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GNI mag

THE LOCAL HOMOCULTURAL MAGAZINE Issue 34 November / December 2018 £3.95 / €4.95



On Patrol Snow PAtrol’s Gary Lightbody

Iconic Joanna Lumley on tour


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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Olympia Theatre Leisureland Theatre Royal University Concert Hall National Opera House Cork Opera House Millennium Forum TLT Theatre SSE Arena

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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 / Midas Public Relations / Ru Paul / Gary Lightbody / Five to Five / The Black Madonna / Samuel Holmes / Joanna Lumley / Kameron Michaels / Anita Rani / Connor & Rebecca / Sam Lynch / Donal McKeown / Gavyn Andrews / Kremlin / Culture Club / Sam & Adi / Mrs Rice / Ross Alexander Lewis / Mickey & Alex

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


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 Marty tells us about the best entertainment over the next month or so. ALICIA PERRY Taking control, be yourself. MICKY MURRAY When is banter not just banter? SAM McKINSTRY Back for second year at uni, another chance. ROUND UP LGBT stories from across the globe. RU PAUL Taking a look at the new GuRu book. GARY LIGHTBODY Snow Patrol are back with new music and a new tour. FIVE TO FIVE As this new musical tours the UK we caught up with the boys. THE BLACK MADONNA Superstar DJ and ambassador for pushing for your goals, we caught up. KAMERON MICHAELS Takes a break from the tour to talk to us. SAMUEL HOLMES What’s in store for Sam after Shrek? JOANNA LUMLEY She’s more than just Patsy. ANITA RANI Tells us all about The Blue Planet live concert.


STUFF We hoke out the best things to help you through the festive season.

THE 12 GAYS OF CHRISTMAS Our Daniel gives you his take. ERM, CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS Christmas traditions from across the globe and closer to home. WHAT’S ON Checking out what’s on in Dublin and Belfast this festive season. ANOTHER WORLD Spreading some Christmas love with Connor & Rebecca.


FASHION Wrapping up with some winter woolies. MEET THE ARTIST Joe Lynch talks about his work.

FASHION Check’d Out, looking at some of the trendiest checks out there. SLEEPOVER We spend a night at the Dunadry. FESTIVE TREAT What have Hastings got in store for us? FITNESS Daniel gives us some tips. HEALTH AND BEAUTY Donal McKeown tells it how it is. FOOD We check out Deanes Bistro in Belfast. HOMES Getting decorated for Santa. TRAVEL Gavyn tells us all about Tel Aviv. SCENE OUT We went to Kremlin and Culture Club during halloween. BIG DAY A beautiful wedding in the sun. LGBT FAMILIES Anthony’s mum tells her story. COMING OUT Ross tells us his coming out story.

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Taking advice from our GuRu on all sorts of things.. PAGE 25


Gary Lightbody talks about the latest album and tour. PAGE 30

THE BLACK MADONNA: Working the club scene across the globe, TBM tells us about it all.. PAGE 36


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Recommended Marty Kearney

JACK AND THE BEANSTALK The annual Christmas pantomime at the Grand Opera house is back of course starring May Mc Fettridge as Dame may trot in her 29th year on the stage, expect all the usual ingredients from Belfast’s number one pantomime and more with spectacular effects, belly ache laughs, over the top performances and sing along songs all the family will enjoy.

AQUAMAN The DC movies haven’t been the big blockbusters studio bosses would have hoped apart from Wonder Woman, as I mentioned in a previous issues Female heroes are the way forward and it seems like DC is taking note with the departure of Henry Cavil and soon to be Ben Affleck, as Superman and Batman, a Supergirl film is in development, Wonder Woman 2 will be released next year and Margot Robbie will return as Harley Quinn to headline a Birds of Prey which has already been given a release date of 7th February 2020. The cast its leads Mary Elizabeth Winstead will play Batman and Catwoman’s Daughter Huntress , Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Caney, And Playing Gotham City detective Renee Montoya is Rozie Perez. I’m really looking forward to Aquaman, Jason Mona had some great scenes in Justice League plus he’s not bad to look at either. Nicole Kidman will make an appearance as queen of Atlanta along with Amber Heard as Mera, she appeared briefly in the last scene of Justice League. Directed by James Wan who directed both the Conjuring movies should put a different spin on this comic book movie.

HAPPY TOGETHER I’m not really a sit-com person I’ll watch the pilot and if I don’t laugh out loud in that episode I won’t bother with the second episode, but something about this cute little comedy I really liked and I’m in to the third episode and I look forward to it more and more each week, Executive produced by Harry Styles and starring Damon Wayne Jr. A normal suburban couple take in a world famous pop star loosely based on Mr. Styles himself the show has that classic after school sitcom vibe in the form of Sister Sister, Keenan and Kel. This won’t be the next big thing but its 22 minutes of pure escapism that you should welcome with a few lol moments.


Grand Opera House Gift Vouchers Available now at goh.co.uk


If you didn’t pull your vest down, put a belt round it put on welly boots and put a towel round your neck and pretend it was a cloak where you even a child of the 80s channeling the princess of power She-Ra…….? No one? Just Me…..? Again. For our readers asking who the hell is SheRa? She-Ra is HeMans twin sister and they were the most successful cartoon in the 80s with comics, action figures / dolls and yes I did play with both. Netflix have now rebooted She-Ra but don’t expect to see this She-Ra all sexy and looking like Kylie Minogue they have reenvisioned her to look like a real girl and to be more relatable to young women. This version of SheRa will be aimed at younger children but as a fan of the original ill watch anyway, with my nieces of course. #ANYEXCUSE.



More than 40 sparkling shows to choose from

NOBODY’S FOOL Tiffany Haddish the break out star from Girls Trip is back as newly released prisoner who reunites with her sister only to realize her sister may be being cat fished. Doesn’t sound like the best of plots but Ms. Haddish is great in everything she’s done lately from her movies, guest appearances, hosting the MTV movie awards and she’s had me in stiches. Amber Reily from Glee appears along with living legend Whoopi Goldberg and filling out the role of leading man is a big hunk of burning love Omari Hardwich aka Ghost from TVs Power. Directed by Tyler Perry.

WELCOME TO MARWEN I’m not really a Steve Carell fan but every now and then a movie will come out and it will change my mind about the actor. Upon viewing the trailer not

only did I get goosebumps but I almost cried, at a bloody trailer, check it out you will see what I mean and if you don’t feel yourself fighting back the tears then you are dead inside. Based on a true story Welcome to Marwen tells the tale of Mark Hogancamp who after a brutal attack develops a unique way

off coping by creating a fantasy world where the kind women in his life become his saviors in the form of action dolls. Also staring Leslie Mann, Janell

Gonzalez, Eiza Gonzalez and Game of thrones Gwendoline Christie. Robert Zemckis who directed Forest Gump and Death becomes directs this fantasy drama that I predict will be nominated for many Oscars.


Grand Opera House Gift Vouchers Available now at goh.co.uk

BUMBLEBEE A driver doesn’t choose the car the car chooses the driver, you hear that in the trailer for bumblebee and I’m stealing that quote as I get so much stick for choosing to drive a Fiat 500 Pop, a yellow one at that. I’m hoping after I see this movie I love my little yellow car even more so that I decide to change her name from Meredith to Bumblebee. Bumblebee is a prequel and spin off to the Transformers franchise. The first Transformers movie was great the rest all kind of sucked but the trailer to this looks awesome and its Staring one of my favorite actress/singers, the super talented Hailee Steinfield and Angela Basset is to voice one of the villain transformers, with what casting I know it’s going to be one of the better movies out this Christmas.

MANIFEST I’ve watched a lot of pilots this season and Manifest has been the best. Passengers on a flight from Jamaica to New York experience some turbulence only to realize that when they land that five and half years have passed, they have been presumed dead and there loved one are not the same. Along with that a few passengers get guiding messages to help others and see hallucinations. Fans of once upon a time will be glad to learn that Price Charming Josh Dallas stars alongside Melisa Roxburg and the gorgeous J.R Ramirez from Power and Jessica Jones is also a series regular. Manifest is a hit in the states and additional episodes have already been ordered so expect it on your TV screens very soon.



More than 40 sparkling shows to choose from


Just do you.

Alicia V Perry HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT the way you appear within the context of your life? Are you truly yourself ? Do you feel that you can be you no matter what social situation you’re in? If not then there’s a good chance that you put on various masks so habitually that you don’t even notice when you’re doing it - maybe you’ve done it your whole life. It seems we are living in a new era and one where we can get very lost and confused in our quest to be the best version of ourselves. Our minds are flooded now, more than ever before, with suggestions and advertisements on how to better operate and conduct ourselves as decent human beings. Don’t get me wrong, change can be a very good thing but too much change can leave you with a lack of foundational belonging and apocryphal uniqueness. Information and advice are finding their way to us albeit at times when we just want time and space to work things out for ourselves. Indeed, when you think about it, we are becoming more and more exposed to the technological means and developments of our first world countries in which this plethora of admonition surrounds us. Every second of every day it is estimated that 6,000 tweets are sent and 41,000 posts are uploaded onto Facebook yet research suggests the more connected we are the lonelier we can feel. The more isolated we become the more susceptible we are to advice and ascertaining ways of improvement. We have so many unconscious beliefs that we have taken on over the years that were probably handed down to us from somebody else and that we believed to be who we are. Becoming more aware of the quality of your thoughts, letting go of the old beliefs and becoming more present can help in revealing your true nature. We are all so much more than those old negative thinking patterns would ever allow us to believe. You would be astounded by the amount of negative thoughts that will run through your mind in any given day. After a while your reality begins to take shape based on all of these conditioned thinking patterns hence become more aware of the quality of your thinking. Allow yourself to sit quietly every morning before

starting your day for just five to ten minutes. Yes, thoughts will come and go, but just allow them to do that without getting attached to them. Just observe them. When you are finished, continue observing your mind throughout the day; it is quite enlightening and empowering. When you let go of

“Your true self is who you really are when you let go of all of the self-doubt, the criticisms, the labels, and the judgments that you have placed upon yourself. It is who you are naturally, when you lower your guard, take off the mask and dispel any pretentiousness; just doing you!” the old ways of thinking, follow your bliss and do what you love, you begin to align with happiness and peace. These are all indicators that you are connected with your true nature hence you are then allowing your real self to shine forth in all its glory. Your true self is who you really are when you let go of all of the self-doubt, the criticisms, the labels, and

the judgments that you have placed upon yourself. It is who you are naturally, when you lower your guard, take off the mask and dispel any pretentiousness; just doing you! However, beginning to do you requires letting go of who you wish yourself to be. Your authentic self is the real you that is beyond all of those conditioned beliefs and thinking patterns that you have accumulated throughout your life. Being yourself is an extremely precious gift that only you can give to the world. Be true to yourself and if someone does not appreciate how amazing you are, it is not your business, it is simply theirs. Let it go and go on enjoying life being your true self spending time with those who respect, love and adore the real you. Conversely, there are times when it is adaptive to protect your true self or your thoughts and feelings. Some people and situations are unsafe hence it is wise to hold back. That said, if you find yourself frequently donning masks in unsafe situations where you fear criticism, belittling, anger etc. it may be worth looking at how to reduce your exposure to these people or situations. Being, more importantly staying, true to ourselves is one of the hardest things to do but will be one of the most intrinsically rewarding because being you isn’t just about loving the way you look and enjoying your quirks, it’s about being confident in your decisions in life; trusting your intuition, going against the grain, especially when times are tough and difficult. The consequences of not being yourself are far worse than the ones of being yourself and it is all worth it. It’s worth it, because a life where you are not being you isn’t. Treat yourself this Christmas, give yourself the best present ever, just do you! Merry Christmas everyone and a happy 2019! Alicia xx “Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.” Judy Garland

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



This award celebrates and honours those individuals who have made a positive contribution to the LGBTQ+ community. Wesleyan recognises the importance of being able to truly be yourself, which is why we are pleased to sponsor this award. We believe in acceptance without compromise. Being a mutual is an integral part of who we are and with no shareholders, our focus is on our members and customers. It means that we are committed to doing the right thing and that’s why we launched the Wesleyan Foundation in May 2017, a fund designed to provide financial support for causes that are important to our members, customers and communities in which we live and work. For doctors and dentists in constant demand, we know it’s difficult to find time to consider your financial aspirations. Wesleyan is dedicated to society’s most trusted professions, offering specialist financial advice for over 175 years.

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Your local Wesleyan Financial Services Consultant focuses only on your profession, so they know the ins and outs of your specific career path and are ideally placed to advise you. Whether it’s guidance on the NHS Pension Scheme, reviewing your investment options, planning ahead for your retirement, or more general financial needs, they can help.

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When does banter cross the line?

Micky Murray

I’m a bit of a work-a-holic, so when I’m not

meant to offend or hurt the other person, it’s

know the comments weren’t meant to offend,

three jobs, it sounds exhausting, but I love it. I

people who still use those remarks seriously,

comments were offensive, the person making

working my 9-5, I work in one of my other

get to pop in for a few shifts in a place I love

to work and get to catch up with people I used

used in a way that we’re making fun of the

should have thought more about who they were

One of my colleagues calls me ‘Chief Gay’, which if you follow my social media you’ll know why, some of them ask about my love life, nonexistent, and in one of my jobs there’s another member of staff who’s gay, so sometimes I get ‘you’re not the only gay in the village anymore’.

So this got me thinking, when does banter cross

but there’s still that line that we know we can’t

to work with all the time and we have a bit of banter, joking about with each other, you get my drift.

One of my colleagues calls me ‘Chief Gay’, which if you follow my social media you’ll

know why, some of them ask about my love life, non-existent, and in one of my jobs

there’s another member of staff who’s gay, so

sometimes I get ‘you’re not the only gay in the village anymore’. It’s all a bit of banter and to me it’s fine because that’s the relationship I

have with them, but recently I was told that a member of staff made a homophobic and

transphobic remark to one of my colleagues,

I initially started thinking about how I would have perceived it by the person who made the

comment. I’ve known them for years, we have a great relationship, they might not have meant it to be offensive because I might have taken it differently etc, and then I sort of caught

myself on, this wasn’t a remark made to me in a moment of banter, yes it might have been more acceptable to say it to me given that we have

that relationship and the same type of humour, but it wasn’t to me, and the person saying it speaking to.

the line?

For the record, I in no way think that any

homophobic, transphobic, biphobic, misogynist, ablest, remarks are acceptable, although, I do

the comments, instead of apologising, just

defended themselves and carried on. People need to know that the language they use is

powerful and has an impact, and when they

say something that’s offensive it needs to be

addressed, and once it’s addressed then move on forward, there is no point in letting it

become an issue for longer than necessary, and once someone has realised what they’ve said is unacceptable and they change that, don’t nail them to the cross, accept that they took on

board what you said and ratified the problem, if they did.

I think this is more of a lesson to our allies, if you aren’t sure if something is offensive, it probably is, and if someone tells you it’s

offensive, then it probably is and you should apologise. It’s important that these types of

comments are addressed head-on, if our allies think it’s acceptable then who knows what other people deem acceptable?

The Rainbow Project have a full-time advocacy

officer, Aisling, who’s great, and if you’ve found yourself in this type of situation in work it may be useful to contact her.

cross, that word that we know will certainly cause offence and hurt the other person, so

we actively avoid it because it will never be acceptable, even in a joke.

accept that we all have those non-PC jokes

When my colleague approached me about the

friends, there’s no malice behind it, it’s not

address it, I know them both well enough, I

between friends that we know are okay between

but they did, and even after being told that the

comments made, I didn’t really know how to

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


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Second year, another column, another chance.

Sam McKinstry GOING BACK TO UNI FOR my second year made me feel scared, felt old, and I felt like now I had to actually take shit seriously. The transition from first to second year in uni is, I expect, for most people quite a big transition. Most of us are now living in our own houses with people we actually like, and our assessments actually count towards our degrees. But going from having a boyfriend to being freed from the shackles of that relationship was definitely the biggest transition for me as I entered my second year. I had expected myself to hit freshers hard this year, because unlike freshers in first year I had friends to depend on and we were able plan in advance, together, which events we wanted to go to, without the enormous anxiety that held us back in first year. But I didn’t expect myself to hit freshers half as hard as I did. Never in my life has my sweet, now withered, liver had to endure a 5 day bender. Followed by a brief 24 hour break... which led to a further 2 days of getting absolutely twatted. But I thought why the hell not? These were the last few days of freedom I had left before the hard work started. I am now a month and a half in and I’m still waiting for the ‘hard work’ to actually begin. Obviously I have been attending *most* of my lectures and I am doing my suggested readings but no assessments have been set yet and it genuinely just feels like the third semester of first year. Which I am quite thankful for because I have been able to ease myself back into the swing of things and I’ve been able to live the single first year life I had missed out on last year. What I have found quite surprising though, especially in a city like Manchester, is quite a few of the guys are either still quite insistent that they’re ‘straight’ or are still in the closet. I have quite a bit of sympathy for guys who are still worried about who they are and how they will be perceived for simply being themselves. One guy I got with who is ‘straight’ left my house, after testing the strength of my mattress, faster than Michelle could sing her verse in ‘Survivor’ because he felt quite bad for what he had just done. A different guy told me DURING sex that he had a girlfriend. Now you don’t really need to keep sweet talking me if you’ve got as far as my bed. However, coming out with the line “I have a girlfriend” during sex is certainly the best way to get kicked out of it.

Obviously I felt bad for him because he has to continue to hide who is and has to live a lie. But I have to say I felt much worse for his girlfriend who was sitting at home not knowing her boyfriend was taking it up the arse. I had been told a few months ago by one of my friends from the gay village that the dating scene in Manchester

I don’t really understand why so many people just want to sleep around. I find it so much more satisfying to have someone who makes me laugh, who respects me, wants to go on cute dates with me and just have a chill time..

for gay men is virtually non-existent because all they want is a shag. Which for the most part is very true. Manchester Grindr is a world of its own. It’s 70% bottoms, 20% perverts, 8% tops and 2% guys who want to actually get to know you, not just get under you. The gay dating scene in Manchester, as I’ve experienced it thus far, has 2 parallels. Either you have your first kiss on the second date after spending time actually talking and getting to know each other. Or you shag someone after having a second look at their Grindr profile at 3am and thinking to yourself ‘well they’ll do’. And to be completely honest I much prefer the former. I don’t really understand why so many people just want to sleep around. I find it so much more satisfying to have

someone who makes me laugh, who respects me, wants to go on cute dates with me and just have a chill time. It sounds cheesy as fuck but a gal has to dream. It only took me a year to realise I was in love with the idea of having this kind of relationship with a person, rather than actually wanting to be with that person. Now, more so than ever, it would be perfect to have a guy to cuddle. The neighbourhood I currently live in feels like the south side of Chicago. In one week alone there’s been 3 nights where incidents have been reported (one of these nights saw 3 robberies on a road directly beside mine). A man attempted to burgle my friend’s house, by trying to climb through the downstairs bedroom window. Luckily there was someone in the room at the time which scared him away but you best believe if someone climbed through my window I’d be screaming at a pitch even Mariah couldn’t dream of. Despite being at home for a couple of months over summer, it still feels strange to now be living somewhere without 24/7 security. When I was living in halls I was on the top floor of a building that had 24 rooms to a floor. So the chance of someone, firstly, getting into my building and then choosing to go to my room and steal my stuff was minuscule. But now I live in a house located in a dodgy area, right next to a dark bin alley, in a house with only 4 other bedrooms. Having the attic room made me feel quite smug because you’d think I’d be the last room to be targeted. However, my curiosity got the best of me so I decided to read about past crimes on my street and much to my despair I read about a couple of instances where burglars actually got onto the roof and tried to get directly into the attic room. So, in short, if you don’t see my column in the next issue there’s a fair chance the good Lord above has decided it was my time to go. If you can’t wait until the next issue to see if a Mancunian has decided to come through my roof and give me a heart attack follow my Instagram @ samckinstry or my Twitter @sam_mckinstry.

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



ROUND UP... UNRELEASED GEORGE MICHAEL MUSIC TO FEATURE IN LAST CHRISTMAS FILM The London-set romantic comedy to be directed by Paul Feig will include the Wham! classic as well as other, unheard tracks. Previously unheard material by George Michael will appear in Last Christmas, a new film by Paul Feig, a representative for the late singer confirmed. Emma Thompson and comedian Bryony Kimmings are writing the screenplay for the Universal Pictures film, which will also feature Wham!’s 1984 hit of the same name. Due for release in November 2019, the film will star Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) and Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians) as seasonally starcrossed lovers living in London. Kate (Clarke) works as an elf in a year-round Christmas shop and

continually makes bad decisions. Tom (Golding) “seems too good to be true”, Variety reports. In an interview with Radio Times, Kimmings said: “When I came on board, George was up for it. He’d already signed something to say yes.” Still saving us from tears: the inside story of Wham!’s Last Christmas Saying that the idea had been developed by Michael, Thompson, and Thompson’s husband, the actor Greg Wise, Kimmings said she had already turned in her draft of the script and it included the kind of “queer politics” Michael was interested in. “I tried to slip in some trans people and make sure there was queer politics in there … I don’t know how much of that remains!”

NEWRY TO HOST 2019 UK AND IRELAND PRIDE FESTIVAL AND PARADE Organisers of Pride in Newry were told the news in Glasgow at the annual UK Pride Organisers Network (UKPON) conference 2018. The European Pride Organisers Association (EPOA) also announced that they would host their next conference in Newry in March 2019, which will coincide with the weekend that the UK officially leaves the European Union. “We are delighted to have won UK and Ireland Pride 2019 against a backdrop of setbacks for the LGBTQI community in the North of Ireland. We will work hard to maximise the opportunity this status affords us and continue to fight tirelessly for equality in Northern Ireland.” The UK Pride Organisers Network exists to bring Pride organisers together to share knowledge and experience. Each year, the network selects a different


Feig’s current film, A Simple Favour, surpassed box office expectations. Last Christmas will be Thompson’s sixth screenplay. She remains the only person to receive Academy Awards for acting and writing, having won best adapted screenplay for Sense and Sensibility (1995) and best actress for Howards End (1993). Michael’s music has soundtracked a number of films including Deadpool, Zoolander, Beverly Hills Cop II, The Rules of Attraction, Hot Tub Time Machine and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and the Emoji Movie. He died on Christmas day 2016 at the age of 53. Source www.theguardian.com

local Pride event to host UK Pride. This year, it was hosted by the Isle of Wight Pride in July. In the bid document submitted by Pride in Newry, they noted that Newry is a border city in Northern Ireland, which makes them “perfectly placed” to host the event. “Visitors have been flocking to this vibrant city for many years to enjoy its location, history, shopping, restaurant scene and nightlife. Often referred to as ‘Gateway to the North’, Newry lies 3 miles from the Irish border, it sits snugly amidst the natural splendour of the Mourne Mountains and the Ring of Gullion.” In their application, Pride in Newry said that Northern Ireland is “not a rights-based society” and said they are “deprived of a government willing to implement legislation that is already in force in the rest of the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Source Pinknews.co.uk


PRESIDENT SPEAKS OUT FOR TRANS RIGHTS Word leaked a week ago that the Trump administration is considering a plan to remove the legal status of transgender people, effectively eliminating federal protection for people based on their gender identities. College policies on transgender students and employees vary widely, but several presidents of institutions that have pledged in the past to ban discrimination against transgender people have in the last week affirmed those commitments.

have been Eric Barron, president of Pennsylvania State University; Philip DiStefano, chancellor of the University of Colorado at Boulder; Miriam E. Nelson, president of Hampshire College; and Michael S. Roth, president of Wesleyan University. Wrote Roth: “At Wesleyan we will fight back against any attempt to erase transgender people. We will stand by our transgender friends and colleagues, we will recognize them, acknowledge their struggles, and join with them to fight for equality. The stakes are high for all of us.” Source www.insidehighered.com

Among those issuing statement

EQUAL MARRIAGE AND EUROPRIDE MAKES 2019 THE GAYEST YEAR TO VISIT VIENNA Vienna is getting ready for a whole year of parties. 2019 is the year Austria truly ascends as the gay capital of Europe. Not only is the country finally welcoming in same-sex marriage, Vienna is also host to the spectacular EuroPride celebrations. The second time the city will host EuroPride since 2001, the event unites LGBTI people from across the continent for two weeks of fabulous fun. Vienna is focusing the festivities at the Rathausplatz, in front of City Hall. The square will be transformed into a tent city filled with everything from NGOs, LGBTI organizations, businesses and loads of food. Yet there’s no Pride without a parade, and Vienna is taking it to the next level. The Rainbow Parade will lead marchers through one of the most spectacular boulevards in the world, Ringstrasse, taking hundreds of thousands of people past some of the city’s most beautiful monuments and buildings. The Parade ends at the Rathausplatz,

where people will be greeted with international acts on the main stage. In fact, the music doesn’t stop in the square, with live acts and DJs alike giving the soundtrack. Even more than EuroPride. But the two weeks running up to the march has enough LGBTI activities to get even the grumpiest gay excited. Never thought you could go to a beach party in Austria? Think again, as they’ll be transforming the Danube Canal into one. Expect Circuit vibes and big tunes. Even the animals are getting involved, with a Pride Day at Schönbrunn Zoo getting you close to pandas, elephants and the animals that fits everywhere in the LGBTI spectrum, penguins. While the city celebrates love in all its forms, equal marriage passing makes it the perfect opportunity to steal the spotlight for yourself. With 2019 marking the first time same-sex couples can tie the knot, lovebirds can get hitched in places like Schönbrunn Palace, Belvedere Palace, or the Giant Ferris Wheel. Vienna has won multiple awards as an LGBTI destination – including Destination of the Year at the Australian LGBTI Awards – which means there’s already so many reasons to visit. But with EuroPride and the sounds of samesex wedding bells, this rainbow city is truly unbeatable. Source www.gaystarnews.com



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RUPAIL “Your fear of looking stupid is holding you back.” GNIMAG.COM | 25




Always arrive camera-ready.



My first recollection of seeing RuPaul was as a 16 year old closeted teen. Staying over at my granny’s house, I was in my room watching TV in bed. Randomly this show came on with the most amazing, flamboyant person I’d ever seen. Back then the only drag to be seen on local TV was Lily Savage (Paul O’Grady), or Dame Edna Everage, and as funny as they were, and as “of their time” as they were – they couldn’t really be described as inspirational. This RuPaul character was charismatic, she was interviewing celebrities, there were tongue in cheek sketches, and she sang a song with a sound I’d never really heard before – the song was her, now classic, tune; Supermodel (You better work). Back then downloads weren’t invented, but as soon as I could I took myself to my local Golden Discs (ask your parents) and bought myself the Supermodel CD single – I actually still have it.


Now, twenty-five years later, I’m a 41 year

Mantra on how we look:

old man. Very comfortable in my own skin,

“I think that the concept of arriving

and over that quarter century I’ve kept

camera-ready is a great metaphor for life.

my finger on the RuPaul pie. She’s been a

It means that you came to play, seriously.

spokesperson for MAC Cosmetics and raised

That you made a deliberate effort to suit up

vital funds for the MAC Aids Fund, she’s

and show up for life and everything it has

had more TV airtime than we can imagine,

to offer. When you show effort, life will

appeared in countless films, voiced radio

reflect that and give it back to you.”

shows, and released more than a dozen albums. All the while remaining grounded

Taking advice from our peers:

and an inspiration to those around her.

“Dolly Parton is famous for saying, “never perm your own hair.” I think that’s sound

After a shaky start as a child when her


parents split up, Ru has used the devastation of waiting on a dad to turn up (who

On moving out of our comfort zone:

never did) to encourage and inspire her to

“I learned early on that if I was embar-

become a better person. She had to learn

rassed by something, it was definitely

to let go of that victimhood of abandon-

something I needed to do. I needed to

ment so that she could start to love. Look-

challenge myself in every single way I

ing back over everything she’s achieved,

possibly could. But you have to walk those

I’d say things have worked out alright;

hard yards. You have to do it to get to the

married to Georges LeBar, a worldwide su-

other side; there is no way around it. Chal-

perstar, and talent oozing from every pore

lenge yourself to the limits of your fears.

– the girl done good.

Get moving on.”

Sitting in the office a few weeks back we

Home decor is more important than

got a package. As I opened it a book fell

you think:

out, this is a fairly regular occurrence so

“I had my condo in New York redone by

I didn’t get excited – until I noticed the

the man who is the set decorator on Drag

cover – there she was, the icon; RuPaul.

Race. He makes everything look really

As I flicked through the book I realised it

gorgeous, but I wanted him to fill the

was a little collection of empowerment

bathroom with mirrors and make it very,

and inspiration. Aptly named GuRu, this

very bright. You need that light if you are

book illustrates the concept of building the

going to be preparing to spend your day

life you want, from the outside in and the

out among people. I want my bathroom to

inside out.

look like an operating room.”

Ru has often, confidently spoken about

Updating our vocabulary RuPaul style:

her spirituality and her mantras, although

“The phrase “please refrain from” should be

sometimes seemingly flippant, can help us

forever replaced with Bitch, please!”

all see ourselves in a more positive light, they can be an encouragement on a dark

And on finding inner love:

day, an inspiration when we need that

“Ultimately it’s about the love you give

push. We’ve taken some of our favou-

and the love you allow yourself to receive.

rite quotes from GuRU to share with you

Everything else fades away.”

here… The book, GuRU, which features a forward Let’s start by owning ourselves:

by Ru’s good friend Jane Fonda is available

“My lips are overdrawn to compensate for

now in all good bookshops, published by

my lack of giving a shit.”






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A NEW SNOW PATROL ALBUM OUT NOW AND A TOUR ON THE WAY... IS IT GOOD TO FINALLY BE BACK WITH SNOW PATROL AFTER SO LONG AWAY AND OBVIOUSLY WORKING WITH OTHER MUSICIANS ON OTHER PROJECTS? Yeah, course. You know, we were working together all the way through those seven years. I mean we started making the album that would eventually be called Wildness in 2013 with a view of getting that out in 2014 I guess, but it just didn’t work out that way and we wanted to keep rolling really. All we did was take one year off Snow Patrol, and then we got back at it. The songs just weren’t ready, they weren’t right, unfortunately it took a lot longer than we thought. It’s so exciting to be back, to have the album finished, have the album out there, to get back out on tour, and you know,


to tour Britain and Ireland again is amazing. We can’t wait. WITH YOU HAVING MOVED TO LA AND OTHER MEMBERS LIVING IN THE UK, HOW EASY WAS THE WRITING PROCESS? DID YOU MAKE TIME TO GET TOGETHER WHILST YOU WERE LIVING OVER THERE OR WAS IT THE CASE OF YOU JUST WANTED TO GO OVER THERE, GET SOME YOU TIME FIRST AND THEN COME INTO THE WRITING PROCESS? Yeah I mean, we took a little bit of a break. Nathan went and started Little Matador, I did another Tired Pony album and co-wrote with a bunch of different people including Taylor swift and stuff, and Johnny McDaid

was doing that as well with lots of different people and producing. Jonny started Polar Publishing, Pablo was writing and producing with people, too, so everybody was doing their own thing, and I was trying to write the Snow Patrol album at the same time but, you know, I’ll write generally on my own and then I’ll take it in to Garrett (producer) and we will work on tracks together and then everyone else will come in over the period. The years between 2013 when I started writing and 2017 when we finished, we would get together for a couple of weeks or a month at a time. I think the album was probably about nine months work in those four, nearly five years. So it wasn’t constant working for five years – that would have probably killed us! I SO LIKE, WHO WAS

MOTIVATED FIRST TO GET THE BALL ROLLING WITH THE NEW ALBUM? WAS IT YOURSELF, LIKE, “RIGHT OKAY, I’VE GOT SOME IDEAS, LET’S START?” Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Because I write the songs, or at least start to, people are waiting for me to have some ideas before we get together. We’re not a jamming kind of band, we don’t get together and jam a bunch of ideas and then take the best bits. I always find that a bit of a waste of time, I know that some bands do it, and they do great at it but it just never really worked out for us, it never really clicked, it wasn’t our best way of working, so I like to have the songs written before we record them, you know.

INTERVIEW__ WITH LYRICS ON PREVIOUS ALBUMS, I’D HEARD YOU MENTION HOW THEY WERE PURPOSELY UPLIFTING AS IF YOU WERE PUSHING YOURSELF TO ESCAPE WHAT YOU WERE GOING THROUGH PERSONALLY AND TO GIVE YOURSELF GUIDANCE. NOW THAT YOU HAVE HAD THAT TURNAROUND IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE HAS THIS CHANGED YOUR SONG WRITING? I have access now to a part of myself that I was always maybe afraid of, afraid of is maybe the wrong term, but I was afraid that it would make other people not want to be my friend! You know, like, as in, if I, if we all had that fear I think, or we all have that fear that our deepest, darkest thoughts would frighten everyone else, and that’s, to me that was always the reason why I never talked about it, you know, and I found quite the opposite when I started to talk about it, when I started to talk about my demons, I realised that people then go, “oh yeah, you know, I’ve gone through the same thing” or “I understand what you’re going through.” People, at the very least, understood what I was going through, and at the very best had actually been through the same thing themselves. It made me feel so much less isolated, so much less alone, and I waited until I was 40 years old before I opened my mouth about it. I feel like, I’m so glad that I did, I just wish I had done it sooner in my life. I guess this was just the right time to do it and you know, when you let the light flood into those dark places in yourself, you kind of create this space in yourself, you create this kind of bravery. I don’t really feel like there’s any subject matter now off the table for me, I could write about anything. Im not sure if it’s changed the way I approach writing because I think that will always be the same, it’ll be a combination of inspirations and graft. But the subject matters that I can write about now have broadened, have widened into absolutely anything, nothing is off the table. I think it will always have to be generated from within, I don’t really take external forces, I’m not a political writer. I’m not a socio-political writer, not really. I tend to be more fascinated, I’m

fascinated with the news, how could you not be these days? I’m fascinated and appalled in equal measure. I think, as far as writing goes, I think it will always be a kind of inner struggles that seem to be the kind of subject matters that I’m drawn to. YOUR ARENA TOUR SEES YOU PLAY ACROSS THE UK IN DECEMBER AND JANUARY BUT YOU’VE PLAYED A LOT OF VERY SMALL SHOWS AROUND THE ALBUM RELEASE. DO YOU FIND MUCH DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO TYPES OF SHOWS, YOU KNOW, THE LARGE AND THE INTIMATE, ASIDE FROM THE CROWD SIZE? Yeah, you know it’s funny, when I first started out, I had no confidence in my stagecraft. I couldn’t even call it stagecraft. I just used to get on stage and stare at my feet and had a big red face the whole time, like I was embarrassed to be there. I guess I probably was, I was still probably questioning what I was doing and I didn’t really have any self-belief. Then over time, over many, many gigs, many, many years, as the gigs started getting bigger the confidence kind of grew, that outer shell began to thicken a bit, and I was able to look at the crowd to begin with * laughing *, and then interact with the crowd, and then cause a reaction in the crowd, go out there and try and make sure that everybody has a great night, make sure everybody has fun and get people singing along. Sometimes it happens naturally but other times it’s not a bad idea to start a sing-a-long, you know. Freddie Mercury showed the way on that one. Towards the end of 2012 when we were finishing the last tour, I think I was a very good front man, and getting back into that has been an interesting thing. I sort of feel with the smaller shows, I was closing my eyes a lot, maybe feeling a little shy. The sort of thing that took maybe 15-20 years to happen where I went from no confidence to lots of confidence has happened in the last, there’s been like a microcosm of it in the last sort of three months, where I went from the first small shows, I went from somebody whose not really had that much confidence again to

blossoming. We’ve had been playing festivals over the summer and I felt “oh, here’s that guy again, I can do this again, you know?” So it was like this really interesting shift from the smaller shows to the bigger shows. The smaller shows you really see everybody and sometimes that makes you feel like you’re very exposed especially when you’re saying the personal things that I am. The bigger shows; after the first few rows everything starts to blur a little bit, my eyesight is not that great at it, so you’re able to come out of yourself more and I think in the last few shows, I’ve really felt like my old self on stage again. With December rolling around I’ll be longing for that, feeling very confident on stage again, and I’m really looking forward to those arena shows because you really feel like you have, there is an opportunity where you can make a big arena into a small space, you can make the people at the back row just as close as the people in the front row. We toured with U2 for many years, in 2005 and then in 2009, and ‘10 or ‘11, and I watched them every night, every single night. I watched the 2 hour set and it’s a master class, and then every night I realised I was bringing what I was learning from those shows into ours, I was doing what Bono was doing on stage, not as well as Bono of course, but I was bringing people into this small intimate gig, and I still have that in me to make a big gig feel intimate and I think by the reverse, we have the ability to make small gigs feel massive. I think that people came away from our recent tour of Ireland, and the London show feeling like they had experienced an arena show in a theatre. So it’s a strange kind of dichotomy the two shifts, but you learn over time, over a long period of time for some people. Some people are born great front men, I wasn’t, I’m an introvert by nature. You learn over time how to make a gig feel the way you want it to feel. You want the audience to have a good time, then that’s available to you, and I want the audience to have a fucking great time every night, and I feel like they can see us having a great time and I can transmit that to them. ANYTHING PLANNED FOR THE LIVE SHOWS?


We’ve been talking about that for a while. We’re trying to finalise some things for the arena show, that’s how much thought goes into it. We don’t just turn up with our equipment and a couple of lights on the night * laughing * and go “Alright, well, where do you want us to set up these lights?’ We’re thinking about the visuals, we’re thinking about the staging, thinking about how the stage looks, we’re thinking about how everything is presented, we’re thinking about the lighting of course. We’ve got one of the best lighting directors in music (he’s won many awards) working with us. We call him ‘jock for life’, * laughing *, he’s been with us for 20 years, so he’s learned with us and we’ve went along. He’s the best in the business as far as I’m concerned, and the show will be spectacular. We’ve got some lovely, lovely little tricks up our sleeve and some things that we’re very excited to bringing out on this tour. NEXT YEAR IS GOING TO SEE THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BAND. IS THERE A SPECIFIC DATE THAT YOU GUYS WILL HAVE TO MARK THAT OR HAVE YOU GOT ANYTHING SPECIAL PLANNED? As far as I recall 1994, it was October 1st we got together. WAS THAT JUST AFTER FRESHER’S WEEK? * LAUGHING * * laughing * Yeah, that was Fresher’s Week. The first day of Fresher’s Week was the day when I met Mark McClelland and we started rehearsing the teenage songs that I had been writing, the next day. So, you either can count the first or the second as the date that we started, and we had an EP out by the end of the year, you know what I mean? Obviously we didn’t have our first album out until we left university because * laughing * my mum would have bloody killed me. I had to get my degree first or there would have been hell to pay. But we started gigging right away, yeah, so it was the 1st of October and we are thinking about things that we want to do to celebrate the 25 years and we have some things up our sleeve, for sure.











TO CURTIS: HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU WERE ON THE PROGRAMME AND DECIDED TO COME OUT ABOUT YOUR SEXUALITY? When I did the show obviously, I had a husband so it wasn’t a massively difficult decision to reveal the fact that I was gay. I thought it would be a bit disrespectful to my husband of six years to not say that he exists. I was thinking about it from the point of view that there would be young people watching the show, in theatre or not in theatre, who would want to have younger role models, who weren’t afraid to say that they were gay. I think that’s really important that in television nowadays that there are people who are just being exactly who they are, and that the young people at home can think; oh, yeah that can be me. So, that was my motivation for it. HOW HAVE YOU FOUND IT, WAS THERE A NEGATIVE OR POSITIVE RESPONSE? Yeah both, there has been an amazing response from people saying thank you for being who you are and it’s really cool for them because they feel proud of who they are, and then there’s some negative responses from people, trolls you’d call them, just people who have no lives. That’s the way of the world, it’s never gonna change. ANY WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT FOR OUR READERS COMING TO TERMS WITH THEIR SEXUALITY? One of the most important things is that, if they are comfortable within themselves to share it with other people – then do so. I think there’s a lot of stigma built up around coming out, and I think especially in 2018 we should be breaking down that stigma, and there are ways to come out that aren’t as harmful or as shocking as it was back in the 00’s. So, yeah, I’d encourage them to go on line, do some research, maybe talk to other people – there’s plenty of ways to talk to other people and find out about themselves before they make the decision to tell friendship groups or family. TO SARIO: HOW DOES THE SHOW YOU’RE INVOLVED IN NOW DIFFER FROM ANY OTHER SHOW YOU’VE DONE IN THE PAST? Ohhhh, you’ve done your research. I’ve always done a lot of musical shows, but I’d say this is more of a play with singing and dancing. It’s not your normal jukebox musical. It’s really well written, people come thinking it’s just Take That musical, a boyband show, but it’s a lot more than that. TO AJ: YOU WERE IN ANOTHER BOY BAND PRIOR TO LET IT SHINE, WHAT’S IT LIKE BEING PART OF FIVE TO FIVE AND GETTING TO PERFORM A MUSICAL RATHER THAN A TYPICAL CONCERT? It’s good fun, we get to be on tour for a long time, and get to perform every single night which is obviously good


fun, we get a pay packet at the end of the week and that’s obviously a good thing – which I didn’t get in the boy band, obviously when you’re in a boy band you’re trying to get success and having some financial security isn’t always easy, so the fact that we get to do this, and enjoy this every night without them worries is really nice. And it’s a great bunch of lads, we’re in a group, a musical, with lots of great other people – it’s good fun. TO YAZDAN: WHAT’S IT LIKE MAKING YOUR PROFESSIONAL DEBUT IN SUCH A UNIQUE SHOW? It’s amazing because I didn’t think this is the direction my life would go at all. I thought I’d make the traditional route of going to drama school, being there for three years, then spending time working in London, and then maybe in my mid-twenties making my West End debut, doing it that way. But the fact that I’ve been given my dream so early is amazing. I have to make sure I ground myself, I understand the amazing thing that I do, I make sure I work hard and I don’t throw away this opportunity. It’s a massive honour for me, it’s a dream I’ve had since I was very young. The amazing thing is, when you’re given your dream so young it makes you dream bigger. It gives you more of a fire in your belly to do more. TO CURTIS: YOU WERE A SONGWRITER BEFORE THE SHOW, WAS IT ALWAYS YOUR PLAN TO DO MUSIC/SINGING OR DID IT JUST HAPPEN BY CHANCE?

pens we’ve had an amazing time and we’ve had so much fun, and whether we win or not it’s been amazing. And then when they called out our name it was an amazing feeling. All I remember is just jumping around screaming and everyone just grabbing each other, hugging and crying. It was amazing. TO ALL… WHAT WAS IT LIKE GETTING TO WORK WITH TAKE THAT? It was really cool, the day after we won we had to film a TV advert where the Take That boys including Robbie, walked forward and then we walked forward out of nothing and they passed us their mics, then we had to jump in the air – it was really cool. That was just like so so surreal immediately after winning the show to be there with them and Robbie’s little daughter was running around. It’s all weird. I was actually reading Robbie’s biography and there’s a little snippet in there about us and about that day, and it’s really weird reading it back from his perspective. Because obviously we were all so star struck that day meeting them all (obviously it’s got a bit better now we’ve met Robbie a couple more times and we’ve met the Take That boys a lot more), weirdly it’s becoming a lot more normal, we were just so star struck originally. HAVE THE TAKE THAT GUYS ALL CAME AND WATCHED THE SHOW?

I entered the show originally to meet Gary Barlow and to show him my songs, which I got to do which was really cool. Long after this is all done I’ll still be a songwriter and hopefully one day write for the top 40 artists, that’s the plan.

I think the Take That boys have, not sure about Robbie yet – when we were in Stoke his mum and sister came. We’ve had all the boy’s seal of approval, Jason from afar. The Take That boys were hands on and we saw them in rehearsals and stuff like that. It’s been an amazing journey with them – they’re like our mentors.



To be fair I didn’t want a job in musical theatre to start with, but with it being Gary Barlow fronting the show, and the prize would be a job, and a tour in musical theatre, and it was Take That based, for me that was enough, and luckily it all panned out

Never Forget – I’ve been in a dance company for about 18 years, and it’s always been like the last dance – the finale. And now it’s showing itself in a different light and I sing it in the musical. I’ve got a long history with that song.

TO YAZDAN: HOW DID IT FEEL WHEN YOU FIRST HAD TO SING IN FRONT OF ALL THE CELEBRITY JUDGES? As an individual I was very scared, I was so scared you have no idea. You know there’s a clip of me when I first turned round before I started singing, and I do this most awkward smiley laugh, that’s just really uncomfortable, luckily the judges saw through that and here I am. HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU HEARD THE WORDS THAT YOU’D WON THE SHOW? I remember that night, there was like a sombre tone before the winners were announced. We knew our competition was tough and we didn’t know which direction things were going to go We all said; look, whatever hap-

DO YOU FIND IT A STRUGGLE TO DO UP TO EIGHT SHOWS A WEEK OR ARE YOU JUST REALLY LOVING IT? It’s really good fun, though it’s tough. It is really hard, it’s a lot of shows in a week. But if you look after yourself then it is doable. It’s about being sensible really, not going out every day getting hammered is always a bonus. DO YOU HAVE ANY PRE-SHOW RITUALS? I actually have a new one. I actually go though all the songs in act one so I know which order they come in. After three hundred shows you’d think I’d know the order, but, erm, yeah you’d think. TO SARIO: TELL US ABOUT COSTUMES IN THE SHOW, IS THERE ANYTHING YOU LOVE OR HATE TO



WEAR? You know what, the costumes are great. In the medley we have to wear three layers of costumes and I sweat quite a lot, so when we rip them off it’s a great feeling. TO AJ: HOW’S TOURING IMPACTED THE BAND? We all hit it off from the start really, we all discovered each other’s personality quite quickly and sort of learned each other’s boundary’s – when to give each other a minute. We kind of know how everyone acts and I think that makes it a whole lot easier. It’s a nice environment to be around. TO ALL… WHERE HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE LOCATION SO FAR? Leeds, for the shopping and we were living in really nice apartments. The shows were alright as well (genuine lols) Free eggs at the apartment in Leeds too!! TO CURTIS: WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING FOR YOU ABOUT BEING ON TOUR? One of the hardest things for me is, obviously I’ve got a family, a dog, and businesses that I’ve gotta keep an eye on while on the road, so I’ve to manage different parts of life, do the show and find time to keep tabs on stuff – so that when I go back it doesn’t all have to be sorted out. Sometimes it can be difficult but obviously these guys are pretty supportive, and we’re in a good place with the shows. TO YASDAN: TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAVOURITE EXPERIENCE SO FAR BEING ON TOUR… Going back to Manchester when we opened the show, and press night in Manchester. It was a massive blur, but it was just insane. The audience, the show, there was celebrities there, and then we went and had an amazing after party. It was just such a surreal night. I just remember snippits of it, but I just remember feeling so happy. Being the happiest I’ve ever been – it was amazing! TO ALL… ANY RANDOM HOBBIES OR INTERESTS IN YOUR FREE TIME? Two days ago we went to this X-Box place where we played computer games for like three hours. That was fun. WHAT ARE THE FUTURE PLANS FOR FIVE TO FIVE ONCE THE TOUR COMES TO AN END? We don’t know yet because the question in everyone’s mind is when will this come to an end. It’s been extended already so we don’t really know. At the moment we aren’t sure, the future is wide open.








Your DJ career hadn’t happened and you’d an office job that you hated. We heard that you had a posted note stuck up with a list of dreams you wanted to achieve. Did that post it note feel like an impossible dream at the time? I suppose if I believed it was impossible I wouldn’t have made the list. I wasn’t totally conscious of what I was doing. I just needed hope. I have always been perhaps unrealistically optimistic. Of course I ultimately had no way of knowing what would happen, but I believe that even accepting the possibility of a dream coming true makes it much more likely to happen. What was the turning point for you? When I got the job as assistant to the talent buyer at Smart bar that was definitely a huge moment. It’s such a magnificent space with a tremendous history. I was at my other job doing copywriting and I knew that I needed to leave immediately no matter what the pay would be at the club. So when I started there I had to work three jobs and I wasn’t even guaranteed to become the buyer or to be a resident. But it seemed like there were so many possibilities if I could just get into that space and

make my mark on it. Slowly I advanced and I think that working at the club gave some of my wild ideas a sort of credence. From there, everything else happened. Do you still get nervous that the room your playing will be empty, even though you know deep down that it won’t be? Any DJ who is not worried that the room could possibly be empty has lost a bit of magic. There is a kind of risk with every event. We never know what will happen. That desire to fill the room with people, make them dance, and change of the way that everyone feels is imperative. Any DJ who is not worried that the room could possibly be empty has lost a bit of joy of risk. You moved back to Chicago and basically started from scratch, how was that? My return to Chicago was definitely a rebirth for me. I had been in Kentucky for a while, I had gotten divorced, I was living with my parents. Life was sort of a disaster, but being home in Kentucky also had its merits. Moving back to Chicago gave me a sense of hope and starting over and freedom. I didn’t know what would happen next but whatever was coming I felt ready for it.

And look at you now, travelling the world, a superstar DJ – how’s that in reality?


did you come across any prejudice on your journey and do you still? Yes and yes. I’ll leave it at that!

It’s a mixture of wonderful, feeling tired, elated, jetlagged, lonely, overloaded, thrilled, bored... and of course there’s a lot of waiting. That said, it’s a life I love with all of its complexities. The nature of your job means a lot of travelling and antisocial hours. You’ve said before that being tired thins the wall between you and any kind of pre-existing “mental stuff”, how do you cope with this? I am lucky enough to get really good mental health care. Without my therapist, my doctor, a community of friends who share my experiences, and a solid focus on cutting edge medication I don’t think I’d be able to do this. But I am lucky enough to have people around me who help keep me together and I consider myself a success story where mental health treatment is concerned. If I can recover, anyone can. I’m happy, relaxed and feel as solid as I ever have in my life. A topic that’s fairly hot right now is the issue of feminism within the DJ industry, you’re a strong and successful female,

So what inspires you to produce the music you produce? There is a part of me that is always on a quest to make records which make other people feel the way that I felt when I first heard house music. Past that, my interests are quite simple. I want to write songs, write them elegantly, and write words for songs that have meaning for people. Is there a club or an event that holds a special place in your heart? Of course Smartbar will always be central to my life, and of on the other hand places like Sub club have become very very important for me. They’re home away from home. Tell us what you’re up to now and what the future holds ? Right now, I am wrapping up my album and working on the We Still Believe world tour. Both projects are totally ambitious and exceed anything that I have worked on previously. I am looking forward to sharing both of them with everyone!





BEST KNOWN FOR DRAG RACE, RUNNER UP AND FINALIST IN SEASON 10, HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP YOUR TIME ON RPDR? I would say, watching me, my time looked a little rough because I was very intimidated by the whole entire experience. But, regardless of that, it was very fun – a life changing experience I would say. LOOKING BACK FROM BEFORE RPDR, WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU MIGHT BE NOW IF IT WASN’T FOR THE SHOW? Before the show I was a full-time hair dresser so that was the last ten years of my life. I would probably still be there, living in my hometown of Nashville and doing hair. YOU’VE DESCRIBED YOURSELF IN THE PAST AS INTROVERTED, HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THAT TO BECOME THIS LARGER THAN LIFE CHARACTER? You know what, I think that’s a trait of a lot of entertainers, we are introverted in our normal lives and then we step into the spotlight on stage and we get to have that confidence and to be that character that we are not usually in our normal days. It just happens for me, it’s like a switch that goes over when the spotlight comes on – the confidence just comes easily then. IS IT JUST THE STAGE THAT GIVES YOU THAT BOOST OR IS IT THE AUDIENCE? I would say it’s a combination, it’s definitely the stage, but when the audience is participating and the audience is conjuring up that energy it’s like fuel and definitely the louder the audience is the better show they get from us. HOW DO YOU FEEL ON A PERSONAL LEVEL THAT RPDR HAS HELPED YOU EVOLVE AS A PERFORMER? It definitely helped, it was a great learning tool to now be on the road and to be out in different cities every day performing. That’s not something I may not have seen myself doing in the past but Drag Race has taught me that this is my place in the world, my purpose is to entertain, to make people happy and to have fun. Drag Race definitely helped with that. DO YOU HAVE A GO TO TUNE THAT YOU PUT ON TO GET YOU MOTIVATED? I have two different types of music that I listen to, if I’m trying to learn my performance songs then it’s whatever I’m doing at that time, a lot of the time it’s anything Ariana Grande puts out, I’m usually hopping on top of because I love her music and I love

performing it. But when I’m getting ready, I have a Spotify station that I listen to called Deep House Relax, it’s a lot of music with no lyrics, I like the music with no lyrics because I can zone out and don’t lip sync the songs while I’m trying to get ready. WHO ARE YOUR DRAG HEROES? Anytime someone asks me who my drag inspiration is from past seasons, I would say Raja, I would say she’s an aesthetic hero for me, she’s very statuesque in beauty and very ethereal and I’d say many of my costumes in drag persona are nearer her. THE CHRISTMAS QUEENS TOUR IS HAPPENING THIS YEAR, HAVE YOU BEEN TO IRELAND BEFORE? Yes, I came to Dublin on tour in August this year. WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM THE CHRISTMAS QUEENS TOUR? This tour is managed by PEG Entertainment Group as well as VOS Events, you can expect production value for sure – no expense spared to make sure the show and the stage looks great. As well as the entertainers that we’ve cast for the Christmas Queens Show, big names, great show and a lot of entertainment. TELL US WHO IS GOING TO BE ON THE STAGE WITH YOU. My season 10 sisters Eureka and Asia will be on the tour with me as well as Manilla, Sharon Needles and others. REGARDING THE UK LEG OF THE TOUR, IS THERE ANYWHERE THAT YOU’RE PARTICULARLY EXCITED ABOUT VISITING? Yes, I’m excited about seeing some cities and countries that I haven’t visited yet. WILL YOU GET MUCH FREE TIME OUTSIDE OF THE TOUR? It just depends on our tour schedule. Sometimes we get a day or two in-between shows just because of travel. So hopefully we will get to do that in some cities over there. I BELIEVE YOU GUYS HAVE PRODUCED A CHRISTMAS ALBUM DUE OUT IN NOVEMBER, CAN YOU TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT THAT? Every year there is an album released of the songs we are performing on tour, so yes, I know my fans expect that from me, and I know I haven’t done my

own music yet because I’ve been so busy this year touring, but I do have a Christmas song that has been recorded and is in the masters right now and I’ll be using it on the tour. CAN YOU GIVE US ANY CLUES ABOUT ANY SONGS THAT ARE GOING TO BE FEATURED? I will be doing Let It Snow, a fun dance version and I think Eureka is doing a funny camp version of Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer. YOU’RE A KEEN GAMER, WHAT’S YOUR GAME OF THE MOMENT? I’m on the road so I can’t play a lot of console games but the one I have been playing is the Legend of Zelda because I have a Nintendo Switch which is handheld. YOU ARE KNOWN AS THE MUSCLE DRAG, WHAT YOUR SECRETS ARE FOR STAYING IN SHAPE? [Laughs] Well unfortunately I’m not staying in shape, we are on a bus most days and the bus does not have a pool or a gym. The only way I’m really staying in shape right now is the shows themselves, there’s a lot of cardio involved in our shows, a lot of dancing, so I guess that’s how I’m staying in shape – doing the shows themselves. ARE YOU STRICT ON YOURSELF WITH FOOD AND DIET? I’m heading into my 30’s so my metabolism is defianately slowing down. I don’t eat a tonne of junk food but my diet is not strict, I don’t have access to a lot of the normal foods I’d be eating at home. ANY WORDS OF WISDOM TO ANY ASPIRING QUEENS? Your make up is one of the most important things so practice that, learn your lyrics, learn your songs. I think that is one of the things I look for in queens, to make sure that when you’re on stage you know the lyrics to your songs. WHAT’S NEXT FOR KAMERON AFTER THE TOUR? I’m doing some more touring on my own after this one is over. Once everything slows down I’ll get to do some of my own music, that’s my goal.



SAMUEL HOLMES Tell us a bit about yourself for any of our readers who aren’t familiar with who you are… I think there will be many of your readers who won’t be familiar with who I am. I’ve been working in theatre for a very long time, about 28 years – I started when I was very young. I’ve been doing a lot of touring, a lot of London West End, I’ve done a lot of brand new stuff, but I’ve been coming to Belfast and the Grand Opera House for over ten years – I think the first time was with a Gilbert and Sullivan Operetta which I’m sure none of your readers came to see – God bless them. And then I came with Gary Wilmot about ten years ago, and since then I’ve came with Monty Python’s Spamalot, I came last year


with the wedding singer, most recently I’ve been here with Shrek. It is such a beautiful theatre, your readers must come to this theatre – it’s easily one of the most beautiful theatres around the country. How did you get into the world of theatre, was it something that you’d always wanted to do? Yes, my mum had been a dancer and she’d been there for many many years in Plymouth where I grew up, and it was sort of in my blood really. The rest of my family are not so theatatrical it was really only her, and I suppose from the day she had me she’d take me to rehearsals, I’d sit and watch her dancing – so it’s been a part of me growing up. I’d

feel very out of place in an office. I grew up travelling around theatres, I’ve had a very gypsy nomadic lifestyle – not quite like Cher, but close. Any advice for any budding thespians trying to get into this game? Tip one would be to just be nice to everyone because you will meet them again. When you’re growing up everyone is saying to you to be yourself, or you be you. But when you’re a young age and you haven’t come out yet, or you don’t know who you are, or who you can be, then that’s very difficult. I’ve spent most of my time on stage being somebody else, but stay true to yourself and be nice. People like nice people. It doesn’t

INTERVIEW__ SAMUEL HOLMES hurt to be nice, and it’s free. Also, turn up on time, clean nails, polish your shoes – all those things your gran would have taught you. To date what has been your favourite show to be involved with? I’ve been very lucky and very blessed to do such a huge variety and myriad of shows. I suppose the most prolific and most famous one I did was, I worked with the Monty Python team on their farewell shows at the O2. I knew Eric Idol from before, we’d worked together, so he rang and asked would I come and do this show, and of course I was absolutely like, yes I’d love to come and work with you guys. I had no idea what I was going to do and I ended up playing a kangaroo, a Chinese Elvis, and all these mad cap things. It was 10 sold out nights at the O2, and it was unbelievable. The atmosphere was just sensational, so different. To spend time in their presence was magical. I kept a diary actually during the whole rehearsal process because it was unbelievable. I remember the last night we went out to cinemas all across the world and there was a huge party afterwards, and people like Stephen Hawkins were there and huge amounts of celebrities. I mean you’re at this party, you’re having drinks, and chatting away to these people – and then the next day I’m in my kitchen bleaching my floors, I mean that’s show business kids! Give us the pros and cons about touring the UK while being a member of the LGBT community… Well thankfully things have moved on a great pace and we are a very welcoming country, and I go to very welcoming cities; Edinburgh, Manchester, Belfast, I mean there still tends to be excitement when a show is in town and people are going to see it. You do turn up to digs and you’re having to say hello to new people, you’re getting to know them and they’re getting to know you, but I thankfully haven’t come across any negativity as of yet. I’ve been quiet lucky, I’ve always been welcomed with open arms. I’m a bit like Larry Grayson really, I’m just very loveable and safe and cuddleable. You’re here in Belfast playing Lord Farquard in Shrek, everyone will know the movie. What do you think the musical gives the audience that the movie didn’t? The thing is, everyone knows the film; they’ve either grown up with it or they’ve watched it with their kids. This plays hom-

age to how great that film was, but it just looks at some stuff from a different angle, there are new songs that are excellent, and then you’ve got the fact that you’re watching it live. I always say you cannot beat live theatre – whether you’re going to see a band, or a comedian, or you’re going to see the Philharmonic Orchestra, you can’t beat being in a room with other people you don’t know, all watching and sharing the same experience – it’s tangable. And this show is so well loved, because of that people come and they know what to expect but then we do throw them a few curve balls and there are a couple of things they don’t expect. And obviously you’ve got me, a six foot man on his knees in yellow tights – what more could you want. What was your favourite number in Shrek? I always like the finale, because it means I can go home, put my feet up and have a drink. But, I have to say the number I like the best in the show is Freak Flag, it’s actually the one that the rest of the company do in act two. It’s message is so important and still important now, and the sound that the company make is just astronomical, the voices – you have got some seriously good voices in there, the talent and the vocal quality – especially the girls. Lord Farquad as a character, do you find it much of a challenge to play the role (he’s two foot tall and you’re six foot tall)? What you’re asking me is how difficult do I find it on my knees??!!?!? I hate to say it, but, it’s years of experience there. Well, the costume itself is so well designed that actually my knees are very well cushioned, so it does it allow me to skim across the stage. It’s very painful on a two show day, although I’m only in the show for about 30-40 minutes it’s actually when I’m stood still that I notice it the most. Actually the costume is so well designed I think I could be a competitor for dancing on ice now, I’m so well versed in moving and skating across the stage. Your next big adventure is your directorial debut, Club Tropicana musical. How did it come about? Fingers crossed it’s coming to Belfast, we haven’t finished our tour schedule. It’s a bit like Faulty Towes meets Benidorm, meets an 80s Wham! CD. I’ve watched my mum direct shows, and I’ve had the pleasure of working with and watching some great directors. I’ve

worked in panto for about 28 years and I’ve directed some pantos, and I had a phone call from this producer asking would I just read the script, and then said well you’re a little bit funny, would you come in and direct it! I said absolutely not, I know my limitations. Then we’d another phone call and he said they’d really like me to do it – obviously somebody else said no. I said I’d do it if I could do it with my really good friend Nick Winston, who is an excellent director and choreographer, and actually a lot of his work comes to Belfast. Yes, so I’m very excited, and also very nervous – as a director the buck stops with you. We start rehearsing in January, we have Joe McEldry and Kate Robins who is a sensational comedian, Neil McDermott – lovely chap who was on Eastenders, and a lovely girl called Amelle who was part of the Sugababes. So yea, we’ve got a great cast.

Quick fire questions… Tea or coffee? It depends on what time of the day, but quickfire would be coffee. Theatre or film? Theatre Sweet or savoury? Savoury Boxers or briefs? Oh briefs All night party or Netflix and chill? Oh God years ago it used to be the other, but Netflix and chill. Cook, eat out or takeaway? Oh, I’d get my boyfriend to cook. Shrek, Donkey, or Fiona? Fiona. Dame Edna or Lily Savage? Oh God, that’s tough, Dame Edna. Bette Davis or Joan Crawford? Bette Davis. Dame Judy or Dame Helen? Oh easy, Dame Judy.







One of the many reasons why Joanna Lumley is so popular is that she exhibits the quality we Brits prize perhaps above all others: self-deprecation. Take her initial reaction to the decision to embark on her first ever nationwide live tour, entitled “It’s All About Me.” With a self-effacing grin, Joanna reveals that, “When the tour was announced, my first concern was that I would have to pay people to come. I thought, ‘We will have to close the dress circle and pay people to sit in the stalls.’ “I once played a theatre on the south coast when we were doing a tour of Private Lives. The theatre shut the circle and the two side aisles of the stalls, so just the middle section was open. But there were still only two men, a dog and a mongoose. So I’m used to playing to sadly small audiences!” Fortunately, that will certainly not be the case on this 31-date tour; Joanna will be performing to packed houses. The actress continues that, “It’s utterly thrilling that on the first day, the show was selling out across the country. At first, I thought I was scared about this tour. But now I’m so excited. I think, ‘Yeah, how lovely!’” It’s hardly surprising that audiences will be flocking to see the tour of “It’s All About Me”, which opened at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall on 6 October. If anyone qualifies for the overused title of “national treasure”, it’s Joanna. In a career spanning more than four decades, she has generated almost unparalleled levels of love and affection in a whole variety of genres. You will no doubt be extremely pleased to learn that Joanna is as delightful in person as she is on screen. Dressed in an immaculate black ensemble that offsets her perfect skin and blond hair, she looks two decades younger than her 72 years. She can be summed up by all those adjectives beginning with C: charming, charismatic, compelling and comic. “It’s All About Me” will play to her undoubted strength: her tremendous rapport with her legions of fans. The performer, who lives in London with her husband, the conductor Stephen Barlow, says she is really looking forward to connecting with audiences up and down the country. “The great thing about performing live is the audience. “I travel around London on the Tube, and people are constantly talking to me as if I’m their friend. They’ll say to me, ‘What we really liked about India was this…’ Every theatre on this tour will be a room full of friends. Chatting to people is pretty much what I do anyway – I’m forever doing this at charity

dos. I can’t wait!” In “It’s All About Me”, Joanna will recount stories from every stage of her career, including such timeless TV shows as Absolutely Fabulous and The New Avengers and her award-winning travel programmes. Many of these anecdotes will not have been heard in public before.

In addition, the live show will feature a section where she is joined on stage by friend and producer Clive Tulloh. He will pose her questions from the audience about everything they’ve always wanted to know about Joanna, but were afraid to ask. This is just one element which will ensure that “It’s All About Me” is a unique and hilarious night to remember. Joanna, who has over the years worked tirelessly for a number of very worthy causes, notably the Gurkha Justice Campaign, will have absolutely no shortage of material for the live show. The actress, who in 2013 was rated one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in the UK by Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio Four, reflects that, “When I look back on all the things I’ve done, it’s an absolutely gasp-making list! “You realise that if you say ‘yes’ to jobs, you do jobs.” With characteristic modesty, Joanna adds that, “If you’re picky, you do more great work, but needs must when the devil drives!” Joanna will be focusing on a few key roles in “It’s All About Me”. For instance, she will recollect that, after some years modelling and appearing in Hammer and Bond movies, her big breakthrough came in 1976. In that year, she was cast alongside Patrick McNee and Gareth Hunt as Purdey, the kick-boxing crimefighter with the iconic bob hairdo, in The New Avengers. She beat 800 other actresses to the part, and it proved a major game changer for Joanna. The actress recalls that, “There had been no Avengers series for ten years. Our version just caught people’s imagination. Maybe it was time for that kind of adventure story again. But it was also ludicrous. In one episode, a rat ate some nuclear waste and became the size of a double-decker bus. You want that kind of stuff !” Joanna, whose stellar TV career has been honoured with both a Special Recognition Award at the National Television Awards in 2013 and a BAFTA

Fellowship Award last year, will also discuss her other massively well-loved TV show in “It’s All About Me”. After The New Avengers, she made a career move that took everyone by surprise, but proved an enormous hit. The actress, who was appointed an OBE in 1995, enjoyed immense success playing the dazzlingly degenerate fashion magazine editor Patsy Stone in Jennifer Saunders’ brilliant and still widely-adored sitcom, Absolutely Fabulous, which first exploded onto our screens in 1992. From the very beginning, Joanna, who was handed two very well-deserved BAFTA Awards for her performance as Patsy, felt sure that Absolutely Fabulous would strike a chord with viewers. “I didn’t know Jennifer at the time, but when her script was sent to me, it was the funniest thing I’d ever read. I had no doubts about it.” In the live show, the performer will also talk about her acclaimed TV travel programmes. “People love the travel shows,” observes Joanna, who has travelled to places as diverse as India, Egypt, Greece and The Northern Lights. “They come up and tell me that they love the fact that I don’t talk down to the people I meet on my travels. I don’t find food revolting or customs silly just because they’re from other countries. People tell me they love being with me on these journeys and say they learn things they didn’t know beforehand. That’s very flattering.” Scrolling back through this extraordinary career, one of the reasons for its amazing longevity may well be Joanna’s very appealing ability not to take herself too seriously. According to the actress, “It’s great to be able to find fun in things. The ability to send yourself up helps you survive. If you don’t have that, you can get gloomy.” There is absolutely no danger of anyone getting gloomy at “It’s all About Me.” Joanna concludes by expressing the hope that, “Audiences leave the theatre saying, ‘Hurray, that was fun!’ I want them to feel happy and that life is great and that getting old is great and that you can still have a go at anything.” All in all, then, it promises to be as wonderful an evening as it has been a life. So, in summing up the prospects for the show, only one phrase will do: Absolutely Fabulous. For full UK 2018 tour dates and to book tickets for Joanna Lumley’s tour, “It’s All About Me” please visit www.joannalumleylive.com



Anita Rani


INTERVIEW__ ANITA RANI WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO PEOPLE THAT HAVE ENJOYED WATCHING BLUE PLANET II ON THE TV WHO ARE THINKING OF GOING TO THE LIVE IN CONCERT? If you watch Blue Planet II, I don’t think there’s a person who watched it that didn’t fall in love with it. It was more than a TV show, it was a moment, and it’s a moment that’s gone down in television history already. So, if you watched it, you loved it, then you cannot miss this live tour because it’s a fully immersive experience. You’ll be able to see those iconic moments – surfing dolphins on a huge screen with an 80 piece live orchestra playing that incredible soundtrack by Hans Zimmer. It’s not to be missed, you’d just be bonkers if you didn’t come! ARE THERE ANY PARTS OF THE EVENT THAT YOU’RE PERSONALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO? I can’t wait to be part of it! The penny hasn’t quite dropped that I’m hosting it because I will be standing there in front of 12,000 people at The O2 and all the various arenas that we’re going to, and holding the show together… which will be interesting! I just can’t wait to be part of it; it’s such an honour to be asked to do this show. I’ve done the Strictly tour, which was an incredible thing to be part of, but to be part of the Blue Planet brand, which is so well loved and is some of the greatest tele on earth. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO JOIN BLUE PLANET II LIVE IN CONCERT? It was a no-brainer for me. I love everything the NHU produce, obviously growing up, David Attenborough was a huge part of my life as he is with everybody, and Blue Planet II is just an overwhelming television programme that just stayed with me, so to be asked to host the tour is, yeah, such an honour. BLUE PLANET II HAS HIGHLIGHTED THE DAMAGE PLASTIC DOES TO THE MARINE LIFE. HAVE YOU MADE ANY CHANGES TO USING SINGLE-USE PRODUCTS, SUCH AS PLASTIC STRAWS? DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR PEOPLE WANTING TO MAKE CHANGES TO THEIR OWN LIVES WHERE PLASTICS ARE CONCERNED? I think Blue Planet, it just shows the power of television, and it really did change the attitude of the nation I think towards single-use plastic and made us aware about the damage we are doing to our beautiful planet and our oceans. What am I doing? I’m doing as much as I can at the moment. So there’s lots that people can do, and you’re quite right, the first thing people can do is stop using plastic straws, because we’re adults… we don’t need straws, we can drink from a glass! * laughing * Carrier bags – I think that’s really sunk into people’s brains. Little things that you can do, just have a canvas sack with

you when you go to the supermarket. There’s lots you can do and there’s lots I’m discovering as well. OUR PLANETS, AND ESPECIALLY OUR OCEANS, ARE OFTEN MISUNDERSTOOD DUE TO HOW VAST THEY ARE. HOW DO YOU THINK THE EVENT WILL IGNITE MORE PEOPLE’S CURIOSITY? I think it’s very easy to live in our little concrete bubbles that we do and programmes like Blue Planet and all those natural history programmes open our eyes to the world – that’s television at it’s best. That’s why I love working in television because it’s a medium that can really impact people and show them what’s happening elsewhere outside of their living rooms. Two thirds of our planet’s surface is ocean and we know so little about it. The alien kingdom isn’t over there in the stars somewhere, it’s right here, and this programme has taken us deeper than we’ve ever been and shown us all those bizarre creatures that have been there for way longer than we have; the one that sticks in my mind is the Bobbit Worm, do you remember the Bobbit Worm? The weird alien creature that’s about a metre long, and I think the fact was, which really stuck with me, it’s been on Earth for 400 million years! So, it kind of puts us into perspective really, doesn’t it? We’ll be long gone but the Bobbit Worm will still be going! THE BEST PART ABOUT ATTENDING BLUE PLANET II LIVE IN CONCERT IS… It will change your life! YOU’VE DONE MANY FASCINATING DOCUMENTARIES IN THE PAST, IS THIS EVENT SIMILAR TO WHAT YOU’VE DONE PREVIOUSLY OR WILL IT BE A NEW EXPERIENCE FOR YOU? I have made lots of documentaries, I’m very lucky that I get to do a variety of programmes that cross all sorts of different topics - from Bollywood, to the partition of India, to big history programmes, to Countryfile of course, but this is very different. To do a live tour and host it in front of thousands of people, the closest I’ve come is I did the Strictly tour. After I danced on Strictly, I danced on the tour and then the following year, I had the honour of hosting the tour. That’s the closest I’ve come to it but even then I don’t think this compares to that, I just think this is an entity within itself. DURING THE FILMING OF BLUE PLANET II, FILM CREWS EMBARKED ON OVER 125 EXPEDITIONS, TRAVELLED TO 39 COUNTRIES AND SPENT OVER 6000 HOURS OF DEEP SEA DIVING. COULD YOU SEE YOURSELF TAKING PART IN A SIMILAR EXPEDITION? * laughing * Oh my god, yeah! In my heart, alright, not even in my heart, I wear it quite openly on my sleeve - I am an adventurer, so any opportunity to go on an adventure. But that is dedication,

isn’t it? 4 years of your life to make a TV show, I mean, I don’t know if I have that much patience, but if the product you’re producing is of the quality of Blue Planet, then it’s worth the investment, isn’t it? It would be amazing to be a part of a programme like that. WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS WHEN YOU FIRST WATCHED BLUE PLANET ON THE TV? DID YOU GET AS HOOKED AS THE REST OF THE NATION? Absolutely. I think I was part of the movement, I think the nation was just drawn to it. It was the talking point and they do what they did with the first one, they just opened our eyes to an alien world. It was the talking point for everybody the next day at work, wasn’t it? “Did you see that scene? Did you see that?” It’s so much bigger than a TV show, it tells you something about humanity, it tells you something about our planet. It’s something that is embedded, it’s not like watching an entertainment show that is fun and entertaining, watching Blue Planet II hasn’t left me. Those scenes are with us forever. TALKING OF SCENES, HAVE YOU GOT A PARTICULAR FAVOURITE SCENE FROM THE SERIES THAT STANDS OUT AND STICKS IN YOUR MEMORY? Apart from the Bobbit Worm! * laughing * The Bobbit Worm really does stick in my memory as it really was so weird. Oh goodness me, what else? Who doesn’t love seeing dolphins? Spinning dolphins, or even surfing dolphins. The fact that dolphins surf the waves and they don’t really know why they do it, they think they do it for fun, and that is just beautiful. BEING INVOLVED WITH COUNTRYFILE, ARE YOU MADE MORE AWARE OF ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES AND HAVE YOU HAD MUCH EXPERIENCE OF SEEING THE EFFECTS OF THE ISSUES FIRST HAND? I think working on Countryfile and the important role that Countryfile has to play is that it connects rural Britain to urban Britain. It’s a rural affair show, but half of the audience are living in urban areas. I live in a city, and I love living in London, I think it’s just important to connect the dots to know where your food comes from, to know that you wanting to pay not very much for your milk has an impact in what is happening in our rural communities. In that sense, absolutely Countryfile does draw our attention to the impact we have on the environment. HAVE YOU BEEN ON TOUR BEFORE AROUND ARENAS? Yes, Strictly. So I danced on it, then I hosted it one year, so back on the road again! In my head obviously I’m a rock star that’s been on tour around the world and back so in my mind, many times! * laughing *

WHAT WAS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEING A PARTICIPANT ON AN ARENA SHOW TO THEN THE FOLLOWING YEAR TO BEING THE HOST, WHICH IS A LOT CLOSER TO WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO BE DOING THIS TIME? Yeah, completely different. Well, this is my job, so when I danced on the show, I was dancing and still part of the Strictly tour, but when you’re hosting, this is the day job - I’m in presenter mode. It’s like being the conductor of an orchestra in many ways, you kind of have to keep the attention of the audience, you have to take them on the journey with you and make sure that they are all experiencing something, the same thing. I want people to have a really joyful, all encompassing, magical experience, and of course the orchestra and the visuals are going to provide that, but my little delicate job of connecting the dots, will hopefully add to the whole experience. DOES AN ARENA AUDIENCE DIFFER FROM STUDIO AUDIENCES THAT YOU’VE PERHAPS HAD IN THE PAST? Oh yeah, well there are thousands of them! * laughing * Oh my god, yeah, totally different. It’s weird because live TV is terrifying and I think this will be also terrifying, but it’s good nerves. I’ll be prepared hopefully before I step out there. IF YOU’RE SAYING IT’S GOOD NERVES, ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO BEING IN FRONT OF THOUSANDS EVERY NIGHT? Can’t wait! I really can’t wait. Rather than being in front of thousands, just being part of the experience of the Blue Planet II tour. To be part of that gang, and that team is going to be something I’ll never forget. HAVE YOU GOT ANY PRE-SHOW RITUALS THAT YOU DO BEFORE TV THAT YOU’LL CONTINUE DOING WHILST YOU’RE BACKSTAGE BEFORE YOU GO ON FOR THE ARENA TOUR? I don’t know – I always wanted to be sick before going on Strictly but I don’t think I’ll be doing that! Preparation is key, just making sure I’m ready to go out there. I do have a little mini Ganesh actually. I’m not religious but I love religious Hindu iconography and he is the elephant god, and he’s the remover of obstacles. I bought him when I went backpacking round India and he’s really cool, so he might come on tour with me. ARE YOU EXCITED TO BE HEADING TO BELFAST ON THE TOUR? I was in Northern Ireland just the other week filming for Countryfile, in the Mourne Mountains – It’s beautiful, I went up the Mourne Mountains with 150 people. Belfast, I can’t wait! Love it, love Belfast! I have filmed a few times with the One Show, and I think it’s a great city. I’m so pleased we’re going to Belfast.



New Homes Sales, Residential Sales, Lettings & Property Management Lurgan - Tel: 02838 344 888 Email: terry@msrestateagents.com Proud to support the GNI Awards 2018


We searched and found you the essentails to get you through Christmas.. PAGE 48


Sam fills us in on some of the wierder Christmas traditions. PAGE 52



Looking at what’s on to keep you entertained over the festive period. PAGE 54




Keeping Christmas in check...







On the first gay of Christmas my rent boy gave to me: A sexy Santa suit.

my rent boy gave to me: Cunnilingus.

Come on we have all replied when we

up in an after party on the Ormeau

On the Ninth Gay of Christmas my rent gave to me: Decorations.

Yeah that’s right lordy days, woke About time we got the ole tree up, lets

heard someone shout Ho, Ho, Ho. This

Road literally in the middle of a muff

do it like the flintstones and have “A

Christmas own it, invest in a Santa

fest. Don’t end up in parties with

Gay old time” get the mates round,

Suit, though make it sexy, less is more.


crack open the champagne and sing like your Mariah.

On the second Gay of Christmas my rent boy gave to me: An unexpected surprise.

On the Sixth Gay of Christmas my rent boy gave to me: Christmas Movies.

Ok this is one situation that most have

Keeping this one honest we all love a

found ourselves stuck in though hate

Christmas movie really gets us in the

On the Tenth Gay of Christmas my rent gave to me: A Stocking. Filled with loads of goodies from

to admit it. Opening gifts in front of

festive spirit. You have our permission

our Stuff Page. Excited about the

family and friends and realising the

to watch a movie daily from the first

Chocolate willies.

parentals don’t need to see the 16 inch

of December. I recommend Screw I am

dildo your cousin bought you! Moral

Scrooged (wink wink).

of the story keep those private gifts private.

On the Third Gay of Christmas my rent boy gave to me: A Charity Donation. Ah thank you so much, NOT, let’s not

On the Seventh Gay of Christmas my rent boy gave to me: Christmas Cards.

On the Eleventh Gay of Christmas my rent by gave to me: The Boot. On the mouth of Christmas, I literally seen his size 10 shoe too close for

We have all thought it! (don’t repeat

comfort. Apparently we are too needy,

aloud) Mate you need a refund from

honestly though think he forgot to

Vista Print we don’t want your tacky

buy me a gift and this is his way out.

pretend to be grateful, where is the

Christmas card of you and your

new Mini I’ve been talking about

Dog unless there’s a £100 Misstique

since January the 1st, cheap skate.

voucher inside.

On the Fourth Gay of Christmas my rent boy gave to me: A Tonne of Glitter.

On the Eighth Gay of Christmas my rent gave to me: ALCOHOL


Plain and simple, Christmas isn’t

Not that we need anymore, it’s not

Now you all know the Twelve Gays of

Christmas without a bit of Sparkle and

even Christmas Day and we are drank

Christmas, after all that pissing about

lets face it if you spend 10 minutes at

out already, though we still don’t

have a fun Christmas xxx

a Christmas Party night with a your

refuse the Bucky from your Brother

On the Twelfth Gay of Christmas my rent boy gave to my: An STI! Time to hit the Gum clinic, enough

BGF (best gay friend) you’ll have more

then Gin from your Gay Uncle or the


glitter than your sister on Hen Do.

Rum from your randy roommate.

Daniel May

Watch your Alcohol intake.

GNI MAG Operations Director

On the Fifth Gay of Christmas GNIMAG.COM | 51




Spreading the Christmas Bargain Bucket at a time.



Christmas is a wonderful time full of centuries old traditions. It’s a time to spend with those closest to you and, of course, a time when it is socially acceptable to play Michael Bublé’s Christmas album on repeat. We all have different traditions and experiences when it comes to Christmas. Last year was the first year I got to be Santa and leave out the presents for my nephew. A good lot of you will probably be able to relate to my Christmas norms, however, some of the traditions that are about to be explored had me quite shocked as I’m sure they’ll have you. Takeout for Christmas dinner anyone? If you don’t like your Mum’s cooking on christmas day, or you hate those brussel sprouts people insist you eat, I suggest you take a trip to Japan for Christmas. Back in the 1970s KFC launched a very successful campaign in Japan called Kentucky For Christmas (Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii). Since then millions of Japanese people venture out to their local KFC for their Christmas Dinner. Christmas in Japan is not as religious as it is in the U.K. and the holiday is usually seen as a romantic day for couples to spend together, similar to Valentine’s Day. Many of the dishes served


by KFC on Christmas Day aren’t just buckets of chicken, they also serve chocolate cakes. The ‘premium’ dishes come with ribs and roast chicken.

From tacky to Tiffany’s. It is a common stereotype that gays have a good eye for fashion, jewellery and pretty much any accessory an animal had to die for. Yours truly falls comfortably into that stereotype, which is why my Mum should be extremely happy to have me as her son. Until I came along my Mum would’ve received gifts from my Dad at Christmas time which were probably best suited for the clearance section of the local pound store. Come to think of it thats probably where he got them from, God rest his soul. But until a couple of years ago, it would’ve been a Christmas tradition of mine to browse for hours on end online and in stores for the perfect gift for my Mum. Dublin was often the destination to get these presents, because lets face it Brown Thomas is second to none of the stores in Belfast. We always made a full day out of it, we would’ve bought the present, went for a bit of a walk around Dublin and ate in our favourite restaurant, Bewleys, on Grafton Street. He always complained about spending the money, but I suppose that’s part of the tradition that I’ve come to miss.

Shitting on the Nativity. It’s quite a grim thing to say. Imagine shitting at the scene of Jesus Christ’s birth. But in Catalonian’s nativity scene you will find a man offering a gift even worse than myrrh. ‘El Caganer’ in Catalan literally means ‘the shitter’. This figure is usually a dark haired man, who will be found squatting with his trousers down to his ankles in the midst


of pooing. Honestly just take a second and do a quick google search if you don’t believe me. It’s believed that this figure originated around the 18th century. Many peasants and farmers did not have much to offer and since excrement is a good fertiliser the gift was seen as a symbol of fertility and growth.

Drinking your poison at Kremlin. For some people Vodka is their poison, for others its Sambuca. But for me its Tequila. One shot of it will have me literally crawling on my hands and knees in Kremlin, and what better place to do it. Christmas at Kremlin last year was an absolute experience (the parts I can remember) and is certainly a tradition my friends and I will continue for a long, long time. There is something about Kremlin that even though theres always at least 5 creepy men who look like they have one foot in the grave, it feels like a second home for my friends and I. So where else would we want to spend our nights out during the christmas period? The music is fabulous, the drinks somehow feel stronger than drinks in any other club and the atmosphere is crazily good. Especially after a few sniffs of poppers... or so I’ve been told. And of course to end the night the best burger van on the face of the earth is waiting right outside.

13 men in 13 days. No, I’m not talking about your best friend’s sex life. In Iceland, children are taught the story about Grýla who is half beast and half human. For imagery just imagine what your ex looks like after a 2 day bender. Grýla lives in a mountain and has 13 sons, who collectively, are in search of misbehaved children. Her sons, known as ‘Yule Lads’ take it in turn to leave either sweets or rotten potatoes in children’s shoes each night for the 13 nights preceding Christmas day. Children are told that if they are misbehaved Grýla’s sons will capture them and boil them in her cauldron and be made into stew. It certainly sounds quite extreme, if you want to get a gay to behave during the christmas period all you have to do is threaten them with the prospect of not getting to sit on Santa’s lap.

becoming divided between whether or not Mariah’s reign as the Queen of Christmas is coming to an end because of someone who can also sing at pitches only dogs can hear. Ariana Grande. I’m not going to sit here and write whether Mariah is better than Ariana or vice versa. But recently my gay friends, and gays across Twitter, and have been battling it out over which one is better. Ariana’s rendition of ‘All I Want For Christmas is You’ was nothing short of spectacular, however, can you ever really beat the original bop? Personally, I don’t think you can. Although I don’t doubt for a minute that for years to come in the run up to Christmas gays will still be arguing over which diva is the ‘fucking supreme’.

A final thought. For most of us Christmas will be full of joy and love, however, there are people out there who will not be waking up in a comfortable bed with a roof over their heads. Some people don’t have family or friends to look forward to seeing on Christmas day, and for some children Santa won’t be visiting. So please contribute to whatever hampers you can, and donate to whichever charities you see fit to donate to. If you know someone who is going to struggle during the christmas period either due to poverty, loneliness or whatever the case may be, please do your utmost to help those who are in need. That being said, I hope everyone has a fabulous Christmas. *note to self - stop spending your money on doubles in Kremlin when you should be saving for presents for your Mum. WORDS: Sam McKinstry Instagram - @samckinstry Twitter - @sam_mckinstry

Coming for the crown. Mariah Carey is undoubtedly one of God’s greatest gifts to gays, ESPECIALLY when it comes to Christmas. Although, many of us are





WHAT’S ON... Elf The Musical Waterfront Hall, Belfast 23 November – 24 November 2018 Christmas Queens Official Tour Waterfront Hall, Belfast 6 December 2018 Whitney: Queen of the Night 16 January 2019 Waterfront, Belfast Fast Love: A Tribute to George Michael 20 December 2018 SSE Arena, Belfast Bah, Humbug Lyric Theatre, Belfast 17 November 2018 – 5 January 2019 Alice The Musical Lyric Theatre, Belfast 29 November 2018 – 5 January 2019 Jack and the Beanstalk Grand Opera House, Belfast 1 December 2018 – 13 January 2019 On the Shelf Grand Opera House, Belfast 10 December – 22 December 2018 Holy Trannity and Dragged up presents ABCD Tour The Olympia Theatre, Dublin 30 November 2018 Keith Barry: Deception The Olympia Theatre, Dublin 18 January 2019 Les Misérables Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin 5 December 2018 – 12 January 2019 Star Wars, A New Hope, Live in Concert 3 Arena, Dublin 5 December 2018



SPREADING SOME CHRISTMAS LOVE WE RECENTLY CAUGHT UP WITH Another World Belfast’s team of two as they took their next big step in their mission to fund humanitarian aid ‘from the ground up’. Connor Kerr & Rebecca Bellamy have a shared vision of future, a safe and free for those homeless and displaced in Belfast and beyond. A shocking 1 in 4 young homeless people on our streets identify as LGBTQ. A fact that was a driving force as they first started to build their plans and dreams together when they started their social enterprise and volunteer collective in 2017. It was moving day for the team as they packed up their lives, plants and all to their new home, The 343, East Belfast’s Big friendly queer, feminist arts space. It’s exciting news since GNI last shared our profile on Connor, in Issue 30 The humanitarian debut. Having previously worked and volunteered within essential aid settings around the globe Connor made his way back from his last foreign aid project in Bolivia to resettle in Belfast city last year. In September 2017 Connor put a creative call on social media for a planned fundraising concept, looking for support from hair stylists and makeup artists. Becky, a friend of Connor for many years, having recently moved back to Belfast from London, went out on a limb and although it wasn’t requested, she offered to put her many years of business experience to work supporting in any way that she could. The concept that was to be set up to support LGBTQ and homeless relief in the city grew and evolved with their combined nurture, incredible chemistry and energy. Together they turned a long-time friendship into an exciting partnership with massive ambition along with the nerve and experience to achieve it.


In Winter 2017 they simultaneously ran a variety of pop up fundraisers, all located on Belfast’s University Street. This included a salon with a social mission in aid of The Rainbow Project, special events such as an open house community meal day as well as a series of yoga and meditation events to aid The Homeless period; this dynamic duo has not disappointed when it comes to providing services for the greater good whilst injecting fun and humour into whatever they do, that’s no mean feat when working within topics which are for many, harrowing to encounter. Since then almost a year has passed, and in that time, they have formulated and brought to market the first of their own products, The Coffee Scrub. This is their all-natural, body & face treat that leaves skin soft and beautifully moisturised. The feedback was so good that they decided to test market over the summer in a spot like nowhere else, the white isle itself. Based on Ibiza’s northern shores they made, mixed and packed their ‘wonder project’ by day, whilst selling in the island’s famous hippy markets by night. While camping iving in a 20-year-old caravan that, in homage to the desert queen, they named Priscilla, they travelled from markets to events and festivals. Their beautiful vegan product was adored by all who tried it; so much so that the AWB team showcased at world famous venues in Ibiza hedonistic hotspot Pikes Hotel, The Beach House and The Zoo Project to name a few. Located backstage and behind the scenes at some of this past year’s hottest events ‘The Coffee Scrub’ has been picked up by a host of celebrity fans including Fearne Cotton, Ricki Lake of Hairspray fame and Canadian DJ duo BLOND:ISH.

As well as developing their social enterprise dreams, Another World Belfast have developed the first of many planned projects enabling their business to give back directly. Last year saw the launch of an AWB care package programme supporting Northern Irish homeless, food bank users and refugee/asylum seekers. Over a 2-month initial campaign, a generous local public donated essential and hygiene items to a value of over £4000. After the huge success of last year’s Love Pack, before the campaign even launched, great local businesses such as Andrew Mulvenna got in touch and showed their support generously donating items to the campaign. Knowing the impact, they could achieve with only 2 people, this year Connor & Becky have chosen a group of 20 special volunteers ‘the Love Pack ambassadors’, this incredible group are working within their local communities to raise awareness and gather donations of hygiene, essential need, and care items before sorting, packing and distributing to the many organisations they support. Beneficiaries so far include The Homeless Period, Bryson Intercultural, The Welcome organisation, Storehouse, NICRAS and Centenary House. The Love Pack now has multiple drop off points around greater Belfast, check out their item list and consider putting a few more items in your trolley the next time you go shopping. If you’d like to do something to help those most in need in Belfast this holiday season, it’s easy to do. All donations, large or small will be gratefully received. For more on this winter’s campaign, events, further fundraising and volunteer opportunities search @ anotherworldbelfast on Insta and Facebook.



(Homeless Monitor for Northern Ireland)

Countless adults and their children are displaced or in danger whilst living below the poverty line. Every day and all around us people of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs experience another world.

Support the Love Pack








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HELPING YOU TO FACE THE CHALLENGE OF ALCOHOL OR DRUG PROBLEMS Make the first step in changing your life, visit www.carlislehouse.org 2-4 Henry Place, Clifton Street, Belfast, BT15-2BB Tel: 028 9032 8308, Email: carlislehouse@pcibsw.org


Keeping Jack Frost at bay and getting our Winter Woolies on. PAGE 60


Joe Lynch talks about his work and what inspired him in the direction he took. PAGE 67


Ross Alexander tells us all the details from his coming out story. PAGE 98





WINTER WOOLIES As the temperature drops it’s time to get the jumpers on.

















JOE LYNCH WHAT SORT OF ART DO YOU CREATE? Great question, it really depends on the day and what I’m into at the time. At the moment I’m working on a collection of portraits of drag artists from around the globe which I’m hoping to turn into an art book in the near future. The project started out as an accident funnily enough, but has since gained a great amount of interest online. I drew my friend Victoria Secret (an amazing queen and such a lovely person to work with) to test out the iPad and Apple Pencil which I bought recently. I wanted to buy it so I can draw on the go between my day job and freelance work. I honestly didn’t plan to do anymore but after posting it on my instagram my DMs started filling up with really nice comments about the portrait and recommendations on queens to draw next, so I rolled with it and here we are now working towards what will hopefully be an art book, keep an eye out for that on my Instagram. HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTO THIS? WAS IT A JOURNEY THROUGH DIFFERENT CREATIVE INDUSTRIES? My experience in the creative industry has been a mashup of a tonne of different practices, I originally started out studying fine art and within a month I transferred to animation with the dream of making the next animated blockbuster which died about a week into the course. I then took a year out and began designing advertising pieces for various nightclubs and businesses around Dublin while also freelancing as a makeup artist. I decided to continue my studies and graduated from illustration and design in 2014. During the next few years I worked as a graphic designer, costume designer, tattoo artist, I even ran my own studio for a while. Now I’m currently a sportswear designer at O’Neills House of Sport while still freelancing design and illustration on the regular. It’s been a busy few years, but I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to pursue so many different creative practices and projects. WHAT DO YOU MOST ENJOY CREATING? Illustration-wise I love drawing really extravagant people, over the top hair, mile long lashes and lips that could act as a flotation device in an emergency, which is why I love drawing drag queens on the regular. They’re not afraid to go over the top with their looks, have amazing fashion and usually have a great colour palette to work with. Design wise I love working on editorial design and advertising, my dream job would to be a designer for a fashion magazine. Anna Wintour, give us an oul text there. WHAT ARE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS? Insta: @jlynch_art - I run a lot of competitions on there for free art and prints so keep an eye out for some freebies.


| 67


GNI MAG HAD THE PLEASURE of staying at the Dunadry Hotel during October availing of a Dinner, Bed and Breakfast overnight deal. Built on the site of an ancient fort and once home to both paper and linen mills, this 80 bedroom hotel with health, leisure and spa facilities has a beautiful riverside setting, is near the international airport and not too far from Antrim or Belfast. It’s famous also for the iconic photo taken by the two lime trees where the then, Prime Minister, Tony Blair alongside David Trimble and John Hume signed the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. We arrived on a Saturday late afternoon and after a warm welcome at check in, we were treated to an Executive room which had recently been refurbished and it did not disappoint on any level. Luxurious carpet, extremely comfortable bed, large flat screen TV, ample space by the sofa and armchair to relax and bizarre as it may sound the nicest wallpaper I have ever seen! The very high end furnishings throughout the room gave us a wonderful feeling of luxury which let’s face it, we all deserve every now and again don’t we? The bathroom was finished to an extremity high standard also with a wonderful rain shower and gorgeous Paul Costello “Linen” toiletries. We also had a lovely view from our bedroom of the garden area and watched the Peacock and Peahen roam freely. After relaxing for a while, we made ourselves beautiful and headed down for dinner to the recently renovated Mill Race Restaurant. We had a stroll through beautifully refurbished Peacock Lounge overlooking the Six Mile River which was


modern and classy and you could easily enjoy a drink before or after dinner here or just come for a relaxing lunch or afternoon tea. We were shown to our table and all the staff were always courteous, friendly and chatty just enough to make you feel special. We were dining from the Table D’hote menu and there was plenty of choice, from the Smoked Chicken Caesar Salad or the Dunadry Prawn and Squid Cocktail starter to the Spicy Tomato and Shellfish Linguini or the Beetroot Risotto. All cooked using fresh, locally sourced produce. Although very tempted by the Potted Ham Hock starter, I ended up going for the Duck and Mango salad which is something I wouldn’t normally have but it was beautifully presented with white radish shavings, cashew nuts and avocado cream and the duck was beautiful. The main courses were also superb with the French Trimmed Loin of Pork served with classic champ potatoes, braised red cabbage, apple fritter and pan jus being particularly delicious and when it came to dessert time I didn’t have any problems finishing every bite of my Salted Caramel Roulade with Pistachio Ice Cream. After dinner we decided to spend the rest of the evening in the traditional Copper Bar which derives its name from the model of the Bushmills Distillery process which adorns its wall. You can truly feel the history of this hotel as you sit here relaxing and drinking a pint. The bar staff were very friendly and we enjoyed listening to some live music which ranged from Country and Rock to Irish Traditional. There

was even an opportunity afforded for people to come up and sing or play. This was a most relaxing and enjoyable way to unwind after a busy week and the night just flew by. After a wonderful nights sleep we enjoyed a bountiful breakfast with plenty of fresh selections including Irish soda bread and potato farls. There is also a Spa and Pool on-site which unfortunately we didn’t have time to use but you can book various treatments and indulgences there. For those looking to book a beautiful and historic Wedding venue the Dunadry’s Grand Ballroom with its soft taupes and greys alongside tall mirror panels and exquisite chandliers, offers a stunning backdrop for any special occasion. I would definitely recommend the Dunadry for an overnight escape. Full of history, and ambience but also modern elegance, you’ll enjoy every second you get to spend there. Words/Review: Darren Day

Arrange your stay at www.dunadry.com









CHECK’D OUT We take a look at the latest on trend check patterened jackets from Burton Menswear London.











Hastings Hotels Has Christmas All Wrapped Up. AS THE SEASON FOR GIVING approaches and thoughts of stressful shopping trips spring to mind, let Hastings Hotels take the strain out of your Christmas shopping with a fabulous choice of gift ideas including Festive Afternoon Teas, Gift Cards and an action-packed line-up of entertainment over the festive season. The versatile Gift Cards gift can be used towards granting Christmas wishes all year round in any of the seven luxurious hotels including the two magnificent spas and any of the restaurants. Your loved one can choose the perfect present for themselves and redeem their Gift Card against a special night out, a luxury weekend, an afternoon tea, a spa treatment or even a round of drinks at the bar! Every budget is catered for, with cards available from £10 to much, much more. Spend a relaxing afternoon in the lead up to Christmas in one of the seven Hastings Hotels with Festive Afternoon Tea which is available daily offering a delightful selection of seasonal finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones and a tempting array of pastries. For further information visit www.hastingshotels.com or call 028 9047 1066. Or why not enjoy the perfect festive night out with live events and tribute shows over the festive season and into the New Year with something for everyone. •

Relive the greatest hits of two of the UK’s most popular male artists of all time with the Robbie Williams and George Michael Tribute performing live


at the Everglades Hotel on Thursday 27th and the Stormont Hotel on Friday 28th. Ireland’s leading Abba Tribute Show, Bjorn Identity, take to the stage at the Stormont Hotel on Saturday 29th with all the glitz of the 70’s era and the best party night out, featuring a decade of ABBA and more.

There will be a hit musical night with the Jersey Guys at the Stormont Hotel on Thursday 27th and the Everglades Hotel on Saturday 29th December.

Check into Heartbreak Hotel with the Elvis Christmas Show & American Buffet at the Europa Hotel on Thursday 27th, Friday 28th and Saturday 29th December as Ireland’s best-loved tribute act Jim Brown performs the King’s Greatest hits. Or enjoy a night out in January when the show returns to the Everglades Hotel on Saturday 5th and the Stormont Hotel on Saturday 26th.

Brighten up the New Year for family and friends with live shows and tribute nights in the Stormont Hotel, Ballygally Castle, Europa Hotel and Everglades Hotel including Johnny Cash & June Carter, Garth Brooks, the Best Hits of the 80’s and Iconnettes.

Tickets can be purchased by contacting Hastings Hotels on 028 9047 1066, at hotel receptions or online at Ticketmaster. For further information go to www. hastingshotels.com

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10/10/2018 16:50


Christmas fit in six. Six tips we can try. For many of us, the first sound of a Christmas carol fills us with dread as it can only mean 1 thing, Christmas is coming soon, how on earth am I going to fit into the new outfit I bought as I’ve been munching on tins of Roses from mid-October. I have some great tips to get you ready... 1. Commit The early bird catches the worn and in this case I honestly believe an early gym session is the best, it sets you up for the day and when it’s done it’s done. You’ll also burn more fat for energy if you exercise first thing. Plus, morning workouts prime the body to burn fat all day. It’s a win all round. 2. Shorter sessions HIIT (High intensity interval training) is the whole rage and it actually works, unlike a million things you hear/read. Only 15 minutes of training will help you benefit from greater fat loss and keep burning calories. The harder you work, the more calories you burn for the rest of the day. 3. Something is better than nothing We all have down days or times that we really don’t feel like making the effort of hitting the gym. My advice is simply stay in the house and do 2 easy core sessions, he need for equipment, 10 minutes in the morning and the same at night, sit-


ups, press ups and planks and you’re done. 4. Get the family involved Not rocket science, keep yourself motived by getting others to train with you, doesn’t matter if your five for seventy-five we all need to look after our bodies, always will be a fun thing to do and a reason to spend some extra quality time with friends and loved ones. 5. Get a gym Buddy. Everyone likes different things. For example, I have one sister that is a Spin fanatic and another that loves boxercise, tag along will be great moral support. 6. Set (realistic) fitness goals for the new year Research into goal-setting consistently shows that it increases motivation. Committing to a 5K or 10K in early spring means you have a reason to train – and remembering that makes prioritising fitness that (tiny bit) easier.

Reading this back I’d need to practise what I preach, we can do it together. Here is a wee Christmas themed poem I found and thought was quiet fitting:

If I were an elf, I’d make a machine, the kind that would make you fit, trim and lean. It would make you have legs – strong, steady and stable, Is such a machine just a fairy tale fable? Your arms would be strong, no flab to be found. Able to carry two zillion thousands of pounds. You’d run, jump and leap – like when you were a child. Wouldn’t such a machine be pretty darn wild? It wouldn’t have gears, motors, whistles, or rings Cause’ the machine I would build needs none of those things. The machine I’d create would be made up of levers That lift HEAVY things – wouldn’t that be real clever? That awesome machine would twist, bend and reach And hundreds of skills this machine you could teach And where might you ask can such a contraption be found? Well open your eyes and look all around! The machine which I’d build is already done And possessed by you all – yes each – everyone! Though different in shape, there’s none designed shoddy The machine I would build is your very own body! A Christmas Original by Coach Dean © 2010 Cr8 Health & Fitness, LLC


What is Sulptra?

DR DONAL McKEOWN I’M OFTEN ASKED WHAT I consider to be the greatest advancement in aesthetic medicine and without hesitation I say, ‘Sculptra’. Botox would be second. ‘Sculptra’ is a substance that makes you produce your own collagen. When your collagen is plentiful and healthy you will know it by what you see in the mirror. Think of collagen as your skin’s mattress and elastin as the coils that hold it together. Like everything else related to the ageing process our collagen is

at its most abundant during the early childhood years. Collagen production slows down in puberty levels off in your 20s and 30s and grinds to a halt in later years. The beauty world is obsessed with keeping collagen safe and sound and this is totally warranted. Many creams claim to protect it, repair it and regenerate it, but there is scant evidence that any of them actually deliver these promises (the only exception is Vit A derivative tretinoin). Medical science looked at ways of replacing the lost volume. In the early 1900s paraffin was used. The 1940s saw a fascination with silicone,

but it was discovered that it had an unfortunate tendency to migrate from its intended location. In the early 1970s bovine collagen was introduced. It was marketed as Zydern and Zyplast. As remarkable as bovine collagen was it did have disadvantages. Allergic reactions, however small meant that some people could not use it. Also it was broken down very quickly within the body. In the 1960s the hyaluronic acid produce was used for eye surgery. In 1996 the biotechnology company Q-Med of Sweden created a generic version of hyaluronic acid – Restylane. Nowadays there are a hundred of different trade names of hyaluronic acid. It should be noted that fat transfer has also been used to try and create volume in the face. This has not been as successful as initially thought as a blood supply must be brought with the fat. There are cells in our skin called Fibroblasts and their purpose is to produce new skin – so someone came up with the novel idea why not try to get the fibroblasts working again to produce collagen and elastin. We know that when the skin is traumatised the fibroblasts will produce new skin. The substance that was used was Poly-Llactic acid (PLA). This a biocompatible and immunologically inert synthetic polymer. The product has been used safely in a variety of

orthopaedic and maxillofacial applications since the 1990s and was approved in Europe in 1999 for the aesthetic correction of scars and wrinkles. The substance was traded a Newfill and was used very successfully in the correction of facial fat loss in HIV patients. The company manufacturing Newfill soon realised they would have a bigger market and targeted this to volume loss in any patient. The name was changed from Newfill to Sculptra. I have been using Sculptra at my clinic since the late 90s. A lot of clinics do not use this product as it demands a high degree of skill from the operator. It should only be used by doctors who have a lot of experience in facial injections. Nowadays nurses can use it provided they have a lot of experience as injectors and have been trained to a high level. The procedure as far as the patient is concerned is very simple. A local anaesthetic should be put on the skin an hour before the treatment begins. The injections are then carried out. There is local anaesthetic in the product so there will be no pain afterwards. Very low incidents of bruising may occur. The post-operative care includes not touching the face for 2 hours after the treatment and carrying out massage of the face for 5 days after the procedure. This is important to keep the Sculptra which is a liquid spread over as big an area as possible. The great thing about this treatment is that there is ‘no down time’. Most of my patients will go back to work after the treatment. The facial volume that is created by the patient is natural. It is their own collagen and elastin and it looks totally natural. I use it on young people as a preventative measure, and I try to encourage middle-aged people to start it as soon as possible. So when I am asked what the greatest advancement has been in aesthetic medicine I am very confident in saying Sculptra.

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



DEANES DELI BISTRO & VIN CAFE A special kind of Sunday lunch. THIS CITY CENTRE GLASS FRONTED eatery was ready to welcome my handsome man and myself for lunch recently on a sunny autumnal Sunday in October. Part of Michael Deanes extensive range of fabulous eateries and dining experiences renowned throughout NI and beyond. The Deli Bistro and Vin Café has a lovely relaxed and informal feel. Upon arrival this was further enhanced by a wonderful live acoustic set while we dined and we were informed by the friendly and attentive staff that there is live music here every weekend. Deanes Deli is a city centre favourite and being so close to Broadcasting House and Blackstaff Studios, you could spot a local celebrity having a glass of wine or cocktail. There was much we could enjoy from the Brunch menu from various appetisers and plates to delicious salads and sandwiches. What caught my eye especially was the Buck’s Fizz and the All


Day Breakfast menu featuring an “Ulster Fry” with a Belfast Bap and chips but we had decided we really wanted to try the Sunday Roast. Today it was Roast Chicken and it was beautifully presented and succulent, served with fresh mash, baby carrots and chunky parsnips. It was deliciously satisfying and more than enough but still happily left you with some room for dessert which we both proceeded to enjoy. The Chocolate truffle tart with blackberry sorbet was really delicious and the Wild honey, panna cotta and meringue served with shortbread tasted so fresh it was a perfect finish. At just under £50 for Drinks, Mains and Desserts it’s definitely worth another visit. There’s also a very good pre-theatre deal and a very reasonable lunch deal on offer. I also had a look at the varied and pleasing wine list and the

exciting array of cocktails and I’m am dying to try the Midnight Mint Martini but if it’s Weekend Brunch I’m there for I’ll be starting off with Buck’s Fizz! We dined in the Bistro. Open: Mon – Sat 12pm – 3pm and then for dinner 5.30pm – 10pm. The Vin Café is open Mon – Fri 7.30am -10pm Sat 9.30pm – 10pm Reviewed by: Darren Day





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Get your baubles out for the lads. Ho ho ho, the silly season is upon us so lets get the decorations up. FOR AS LONG AS I can remember I’ve loved decorating my home for Chrismas. As a boy I was the impatient child nagging my parents to get the tree up, as a teenager my bedroom looked like Santa’s grotto, and while I’ve had my own place I always make sure there’s at least a tree up.









Through the years my taste in decorating my tree has changed. I used to freak out if my tree didn’t co-ordinate. Each year I’d pick a theme, whether it be a style or colour, and I’d stick to it. I’ve had black trees, green trees, white trees and even pink trees. I’ve had tinsel, feather boas, beads and even stringed popcorn draped around my tree. For the past few years now though my train of thought has changed, so this would be my tip for you. If you can afford it (and if you’re going down the artificial route) invest in a good quality tree, maybe even try picking one up in Janurary when they’re going cheap. Go for a green on, it wont’ really go out of style in a couple of years. Then instead of trying to co-ordinate your tree find decorations that you love - who cares if they match - this is the campest season of the year, embrace it. The joy of having a beautiful tree with miss matched decorations on is is that you can add to it each year. My tree is a few years old now and it’s filled with memories, when we’re away travelling we will usually find a new tree deoration to bring home, baubles from kids, friends and family have found homes on our tree too. It ’s lovely each year to look at our miss-matched tree full of love. When it comes to decorating the rest of the house I peronally think less is more - it gives our tree more presence. In the hall we always have a welcoming decoration, sometimes it ’s something as simple as a bowl of cinnamon scented pinecones - offering out the smell of the season as soon as I come home. In my lounge things are fairly understated too. I remember when I was growing up, all the houses on the estate were filled with foil fold out decorations hanging from the walls and ceilings - and as a kid I loved it. Now though I usually opt for a nice garland hanging over the mantle. Again look for a good quality one that you can add to or re-style each year. Buy some fairy lights and make that garland twinkle, add a few clip-on decorative robins to add to the wintery feel. I have to be honest that I think it ’s fairly impractical to go overboard decorating your kitchen, unless of course it’s massive. But, have a bit of festive fun in here; get yourself a Christmassy oven glove, a couple of festive tea-towels, and maybe some winter inspired crockery. These few wee touches will bring a bit of the Christmas spirit to you kitchen. On the outside, unless you’re trying to recreate National Lampoons Christmas Vacation (watch it if you haven’t already - you can thank me later), go for a nice wreath on your door and maybe some twinkly lights around a nice shrub or tree already planted.



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11/04/2017 15:57 11/04/2017 15:57


Israel welcomes you


IF YOU THOUGHT THAT being from the LGBT community meant that

Israel is without a doubt the most accepting and open Middle Eastern

you that Israel will welcome you with open arms. Israel itself actually has a

perfectly legal, but public opinion about gay rights is decidedly positive.

you could not visit the stunning Middle East then I am very happy to tell large LGBT community living and working very happily and the community

has been heavily supported both by the military and local government who are welcoming openly gay staff.

I know from personal experience that Israel may not be a destination that

country when it comes to gay people. Not only is being gay in Israel Although it is always possible to experience discrimination, you are not

likely to encounter more than the occasional stray comment or dirty look. If you enjoy an evening stroll along Ben Tsion Boulevard, for example, it’s common to see gay couples and families walking right along straight ones.

pops automatically into your head when thinking of an LGBT friendly

The best part of homosexuality being so tolerated in Tel Aviv is that Israeli

process and open up a whole new holiday destination and cultural experience

While you might spend hours in another city wondering “Is he or isn’t he?”,

holiday destination but hopefully this article will change that thought for you.

Tel Aviv is also very well connected from both London and Dublin and the

flight time is around 4 Hours and 50 minutes which is actually less than

men tend to be very open about their feelings for you, if they have them. you’ll learn very quickly whether an Israeli man is into you. If he is, he’ll

make very obvious eye contact and may even ask if he can sit down at your table.

flying to Turkey or Cyprus. You will have options to fly on low cost/Budget

Indeed, whether you come to Tel Aviv for the gay nightlife, to lie on a gay

laid on by certain UK tour operators. You will also be glad to know that as

there is perhaps no better gay destination in the Middle East and very few

Airlines and or scheduled airlines as well as additional summer charters Israel is only two hours ahead of UK time you will be able to head straight

out and enjoy the cities culture and nightlife without suffering the dreaded jetlag of other long haul destinations.


beach, to experience gay pride or just to enjoy the company of fellow gays, others in the world.

Israels top attraction for the LGBT community has to be the capital

of ultra-cool Tel Aviv which has gained a well-deserved place as one of

TRAVEL__ TEL AVIV the world’s top destinations for gay men.

is a quick short cab ride away. Personally I

nightlife, trendy restaurants and bars and its

head north on Dizengoff Street until you hit

This is because of its mix of Gay culture,

would walk and enjoy the view you Simply

Gay beaches. Tel Aviv also hosts one of the

Jabotinsky Street, then take a left and walk

largest Gay Pride in the world and is the

down to the water.

only one in the Middle East.

If you want a new Gay Pride destination to

Nightlife in Tel Aviv has always has a very

add to your annual list then Please add Israel

good reputation but its LGBT offering

to the list. Tel Aviv hosts the only public gay

has to be one of the best and also offers

pride parade in the entire Middle East, which

something a little different to many other

is held annually the first weekend of June.

LGBT focused destinations. Tel Aviv of

As being gay is legal and mostly accepted in

course offers many of the traditional gay bars

Israel, locals and visitors alike hold nothing

for example but the city nightlife revolves

back in the parade, which is a wild party in

around its weekly fabulous parties spread

and of itself. Expect lots of sexy men dancing

throughout the city itself. Evita Bar is one

on floats and in the crowd, as well as drag

of the area’s oldest and well known gay bars

queens and queer people of all sorts.

and can indeed an excellent venue to meet and or indeed return too after enjoying one

Tel Aviv Pride has quickly become one of

fellow tourist will be able to help advise you

world. Last year more than 100,000 people

of the cities party nights. Locals and other

the most popular pride events in the entire

on what parties are going and where and

attended, both Israeli and foreign. The

also give you some insight into them. One

parade is typically kicked off by Tel Aviv’s

word of advice is to expect the unexpected

mayor and travels through the heart of

because Israel when it parties it parties hard. One thing to remember however is that the

Middle East weekend is Friday and Saturday and not Saturday and Sunday like in Europe.

Now no LGBT destination would be one without its Gay beach and I am delighted to advise that Tel Aviv does not fail to deliver on this. The Gay

beach is basically to the side of Hilton and is usually busy as you can imagine on Friday & Saturdays where you can admire and enjoy like-minded people

the city, ending at the Tel Aviv Beach – in particular, Hilton Beach and Gordon Beach.

The best part of Tel Aviv pride is not the parade itself, but the fact that Tel

Aviv’s gay nightlife gets even wilder during pride. Not only will bars and clubs be packed to the gills, but you can expect a dramatic increase in the number of parties, as well as the number of people you find there. The most

difficult part about attending Tel Aviv pride is choosing which of the many events best suits you.

as much as you want. During the week the beach is much less crowded

My final advice is simple just embrace the local culture, its people and you

that are on offer. The beach is easily reached in the city either on foot or


and is a place to simple relax and enjoy the award winning sea and sands

will truly fall in love with Tel Aviv in fact you may not even want to go



Halloween night at Kremlin was as amazing as ever.


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We checked out Culture Club in Belfast.


Jamie has many years exp working in all girl groups and spent 3 years abroad as the lead female vocalist of a touring roadshow, her unique vocal sound and infectious charm has audiences eating out of the palm of her hand in venues up and down the country. Jamie is joined by the immensely talented Caitlin Mcclurg . Caitlin is currently treading the boards in The Grand Opera House playing the lead role of Sandy In Grease. Caitlin not only brings her vocal expertise to the group but also keeps the girls on their toes with her choreography skills. And last but by no means least SARAH Beattie. Sarah brings a wealth of experience of the pub and club scene not just in Ireland but internationally aswell and her professionalism, fun personality and amazing vocals are the final piece of the jigsaw for this exciting female group.

The diverse and impressive vocals of the girls, paired with thrilling on stage performances are sure to set any stage on fire” This band are PERFECT for any occasion where you need to bring the “FUN FACTOR” to your event, whether it be a wedding, a birthday or even just a night in a pub or a club , these girls will have you all on your feet from the very 1st song to the very last.

Management company CT ENTERTAINMENT say “Few groups have ever been able to capture the magic that this incredible three piece vocal harmony group have.

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GNI MAG Weddings




Mickey: We met in a total coincidence in a bar in Gran Canaria during pride week just over three years ago! Long story short; I went to get a shot at the bar for me and my friend and when I turned round to give it to him he had vanished! I then turned to the guy next to me at the bar and gave him the shot - this would then turn out to be my husband! I was living the crazy single life for about four years and had no intentions of settling down but this one just kind of happened. We had a few dates on the holiday which could have easily been a holiday fling but I remember thinking there was something so different about him! I was the last person to want to settle down, never mind be in a committed long distance relationship but it


just happened and it felt so right.

Alex: It was a right place right time deal. There were thousands of people there and we ended up there in that moment! We separated after that then found each other about thirty minutes later, he won’t admit it but Mikey persued me a bit before I gave in! Maybe it was that shot he gave me! I was single for about 8 months and was meant to be on this holiday with my ex actually! When it came time to leave Gran Canaria a few days later and I had to say goodbye to Mikey it felt like I was saying goodbye to someone that I had known for years and neither of us were ready to end it there. Although we lived so far apart and odds were against us we knew we wanted to see how things worked out - safe to say that they did! HOW LONG AFTER YOU STARTED DATING


Mickey: I was living in Dubai at the time and Alex lived in Zurich. Luckily with work I was able to fly to Zurich every weekend so although it was “long distance” it never felt like that. We did this for just over a year when I decided to move to Zurich permanently, and the last trip before my big move he popped the question - obviously it was a yes! Theres a bit more to this story though.. Alex: I had planned a romantic spa day in the mountains in Zurich which Mikey didn’t know about and was going to propose there. We ended up sleeping in too late and missed half of the day because it was a long drive away. I couldn’t keep it to myself and I later told mikey that I was going




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GNI MAG WEDDINGS__ MICKEY AND ALEX to propose this way. He wanted me to just ask him there and then but I wanted it to be special. He was the one that actually asked me after that because he couldn’t wait any longer, then I said yes. So technically we both said yes! TELL US ABOUT YOUR BIG DAY...

Christian Louboutins thanks to Mikeys mum now my mum too! Mikey’s niece, Lainey who’s only 9 sang Birdie - Wings during the speeches and she reduced everyone to tears! When Mikey was in Dubai and I was in Zurich we always used to play this song over Skype and was so significant on the day - such a perfect moment!

Mickey: Since we met in Gran Canaria and it was our anniversary, Alexs birthday and pride week we decided to have out closest friends and family there for our wedding. We had 40 guests who all stayed for 1-2 weeks so everyone got a great holiday out of it too! We had our ceremony and reception on a beautiful heart shaped island called Anfi which we fell in love with as soon as we saw it. We walked down the aisle to American Authors - Best day of my life which really set the tone for the day. This was the song playing when I got into the cab on my way to the airport the first time I ever visited Alex in Zurich. The whole day was nostalgic of every step in our relationship.


Alex: Every time I would pick Mikey up from the airport I would have a single red rose in my hand. The ceremony and reception was completely decked out with red rose petals it looked so great in the photos! Especially since they matched our

Alex: The whole day had a constant flow of our favourite Verve Cliquot champagne. We had an open bar afterwards which was barely touched because everyone was drunk from the bubbles all day! The desserts were the best part for

Mickey: We opted to go for floating canapés all night instead of a sit down dinner. it was so fitting with the theme of the wedding and it meant people could move around all evening and chat to everyone. It also meant not having to organise table plans! There was SO much food even though it was only canapés and choosing everything was one of the best parts of the wedding planning for me! We had everything from sushi to mini burritos and later on when everyone had attacked the free bar we had mini pizzas and burgers. Iím actually starving thinking about this food again!

me - everyone really raved about the food! Our wedding cake was a three tier classic white cake with black satin separating the tiers, and of course a couple of rose petals! In the middle was our classic rainbow colours showing PRIDE! On top of the cake we had our three chihuahuas - Coco, Chino and Chanel who couldnít be there! We thought about bringing them but they would have hated the pride parties! DID YOU HAVE A HONEYMOON?

Mickey: We stayed in Gran Canaria for three weeks afterwards. Two weeks for pride where our friends were also there then one week to chill - which was very much needed! There was so much hype from the wedding and we were there with some friends that we hadn’t seen in months, even years so it was full throttle the entire two weeks - the last week relaxing was very well deserved! Alex: We love Gran Canaria there was so much to do for the three weeks and could have stayed there even longer. We are working on some new business ideas which could take us there permanently in the future which we are excited about. Not many people can say they are moving to their honeymoon destination!



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Mickey : Sometimes I think we are so similar then other times so different! W hen my friends meet Alex they always say how opposite we are which I think is why it works! It ’s obviously not sunshine ever yday as we both have strong personalities in our own way but we definitely balance each other out. I love reality TV and binge watch series which Alex isnít really into for example - but I got him watching Ru Pauls Drag Race though so he is slowly converting!

Alex: Mikey is the crazy one! I am more reserved. I am more nights in than nights out but the older we get, Mikey is heading in this direction too! I also realise that if i didn’t go out that night in Gran Canaria I wouldn’t have met my husband so we still go out from time to time. DO YOU DO EVERYTHING TOGETHER OR DO YOU LIKE TO KEEP INDEPENDENT?

Mickey: I think we have a nice balance. Now we know the things that we like to do together and the things we don’t - but I think its important to have your own time and hobbies and friends so its nice to

do things apart then come home at the end of the day then talk about your day. We are both strong minded and independent guys so its good we see it like that, and we both know we need a little love at the end of the day too!

Alex: I agree. It was never anything spoken about we just naturally knew that we need to to our own things from time to time - we are two men after all. We both have demanding jobs and sometimes not the same schedule so we try to take a weekend break every two or three weeks and go somewhere nice around Europe and just stop everything and be together.



Grateful for my gay son... Anthony’s mum tells her story. I HAVE NO IDEA HOW to start this piece, Summer of 2011 I had just learned that my child is gay. I was experiencing self-blame; did I do something wrong?, Grief - the child I thought I knew and loved no longer exists!, worry - will my child be bullied? discriminated against? get AIDS?, religious confusion - is my child damned to spend eternity in hell? and stigma - what will people think of my child? of me?” Conversely, I was also experiencing relief - now I know what’s been bothering my child for all these months/years! Or like most parents a combination of these feelings. So now what should one do? Well, first take a deep breath... Good advice when first confronting any difficult situation, right? Second, tell yourself you will get through this. And you will. As a matter of fact, you might someday look back and find that you are grateful for the experience of having a gay or lesbian child, I look back and wouldn’t change anything. Yes, you read that right, grateful. I found that some parents get to the point where they believe that the experience of having a gay child actually made them a better person, more open minded and sensitive to the needs of others, particularly those in other minority groups. Others grew to be proud of their children’s sexual orientation. Yet others found that their relationships with their children grew to be closer, stronger and more honest than before. I’m a lot closer to Anthony now, we talk about everything as a family, when he goes on dates etc. If you just found out your child is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, you are probably thinking that such ideas are preposterous, right? After my son Anthony took the huge step and came out as gay to Terry (Dad) and myself, I was experiencing a lot of things. I guess I had always known and was waiting for the day to arrive. He told us the night before we where leaving to head on holidays (for a month) I cried, the flight was a blur but I knew he would be ok. His Sisters had been told weeks before, they had already



landed on holidays so they met me at the airport, so delighted and proud their brother had decided to tell the truth. After landing I called Anthony to let him know everything will be ok, he has the support of everyone and I’m glad he told me himself. Little did Anthony know that a letter had arrived to the family home six months before this, the letter was from a guy from the same town as us, no name etc, its stated that Anthony was gay and was hiding this from everyone. I read that letter and then put it away, it was not up to me to confront Anthony, he had to come to us when he felt ready. Let your child teach you. Know that your Son or Daughter came out to you, most probably because they love you and are seeking a more open, honest relationship. They may have something to teach you about LGBT people and also about acceptance and love. Anthony has had a rough few years, he hasn’t handled break ups well and is always seeking to make sure everything is ok, he comes across as a go happy person, always hides behind a smile, I worry about him so much while living away from the family home, he has a great group of friends and the love from his family. I delighted to call him my son and so very proud of what he has achieved in his life. Now working for GNI Magazine and going back to University to study mental health was a huge step for him, he has decided to face ghosts from his past as his own mental health hasn’t been great, but again I’m very proud of him. The family took the news really well, giving Anthony a hug and letting him know this hasn’t changed anything. I was shock but as I said I had always knew something was up, he had a girlfriend for two years but I knew Anthony wasn’t really himself. I wouldn’t change anything about my son, I can only hope he finds love in his life and settles down like his brother and two sisters.

Positive Life is the only charity in Northern Ireland dedicated to supporting people living with or affected by HIV. Positive Life exists to promote a positive future for people living with or affected by HIV. We work to remove stigma by raising awareness of the impact of HIV. We work to educate and challenge the myths that surround HIV. We engage with service users to ensure they have a voice in the policy arena. We respond to people’s support needs in a way that creates independence Positive Life services include: • Rapid HIV Testing • Drop-in Service • Counselling • Complementary Therapies • Information Evenings • Social Events • Family Support Telephone: 028 9024 9268



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COMING OUT Ross Alexander Lewis, 26 from Cardiff tells us his story.

“...she was expecting to see this American girl next door. Instead she saw a hot bearded man!” WHEN DID YOU FIRST REALISE YOU WERE ATTRACTED TO SAME SEX PEOPLE? I think when I came into my late teens I knew there was something that I needed to experiment with. But it was when I came to the age of 19/20 I felt that it was an attraction to men. DID YOU TELL ANYONE AT THE TIME? I couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone. It was something so buried deep out of total fear that, like so many others, I kept it to myself. So I went onto google and found this chat room. I started talking to a guy from Indiana in the USA and told him everything. It was a stranger, someone who didn’t know me and I felt like a weight had been lifted. WHEN DID YOU ACTUALLY COME OUT? This is my 6th gayiversary, I came out in August 2012. It was like my body was filling up with lies and dishonesty, not just to people around me but to myself. Everyone around me was living their best and honest lives, it was infuriating that mine had to be hidden. Turns out that it didn’t and it was only myself that was stopping me from doing the same. HOW DID YOU DO IT? Most of my school life girls were always my friends however I was in a relationship with a girl for a few years. We were hugely part of each other’s lives and did everything together, you could say we grew up together. Towards the end of the relationship I felt that something wasn’t right and my attraction to the opposite sex was becoming increasingly stronger. So I decided one evening to go online and speak to someone perhaps about it. I started talking to a guy in Evansville, Indiana USA. It was

completely innocent talking about our interests TV shows etc. Then I told him my situation. He was so understanding and really helped me pluck up the courage to not waste anymore of her time or mine and explore this side of me. So I broke it off but didn’t tell anyone the reason why. My grandparents at the time had bought me a brand new mini convertible and I decided to take it to the dealership trade it in for cash and a run around car. I used the cash to buy my flight and before I was due to leave I came out to everyone. The month I was there was the most incredible month. I felt leaving my hometown to explore myself and the world gave me the strength to be the person I really was and not the dumbed down version trying to live up to others expectations. WHAT WAS THE REACTION OF YOUR FAMILY AND CLOSE FRIENDS? My friends were absolutely fine with it and most of my family. I think my grandparents struggle a bit due to their age and generation although they are all really supportive. You cannot protect your family through this as you will hurt yourself more. ANY NEGATIVE REACTIONS? HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THESE? My biggest worry was how my grandfather and father would take it. I don’t know why but we have this idea that the male role models in our lives will take it the worst as we won’t live up to their expectations of being the Alfa male banging out grandchildren. But it was my grandmother I think that took it the worst. To this day she always asks if I’ll ever be ‘normal’ again. It hurts but it’s their generation. I love her to pieces.

HOW HAS COMING OUT AFFECTED YOU? Before I came out I was angry. I was being a person who wasn’t me, living a lie. Then when I went to America I completely changed. My mum even said to me I don’t recognise this person on social media dancing on bars etc. As I was so introverted when I told my mum, I said “I have tried to be ‘normal’ for so long” that always stayed in her mind as what is normal? So I think it really allowed me to become myself by going away. I could become this person who I was meant to be for so many years. It truly was and to this day the best time of my life I relaxed for the first time. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHERS THINKING ABOUT COMING OUT? There is never the right time to do it. If you are waiting for something or feel that there will be a better time to do it there isn’t. The time to do it is the time you are sure that’s who you are. You only get one life, this isn’t a trial run so live it true to yourself and not for others. ANY FUNNY STORIES ABOUT WHEN YOU CAME OUT TO SOMEONE? So when I was telling my mum that I met someone online and I was going to see them in the states she wanted to see a picture of ‘her’. So with great anxiety and panic I had the picture on my phone, as I turned it around she was expecting to see this American girl next door. Instead she saw a hot bearded man! THOUGHTS... I do hope that coming out won’t be “an


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Inspiration and icon RuPaul is on our cover and inside we look at some advice from our GuRu. We also have interviews with Five to Five abou...


Inspiration and icon RuPaul is on our cover and inside we look at some advice from our GuRu. We also have interviews with Five to Five abou...