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GNI mag

THE LOCAL HOMOCULTURAL MAGAZINE Issue 33 September / October 2018 £3.95 / €4.95

FRESHERS ISSUE Advice. discounts. tips.


Their surprise 6th album






Baby abeni Completes family



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.

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


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YOUR HOME MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON YOUR MORTGAGE All applications are subject to status and lending criteria. The amount we’ll lend you depends on your individual circumstances, type of property and the amount you borrow e.g. we may need a bigger deposit if you’re buying a flat or new build property. Santander UK plc. Registered Office: 2 Triton Square, Regent’s Place, London, NW1 3AN, United Kingdom. Registered Number 2294747. Registered in England and Wales. www.santander.co.uk. Telephone 0800 389 7000. Calls maybe recorded or monitored. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Our Financial Services Register number is 106054. You can check this on the Financial Services Register by visiting the FCA’s website www.fca.org.uk/register. Santander and the flame logo are registered trademarks. ACRM 3915 JUN 18 H

Work together to make a difference The Police Service of Northern Ireland will be recruiting from 1 October 2018.

You’ve got what it takes. Find out more at joinpsni.co.uk

If you want a career that is varied, challenging and makes a difference in your community, we want you to apply.

Applications close at noon on 19 October 2018.

PSNI is committed to being representative of the community we serve and welcomes all applicants interested in a career in policing.

GNI mag


MANAGING DIRECTOR Tony Day OPERATIONS & DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Daniel May daniel@gnimag.com AWARDS CORDINATOR Anthony Rice anthony@gnimag.com SPECIAL THANKS TO Martin Kearney / Micky Murray / Alicia Perry / Sam McKinstry / Chuff Media / You Me At Six / Michael Hann / Emma Blackery / Joe Stone / Yuhua Hamasaki / Chris and Jon / The Rainbow Project / OppoSuits / Gareth Pollock / Misstique / Sony / Gavyn Andrews / Face Therapy NI / Grand Central Hotel / Kremlin / Culture Club / Sam & Adi / Geri and Lisa / David Walsh

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. ALICIA PERRY Drugs, they’re not worth it. MICKY MURRAY Do you know PrEP is available? NORA CALDER The latest from Nora. SAM McKinstry In his first colum, Sam talks about growing up in Lisburn - the city for everyone. ROUND UP LGBT stories from across the globe. YOU ME AT SIX 6th album and coming to the Limelight in November. EMMA BLACKERY Talks about reaching no1 on itunes rock charts and her tour. YUHUA HAMASAKI Catches up with our Daniel and talks Drag Race, and of course world domination. CHRIS AND JON Straight outta MTV’s True Love or True Lies, Chris tells us his reason for entering the mansion. GNI MAG AWARDS They’re back this year, bigger than ever. Now’s the time to nominate for those you feel are deserving. ICON In this issue Alicia takes a look at the life of Serena Williams. RAINBOW PROJECT Anthony popped along to Out on the Roof with The Rainbow Project.

THE BEST AND WORST Sam tells us about his first year in Uni and what to look out for. STUFF Team GNI search for those student essentials. MONEY MONEY MONEY With your new student satus there are discounts avaialable around every corner. HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS You might be away from home and feeling alone, don’t latch onto the wrong person.


FASHION OppoSuits show us some of their new festive range. MEET THE ARTIST Gareth Pollock showcases his work.

FASHION Misstique offer a range of beautiful undies. REVIEW Daniel tries out the latest headphones from Sony. FITNESS We look at your wellbeing, check out Daniel’s top five tips. REAL BODIES Gavyn Andrews strips down and talks about his diet and exercise regime. LOOKING FRESH Tony tries to fight the wrinkles. FOOD The Grand Central Hotel has just opened, we check out The Seahorse Restaurant. HOMES Making your student digs a wee bit more homely. TRAVEL Alicia heads out to party in Ibiza (and she even made it home). SCENE OUT We went to Kremlin and Culture Club during Pride. BIG DAY Sam and Adi tell us about their big day. LGBT FAMILIES Two mums and the apple of their eye. COMING OUT Our Dave tells all.

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From Drag Race to world domination, and the dresses in between. PAGE 27


Onto their surprise sixth album and coming to gig in Belfast. PAGE 32


She’s a stong and inspirational lady, we look at Serena Williams. PAGE 42


Recommended Marty Kearney

THE NUN The Conjuring is definitely one of the scariest films I’ve seen. It was such a huge hit that it got a sequel and two spinoffs the much less scarier Annabelle and now The Nun that promises to be the darkest chapter the Conjuring series yet. And let’s face Nuns are scary AF especially demonic ones. The Nun stars American Horror story’s Taissa Farmiga who is also the sister of Vera Farmiga who starred as Lorraine Warren in the first two Conjuring movies. Fans of the conjuring will remember the nun who made a brief appearance in the sequel should be excited to lean that this movie will be her horror story. I haven’t seen a scary movie in ages and The Strangers 2 and Toni Collette’s Hereditary where a massive disappointment. Directed by Corin Hardy who directed Irish horror Movie The Hallow which did have its jumpy moments and chills so I’m in high hopes that The Nun will have me sleeping with the lights on. You can see it NOW in cinemas.

AMERICAN HORROR STORY: APOCALYPSE For me Asylum the second season of AHS was the scariest but I equally enjoyed season one Murder House and I absolutely loved the third season Coven. So unless you have been living under a rock then you know season eight of AHS will see season one and three cross over. I’m curious to see how these two worlds will connect and it will be interesting to see how all the witches get back together as three of them are dead. Lily Rabes and Emma Roberts Characters died performing the seven wonders in the last episode of season 3 and Gabourey Sidibe Character Quinine was murdered in the Lady Gaga AHS Hotel, but that’s not the most exciting thing about this season two great actress return Connie Britton will be back in the role of Vivien last seen dying while giving birth and living legend Jessica Lang returns to play Constance the crazy neighbor from Murder House. AHS Veterans Sarah Paulson and Even Peters also return in roles that they played before Paulson herself will play 3 roles this season, supreme witch Cordelia from Coven, Bille Dean Howard from murder house and a new character called Venable and details about this character are being kept top secret Others set to return are Kath Bates and DILF Dylan McDermott. Joan Collis has been cast and I imagine her role to be campy and over the top. Unfortunately Angela Basset will not return but fear not you will see her in the new season of 9-1-1. I think this season of AHS has the potential to be the best. Well I hope so after last yeas boring tripe.

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY When our Daniel suggested that I do a piece on Bohemian Rhapsody I was at a loss

for words call it writers block if you will as I’m not a massive fan of Queen but the band certainly do have an epic story to tell especially front man and lead singer Freddie

Mercury who sadly lost his life to AIDS. This biography will tell of the bands start and

rise to the top and follow them up to the iconic performance at live aid in the 1985 the world’s largest benefit concert. Mr Robots Rami Malek takes on the role of the legend and upon watching the trailer I predict a few nominations will be sent his way. You can look forward to seeing this in cinema’s on 24th October.




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CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA In a previous issue I recommended our readers check out the graphic novel the chilling adventures of Sabrina I also mentioned that a TV show based on the comic was being made and alas it’s here. This version of Sabrina is a much scarier and horrific retelling of the 90s Melisa Joan Hart version. It was Intended to be a spin off show from the CWs Riverdale those plans fell through and Netflix will broadcast the series instead. Mad Men’s Kienan Shipka will take on the title role. Playing the main antagonist Madam Satan is Michelle Gomez you may know as Missy from Doctor Who. Lucy Davis and Miranda Otto will play Sabrina’s Aunts Hilda and Zelda and yes Salem the talking cat is all so set to appear. The graphic novel was set in the 60s and it was genuinely creepy and gory, I hope the show remains true to the book. It has already been commissioned for two seasons with the potential for more and the first season will be here just in time for Halloween. The first season will be available on Netflix from the 26th of October.







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TITANS DC Comics is launching its own streaming service and Titans will be the first of many live action scripted original series that it will produce, to follow is Doom Patrol and Stargirl currently in production. Titans will see Batman’s Sidekick Robin lead his own team of superheroes in Gotham City. This series will be much more gritty, dark and violent compared to other DC shows such as The Flash and Supergirl even though its produced by the same guy Gay super producer Greg Berlanti who has also given us shows like Brothers and Sisters ,Riverdale and the upcoming Batwoman and Sabrina the teenage witch series to look forward to. The first episode will be released on the streaming service and will be available from the 12th of October.

POSE Ryan Murphy and his creative team have done it again. Created and produced another show to be crazy about, that will have a massive LGBT following like most of his shows. This man is one of my inspirations as he has created some of my favorite shows Glee, American Horror Story, 9-1-1, Feud to name a few and that in the way he writes for our community and makes heroes out LGBT characters. #KURTHUMMELL4PRESIDENT. Pose follows the underground Ball Culture set in New York in the late 80s. I didn’t even know what Ball Culture was until I watched the first episode and now that I know I want to belong to a fabulous house with an even more fabulous house mother who will send me out in stolen clothes from a museum to strut my stuff up and down a dance floor. Pose boasts the largest cast of transgender actors in a series and new comer MJ Rodriquez steals every scene she’s in. All the other actress do a fine job as well and Emmys should be given out to each and every one of them. Also making appearances are James Van Der Beek, Kate Mara and Evan Peters. I had to watch this weekly but now that is aired its first season you can binge on line, you can thank me later and the great news is that it’s been renewed for a second season.






*Selected shows

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VENOM It wouldn’t be a proper issue of GNI MAG if I didn’t write about a comic book movie. Venom, a Marvel movie that’s not part of the Marvel cinematic universe. Sony plan to launch their own Marvel movie universe beginning with Spiderman’s greatest foe Venom. As seen from Deadpool and Logan super hero movies that are aimed at a more adult audience work and this one looks as dark and twisty as they come. Tom Hardy takes on lead Role as Eddie Brock, last played on the big Screen by Thoper Grace in Spiderman 3. What I’m most excited about is that one of my favorite actress plays the female lead, Michelle Williams last seen belting out the tunes in the Greatest Showman, she plays Anne Weying, Eddies love interest and in the comics eventually becomes the She-Venom, I doubt that will happen in this move but if it is a success and a new franchise is born then I hope that this is the direction the movies should. After the success of wonder Woman, Ant Man and the Wasp and the upcoming Captain Marvel movie Super Heroine movies is the way forward. Out 5th October.

PEPPERMINT We have all seen this concept done many times before in movies such as Death Wish, Law Abiding Citizen etc., etc. Where a family man’s innocent family is killed. The justice system fails and the murders walk free only to be hunted, tortured and killed by the father after some training montages later. What I like about this movie is that they changed the genders and it’s the mother who will seek the revenge. Yes I know there was Sally Field’s Eye for an Eye but that wasn’t an action,. It starts the fantastic Jennifer Garner, last seen playing the mother in the brilliant Love Simon. Garner will certainly breathe life into this action role as she played super spy Sydney Bristow for five years in her show Alias. Although she’s mostly done family dramas over the past twelve years id dare say for Jennifer Garner stepping back in to the roll of a kick ass “femme fatal” will be much like riding a bike. Peppermint is out 7th September




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The drugs don’t work (They just make things worse).

Alicia V Perry I WANTED TO TAKE THIS opportunity to try

my heart was pounding and out ran a child to my

These important decisions you make today can

of drugs; especially if you are a young person

with just a few crappy comments but because of

or one of imprisonment and addiction. You think

and appeal to every one of you about the dangers

reading this right now, please continue. For if you could only have seen what my eyes have and if

you could only have felt what my heart has, you would definitely think twice about drugs!

On the 12th August 2018, my friend’s son, a

young man, a Brother, a Nephew, an Uncle, lost

his life to heroin and a family was torn to pieces. For five days I cradled my friend and supported her while she tried to deal with the sudden and untimely death of her son. The day his coffin

came home you could have heard a pin drop as

scores of people formed a silent guard of honour

but as he was carried in; the stillness only broken

by the deep and hallow cries of a grieving mother and her daughters. It was one of the most heart

breaking experiences of my life that I will never forget. A mother should never be robbed of a

chance to say goodbye to their child nor should she ever have to watch on as they lowered their child’s coffin into the ground.

defence. Needless to say the lads backed down

Fergal I was able to get passed them and home

safely. Fergal was a funny, kind, brave and decent child, teenager, but then the drugs got him. We all lost the real Fergal that day!

“Many friends and neighbours can bare witness to the thoughtfulness, kind-heartedness and respect he showed to us, at times when we most needed it. ”

He was only 26 years old, gone before he had his

Drugs will turn your life upside down and change

than to the drugs themselves. His death was

only will drugs affect you physically but also

time. He was more addicted to self-destruction somewhat overshadowed by the drugs, as was

his life too. He became a different person with the drugs but with us he was and always will be the bubbly wee soul that he was. Many

friends and neighbours can bare witness to the thoughtfulness, kind-heartedness and respect young Fergal Deeney showed to us, at times

when we most needed it. Wee Mary, God rest her, would tell you how he would help her off the bus with her shopping and carry it home;

and refused to take any money she offered for it. I remember once there was trouble at the end of

our street, on the way back from the 24hr garage I ran into it. I was being threatened and verbally

abused but out of the house ran a teenage Fergal to my rescue. I was surrounded by young men,

you into someone you never wanted to be. Not

your emotions, your personality and your mental health. Drugs will break you down and break

your relationships down. Drugs will upset your

family, friends & those who care about you and love you. No matter what the drug, it will take

pave your way to a future of freedom and success if you do drugs it will only affect you? That’s

wrong, you will let down all the people who love and care about you. You will lose respect and

trust from your true friends who only want the

best for you. You may lose them altogether and

you may lose the chance to say goodbye. Life is a

precious gift, don’t waste it on drugs. Get high on life, not Drugs. Don’t let your life get wasted by

being wasted. Don’t escape reality, escape drugs, they annihilate lives causing destruction beyond repair. They really, really are not worth it at all. We all have dreams whether its to graduate

from college or university, become successful in our chosen trade, craft or skill, bare children,

become a wife or husband or just to be the best

you can be. Never stop chasing your dreams and don’t let drugs hold you back from them. Never compromise or limit your true ability by taking

drugs because every time you take a drug you are

gambling with your future, you are gambling with your life and you are gambling with your legacy. Drugs hold you back, making it so much harder

to reach your full potential and accomplish your goals. Avoid using drugs as an alternative to

being the interesting and unique person you are. You are better than your pain and you are better that second-best. You are important and you matter.

you on a rocky road full of misery, isolation and

Honestly, the drugs don’t work, they just make

and thrill, your problems are there when you

again. Rest in peace kiddo! Xx

addiction. Don’t fall for its promise of escape come round to sobriety and most times they

you worse, and I know, I’ll never see your face

are ten times worse. Drugs will drag you down into a deep hole that will be increasingly hard

to come out of. Choose wisely the path you take because there is only one of you. Not only are

drugs illegal themselves but they can lead you

to do more illegal things in order to satisfy your addiction. Be Smart, Don’t Start!

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


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Micky Murray

““Access to PrE plays an important role in preventing new HIV infections. We have to use every tool available to us and access to PrEP can provide LGBT people with the tools require to manage their sexual health and protect themselves and their partners”

John O’Doherty Director The Rainbow Project “HIV is indiscriminate and continues to increase in Northern Ireland with around 100 new diagnoses each year. This provides a real opportunity to empower people to take charge of their own sexual health and reduce the instances of HIV diagnoses here.” -

Jacquie Richardson CEO Positive Life

Sexual Health is something that cannot be

at risk of contracting HIV, it’s not a ‘silver

we discuss it quite a bit, although sometimes

HIV ‘contreception’, it’s simply a method of

talked about enough, thankfully as a community for the wrong reasons. HIV still has an

enormous amount of stigma attached to it, but I’m not going to get into the myths and facts

bullet’ and it shouldn’t be used as some sort of prevention and other methods such as condoms should still be used to protect yourself.

of HIV, that would take a whole issue, but

My reason for writing this is that I’ve been

become available here in Northern Ireland.

to their doctors and are on waiting lists etc

I’m going to discuss a new drug that’s silently

Getting tested for HIV and STI’s can be really scary, I myself get tested every few months,

and for the two weeks after I have borderline

anxiety every time my phone rings thinking it’s

contacted by so many people who have spoken for access to PrEP who have seen on my social media that this has become available, but still haven’t received any information from their health professionals.

going to be that lovely woman from the GUM

Sexual Health is just as important as physical

not scary, the whole process is pretty painless,

one another and none of them should be taken

clinic with some not so lovely news, but it’s

and wither you go to GUM or The Rainbow

Project or Common Youth NI (formally Brook

and mental health, the three are inclusive of for granted.

NI), everything is confidential and there’s

If you would like to talk to someone about

everything through with you.

Genito-Urinary Medicine (GUM) line 028

always someone there that will be able to talk

It ’ll come to no surprise that Northern Ireland has always been a little bit behind on progress when it comes to LGBT issues, or sexual

health in general, anyone who follows me on social media sees how much I give off about it, but in June this year, after many years of

accessing PrEP call the Royal Victoria Hospital 9063 4050 between 8.15.am and 11.15am,

PrEP clinics are being run on Wednesdays

and Fridays, you can also access testing at The Rainbow Project and Common Youth, both

situated in the LGBT Centre in Waring Street, Belfast.

campaigning and lobbying, the Department of

If you are living with or affected by HIV both

would be funding HIV prevention to the tune

support you.

Health for Northern Ireland released that they of £450,000, including access to PrEP for those

The Rainbow Project and Positive Life can

most at risk of contracting HIV, and in July

the GUM clinic in the Royal Victoria Hospital began running PrEP clinics.

Now, for those of you who aren’t aware of what PrEP is it stands for Pre-Exposure

Prophylaxis, not to be confused with PEP

(Post Exposure Prophylaxis), it’s a daily drug which has been proven to reduce the risk of

contracting HIV, and it’s available for anyone

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





Not all queens are royal.

Sam McKinstry IT WAS 4AM ON THE morning after Belfast Pride, my 16th hour of drinking, when I was asked to write a column for GNI. I was told I could talk about my opinions, get some exposure, but most importantly I’d be able to interview celebrities. Maybe because I was at least 20 mimosas and 7 double vodkas down it sounded like a fabulous idea. I mean who would say no to interviewing ce-lebrities and besides a bartender is always looking for other ways to make money, there’s just one little thing, I have no f**king idea what I’m doing… I was given some pointers for what to write about for my first column. I could write about myself, what my interests are, my uni life etc so here goes. Let’s rewind to 19 years and 2 months ago and this fabulous ginger twink was born in Lisburn, the city of life. Some people, like myself, might refer to it as the city where fashion and brain cells go to die, but that’s neither here nor there. I would say I had quite a normal childhood until I was 18, when I fell in love with a man 7 years my senior and decided to study in Manchester where I am now verging on alcoholism, rather than getting my money’s worth by actually studying at the university I worked so hard to get into. In all seriousness though my childhood has moulded me into the person I am today. I grew up with loving parents, amazing friends and I have been granted fabulous opportunities throughout my life which I am very grateful for, such as being able to write this column for you all to read. Growing up as a gay person is never an easy experience, at least not in my case. I genuinely can’t decide which is a more painful experience, bottoming for the first time or my mum finding gay porn on the family laptop’s recent search history. It wasn’t easy growing up gay in a city where a high percentage of the voters vote for a party that is anti same-sex marriage and that party had some members who were part of a ‘Keep Marriage Special’ campaign in 2012 which propagated if same-sex marriage was legalised, “Polygamy, polyandry and incest would all be permissible.” When I just was 14 years old I witnessed my friend get assaulted by a chav who proceeded to call my friend a ‘f**got’, this

is the furthest thing from encouraging a teenager who is struggling with his sexuality to come out. It is unfortunate that so many people have such a lack of culture that they are unable to accept their own neighbours for who they are.

Now I’m not saying I was bullied in high school, far from it, but I was made fun of for being gay before I even realised myself that I was, which is a very hard thing to come to terms with. It is not just Lisburn where the DUP has a stronghold. Whilst they may be the biggest party in the assembly they received less than 30% of the popular vote and are still able to block same-sex marriage being legalised in the North of Ireland. Not only is it undemocratic for a party with less than a third of the country’s support to use a petition of concern to oppress the LGBTQ+ community, it is borderline tyrannical. It is my strongly held belief that the majority of people who vote for the DUP only vote for them on a green and orange basis. Because of this the LGBTQ+ community has to continue to suffer having less rights than straight people. The street I grew up on only has one other gay resident (that I know of ). He’s a fireman who I think is about 50 years old and always got made fun of by my straight male friends when he waved at us while he drove past, in his latest BMW sports car. Despite having a possession that straight men love and crave, he still got made fun of simply for having a limp

wrist. How could I ever feel comfortable with myself around these kinds of people? High school I suppose was a tad different, in that I wasn’t the only gay person my age and after the age of 15 I was no longer friends with the kids on my street. I have always been quite a shy and feminine person which guys at my school loved to pick on. Now I’m not saying I was bullied in high school, far from it, but I was made fun of for being gay before I even realised myself that I was, which is a very hard thing to come to terms with. It took me until April of Lower Sixth to come out. The day after I came out to my friends (via text because I was too scared to tell them face to face), went on like any other day. I don’t know what I was expecting but I know for sure I was not expecting the day to go normally. I had to ask myself a million times why have I been so worried about telling people this huge dark secret when firstly, everybody knew, maybe because I talked about Beyoncé pretty much ALL the time. But secondly and most importantly, by the time everyone had grown up and matured nobody actually cared. I know not everyone will receive the same support I did, which saddens me, but if I had to give one piece of advice to a gay person reading this who is not out yet, whether you are 14 or 44. Your true friends will love and support you for who you are and if anyone who is your ‘friend’ doesn’t accept you tell them to go shove a cactus up their arse. If you enjoyed reading my column and want to know more about me or want watch me test the limits of my liver feel free to follow me on Instagram @ samckinstry or Twitter @sam_mckinstry.

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



ROUND UP... DISNEY ANNOUNCE FIRST OPENLY GAY CHARACTER Triumphant milestone for LGBTQ+ rights, with the casting of Disney’s “first openly gay character” (tell that to Ursula from The Little Mermaid), in Jungle Cruise, a film loosely based on a rollercoaster. We’ve come a long way since Stonewall. In the role of “Emily Blunt’s character’s brother”, who is described as “hugely effete, very camp”, the studio has cast Jack Whitehall, a straight man, leading to recriminations and debate among the queer community. It’s worth looking at a few of the questions raised by this casting, and what it says about gay identity in 2018. Ruby Rose’s Batwoman casting prompted celebration, but the backlash tells us a lot about our era In recent years, we’ve had a flurry of queer-themed films, from Call Me By Your Name to Love, Simon via God’s Own Country, Beach Rats and 120 BPM. From the success of Carol to the imminent release of The Miseducation of Cameron Post, it would seem that LGBTQ+ cinema is in relatively good nick right now. But look again at the casting of these films. Only one of them (120 BPM) features out gay actors in the main roles, giving an on-screen sense of the specific ways queer bodies interact with one another, how we speak and project ourselves. The rest, from Timothée Chalamet through to Rooney Mara via Josh O’Connor – thrillingly talented actors all – are straight, or at least not out. This has several implications.

The first of these is that we are assisting in an act of queer erasure: our gay stories are told, but with straight mannerisms, creating stories that can have a slightly artificial feel. You only have to watch Dominic West’s dancing in the film Pride for two seconds to understand that there are some things beyond a hetero’s range. When Chalamet and Armie Hammer lock eyes in Call Me By Your Name, I don’t get a thrill of queer recognition, but I see straight men playing at fancying one another. The thing is, queerness is not merely the mirror image of straightness, but a different proposition. And the set of codes we have devised or been saddled with are a sign of our difference and indeed of our continuing oppression by straight people. Jack Whitehall’s role as first major gay Disney character sparks row “But can’t an actor simply imagine that?”, I already hear the bootcut-jeans-wearing denizens of the internet boohooing. Perhaps. But consider that heterosexual people were surprised when a poll emerged earlier this year revealing that a majority of gay people are afraid to hold hands in public. To gay people this is obvious, as we know the abuse and violence we experience in our daily lives. To some straight people, this was not imaginable. We conclude, therefore, that gay people can act straight convincingly, as we’re able to observe the ubiquitous straight mainstream, but it’s a far trickier proposition in

the other direction, because that involves going into the margins. It’s also a queasy thing to witness straight people earning capital and cachet from playing gay, while the alternative hardly ever happens. (Hollywood is a closeting machine, and if you don’t believe me, try naming five out American film actors off the top of your head.) Chalamet has earned a great deal of kudos and notoriety on the back of Call Me By Your Name, and his place as a darling of the internet owes a lot to an image that trades off his gay fandom, earning himself publicity-boosting interviews with queer figures like Frank Ocean. Can we imagine an out gay actor with this level of adulation? If there was genuine equality between the different sexualities, the question would not come up: but there is not. No one is asking for all gay roles to be played by gay people – but until we have equality, it’s right to ask for sensitivity in the ways we are represented, and for opportunities for gay people to participate in telling our stories. The brouhaha over Whitehall, whatever its outcome, shows that we need to rethink our basic attitudes, and are hearteningly beginning to do so. Source www.theguardian.com

BULLIED NINE YEAR OLD TAKES OWN LIFE Jamel Myers was found dead in his family home in Denver, Colorado after classmates bullied him for four days because he was gay. A NINE-year-old schoolboy killed himself after he was bullied for being gay, his mum said. Jamel Myers was found dead at his family home in Denver, Colorado last Thursday, only four days into the new school term. His mum Leia Pierce told KDVR-TV that the boy had revealed to her over the summer that he was gay and that he wanted to go to school and tell his classmates because he was “proud” of it. She said: “My son told my oldest daughter the kids at school told him to kill himself.” “I’m just sad he didn’t come to me. I’m so upset that he thought that was his option.” She paid tribute to her only son, who she called “my sunshine.” Denver Police are treating the death as suicide, while Denver Public Schools (DPS) say crisis counsellors have been made available to students at Jamel’s school. The school system has also been sending letters to the families of students in the area about additional counselling services following the tragedy. The four days of bullying started when Jamel went back to school at the Joseph Shoemaker Elementary School on August 20 and told classmates he was gay. Ms Pierce said that he “looked so scared” when he came out to her over the summer holiday, but that she had told him she loved him. She added that she hopes that her son’s death will raise awareness of the damaging effects of bullying and that other parents do not have to go through the same ordeal. In a statement the Denver Public Schools district said it would do everything it could to support Jamel’s family. Source www.thesun.co.uk




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VATICAN RETRACT COMMENTS Vatican erases pope’s remarks about psychiatric help for gay children The pope had said ‘there is a lot that can be done through psychiatry’ if parents think their child is homosexual The Vatican has rolled back on a recommendation by Pope Francis that parents seek psychiatric help for children who show homosexual tendencies. The pope made the comments to journalists as he was flying back to Rome from Ireland, but the Vatican later removed his phrase from its official account, saying he had not meant to suggest that homosexuality was a mental illness. The pope was asked by a journalist what he would say to parents who observe homosexual traits in their children. “When it shows itself from childhood, there is a lot that can be done through psychiatry, to see how things are. It is something else if it shows itself after 20 years,” he said. He added that ignoring a child who showed homosexual tendencies was an “error of fatherhood or motherhood”. However, when the Vatican later published the pope’s answer, the reference to psychiatry had been removed. When asked why, a Vatican spokeswoman told AFP it had been done in order to not “change the thoughts of the Holy Father”. “When the pope referred to ‘psychiatry’, it is clear that he was doing it to highlight an example of ‘things that can be done’. But with that word he didn’t mean to say that it (homosexuality) was a ‘mental illness’,” she said. The pope’s trip to Ireland was fraught with controversy amid accusations that he ignored sexual abuse allegations against prominent US cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Source www.theguardian.com

ICELANDIC BLOOD Iceland’s Ministry of Health is currently reviewing its regulations regarding the prohibition against gay men from donating blood, Fréttablaðið reports. The results of this review can be expected in the next week or month. While there are still some countries that ban gay men from giving blood, even the US lifted its ban in 2015. In Denmark, their regulations on the matter will change at the beginning of 2019, where gay men who have not had sex with other men in four months can donate blood. Iceland, however, still issues a blanket ban on all gay men who had ever had sex with another man from giving blood. This may soon change. The Directorate of Health points out that incidences of HIV infection in Iceland are in almost entirely equal proportions between gay and straight people; 150 to 148, respectively. As such, the original reasoning behind the ban no longer applies. Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir specifically cited Denmark as the reason for wanting to review Iceland’s regulations. The matter will be reviewed by the Ministry, in cooperation with the Blood Bank and epidemiologists. Source www.grapevine.is




Yuhua GNIMAG.COM | 27



YUHUA, THE FIERCE QUEEN REPRESENTING NYC IN THIS YEAR’S DRAG RACE DISAPPEARED INTO A (SELFINFLICTED FAKE) “COMA” AND CAME BACK THROWING THAT BENDY BODY ALL OVER OUR TELLY SCREENS. WE CAUGHT UP WITH HER AHEAD OF HER HOLY TRANNITY SHOW IN DUBLIN… HELLO DARLING, WHAT’S THE CRIAC? What do you mean “What’s the craic?” (we explain to her the Irish terminology). What’s the craic, I thought you were asking me what type of drugs I’m into! GOD! Well the craic is that I’m super excited to be here, I cannot wait to perform for the Ireland fans, because it’s going to be my first time in Ireland, I cannot wait to see Ireland. Drag has become a huge phenonom which is more than what you see at the clubs and bars now, you can see drag in your living room, on your TV sets, and it’s phenomenal to bring it to such a world-wide audience. SO, IS THIS YOUR FIRST TIME IN IRELAND, HAVE YOU BEEN DOWN TEMPLE BAR TO GET YOUR PHOTO TAKEN WITH THE LEPRECHAUN YET? I’ve never been here but I have had Irish men in my apartment before! My ex was Irish, 100% Irish. YOU MAY NOT HAVE WON THIS YEAR’S DRAG RACE BUT THAT HASN’T STOPPED YOU WITH WORLD DRAG DOMINATION, HAS IT? No, the aspect of the show is that the competition is part of it, but it’s honestly what you do with it afterwards that counts. There have been previous contestants who’ve gone on the show who didn’t win and now they’re doing phenonomal jobs with what they’re doing after the show. And there are winners and contestants who have gone further in the show who aren’t really doing anything anymore. So really, it’s what you do with it afterwards, and when you make the most out of it that really counts.


DO YOU THINK IT’S BEEN EASIER FOR YOU AFTER THE SHOW BECAUSE THERE WEREN’T THE EXPECTATIONS ON YOU AS A WINNER? Bob said it best, this was before I got on drag show, when you win they will judge you for what you can’t do, and when you don’t win they don’t judge you on anything. When you don’t win, they love you for what you do and don’t do, but when you do win they’re a little bit harsher on you, they critique you on what you can’t do – they forget about what you can do. YOU’VE PROUDLY LEAD THE WAY ACROSS THE GLOBE FOR ASIAN DRAG ARTISTS. IS THERE AN ADDED PRESSURE ON YOU BECAUSE OF THIS OR IS IT SOMETHING YOU EMBRACE? It’s something I’ve embraced, both prior and during Drag Race. Growing up I was never comfortable within my own skin, I moved here from China whenever I was seven and when I first moved here I had such a culture shock that anything that was beyond Anglo-Saxon blonde hair, blue eyes, or fair white skin was looked down upon. Growing up I was scared of being Chinese in front of my friends, I didn’t speak the Chinese language, I didn’t look anywhere or behave anywhere that would show I was Chinese. So with me doing drag it gave me confidence, it made me happier, it made me proud of my culture and made me realise that this is who I am, and hopefully when people see me comfortable in my own skin and be proud of my heritage that they become proud of their heritage, and that it’s not only about being white, blue eyed, and blonde hair. You can be Muslim, you can be black, you can be Latino, you can be Hispanic, whatever you are it is ok – embrace it and show the world that you are proud of who you are. Because when you are proud of who you are people will take you more seriously and they will be more educated about your culture, rather than just what is shown on media. YOU’VE SAID IN THE PAST THAT YOUR IDOL IS IN-FACT RU PAUL.. DID YOU NEARLY PURE SHIT YOURSELF WHEN YOU MET THE QUEEN HERSELF? Of course the first time I ever saw Ru Paul in person was on set, so growing up seeing Ru Paul dominate the drag world and also was able to push those glass ceilings and reach mainstream media, she was on

VH1, she had hit number one singles, and she was all over the press. To see someone that was able to dominate mainstream media was breath-taking, and to see that person in front of you for the first time ever on set, I had to realise that although it was Ru Paul, I had to be professional about it, and not fangirl about it and freak out. YOU IDENTIFY A TERM THAT NECESSARILY WHAT DOES IT


Non-binal means that you can be whatever gender you want to be, or you don’t even have to select a gender. Gender was just something put onto mankind generations ago by human beings. They were given duties, they were given titles because they want to separate male and female. I think gender for me has always been something that’s been very fluid, sometimes I feel more masculine, sometimes I feel more feminine, it just depends on what my mood is. For instance, when you wake up in the morning, however you do your hair, your makeup or whatever clothes you put on, it depends on your mood. So I feel like guys can have the opportunity to wear pink shirts if they want to and girls can wear pants if they want to or wear their hair short, again it depends on what your mood is. You know we’ve always talked about heterosexual lifestyles and not too long ago we talked about homosexual lifestyles, and bisexual lifestyles, and lesbian lifestyles, and then not too long ago we talked about transgender lifestyles, but nonbinary and gender-nutural, and gender-fluid is not something that’s really been tapped into yet. I hope people that read this article will realise that hey it is ok, you don’t need to be a specific gender, you don’t have to be LGBT, you can be whoever you want to be as long as you are happy. WOULD YOU HAVE ANY WORDS OF WISDOM FOR ANY OF OUR READERS WHO CAN RELATE TO THAT? This piece of advice would go for anything really, whether you have difficulties and problems with your sexual orientation, any obstacles you might face with your gender identity, career, dating, friendship, family, anything – as long as you surround yourself with people who love you for who you are then that’s all that matters, and be yourself at all times. When you’re



yourself, you’re comfortable, you’re happy, you’re not pretending, you’re not acting, you’re not putting up a front, you are going to be much more relaxed and happier as a person, I guarantee you that. You will attract the right people into your life just by being who you are, because when you’re yourself, there’s no expectations. ASIDE FROM DRAG RACE, YOU’VE BEEN ON THE WINNING END OF MANY OTHER AWARDS AND ACCOLADES, TELL US YOUR ROUTE TO DRAG – DID IT START IN YOUR MUMS WARDROBE? When I was younger I would dip into playing with my mother’s clothes and my sisters clothes. I didn’t know what that meant at that time, I just knew that I liked playing dress-up. It made me feel like a completely different person, I would wear my mom’s big heels, I would wear a t-shirt over my head as a wig, but as I got into my teen years, around the age of Myspace, on Myspace there were these scenes where people would dress up, guys and girls, they would go beyond society tells them to wear and dress, and how to do their hair and makeup and wardrobe. And I saw how crazy they were and how colourful they were. I was more attracted, not only to the way they dressed but also how courageous they were and how brave they were to be themselves, and just to push the boundaries and not care what people in society think about them, and that’s what attracted me to them, so I started playing dress up from that, and I started doing make up from my home and I started dressing up. Not just because I wanted to look a certain way, just because I wanted to feel brand new, I was expressing myself through colours, and the shapes and the wardrobe, and so I started to dress up more. At the time I was in high school, I was 16 at the time, and I didn’t really fit in, and the only way to be around LGBT people ten years ago was to be in a gay bar, and I did drag to get into a gay bar because when you’re under 21 in NYC you cannot get in. So I did drag so that the security did not recognise if it’s really me on the ID or not. So, I did drag to get into the bar, not because I wanted to drink or do drugs or party, but because I wanted to be near people that were similar to me who shared the same experiences and so that I could express myself. To be in a safe environment where I could be myself and not be judged. Again, ten years ago there were no youth centres or support groups, ten years ago that was the only way to be around people who were similar to me. AND YOU’RE A SEAMSTRESS, DID THAT BEGIN AGAIN BECAUSE OF YOUR MUM’S WARDROBE, DID YOU HAVE TO TURN DRAB TO FAB? I started sewing when I was younger. My mom worked in a factory so she taught me how to sew. At first I would make clothes for Barbie’s, and then eventually for myself. Then when drag started I was only making clothes for myself as well, I didn’t start making clothes for other people until my friends saw me making clothes for myself and they asked me to make stuff for them, then word got around and then it turned into a much bigger business/side job than I thought it was going to be. I still incorporate drag into sewing as well because anything we do in life, and how we put ourselves in clothes or hair and make-up, it’s about drag. You’re expressing yourself however you want through art. SO, DUBLIN TODAY, WHERE’S NEXT? THE WORLD – that’s my next step! Hopefully Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, Pluto, URANUS! I’m going everywhere!




Emma Blackery WORDS: JOE STONE



Emma Blackery can’t remember a time before she wanted to make music. Since picking up her first guitar aged 12, she’s self-released 5 pop-punk EPs, and performed at London’s Wembley Arena and O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Now she is turning her attentions towards pure pop, with the release of her eagerly anticipated debut album, Villains.


Inspired by artists including Para-

then you took out the “r””) flirts

me they’ve been waiting years for

Emma has worked with renowned

strained vocal on ballad What I Felt

“I’m excited to see them, and I hope

more, Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, producers including Toby Scott (Little Mix, Girls Aloud) and

Hutch (Goldfrapp, All Saints) to

create a sound that’s fresh, bold, and catchy as hell. Lead single Dirt has had more than 1,000,000 streams

and counting, reaching number 5 in

the Spotify Viral Chart. “I’ve always

with tropical house, and her re-

With You simmers with longing. By the album’s explosive close, Villains Pt. 2, Emma is forced to consider

her own part in her downfall, ask-

iTunes Rock chart and even released

therapy.” And inspiration for a song

leased to the public – it’s fitting that Emma’s career began online. Since

starting to share her music on YouTube, she’s amassed a social media

reach of 2.2 million fans, alongside a unique perspective on the pitfalls of

internet culture. “I’d had experiences before of people being nasty for a

they relate to my songs.”


about feelings I’ve never had.”

the first internet browser was re-

means a lot when people tell me

Having already scored millions

somebody else, I’m my own biggest

“Writing the album was so cathar-

Born in 1991 - the same year that

they’re just as excited to see me. It

ing, “Am I kidding myself, blaming

written from personal experience”, she says. “I can’t imagine writing

me to visit their country”, she says.

tic”, Emma explains. “Music is my

can strike at any time. “Sometimes a song will just come out of nowhere,

at the most inconvenient times”, she says. “ I came up with the hook for [second single] Agenda in the car,

driving home along the motorway. I

couldn’t take my hands of the wheel to make a voice memo, so I had to

keep singing it until I got home or else I’d forget it.”

of streams, reached No. 1 on the

a Sunday Times Best Selling book,

Feel Good 101, what’s been Emma’s most ‘pinch me’ moment? ‘Getting my song featured on New Music

Friday on Spotify meant a lot, be-

cause there’s so much competition’,

she says. Then there was seeing the artwork for her EP Magnetised featured in the keynote for the

iPhone X. “That was a complete

shock, seeing myself slap bang in

the middle next to Lorde. I started

getting loads of texts and I was like, “What’s going on right now?!””

like or a retweet but last year some-

Alongside writing and recording,

With so much already achieved,

me, publicly”, she says. “I ended up

former, having previously performed

“Music is the only consistent thing

one I considered a friend really hurt taking all social media off my phone

and spent a couple of weeks just trying to get back to reality and not be so caught up in it all.”

Villains was inspired by that period of reflection, and invites listeners on Emma’s journey from “feeling

so paranoid that I risked becoming a person I didn’t like, to letting go of all of that hurt”. Atmospheric album opener Villains Pt. 1 sees

her declare, “I am a nightmare...

designed to destroy” over a beat that drips with menace. The mood lifts

Emma is a passionate live per-

with Busted and Pixie Lott on tour, as well as selling out two UK headline tours of her own. “When I’m

writing music I always think about how it will sound live”, she says.

“The first time I played Shepherd’s Bush, after the sound check, I sat up in the stalls and cried – it just

have a five-year plan? “Five years

ago I was making music, and in five

years’ time, I still want to be making music. It’s as simple as that.”

I love the balcony, the architecture, the sticky floor... it’s my favourite venue.”

headline European tour, starting

Petty (“You used to call me pretty,

makes people happy.” Does she

dream is to play Brixton Academy.

pairs buoyant production with lyrics

the perfect kiss-off song. Elsewhere,

“I just want to make music that

many cool moments already, but my

Later this year she’ll hit the road

about two- faced frenemies to create

in my life that I’ve loved”, she says.

didn’t feel real. There have been so

on Agenda – a sunny slice of synth pop – and Fake Friends, which

what are her future ambitions?

again, on her first sixteen date

in Oslo and finishing with a show at London’s iconic Koko. “I can’t

wait to meet all the people who tell





FEW BANDS GET TO SPRING a surprise six albums into their career. Even fewer do so in as dramatic a fashion as You Me At Six do on their simply titled new record, VI. WORDS BY: MICHAEL HANN




hey know what you probably think of them – “The emo pop-rockers from Surrey,” as guitarist Chris Miller puts it – and once upon a time you would have been right. But not for a long time, and certainly not on VI, a record that switches moods and styles with breathless confidence, from devastatingly defiant rock to joyously uplifting pop. It all but drips with melodies and moods. It ’s the kind of record a band makes when they are in love with all the possibilities of music. VI is not what you might expect a You Me At Six album to sound like. “We’ve always been a band that straddles styles,” says singer Josh Franceschi, sitting with his bandmates outside a London bar on a warm, early Summer afternoon. “We’ve always had that pop sensibility, but we’ve tried not to pigeonhole ourselves – that ’s come from other people. If we want to make another six albums, we have to to maintain the foundations of what makes this band good, and we have to be contemporary and forward thinking.” “We’re five individual blokes,” guitarist Max Helyer says, “but when we mash together in a band, something great happens. I’m not saying it happens every time, but sometimes something unbelievable happens.” You Me At Six needed something unbelievable to happen with VI, because by their own admission it didn’t happen with their last album, Night People, released in February 2017. As a band, they were too tied up with their own business affairs, they didn’t write the songs to do their talent justice, and they created an album they felt was too samey, too linear, always travelling in one direction. This time round it wasn’t just that something had to change. Everything had to change. New label – they now have their own label via AWAL/Kobalt – new management, new work ethic. Before Night People, they hadn’t written any songs for three years, which they think was a contributory factor to the album’s flatness. That said, Helyer suggests, it was a necessary record – “It was a step in a different direction for us, musically. It was a breach, and every

band needs to have that record where they make a breach.” VI was about opening that breach, and letting the full scope of their creativity flood through. They began writing as soon as they had finished Night People, but things really started to catch fire last November, when they went

“WE’RE FIVE INDIVIDUAL BLOKES,” GUITARIST MAX HELYER SAYS, “BUT WHEN WE MASH TOGETHER IN A BAND, SOMETHING GREAT HAPPENS. I’M NOT SAYING IT HAPPENS EVERY TIME, BUT SOMETIMES SOMETHING UNBELIEVABLE HAPPENS.” for a writing session with Eg White, whose versatility has seen him write with and for Adele, Linkin Park, Florence + the Machine and Kylie, among scores of others. That first session yielded immediate returns in the shape of ‘Losing You’ and ‘Fast Forward’, the album’s opening track, and one of its two lead songs, along with ‘3AM’. Helyer and White had been watching a


clip of Radiohead at the Grammys playing ‘15 Step’, which gave Helyer the idea for a riff. “I said, ‘Let’s get heavy and industrial on those electronics, make it uncomfortable listening.’” For bassist Matt Barnes, it’s a song dramatic enough that it could transform their career the way Mountains changed Biffy Clyro’s. And while Franceschi’s lyric is about making changes to his own life, it’s not hard to interpret it as a call to arms for the band: “When you feel the fire has gone / Pour some gasoline on it.” He sees the parallels. “It’s a selfreflective song, but it’s indicative of where the band was at. You’re only ever one track away from reigniting the momentum or reinventing yourself artistically, and that’s what that song represents.” Working with White opened the floodgates, not just to songwriting, but to sounds, because of his experience in electronic music. It gave them a vision of how many different directions were open to them. “For Miracle in the Mourning, we knew we wanted to have this dancey element, and almost R&B feel in the verses,” says drummer Dan Flint. “But it’s always going to sound like us. Even if we wrote a hip-hop song, it would sound like You Me at Six.” Former Athlete frontman Joel Pott also came on board to write – helping out on ‘3AM’ – and the group were rejuvenated by the outside contributions. “It’s about accepting there isn’t just one route to the end goal,” Franceschi says. “We embraced that idea. We’re creative people and we want to learn from other creative people. You want to improve, not stagnate, and maybe Night People was creatively quite stagnant. Bringing in new people with fresh ideas, ideas we’d never have, has been so exciting.” Recording began in January at Vada Studios in the West Midlands, with producer Dan Austin, who became like a sixth member. The sessions were so fluid and fluent that the band completed 11 songs in just 34 days of tracking. “Sonically, Dan blew our minds,” Flint says. “And that inspires you,” Miller adds, “because you want to learn stuff from him.” Still, though, this is very much You Me At




Six’s album. As Franceschi explains, their new management had warned them they should not assume a producer could magic up greatness. “They were saying from the word go: ‘It all has to come from you. Don’t go in there thinking you’ve got a few good songs and they’re going to make it into a great record. Everything has to come from you.’” But what Austin gave the band was the sense that there were no limitations on what they could do. “The whole thing was a flow of creativity non-stop,” Flint says. “And it bounced from one person to the other.” Only when they made the album they wanted did they think about who might want to release it, and when they played tracks to AWAL/ Kobalt, they found people to match their enthusiasm. “From then on they wanted to be involved,” Flint says. “They made us feel we couldn’t really refuse. We’re on our sixth album, but we’re still pretty young. We’re not a heritage band, and no one should market us like a heritage band. So to find another label that can match our ambition is impressive.” What Flint says highlights the most remarkable thing about You Me At Six: they’re still only now entering their late 20s – they were


“WE’RE ON OUR SIXTH ALBUM, BUT WE’RE STILL PRETTY YOUNG. WE’RE NOT A HERITAGE BAND, AND NO ONE SHOULD MARKET US LIKE A HERITAGE BAND.” teenagers when they made their first couple of albums. That means they still have hunger – they know they’re too young to be touring off past glories. In fact, they’re young enough to

still be releasing their first album. And if VI were that first album, it would be hailed as one of the most exciting albums by a British band in years – uncategorisable but familiar, raucous but mainstream. You can almost bathe in their excitement about the record they’ve made – they compete with each other to spill out their thoughts and their stories, they nod supportively at each others’ observations. “We’re not nervous about this record being different,” Flint says, “we’re excited. Our fans have grown up with us and they want to hear the music we like.” “I’m just excited for people to hear it, because we believe we’ve made a great record,” Helyer says. “You have to make music for yourself,” Franceschi concludes, “because without authenticity people are going to smell the bullshit. None of us are going to into this with any fear, because we’ve made something we can stand behind.” You Me at Six are about to change the way you think about them. Be excited. VI is out on 5th October see them at the Belfast Limelight on 19th November.

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NO NEED TO FAKE IT We chat to the stars of MTV’s True Love or True Lies...


INTERVIEW__ CHRIS & JON Fresh off MTV’s True Love or True Lies, we sat down with local Larne lad Chris to find out a bit more about him. Chris is a big lad, there’s no getting away from that. Weighing 11lb at birth this lad was born big and just kept getting bigger. Throughout school he was larger than average, obviously, this made him stand out which

resulted in him being bullied by the other kids. The school he went to was a “football” school but Chris had more of a rugby build so he felt he never really fitted in. After years of bullying and feeling like he never really fitted in he eventually found the Strongman community. It was like a breath of fresh air, like he finally found somewhere he belonged. Around the age of 21 he fell into a depression which ultimately resulted in him trying to take his own life. Chris says the depression was a direct result from the bullying directed to him at school. It was never really talked about but he felt it was always in the back of his mind. He says that as things went on in life, more pressures came, and the insecurity of not being g o o d enough all got t o o


much to take. After the attempt on his life Strongman became the thing that turned his life around. The training gave him a focus and a purpose. It gave him an identity, one to be proud of. He began c o m p e t i n g locally and internationally in Strongman competitions, and the success in this encouraged a n d empowered him to open his own gym; Inspire Gym in Larne. T h e gym is fully

inclusive of the LGBT community and openly talks about mental health, all of its nine staff are accepting of our community and have a good strong knowledge of people with mental health issues. Chris tells us it’s inspiring to see the help it’s given to people. Recently Chris has been involved in motivational speaking and taking seminars. But the most rewarding work for him has been taking talks in secondary school assembly’s. He tells us it’s crazy how openly and honestly telling your story can help others. He’s had parents messaging him to say that after his assembly their child has stopped getting bullied. He says, “going in and talking to the kids, not as a parent or teacher, but as a Strongman Idol, they looked up to me from the word go”. Chris talks to the kids about what might happen if you bully others, drawing from his own experience. He explains that you don’t need to understand or

INTERVIEW__ CHRIS & JON agree with kids in their class or school who are LGBT, but you should respect them, and respect that it’s been difficult for them to come out. In the MTV show, Chris and his partner Jon enter the house in Tuscany with five other “couples”, some of whom are fake couples. Jon, from London, met Chris when he was in London for work, and it was love at first sight as Jon had packed up his life in London within the month and moved to Larne to be with Chris. When Jon moved to Larne he adapted to the more laid back atmosphere with ease as he was originally from the Carribean and preferred a slower pace of life. Living in the mansion Chris found that the whole experience brought Jon and himself closer together. While the rest of the house was kicking off with fights and arguments, the became stronger, being there as an emotional crutch for each other. Winning the show was never their reason for doing it, in fact they didn’t even know what the prize was before doing it.

They wanted to reach out to as many LGBT people as they could, people who weren’t open about their sexuality, in the hope that they could somehow help or inspire others. The show was eventually won by one of the “Fake Couples”, Chris tells us that he saw his own eviction coming as soon as the new couples were introduced to the house, saying that the “newbies” didn’t interact at all with the original couples. In fact Chris is still in touch with the original six via group chat, and they will all be invited to Jon and Chris’ wedding (they got engaged on a romantic break to Dublin recently). Since the show ended, Chris wants to use his new-found fame to help his local LGBT community. He explains that the world doesn’t suddenly get better when you come out, it takes time for you and those around you to adjust to the change, but although it takes time it does get better. For him, it’s only since he was true to himself that he feels he has been able to achieve the successes he has – he only reached his full potential by being himself. Jon has been busy

working in his media business, producing documentaries, shows and promo videos. They hope that during their time in the house they have shown people that we don’t

always fit the stereotype we are perceived as, and that LGBT p e o p l e come in all different s h a p e s and sizes – just like everyone else.


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GNI mag AWARDS 2018 Proudly supported by

NOMINATIONS NOW OPEN PERSONAL CONTRIBUTION TO THE COMMUNITY Recognising individuals in our community who have given themselves selflessly to encourage and promote the rights of LGBT people. BUSINESS CONTRIBUTION TO THE COMMUNITY Recognising businesses who actively work towards promoting the rights of LGBT people. INFLUENTIAL LOCAL LGBT PERSON This is someone who works tirelessly within our community promoting positive change and helping to pave the way forward. LOCAL LGBT VETERAN Often overlooked, we want to honour and recognise our veterans who have led the way for our LGBT rights today. UNSUNG HERO OF THE YEAR This individual isn’t in the spotlight, but they’ve made a difference within our local LGBT community or place of work. PEOPLE’S CHOICE CHARITY Our local charities are there for us when we need help and support. We want to recognise them all and honour one as our People’s Choice Charity.

or they have been there supporting our community. LEGAL REPRESENTATION AWARD This firm or individual is your go to in your time of need, empowering and supporting their LGBT clients. Law firms recognising the specific needs and rights of LGBT people in Northern Ireland. LGBT FRIENDLY EMPLOYER Highlighting employers who ensure that the workplace is accepting and forward thinking when it comes to diversity. LOCAL POLITICIAN OF THE YEAR This politician has actively campaigned for our LGBT rights here in Northern Ireland. LBGT ALLY Although they are not LGBT themselves, this individual has promoted inclusiveness and encouraged the rights of our community. LOCAL LGBT ENTERTAINER Singer, actor, drag artist, whatever! This local entertainer has continuously pushed boundaries while remaining relevant. BEST LGBT NIGHTLIFE VENUE We have a variety of great LGBT venues, let’s award the best.

GRASSROOTS COMMUNITY AWARD Looking at community groups and associations who make a positive difference to the lives of LGBT people.

MOST INCLUSIVE BAR Recognising those bars that go out of their way to promote inclusiveness and offer a safe alternative to our local LGBT community.

INCLUSIVE EDUCATION AWARD Highlighting local education facilities who have worked hard to promote inclusiveness for young LGBT people.

BEST SAME SEX WEDDING VENUE Northern Ireland is home to some amazing wedding venues, this award will honour the best.

LGBT FRIENDLY FACILITATOR These groups, organisations or individuals have offered LGBT people safe or inclusive spaces,

OUTSTANDING HOSPITALITY AWARD Restaurants, hotels, pop-up cafes. Looking at those who offer great service, amazing food and

drink, and an inclusive environment. LGBT FRIENDLY FINANCIAL INSTITUTION Banks and financial institutions are a part of everyday life, which one has proved the most LGBT friendly this year? INDEPENDENT RETAILER OF THE YEAR In a world where it’s difficult to tell one High Street from another, this is an opportunity to honour one of our local, independent retailers. INCLUSIVE SALON AWARD Hair salons and beauty salons are a place for self-indulgence and pampering. This award recognises the most inclusive for people from across our community. LGBT FRIENDLY HEALTH PRACTITIONER Going to or opening-up to doctors and dentists can sometimes feel intimidating. We honour the most LGBT friendly. MOST INCLUSIVE GYM Recognising gyms who offer a stigma free environment for LGBT people. GNI MAG MEDIA AWARD Looking at how our community is portrayed in the general media, who has actively promoted a positive image?





Serena Williams



This issues ICON is the Queen of the Court, Serena Williams... No matter what Serena does she seems to win at it, even in failure itself she is a resilient example of how to embrace disappointment, learn from it and move on; never giving up. As we went to print Serena had reached the Quarterfinals of the last Grand Slam of the Year, the US Open, for the 10th time in a row. This is just weeks before she had suffered the heaviest defeat in her 23 year professional career by being beaten 6-1, 6-0 by British No 1 Johanna Konta. Here’s why this amazing

immediately assumed she was having

and the 36-year-old revealed her fellow

another pulmonary embolism.

mums were the driving force behind her

She walked out of the hospital room so

competition. Speaking after the game on

her mother wouldn’t worry and told the

Centre Court the visibly emotional tennis

nearest nurse, between gasps, that she

legend explained: ‘It was such an amazing

needed a CT scan with contrast and IV

tournament for me. I’m really happy to get

heparin (a blood thinner) right away. The

this far. It’s obviously disappointing but I

nurse thought her pain medicine might be

can’t be disappointed, I have so much to

making her confused. But Serena insisted,

look forward to, you know, I’m literally just

and soon enough a doctor was performing

getting started. I’m looking forward to it. ‘I’m

an ultrasound of her legs. The ultrasound

just me, that’s all I can be. To all the mum’s

revealed nothing, so they sent her for the CT,

out there, I was playing for you today and I

and sure enough, several small blood clots


had settled in her lungs. Minutes later she

But amazing as Serena is, as both a mother

was on the drip.

and a tennis player, she’s just an incredible and selfless human being, always quick to

supermum and undisputed GOAT is our Icon this issue. She has won 72 career singles titles, 23 doubles titles and two mixed doubles titles. This includes 39 Grand Slam titles 23 singles titles, 14 doubles titles and two mixed doubles titles. Four-time Olympic gold champion Serena has won more than $84 million in career prize money, more than any other female athlete. She is the only tennis player to ever win a Grand slam while pregnant. She is a role model for minorities alike, empowering and inspiring as she goes, proving that no matter what life throws at you, you can overcome your weaknesses and

“Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years, rocking my peers..”


had a baby girl with her husband and Reddit co-founder, Alex Ohanian last year but this by no means easy! Though she had an enviably easy pregnancy, what followed was the greatest medical ordeal of a life that has been punctuated by them. Olympia was born by emergency C-section after her heart rate dipped dangerously low during contractions. The surgery was successful, Alexis cut the cord and the wailing infant fell silent the moment she was laid on her mother’s chest. The next day, while recovering in the hospital, Serena suddenly felt short of breath. Because of her history of blood clots, and because she was off her daily anticoagulant regimen due to the recent surgery, she

this year she called-out fellow tennis player Tennys Sandgren anti-gay remarks during the first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open. She tweeted that the male tennis player should issue an apology, not for herself but for “an entire group of people” she believes deserves one ie. the LGBT+ community. She included the message, “Maturity is being able to apologize and admit when you’re wrong because you know your mistakes don’t define you.” Serena went on to say that she hoped to set an example for her baby daughter, Olympia, by speaking up. “I can’t look at my daughter and tell her I sat back and was quiet. No! She will know how

Unless you’ve been living on a remote island with no wifi, you probably also know she

stand-up and speak out for people. Earlier

to stand up for herself and others — through But this was just the first chapter of a 6-day

my example.”

drama. Her fresh C-section wound popped

Proving she hasn’t gone away so it isn’t a

open from the intense coughing spells caused

comeback, in a new advert for Chase, Serena

by the pulmonary embolism and when she

is seen tending to her daughter Olympia

returned to surgery, they found that a large

before training while she recites the lyrics to

hematoma had flooded her abdomen. The

LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out.” Her

result of a medical catch-22 in which the

passion and determination is what makes

potentially lifesaving blood thinner caused

Serena’s triumph over adversity possible and

haemorrhaging at the site of her C-section.

she truly is an Icon to many, many people

She returned yet again to the OR to have

across the world. We wish you lots of love

a filter inserted into a major vein, in order

and success in everything that you do Serena!

to prevent more clots from dislodging and


traveling into her lungs. Serena came home a week later and she spent the first six weeks of motherhood unable to get out of bed. Nine months later Serena lost to Angelique Kerber in the final of Wimbledon 2018



Belfast businesses go ‘Out on the Roof’ for The Rainbow Project Some of Belfast’s biggest businesses recently teamed for a major fundraising event to celebrate workplace diversity and raise funds for The Rainbow Project, Northern Ireland’s foremost charity for members of the LGBT community. Now in its third year, the popular Out on the Roof event is a summer networking party supported by Allen & Overy, Barclays and Santander. Belfast City’s first citizen, Lord Mayor Cllr Deirdre Hargey, was among more than 250 people who contributed to the event which raised more than £21,000. The evening included a silent auction for Game of Thrones memorabilia with the star attraction being a production script for the Season 4 finale episode ‘The Children’ signed by cast members. There was also a raffle prize draw, which included a hotel break at Galgorm Resort & Spa, vouchers for James Street South and giftsets from Jawbox gin, Hotel Chocolat and L’Occitane. The annual event took place at the Ivory Restaurant ahead of Belfast Pride and recognises the important economic contribution of the LGBT community. Though informal, ‘Out on the Roof’ is an important occasion that encourages the business sector to help create a Northern Ireland that is equal and inclusive.





Sam tells us the good, the bad and the very ugly truths about uni life. PAGE 48

STUDENT DISCOUNTS: We hunt out some of the best discounts out there for students. PAGE 52



Advice on what you should look for in an unhealthy relationship. PAGE 54



University: The Good, the Bad and the Very Ugly Truths


WHEN I GOT ACCEPTED INTO The University of Manchester I could barely contain my excitement. I was moving to a new city, full of culture, full of opportunity and full of gays. I expected university life to mainly be going out very often and having a lot more freedom. Unfortunately for my bank account and pretty much every single one of my internal organs this ended up being the case. IT’S NEVER SUNNY IN A POOR MAN’S WORLD One of the biggest struggles in uni is the financial aspect. Despite receiving loans and grants my rent was not covered. I will never forget the moment I checked my bank account expecting to have a few hundred pounds left from my loans only to realise I was 4 figures deep in my overdraft. Having an overdraft in uni, if you are paying your own rent, is absolutely essential and any student will tell you the same thing. Having an overdraft gives you so much freedom, especially with a student account because your don’t pay any interest on it. However, having so much freedom did nothing but encourage me to buy more shite that I didn’t need which put me deeper and deeper into my overdraft. I effectively gave myself less freedom with every meal deal I bought. Although, if I didn’t have an overdraft there is a 100% chance I would be offering more services than just bartending. Speaking of which, I only got my first job when I was in uni. I had no experience whatsoever in bartending and I have been told not only by customers but by people I worked with the only reason I got the job was because I was a “pretty twink”. Having a job in uni is bittersweet. I was able to make my own money therefore I became more independent, I was able to meet new people

FRESHERS ISSUE__ UNIVERSITY: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE VERY UGLY TRUTHS and make more friends and since I worked in a bar in the gay village I got free entry into all the gay clubs in Manchester. This actually became a negative thing because I ended up spending more money than I was making by going out to clubs with everyone from work after a shift. Furthermore, due to working in a nightclub my hours were horrendous. I would’ve usually worked until 4.00am which meant I wasn’t getting home until about 5.00am, and if I went out with people after work I wouldn’t have been getting back home until around 8.00am. This had a very bad effect on my studies and I could very clearly see a correlation between having a night club job and my grades dropping. So I would advise anyone looking for a job in uni, make sure you are able to manage your time wisely and if you can’t, do not get a job at a nightclub. If you’re anything like me not only will your grades drop, your attendance will become an absolute shambles. HOMESICKNESS… IT’S NOT TERMINAL Before uni I had never spent a night at home alone and the longest I had gone without seeing my family was for 4 days when I went to Washington D.C. on a school trip. I won’t lie I was quite babied by my Mum which is why I had always planned to study at Queens University Belfast (and also to save some money). So when I chose to face my fears and study away from home I was petrified because I knew nobody in Manchester and I desperately missed home. The good thing though, like any other feeling, homesickness goes away, it just

takes time. I was told by a few people that the ‘benchmark’ for getting over homesickness was usually around halloween time. Halloween came and I was still not feeling much better. For me it wasn’t until after christmas that I stopped feeling homesick. I do consider myself kind of lucky because I was in a relationship with someone from back home and he studied just outside Liverpool which was only an hours train ride away so if I was feeling homesick I could very easily go and see him. Experiencing homesickness and being forced to live basically on your own is a very good life lesson. Before uni my clothes were always washed for me, my meals were cooked by someone else and I never really had to put my hand into my own wallet, so I guess you could say I was quite spoilt. But moving away to somewhere new where there was nobody to do anything like that for me forced me to grow up and do groceries by myself, get myself up and ready in time for uni and work, and make my own way everywhere. Using public transport daily was especially hard for someone who had only got a bus by themselves for the first time 2 months before going to uni. Living away from home also opens you up to new experiences. Manchester is full of culture, there is so much to do and see. The nightlife in Manchester is second to none, there is something for everyone. The gay village has at least 20 bars and clubs to choose from alone, Deansgate is buzzing with students, and the Northern Quarter has a ton of clubs for people who like music that isn’t too mainstream. My liver may not agree with me but moving to Manchester was probably one of the best decisions I have ever made. I would encourage anyone who is scared of moving away from home for uni to do it, because you will become so much more

confident and you will have the time of your life. WHO NEEDS A DEGREE WHEN YOU’RE SCHOOLIN’ LIFE? Obviously everyone will have a different experience when it comes to uni work. I study Planning with Real Estate, so my first year was quite relaxed in terms of the workload mainly because my first year didn’t count towards my degree so there was much less pressure to do well compared to A levels. Kirsty from London, who studies Philosophy, had a similar experience to me and pointed out that there was “more work during the term” but due to assignments being more spaced out than during sixth form, uni “doesn’t feel as bad” as A levels. Whereas Helen who’s from Lisburn and studies Chemical Engineering in London was already studying in the summer before uni because she had an exam before the semester even began. Unlike me she found her first year to be “a lot more difficult” than A levels. Despite the huge workload she wouldn’t choose any other course or any other uni mainly because the “course would be just as hard in any uni” and the course itself offers “lots of job aspects and pays well”. A levels can be quite stressful due to the sheer amount of work you have to do. There’s a constant stream of homework, practice essays and practice exams thrown at you and because of this I was able to easily see my progress throughout the year and my teachers were all more than willing to help me out because they wanted to see their students succeed. Uni, however, is very different. There is much less

guidance available and the lecturers/ professors do not really care about how you do. If you miss a lecture, or six, they do not care. They will not chase you up and ask why you weren’t present, whereas in high school, or at least the one I went to, if you missed six classes you would’ve got your ass handed to you. It was most likely this pressure that kept pushing me to do well in my exams. So although it is nice not to be constantly chased up and be put under pressure, people like me probably require a fire to lit under their ass to actually do work. TWINKS’ TOP TIPS FOR SURVIVAL I’m going to start by saying you will survive uni, at least the first year, and you will have the time of your life. Many things will come your way, good and bad. My first year experience involved breaking up with my first love, getting back together with my first love, smoking like a train and going out as if I have Bill Gates’ income. But it also involved making amazing friends who I would honestly die for, I have become so much more independent to the point I actually enjoy doing dishes and cleaning up. Going to uni will definitely change your life for the better, even though it is a very scary experience. But my biggest piece of advice would be to go and be yourself, put yourself out there and do not be scared to make a few mistakes along the way. Twitter: @sam_mckinstry Instagram: @samckinstry


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Words : Women’s Aid Federation Northern Ireland

SO IT’S FINALLY HERE… FRESHER’S A poem was recently forwarded to us by a survivor of relationship abuse. It highlights perfectly how, what may WEEK - THE BEGINNING OF UNIVERSITY seem to be healthy or “normal” initially, can spiral into LIFE… WHAT AN EXCITING TIME… THAT abuse. What at first seems like a honeymoon romance FEELING YOU HAVE FINALLY ARRIVED… can gradually over time spiral out of control creating an TO ADULTHOOD… TO FREEDOM… TO abusive relationship based upon fear and control: YOUR OWN LIFE! YOU ARE NOW IN CONTROL… OF YOUR FINANCES, HOUSE, The Slippery Slope TIMEKEEPING AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, They want to be with me all the time – just us – we are so in love. YOUR SAFETY AND RELATIONSHIPS. They worry about me… it shows how much they love THIS PERIOD OF YOUR LIFE IS A me… TIME OF WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY. They worry I will be taken advantage of – I’m so lucky… MEETING NEW PEOPLE AND DEVELOPING They check my text messages to make sure no one is NEW RELATIONSHIPS CAN BE SUCH annoying me. AN Alicia EXCITING V TIME, ENABLING Theyharrowing don’t want me to go out alone as its’ Perry tellsYOU us her own story ofnot safe and TO THRIVE AND GROW AS A PERSON. I’m so sweet others’ may try it on? how domestic abuse can even the strongest I need to tell them exactly where I am eachperson. day as they HOWEVER, IT CAN ALSO BE A TIME OF break worry about me... VULNERABILITY AND UNFORTUNATELY NOT They check my bank statements just to help me manage ALLSEPTEMBER RELATIONSHIPS HEALTHY. IN 2013 IARE lost one of my best proposed. I said yes because I’d waited my whole life for my money… GOING She BACK TO THAT FEELING friends. was suddenly found dead oneOF evening in that onedo moment; butsaid thensoagain he knew that.me the I didn’t what they they have to teach her apartment. It was no secret was in out of From moment on I lost control but more EXCITEMENT… THIS CAN she MAKE ITand VERY right waythat to behave… aEASY domestic for 16 years. Her death importantly lost myself. I wassoapparently TO violent MISS relationship THOSE TELL-TALE SIGNS I didn’t learnI from my mistake they have misplacing to punish me was unexplained and as such remains that.ALL I thought items myhithouse, more in and me... saying things I couldn’t remember THAT A RELATIONSHIP IS NOT THATit was andTO white. I toldTHE her toFIRST leave him many times saying, things I couldn’t I’m so doing stupid… I keep getting itremember wrong anddoing they and don’t IT black SEEMS BE. FLUSH but because she kept taking him back I distanced myself really my sanity to the point want questioning to but have to keep punishing me I thought ‘I am OF ATTRACTION/LOVE… THAT FEELING from her and the situation. It was painful to watch as actually HEit’s is right.’ I’ve triedgoing theirmad, way and still wrong I’m confused THAT YOU WANT TO BE WITH THEM my friend deteriorated into a shadow of herself. I didn’t HE is am wrong. Hehate mustme besobecause When didright theyand stopI loving me and much – I ALL to THE TIME… THAT want know anymore and I OVERWHELMING didn’t want to listen. I just why he lie tothese me?problems Each daylike became more and mustwould have created they say… FEELING didn’t ‘get it’.THAT THIS IS “IT” THEY more about him to and lessthey anddon’t less love about I stopped It’s never going stop meme. they just want ARE ONdeath TOPI began OF THIS to control memuch to avoid the interrogation I got from The“THE monthONE”. before her datingTHE a man. going out as I need to get outhome. they are going totokill me... SEPARATION FAMILY/HOME He was gorgeous,FROM sexy, strong, kind, loving, THAT passionate, him when I got I seemed argue and fallout I GOT OUT ANONone by one. All these things and considerate, all those things LIFE a girl wants a man ALL and with family and- friends GOES WITH COLLEGE CAN inMAKE more. HePARTICULARLY was my Prince Charming and my hopes more were happening but I didn’t know why or indeed OF US VULNERABLE TO began If this familiar you have experienced any of building for myRELATIONSHIPS Happy Ever After. He was EVEN really there how to sounds stop them fromorhappening. UNHEALTHY AND this and two you feel you can’t talkIto your partner why is for me when my friend died, held me in his arms while I Over and a half years fought hard in–my mind ABUSIVE BEHAVIOURS. that? cried sore for my dear friend. for my Happy Ever After. Two and a half years while

Cohercive Control

The following month my dreams were crushed when my Prince beat me repeatedly, in my bedroom, then out on the street in front of terrified neighbours. He was arrested, spent a week in prison and then was released. Almost immediately he broke bail to find me, told me it was the drink and steroids, which seemed a valid reason so I forgave him and took him back. Why? Because I didn’t want to give up on my Happy Ever After. To ‘prove’ his love for me he got down on one knee and

he continued to chip away at me physically, mentally, A healthy and relationship is based upon respect, mutual financially emotionally until finally one day, I ‘got it’. Iunderstanding, finally ‘got it’. equality and consideration of each other’s feelings, opinions and values. In a healthy relationship, Last year I separated from my ex and walked away both partners should feel free to express their feelings, from my dream of a Happy Ever After. I began working even those uncomfortable feelings and talk openly and with Women’s Aid NI and started to see things a lot honestly about needs, expectations and behaviours. If more clearly. you have that feeling of walking on eggshells, irrational I stopped misplacing things, my memory improved dramatically and the dust seemed to settle slightly. I was

anxiety or fear this could indicate an abusive relationship. Of course all relationships have their ups and downs and in a healthy relationship, these are worked through by having open and honest discussion which can then lead to change. This may also lead to the ending of the relationship as sometimes there is the simple realisation that you aren’t compatible or want different things from the relationship. Abusive behaviour is not always physical as the poem illustrates, even in the absence of physical abuse we can still be coerced into behaving in a certain way. Sexual abuse is another type of abuse and can mean many things. Consent within relationships can never be assumed and it can be given or taken away at any time. As a couple, you can decide what is right for you both, again it’s back to open and honest discussion. When you can’t discuss these issues or problems then alarm bells should be ringing. This is where you can reach out to a right all along but that realisation brought with it shame 3rd party, a trusted friend or a family member. and guilt. How could a strong, educated and independent womantalking like me knowclose this was However, to not someone isn’t happening? always easy… Since my we separation exthe hasfull turned upofatwhat my is sometimes can holdmy back extent home but this time was different. I saw him for can’t the happening because we are embarrassed and we monster he is and I have Women’s Aid NI toThis thank “unsay”that something to someone who is close to us. is forwhere that;the butHelpline I still liveiswith that fear and those horrible a great support. memories. I was come outand of that relationship, The 24 able HourtoDomestic Sexual Helpline isaccept a vital help fromspace Women’s speak out publicly. confidential whereAid you NI canand be anonymous and Many victims can’t.private Many issues victims frightened, discuss extremely at are yourtoo own pace and too without being judged – and its free! You will because be able to vulnerable, too damaged or just too confused speak one don’t of ourhave fullyatrained Team without they feeltothey choice.Helpline Many victims just giving name thereoftoyou listen and don’t ‘getyour it’ yet; justand likethey I’m will surebe many reading support. Thisnot maybeen be all that youit.need or you may want this who have through toAll phone againI or theybeen maycampaigning give you a name of another last year have for new dosupport organisation could support you further with mestic abuse laws herewho in the North of Ireland in hona specific issue –Ithere are lots of options and you can our of my friend. was motivated by the need to help decide what isand best for you. ‘get it’ before more victims our Ministers Politicians have to live in fear and have those horrible memories. SoI believe enjoy this the women, opportunities but and know that wetime owe relish it to the children the men ofsomething Ireland toinstrategically tackle issue“feel” of if there’s a relationship thatthe doesn’t domestic violence isn’t and so abuse before more right it generally talk now, to someone or talklives to usare on destroyed. believe we all have an onus to the women, 0808 802I1414. children and men of Ireland to hurryup and ‘get it’ to help improve their chances of a Happy Ever After. It’s too late for my friend but it’s not too late for them.



24 HOUR Domestic & Sexual Violence Helpline

Open to all women and men affected by domestic & sexual violence


0808 802 1414

text support to 07797 805 839 24hrsupport@dvhelpline.org


Cohercive Control Alicia V Perry tells us her own harrowing story of how domestic abuse can break even the strongest person. IN SEPTEMBER 2013 I lost one of my best friends. She was suddenly found dead one evening in her apartment. It was no secret she was in and out of a domestic violent relationship for 16 years. Her death was unexplained and as such remains that. I thought it was black and white. I told her to leave him many times but because she kept taking him back I distanced myself from her and the situation. It was painful to watch as my friend deteriorated into a shadow of herself. I didn’t want to know anymore and I didn’t want to listen. I just didn’t ‘get it’. The month before her death I began dating a man. He was gorgeous, sexy, strong, kind, loving, passionate, considerate, all those things a girl wants in a man and more. He was my Prince Charming and my hopes began building for my Happy Ever After. He was really there for me when my friend died, held me in his arms while I cried sore for my dear friend. The following month my dreams were crushed when my Prince beat me repeatedly, in my bedroom, then out on the street in front of terrified neighbours. He was arrested, spent a week in prison and then was released. Almost immediately he broke bail to find me, told me it was the drink and steroids, which seemed a valid reason so I forgave him and took him back. Why? Because I didn’t want to give up on my Happy Ever After. To ‘prove’ his love for me he got down on one knee and

proposed. I said yes because I’d waited my whole life for that one moment; but then again he knew that. From that moment on I lost control but more importantly I lost myself. I was apparently misplacing items in my house, saying things I couldn’t remember saying, doing things I couldn’t remember doing and really questioning my sanity to the point I thought ‘I am actually going mad, HE is right.’ HE is right and I am wrong. He must be because why would he lie to me? Each day became more and more about him and less and less about me. I stopped going out as much to avoid the interrogation I got from him when I got home. I seemed to argue and fallout with family and friends one by one. All these things and more were happening but I didn’t know why or indeed how to stop them from happening. Over two and a half years I fought hard in my mind for my Happy Ever After. Two and a half years while he continued to chip away at me physically, mentally, financially and emotionally until finally one day, I ‘got it’. I finally ‘got it’. Last year I separated from my ex and walked away from my dream of a Happy Ever After. I began working with Women’s Aid NI and started to see things a lot more clearly. I stopped misplacing things, my memory improved dramatically and the dust seemed to settle slightly. I was

right all along but that realisation brought with it shame and guilt. How could a strong, educated and independent woman like me not know this was happening? Since my separation my ex has turned up at my home but this time was different. I saw him for the monster that he is and I have Women’s Aid NI to thank for that; but I still live with that fear and those horrible memories. I was able to come out of that relationship, accept vital help from Women’s Aid NI and speak out publicly. Many victims can’t. Many victims are too frightened, too vulnerable, too damaged or just too confused because they feel they don’t have a choice. Many victims just don’t ‘get it’ yet; just like I’m sure many of you reading this who have not been through it. All last year I have been campaigning for new domestic abuse laws here in the North of Ireland in honour of my friend. I was motivated by the need to help our Ministers and Politicians ‘get it’ before more victims have to live in fear and have those horrible memories. I believe we owe it to the women, children and the men of Ireland to strategically tackle the issue of domestic violence and abuse now, before more lives are destroyed. I believe we all have an onus to the women, children and men of Ireland to hurryup and ‘get it’ to help improve their chances of a Happy Ever After. It’s too late for my friend but it’s not too late for them.


24 HOUR Domestic & Sexual Violence Helpline

Open to all women and men affected by domestic & sexual violence


0808 802 1414

text support to 07797 805 839 24hrsupport@dvhelpline.org


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Chistmas will come sooner than you think, look at these suits. PAGE 58


Gavyn Andrews tells us his fitness and grooming regime. PAGE 74


Our Alicia heads to party in Ibiza and even makes it back in one piece! PAGE 82

















www.abbeycentreshopping.co.uk @abbey_centre



GARETH POLLOCK WHAT SORT OF ART DO YOU CREATE? For the last 6 years I have been working as a freelance graphic designer in Melbourne, regularly creating everything from illustration work to professional portrait photography, social media graphics and branding. HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTO THIS? WAS IT A JOURNEY THROUGH DIFFERENT CREATIVE INDUSTRIES? I guess I first knew I wanted to work in the creative industry in high school, while the other boys enjoyed PE I use to forge a note from mum and spend an hour drawing women’s faces from magazines. I even practiced drawing a pineapple for my Mock art and design GCSE. After leaving high school in 2007 I ran to the Belfast college where I studied a foundation diploma in Art & Design and then my degree in Visual communication, graduating in 2011. WHAT DO YOU MOST ENJOY CREATING? Hand rendered and digital illustrations. A lot of my illustration work is inspired by the natural environment around me, places I see, the people I meet and the music I love. In January 2015 I was commissioned to create some greetings card illustrations that relate to same sex couples and the miles stones they celebrate together. I really enjoyed working on these designs, it was before same sex marriage was legalized in Australia and the cards that were available on the market at the time were literally male and female toilet signs with vector hearts. I created humorous, light hearted and eye catching illustrations that celebrate engagement, marriage, birthday and same sex couple that our expecting a child. The cards are sold online and at LGBQT events/market spaces around Australia. WHAT ARE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS? garethpollock.com Insta: @garethpollockpics Facebook: garethpollockdesign junique.com/gareth-pollock- design somelovegreetings.com.au


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The iconic CURV technology and a single-layered pouch, which contours and shapes all your assets in a natural way. This also creates a ‘contact-less’ support to reduce chaffing and sweating.




















LISTEN UP We test the latest Sony Headphones



If you haven’t heard Sony recently released their new WH-H800 , over-ear wireless headphones. What most people will be excited about is they come in the exactly the same colours as the new Walkman – letting you perfectly color-match your headphones to your music player. Designed to suit the music loving, style conscious individual, these boast a simplistic feel while maintaining a minimalistic approach that fairs well with portability and on-thego use. In fact, we were actually lucky enough to try these on for ourselves to get a sneak peak on what they offer and how they work.

First Look By taking a quick glance at the new Sony WH-H800’s, you’ll likely notice one thing – they’re quite a bit more compact than your average set of over-ear headphones. Labeled as “mini” and weighing in at just 6.35 ounces, Sony designed them for easy use while you’re on the move. Because of this, they’ve integrated a foldable design that allows you to bend inward each cup, so storing them is never too cumbersome. It’s a nice inclusion, but not totally unique to just this model. Another nice addition is the inclusion of a free carrying pouch – letting you easily protect them while not in use or when they’re stored in a bag. Moving on, the first thing you’ll want to do is pair them wirelessly with your device. Whether this be a Walkman, your smartphone or laptop, utilizing the Bluetooth feature is the way to go. In addition, this is where you’ll be able to take advantage of the NFC (near field communication) feature. NFC enables you to establish a wireless connection without any configuration. Simply touch your NFCsupported device to the headphones, and you’re good to go – wirelessly paired for easy listening. If you don’t have NFC, it’s not a problem. You can still manually pair them the standard way, which still doesn’t take more than a minute or so.

Comfort With the foldable design, one might assume that comfort was sacrificed, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Although each ear cup may be considered much smaller than your standard over-ear headphone, we feel that they’re adequately designed for the intended use. Each cup has a plush and cozy feel to it with cushioned pads that are extremely soft on the skin. The headband is retractable too, so you can achieve a precise fit without much effort. The amount of pressure that the headband applies seems to be a happy medium between comfort and practicality. Not too tight, not too lose. Our initial look at the H800 seemed to persuade us that the design may be too small for optimal comfort, but we were soon proven wrong. Although they’re compact, they still seem to fit a wide range of heads without causing pressure points or areas of discomfort. We’ve been using them consistently for over a week now and haven’t ever felt the need to “take a breaK” while enjoying music, simply because they seem to fit very well.

Sound Quality Listening to the WH-H800’s for the first time, we were in love. The inclusion of a variety of cunning-edge technologies seemed to mesh well with any kind of music we listened to. The inclusion of Hi-Res Audio means that listeners get to experience digital music with the most life-like effects with more bit-rate accuracy than before. It brings in a new element of listening that seems to incorporate more emotions and depth into each track than headphones without Hi-Res Audio.

A third kind of technology was implemented to further enhance the sound quality, and we’re big fans of it. DSEE HX, or the Digital Sound Enhancement Engine HX was incorporated to upscale older, lesser quality audio files and bring them into a new realm of listening. It’ll automatically improve lower-resolution or compressed audio tracks and make them sound much closer to Hi-Res Audio than before. By adding a new element of rich, natural sound, you can bust out your oldest files or music tracks and hear them resonate in a new way. Needless to say, we were very happy with the overall sound quality that the H800’s were capable of producing. The inclusion of these three technologies sets it apart from other, less expensive models, which is apparent right from your first listen.

Headphone Connect App One of the more-exciting features is the ability to fine-tune settings directly from your smartphone. When you have the headphones paired and you’d like to tweak the settings, you’re given the freedom to do so with Sony’s Headphone Connect App. It’s a free application that’s available on both iOS and Android that lets you adjust and configure a multitude of customized options. Select from a wide range of presets or customize the equalizer to your preference. In addition, you can select a specific surround-sound preset to adjust the specific style of audio that you prefer – pick from hall, club, arena or outdoor style audio.

Battery Life One of the most impressive features of Sony’s H800 H.Ear On 2 headphones is the battery life. Sony advertises a 24 hour battery life, which is quite substantial in regards to similar models, so we knew we had to test this out. Upon their arrival, we let them fully charge-up before using them consistently throughout the week. By connecting the supplied micro USB cable to the input located on the base of the right earcup, you can expect a full charge within 3 hours or so. We used them for 4-5 hours a day, 5 days in a row. We didn’t use them at a super-high volume or in any tough environment. In fact, we tried to use them in a normal manner like anyone would who owns them. At the beginning of the fifth day, they were needing another charge. Subsequently meaning that we were getting around 20-25 hours of battery life on the first, single charge. Exactly as Sony advertised, and a breath of fresh air for us. We’re happy to see that the estimated lifespan is quite accurate.

Final Thoughts Whether you’re an avid music listener or just someone who enjoys the casual listening experience, we feel that the Sony WH-H800 H.Ear On 2 mini over-ear wireless headphones are downright awesome. They’re a bit more expensive than your average set of over-ear headphones, but for good reason. Yes, the ear cups are a bit smaller than average, but they bode well with portability and the folding feature that Sony’s included. We’re big fans of the NFC feature, letting you easily pair them without any hassle, as it’s an effortless way to begin enjoying them right out of the box. If you’re looking for a bit more features and less portability, we strongly recommend taking a look at the H900N. Although a bit more pricey, they’re designed more for studio-grade listening and less portability.






“I am originally from Belfast but have Greek in my family and have a real passion for the Greek way of life. Besides my love for travel I am a huge motorbike racing fan and from a young child used to race in UK and Europe. I also have a massive interest in Buddhism and enjoy massaging and helping others relax and distress.”


Mind your wellbeing. Five top health tips for students. YOU’RE A STUDENT, SO YOU’RE PROBABLY young and feel indestructible. But we all have to take care of ourselves to stay healthy, especially if you want to do well in your studies. Thankfully, with these basic health tips, it’s easy enough to keep in good shape while still enjoying yourself. Just remember to… 1. DRINK LOTS OF WATER & EAT PROPER FOOD Alcohol, energy drinks and microwave meals might be staples of the stereotypical student diet, but they’re not exactly a recipe for a healthy mind and body. Making your own food with fresh ingredients is a much better option, and if you split the cost with your housemates it can even save you money. Make sure to stay hydrated too; inadequate fluid intake can ‘lower your physical and mental performance… and lead to dehydration’. 2. STAY ACTIVE You don’t have to be a fitness freak to benefit from a little exercise. Even 20-30 minutes of physical activity three to five times a week can improve memory, boost energy and increase focus. Not to promote sleeping around though it’s common knowledge that SEX is a great calerie burner. Sports are also a great way to meet new people and socialise, so there are plenty of reasons to get active. 3. GET SOME SLEEP There are never enough hours in the day to get everything done but skipping sleep is rarely a good idea, as sleep deprivation affects your concentration, memory, judgement and problem-solving abilities. If you struggle to sleep, getting more exercise and eating healthily could help.

Likewise, avoiding caffeine after 3pm and trying not to use illuminated screens (including phones, tablets and computers) immediately before bed will facilitate a good night’s rest. 4. BEWARE OF STRESS Stress is a major problem among students, with heavy workloads, part-time jobs and busy social lives giving us plenty to worry about. Left unchecked, stress can also impact upon your physical and mental wellbeing. The most important thing is to be aware of the signs of stress, such as headaches, irritability or anxiety, as this will allow you to take action before it becomes overwhelming. As well as sleeping and eating well, there are various relaxation techniques you can use to relieve stress and anxiety. 5. TAKING PRECAUTIONS You’re full of youthful vigour and beauty, and at university you’re surrounded by lots of interesting people you’d like to ‘get to know’ (however briefly). All we ask is you remember to use protection. If you still need convincing, try staring at this gallery of STDs for a bit; you’ll soon find yourself magically converted to the benefits of barrier prophylactics. In closing be semi responsible, if you come on the Wagon don’t dwell jump straight back on it, there are allot of pressures to be at all the freshers events and every house party go to lots but remember to leave some me time. Enjoy the freshers frivolities Daniel :)



IT’S JUST A LITTLE PRICK... GIVING ANTI WRINKLE INJECTIONS A GO IT SEEMED I WAS CURSED, well that’s how it felt anyway. For as long as I can remember my dad looked old, and one of the most ageing factors on his face was the Shar Pei type wrinkly forehead. It’s a family trait even males in their twenties in my family have.





For me it all came to a head (pardon the pun) when a customer came into work one day. We were chatting and she decided to look me up on Facebook. Standing in front of me, flicking through my photos she came across a photo of me taken six months earlier, turning her phone around to show me she exclaimed “is that your husband, he’s a handsome chap”. I was devastated! I knew the previous six months had been intense and I’d literally been working near 100 hour weeks - but had I really aged that badly? That night I took myself to the 24 hour Tesco and literally spent a couple of hundred quid on moisturisers, lifters, stretchers and dyes. I was determined to do something about my ageing face. That weekend I was talking to my friend who owns a beauty salon, explaining my despair to her and asking was she offering any treatments that could help me. She offered a few different options but as soon as she mentioned anti wrinkle injections my ears perked up. She explained that the girls who provide the service from her salon (Glam in Lisburn BTW) were seasoned professionals, a wife and wife team who know exactly what they’re doing and offer their service at salons across Northern Ireland. I paid my deposit and was booked in for the next available appointment. So the day arrived and I was booked in for 2pm. That meant I had the morning to think about it, and overthink it and then think some more. I’m insulin dependent diabetic and inject numerous times a day, but the thought of someone sticking needles into my face, to be honest, filled me with dread. But I’m a man - I’m supposed to be tough - right? I’d booked myself in for a massage before the treatment to chill myself out and it seemed to do the trick. I got to the salon and it was very busy which was good, the hussle

and bussle helped me forget my nerves. I was greeted at the door and taken immediately to the treatment room. I sat up on the bed and I think Lisa and Geri sensed my nerves. Putting me at ease they asked me why I was there and what I was hoping to achieve by it. I explained that my wrinkly forehead and frown lines were getting me down and I’d like to have them smoothed out at bit. It was explained to me that the Anti wrinkle injections would make a noticeable difference to the lines in question when I made expressions with my face, but in a relaxed state there would still be wrinkles there as they were so deep set - but that they would be a little less noticeable. I understood this and after going through the prep and paperwork the treatment began. I lay down and Lisa explained what she was going to be doing. I can only describe the next bit as likened to being at the dentist - you know, when you know they’re preparing the needle and you’re just lying there waiting on it. The first pleasant surprise came next - the needle was absolutely tiny, I was literally expecting some massive syringe type thing. As the first needle went in I grimaced a bit, but it was really nothing. Of course you can feel it, but it’s not a sore pain, more like a bit of an inconvenience. And it was over before I knew it, lasting only about five or 10 minutes. They explained what I should do now to ensure the best results and said it would take about two weeks to see my results. I became (more) obsessed with the mirror, constantly looking in it and trying to force a wrinkle. Gradually it became more difficult to make one - I was delighted. As you can see from my photos on the left the results are brilliant. If you want to talk to the girls about how they can help you, contact them on the details below... Lisa & Geri Face Therapy NI facebook.com/facetherapyni www.facetherapyni.com 07706 406 592



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Fuel consumption and CO2 values are obtained for comparative purposes in accordance with EC directives/regulations and may not be representative of real-life driving conditions. Factors such as driving style, weather and road conditions may also have a significant effect on fuel consumption. Model shown Fiat 500 Collezione Primavera. Offer valid for vehicles ordered and registered between 01/09/2018 and 30/09/2018. Retail sales only. Personal Contract Hire Agreement from £199 per month plus initial rental. 6,000 miles per annum. Terms and conditions apply. You will not own the car. Prices correct at the time of going to print



Dining at the new Grand Central Hotel. ON ENTERING THE LATEST HASTINGS Group addition of Hotels in Belfast dominating the Belfast skyline the Grand Central Hotel I was immediately swept away by the old world ambience and 50’s style art deco glamour that would not be out of place in a scene from F Scott Fitzgerald’s the Great Gatsby. With luxurious decor, chandeliers and pristine surroundings one cannot help but but fall in love with Belfast’s very own Grand Central Hotel. Immediately seated in the bustling Bar Area and offered a tempting drinks menu of cocktails that was worthy of any Carrie Bradshaw City Girl, I plumped for the Elderflower Lady, Tanqueray Gin, Star Anise, Fresh Grapefruit, Egg White & Elderflower Cordial, my guest opted for Grand Central Hotels own twist on the classic Margherita. The drinks were a welcome start to our Friday evening and the waiting service was impeccable and the cocktails were heady and definitely appreciated after a hard days slog at work. After our delicious beverages we were then swept into the Seahorse restaurant area were we enjoyed fine red wine and served some freshly baked breads while waiting on our starters. I personally loved the Guinness Treacle Bread, shall be approaching the chef for the recipe though doubt my recreation will be anything close to what we were served. To start I ordered the Heritage Beetroot Salad, this was completely out of the box for me, the Beet’s were served 3 ways with Goat’s Cheese and a Walnut Granola, this was heaven, so light and the perfect way


to get the palate going. My guest ordered the mi cuit glenarm salmon with charred cucumber, truffle and miso creme fraiche, which she described as a perfect palette cleanser. On recommendation of our waitress Chloe we ordered the sharing main of Beef Wellington, it transpired that the Chef had trained under the wing of none other than Gordon Ramsay himself. We simply had to order it to see what all the fuss was about, The Beef Wellington was succulent, delicious and would highly recommend this choice even above the fillet steak which was my original preference. The dish came out on a wooden platter complete with Truffle Mash, Green Beans, Caramelized Shallots and Red Wine Jus. Writing this review takes me right back to Friday night, could easily tackle that Wellington right now. As filling as this was we absolutely had to try a desserts. The Salted Caramel Chocolate Torte was calling my name from the Menu lol, it was served with Ginger Ice Cream and Bourbon Butterscotch Sauce, this was so rich and morish. My quest who opted for the homemade vanilla ice cream with layers of honeycomb. Here is what she thought “this transported me back to my childhood, on a hot summer day spent in Portrush with bags of yellow man, this too comes highly recommended, as a total sweet tooth pleaser” On relaxation of the A la Carte Menu I can only describe it as perfectly thought out, 5 light and unique Appetisers, 7 Entrees, one or more that is

bound to appeal to all and 6 delightful desserts. In my opinion this is how a Menu should be, there is nothing worse than be handed a menu with a pages of choices. After our stunning dinner we absolutely had to accept the gracious offer from the Manager to lure us up to the Observatory for an exemplary view of Belfast City from the 23rd floor. This area, which I had heard so much about in advance of Fridays visit did not disappoint and I thoroughly recommend taking the time to visit for a cheeky after work beer or a cocktail by the window. Overall the Grand Central Hotel is a worthy and fitting legacy to Billy Hastings and definitely worth a visit. For such an opulent evening the price tag is completely wallet pleasing with an average 3 course meal from the A La Carte Menu coming in at under £35pp To the Chef, Management and Staff thanks for a wonderful evening we can’t wait to return. Grand Central Hotel 9-15 Bedford Street, Belfast BT2 7FF Tel: 028 9023 1066 www.grandcentralhotelbelfast.com Review by Daniel May


Shoestring stylng. Tarting up your new student digs.

YOU’VE LANDED YOUR FIRST ROOM in your halls of residence or student house. Chances are it ’ll be a dirty shade of magnolia with a cheep as chips laminate floor or industrial style stained carpet. Delightful! Our community are renowned for our style and taste so lets get this place spruced up.







First thing you wanna do is get yourself down to the local pound shop and stock up on a few cleaning products and a bottle of Febreeze (other freshners are available). Give those floors a scrub and get that aul fusty smell out of them, clean the window and make it sparkle, the skirting boards could come up a treat with a bit of elbow, and don’t forget the light switch and around the door handle - they get stinky without you even noticing. So the room is clean and tidy, you’ve probably got a bed, a desk, chest of drawers and a cupboard - and they’re probably a shi**y shade of beech effect wood. Time to fabulize that beauty. You’ll not be allowed to splash paint on the walls so look at other ways to brighten up and personalise the place. Look at bedding and cushions, the can make a big difference and they can be taken with you to your next room. Look at budget stores like B&M, Home Bargains, Matalan, or even the bigger Primark stores - you can pick up soft furnishings that are in line with current styles and are comparitively cheep. On the practical side of things you’ll want to keep warm without having to top up the oil tank too regularly. Look at getting a few nice thick blankets, not only will they keep you warm on those cold evenings, but if you choose well they can double up as stylish runners for the bottom of your bed. With regards to lighting, the ceiling light already fitted will do grand for day to day use but it ’s worth investing in a desk light - whether you want to believe it or not you are there to study and good lighting on your desk will help reduce strain on your eyes. If you’re feelng flush and have a couple of quid to splash out on some styling luxuries have a look at getting a nice string of fairy lights they’ll provide some nice mood lighting should the opportunity arise that you need something dark and sultry. Look at getting a few framed prints (you’re usually allowed to put up pictures but check with your landlord), these don’t have to be ridicually expensive - Ikea have some great options. Storage boxes or baskets are handy to have too, you’re literally living your life out of one room so good orgainsation could mean half an hour longer in the bar some night. You’ll probably be sharing a bathroom so keep all your toiletries in one basked that you can quickly just lift and bring to and fro with you. This space will be yours for at least a year, make it your own :-)







Party Central


PARTY CENTRAL BUT THERE ARE places to chill as within the White Island lies hidden gems that only through experience can we really appreciate. The picturesque beauty of this incredible destination has to be seen to be truly valued and respected; the island can become part of your soul, if you allow it to. We went to Ibiza to find out more! Being Irish and landing in San Antonio, Ibiza, for the first time we headed straight to the West End for the famous Shenanigans Irish Bar to meet Richie, Kelly and Calvin. We were greeted with Cead Mead Failte and treated like we were friends all their lives. The music was fantastic with remixes of Irish classics, old skool and commercial dance but the atmosphere was something else! It reminded me of the line in Titanic, “you wanna go to a real party” we did and we did.


Not one person was sitting down, everyone dancing with huge smiles on their faces as the staff raved up the crowd between ringing the bar bell, to swinging the antique lampshades, to singing and dancing; it was just foirfe! Of course and more importantly, it wouldn’t be an Irish bar unless they had Guinness on tap and home cooked Irish pub grub, they were both the best I have ever tasted abroad; real home comforts to treasure and devour! We were definitely returning customers that week! The next two days were spent at pool parties – a definite must at Ibizia Rocks Hotel. The first was to see the fabulous Lovely Laura & her partner Ben Santiago. Their chemistry, the atmosphere and Laura’s saxophone skills must be seen to be truly appreciated. The next was Cuckooland and it lived up to it ’s expectations. The

TRAVEL__ IBIZA vibrant colours, the awesome music and the people there made the day all the more enjoyable. Of course we all got to eat sometime, even in Ibiza, but finding FRESH was like Christopher Columbus finding America, we were transported to another world. Set on the San Antonio Sunset Strip FRESH is everything that it sounds. The food was up there with the best in the world I have ever tasted and I don’t say that lightly. Nothing beats sitting by the sea and devouring freshly cooked mussels and lobster macaroni, washing it down with a cold, creamy pina colada with fresh coconut. And as if that wasn’t enough my breath was literally taken away when we watched the sunset. The ambience eerily changed as everyone there sat in awe and respect for nature. As the sun set low in the distance, the operatic music playing made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. As the sun disappeared over the sea a tremendous applause swept across table by table as people cheered, clapped and cried with emotion – I

was one of them ones. The whole experience must be taken in while at Ibiza, it certainly had me back for three more nights! The big club nights must be done and for that I recommend Amnesia. This superclub didn’t disappoint with the three nights we went to Music On, Elrow and Together – great music, great atmosphere, great visuals and great access to outdoor areas to cool down. They say to plan one big night and for us, we saved the best til last! The BIG by David Guetta night at Ushuaïa Hotel was just unreal. It ’s rare to see a huge crowd enjoy themselves with the best DJs, music, dancers, visuals, special effects, coordination, you name it, they got it right and I was humbled to be there. In fact I think they should rename it to MASSIVE by David Guetta because that was what it was!



We went along to this year’s Street Party.



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We checked out Splat at The Culture Club in Belfast.



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Sam: So originally I first meet Adrian just over 10 years ago in the Royal Hotel Cookstown where he was working as a chef and I was working in the bar an running food. At this time I was with my wee boys mother but it was bought to attention that Adrian was rather interested in me. At this point in my life I had only ever been with females and was rather intimidated by was I was told. Where I had came from was a very anti gay area so whether I was in denial or it just wasn’t a common thing I’m unsure, between that an a few others issues I ended up leaving the Royal Hotel. Three years later when I was trainee manager in Subway Magherafelt Adrian came into my shop to get a sub, obviously I was a tad nervous and didn’t know how to react so the manager at the time served


him and we had a right giggle afterwords when I filled her in on the previous gossip. After that Adrian came in several times and we got friendly, we arranged to meet up some night as friends so Adi came around to mine that night - and that’s where it all began. He kissed me an it took off from there.

Adi: We initially meet around 10 years ago when we both meet in a hotel in Cookstown the very hotel we had our engagement and wedding reception in, then three years later we met again I bumped into him in the Subway he was working in at the time. After a while of going in we got chatting an arranged to meet for a smoke one night. HOW LONG AFTER YOU STARTED DATING DID IT TAKE TO POP THE QUESTION, WAS IT AN IMMEDIATE YES ?

Sam: It all happened really quick at the start, we where enjoying every minute we had together and after two years we moved to the city (Belfast) for a better way of life, more job opportunities and a more accepting place. So on the 24th March 2014 me Adi and the child (Lee) went to the jewellers and bought two matching rings. That evening when the child was away home to his mum me an Adrian came back up country, heading down to the back off the Titanic slipway and asked one another’s hand in marriage obviously we both said yes, it was a very happy but emotional time for us both.. Adi: About two years after we got together, we both had talked about it so it was an immediate yes. The proposal took place at Titanic Belfast and I got very emotional to the point I could hardly speak for tears - happy tears.



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Sam: We had all booked and sorted for the 18th June this year. It was stressful, I’m a complete stressball who stresses about stressing just for the sake of stressing but it all came together perfectly. We got married in City Hall with 35 guests and our parents were witnesses, my wee boy Lee was our ring bearer. We then went to Sir Thomas an lady Dixon park for our photos then onto the Royal hotel in Cookstown in our vintage car. We chosen the Royal as we meet there and had our engagement party there. The place was truly outstanding and we bought all our own decor centrepieces so that it was to our taste. We had a champagne reception followed by a three piece carvery dinner then a DJ to dance the night away with the addition of our evening guests. We put on an extra finger buffet that night an a friend of our Kandy Carousel done a cheeky little drag show and games, all the guests truly enjoyed this as half off them had never experienced a drag queen never mind an show. It was a totally amazing day, Tanya the manager an her brother Alan really went the extra mile for us. A day we will never forget. Adi: Well as the big day approached Sam got more stressed but then we where doing it within a space of 3

months - he was definitely the groomzilla out of the two of us. We had our civil service in city hall with 35 guests, my father and Sams mother were witnesses to the wedding, and Lee done the rings an presented us with a personalised wreath. After the service we had pictures on the grounds and stairs then continued onto Sir Thomas and Lady Dixons park where a number of guests joined us for our photos. Then onto Cookstown’s Royal Hotel for our reception. We had a few processos on the way and I got a tad tipsy. Upon arrival we had a champagne reception and checked out our reception room before guests entered - it was outstanding. Gerard’s flowers from Magherafelt done outstanding arrangements, and a beautiful naked cake done by one of Sams friends keeping in within the vintage theme. Then we welcomed our guests into the room where we had a three course cavary and supplied wine along with the meal. We continued onto our evening reception where we had a extra 40 or so guests with a DJ (Alan woods) “Wedding DJ NI” and a drag performance by Kandy Carousel. We just danced the night away before retiring to our honeymoon suite and into our jacuzzi bath. WHAT ABOUT THE FOOD AND DRINK?

Sam: The food and drink was outstanding, the beef literally melted in your mouth, there was a great selection of starters, mains and desserts. It suited everyone

as they had more choice and could plate as much as they desired. There was a champagne reception before hand and wine with the meal (beer for those who didn’t drink wine). Unfortunately I was that worked up stressing everything was ok for everyone I couldn’t eat too much, however I continued on with the rest of our special day. We also had a sweetie table which we set up with a wide variety of sweets and macaroons for our guests to help themselves to throughout the whole evening - obviously this was Lees favourite thing of the day

Adi: The meal was a three course carvery accompanied with wine of their choice and beer for those who don’t do wine. We also had the champagne reception and a finger buffet for evening guests followed by cake. The sweet table was out all day too for guests to help themselves DID YOU HAVE A HONEYMOON?

Sam: So after the wedding we didn’t want it to end so the following morning instead of going home we went and continued or celebrating together in the Anchor Bar in Portstewart for a cheeky bit of karaoke and spent the night there. The next morning we went to the local travel agents and booked 10 days to Sunny Beach Bulgaria.


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Adi: We booked a last minute honeymoon to Bulgaria for 10 days we enjoyed however it’s not really a gay honeymoon destination. ARE YOU INTO THE SAME THINGS? WHAT INTERESTS DO YOU HAVE THAT ARE DIFFERENT?

Sam: We do everything together mostly unless I have a drag night out with me gurlz as I do part time drag. Adi works long hours as he is a second chef. We both like doing the same things like dinning out a lot, going to the cinema and time to time we head off on last minute nights away. Mainly we enjoying heading

out to the drag shows or Kremlin with our friends on the scene an just generally enjoying life.

Adi: Well I don’t really have the pleasure of interests and hobbies as I work long hours but we generally always go out together and enjoy last minute breaks away all over the country. We also enjoying eating out and socialising with our circle of friends and meeting others DO YOU DO EVERYTHING TOGETHER OR DO YOU LIKE TO KEEP INDEPENDENT?

Sam: Most things we do together besides working unless

I have a drag night out. Adi normally comes with us now, when I’m in drag it’s me and the sister Kandy Carousel who does wee private gigs and events together, Adrian does stage manager for us to make it easier for costume changes etc. In seven years together we have only had three nights apart due to the passing of my brother and Adi not getting time off except for the funeral - but this made me realise that I’d be lost when he’s not there. nor can I sleep when he doesn’t play with my hair, so yea we basically join at the hip - we come as a package Adi: No we do everything together unless I’m working or Sams on a drag night out with his drag sisters, tho if I’m off work I join them. We are normally are both off for when Sams we boy Lee comes up #FamilyTime .



Our Family... Geri and Lisa’s family is now completed. WHAT STARTED OUT AS A friendship for Geri and Lisa slowly developed into something more, really slowly, three year slowly! Life moved on and these lovely ladies tied the knot in front of 120 of their closest friends and family. With life settled, a growing business and things going as they should, Geri and Lisa wanted to complete their family unit. It was quite a long process to make their dreams come true. They had to attend a few fertility clinics and counselling sessions which were mandatory as they were using donor sperm. Once this was out of the way it was pretty much plain sailing, they went down the ICSI route using anonymous donor sperm and Abeni was conceived on their first attempt. Abeni, which translates into “We asked for her and behold we got her”, was born via emergency caesarean section just a couple of days after her expected date. Since that day she has brought joy into the lives of Geri and Lisa that no words can describe. After the birth it was hard for some people to comprehend how it physically happened that two women could have a baby, but they’ve always been very open and honest with their answers in the hope that this will educate and people who have misconceptions regarding LGBT families. This openness and honesty has followed through to their daughter, she once asked why her friends have a mummy and a daddy and she has two mummies – she was told that Mummy and Mum fell in love and wanted to have Abeni, and that was all was needed, children are so accepting, it’s when they get older and are influenced by outside factors that negativity and unacceptance happens. Abeni lives as normal a life as any other child, she comes from a loving home where her parents work hard to provide a full and happy life. Just like any other family there are



playdates, school days, shopping trips, movie days – it’s all very normal and they haven’t suffered any negativity from their home situation. During a recent family holiday, after waking Abeni at 4am for an early flight, the flight was delayed for 8 hours. Expecting a tired and restless child on their hands, to their delight and that of the other passengers around them Abeni turned out to be the light relief that everyone needed. Dancing and performing for the other passengers she brought everyone together – helping to relieve some of the boredom during the long delay. Earning herself the nickname “The Dancing Girl”.

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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. The service is open free of charge to anyone regardless of gender, age (5 yrs +), religion, sexual orientation, ethnic or cultural background. Our facilities in North and East Belfast are also designed to promote disabled access and we are keen to provide more support to those within the LGBT community.

GETTING COUNSELLING If you’re experiencing difficult thoughts or feelings, talking to a counsellor can help – they will always listen and never judge. To Get Counselling, simply fill out a confidential referral form online through our website www.newlifecounselling.net or contact our office on 02890391630. New Life Counselling is a charitable organisation and our services are provided free of charge to those who are in need, as a charity we do encourage donations and fundraising volunteers.



COMING OUT David Walsh, 28 from Portglenone tells us his story.

“The signs were all there, we’re just surprised you’re not a drag queen by now” WHEN DID YOU FIRST REALISE YOU WERE ATTRACTED TO SAME SEX PEOPLE? I honestly don’t know, I can’t say I woke up one morning and thought “you know what Dave, wind your neck in son, you like lads!” It was just something that I gradually started to think about after moving to Belfast. I began to grow curious, the city life is vastly different to the country life. You meet so many different people from all over the world with all different backgrounds and histories. I eventually found myself gaining a confidence to begin to experiment with these new feelings I had and started meeting others who I found myself attracted to. DID YOU TELL ANYONE AT THE TIME? God no. No one knew, well they all probably secretly thought it! I have had years of people asking me but back then I had no attractions to the same sex. In fact, I would always end up fancying a girl and never making a move and end up in the ‘friends zone’. I was always the comedian growing up – confident I could make people laugh, zero confidence when it came to flirting or romance! But for approximately a year and half I lived two separate lives, one with my friends I have known for years, and one with all the new people I’ve met in Belfast. For me at the start I was still finding myself, I wasn’t even sure I knew what I was looking for, I’m still not sure! So I felt there was no point in telling them anything. But as time went on and it got harder and harder to hide my second life, because you can’t hide anything from social media, and Northern Ireland is so small someone will always find out, I learned that it was easier just to be honest. WHEN DID YOU ACTUALLY COME OUT? I told my close friends to test the water, you always have that fear that things will change, or their reactions will hurt you. But in fact, nothing changed. I could tell that some of them were hurt because I hid it from them. In terms of ‘coming out’ I can’t say I have, I’m more open about my life now, but I haven’t gone

around shouting about it or making it known to everyone, there are people out there who probably don’t still know, but if anyone asks me, I will tell them the truth and I won’t deny anything, I have grown and I have gained confidence to this, and that’s thanks to my friends, old and new, and the support and slagging that they have giving me. HOW DID YOU DO IT? I did it the same way I conquer all obstacles in life... throw a lot of alcohol at it. No, I took my mates out on a pub crawl round Belfast and as we moved bar to bar and as the shots kept flowing I was comfortable enough to tell them. It was all very casual and very relaxed. I told one of my mates that I was anxious about telling the rest in our friendship circle and she said look I will do it for you – and she did, and like I say Northern Irelands very small before long everyone knew and messaged me with nothing but support. WHAT WAS THE REACTION OF YOUR FAMILY AND CLOSE FRIENDS? Disinherited… I’m kidding! To be honest, I have a large family circle and different friendship circles that I have developed over 25 years, I didn’t go around individually telling anyone, mostly they found out from other family members or friends, some will probably only find out via this article being published lol. The reactions I have been getting have all been positive, I am not a lovey-dovey person, and my family and friends know that, I show my feelings through sarcasm, memes and jokes. They all knew the worst thing for me would be a serious conversation or making a big deal out of it. ANY NEGATIVE REACTIONS? HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THESE? Negative, not really! Like there were no screaming matches, no tears, nothing dramatic – unfortunately, or this article would be a lot juicier! But I can say not everyone will be elated at first, it can come as a shock to certain people, just remember give them time, let

them absorb the information, process it and come to terms with it. And no mater what, if someone close to you says something negative in the heat of the moment, don’t take it to heart and don’t fixate on it, people say stupid things they don’t mean and tend to regret! Life is too short to dwell on mistakes. HOW HAS COMING OUT AFFECTED YOU? I can’t say it has affected me that much. I am more confident and have more self-esteem. If anything, it was a relief to not have to hide it any more. I have more time now to focus on my life, my career and my friends. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHERS THINKING ABOUT COMING OUT? My advice is listen to your gut. A lot of people around you have their own stories and their own reasons for coming out, only do it when you are ready. In my experience and opinion, there is no shame in taking your time, it can be a lot to process for you and for people close around you. Always remember though that no matter what happens or how it goes, when you do it, you will become a stronger and more confident person. A good phrase I have heard lately that people seem to use is “You do You”. ANY FUNNY STORIES ABOUT WHEN YOU CAME OUT TO SOMEONE? A funny story, oh god which one to tell… well when my cousin found out and messaged me she wrote, “I had no idea what I was about to be told... I am so happy for you, you are always putting other people first and spend your whole life keeping other people happy, time for you to start thinking about yourself.” We chatted a bit more and I asked was she shocked, she replied saying, “lad you used to run around your pub when you were 4/5 and steal every womans high heels and wear them… you fell down the stairs in your mums high heels and split your head… you always had to be the mammy when we played at grannies... the signs were all there like… Just surprised you’re not a drag queen by now!” ha ha ha


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Yuhua Hamasaki talks to us about Drag Race, identity, turning drab to fab, and meeting her icon. You Me at Six talk about their sixth album...


Yuhua Hamasaki talks to us about Drag Race, identity, turning drab to fab, and meeting her icon. You Me at Six talk about their sixth album...