACCIDENT ONCE YOU REALISED YOUR TALENT? No, no not at all my plan was to always write songs for other people and help them get their emotions and message out there by putting all the pieces together in a perfect puzzle through song. It wasn’t until I wrote with Issues and there were loads of other artists wanting it that I was like, I don’t want to give this song to anyone else it’s too personal, it’s my story. So I took the recording and played it to a co-writer friend of mine and asked him what he thought of it and he was like what do you want me to think about it, it’s amazing you need to put this out there as your own song, I thought at the time he was crazy but then the record company wanted me to put it out and well the rest is history now. YOU PERFORMED “CARRY ME” WITH KYGO AT THE CLOSING CEREMONY OF THE OLYMPICS IN RIO, HOW DID THAT COME AROUND AND HOW WAS IT FOR YOU AS AN ARTIST TO PERFORM ON SUCH A HUGE PLATFORM? It was one of if not the most nerve wrecking thing I have ever done in my life. I had wrote the song “Carry me” with Kygo and the next thing I know a few months later his management contacted my people and were like Kygo would love to perform this with you at a gig and we were like where? They weren’t too specific and just said Brazil and when but we got the idea. I hadn’t actually performed live to an audience at this stage but thankfully we had booked a festival date in London which was before this was due to happen. I arrived


in London to play to 40,000 people with no sound check due to flight delays, had never even tried on my new in-ears or played to a live audience before so I was like OMG are you kidding me I was so nervous but nowhere near as bad as what I was going to be about this Kygo performance. I went out in front of people that weren’t overly familiar with my own material and got a great reaction which put me at ease a little for the Brazil gig. Flying back for Rio our connection flight from LA got delayed 19hours and I just made it in time for sound check in Rio and past that I don’t remember a thing I just went out and gave it everything I got in front of Millions of people. Have you watched the performance back? No I really don’t like to watch myself back as I hate hearing my own voice on playback plus I’m all about looking forward not looking to the past. YOU’VE WRITTEN SO MANY HIT SONGS FOR OTHER ARTISTS BUT WHICH ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF? This is going to sound like a total cop out but every song I write is special to me I couldn’t pick just one as each represents a place and time in my life whether positive or negative and all of the artists I have worked with on these are amazing individually I couldn’t pick one over the other as each is unique. ISSUES HAS BECOME A MASSIVE HIT AROUND THE WORLD FOR YOU WITH EVEN BIG STARS COVERING IT. WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE SONG AND HAVE YOU HEARD ANY OF THE OTHER ARTISTS THAT HAVE COVERED IT? The song was inspired by a relationship I had with an ex-boyfriend of mine were we just used to get under each other’s skin for no reason and we were both just toxic for each other but still continued trying to be in a relationship until it just couldn’t go on further. I’ve heard quite a few covers of it now including Niall’s that he did for Radio 1 Live Lounge which he just did so amazing with, my good friend Selena Gomez has also done it and I have to say I’ve liked hearing non-professional artists do it too on shows like the Voice and X Factor. We ran a competition for fans to record videos of them covering the song and we got entries from all around the world and it was so fascinating hearing how the different cultures, solo, duo and group artists performed it, it was really inspiring artistically. WHAT IS YOUR LATEST EP “NERVOUS SYSTEM” ABOUT AND WHY THAT TITLE? Basically I am one big Nervous System. All the tracks on the LP flow and work together like the

nervous system does in the human body. YOU ARE FAST BECOMING A HUGE STAR IN YOUR OWN RIGHT BUT WHAT DOES JULIA DO WHEN SHE ISN’T BEING A SUPERSTAR SONG WRITER AND RISING ARTIST? I’m pretty easy going and I just love the simple stay at home quiet life, I love spending time with all my animals I have 2 dogs and a cat. I love to cook and watch loads of movies at home and hang out with my friends. IS THERE ANYONE YOU REALLY LOOK UP TO IN THE INDUSTRY AND IF YOU COULD GET A MESSAGE TO THEM NOW VIA OUR MAGAZINE WHAT WOULD YOU SAY? I look up to Pink a lot because she is just so unapologetically herself, she is so brave, bold, outspoken but at the same time not afraid to show her vulnerability which to me is beautiful. I would say to her “Thank you for showing women that they can be Vulnerable and Strong, Badass and beautiful and for just being a tower of strength and a voice on so many important issues, you are amazing!” YOU ARE HERE SUPPORTING NIALL HORAN, WERE YOU A 1 DIRECTION FAN AND WHAT DO YOU THINK OF NIALL’S SOLO ALBUM? I wasn’t a die hard 1 Directions fan I think when they started to become successful I was still in my Fiona Apple \ Alanis Morissette moment but I do love his new album and how beautifully stripped back it is. There isn’t really anyone else mainstream out there putting out that Americana folk pop sound that he is rocking on the album. I watched him in Dublin and his guitar playing is something else, he is so calm when he is on stage in comparison to me who is running all over the place like some hyperactive squirrel with rabies. Haha! IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO SAY TO OUR READERS FOR THIS OUR “WOMANS ISSUE”? I feel like anything I am going to say here has already been said but I will say just be yourself, don’t try to conform to what other people expect of you, do you for you not anyone else and be kind, if you get that right the world and all its opportunities is open to you.



“The song was inspired by a relationship I had with an ex-boyfriend of mine were we just used to get under each other’s skin for no reason and we were both just toxic for each other but still continued trying to be in a relationship until it just couldn’t go on further.” GNIMAG.COM | 41



Things we love...





FEATURE__ ALICIA V PERRY HERE AT GNI HQ WE WERE all just as stunned as most when one of our longest-running columnists Alicia V. Perry announced on Twitter earlier this year that she was to undergo major surgery. Tweeting a picture of her hospital room she stated she was to undergo seven surgical procedures in her head and face the following morning. Of course we called her immediately to check it wasn’t a joke, we all know Alicia has a diverse sense of humor, though when she told us the story we couldn’t help but feel total respect and admiration for our courageous friend. With her permission she has allowed us to share the story with you. For two years Alicia had been travelling back and forth to see Mr Altman, a specialist facial surgeon in Brighton, England but she waited until the very last moment to announce the surgery. Speaking exclusively to us she admitted; “I honestly didn’t want anyone to worry or to cause a panic but also I didn’t want anyone to judge me. For some having facial/head surgery for enhancement can be perceived as superficial, irrelevant and can be quite shamed upon. I would get compliments from people who see photos of me modelling or dolled-up for a night out but these people don’t know the heartache I’ve felt and the tears I’ve shed when the makeup came off.” “People don’t live in me and see what I see. People don’t feel what I do each time I reluctantly look in the mirror. For over 40 years I’ve really struggled to love myself and appreciate what I see in the mirror but I never possessed that level of confidence. Being disowned from my immediate family because of my gender dysphoria 7 years ago didn’t help either. It made me feel like I didn’t belong to anyone. I felt like a nobody. The problem really escalated further following the three years of domestic violence I came through to the point where I couldn’t bare to look at myself in the mirror when I came out of that relationship. The damage was done, physically mentally and emotionally. I lost all hope and my mental health was so poor that I felt like I was drowning. I just didn’t want to be here anymore; I was actually willing to take my own life. It was at that point I knew I had to do something” said a tearful Alicia. On 12th January she endured over six hours in theatre having surgery in/to her head, forehead, brow, eyes, nose, lip and chin in an effort to overcome her fears and improve her quality of life. After a few days of excruciating pain and intensive care Alicia was released from hospital to recuperate. “The pain was unreal when I first woke up from the surgery and I struggled with it for the few days following. I was so tired and my body so weak, more weak than I think it’s ever been. I tried to do too much too soon, my own fault, so had a slight relapse which wasn’t ideal. One week after discharge I returned to the hospital for a successful check-up and had 50 staples and 46 stitches removed, which took some time and plenty of deep breaths. I flew back to Ireland and was looking forward to a few weeks rest and seeing the results develop.”


Unfortunately for Alicia it wasn’t as straight-forward as that. Just three days back in the Emerald Isle she fell quite ill when a high temperature and constant vomiting; which the doctor quickly confirmed was an infection. It took four weeks of strong antibiotics and medical attention to bring the infection under control but in her words she said “I prayed a lot and trusted God would see me through this and he did. It has

been nearly three months since the operation and I am healing very well. I am absolutely delighted with the results so far.” Reflecting back on the experience she told us; “I strive my very best to remain humble in life. I would like to think that I treat everyone the same. To be courteous, kind, respectful but most importantly, honest. The latter can be a huge challenge for me when it comes to my persona and social media. I pull out all the stops to portray the strong, independent, successful and positive woman I am but, just like everyone else, I too have weaknesses and crumble inside. We are all fighting a battle in life that no one else knows about. However, if you want to embrace a more powerful and fulfilling way of life, conversely, you must brave the

storm and fight those battles with courage and dignity. You are responsible for your own destiny so never accept or allow anyone to distract you from what you want in life. You are here to enable the divine purpose

of God and the universe to unfold; that is how precious and important you are. Your hardest times in life often lead to the greatest moments of your life and I feel this is very true from my own perceptive and recent experience. I don’t have a single regret and am so thankful for every new day I wake.” It seemed incomprehensible that this positive, confident and beautiful woman sitting in front of us would literally crumble when we asked about her recent loss. Alicia’s Staffie dog, Meon, died in her arms just last August so we didn’t want to pressure her but we were moved to tears when a visibly emotional Alicia told us; “My wee Meon was everything to me. He was my wee Son, my best friend, my cuddle-buddy, my clown when I was down and my constant companion. My wee Meon saw me through some of the darkest times in my life so when he got sick last summer I really began to worry. I nursed him round the clock for eight days hoping we could be celebrating his 11th birthday the following week but he continued to deteriorate. The little sleep that I got was spent on the floor beside him wherever he chose to lay. The vets had us on high priority and had told me a few times to prepare for the worst but that’s not how I roll. I stay positive and I stay focused. So on the eight day when he collapsed and we rushed him to the vets I was reluctantly told that he was dying and that I should end his suffering. Then I could see it in his eyes, they were fixated on mine, I knew he was asking me to let him go. I spent the last minutes with my wee Meon fighting back the tears, going over all the wee funny things he did and reminding him of how much he meant to me and the difference he made in my life. Then I nodded to the vet and my whole body started trembling. I started to reassure him that it was ok to go as I cradled him in my arms and rocked. I remember nothing at that point only silence and the vets words ‘he’s gone now’ and I fell to the floor and broke.” Understandably, it was at this point she had to stop and get some air. To witness such raw pain really made us think about how we as a society treat people with dogs; especially when they die. Just because their dogs have fur and four legs doesn’t make that bond any less special, less valuable, less important or less precious, as the bonds we form with each other. As we chatted a resilient, as ever, Alicia came bouncing back into the room and had us in stitches when she said “sorry guys, that was hard to talk about. I went in there and looked in the mirror, I looked like a feckin’ raccoon.” Lol. With over 15’000 followers on twitter, fresh representation in the entertainment industry and the help of a publicist, we just know this formidable woman will excel in everything she does. The biography series ‘Confessions of a Nobody’ on Amazon has achieved 5 star ratings across the board, so we were delighted to hear that the long-awaited second book ‘Misplaced’ is due out this summer. Alicia is also involved in various media and campaigning projects; including her column in GNI Mag every issue! Wishing you the best of luck Alicia, from all at #TeamGNI.




“I wouldn’t call myself a diva but I’m sure a lot of other people would. “



Untying the knots! Tina Leggs Tantrum. AFTER 13 YEARS AT THE TOP OF YOUR GAME WHY HAVE YOU




After 13 years and the last remaining member of the cast of the Sunday bingo show


probably one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make because of my

Going to the gym and eating healthy these days has become quite natural and huge

nights of my life between rehearsals and a new finale, opening, and new numbers

stone, one morning I woke up and I thought to myself I don’t want to be like this

I decided that was time for me to hand the reigns over to someone else. It was love and my passion for my career. However, The Sunday Bingo Show took up four every week. Hosting, comparing and generally running The Sunday Bingo Show

- which I loved very very much. I just came to a simple decision that was time for me to move on.

It was even more difficult to leave a show which was so well structured and so

well put together. It has the heart and soul of all the other young drag kids who came along and performed alongside me to help and support me and make The Sunday Bingo Show what it was - in particular the last 3 1/2 years. Without them

part of my life. I was always overweight and at one point in my life I weighed 21 anymore. I joined the gym, I stopped smoking, stopped partying and over a few years I lost 9 1/2 stone. I certainly wouldn’t consider myself an advocate but what

I would say to anybody else; if you feel you really want to change the way you look, think about it first, go slowly, take it one day at a time and just embrace the change - it will work.


The Sunday Bingo Show certainly wouldn’t be


way, I’m not slowing down, I’m untying the

unbelievable donkey ride, roller coaster, funfair,

where it is today; I didn’t do it alone By the

Opportunity frocks was the most spectacular,

knots in life!!!

drag queen super fun filled spectacular, that






was just blessed. The reason why we all decided


that it had come to an end was because that


was the natural thing to do. We just felt that


Opportunity Frocks had run its course so we


felt that it’s true justice would be to go out on


a natural high with a sold-out show yet again.










There’s so much of The Sunday Bingo Show


joy, happiness and excitement. I guess the one

My advice for the new up-and-coming young

be honest it was the most spectacular rewarding

take no for an answer and don’t be easily put

that I remember and is filled me full of so much


show that I’ll never forget was last one, and to

Queens; do your homework, work hard, don’t off. If you wanna become a drag queen, a good

show I have ever performed. I’ll never forget

drag queen, a hard-working drag queen, don’t

it because I went out on the most almighty

listen to bulls**t, believe in yourself and try

natural high.


everything at least once - that way you’ll know

what works and what doesn’t. Simple!


Ha ha I wouldn’t call myself a diva but I’m sure a lot of other people would.

Easy!! Older LOL. I’m taking one show at a time and giving it my all, who knows

being. When I comes to my work and career I have a passion that is deep and also

fabulous xx

However, I am a very very highly self driven and highly self-disciplined human

mysterious, I love what I do but I also value what I do. Hard work equals a great show.

where Tina will end up performing. One thing I do know is being 50 is flipping






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Nora talks about Ireland’s controversial decisions to date. PAGE 50

PERIOD POVERTY: To some menstral products are still an unatainable luxury. PAGE 54



We talk about why this hashtag is taking over the world. PAGE 58




A WOMAN’S CHOICE Unless you’ve been living under a rock you will be well and truly accustomed to “Repeal the Eighth” and “Save the Eighth” rhetoric which has been littering our social media feeds for months. The Eighth amendment in the Republic of Ireland makes abortion illegal unless it occurs as a result of a medical intervention performed to save the life of the women. In essence, a woman has to be dying or likely to do die in Ireland before she can make a choice about her own body and reproduction. The fact that medical diagnosis is necessary before an abortion can be administered in Ireland has proven tragic in the past. Let’s take a look at some of the controversial Abortion decisions Ireland has already become embroiled in. 50 | GNIMAG.COM


Savita Halappanaver In 2012 thirty one year old dentist Halappanavar began suffering miscarriage although this took seven days to unfold. Early in the process when it was clear a miscarriage was inevitable Savita requested an abortion. At the time medical experts had not diagnosed a blood infection and her request was denied because it was not deemed that the pregnancy was a risk to the life of the woman. Eventually sepsis was diagnosed and Doctor’s planned to induce delivery before the miscarriage completed. Tragically the sepsis continued to develop despite medical treatment and Savita died of cardiac arrest on 28th October 2012. Following her unnecessary death an inquest found that Savita died of ‘medical misadventure.’ The medical team were criticized amongst many things for not diagnosing sepsis soon enough, had the sepsis been diagnosed an abortion would likely have been granted. At the time those conducting the investigation recommended changes to the legal situation and training of doctors about the law. Protests and marches ensued nationally and internationally however law makers have taken a further 6 years to agree to a referendum on abortion. X case This infamous Irish case involved a fourteen year old girl who became known as X. The girl who was raped by a neighbour in December 1991 became pregnant. When she told her Mother she was having suicidal thoughts the family believed it best to travel to the United Kingdom for a termination as this was not available in the North or South of Ireland because there was not deemed to be a risk to life. The perpetrator was denying he raped X and desperate for justice the child’s Mother approached the Irish Police to ask if DNA from the aborted foetus would be admissible as evidence in the courts. When the Attorney General heard that X’s Mother planned to take her overseas for a termination he sought an injunction to prevent the procedure being carried out. This was

unfortunately granted. The family took the case to the Supreme Court fearing that X would go on to take her own life if she was forced to give birth. The Supreme Court overturned the decision and utilised a common sense approach, suicide was indeed deemed a risk to life. According to Justice O’Flaherty who delivered the judgement his reasoning for upholding the case was, “The stark situation is, if someone who is pregnant commits suicide, you lose both mother and the child.” On July 12th 2013, 7799 days after the Supreme Court ruling and the death of Savita Halappanavar in 2012 Dáil Éireann passed the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act 2013 by 127 votes to 31 which legalised abortion in the case of fear of suicide of the pregnant woman.

that the issue encompasses profound issues of life and death, right and wrong, human relationships and the nature of society. Christians who oppose abortion will often quote Psalm 139:13, “For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my Mother’s womb.” For many religious leaders abortion is not a matter than concerns a human being and their conscience, but something that concerns a human being and their God. This just doesn’t sit well with me, if we allowed religious texts to be the sole basis for our laws we’d still be stoning people to death and insisting that rape victims marry their attackers, Deuteronomy 22:28-29, “If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered he shall pay her Father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he had violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.”

--------------On 25th May 2018 Ireland will at last hold a historic referendum where the people will decide whether the rights of a foetus take precedence over the rights of a woman. Why is abortion such a sticking point that many of us cannot agree on? And why is Ireland so far behind its fellow governments? Catholicism is no doubt engrained in the laws of Ireland and this is often thought to be the root cause of their strict abortion laws. Catholic Primate Archbishop Eamon Martin argued recently that even in instance of rape the Catholic position would be to deny a woman her right to end the pregnancy, Martin stated that the voice of Catholics must be respected and their views on the eight amendment should be heard. To me the idea that all Catholics would deny a rape survivor access to a safe abortion is pre-historic and I’m confident that many regardless of their religion have moved with the times on this issue. The hierarchy may try to push Catholics voters towards believing that a vote for a woman’s right to chose is wrong but many true Catholics support women’s rights because of their faith, not in spite of it.

Many pro-choice supporters rely heavily women’s rights as their pillar of strength when it comes to a woman’s right to choose, they know of the horror stories of those forced to have backstreet terminations or who buy unsafe abortion pills online because they have no legal right to terminations. Cath Elliott, a feminist and freelance writer has been quoted saying, “I believe women must have the right to body autonomy and the right to control their own reproduction. Women’s ability to determine when and if they have children is one of the most important factors in the fight for women’s equality. Forced pregnancy is a form of violence.” Some people believe abortion is always wrong. Some think that abortion is right when the Mother’s life is at risk and others think that there are a range of circumstances in which abortion is morally acceptable. Ultimately, unless you are a woman who feels they need an abortion it’s probably best to reserve judgement. WORDS: NORA CALDER Twitter: @NoraCalder

Religion is often the basis for opposition to abortion; they believe


100 years of the vote. Who were the Suffragettes? 52 | GNIMAG.COM

THE WOMAN’S ISSUE__ SUFFRAGETTES THE SUFFRAGETTES ARE VIEWED BY many as heroes, role models, those women who stood up to the patriarchy and were willing to pay the ultimate price to end the oppression of women. Others view the suffragettes as criminals who adopted militant tactics to further their cause, it is pleasing that after a century the suffragettes are still a talking point and I’m sure they would likely embrace whatever terms their opposition have for them.

liceman during a meeting of the liberal party in October 1905. Adele and Sylvia Pankhurst were arrested a year later during a protest outside parliament. In June 1909 Pankhurst herself struck a policeman twice in the face to ensure she would be arrested. During her trial on 21 October 1908 she famously told the court, “We are here not because we are law-breakers; we are her in our efforts to become law-makers.”

To many people the word ‘suffragette’ is foreign. They’ve heard it being flung around in the media this year and have probably engaged in conversation nodding knowingly whilst wondering what the hell the other person was talking about but being too proud to ask ‘the suffra-whats?’ One of these people is my own girlfriend; I asked her what she thought the suffragettes were and her response was ‘slaves?’ I guess she wasn’t far wrong though I’m not excusing her ignorance.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: POINT SIX... The WSPU women went on hunger strike repeatedly whilst imprisoned and were often force fed in the most brutal fashion. Pankhurst recalled the horrific screams of women being force fed in her autobiography, “I shall never while I live forget the suffering I experienced during the days when those cried were ringing in my ears.” Pankhurst’s passion for the cause was clearly demonstrated when her daughter Adela spoke out against the party becoming militant - her Mother handed her £20, a one way ticket to Australia and strongly urged her to emigrate, the pair never reconciled.

With a limited word count and a serious want for those born after 1980 to know who the suffragettes were I will give you a fool’s guide with 10 quick points. WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: POINT ONE... Back in the day it was widely believed that women did not need the right to vote because they had husbands to do this for them. How considerate of misogynistic men to decide that women’s voices did not matter, this sounds all too familiar. The suffragettes were members of women’s organisations in the late 19th and 20th centuries who advocated for the rights of women to vote in public elections. In those days this was completely out of the question and the women received backlash from major political parties and the public who believed a woman’s place was firmly chained to the kitchen sink. WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: POINT TWO... The term suffragette in the UK is largely associated with members of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) which was founded and led by Emmeline Pankhurst. (Yes, this is why one of the rooms in the Celebrity Big Brother house was named the Pankhurst Room.) The term ‘Suffragettes’ was given to women of the WSPU as a derogatory term by the Daily Mail in 1906; this backfired when Pankhurst embraced the term much like many feminists in today’s society who reject the concept that ‘Woman is a feeling’ and are beginning to embrace the term ‘TERF’. WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: POINT THREE... Pankhurst was born in Moss Side, Manchester and was introduced to the women’s suffrage movement when she was only 14. Having politically active parents may have given Pankhurst a head start. Emmeline married her husband Richard Pankhurst in December 1879. Richard was not a typical man of his time and Emmeline’s affections for him were perhaps intensified by the fact that the barrister was a women’s suffrage advocate. Though Richard supported his wife’s work he would not go on to witness her most prominent days, in 1898 whilst visiting family in Switzerland Emmeline received a telegram from her husband, it read, “I am not well. Please come home, my love.” Whilst on a train from London to Manchester to be at her husband’s side she noticed a newspaper announcing the death of Richard Pankhurst. WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: POINT FOUR... The WSPU was formed in 1903 and would become known for its physical confrontations often involving the smashing of windows, assault of police officers, the bombing of male spaces and arson attacks on post boxes. These steps may seem extreme but the women believed that after years of discussions they were getting nowhere and changing their approach was the only way forward.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: POINT FIVE... Pankhurst, her three daughters and other WSPU activists received repeated prison sentences. One daughter Christabel was arrested after spitting at a po-

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: POINT SEVEN... Perhaps the most haunting and heroic act of bravery displayed by a suffragette is shown in the story of Emily Davison a highly educated lady who studied at Royal Halloway College in London and St. Hugh’s college Oxford before becoming a teacher and governess. After joining the WSPU in 1906 she became an officer and chief steward during the marches and would eventually become renowned for her militant action which included hiding in the Houses of Parliament overnight three times. The repercussions for Davison included being imprisoned nine times, going on hunger strike seven times and being force fed forty five times. During the Epsom Derby in 1913 the King’s Horse was riding third from last when Davison ducked under the railings and threw herself under the horse. Davison died of her injuries in hospital 4 days later. There are many theories around Emily Davison’s intentions that day, regardless of these she laid down her life for her cause. 50,000 people lined the streets of London for her funeral and Davison went down in the history books as a hero. WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: POINT EIGHT... As the voice of women began to be heard many men began to see the error of their ways and backed women’s right to vote, unfortunately given the times, this support was needed for the bill to pass. Many MPs initially opposed votes for women but there were some male supporters who were ultimately a key to the success. Keir Hardie MP spoke regularly in the Commons on the subject, questioning ministers on the treatment of suffragette prisoners and attended WSPU events, this itself a confirmation to me that misogyny is not a women’s problem but a man’s problem. WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: POINT NINE... Following years of intense campaigning on 6th February 1918 8.4 million women over the age of 30 were finally given the right to vote under the representation of the People Act 1918. Although many restrictions as to which women could vote were in place this is marked as the first major breakthrough for the suffragettes. After years of women’s political parties entering into talks with men, it was finally those feminists who turned to militant tactics who won the vote. WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: POINT TEN... One woman’s terrorist is another woman’s freedom fighter. Some will still argue that the suffragettes were terrorists, mainly because they used bombs to target male-only buildings. Emmeline Pankhurst herself was always very clear that nobody should be killed in pursuit of the vote, the tactics were simply to draw attention to the cause. Former suffragette Mary Leigh said in 1975, “Mrs Pankhurst gave us strict orders... there was not a cat or a canary to be killed: no life.” WORDS: NORA CALDER Twitter: @NoraCalder






The shame of period poverty is keeping UK girls out of school. Let’s break the silence...

The stigma around menstruation is distressing for girls who can’t afford sanitary products. A London protest called for them to be free – menstrual care is a human right On Wednesday 20th December 2017, Richmond Terrace in central London slowly turned red. Hundreds gathered opposite Downing Street – people of all genders, races, ages and backgrounds, waved banners and demanded change. They stood together because they are outraged. They are angry, and we have waited long enough for the government to take action against period poverty. Period poverty hit the public consciousness in December 2016 following the release of Ken Loach’s hard-hitting film I, Daniel Blake. One scene, where a struggling single mother is caught stealing sanitary towels, particularly caught the imagination, and food banks were flooded with donations of menstrual products. #FreePeriods is a national campaign calling for free menstrual products for children in receipt of free school meals But it didn’t stop there. In March 2017, the media were full of reports of schoolgirls in Leeds routinely missing school because they were unable to afford menstrual products. Children as young as 10 were choosing to stay at home to avoid the embarrassment of bleeding on their school uniform in front of their peers, because they weren’t adequately protected. They miss school every month because they cannot face the shame and fear of going to school using socks stuffed with tissues, old torn T-shirts or newspaper. In these families, menstrual products are an unattainable luxury. More than eight months later, the government still had not responded to the atrocity of period poverty. This failure to react is what spurred Amika George to action. In April 2017 she started the #FreePeriods movement, a national campaign calling on the government to provide free menstrual products to children in receipt of free school meals. As these are the children from the lowest socio-economic backgrounds, they are most likely to be faced with this monthly burden. She believes this could mark a decisive end to period poverty in the UK. Period poverty is a worldwide phenomenon. Harrowing cases of poor menstrual hygiene are commonplace: India, Kenya and Cambodia have

battled for years to prevent girls from dropping out of school in communities where mattress stuffing and leaves are often used for menstrual management. Earlier last year, the Kenyan government promised to provide all school girls with free menstrual pads. In November, the Indian state of Kerala launched its She Pad scheme, which will distribute free pads in around 300 schools. Menstrual care is, undoubtedly, a human right and it’s time for our government to address the fact that some British girls are deprived of it. It is silence that is preventing real progress from being made. The stigma and shame that shroud menstruation means girls are left to improvise alone every month, often without the knowledge of family members or friends. As we live in a world where periods are euphemised and belittled, and blue liquid is preferable to actual blood on TV adverts for sanitary towels, it’s no surprise that they cannot and do not ask for help. We need to dispel this nonsensical taboo through conversation. By talking about our periods as freely and honestly as possible, we can teach girls, as well as boys and men, that they are a completely natural process, part of the reproductive cycle, and are absolutely nothing to be whispering about. We should all be shouting about the power of the period, and celebrating our femininity. The protest was for everyone, and was peaceful. They heard from inspirational speakers such as the model and activist Adwoa Aboah, the MP Jess Phillips and the political commentator Ayesha Hazarika, and there were opportunities to sign the petition and donate to brilliant charities. They were there to raise awareness on behalf of every girl who has ever missed a day of school due to a lack of menstrual products. They were there to urge the government to consign period poverty to history. • Amika George is an 18-year-old student from London. She started the #FreePeriods campaign, which calls on the government to give free menstrual products to children from low-income families.



G E N D E R T he gender pay gap is the difference between male and female earnings. This difference is expressed as a percentage of male earnings. The gender pay gap reduces women’s lifetime earnings and also affects their pensions - this is one of the significant causes of poverty in later life for women. The Office for National Statistics collects data on earnings in the UK which it uses to calculate gender pay differences. In 2016, the average pay of women working full-time was only 90.6% of men’s pay. This means that compared to men, women stopped earning on the 10th November 2016 – they were effectively working for no money after this date, which is referred to as Equal Pay Day. On average, a woman working full-time in 2016 earned £5,732 less a year than a man. When part-time employees are included, the gender pay gap was 18.1% in 2016. The pay gap varies across sectors and regions, rising to up to 55% in the finance sector. In 2012, 64% of the lowest paid workers were women, contributing not only to women’s poverty but to the poverty of their children. Though the gender pay gap is gradually decreasing over time, there have also been recent reversals in progress on this issue. In 2013, compared to the previous year, the average pay of women working full-time fell by .9% to 84.3%. For all workers – both part-time and full-time – the gender pay gap was 19.1 % in 2013, having risen from 18.6% the previous year. This means for every £1 earned by a man in the UK, a woman earned only 81p. Gender pay gap is higher when part-time workers are included because of the low hourly rates of pay in part-time work and the concentration of women in these jobs due to the occupational segregation of the labour market (for e.g., ‘the five C jobs’ are mostly done by women -


cleaning, cashiering, caring, clerical work and childminding - and these jobs are poorly paid). The austerity measures and the changes to the labour market since 2012 (e.g., the cuts to public sector jobs, the pay freezes in the public sector, increasing use of zero hours contracts in the private sector) have contributed to the widening gender pay gap in 2013. Causes of the gender pay gap... The gender pay gap is a complex issue with many causes, which are often inter-related: •

Direct discrimination explains why women sometimes still earn less than men - when women are paid less than men for doing the same job. But because of the success of equality legislation over the years, this factor only explains a limited part of the gender pay gap. Women’s competences and skills are undervalued, so women frequently earn less than men for doing comparable jobs - that is, jobs of equal value. Pay scales for jobs requiring similar skills, qualifications or experience tend to be lower when they are predominantly done by women. For example, in 2012, women who had worked as cooks, cleaners, catering and care staff for Birmingham City Council won compensation because they were denied bonuses which were handed out to employees in traditionally male-dominated but similar-level jobs such as refuse collectors, street cleaners, road workers and grave-diggers. Another way in which women’s competences and skills are undervalued could be reflected in the promotion rates in an organisation - gender stereotypes mean that women may be perceived as less competent

or ‘managerial’ - or that their status as mothers may mean that organisations question their commitment to work (being a father does not seem to create similar effects). Recent research showed that women are promoted at lower rates than


men. In one study, researchers sent mock applications for science lab jobs to US universities and randomly allocated male or female sounding names to similar applications. They found that not only did universities think that the “male” applicants were more competent, they offered them higher starting salaries! Women and men still tend to work in different types of jobs. How many teachers in your primary school were men? Not only does society consider jobs to be gendered, that is, men’s jobs and women’s jobs, but such work is also accorded different value. Another reason why occupational segregation effects gender pay gap is that women often work in sectors where wages are, on average, lower than in jobs that are dominated by men. More

than 40% of women work in health, education and public administration while only 29% of scientists and engineers in the EU are women. Traditions and stereotypes may also influence the choice of educational paths and employment patterns. Research shows that school career services often encourage girls and boys into traditionally gendered occupations. Gender pay gap also reflects the gendered division of household labour, whereby caring for the sick and elderly, bringing up children and housework are considered women’s work. Because domestic work is not equally shared between men and women, women have more frequent career breaks, mostly to bring up children. This, in turn, has a negative impact on their careers.

The ONS have conducted research into the causes of the gender pay gap. This found the key factors explaining the pay gap were as follows: • 22% of the gap is due to the different industries and occupations in which women work • 21% of the gap is due to differences in years of full-time work • 16% of the gap is due to the negative effect on wages of having previously worked part-time or of having taken time out of the labour market to look after family • only 5% of the gap is due to formal education levels • A significant proportion (36%) of the pay gap could not be explained by any of these factors, suggesting direct discrimination may still be an important factor The history of the struggle for equal


P A Y pay in Britain, as in every country in the world, women have historically been paid less than men for doing the same job. Contrary to widespread belief, this struggle for equal pay did not start in the 1960s, but has been taken up by women workers since the late 19th century. During WWI, women took on men’s jobs while the men were deployed in the armed forces. When they realised that they were expected to do exactly the same work as men but for lower wages, they raised the issue of equal pay through several strikes during this period. One of the early strikes for equal pay was in 1918 by women tram and bus conductors, which resulted in a settlement of a bonus in pay equal to that paid to men workers. During the 1920s and 30s, state policy in the UK also reflected the common practice of lower wages for women, both in pay rates and in the lower rates of unemployment benefit, to which they were entitled. Women workers also campaigned against these injustices. With women’s suffrage, women’s groups and trade unions sought to mobilise women to demand equal pay and equal unemployment benefit as an election issue. The issue of equal pay was again raised during WWII, and became an increasingly articulated demand by trade unions and women’s organizations from 1950s onwards. In 1968, the issue of equal pay hit the newspaper headlines. Women machinists at the Ford Car Plant in Dagenham, Essex, sewed covers for car seats. On 7th June, 1968, they went on strike because they were being paid less than the men (87% of men’s wages) and, in addition, the machinists’ work had been downgraded to ‘unskilled’. After three weeks on strike, they returned to work accepting an increase in women’s wages to 92% of what was paid to men. Still not quite equal pay, was it? However, their actions contributed to

the campaign for equal pay and the passage of the Equal Pay Act (1970). According to this act, men and women are entitled to equal pay and terms of employment. The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1970 but was not implemented until January 1976. During these years employers often re-graded jobs by changing job titles to evade the Equal Pay Act and to justify unequal wages for men and women doing the same jobs, for example, from Personal Assistant to Typist. Following campaigning by

THE GOVERNMENT WILL HAVE TO REFUND UP TO £32 MILLION TO THE THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE CHARGED FOR TAKING CLAIMS TO TRIBUNAL SINCE JULY 2013 trade unions, there was much progress on equal pay as new laws extended and strengthened the first equal pay legislation. More than 120 years after this issue was first raised, unequal pay still remains an important reason for

G A P women’s lower lifetime wages and poverty in old age in most countries. The law in the UK (2013) The provisions regarding equal pay are now in the Equality Act 2010. According to this Act, men and women are entitled to equal pay and conditions if they are doing the same job; like work (work that is the same or broadly similar); work rated as equivalent (different work, but which is rated under a job evaluation scheme as equivalent); or work of equal value (that is, work that requires similar effort, skill and decision-making). Under this law, it is possible to bring a claim up to six years after leaving a job. Limitations and directions for the future Forty years after the first equal pay legislation, women can still expect to be paid less than men. The law has made a big difference - the gap between men and women’s wages has declined over the years. However, it still remains very difficult for women to gain equal pay. A woman has to first find out that she is being paid less than a man in a comparable job people are often secretive about how much they are paid. It also takes a lot of money and time to bring a case against an employer who will have far more resources than an individual employee. Where women are members of trade unions, they have been helped by their union to take their case to the employment tribunal. From July 2013, the Coalition government announced new upfront fees of up to £1,200 which workers will have to pay for taking employment tribunal cases against their employers. This fee applies to workers pursuing sexual harassment or race discrimination complaints after they have been unfairly dismissed. Trade unions have criticised this move – which ministers claim will save money for businesses and taxpayers – as the latest attack on workers’ fundamental

rights. The TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “Today is a great day for Britain’s worst bosses. By charging upfront fees for harassment and abuse claims, the government is making it easier for employers to get away with the most appalling behaviour.” Fawcett Society is concerned that upfront employment tribunal fees will prevent women from seeking justice when they discover they are being paid less than a male counterpart. Latest evidence shows that there has been a reduction of 70% in the number of cases brought to the tribunal since the introduction of upfront fees. On 26 July 2017, in a case against the government brought by the trade union, UNISON, fees for those bringing employment tribunal claims have been ruled unlawful. After the government introduced fees of up to £1,200 in 2013, which it said would cut the number of malicious and weak cases, government statistics showed 75% fewer cases were brought over three years - trade union Unison said the fees prevented workers accessing justice. Britain’s highest court unanimously ruled that the fees contravene both EU and UK law such as the Equality Act 2010 and are “discriminatory” against women as they disproportionately affected women. The Supreme Court ruled that the Government’s employment tribunal fees are “illegal” and preventing people - especially those on lower incomes – from getting justice. The Ministry of Justice said it would take “immediate steps to stop charging fees in employment tribunals and put in place arrangements to refund those who have paid”. The Government will have to refund up to £32 million to the thousands of people charged for taking claims to tribunal since July 2013, when fees were introduced by Chris Grayling, the then Lord Chancellor.




METOO On October 15, 2017, American actress Alyssa Milano posted a tweet urging women to speak up and out about their experiences with sexual assault or harassment using the phrase “me too.” Overnight, social media erupted, as #MeToo took hold in every corner of the world. By the end of the day, there were similar movements in multiple languages, including Arabic, Farsi, French, Hindi, and Spanish. Today, women in 85 different countries are using the hashtag to bring attention to the violence and harassment they face in daily life and to demand change.


THE WOMAN’S ISSUE__ #METOO Even though the civil rights activist Tarana Burke started the “Me Too” movement over a decade ago, the global response to Milano’s tweet took many, including Burke, by surprise. What accounts for #MeToo’s overwhelming success in 2017 and beyond? Many point to social media, but that is only part of the story. Existing women’s movements all over the world have spent decades laying the groundwork for what is happening today. By mobilising communities, establishing strategies of resistance, raising awareness, and breaking down the taboos that have traditionally silenced conversations about women’s rights, these earlier movements allowed #MeToo to become a global phenomenon. SETTING THE STAGE Over the last several years, women’s movements around the world have achieved landmark victories on issues such as voting rights, sexual and reproductive health, and equality under the law. To be sure, there is more work to be done: women in Saudi Arabia still live under the repressive male guardianship system, unmarried women in Iran cannot easily access reproductive health services, and women throughout the world are still fighting for equal pay. But recent developments have encouraged women across the globe to be more optimistic about the prospects of change. Success inspires success. In a networked world, women can quickly and easily learn about the progress made by other women, both at home and abroad. Inspiration becomes contagious—the success of one movement leads to another. It is important to consider #MeToo in its global context and to acknowledge the sources from which it is drawing momentum. Consider Nigeria—after the extremist group Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls in April 2014, Nigerian activists took to social media, launching the #BringBackOurGirls campaign to bring worldwide attention to the plight of these girls and push for their release. The campaign was so successful in raising awareness that people across the globe, including then U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama and the Pope, spoke out against the kidnappings. The movement also mobilised women in Nigeria. Since Boko Haram opposes female education, women’s groups created safe spaces for girls to study. They also organised protests outside embassies to keep up the pressure on the Nigerian government to ensure the return of all who had been kidnapped. As of January 2018, roughly 140 of the girls have escaped or been exchanged through mediation. While a significant number are still held captive, this movement was a major catalyst for global organising on women’s issues. The activists involved with #BringBackOurGirls started a global conversation and brought partners from all corners of the world to speak out about violence against women and human trafficking. The movement also was a watershed moment in demonstrating how social media could be used to raise awareness on women’s issues. Across the Atlantic, women’s movements in Guatemala and Chile have also achieved major milestones in the last two years. In February 2016, a Guatemalan court prosecuted two former members of the military for harrowing acts of sexual violence committed during the civil war that lasted from 1960 to 1996. In a historic ruling for rape survivors in Guatemala, these men were found guilty of crimes against humanity for sexually abusing 15 indigenous women and they were sentenced to a combined 360 years in prison. This victory encouraged more women to come forward and denounce their abusers. Today, numerous women’s groups are working together to break the silence around sexual violence and to promote legislative change. In August 2017, a Chilean women’s movement known as Mujeres en Marcha Chile helped drive the passage of a new law that legalizes abortion under certain circumstances. In a country where women have been calling for abortion rights for decades, this was a major victory that signalled that the door may now be open for further reform. Inspired by their successes at home, some women’s groups are also tackling transnational problems. For example, after U.S. President Donald Trump reinstated the so-called “global gag rule,” which prevents foreign organisations that receive U.S. family-planning funds from providing information, referrals, or services for legal abortion or advocating for access to abortion services, Mujeres en Marcha Chile began working to undo the harm of this policy and ensure that women have access to sexual and reproductive health services. The Women’s March, which began as an American response to the election of

Trump, has also been inspired by and inspiring to transnational women’s movements. In January 2017, millions of women marched in major cities on every continent. This January, the anniversary once again drew millions to the streets. These marches engaged women who previously had not felt willing or able to participate in political processes, and they increased the visibility of women’s activism. THE #METOO MOMENT In a number of places, the #MeToo movement is building directly on top of preexisting conversations about women’s rights. In Iran, for example, the women’s movement has been a significant presence since the constitutional revolution of 1905–11, when women organised to push for access to education and political rights. During the Iranian Revolution of 1979, women were active in denouncing the corruption of the shah. Although they were subsequently silenced by the new regime, they still fought back through the press and politics. And in 2009, women were again at the forefront of the Green Movement, demanding the removal of former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The iconic image of Neda AghaSoltan, a young woman who was gunned down during the protests, served as a rallying call for women across the Middle East. Then, in 2014, the “My Stealthy Freedom” movement took hold, as Iranian women took photographs of themselves in public places without the hijab to subversively question the fabric of morality through which the regime seeks to govern. Many credit this movement with laying the foundation for the anti-government protests that rocked the country in December and January. It has certainly helped the women’s movement successfully negotiate more lax rules about the hijab. #MeToo tapped into a conversation that was already happening in Iran through #MyStealthyFreedom and other forms of organising. Responding to Milano’s call in October, Iranian actresses, activists, and allies began to talk about #MeToo on social media, speaking out against their harassers and posting photographs of themselves wearing white hijabs, which represent a call for peace. This has sent a strong message to the regime about the determination of young Iranian women. In Egypt, many women experienced physical and sexual assault, arrest, and even exile, because of their prominent role in the Arab Spring. Still, they persisted and opened a new dialogue on women’s rights. In 2011, for example, young women started the #NudePhotoRevolutionary movement, posting photographs of themselves to make a political statement about agency, morality, and autonomy. Today, #MeToo is serving as a powerful call to action for the women who were on the frontlines in Tahrir Square as they continue to push for sexual and reproductive rights. The #MeToo movement has also taken off in India, a country still reeling from the horrific gang rape and murder of a young woman on a New Delhi bus in 2012. Immediately after this incident, numerous protests broke out as women’s groups organised to demand legal reforms around sexual violence. These groups were successful in fast-tracking legislative change in the courts, but women still felt that it was not enough. Under the banner of #MeToo, activists are calling for further legal reforms that will protect those who speak up and impose harsher punishments on perpetrators. As activists in India note, the hashtag’s widespread use has revealed the painful extent of sexual violence in their country. A number of Indian women’s groups are also using the hashtag to expose politicians, actors, and other power brokers who have long histories of sexual violence. VOICES FOR CHANGE As many commentators have pointed out, #MeToo is tied to events happening in the United States. Equally important, however, are the movements that paved the way and are carrying the message forward. Movements build over time and across borders. Thanks to the concerted efforts of activists around the world, lasting change is possible. The discourse is already shifting, as young people speak out against oppression and embrace new norms around gender and sexuality. The global success of the #MeToo movement has demonstrated that women’s groups are organised, networked, and building on one another’s efforts and achievements. As women raise their voices together, their harrowing stories, drowned out for so long, are becoming a coherent and determined voice of change.





PJ’s by Peter Alexander and gender queer label Bull & Dagger. PAGE 62


Paul and Darwin tell us about their fairytale big day in Belfast. PAGE 87


Gareth gets candid and tells us his coming out story. PAGE 98





FEET UP, PJ’S ON! Who said pyjamas can’t be fashionable, take a look some of the latest trends from Peter Alexander.



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ANSHIKA KHULLAR WHAT SORT OF ART DO YOU CREATE? I create detailed and thoughtful digital art that revolves around themes of femininity, queerness, and beauty in stereotypically overlooked forms. HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTO THIS? WAS IT A JOURNEY THROUGH DIFFERENT CREATIVE INDUSTRIES? I’m still relatively young at twenty-four, so I consider myself a fledgling still, but I’ve been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil, really. I had a lot of encouragement growing up from my mum, who is also really artistic, and for a long time I wanted to be a fashion designer. I remember being at school and spending any bit of free time, breaks, and lunches alone, drawing all kinds of clothing that I hoped one day I’d be able to make real. Over the years my interest in that diminished, and once I realised I’m awful at sewing (!), that style of work evolved into and informs the illustrations I do now, which always feature jazzy clothing! WHAT DO YOU MOST ENJOY CREATING? I create art that, hopefully, speaks to people who don’t see themselves represented very often in traditional forms of media; a lot of the work I’ve loved creating the most involves queer women and non-binary characters of colour being strong and vibrant, in glorious clothing, who aim to please nobody but themselves. I’m at my happiest creating art that shows that femininity, queerness and brown-ness are powerful and glorious. WHAT ARE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS? I’m most active over on Instagram at http://instagram.com/aorists ; on Twitter at http:// twitter.com/_aorists ; and my website can be found at http://aorists.com.


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Fitness Fads. Four of the most extreme fitness fads currently out there. ALMOST EVERY WEEK WITHOUT FAIL I hear about the latest diets, sometimes it can be something normal like drinking cayon pepper with honey that has proven results though is only recommended for short periods of time and others are simply ridiculous like the “Breatharian Diet”, It’s a diet that promotes living on air alone, no food or water. Hmm. That is pretty contrary to what I learned my entire life. I thought I would talk about some of the newest diets that have varying results. 1. Cabbage Soup Diet (and all of its single-food-diet cousins) Contrary to rumours, this diet is not recommended by any other health organization. While there are several versions of the diet, all have a seven-day cycle based on allyou-can-eat “fat-burning” cabbage soup (a mix of cabbage, carrots, celery, tomatoes, peppers, and onions). Since the diet provides plenty of liquids and nutrient-packed veggies, it’s not as bad as many other fad diets. However, if you enjoy food at all or have a life, you won’t be able to stay on any diet that restricts food groups or relies on one or two superfoods for very long. And then you’ll be back where you started right after you go off it. 2. Master Cleanse In southern California, this is a big trend. Dieters are trying the “cleanse” by drinking a concoction of squeezed lemons, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper several times a day for 10 days, says Karla Campbell, MS, RD, a dietitian in Long Beach, Calif. Then they down an herbal laxative tea at night and a quart of salt water first thing in the morning, supposedly to clean out the GI tract and bowels. Needless to say, there are no studies to suggest that our GI tracts and organs need any help in removing waste or so-called toxins from the body. The diet is only 650–1,300 calories, and it lacks key nutrients like protein, calcium, iron, and zinc―so no dietitian recommends doing it for more than a day or two. Campbell also adds this warning: “Dieters who try it end up losing lean body mass,


and then when they are ‘cleansed’ and go back to their old ways, they gain fat. They end up being a fatter version of their old selves. 3. hCG Diet The hCG diet is a very low-calorie plan (500 to 800 calories per day) supplemented with injections of the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Any diet that drops below 1,000 calories is really unsafe for most of us to begin with, and you’re apt to lose a lot of weight even if you’re getting injected with milk shakes. Of course, the golden rule of dieting is that the faster it comes off, the more likely you are to regain it, so this diet would be on my list no matter what…but the hCG shots raise so many red flags I don’t know where to begin. Bottom line: Scientists don’t know if hCG is safe to inject when you’re not producing it naturally, so please don’t be a weight-loss guinea pig. And the 4th one has to be my favourite. Its called “Ear Stapling” This relatively new fad is based on a theory among acupuncturists that an area of the ear regulates your appetite. The procedure is like getting an ear pierced, but the constant pressure of the staple on the “stomach” of your ear is supposed to curtail your eating. There is no science behind ear stapling for weight loss, but there is plenty of evidence that stapling could lead to serious infections and deformities. If you need help in controlling your appetite, better to try something that really works, like eating more fruits and vegetables and less of everything else. In closing, research everything properly and seek medical advice before you start living on air or stapling your ears lol Words by Daniel May


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No matter what your race, colour, creed or sexual identity we’re listening at New Life Counselling. New Life Counselling provides counselling services for children, young people, adults and families.


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THIS ISSUES REVIEW TAKES US to Morso, upstairs in The Doyen, The Doyen opened in the latter part of last year, facing the Kings Hall, previously known as The Kings Head. The complex is fresh and modern looking with a real relaxed feel. Location is perfect, as we intended to have a few drinks we were able to get the train, Balmoral stop is literally a 2 minute walk so no need to worry about driving or getting taxi’s, though those intending to drive they have a large free car park. We arrived at the restaurant at approximately 6pm on Saturday, the bar was really lively with the Grand National having just finished, the restaurant was relatively quiet. The decor was bright with lovely lemon and salmon coloured walls and a mix of leather seats and benches, very inviting . We were greeted and then seated by one of the windows and close to a lovely fire. While mulling over the menu we ordered a light and refreshing bottle of Rose. The Menu in my opinion was perfect with a choice of ten starters, 12 mains, eight Pizza’s/Flatbreads and five Sweets. Its great going into a restaurant where the entire menu fits on one page, people say variety is the spice of life - for me this isn’t the case when referring to a Menu, there is nothing more off putting that being handed a 12 page book as you end up spending 20 minutes just to make a decision. Morso have this down to a tee as this refined menu has something for everyone. To start we order a large sharing bowl of steamed mussels, these were perfectly fresh and cooked to perfection, the portion was large for two people and we couldn’t finish it. The sauce was rich and creamy, white wine, shallot with garlic and parsley, on the side was fresh bread that had been crisp fired, this was perfect for moping up the amazing sauce.

For the main my guest ordered the Chargrilled Lamb Rump, this was so different from your typical lamp dish as it was served potato foundant, caramelised cauliflower and broccoli smothered in a thick and hearty tomato fondue which was almost like a bolognese. My choice was also something you don’t often see on a menu, Marinated Picanha, no this is not some strange animal, but a choice cut of beef that is popular in the U.S. and Brazil, it is also known as Sirloin Cap or Coulotte. This lovely piece of meat was served with confit tomato, wilted spinach and peppercorn sauce. The side was a mini bucket of parmesan fries. Unfortunately my steak was slightly over cooked though this was quickly rectified by the more than attentive staff. With time not being on our side we were unable to order a dessert though I definitely would of went for the Sticky Toffee Pudding, easily my favourite desert, this comes with a pecan caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. Other choices include Dark Chocolate Tart, White Chocolate & Baileys Cheesecake, Spiced Prunes and a Chocolate Cookie with a variety of ice cream. We had a lovely evening in Morso will be making a point of going back only next time I will most definitely be staying for desert. The staff were so friendly and helpful, and to the Chef we loved the menu and food. Thanks Morso is situated at 829 Lisburn Road, Belfast, BT9 7GY T: 028 9050 9950 |E:info@morsobelfast.com |W: www. morsobelfast.com Words by Daniel May


The North Coast’s only boutique hotel. Me and Mrs Jones is the North Coast’s only authentic boutique, luxury, lifestyle hotel. The most unique and attractive in its area, the quirky-modern hotel decor has been carefully chosen to boast a sense of space and opulence throughout. Located in the diamond area of Main Street, sunny Portstewart, it is just steps away from endless sand beaches and the refreshing Atlantic Ocean. Me and Mrs Jones is stylish and chic, yet playful and profoundly inviting with its location only adding to the appeal. Within walking distance is the highly renowned Portstewart golf club which only very recently hosted The Irish Open and in the sister town of Portrush resides the world-famous links course The Royal Portrush which has been chosen for the 2019 British Open competition. All our rooms are individually and uniquely designed with king beds, flat screen TVs and bathrooms that have that little something special all to give you that extra mile of luxury. Rooms from only £149 per night

1-7 The Diamond, Portstewart, BT55 7EA

028 7083 49501 www. meandmrsjonesportstewart. com


A quintessential boutique hotel in a stunning town. WORDS/REVIEW BY DANIEL MAY

ME & MRS JONES IN the North Coastal town of Portstewart is the perfect retreat . Approx 60 miles from Belfast it is easily accessible for those wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. In the past I have visited the neighbouring seaside town Portrush though this was my first trip to the smaller and more appealing Portstewart. Me & Mrs Jones pride themselves on being the only boutique the north coast has to offer. On Approach it was a delight to see how close the hotel was positioned to the Ocean, weather was unfortunately not on our side during my stay though I can easily imagine how gloriously beautiful it would be when the sun is out. Me & Mrs Jones is the perfect base for those wanting to privately reflex or adventurous folk who want to take in what the coast has to offer, The Giants Causeway is a short 30 minute drive, Dunluce Castle which dates back as far as 500AD is 7 miles up the road and for those Golf enthusiasts Portstewart own Golf Club is only a few minutes away. The course itself recently hosted the Irish Open, though they welcome players of all capabilities. Ok so back to the piece de resistance, on arrival we were greeted by Jamie the Manager, he was so friendly and pleasant, after a insightful chat we were directed to our room. All I can say is WOW, the room makes a regular

twin inadequate, not a single bed in sight which one would usually expect instead the room was equip with 2 large Super Kingsize beds. Each bed could comfortably hold 3-4 people, loved sprawling out across it, was super soft. The ensuite Bathroom was beautiful, complete with both a full sized bath and walk in shower with a waterfall feature. It was great to have the choice as I do love the option of a Bath. It doesn’t stop there I particularly loved the

separate lounge area, with dinning table, retro pod shaped red chair and T.V, as a gesture we were left 2 complimentary

For almost 2 years this quintessential Boutique has been welcoming guests . Visitors have no need venture outside as on site they have a beautiful bar and restaurant. Food is served every evening and also from Lunch (12pm) on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Entertainment is also a big part of the experience with Live music on offer over the weekend. On the subject of food after enjoying a few glasses of Moet and freshening up we made our way to the restaurant. The decor was beautiful, so welcoming, the size was larger than I was imagining as they can easily hold 100 diners.

deserts and a bottle of Moet which was a much appreciated and a lovely added touch, thanks. They have 20 rooms in total ranging from Standard Doubles, Junior Suites, Deluxe Executive Rooms, Twin &

Triple Suites and an out of this world Bridal Suite. Each room is individually decorated with the finest fittings and fixtures along with all the usual facilities you would expect - Large flat screen TV, Radio, WIFI, Hairdryer and Bathrobe and Slippers.

The dishes on offer were all fresh and locally sourced with a clear focus being on amazing Sea Food. After much deliberation we settled on which dishes we would like to try , My guest and I decided to order the Prawn & Salmon Bon Bon’s and the trio of Duck to share. Both dishes tasted amazing, so light and the perfect amount. For my main course I opted for the Lightly battered Prawns with Garlic Potatoes, this was served with a lovely Lemon Aolio, the portion itself was large with no less than 16 king prawns, I could of easily eaten the lot though refrained to leave room for a dessert. My guest sticking to the seafood theme also ordered a prawn dish only in a Asian style with noodles and fresh veg, she devoured the lot. By this stage we were both full though still attempted to tackle a desert, my choice was a small portion of carrot cake, this was served with both icecream and fresh cream, it was deliciously nice, moist and full of flavor. My guest after sampling a dessert earlier decided to order the same thing, this was a snickers inspired cake, packed with nuts and caramel served with honeycomb

ice-cream, which was so Moorish, I have a feeling she may actually be getting in contact with the pastry chef for the recipe.

After dinner we had a few glasses of wine and enjoyed the entertainment, we later retired to our room, can honestly say I had the most amazingly sleep. My guest was in agreement as she described the bed “The bed was like sleeping on a cloud”. Before departing we had time for breakfast. Like everything else during our stay it did not disappoint, on offer was a selection of cereals, fruit, breads and scones. Hot breakfasts were also available cooked to order. My guest went for a traditional cooked breakfast while I opted for the more lighter option of an omlette with cheese, ham and onion. It was cooked perfectly and just what the doctor ordered after the drinks the night before Highly recommend you visit Me & Mrs.. Jones, I can’t wait to return. Rooms at Me & Mrs Jones start from only £149 per night and an average 3 course meal costs around £25 per person Thanks so much to the staff and management for what was a perfect stay. 1-7 The Diamond Portstewart BT55-7EA. Tel: 028 7083 4950. Web: meandmrsjonesportstewart.com F: @mendmrsjoneshotel





We went along to this year’s Goscars.



UK City-break


GETTING THERE Flying direct from Belfast International Airport with Easyjet into Bristol Airport took just over 1 hour and with 3 flights daily there is a time to fly to suit even the busiest schedule. Once you arrive into Bristol airport there is the Bristol flyer which takes you directly to Temple Meads train station within 30mins, they depart every 10minutes during peak time and if booked in advance online only cost £11 return per person.

ACCOMMODATION I am lucky enough to have a friend from school that lives there now that also has a spare room so I got my accommodation for the cost of a big bag of Punjanna tea bags (not available in supermarkets in Bristol) and the cost of a meal on the night we


arrived. For those not fortunate enough to have a bestie living in the city there are all the usual suspects when it comes to hotels Travelodge, Hilton, Raddison Blu, Ibis and the Premier Inn.

ENTERTAINMENT As you would expect with any city there are numerous bars, restaurants and clubs available to entertain. My personal favourites being: • Bent - A Lively stylish gay bar with a superb funky dancefloor and a relaxed no attitude bar. • OMG – One of the newest gay clubs in Bristol it has a young crowd with cheesy pop music and its sister venue Pineapple is only a few minutes’ walk away. • The Gin Palace – On the corner of the main strip, in Old Market, the unusual building is a delight to the senses, including its infamous sloping floor and camp decor.


• • • • •

It’s one of the ‘happening’ places in Bristol’s LGBT Village. For those that aren’t into the gay bar \ club scenes there are also other entertainments available such as: Bristol University LGBT History walks – for the cultured interested in LGBT History Bristol Aquarium – For those fish lovers You and Meow Bristol’s First Cat Café – think therapy cats in a cafe St Nicholas Markets – for those that like to rummage for vintage and retro treats

SHOPPING Shopping in Bristol comes in all shapes and sizes. Whether you’re looking for a tiny pop-up selling locally designed fashion or a whopping great mall with everything under one roof – this city really is the shopping capital of the South West. You can take a leisurely stroll around the Regency streets of Clifton Village and peruse its posh boutiques. You can head to Bristol Shopping Quarter and flit between High Street staples and one-off wonders. Or if retro and vintage tickle your fancy, you can explore the alternative shops of Stokes Croft and Gloucester Road – the latter boasts Europe’s longest street of independent shops. And there’s more Park Street & The Triangle is a student mecca just waiting to be explored. Don’t let that steep hill keep you from discovering some of the trendiest shops in the city, whether you’re after that all-American preppy look or going for more old school Americana. If you prefer to shop whilst taking in some local history, have a gander at the many traders of the cobbled Old City. Old Market, too, is a fascinating place and currently experiencing a resurgence in popularity. And let’s not forget the magic of the Christmas Steps Arts Quarter, which dates back to the 1600s. You could spend all day just exploring these eight unique streets with their silversmiths, design shops and booksellers.

FOOD First night we went to No.1 Harbourside a hipster style bar that allows dogs into the bar and serves a selection of food and caters very well for No.1 Harbourside a hipster style bar that allows dogs into the bar and serves a selection of food and also caters very well for vegetarians and vegan. It worked out roughly about £10 per head for a pint of craft beer and a main course and the food was prepared freshly made to order. On the Saturday lunchtime we went for a stroll around St Nicholas Markets which is an eclectic mix of food stands catering for all food favourites from good old traditional pie and mash right through to foods for the more adventurous from Morocco. We tried Pieminister where we got the most amazing homemade cooked fresh pies with mash, minty mushy peas and grated cheese for £6.50 each. It was a much needed hearty lunch for a cold day in Bristol. Before we departed back to the airport on Sunday we discovered the delights of Penfolds Kitchen for a Brunch to keep us going for the rest of the days traveling. Like most places in Bristol they cater for all food types (vegan, vegetarian etc) and allergies. This quaint little café is a few minutes’ walk from the city centre and food is made fresh to order along with all the usual suspects of hot and cold drinks. The staff and atmosphere are most welcomes and the price is very reasonable. All in all Bristol the home of Banksy is worth a jaunt to for a weekend or a change of scenery, just be prepared for quite a bit of walking and the hills and cobbles around the city.



Get that patio ready. Your patio or your deck is probably the part of your garden you do the most socialising on, get it spring ready. MOST OF US HAVE A wee bit of outside space, it could be a balcony, a back yard or if you’re very lucky; a whole garden. You want to get your space ready for using this spring and summer. We’ll have a look at your patio and see how to make it work... SEATING You’ll want to get some sort of seating in place. All of the big garden shops are starting to fill up at the minute with patio furniture so you’ll have no shortage if you’ve a few quid in your pocket. However, if you want something a bit different, an idea could be to make your own seating out of old pallets. A quick search of the internet will bring up a whole host of designs and instructions - you’ll have your very own bespoke corner sofa out there in no time. LIGHTING There’s no need for full flood lighting out on your patio for social use, a few strings of lights will be enough, and if you couple these with some solar powered decorative lights it’ll look great. For during the day you might want to invest in some citronella candles to light to keep the bugs at bay.


HEAT Sitting out on the patio on those long summer nights sounds sweet, but in our climate it can get cold. There are a few ways to keep yourself warm; invest in some nice cosy blankets - cheapest and easiest method of staying warm, a firepit - either bought in or home made can be a great addition as long as you’re safe and sensible with what you burn - they do tend to leave a stink that clings to your clothes though, or alternatively if you want to spend a bit more there are a variety of gas or electrical patio heaters available in shops or online. SOUND If you’re anything like me you’ll want to bring the music outside with you. Get yourself a wireless bluetooth speaker so you can stream the tunes directly from your phone. You can pick a cheap one up for about twenty quid. LUXURY Maybe you’ve a bit of pay left at the end of the month and can afford to splash out a bit. For a bit of fun an inflatible hot tub is great. They’re quick and easy to inflate, can heat usually to around 40 degrees, and sure who doesn’t love a bubbly soak under the stars?


The Personal Touch The Touch ThePersonal Personal Touch


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GNI MAG Weddings



Paul spotted Darwin on a night out in Lisburn. After plucking up the courage to send over his number it took two years before their paths would cross again and love had the opportunity to blossom. Seven years later at Disneyland they got engaged outside Sleeping Beauty’s castle. They tell us all about it...






“Plenty of dance offs! Plenty of STEPS routines and a lot of shimmying going on. Everyone had such a great time and that was amazing to watch. Just what we wanted.”


We first met in the Down Royal in Lisburn

and doesn’t like attention, I decided to slip him a little note outside Sleeping Beauty’s Castle

asking him to marry me. It was just the two of us in a quiet corner. Very intimate and private.

years ago. Pauls friend came over with his


about two years later. I was on a staff night out

Disneyland Paris where Darwin proposed

number for me but nothing came of it until

at the Potthouse now known as 21 Social and

Paul appeared with his work colleagues and we got chatting and we arranged a date. We were both single at the time. I was single for just over a year and two years for Paul. Paul:

I was out one night with the girls and sent Julie over with my number. Nothing came of it. A

few years later we met again in the Potthouse


It was about seven years later. We went on a


trip to Disneyland Paris and as Paul is very shy

It was about six years later. We want to

outside Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. I said yes straight away.


It was simply amazing. We all stayed at Ten

Square the night before. Food and drink was

flowing as was the craic. I got ready with the girls and the prosecco was flowing much to my delight. Paul got ready with the boys. I

somehow ended up doing everyone’s ironing!!! We laughed the whole time getting ready.

The time came to go to City Hall in which I was late by 30 minutes due to no fault of my own (it’s a brides prerogative is it not?) The

service went very well and was quite emotional. We posed for our photos and went around

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to Titanic quarter and Cathedral Quarter to

guests comments and ours were great too.

which I’m going to name drop.... Mark

outstanding. Well... for the party that evening,

get our photos taken with the photographer, Barnes Photography in Carrickfergus!! He

was amazing and really enjoyed himself. We

could not of asked for a better photographer. My favourites are the pictures taken at the

Duke Of York. Stunning little place. Perfect

choice. Then we headed back to The Chelsea for the reception. The Chelsea was simply

stunning. The decor, the layout, everything was

We all absolutely loved it and the service was

and the venues could not have been better.

now that was on a whole other level!!! Plenty of


of shimmying going on. Everyone had such a


what we wanted. One big party on the dance

amazing not one person didn’t enjoy their meal.

dance offs! Plenty of STEPS routines and a lot great time and that was amazing to watch. Just floor and it could not have been better. The most amazing day.

just perfect. Seeing all our friends and family


was a perfect choice. My first choice. All the

asked for. Even though he was 30 minutes late,

celebrate with us was amazing. The Chelsea

but it was brilliant. Everyone looked so well

It was everything and more than we could of

I don’t know where to start! The food was just Had lots of feedback from our guest as most

of them had never been to The Chelsea before. The drinks well.... there was a LOT of that

flowing! Prosecco on arrival, well.... I was very happy with that. Oh and I didn’t have to buy one drink. PERFECT!!



up) I on the other hand well..... you just can’t


The food was fantastic. Everyone really enjoyed the food at the CHELSEA and as for the

drink...... well everyone REALLY enjoyed that. DID YOU HAVE A HONEYMOON? Darwin:

We are having our Honeymoon this year. We

decided to pay the wedding first. So we are now booked for Disneyland Florida in September so

shut me up ha-ha. We both like a lot of tv shows etc he likes to explore and sightseeing I’d rather

play games or lye by the pool with a drink people watching. Paul:

We have a few things we have the same interests

in but we are two completely different people. I’m shy where Darwin isn’t. I like my documentaries and news Darwins into games and bingo.


we will celebrate our 1st anniversary there. I’m


amazing. Paul has been before, this is my first


Disney obsessed so I know this is going to be time.

in the hospitality trade so it can be difficult at


No we decided to pay the wedding off first but we have booked Disneyland and Universal studios in Florida for our 1st wedding anniversary.


Paul and I are very different! He’s shy and quiet (until he has a drink, then you can’t shut him


We try to do what we can together. We both work


times. We like to keep things independently too. Our own time as we call it. Time to do things with other. Too much time or all of your time

together I don’t think is good. We all need our own time out. Paul:

We do things together like every couple does but we do our own stuff too. Time apart is good in a

relationship. Not good to spend all your time with the same person..... there could be murder!!!


NNER 2015

THE WEDDING SPECIALIST Ireland’s Premier Stockist for Mori Lee

Perfect Day THE WEDDING SPECIALIST Ireland’s Premier Stockist for Mori Lee

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LGBT FAMILIES Mr Gay Europe 2017, Matt Rood, on Pride Families




“Fostering takes a lot of courage and strength, but the rewards are tremendous, and watching a child thrive and return to a stronger family unit is incredible.”

As part of his ongoing campaign, Mr Gay Europe, Matt Rood, is calling on the LGBTQ+ community to help raise awareness of fostering and adoption by hosting local events in the Brighton Area in support of Pride Families. With a child being taken into the care system every 20 minutes in the UK alone, there is currently a need for over 9000 foster carers. There are very few same-sex couples who volunteering to foster, but if only 2% of the LGBTQ+ community became carers, this alarming statistic would change dramatically.


encourage a sense of belonging and integration into the local community, to share stories and experiences, to make friends with other blended families, and to help support and advise one another with the challenging issues that come along with fostering and adoption. But most of all, to have fun! Now he wants existing LGBTQ+ families and carers to host their own local events to help spread the word.

Matt established Pride Families for the following: • • •

To raise awareness that the LGBTQ+ community can provide safe, loving and nurturing homes to children in need To provide education in schools about diversity and acceptance of “different” families To create a support network and both social and charity events for adopters and carers within the community

Since forming Pride Families Matt has worked with and supports two important charities: • •

Matt so strongly believes in providing opportunities for these children that, in addition to providing care for ten children over three years with his former partner, Pride Families became the platform pledge for his winning bids both for Mr Gay England in May 2017, and again for Mr Gay Europe in August 2017.

New Family Social - the UK network for LGBT adoptive and foster families. www.newfamilysocial.org.uk/ Coram - An adoption charity who finds adoptive families for children in need of loving, permanent homes, and who help traumatised children express their pain through art and music, and who provide homeless outreach to young people. www.coram.org.uk/

Since winning, Matt has not only met with MP Emma LewellBuck at Parliament, he travelled to Oslo to speak with deputy leader of the Norwegian Labour Party Haida Tajik and leader of the party’s LGBT network Jon Ryder Øyan.

When not campaigning for Mr Gay Europe and Pride Families, Matt runs a successful Brighton-based dog training and walking company, RoodDog. Matt is also a fitness model and TV presenter, having starred in Channel Watch’s reality series The Dog Hotel. Matt loves living in a community like Brighton, and feels it’s given him the opportunity to be exactly who he wants to be, “It’s vibrant, colourful, accepting – like no other city. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. “

Matt and Pride Families have hosted activity weekends to





COMING OUT Gareth Myles, 21 from Dromore tells us his story.

“Telling my mum my sexuality would be my official coming out date, which was Saturday 19th November 2016” WHEN DID YOU FIRST REALISE YOU WERE ATTRACTED TO SAME SEX PEOPLE? Well isn’t that the question? Ever since I was 5/6 years old, I’ve been nicknamed ‘Gayfield’ up until around the beginning of secondary school. I believe it was sometime after my second girlfriend was when I properly realised that there was ‘something wrong with me,’ about 15 years old. DID YOU TELL ANYONE AT THE TIME? Burry it deep, supress it down, as the musical, The Book of Mormon, put it ‘turn it off, like a light switch.’ I confided with my friends at the time, told them how I thought I was…wait for it…bisexual. *GASP* I know right? Scandal! Honestly I wish I was bisexual, even pansexual. WHEN DID YOU ACTUALLY COME OUT? I know exactly because I put it in as a diary entry… look, it’s a significant part of my life, judge away. It was Saturday 19th November 2016, I was 20 years old. WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO DO IT? I was studying in Missouri, USA and, my thinking was that I was able to live in my flat over Christmas, and thought that if I wasn’t accepted for who I am, I still had a roof over my head. Also, Thanksgiving was approaching, and my American friends were talking about how they were spending time with their families and it got to me. HOW DID YOU DO IT? Judge away, but I did it over the phone and called my Mum. Well she called me. A couple of days before, I called her and said, I had to tell her something, but she had friends over, so I didn’t want to bother or upset her with revealing the sexuality of her firstborn, crushing her dreams of not getting a grandchild naturally. Mum knew something was wrong.

WHAT WAS THE REACTION OF YOUR FAMILY AND CLOSE FRIENDS? When my mum called, I refused to say anything but at the same time, I wanted to say something but couldn’t, so I just wept. Mum just said ‘You’re gay aren’t you?’ I confirmed it and then she said, ‘Awk it’s ok, I know’ (or something along those lines) and me in my snottery state, replied ‘It is?’ I’ll never forget this quote from her, she said, “You’re my No. 1 son. Doesn’t mean you go out wearing [hot pants]. Just be a good person. Now … tell me what you want for Christmas.” Telling my nana on Christmas 2015 was scary because if she didn’t like me because of my sexuality, the thoughts of changing my name and organising cardboard boxes for shelter were going through my brain, but again. Her response was positive. I’ll never forget this quote from her, she said, “You’re my No. 1 son. Doesn’t mean you go out wearing [hot pants]. Just be a good person. Now … tell me what you want for Christmas.” Telling my nana on Christmas 2015 was scary because if she didn’t like me because of my sexuality the thoughts of changing my name and organising cardboard boxes for shelter were going through my brain, but again, I was surprised at her positive response. ANY NEGATIVE REACTIONS? HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THESE? I’ve a friend, who’s a devout Christian and believes in traditional marriage, which I totally respect. Talking to this person, we understood our opinions and beliefs. They would go my wedding, if I ever have a wedding that is, like the loving person they are. There are worries in my head that my mum is judged in her church for having a gay child. She’s never talked about such a thing but I think it’s real. If it’s the case, she shouldn’t give a toss. HOW HAS COMING OUT AFFECTED YOU? For years, there was this build-up of loathing towards

my parents because there was this feeling that they’d never understand. Dad had always noticed there was something wrong, stating that ‘There’s a chip on my shoulder,’ and there was. This inner loathing continued to build, grow and manifest. When I came out all this anger had just left my body. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHERS THINKING ABOUT COMING OUT? Please, for the love of all that is holy, please do not hate your parents and the people that love you, on the assumption that they’ll disown you. Do not cling onto such anger as it’s poisonous. For the unfortunate souls who do not have such luck, please find online support or even a friend who loves you, who you can confide with and tell them that you fear for your safety, you need to keep a roof over your head. There even should be one family member that is accepting, ask them for help. ANY FUNNY STORIES ABOUT WHEN YOU CAME OUT TO SOMEONE? I wish, I’d be more interesting that way. Just the typical, ‘ I know that,’ from mates. AND... Every queer is wildly different. Typical stereotypes, such as: getting drunk, craving attention, always on the queer scene, obsessed with RuPaul’s Drag Race, do not have to apply to you. It doesn’t to me, except obsessed with Drag Race, but that’s not the point! The point is, be your own queer human. If you want to try something that’s typically gay, go for it, what’s the harm in trying it out? Be your own queer, not the queer society expects you to be. My parents are still adjusting to me, so please be patient with our makers.


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The original Derry Girl Nadine Coyle is our cover star and chats to us about what she's been up to. This issue is our Woman's Issue with fe...


The original Derry Girl Nadine Coyle is our cover star and chats to us about what she's been up to. This issue is our Woman's Issue with fe...