GNIMAG y o u r
l o c a l
h o m o c u l t u r a l
m a g a z i n e
Ray Quinn Child Star, Soap Actor, Thespian, Pop star, Fitness Advocate, Reality TV Contestant, Guinness World Record Breaker, and all round nice guy.
Volunteering to help, and finding love during the lockdown.
Could you be a foster carer for a child in need of a stable home?
First Wedding Sharni and Robyn tell us about being the first same-sex wedding in NI.
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CELEBRITY, COLUMNISTS, FEATURES, ITâ€™S ALL ABOUT THE PEOPLE
INTERVIEW // RAY QUINN
EIGHT // GNIMAG.COM
INTERVIEW // RAY QUINN
RAY QUINN INTERVIEW: DANIEL MAY
IT FEELS LIKE HE’S BEEN PERFORMING HIS WHOLE LIFE, JOINING BROOKSIDE (ASK YOUR MUM) 20 YEARS AGO AND REMAINING A CONSTANT IN THE PUBLIC EYE EVER SINCE. HE’S TREAD THE THEATRE BOARDS, CAME SECOND PLACE ON X-FACTOR, FIRST PLACE ON DANCING ON ICE, AND HIS DEBUT ALBUM WENT TO NUMBER 1 WITHOUT EVEN RELEASING A SINGLE (UNHEARD OF!). WEE RAY QUINN IS BACK WITH A BRAND-NEW ALBUM UNDENIABLE, HE CAUGHT UP WITH OUR DANIEL FOR A QUICK CHAT…
LET’S BREAK THE ICE WITH A GAME OF WOULD
AND WHAT WAS IT?
YOU RATHER So, my first official job was Brookside, I got that EAT IN OR EAT OUT - Eat in SUMMER OR WINTER - Summer BOXERS OR BRIEFS - Boxers HANDS OR FEET - Feet, only my bird’s feet though!
when I was about 8 or 9, I was there for 5 years. HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT TO BE IN THE SPOTLIGHT AND LIVE YOUR TEENAGE YEARS WITH EVERYONE WATCHING?
TV OR CINEMA - TV CHOCOLATE OR CRISPS - Crisps
It was all I knew really, I always wanted to do it, my
AU NATURAL OR MAN SCAPE - Au Natural, the
agent Collette called me one day telling me about
only thing I cut is my beard lol
the auditions, it was my first ever audition I went
CARDIO OR WEIGHTS - Neither atm, but I prefer
not thinking anything of it, we were there all day
and I kept getting called back. The following day
ROM-COM OR ACTION - Action all day
I went back for the finals which went well though
X-FACTOR OR DANCING ON ICE - Dancing on
I never heard another thing, three weeks later my
mum picked me up from school, she said I have a surprise for you when you get home. I thought I
RAY, YOU WERE A CHILD STAR. WHAT AGE
was maybe getting a new game or a treat after tea,
WERE YOU WHEN YOU GOT YOUR FIRST GIG
she handed me a letter and said read that, it was
NINE // GNIMAG.COM
INTERVIEW // RAY QUINN
AGO IT’S BOUND TO BE SURREAL?
a confirmation letter saying I got the job as Anthony Murray , when I would
When they don’t clap lol, laugh or get
be starting, I was completely over the
my humour, when I go further down
Yeah, it doesn’t feel like it happened,
moon and shocked that after my first
south people can’t understand me,
I feel like I’ve been watching someone
audition I got the job. Looking back, it
being from Liverpool I speak a bit
else, it’s crazy.
never felt like work it was such a great
scouse. It can be hard sometimes trying
to articulate. Really though nothing is
YOU RELEASED YOUR FIRST ALBUM
that bad, it’s great when people come
13 YEARS AGO AND IT WENT TO
IF YOU COULDN’T BE A PERFORMER
and support, my audiences are always
NUMBER ONE WITHOUT YOU EVEN
WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?
really warm and welcoming
RELEASING A SINGLE FROM IT, HOW
When I was really young I wanted to
YOU CAME 2ND PLACE IN THE
be a copper, I always thought that
X-FACTOR, MISSING OUT TO LEONA
It was unheard of back then, I hold
would be a really cool interesting job,
LEWIS. WHAT LEAD YOU TO ENTER,
the Guinness World Record for the
in school if the teacher asked what I
WAS IT THAT YOU WANTED TO
youngest male artist to enter the album
wanted to be I always said “a busy”
SHOW YOU WERE MORE THAN AN
charts at Number 1 without releasing a
lol. Even now I love watching Police
single, I’ve got the certificate and all.
DID THAT FEEL?
It’s crazy to think I was such a young lad
shows and documentaries. Not at all, I didn’t know about it, it was
and all of a sudden I have a Platinum
I think now knowing what I’m like, it
my Mum, Dad and my Nan, my Nan’s
selling Album and am a Guinness
would be doing something creative,
not here now, God rest her, they were
record holder, it’s an accolade I will
I could maybe be a barber, I love
always encouraging me, I remember we
always cherish and remember, my kids
hairdressing. I also love cooking so
were all sitting having a Chinese one
and grandkids can look back and say
maybe something to do with that or
night, we would watch things like Pop
wow look what he done, that’s a nice
even an Artist drawing cartoons, in
Idol, I was always a fan of Gareth Gates
school I got an A* in GCSE Art.
and Will Young. This night Shane Ward was on, he had won the X-Factor, my
WITH SUCH SUCCESS WITH IT I’M
WHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT
mum said ‘Do you reckon you could do
SURE YOUR RECORD COMPANY
that, would you like to do something
WERE PLEASED, WHY WAS THERE
like that’ of course I said YES, while
NO IMMEDIATE FOLLOW-UP ALBUM?
The natural reaction from people
eating my Chow Mein lol. At the time
having a great time, the admiration
I was happy enough getting £30 doing
About three or four months after the
that comes with it, people wanting
local gigs in my dad’s pup and in the
release I was up and down the country
to meet before/actor gigs, it’s very
social clubs. A few weeks later, I was
and across the world on tour and doing
humbling seeing people who listen
outside the house, I was 16, my dad
gigs in places like Dubai, Portugal it
to my music. I remember getting
said look what has arrived, it’s an
was mad. Then when it finished, I went
a piece of advice years ago when
X-Factor application, your mum sent
back to my mums, returned to being a
doing a Musical Theatre show, one of
away for it, I said I was only messing
normal young fella playing computer
the cast said to me “If you can find
and didn’t want to do it so that was
games, I then bought myself a house
one person in the audience, feed
that. A couple of days later another
little car near my mums. We did talk
the energy to them and the rest will
one came through the door, I said mum
about doing a 2nd album though the
follow”. Ever since then if I notice
what are you doing, they all denied
offer just went away after a few weeks,
one person really going for it and
getting it, I still didn’t fill it in. Then a
I was gutted at the time but now I feel
giving it large, I tend to focus on
few weeks later a 3rd form arrived my
it was a blessing in disguise, I didn’t
them and it works, others do follow
Dad said go on do it will be the best
know a lot about the industry but it
suit and positivity spreads across the
Father’s Day present ever, I said fine,
lead to loads of great opportunities
room. I love life performances, gigs
filled it in, sent it off and never looked
that without the X-Factor I never would
etc, there is nothing like it.
of had. I got to play on the Westend,
WHAT’S THE WORST?
LOOKING BACK, SO MANY YEARS
which is every performer’s dream.
TEN // GNIMAG.COM
Looking back, I wouldn’t change a
INTERVIEW // RAY QUINN
ELEVEN // GNIMAG.COM
INTERVIEW // RAY QUINN
thing. I had a great team around me
Christopher Cross classic, it was always
and had a brilliant time.
a guilty pleasure when I was growing
FOR THE COMPLETE RELEASE?
up. I was always conscious though
There are 12 on the regular album
YOU’VE BEEN WIDELY PRAISED FOR
thinking am I going to do it O.K, but
and 10 tracks on the vinyl release, I
YOUR LOOK AND POSITIVE MENTAL
when Steve came in and did the Big
was desperate to get a vinyl, growing
ATTITUDE TOO. HOW DO YOU STAY
Band arrangement, it was just perfect.
up my dad always had them. The
SO FIT AND POSITIVE, TELL US YOUR
One of the reasons we went with the
music industry has changed so much
name ‘Undeniable’ for the album.
from my first album with YouTube,
For me it’s staying grounded, I’m
THE SOUND IS REALLY MATURE
Spotify, downloads etc which is great though I feel taking it back to its
fortunate to have great supportive
roots, investing in a record people
parents, family and friends around
appreciate it more, looking at the
me. It’s important to know who you are and how to separate yourself from the industry when the time is right, when you do a show go be the character or showman but leave them on stage and come home and do normal things, be yourself which will make you stay humble. My Mrs says, laugh plenty, trust few, learn to paddle your own canoe, it’s great advice, just stay happy, find your happiness and keep hold of it OBVIOUSLY, YOU’VE A BGF (BIG GAY FOLLOWING), LOOKS AND TALENT – WHO WOULDN’T BE IMPRESSED. ANY STORIES YOU CAN SHARE WHILE AT A GAY BARS/CLUBS ?
THE FINISHED ALBUM IS A COCKTAIL OF CONTEMPORARY CLASSICS, MY HEART IS DEFINITELY ON MY SLEEVE WITH THIS ALBUM AND I HOPE EVERYONE LOVES IT.
sleeve and reading the thank you’s etc. It’s also another achievement of mine. ANY PLANS FOR A U.K/IRELAND TOUR? Later in the year I will be doing pre tour gigs, we are also in talks of doing support for other artists. The plan is to tour this album in March next year, a few singles will be released along the way. I’m currently writing the show. AND LASTLY, TELL US WHAT BRINGS JOY TO YOUR LIFE… My Kids, a cuppa tea, my Mrs who
I done Leeds Pride a few years back, I
makes a banging cuppa lol, my family, a
remember the crowd were unbelieve,
nice cold can of Larger.
I was doing a pop album at the time which was never released. I went to
WITH A GREAT MIX FROM THE PAST
a few bars after, the atmosphere was
FIVE OR SIX DECADES. DID YOU
amazing, everyone was so happy,
CHOOSE ALL THE TRACKS YOURSELF
dressed in outrageous colourful outfits,
OR WERE THEY SUGGESTED?
YOU CAN PRE ORDER VIA
I sat down and chose tracks, a lot
FOR THE FIRST SINGLE AND MORE
that’s how the world should be all the time, a happy colourful place.
were influenced from when I grew up, WE’VE LISTENED TO A SAMPLE OF
songs I have listened to and learned
FIVE OF THE TRACKS FROM THE
to love over the years, again guilty
NEW ALBUM AND MUST SAY WE
pleasures. The finished album is a
LOVE IT. MY FAV WAS ARTHUR’S
cocktail of contemporary classics, my
heart is definitely on my sleeve with this album and I hope everyone loves
All of my friends who have got a sneaky
listen love that one too, none of them could believe I was doing a cover of the
TWELVE // GNIMAG.COM
HOW MANY SONGS ARE PLANNED
RAYS ALBUM UNDENIABLE IS DUE TO BE RELEASED ON 3RD JULY RAYQUINN.CO.UK, SEE THE VIDEO
OPINION // CALLUM SKEFFINGTON
CALLUM SKEFFINGTON VERY LITTLE CONTROL THE CORONAVIRUS HAS DISRUPTED THE world with rapid force, and as a global population we have been united by a pandemic that threatens each and every one of our lives. It’s a worrisome time for everyone, and the media seems to be ensuring that we stay panicked each and every day. At one point I was obsessively refreshing twitter threads and reading every piece of information I could find, to the point that my anxiety was through the roof. I have stopped paying attention to the COVID-19 news updates. Now I am only seeing snippets of information from Facebook articles as I scroll through my timeline and choosing to only read articles that are captioned with an aura of positivity. It is very easy to succumb to the hopelessness of the circumstances we are currently locked into, but in every grey rainy day cloud there has to be a silver lining, right? If you are in a position where staying at home is comfortable and safe, albeit monotonous and not ideal, it is important to remember that right now, there are those less fortunate who may not have a home to go to, or they are not be in a safe environment at home, or they are not able to stay at home because they are an essential worker who is risking their own health and safety each and every day to help protect us all. I think we all need to find the simple joys in amongst this terrifying chaos. It is difficult, I know! It’s almost as difficult as it is to find toilet roll or pasta in Tesco’s, but sometimes we just have to hope for the best. At times, it seems that the world is plagued with more bad than good, but right now the
resilience of the human spirit is proving stronger than this virus, as people share photos and videos of their new everyday life. People are visiting hospitals and care homes, sitting outside their loved one’s window on the phone, or holding signs up, just so that those important to them know that they are still there, no matter what. People are singing from their balconies in Italy and Spain, dancing, playing instruments, and creating a community in a way that would have been impossible - laughable - before. More people are finding joy in the things that they once loved but haven’t had the time to do. Pollution is decreasing now that the roads are quiet and everyone is making the most of their one hour of government approved daily exercise in the outdoors; honestly I can’t remember the last time that I have walked so much ( definitely not since I got a car anyway). I guess my point is, although the world has seemed chaotic and uncertain lately, in a strange way our lives have slowed down, and - hopefully you will agree we are all appreciating the things that matter most to us. You may be missing your weekly appearance in the Kremlin, or you may be constantly checking Skyscanner for flights that may not happen. You might even be tempted to organise an orgy to get you through this lockdown but learn from the mistakes of a few quarantined men in Spain and wait until this is all over. For now, PornHub has given the world free premium access; use it! When I was thinking of ideas for what I could write about in this issues column, there was only one thing I knew for certain; I did not want to talk about the coronavirus, and here I am rambling on and on about it. It just seems to be impossible to stop talking about it. I could have talked about how I found myself in a consistent gym routine; it would have been a good follow on from my last column about New Year’s Resolutions. After five years of telling myself that I would finally start committing to a workout plan, and five years of failing to do so for longer than two weeks, I was proud that I had finally done it. I was going to the gym times a week; I had typed up several gym session plans in the note’s app on my phone, and I was feeling great, both mentally and physically. I didn’t think that I would ever say this but, I was enjoying my workout routine; that is, until all the gyms and leisure centres were shut down... due to the coronavirus. An alternative topic would have been to talk about upcoming travel plans. With Spring upon us, and summer getaways being on everyone’s mind, it would
have been nice to share some of the trips that I was looking forward to. I was supposed to be in Rome at the beginning of April, exploring vineyards and being that mid-twenties mess who got far too drunk at a wine tasting amongst a group of older, more mature and certainly unimpressed travellers. That was before Italy went into lockdown, and my first trip of 2020 was cancelled thanks to the coronavirus. After that, I was still clinging desperately to the hopes of a holiday at the end of may, but my trip to Croatia with my boyfriend has now also suffered. Our flights were cancelled now that Ryanair has decided that it is not feasible to open an airport in Zadar given that the airlines are obviously suffering due to the coronavirus. There’s still my job. I don’t really want to talk about my job; I work for an insurance company, and yes, it is about as boring as it sounds. Talking about my job really would have made for a rather dull column topic. That is, if I actually was still working, rather than now being on an 80% wage package to sit at home aimlessly walking around my house asking my cat if she has ever considered taking out pet insurance. The reality of this whole COVID-19 situation is that, unfortunately, we have very little control. We must follow the government’s guidelines, and we must protect ourselves and our loved ones. There are many reasons this is an overwhelmingly bad situation but striving to see the positives - any little thing that can be deemed a positive right now - well help ease the monotony of this lockdown. Sometimes I feel like my life is too repetitive, and there have been so many times I have wanted a break from adult life. Now I may actually have the time to get back into painting like I have wanted to do for years. Working out from home is less than ideal, but it does mean that I can do so without being intimidated by the muscle men who are clearly judging me lifting a 15kg dumbbell. Now may be the time to revisit hobbies and passions of the past, if the most you achieve is staying sane through this then that is okay too. Stay healthy, mentally and physically. Stay at home, stay safe, hope that this is all over soon, and make sure to be kind to all the essential workers who are carrying our country through this pandemic.
This is an opinion piece from the columnist/contributor and not the opinion of GNI MAG / Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd.
THIRTEEN // GNIMAG.COM
INTERVIEW // TYLER SWEET
INTERVIEW // TYLER SWEET
SWEET IS SPICY TYLER SWEET IS BACK AND HE IS SUGARLICIOUS BY JIM VITALE TYLER SWEET WAS 22 YEARS OLD WHEN HE DECIDED IT WAS TIME FOR HIM TO RETIRE. FOUR YEARS LATER, THE TEXAS NATIVE IS READY TO WORK AGAIN. IT’S A NEW DECADE, NEW STATE (HE CALLS KANSAS HOME NOW) AND A NEW MOVIE STUDIO FOR SWEET. AT 26, HE IS ONE OF THE SENIOR GUYS AT HELIX STUDIOS BUT HE’S PROVING HE CAN KEEP UP WITH THE YOUNG’UNS. HE WORKS OUT JUST AS HARD, SHAKES HIS BOOTY ON THE DANCEFLOOR EVEN HARDER, AND HEY, HE’S STILL SWEET… AND WHO DOESN’T LOVE THAT? WE SPOKE WITH HIM FROM THE SET OF HIS SECOND MOVIE FOR HELIX, DAYTIME PLAYTIME. ARE YOU REALLY AS SWEET AS YOUR NAME IMPLIES? I try to be sweet, whenever I can. There is so much negativity in the world already. I hate the idea that I would ever add to it. TELL US ABOUT GROWING UP IN TEXAS. I was kinda brainy but I played tennis so was also kinda athletic. ANY BROTHERS OR SISTERS? I have two older brothers. I’m the baby of the family. My parents are divorced and both remarried. I don’t talk to my biological dad.
DO YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY SUPPORT YOUR PORN CAREER? The few family members that do know my chosen career support me, thankfully. My friends do, too. I would be heartbroken and lost without their encouragement. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR 13-YEAR OLD SELF? I would tell myself to just keep breathing. It’s all gonna be ok, kid. WHEN DID YOU REALIZE A PORN CAREER WAS FOR YOU? I started porn as a side thing and I found I enjoyed it. I took a break for a few years but I’m glad to be back.
WHO IS ONE PERSON YOU WOULD LIKE TO MEET? In the industry, I would like to meet Cutler X or Rocco Steele. They are both giants in their fields, literally and metaphorically. Outside of adult entertainment, Illenium and Said the Sky. Both are extremely emotional and impactful DJs that have helped me form who I am. ARE YOU A RAVER? I love a good party. I wish I was a better dancer. I enjoy it but it can sometimes lead to me embarrassing myself. I am good at giving glove light shows to people at raves. People often say I’m fairly great at it.
FIFTEEN // GNIMAG.COM
INTERVIEW // TYLER SWEET DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DATE. I’m a pretty simple guy. Meeting a cute man over coffee in the late afternoon or maybe a drink in the early evening sounds like a perfect first date for me. DO YOU BELIEVE IN LOVE AT FIRST SITE? I used to not believe in love at first sight but now I definitely think I do. IF YOU HAD TO PICK BETWEEN HARRY OR WILLIAM... (Laughing) Harry Potter over Prince William and (EDM DJ) William Black over Prince Harry. HAVE YOU EVER BEEN DUMPED? I prefer not to go into details. FAIR, BUT DID YOU DESERVE IT? Yes, I deserved it. DO YOU HAVE A PET? Growing up, we had family pets and we still have a black Labrador named Bo but he lives with my parents. HOW IMPORTANT IS FASHION TO YOU? Fashion isn’t too important to me in the sense that I need to have the latest trends. I obviously like to look good but
SIXTEEN // GNIMAG.COM
honestly if I feel good in sweats and a hoodie, that’s gonna be my fashion. LET’S PLAY A GAME. IN OR OUT… RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE: Out! I’m not a huge fan of reality TV shows although I do love the memes and the artistry of the talent. Slay Queens! INSTAGRAM: OUT! I’VE SAID IT ONCE AND I’ll say it again: Instagram unfairly targets and deactivates the accounts of sex workers even when we post things that are well within community guidelines. Until they end this charade crusade, I won’t make an adult Instagram. I won’t amass a fan following just to have it deleted on a whim of a prejudiced admin. It’s not fair to my fans. WHAT’S YOUR PREFERRED SOCIAL PLATFORM? Twitter (@tylerxxxsweet) because the free form guidelines of twitter allow me to be nerdy, hornbally, and cutesy all the same time. All those are sides of me and I think people really love to see it all together. BACK TO THE GAME. IPHONE: In! I love my iPhone. I’ve had an iPhone since I’ve been in college and even though I never have the latest and
greatest model, I still like it. TAYLOR SWIFT: So in! I love Taylor Swift. I’m not a crazy fanboy and I don’t follow celebrity scandals and all the jazz on that front. But with that being said, her albums have bops on bops. WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF FIVE YEARS FROM NOW? Hopefully with a thriving career, a little more stable and living in a fun city. WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOUR FANS WOULD BE MOST SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT TYLER SWEET? I see all the messages I get in Twitter DMs and on comment boards, and although I may not respond, I never take compliments for granted. I take each and every compliment to heart. On days when I’m sad I use them to keep going and I love all of my fans for that. VISIT HELIXSTUDIOS.NET
OPINION // MICKY MURRAY
COPING A LOT BETTER THAN I THOUGHT I WOULD MICKY MURRAY MY KETTLE HAS NEVER
Every day I’ve been waking up around 6am,
on my own away from my laptop and social
WORKED so hard in its life.
I almost NEVER do this usually, so it’s taken
media, and it does wonders for your physical
quite a bit of self-discipline, it’s so easy to just
and mental health to get out of the house and
I’m assuming that by the
turn over and go back to sleep. I’m not a great
forget about everything going on in the world.
time we go to print we will
sleeper, so I’ve started using the ‘Get Sleepy’
Social media has its share of downsides,
still all be self-isolating and
podcast to get to sleep. It talks you through
especially when it comes to fake news and
some breathing exercises to do to relax and
people being able to say what they want with
then someone reads a story, keeping track of
zero accountability, but recently the good
I must say, I’m coping a
the story isn’t important, and it’s been such a
side of social media has been coming out,
lot better than I thought I
great help getting me to sleep, which is how
I’ve spent a lot of time getting my “going
would be at this stage, even
I’ve been able to get up early in the mornings.
out” kick from Facebook live videos, Marcus
if we are only four, long,
I understand that this is so much easier to do if
Hunter-Neill, aka Lady Portia Di’Monte, does
weeks in, I expect it would
you’re waking up to work from home.
a great segment every day at 3pm, so I take a tea break and stick it on at 3pm and leave it
be a very different picture if I ran out of tea bags. The
makes me thankful that I can work from home, it’s been a bit strange at times, and difficult to adjust, but I’m thankful that I’m in this position. I have one of the best job in politics, as a constituency
majority of what I do is essentially to help people, and it’s been comforting to see all the organisations, businesses, and voluntary groups
and repurposing what they do, to provide much needed community support. I’m one of those people
“If you’re like me then It’s incredibly easy right now to stay up late, binge on Netflix and comfort food, and generally neglect yourself. So I’ve been making an effort to keep some sort of structure to my day.”
guests, shows wee videos he’s been watching, and it’s really down to earth and great to listen in on. ‘The Virtual Lounge’, which is a virtual live lounge on Facebook managed by Alex Jay from The Diva Dolls, have almost daily shows on, from local drag artists, acoustic sets, and even people like Kitty Brucknell from The X Factor, it’s definitely worth checking out to fill the void of not being able to go out, and I’ve been watching, virtually, with friends with has been fun. Of course it’s been an incredibly difficult time for society, and especially for all those people who are self-isolating alone, but there is something really uplifting about the outpour of support across communities, the people volunteering with the Health and Social Care sector, and all the people who are going the extra mile to make sure that everyone has
who get lost during the week
on it the background while I’m working, he has
what they need.
Every morning, well most mornings – this
and New Year’s, I forget
morning I stayed in bed and watched Ellen
DeGeneres for an hour and a half, I’ve been
Stay safe, be nice, take advantage of a terrible
understanding of time goes
going for my daily allowance of exercise.
situation and learn something about yourself,
out the window and if you’re
I’m using a ‘map my walk’ app, there’s quite
read something you normally wouldn’t read,
like me then It’s incredibly
a few available, to map out a 4-5km walk,
watch some documentaries so you’re not frying
easy right now to stay up
taking different routes as much as possible.
your brain with fiction, pick up the phone and
late, binge on Netflix and
It’s such a great start to the day, the suns up,
have a chat with a friend, this is a great time
comfort food, and generally
the temperatures fair, and there’s no one else
for those “yeah, we should hang out sometime
neglect yourself. So I’ve
around. As I usually work behind a desk my
soon” friends to properly reconnect.
been making an effort to
walk to and from work and my lunch time walk
keep some sort of structure
are sometimes the only daily exercise I get, so
to my day.
it’s been really important for me to have a walk
This is an opinion piece from the columnist/ contributor and not the opinion of GNI MAG / Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd.
SEVENTEEN // GNIMAG.COM
KWEEN // FEFE GEISHA
KWEEN // FEFE GEISHA
EIGHTEEN // GNIMAG.COM
KWEEN // FEFE GEISHA
HOW, WHEN AND WHY DID YOU GET INTO DRAG? 8 long years ago, I done a catwalk for a charity event in Newry. It had themes and one was Priscilla queen of the desert! It took alot of convincing, but once they put that face and dress on me I was hooked!! Thinking the Catwalk was a one off... hahaha! HOW DID PARENTS, FAMILY, FRIENDS ETC INITIALLY REACT? You know there was never any negative reactions, everyone around me knew it was all alot of fun for me, it wasnt harming anyone and at the end of the day, it really just is for a gegg!
HOW ARE THEY NOW? Same as they have always been, very supportive. Cheering me on at shows, giving me advice when i feel lost along the way. I have to give the most credit to my amazing FiancĂ¨ James, whos always encouraging me, sending me photos of shoes and dresses and bags as he passes stores. Giving me ideas and even giving me honesty when i make a mix and its lacking something with a bang! And even buys me wigs and dresses to be dead cute lol.
WHERE HAVE YOU WORKED? I have worked for many people, starting off in the early days i hosted for a company called strippers NI. I only faux stripped once or twice as a comedy thing, and hosted the shows with the stripper lads! And THAT was fun! Lol! But mainly what i do now is work alongside Glitzy Glamour once a month in Union Street at TGIF, also with Trudy, Glitzy and Pauletta at Cabargay as often as I can.
I do a few bits for Maverick as well with Rusty at F*** yeah fridays and Levvy Tate on her new show on a Saturday But im part of a very Special 4 some known as SPLAT! Ohâ€™Neilly Cummins, Holly Go Heavilly, Robyn Diamonds and Myself. We are in many a place but focus on the North Coast in Atlantic Bar Portrush and Rubys with our uber gay bestie Roger Boyd in Rubys Coleraine. I was also recently given my own night at Rosie Joes in Derry called own it, working with a good friend Sui whos an absolute sweetheart! On that note ive done a few gigs with the beauty Onya Becks which we have planned a few more bits and bobs... so keep watching WHO HAVE BEEN THE BEST PEOPLE TO WORK WITH TO DATE Everyone I have mentioned have been amazing, i have to add in Tina Legs Tantrum as without her I probably would have given up on drag long ago! Also my Heather sisters- you know who you are WHO WOULD YOU LOVE TO WORK WITH? DREAM BIG? You know. At the minute im living my dream. Im working hard at my drag art. Pushing my abilities. But some day who knows i could do anything! Id love to work with some queens from the south like Davina, Paul Ryder, Victoria and Regina... BOOK ME! Hahaha x NOW THE DRAG RACE IS IN THE U.K WOULD YOU TRY OUT FOR IT?
TELL US MORE ABOUT YOU... i recently absailed Belfast castle for the rainbow project with kremlin dressed as my ultimate favourote video game character LARA CROFT and faced my biggest fear HEIGHTS!! Ive been given my own night in Derry and im in talks with people about guesting the likes of Abomination and Harland and Poof with our stun bun Sassie and possy of poof! You know, it only took me 8 years to realise i love drag, im pushing myself and trying to make sonething of it now. Im giving it everything and more and to me the sky is the limit! My work life is great atm too. I mean everyone at work knows i do Fefe and are dead supportive about it. Which is always a bonus. Family life is great too. Ive my loving partner, a beautiful son and our 2 lovely fur babies Elle and Ashe! I wouldnt change a thing to be fair! ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE ADD Id like to give a shout out to my Mum and 3 sisters Carleen, Louise and Andrea for giving me hand bags, dresses and Sometimes not realising i borrowed a dress or 2 back in the day hahaha! And dad for being supportive too! CAN PEOPLE FIND YOU ON INST, FACEBOOK ETC ? You can get me on insta @theefefegeish Facebook Conor Douglas (Fefe Geisha)
Absolutely! Wouldnt you? I mean to be in a bar or club is great, but to show the world what you do! Its been a great platform from Ru to get queens where they are today! So that would be a great opportunity! Saying that i didnt apply for season 1 or 2... but keep your eyes peeled for season 3 haha.
Im on twitter too... but its rare i use it. So follow away guys xx
NINETEEN // GNIMAG.COM
INTERVIEW // WILS
WILS TO SURVIVE
OUT SINGERâ€™S NEW ALBUM REFLECTS ON CONQUERING LOSS BY PAUL HUTNICK
TWENTY // GNIMAG.COM
INTERVIEW // WILS
SINGAPORE POP SINGING SENSATION WILS — WHO REVEALED HE WAS GAY LAST YEAR WITH THE HIT SINGLE, “OPEN UP BABE” — IS BEST KNOWN FOR HIS ALBUM, WTF, NAMED BEST POP ALBUM OF THE YEAR AT THE HOLLYWOOD F.A.M.E AWARDS. THE ALBUM ALSO RECEIVED A BEST ALBUM NOMINATION AT THE LOS ANGELES MUSIC AWARDS, AS WELL AS POP ARTIST OF THE YEAR (MALE), INTERNATIONAL ARTIST OF THE YEAR AND MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR FOR THE SUPERB INTEGRATION OF TECHNOLOGY, MUSIC, FASHION AND ART IN HIS SINGLE, “LESS IS MORE”. THIS MONTH, HE RETURNS WITH A NEW ALBUM, DON’T LEAVE TOO SOON, FEATURING 12 ORIGINAL TRACKS THAT SHED LIGHT ON THE DARKER SIDE OF THE RAINBOW. “THE LAST YEAR WAS PRETTY ROUGH,” WILS CONTENDS. “WHILE I WAS EXPERIENCING A NEWFOUND SENSE OF FREEDOM FROM COMING OUT, THE LIVES OF IMPORTANT PEOPLE AROUND ME WERE FALLING APART.” SONGS REFLECT ON ALL ASPECTS OF LOSS: THE EMPTINESS, HOPELESSNESS AND REJECTION, AS WELL AS THE COURAGE AND STRENGTH IT TAKES TO PERSEVERE AFTER SAYING GOODBYE. “THIS IS A VERY PERSONAL ALBUM AND I AM DEDICATING IT TO EVERYONE OUT THERE BATTLING HEARTACHE FROM THE END OF A SEASON.” FIRST OF ALL, CONGRATULATIONS ON COMING OUT OF THE CLOSET. WILS: THANKS! I’M SO MUCH HAPPIER BEING MYSELF. NO MORE WEARING A MASK TO HIDE WHO I AM. THAT WAS TIRING AND REALLY SCARY. IT IS SO MUCH BETTER NOW THAT I CAN BE HONEST WITH THE
go through it alone.
IN “HAVE TO LET YOU GO,” YOU SING ABOUT A FRIEND WHO TOOK HIS
ARE THEIR EXPERIENCES A REMINDER TO YOU THAT WHAT COMES UP MUST
LIFE. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR FRIEND?
COME DOWN? IN OTHER WORDS, YOUR LIFE MAY BE HAPPY NOW BUT
He was successful, funny, intelligent, witty
DIFFICULT TIMES ARE CERTAIN TO
and a great dancer with a great body.
When I first came to the USA, knowing
PEOPLE I LOVE.
practically no one, he was one of the few Yeah, I used to feel that way. When things
people to take me under his wing. He
MOST SONGWRITERS WOULD HAVE
were going great, there would be this
would find me out in the bars, standing
WRITTEN AN ALBUM REFLECTING
voice in my head saying, “Okay now...
alone (yep, I’m a loner!) and introduce
ON THEIR YEAR OF NEWFOUND
you better be prepared because shit’s
me to all of his friends. He never wanted
FREEDOM. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE
‘bout to happen”. But I think that’s a very
anyone to feel left out.
TO WRITE ABOUT THE PROBLEMS
unhealthy way of looking at things. In
YOUR FRIENDS WERE FACING?
moments of happiness, it’s important that
WHAT IS IT THAT LED TO HIS FATEFUL
we allow ourselves to lean into the joy
I want them to know that they are not
and feel all of it wholeheartedly. Really
alone. I don’t think we talk about pain
soak it up! Life’s ups and downs are
His parents never accepted him for being
enough. It’s hard to talk about it. But
inevitable. We can’t avoid them. But I
gay. No matter how much he achieved,
vulnerability brings authenticity. It
have learned that when the pain comes,
all of it meant little to him because he felt
gives you a greater bond with the ones
it’s best to ask myself what’s preventing
he could never share his success with the
you love; and I feel that that’s really
me from being happy. I think having an
people he loved most. He was of Middle
something we could all do for ourselves.
honest conversation with yourself is the
eastern descent and felt intense shame
Look at the things that hurt us and share
key to finding peace and joy.
that he could never be the son they
it with those we love. We never have to
wished him to be.
TWENTY ONE // GNIMAG.COM
INTERVIEW // WILS
WERE THERE ANY SIGNS THAT MAYBE HIS FRIENDS/FAMILY IGNORED OR
like to believe it was his way of saying
LOST HIS HUSBAND TO ILLNESS.
goodbye to me.
My friend was with his late husband for twelve years. His husband had colon
SAYING GOODBYE IS ONE OF
cancer and survived six years. He
THE HARDEST THINGS TO DO,
suffered a long time, knowing the man
Since his passing, I’ve learned that many
YET IT’S INEVITABLE THAT EVERY
he loved was going to leave him. It’s
people who decide to take their own life
RELATIONSHIP MUST COME TO AN
a reminder of how hard it is to say
have planned it way ahead before they do
to take his life three years ago, but had
I think sometimes being hopeful that a
IS THAT WHY YOU TITLED THE ALBUM,
failed. Sometimes the ones who smile
relationship will carry on even when it has
DON’T LEAVE TOO SOON?
the most are the ones in the most pain.
ended might seem like the right thing
it. I wasn’t aware that my friend had tried
to do, but it prevents us from moving
The title is meant to represent our
WERE YOU ABLE TO SAY A PROPER
forward and allowing ourselves to find
attachment to the things that we love
GOODBYE TO HIM?
the peace within ourselves.
and how they will eventually have to go
We had an awesome night on the
YOU SING ABOUT IT IN “HURTING,”
little moment in life while they last. The
dancefloor a week before he left. I
YOUR SONG TO YOUR FRIEND WHO
title is also meant to be a reminder of
someday, and so we must treasure every
the importance of living wholeheartedly in the moment, giving love to the things that really matter. IT’S A GREAT RECORD, WILS. Thanks! So much work goes into making an album. It can be physically and emotionally draining. It’s always hard for me to listen to the songs after I’ve recorded them because of the memories they bring. But I hope this album helps anyone going through pain and that it validates their feelings and lets them know they are not alone. FOLLOW WILS ON INSTAGRAM @ HEYWILS
TWENTY TWO // GNIMAG.COM
OPINION // ALICIA PERRY
THE LAST SHOUT ALICA V PERRY LATE IN OCTOBER OF 2014 the owner of this magazine invited me out for coffee and asked me to write for them. I accepted and I’m still here but the time has come for new challenges; this will be my last column. This is the last shout. I’d like to thank everyone at GNI Magazine for all the love and support a girl could have possibly wanted. I’ve had a rollercoaster of a ride in that time so I’m humbled by your continued support. I appreciate every like, comment, retweet and share my columns received over the years. It has been a real joy reading feedback each issue and yes, even the criticism for it increases your self-awareness. So here it is, one last pearl of wisdom from little old me. What have I learned during my time on this planet, as I turn 45 years old this month? Well, when it comes to life and our quest in finding inner peace to gently lift us up to a higher and better self, there is no more capable person to do this than you. You are the only one who possesses the qualifications to manifest the greatest life you could possibly envision. I’ve learned the hard way trust me, that there is absolutely no point in denial and hesitations when it comes to learning about yourself. Life challenges won’t wait about for you to make up your mind. The hands of time can never be turned back and once it’s gone, it’s gone for good. Patience,
acceptance, tolerance and sacrifice are vital in our quest for a better life but remaining humble is the key. Taking it one day at a time, not running ahead hastily and always remembering that karma is the Head Bitch In Charge. Leaving things that we can’t control in the hands of karma is a liberating act. Being sincerely grateful for what you have and who you have in your life and always valuing that there are people out there in the world worse off than ourselves. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift – that’s why it’s called the present.” When we least expect it life presents to us painful new challenges to test our resilience, our courage and our willingness to adapt. It is in these moments that belief in yourself and readiness to rise to these challenges become such a fundamental and significant factor in successfully overcoming these encounters. However, when you have a mental illness believing in yourself appears to be the easy part, finding yourself first can be your hardest struggle but do not hide from your fears because they are not there to frighten you. They are merely to remind you that life is precious and so worth it. Confront those memories of the darkest corners of your mind and exert with passion to expel them through ruthlessness, clemency and illumination. Truly understanding your own mind is above all else the most important step you will ever take on your journey to acceptance and with that acceptance comes healing and recovery. Don’t be anxious about change. We are all changing in some way but rather welcome change. Get out of your comfort zone and face your conquests head-on with sheer confidence. It’s all very well enjoying the equilibrium of the pond but if you never swim out of it you will never know or appreciate the streams, rivers and oceans of life. Be kind and brave, especially amongst all the frustration and disenchantment life throws at us. Be kind and brave to live the life of your dreams according to your unique meaning and purpose. Don’t let yourself become distracted from your intrinsic value nor be consumed with mutual comparisons. Do not be side-tracked by the fickle opinions and expectations of
others. Some people say if something is not broke don’t fix it but these are the very same people who don’t know what it is like to truly live life; they merely exist. Remember, settling for second-best may be the very reason you don’t have something better and more fulfilling in your life right now. Grab life by the horns and get out there and live it. It is your life and it is your right to live it. You do not need anyone’s permission – their approval is neither required nor desired but be gracious and kind enough to embrace their acceptance. Be bold and know that one day you will leave a legacy, your legacy, so listen to your heart and be guided by your gut-instincts. The truth, more importantly your truth, should always be paramount in your life and the life of those who claim to love and respect you. Do listen to those around you who you feel close to but be mindful that those in your corner should never demand your silence nor try to muzzle your wish to express this certainty. Some people say life is short, I’ve even said it myself, but when you think about it life is the longest thing you will ever do – can you think of anything longer? So we might as well make the most of it and make our lives as enriched and comfortable as we possibly can, while always remaining as humble as we possibly can. So there it is, so it is. It has been a pleasure. This is where my GNI story ends. This is goodbye. Stay safe and well. Alicia xx
This is an opinion piece from the columnist/contributor and not the opinion of GNI MAG / Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd.
TWENTY THREE // GNIMAG.COM
INTERVIEW // SAM MORRIS
THE ART OF MAN SAM MORRIS RE-DEFINES MALE EROTIC ART BY MIKE BAHR
SAM MORRIS IS OFTEN CALLED THE MODERN-DAY TOM OF FINLAND. LIKE HIS PREDECESSOR, SAM MORRIS’ WORK IS STYLIZED, HOMOEROTIC FETISH ART THAT DEPICTS THE QUINTESSENTIAL GAY MALE. HOWEVER, WHERE TOM OF FINLAND CELEBRATED MEN WITH EXTREME MUSCULAR BODY TYPES, OFTEN PERFORMING AGGRESSIVE SEX ACTS, MORRIS’ WORK TENDS TO FOCUS ON THE HANDSOME BUT RELATABLE ‘BOY NEXT DOOR’ GAY MAN. “I AIM TO CREATE AN AESTHETIC THAT IS ROMANTIC, YET SEXY,” HE EXPLAINS. “MY WORK INVITES THE VIEWER TO FANTASIZE OVER THE MAN THEY HAVE A CRUSH ON AT WORK, OR MAYBE THE ONE THAT WORKS AT THE LOCAL COFFEE SHOP OR THE DILF THEY ARE SECRETLY FOLLOWING ON SOCIAL MEDIA.” IN HIS ART, MORRIS EMBRACES MASCULINITY WHILE ALSO RECOGNIZING A MAN’S INHERENT FEMININITY. “WEARING MASCULINITY AS AN OUTFIT TO CONFORM IS NOT HEALTHY,” HE ARGUES. “MEN SHOULD EXPRESS BOTH SIDES OF THEIR PERSONALITIES FREELY, WITHOUT PROHIBITION, HOW AND WHEN THEY WISH.” HIS MAIN MESSAGE IS THAT THE BODY AND SEX CAN BE EXPLORED IN A BEAUTIFULLY ARTISTIC WAY WITHOUT BEING SMUTTY OR CHEAP. “FOR ME, IT’S MORE ABOUT CAPTURING A MAN’S VULNERABILITY; PHOTOGRAPHING THE SUBJECT SO THAT THE VIEWER SEES HIM AS A BOYFRIEND OR A LOVER, RATHER THAN A PIECE OF MEAT.”
WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOUR EROTIC ART TO BE MODERN?
The delicate nature that can be found in the structure of such strength and masculinity.
It’s definitely a modern look at gay erotica yes, but with a nod to a more romantic or renaissance era.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE THE MODERN MAN?
YOU’RE BEING CALLED THE MODERN-DAY TOM OF FINLAND.
Someone who is not afraid to be vulnerable.
Wow. Those are some big shoes to fill! I’ve always stayed true to myself and the sort of work I’ve wanted to create, and I’ve been creating a lot of it for a while in my style. I’m not sure I’m quite up there with that legendary status yet, but maybe one day.
WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THOSE WHO BELIEVE MASCULINITY IS UNDER ATTACK?
HAS TOM OF FINLAND BEEN AN INSPIRATION? Oh, yes. I first came across his work when I was a teenager. I bought a collection of originals online and I became fascinated with them and his story.
HOW MANY DIFFERENT MEDIUMS OF ART DO YOU WORK IN?
WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO CONVEY IN YOUR BRAND OF GAY EROTICA?
YOUR EROTIC FILMS PROBABLY GET THE MOST ATTENTION. WHAT SEPARATES YOUR WORK FROM TRADITIONAL ADULT FILM?
I argue that fragile masculinity is, masculinity isn’t.
Photography and film is the backbone of my work, but I’m also a painter, sculptor, and writer.
That gay sex and male nudity can be soft, romantic and beautiful. WHAT IS IT THAT YOU LOVE SO MUCH ABOUT THE MALE FORM?
TWENTY FOUR // GNIMAG.COM
No one is acting in my films. Everyone involved is in control of what they want to express. Consent is absolutely key. WOULD YOU FIND IT OFFENSIVE IF YOUR WORK WAS
INTERVIEW // SAM MORRIS
TWENTY FIVE // GNIMAG.COM
INTERVIEW // SAM MORRIS
LABELED “PORN”? No, it wouldn’t offend me. There are elements of porn in my work, but the majority of it isn’t. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON TODAY’S ADULT FILM INDUSTRY AND ITS’ TALENT? It’s more fearless and celebrated than it ever has been. A lot of porn stars today are showing us that sex work is not something to be ashamed of and I applaud that. WOULD YOU DATE A PORN STAR? I normally wouldn’t like to date anyone that is doing similar work to me, as it feels too concentrated. I prefer to date people who have
TWENTY SIX // GNIMAG.COM
a completely different life and reality altogether. Gives my life more balance. ARE YOU SINGLE? I am actually dating someone at the moment. WHAT IS AHEAD FOR YOU? Obviously, I’ll continue to shoot beautiful boys all over the world. I have a few other exciting things lined up. Follow me on Instagram to learn more!
VISIT SAMMORRIS.ME. FOLLOW SAM MORRIS ON INSTAGRAM @ JUSTSAMMORRIS
FASHION, BEAUTY, HEALTH & WELLBEING, TAKING TIME FOR YOU!
GAVIN RENNICK // VEGAN CHALLENGE
GAVIN RENNICK VEGAN CHALLENGE
I CHALLENGED MYSELF BY EATING
than you might think! Things like
“Maybe it’s a mental thing, because
vegan for one week. Veganism is
eggs, quark and chicken were still in
we’re so used doing the things we do?”
becoming more and more on trend
my fridge, because my friend wasn’t
these days and I wanted to try it
joining me in the challenge, which were
Yet I have to say that some days I felt a
out. I promised you guys to share
quite tempting to grab sometimes. On
little hungry. Though Goodness Rocks
my experiences with you, so how did
Wednesday I had a lunch event where I
carefully set up this menu fitting my
I survive a 100% plant based diet for
had to take a closer look at the menu to
personal needs, it was a bit difficult for
seven days straight? What was the
see what options I had.
me to get used to. I had the feeling that I couldn’t eat as much/diverse as
most difficult and challenging, and
“Luckily most food places are incorporating more vegan options, so there was enough to choose from.”
I’m used to. Although there are lots of
week, which assured me that I wouldn’t
Nothing stopped me, I had everything
With a vegan diet it may be a little
come short of anything. I had all my
I needed from Goodness Rocks, and
less easy to consume enough proteins.
food prepped by GOODNESS ROCKS,
their food was excellent, so tasty, so
The advantage of a vegan diet is that
so nothing stopped me from starting
filling and flavoursome. If your looking
you automatically eat more healthy
off right. During the week I felt good
a stepping stone to a new way I would
nutrients on a daily basis. For example,
about consuming just plant based
strongly suggest you take the guess
plant-based oils and margarines which
foods, it somehow felt I was more
work out of it and put in the hands of
contain unsaturated fatty acids. Also
in touch with nature (yep, really :-P).
my veggie intake was much higher this
what aspects did I really like or dislike? Here is my vegan food review with GOODNESS ROCKS BELFAST. “This new diet got me vegan excited” On Monday (first day) I felt pretty excited to get started with my new diet! I had my personal food schedule from the nutritionist to guide me through the
almost ‘cheated’ – I simply forgot my
Thank goodness for GOODNESS
diet for a moment. And I realized that
THIRTY EIGHT // GNIMAG.COM
choices in what to eat. And you have to be creative to come up with other recipes. Maybe it was just a mental thing, because I am so used to eating animal products. I work out a lot so it’s necessary for me to get in enough proteins for muscle recovery.
Though I had some moments where I
animal products are in more foods
ways to vary, a vegan diet still gives less
Could you foster? Call us today to have a friendly chat about fostering
0800 0720 137
adoptionandfostercare.hscni.net Give a child a brighter future
YOU // ADOPTION & FOSTER CARE
ADOPT // FOSTER COULD YOU ADOPT / FOSTER? HSC Northern Ireland Adoption and Foster Care are urgently seeking new Foster Carers from the LGBTQ+ community in Northern Ireland today. With over 3,300 children and young people currently requiring Foster Care here, HSC Northern Ireland Adoption and Foster Care provides prospective and current foster carers with tailored support, advice and information. It has never been easier to get involved with Foster Care, with the service’s new website (https://adoptionandfostercare.hscni. net/) and single hotline (0800 0720 137) for all enquiries. HSC Northern Ireland Adoption and Foster Care are looking for ordinary people who can make an extraordinary difference to a child / young person’s life and brighten up their future. There is no such thing as a ‘Typical Foster Carer’ and HSC Northern Ireland Adoption and Foster Care welcome applications from all sexual orientations, race, religions, language, culture, gender, disability and age. Applications are considered regardless of background, marital or employment status, home ownership status or whether you are already a parent. With opportunities ranging from short-term emergency to more permanent care, Foster Care can suit your lifestyle. It is important that you enjoy spending time with children, can offer some space in your home and some space in your heart to love a young person. To get involved, visit the new website for information on Foster Care. Get in touch with HSC Northern Ireland Adoption and Foster Care via their online enquiry form or by calling 0800 0720 137. One of their friendly social workers, from your local team, will then contact you within 2 days for a chat and to answer any questions you may have and to show you the next steps to brightening up a young person’s world. When you become a Foster Carer you are never on your own. With 24-hour support, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, there is always someone on the other end of the phone. There is ongoing training and support, opportunities to meet other Foster Carers as well as an app on your phone to help with safeguarding children and young people. HSC Northern Ireland Adoption and Foster Care are here, every step of the way. Could you give a child a brighter future? Get involved, visit their website, call them on 0800 0720 137, or follow them on social media. Search HSC Adoption and Foster Care. Every child deserves a safe and loving home.
THIRTY // GNIMAG.COM
YOU // ADOPTION AND FOSTER CARE
THIRTY ONE // GNIMAG.COM
LOOK // NON SURGICAL FACELIFT
EYE AREA CHEEKS LIPS JAWLINE CHIN
NINE POINT FACELIFT THIRTY TWO // GNIMAG.COM
LOOK // NON SURGICAL FACELIFT
Extremely vain 42 year old man seeks more youthful face, his own face, just better. Well that’s my story. I’m 42 and fairly haggered looking. If you’re a regular reader of GNI MAG you’ll have followed my progress in the continual search for a more youthful appearance. I’ve done Botox, I’ve got the wig, I’ve had personal training, and I’ve been waxed and plucked. But as time has gone on I’ve noticed the sagging of my face, the seemingly hereditary jowls on what what was my jawline, the pencil thin lips when I dare to shave my beard off. So I chatted with my friends Geri and Lisa at Face Therapy NI to see what we could do to give me a wee lift. They told me about a nonsurgical facelift, known as the 9 Point Face Lift. It uses advanced dermal fillers not to restore volume but to lift the tissues and structure of the face to produce a more youthful profile. The sophisticated techniques require working across 9 injecting points on each side of the face. The result lifts the lower and mid face creating more youthful contours. It improves definition around the jawline
and rejuvenates the eye area for a less tired look. Generally smoothing the skin leaving fewer lines and wrinkles for a more awake look with less sagginess. Just what I need, I thought. So I booked in my appointment,
it was about a month or so in advance so I had loads of time to mentally prepare myself for it. I was worried to be honest, we have all seen guys who have gone to far with work on their
face - I didn’t want to come out with what I’d call “feline” features. Many of my friends, and even my close family tried to talk me out of this treatment, but I was adamant that I was going through with it. On the day I arrived at the Face
Therapy NI clinic in Belfast, I know Lisa and Geri so that eased my anxiety a bit, but I was nervous - I’m not a fan of needles, and especially not in my face. After going through
all the necessary medical questions Lisa got to work. I’m not going to describe every needle and every prick in my face because the pictures here speak for themselves. I’m not going to say the procedure was painless but it wasn’t sore, I’d personally describe it as more uncomfortable than sore. As I’m quite a nervous patient Lisa took her time, which fundamentally just dragged out the whole process for me. But she was very attentive to my anxieties and needs, and a total perfectionist, always striving to give me the perfect look. Throughout the whole process was calling out numbers to Geri who was jotting these down on their surgical pad to ensure the highest degree of accurace for my face. The end results are, I think, great. They are not extreme. In fact until I tell people what I had done most don’t notice. I get a lot of people telling me I look fresher, or less tired, or asking am I not long back from holiday. And that’s what I wanted, I just wanted a fresher appearance - and that’s what I got.
Face Therapy NI LTD 6 Weavershill Square, Belfast 028 9039 1726
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2024 BELT PIQUE SWIM BRIEF - â‚¬90 CAMOUFLAGE SWIMBRIEF DIFFERENT COLOUR BELT
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FEATURE // ACTION FOR CHILDREN
HISTORIC EBRINGTON SQUARE TO HOUSE ACTION FOR CHILDREN CENTRE IN DERRY/LONDONDERRY. WORK IS UNDERWAY ON A HISTORIC building at Ebrington Square to transform it into a new Centre for children, young people and families in the City.
• • •
Building 83 is being refurbished in a joint endeavour between Action for Children and Ebrington Leisure Holdings. The new Action for Children Centre, in this unique location, will allow the charity to meet the needs of over 600 children, young people and families locally.
Waterside Sure Start Clooney Family Centre Waterside Family Support Hub Western Early Intervention Support Service The Blues Programme
Action for Children’s Waterside Sure Start Co-ordinator Patricia Shiels, said: “This is a great
The Action for Children Centre will house the following services delivered by a team of 40 staff:
location right in the centre of the city and with a newly refurbished facility, we hope it will really meet the needs of local families and young people. “With fantastic outdoor space, we will be able to provide creative outdoor play for the children and we’re setting up a green zone for parents who can work on an allotment and learn some gardening skills. For teenagers, we will deliver our groundbreaking Blues Programme which tackles early signs of anxiety and depression.” It’s hoped work on the site will be completed in the next few months and the new Action for Children Centre will be up and running by June 2020.
Opening June 2020, New Action for Children Centre at Ebrington Square. The new Action for Children Centre will house the following services: • • • • •
Waterside Sure Start Clooney Family Centre Waterside Family Support Hub Western Early Intervention Support Service The Blues Programme
Safe and happy childhood Action for Children protects and supports children and young people, providing practical and emotional care and support, ensuring their voices are heard, and campaigning to bring lasting improvements to their lives.
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Everyoneâ€™s welcome in our family
Fostering Northern Ireland. Start your fostering journey with us. /AFCNIfostercare 028 9046 0500 actionforchildren.org.uk/fostering Registered charity nos. 1097940/SC038092. Company no. 4764232. ÂŠ Action for Children 2020. 1411.
SPORT // MARTIN MURRAY
SPORT // MARTIN MURRAY HEALTHY MIND, HEALTHY BODY THE WHO HAS MADE IT clear that we should be practicing social distancing when we can. it is important to keep our mental and physical health in check especially in a global epidemic where you should do your best to improve your lungs and breathing, so here are my tips to get through the coronavirus while still working on preparing that summer body. We all must make sacrifices at this time, I have had to reschedule and cancel interviews for this very issue and make amendments to my work in the health sector but I am hoping this list allows you to continue your fitness without too much hassle. 1/ PREPARE If you choose to continue to go to the public gym for whatever your
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personal reasons, there are some steps you can take to put the odds in your favour. Firstly, investigate your gyms social distancing strategy. My gym has cancelled all classes, they have limited the number of people who can attend the gym at a time, and you can see how many people are inside using the app. On top of this they have stepped up their cleaning and provided stations encouraging clients to clean equipment before and after use. 2/ BE AWARE You can then help further by keeping a 3-meter distance from other clients, wash your hands every chance you get to avoid leaving sweat residue and dress appropriately. I have started using weightlifting gloves track bottoms and
a head band or cap to make sure I am doing anything I can to avoid skin contact or spreading of germs. Of course, even if you are showing any symptoms at all, do not go near a gym, as a gym should remain a place where people feel safe and comfortable. 3/ PARK LIFE As Park runs across the city have been cancelled, I have used this as an opportunity to practice new courses while not many people are there. You can find many free apps on your phone to measure your time, steps, speed and even ones that encourage you. You can also still find plenty of routes and maps on the park run website.
SPORT // MARTIN MURRAY
BENEFITS OF EXERCISE WHETHER WE HAVE MENTAL HEALTH issues or not, the atmosphere does affect us all as we are the product of our environment. This means while our social media is covered in panic, our streets are empty, social interaction is cut down and the news is full of fear then our minds become loaded with negative thoughts. The social interaction that is being taken away from our young people by being off school for a long time will also make a change to our culture as they react differently to social situations. Working out raises endorphins, makes you feel better about yourself and look better, and strengthens to body in its fight against viruses. Working out as a household with your loved ones creates a sense of unity and contact and that feeling of closeness is important in making people feel wanted and needed through support. Even if you are separate, start a video group call with your loved ones or friends and work out together. Even for older people it is important for them to keep their mind and body in motion to keep the blood flowing. Do not let people give up on themselves, even light exercise with a friend can cause such a difference in fighting a virus. Working out does not always have to be purely physical. If you look at mediation or yoga and focusing the mind, it can be a powerful tool. I enjoy meditating after a workout. When I feel loss of hope or face adversity, I like to give myself a few minutes to sit in pure silence and appreciate my experiences. Think about everything that you have overcome and we as a human race have overcome and think about the joy people have experienced because of human strength. Take time to appreciate it all and then appreciate your present, your friends, your family, your space. To end it I then think about hopes, aspirations, moments I cannot wait to experience with my loved ones, and this gives me the drive to get up and go.
HAWT TO NAWT HAWT
RECORD NUMBERS ATTEND BRITAIN’S BIGGEST LGBT SPORTING EVENT, THE HADRIAN CUP, HOSTED BY NEWCASTLE RAVENS WITH RUGBY PLAYERS FROM ACROSS UK AND IRELAND INCLUDING BELFAST’S AZLANS AND DUBLIN’S EMERALD WARRIORS WHO WON THE CUP.
PRO GOLFER SCOTT PIERCY SHARED HOMOPHOBIC MEME TARGETING PETE BUTTIGIEG AFTER HE PULLED OUT OF THE PRESIDENCY RACE; SCOTT LOST SEVERAL MAJOR ENDORSEMENT DEALS AS A RESULT.
INCLUSIVE FOOTBALL NI HAVE REBRANDED TO ‘BELFAST BLAZE’. SETTLING ON THE NAME BEFORE THEIR FIRST FRIENDLY GAME LEAVING WITH A 2-1 VICTORY AGAINST THE DUBLIN DEVILS.
STUART MATTHEWS (LGBT FAN GROUP PROUD SEAGULLS), SPOKE OUT AFTER CHELSEA CLAIMED A LARGE GROUP OF MANCHESTER UNITED FANS MADE HOMOPHOBIC SLURS AT A MATCH IN STAMFORD BRIDGE. “… WE’VE SEEN AN INCREASE OVER THE LAST 12 MONTHS OF GROUP CHANTING AND WE’RE SICK AND TIRED OF IT,” THE 53-YEAR-OLD SAID.
NOTE This sports feature was written before lock-down was imposed.
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ADVERTORIAL // DUNADRY HOTEL AND GARDENS
DUNADRY // YOUR TIME IS NOW CREATE THE WEDDING YOU HAVE always dreamed of no matter what that is at Dunadry Hotel & Gardens. This stunningly unique hidden gem is seductively romantic for weddings. A former paper mill dating back to 1670’s, the hotel is full of original features married with a modern twist offering something for everyone to fall in love with and has recently become part of the Original Irish Hotels. The newest member to join the Dunadry family is Kirsty Campbell who has taken up the position of Wedding Manager. “I am really proud to be part of the Dunadry team and be able to work with couples on planning and delivering their dream day. The venue has been lovingly refurbished with virtually nothing left unturned and brought back to life. It is the perfect wedding venue oozing romance throughout. The hotel & gardens lends itself perfectly to every season whatever your presence with the interior boasting the Grand Ballroom, The Linen Suite and The Gallery to the gardens having the tree of unity, river walk and of course the peacocks. If you want your whole event in the one location Dunadry has the perfect flow for civil ceremonies indoors or outdoors giving you numerous options and layouts to play around with. There are no set rules at Dunadry we are fun and relaxed and will be as involved or hands off as you want we just want it to be exactly how you envisaged. Food plays a big part of any wedding and Dunadry pride themselves on the quality of food served and with a Taste of Ulster accreditation your guests will be truly wowed! One of the most beautiful traditions of the hotel is the cork signing. For many years couples have been signing and dating the cork of their first bottle of champagne which is then housed in cabinets around the hotel allowing every couple to become part of the hotels history forever. The hotel offers 5 fabulous packages which are all fully flexible but gives everyone something to work from and see what can be possible, these include the Whirlwind, Intimate, Ivory, River and Signature. The Whirlwind package is all about, just go for it! The wedding will take place within 6 months from your date of booking. We will work with you to get all the details in place, so do not worry about timelines, where there is love there is a way!
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The Intimate package is very romantic designed for smaller celebrations tucked away from the rest of the world with your very closest friends and family but equally beautiful and special. The Ivory package is beautifully simplistic, allowing you to work from a blank canvas and create the day you want alongside the Wedding Manager. This package will provides you with the opportunity to create the most elegant and effortless occasion. The River package has a more extensive menu with 5 courses and a choice of main courses
on the day along with some other little extra special elements with the Signature package including everything you could ever dream of from a pre wedding menu and wine tasting to cocktails, afternoon teas, and a 6 course menu that will leave your guests speechless” If you would like to discuss the possibility of Dunadry Hotel & Gardens being your wedding venue just contact Kirsty Campbell. Kirsty Campbell Wedding Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
ADVERTORIAL // IRISH GAME FAIR AND FINE FOOD FESTIVAL
GREAT FOOD & FAMILY FUN // THE IRISH GAME FAIR EXPECT THE BEST OF FOOD and drink, living history, country sports and lifestyle and a great family day out at the 2020 Irish Game Fair and Fine Food Festival at Shanes Castle Estate, Antrim, on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 June. This year, the weekend hosts the one-and-only ‘National Game Fair’ for the whole of Ireland and it promises to be better than ever for families, food lovers and country sports. The award-winning Fine Food Festival features muchloved local and Irish artisan producers, think cider and cheese, bread and honey, oils and preserves, even freshly roasted coffee beans. Shop for
game pies with old favourite Silfield Farm from Cumbria, and learn how to use these great ingredients at our cookery demonstration kitchen. Around the Fair, the country sports competitions are fascinating to watch. There will be dogs, horses and donkeys, with Medieval jousting, carriage driving, show classes and dog agility. Watch out the for Rebels and the Crown Forces, they likely to be re-fighting the battles of the past. The Irish Game Fair and Fine Food Festival promises to be the best family day out of the year. Don’t miss it!
An award-winning Food Festival right in the heart of ‘Ireland’s National Game Fair’.
The Irish Game Fair & Fine Food Festival Shanes Castle, 27th & 28th June 2020
A flavourful foray into the best Irish Artisan food and drink with special guests from further afield, including Game Fair favourite Sillfield Farm, PLUS Cookery demonstration kitchen International country sports Action packed arena programme Medieval jousting tournament Dogs, donkeys, birds of prey Living History and much more
A GREAT FAMILY DAY OUT IN THE COUNTRYSIDE
This is a local Food Festival with an unrivalled All-Ireland reach Limited Spaces Still Available. For an application form Phone 028 4483 9167 Email email@example.com RATED AS ONE OF THE BEST IN IRELAND BY
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COMING OUT, FAMILY, WEDDINGS, SCENE OUT, ADVICE, LIFE IS REAL!
INFORMATION// VOLUNTEER NOW
SUPPORT THE CHALLENGE //
#HELPEACHOTHER IN THESE UNCERTAIN AND CHALLENGING times Volunteer Now has launched a new online campaign #HelpEachOther to support those who wish to volunteer for COVID-19 related opportunities and also for those organisations which require the support of volunteers to deliver their services to those who need it most. To date more than 2,000 have registered their interest in helping. If you are interested in volunteering please visit our website: www. volunteernow.co.uk where you can register directly for an opportunity related to COVID-19 by clicking the popup campaign box. As volunteering roles become available you will have the opportunity to become involved. Organisations are also invited to register their opportunities on the platform highlighting that they are supporting those impacted by the virus. Roles may include telephone befriending, undertaking light shopping, walking the dog, packing food hampers, driving and so forth.
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Volunteering in a safe environment is crucial for all involved and Volunteer Now has developed good practice guidance which is available for those volunteering, those including volunteers within their organisations and also those providing neighbourhood support. Check out our website for further information: https:// www.volunteernow.co.uk/volunteering/ helpeachother/ Minister for Communities, Deirdre Hargey, said: “My Department is working closely with Volunteer Now to support a co-ordinated response to the need for community support for those most vulnerable and isolated within our communities, particularly at this time. This includes working with Sport NI, the NI Sports Forum and Sports Governing Bodies to mobilise a cohort of skilled and motivated volunteers to support critical services, as well as identifying other key resources such as sports grounds, halls and vehicles. This is alongside the delivery of key health and wellbeing messages through social media campaigns. Volunteering
is vital to the fabric of our community and this has been demonstrated by the generosity of giving shown to date.” Denise Hayward, Chief Executive Officer of Volunteer Now explains: “In line with UK guidance everyone has been asked to stay at home and therefore there are many people who may feel isolated and worried. It has never been more important that these people know there are connections which can be made. We are getting more and more calls from the public with offers of help and we feel that it is important that we channel these offers whether one-off or on-going to those most in need. We know that community spirt is alive and well and this campaign will harness our desire to do good and to make sure people don’t feel that they are on their own” For more information go to www. volunteernow.co.uk/volunteering/ helpeachother/ or email helpeachother@ volunteernow.co.uk and let’s make a difference now!
in your local AREA we provide these services and much much more for our LGB&/T COMMUNITY
VICTIM SUPPORT TRAINING & EDUCATION Counselling social opportunities family support Sexual Health Advice & Support www.rainbow-project.org belfast foyle 028 9031 9030 firstname.lastname@example.org 028 7128 3030
Christopher Hannigan tat t o o a r t i s t
Kabuki Tattoo studio - Lisburn - 028 (92) 662 376
Photography - Glenn Quigley / MakeUp - Emma King MUA Model - Sarah Loghran / Stylist - Linda Oâ€™Reilly
www. kabuki tattoo studio .co.uk
REAL LIFE // CATHAL KEENAN
REAL LIFE BULLIED AND TORMENTED CATHAL KEENAN
Lets start at the beginning my very first ever school picture when I was young and innocent at just age five. I was such a happy child I had two loving parents and a little sister at that time, my siblings where due to follow, my first school was in Clady in Portglenone where my father is from, I can remember being so excited I was getting to go to school I was a big boy now and was elated I would be getting to make new friends etc. Growing up in the countryside was amazing so much beauty and greenery. I can vividly recall mum and dad running the local post office at the time in Portglenone our house was huge with rooms everywhere and nothing but fields as far as the eye could
see to run around and play in. I remember catching eels in the river at the foot of our garden me and my sister we would catch them run up the embankment only to let them go and to watch them wriggle and find their way back to the water again of course this was hugely entertaining for us (the simple life). I use to love climbing trees or jumping hay bails that the farmer next door had nicely packaged up, I remember tearing lumps out of them as my trainers would catch on the plastic loops. I can recall my mother calling me in for my tea to which I would have to scarper down out of a tree or out from behind a hay bail to get my supper and settle down for the evening. Primary one
was amazing I had met so many new friends some of whom I still speak to, to this very day, however this would all change when we moved to Coalisland where my mother was born and raised. I had started primary two in Coalisland and I remember being in the same class as my cousin which was great as we where extremely close back then, for the first few years at the school everything was great I was making friends left, right and centre particularly with the girls they all just seemed to naturally levitate towards me which was a great feeling, however primary year seven told a different story. >>>>>
FIFTY THREE // GNIMAG.COM
REAL LIFE // CATHAL KEENAN
The bullying started and my entire world as I knew it had changed. At the time I didn’t see myself as any different from any other kid my age however it was clear that the boys did not like all the attention I was getting from the girls, it all started with name calling I would hear words like queer, faggot, bender, sissyboy, and Kathleen many of these words I knew nothing about or what they even meant but I distinctively remember feeling extremely hurt by them once I had found out the true meaning. Kids can be so cruel to one another, I could only assume they where calling me such names as they where jealous from all the attention I received from the girls but of course I wasn’t sure at the time. By the time I had hit secondary school it had gotten worse the bullies had now resorted to violence and physically laying their hands on me, I was tortured day in and day out to the point I used to skip school (known as midging back in the day), I was petrified to go to school to receive any kind of education as the teachers didn’t seem to care what happened to me - I felt truly alone. I can vividly remember making my way to the canteen to go get my dinner one day, I was minding my own business when all of a sudden four guys who where older than me violently attacked me whilst three school teachers stood at the top of the steps and watched it almost felt like they where taking bets against me to see what would happen, at least that’s how it felt when I look back and reflect on the scenario. I wasn’t even half way through my third year, this was the day I walked out of that school never to return again. My poor mother had went to see the principal about the matter and nothing was resolved, so my mother took action and decided to pull me out of the school entirely to which I was home schooled for the rest of the semester before starting another new school where I would finish out my fourth and fith year.
FIFTY FOUR // GNIMAG.COM
I was closely watched and guarded in my new school for obvious reasons by the teachers here, and for those two years the bullying was nowhere near as bad. Yes I had the odd comment thrown at me but at least the physical abuse had stopped, but by this stage my mental health was suffering - and suffering bad. I will never forget being made feel so utterly worthless and humiliated that I genuinely wholeheartedly did not want to be here anymore, as painful as it is now to write these words I can recall going to my mothers medicine cabinet and taking every single solitary tablet I could get my hands on shovelling in handfuls at a time I wanted to be gone I wanted my pain and suffering to be done I wanted to end my life, this would be my first attempt but would not be my last, I sat by the well at O’neills (known as the wellpad) at the foot of where I lived at the time just waiting to die, the next thing I remember is waking up in hospital. I can remember being so upset that I hadn’t succeeded as I knew my pain and anguish was still ongoing, but I seen the hurt in my mothers eyes and had agreed to go to counselling I wanted to ease my mothers pain and hurt as she was suffering also! This was short lived. I can remember three of my close friends actually saving my life shortly after my stint in the hospital for attempting to end my life, I had been accused of kissing a girl who was at the time the girlfriend of one of the hurling players here in the town. This story was completely fabricated up out of thin air in order for these boys to attack me, 16 of them cornered me in the mill court entryway, where I was taking a short-cut through to go home. Every one of these lads had a hurley stick in their hands and repeatedly attacked me knocking me to the floor and rendering me unconscious, only by chance my three friends where passing by, they had to claw their way through the crowd that was attacking me and lead me to safety.
“I WILL NEVER FORGET BEING MADE FEEL SO UTTERLY WORTHLESS AND HUMILIATED THAT I GENUINELY DID NOT WANT TO BE HERE ANYMORE.” I was hospitalised and severely concussed, I had to spend two nights in observation, the police where contacted but of course yet again nothing was ever done about it. This would happen to me on a regular basis, one week I’d have a broken eye socket the next week it was a broken arm, the week after that it was my nose - to which none of my attackers where ever held accountable, lack of evidence I would hear every single time even though I had eye witnesses to attest each time this happened. I was living in turmoil, living in fear I couldn’t step out the door that someone somewhere wanted to attack me. My mother and father used to have to ship me off to my Nan’s house in Portglenone every summer just to keep me safe. I can still to this day remember cutting my wrist and how it felt in order to bleed out in a hot bath I had ran for myself, I wanted to go I was ready to go, the feeling then was very much that everyone else wanted me gone also this was my thinking but I was wrong and I see that now! Its only now I see things so differently I mean I still struggle I am human after all, but I have a different outlook on life now. Back
REAL LIFE // CATHAL KEENAN
in 2011 on the 3rd of may my mother took her own life. That morning before I received the dreaded phone call I somehow already knew, strange as it sounds I knew she was gone. There was an eerie silence in the air, a calmness ,it was so bizzare. I felt our bond was severed, I had lost my best friend and my unconditional love that day. My BACKBONE, my mother... In this very same year I lost three of my friends here in Coalisland to suicide. I genuinely believed that there was something in the water, it was truly horrendous Just two years ago I lost my true love. We were deeply in love, so much so he
left Dublin to come be with me. We did everything together. We were building our life together, we had made so many plans about the things we where going to achieve as the next big power couple. We often laughed about it. I remember the very day we went to go collect our baby Bella from his hometown Newbridge in County Kildare, we were so excited I can remember him calling his beautiful sister and yelling with excitement about the name we had chosen for our four legged fury friend. They are very alike and think similarly, at the exact same time that we announced her name as Bella she said it too. Oh how we all laughed over facetime, this is a moment I will cherish for the rest of my life.
I often find myself thinking about him, I miss his random waking up at 3am to take a swig of his Diet Coke and a handful of sweets before drifting back off to sleep again lol, he was such a character and a pleasure to be around always made me smile always had
“JUST TWO YEARS AGO I LOST MY TRUE LOVE. WE WERE DEEPLY IN LOVE, SO MUCH SO HE LEFT DUBLIN TO COME BE WITH ME. WE DID EVERYTHING TOGETHER. WE WERE BUILDING OUR LIFE TOGETHER, WE HAD MADE SO MANY PLANS ABOUT THE THINGS WE WHERE GOING TO ACHIEVE AS THE NEXT BIG POWER COUPLE.” FIFTY FIVE // GNIMAG.COM
REAL LIFE // CATHAL KEENAN
“I WANT TO RAISE AWARENESS ON ISSUES LIKE MENTAL HEALTH AND SUICIDE AWARENESS SO THAT ANYONE WHO IS STRUGGLING CAN BE SIGN-POSTED TO THE RIGHT PLACES AND PEOPLE.” yourself.
me in a wrinkle for laughing. He had a great way with words and making me feel good about myself. I deeply miss him, but I talk to him often in my prayers and I know he hears me as does my mother and my friends. Writing these words down has been extremely helpful in helping me to heal and come to terms with all of my loss and hurt throughout the years. I can categorically tell you now for a fact it is way better to write your feelings down and go through the emotions and understand your feeling as opposed to bottling them all up, I guess the reason for telling my story is to help others who have struggled in a similar way to myself to let you know that there is light
FIFTY SIX // GNIMAG.COM
at the end of the tunnel. I’m a huge advocate for mental health and suicide awareness, I want anyone who reads this to realise there is help out there even if you think there is not. For me I find being in a creative environment helps me to cope, however everyone differs. For me personally I love music therapy, nature therapy, art therapy, meditation but my ultimate tool I use is to write it all down in my journal which helps me when I’m feeling anxious or depressed. It helps me process my thoughts one by one and go through the emotions as I am writing them, I want you to know that this helps just try it and see for
At the moment my new project that I helped co-find is volunteering a lot of my time for Mid Ulster Pride and helping my rainbow community out where needed. As an LGBTQIA+ member myself I am deeply concerned about my fellow companions, my aim here is to reduce isolation within our rural communities in a celebration of love and belonging for all.... I want to raise awareness on issues like mental health and suicide awareness so that anyone who is struggling can be sign-posted to the right places and people, my rainbow family continue to support me in all aspects of my life I just want to repay the favour in any way I can. So now its’ all about living for the moment with me and embracing each day as a gift, uplifting others and celebrating life. All my love Cathal
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ABOUT TANYA KHAN I am a fully qualified theatre nurse with over 13 years’ experience and have been working in the field of aesthetics for over a decade. I am trained by the best names in the industry of aesthetics and I continually update my training by attending regular conferences on new innovate techniques and the latest treatments on the market. I understand that the prospect of having an aesthetic treatment can make some people feel anxious, that is why I’ll be with you every step of the way… My clinic creates a tranquil, welcoming environment where
we discuss your aesthetic goals and put a plan in place to help you achieve them. The client and their well-being is my number one priority, from the moment you book in for a comprehensive one-to-one consultation, during your treatment process and right through to your after care and review. Offering a wide range of treatments including anti-wrinkle, dermal fillers and skincare. Visit my website for more information. Many before and afters pictures can be found on my Facebook and Instagram pages.
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REAL LIFE // JULIA BROWN
FIFTY EIGHT // GNIMAG.COM
REAL LIFE // JULIA BROWN
MY NAME IS JULIA, I AM FROM DERRY, I AM CURRENTLY 26 YEARS OLD. MY PARENTS WERE BORN IN IRELAND. I WASN’T BORN THE PERSON I AM TODAY THE DOCTOR SAID IT WAS A BOY. AS I GREW UP FROM AS FAR AS I REMEMBER, I’VE ALWAYS FELT DIFFERENT, I FELT LIKE I WAS THE BLACK SHEEP OF THE FAMILY I FELT THAT THERE WAS SOMETHING WRONG WITH ME. I COULDN’T PUT MY FINGER ON EXACTLY WHAT IT WAS BUT DIDN’T FEEL ENTIRELY LIKE A BOY.
JULIA’S STORY FIFTY NINE // GNIMAG.COM
REAL LIFE // JULIA BROWN
As a young child I was socially, being told boys play football and girls play with dolls. I was thinking, why I can’t wear pink and play with dolls? I was dressing at my earliest memories in girls’ things, secretly using my mum or sisters make up or shoes and clothes, I wanted to be Barbie not Ken. I never told anyone how I felt, I never told anyone anything relating to what I was thinking and how different I felt. So I went onto the internet and typed in “boys feel like girls” and the results that came up was “transgender” which is the terminology for trans women and trans men and non-binary people and so on. I felt like this was relating to my identity as a transgender women. Television, for instance portrayed trans people as a joke, a punch line. When growing up in my teens it was never spoke about in TV or media in a nice way, but as the years went on so many more positive icons such as celebrities came forward who were trans such as a favourite of mine is Laverne Cox from Orange is the New black. So, when I found the transgender community online this was a relief to me. I felt like I wasn’t alone anymore. I felt like that I could relate to people who were going through the same thing and you know for the first time I felt like I belonged. I’ve been taking hormones for about a year, and my mother and family are transitioning with me in the aspect of acceptance and understanding in such factors such as name change and pronouns and losing a son and gaining daughter. In my early days of my transition while trying to explore my identity I struggled with finding my true self, fell into bad habits as many know how easy it can be to turn to the party scene in our community. Got myself into horrible circumstances such as assault. In the last year something horrible happened, I was sexually assaulted and the experience took me to very bad place mentally, but I am here and fighting and not giving up! When I look back, I wish I knew then that there were organisations out there to educate and to help overcome issues with my transition such as depression, low-self-esteem and general vulnerability associated with my transition. The reason I am happy with my life at this moment is because of the support networks I have made contact with, friends I have made, and
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the love. I knew I didn’t belong in this shell, for years this annoyed me and all I could ever think was “I AM A GIRL , HOW CAN I GET OUT OF THIS BODY”, So when I finally came out as transgender, I had some form of support. I know for many people this isn’t the case and coming out can lead to more emotional turmoil. Throughout my life as a transgender women what I’ve experienced so far, has been both good and bad. It’s not just being transgender that I must deal with. It’s also waking up in the morning feeling like I am suffocating inside a body that doesn’t belong to me. It’s being told by doctors ‘you’re number 48 on the waiting list’. I’m depressed and being attacked in my local town centre of Derry and even getting things thrown at me or names shouted, or sometimes even being spit on when in reality I feel that if I just got the transition over and done with I know this would have a positive impact on my mental health and the only reason I am depressed is because of the hate and the length of time I have to wait. I’m thankful for the NHS and the fact we have this in our country and doctors and professionals who have helped me and so many people in my position, but I do think with the circumstances within Northern Ireland it is a lot longer than the rest of the United Kingdom. With no functioning government, the NHS, and gender Identity Clinic is majorly affected, and this can cause people to have more mental and physical issue as they have with me. I will wait, I will transition, and I will ignore any negative transphobic comments that come my way. I’m sharing this to raise awareness for younger teenagers and children and possibly adults who are in the same position as me. DON’T GIVE UP, as much this is so easy to do, we must remind ourselves to carry on as we will get there. I wish I knew it was okay to be trans. I’ve always been a woman, it’s just before my body didn’t match, and each step towards my final goal is rewarding. People like me, we go through quite a lot, and we could use friends and more allies. Julia Brown
Happy and healthy relationships are an essential foundation for our wellbeing. If your relationships donâ€™t support your wellbeing, Relate NI can.
tel. 028 9032 3454
FEATURE // NO PLACE FOR HATE
THE RAINBOW PROJECT // NO PLACE FOR HATE EVERY YEAR, THE PSNI RELEASES data on hate crimes on the basis of race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Offenses are recorded as hate incidents or crimes if the victim or witnesses believe the motivation is one of these things because of, for example, slurs shouted during the attack. The term “hate crime” can cover verbal abuse, intimidation, threats, harassment, assault and bullying, as well as damage to property. According to the figures released in February 2020, eight hate crime incidents are reported each day in Northern Ireland. There were 272 incidents committed against people because of their sexual orientation in 2018-19. Transphobic incidents are at their highest level with an increase of 87% being reported. However, these figures don’t reflect the experiences of most LGBTQ people in Northern Ireland. Aisling Twomey is based in The Rainbow Project and acts as LGBT Northern Ireland Hate Crime Advocate. The Advocate’s role is to support people who have experienced violence, harassment or intimidation because of their sexual orientation or gender in reporting to the police and supporting them through the criminal justice process. A hate incident is any act, gesture or threat that is perceived by the victim or a witness to be motivated by hate. For lesbian, gay or bisexual people this is homophobic hate and for transgender individuals this is transphobic hate. A hate incident does not necessarily have to qualify as a crime. The Advocacy service has been put in place to support victims who naturally and understandably are fearful of the consequences to themselves and the perpetrators of homophobic or transphobic hate incidents. Aisling Twomey said “Over 64% of clients who have engaged with The Rainbow Project have been a victim of a hate crime but have chosen not to report it to the PSNI. They have told us they feel that it’s not serious enough to report, they are worried
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they face possible Homophobia/Biphobia/ Transphobia from the PSNI or the fear of being publicly outed if they report it. But if these incidents aren’t reported then we cannot do anything about the harassment and more people will suffer. There is no place for hate in Northern Ireland. I want everyone to know that they are not alone and that support is available immediately after an incident or at any stage. “If you feel an incident was directed to you because of your sexual orientation and/or gender identity, then I want to hear about it. It will be taken seriously by the PSNI and criminal Justice partners. As the advocate, I am training, advising and directing criminal justice partners around the specific barriers experienced by LGBTQ people in reporting to the police or accessing support. In this I provide case studies of victim’s negative experiences so that all criminal justice partners can learn from the faults of others and provide an equal service to all.” Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK which does not have specific hate crime laws. Instead, it relies on legislation which allows for increased sentences if offences are proven to be motivated by hostility.The Rainbow Project has played a key role in the ongoing judge-led review of hate crime legislation in Northern Ireland by Judge Desmond Marrinan. “We want to ensure that the diverse experiences of LGBT people are considered for all of the recommendations arising from the review team and providing evidence for the need to create specific protections for gender and gender expression under the law. Currently there are no specific offences of homophobic, biphobic or transphobic hate crime. We want that to change. Currently hate crime against LGBT people is dealt with by the police and legal system by arresting or charging the perpetrator depending on the nature of the offence such as assault. We want that from the moment someone is arrested, that it is clear that the incident is motivated by hate, such as homophobic assault.
“We have pressed Judge Marrinan to consider current laws which are used to tackle online hate and harassment as we have seen a rise in gay men being targeted through GRINDR. Unfortunately, this matter is complicated by the fact the regulation of internet services is not a devolved matter to Northern Ireland and is managed through Westminster. “There is absolutely no excuse for someone being targeted because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. I would encourage any person experiencing or witnessing violence or intimidation as a result of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity to report it! Hate crime is wrong, don’t suffer alone, come and speak to someone. Here are the different ways you can report incidents. TELEPHONE If it’s an emergency where you need immediate assistance or feel threatened – CALL 999. For other incidents, then call 101. If you want to remain anonymous, you can call Crime stoppers on 0800 555 111 or call The Rainbow Project to report on your behalf. ONLINE PSNI - https://www.psni.police.uk/ makeareport TruVision - https://www.report-it.org.uk/ home LGBT Advocate, Aisling Twomey Telephone 02890 319030 Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
FEATURE // NO PLACE FOR HATE
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FEATURE // LOVE LOCKDOWN
NORTHERN IRISH SNAP UP SEX TOYS AFTER BEING TOLD TO STAY AT HOME SIXTY FOUR // GNIMAG.COM
FEATURE // LOVE LOCKDOWN
NORTHERN IRELAND (BELFAST) - SALES OF sex toys in Northern Ireland have more than doubled after we were told to stay at home to limit the spread of the coronavirus, according to the country’s award-winning adult shop Misstique. “It makes me happy that we are doing something good during this difficult time, when people feel vulnerable,” said Aaron M, sales advisor to Misstique, the biggest sex toy seller in Northern Ireland. Misstique has reported that online sales have doubled in the past few weeks, when customers have been disappointed to find the retail shop is currently closed. In particular demand for sex games and toys for couples has spiked. We’ve also seen a surge in sales of Chastity devices on our website “I think it’s only natural that when we spend more time together, we want to have a little extra fun,” said Kate G, Sales Advisor A topic that many of our customers are ringing us to ask is about sex and Covid19. At Misstique we are highly trained in product knowledge but giving out medical advice isn’t out remit, we like to leave that to the professionals, therefore we would recommend professional & more reliable sources than the new breed of ‘Facebook experts’ such as IPPF.org, Terrance Higgins Trust etc What other ways can I have sex? You are your safest sexual partner right now. There is no risk of passing on coronavirus through masturbation and there’s plenty of evidence that shows masturbation can relieve stress and anxiety. If you use sex toys, make sure you wash them with a cleaner with sanitizer such as Loving Joy Toy Cleaner (£3.99) and your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds before and after. We’ve always had a saying ‘Keep your sex dirty and your toys clean’ this has never been so vital. Technology also now means there are different ways to connect with partners, e.g.
phone sex or video dates using WhatsApp or other platforms. Just make sure you aren’t pressured into anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Have a look at our range of remote toys such a Svakom Vick Remote Prostrate Massager (£72.99), not just for fun but health benefits too. Or the Loving Joy super gybrator 7inch rotating and vibrating dildo (£39.95)
• • •
Sexercise can help during Covid19! It’s not just time to keep in tip top physical shape, how about some time for the penis gym too. Did you know that regular use of Bathmate Hydro pumps, the number one seller worldwide, can increase penis length and girth? Harnessing the power of water for real, lasting improvements for your penis size, erection strength, personal confidence and sex life, Bathmate hydropumps (from £64.95) have helped over 1 million satisfied users worldwide – get ready to experience genuine, lasting gains. World’s biggest producer says lockdown has already caused shortfall of 100m condoms - If you’re planning to spend the next few weeks getting freaky in the sheets with your self-isolation buddy, we’ve got bad news. Coronavirus has already caused tens of thousands of businesses to close their doors, and now, the virus is coming after the condom factories. That’s right, first no loo roll or pasta, and now no sex (unless you have been hoarding condoms, that is). For the past week, the world’s biggest condom manufacturer, Karex Bhd in Malaysia – which makes one of every five condoms used across the globe – has been forced to shut up shop. But don’t start crying just yet – there’s a solution on the horizon. We have a supply of condoms on our website including Glyde Vegan condoms, flavoured, performance and king size. And for those of you that like something a little different, in bulk packs Glyde Ultra Cola flavour (100 condoms for £84.99)
Wash your hands more regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze. Put any used tissues into the bin immediately. Avoid touching your face, particularly your nose, mouth and eyes. Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. If you are unwell, avoid contact with others (touching, kissing, hugging and other intimate contact) and check the latest official advice on seeing a doctor or self-isolating. Use hand-sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) if it is not possible to wash your hands.
We’re living in extraordinary times and we all need to take extraordinary measures. Remember that this is not forever and, by playing your part, you’re helping to reduce the strain on the NHS and to protect yourself and others. We’ll continue to follow developments and adjust our guidance accordingly. If you have any questions please contact us www. misstiquebelfast.co.uk we are always happy to help. Covid-19 Announcement - Our phone line is open and we are still open online for business
Protect yourself and others Meanwhile, you can protect yourself, your loved ones and the wider population by following this general advice:
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Be yourself Everyoneâ€™s welcome in our family
Fostering Northern Ireland. Start your fostering journey with us. /AFCNIfostercare 028 9046 0500 actionforchildren.org.uk/fostering Registered charity nos. 1097940/SC038092. Company no. 4764232. ÂŠ Action for Children 2020. 1411.
FEATURE // LGBT HISTORY MONTH
LGBT HERITAGE PROJECT // LGBT HISTORY MONTH History in the making during LGBT History month The launch of Northern Ireland’s LGBT Heritage Project on 27th February was a spectacle as project co-ordinator Dr Richard O’Leary donned his 1980s leather ‘gay clone’ outfit for the occasion. Richard told the audience gathered at the Ulster Museum that “The LGBT community has a history which for too long has been hidden. Our aim is to interview older LGBT persons to preserve their stories for future generations and to share them with the wider community. We have also begun to collect artefacts – objects of historical significance for our community - which it is intended to eventually put on public
real danger of being lost”.
He unveiled the first artefact that has been donated to the project – one of the original telephones used by Cara-Friend – the LGBT support group which was set up in Belfast in 1974. The audience at the launch at the Ulster Museum also enjoyed a story told by Heather Fleming about life as a lesbian in Belfast in the 1970s.
The project is led by HEReNI working in partnership with the Rainbow Project and Cara-Friend. The launch event brought together members of the LGBT community and some of the cultural institutions who are already engaging with the Project – notably National National Museums NI, the Linen Hall Library, PRONI and Queen’s University Belfast.
Jim McGreevy of The National Lottery Heritage Fund who are funding the two year project added: “This is the first largescale LGBT+ project to be funded by us in Northern Ireland and I am delighted to attend the project launch in what is LGBT History Month. Without this project the heritage of the local LGBT+ community is in
If you are an LGBT person aged 40+ and are available to be interviewed for this Project or would like to donate artefacts or if you have any other interest in the Project please contact the
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SCENE OUT// BELFAST BEAR BASH
THE BELFAST BEAR BASH.
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SCENE OUT// BELFAST BEAR BASH
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117 Milltown Rd, Shawâ€™s Bridge, Belfast BT8 7XP I +44 (0)28 9092 3500 I email@example.com
LOVE // SHARNI & ROBYN
THE BIG DAY // SHARNI & ROBYN
LOVE // SHARNI & ROBYN
SO TELL US HOW YOU MET, WERE YOU SINGLE FOR A LONG TIME BEFORE YOU STARTED DATING ? SHARNI We actually met through my cousin Jordan, he moved over to N.I. and me & my other cousin Jodie arranged a week over to Belfast to visit him. When we came over we went on a night out in the city centre and ended up in the gay bar Kremlin, we met with Jordan and a few of his friends from Belfast one being Robyn. As soon as we were introduced that night in Kremlin we clicked straight away, we couldn’t keep away from each other - we spent the night getting to know each other and spent the rest of the week I visited together, we became inseparable. I’ve never actually believed the saying ‘love at first sight’ until I met Robyn. I’ve always really been in relationships but before I met Robyn I was single for around a year so for myself it actually ended up being perfect timing also. I’ve literally not looked back since the day we met & i’m forever grateful how our lives have no panned out I wouldn’t change it for
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the world. ROBYN I was out at a concert at the SSE before meeting up with friends at the Kremlin in Belfast. I was introduced to Sharni and her cousin Jodie who she was with through her cousin Jordan who was a mutual friend of mine and Sharni and I instantly connected, we spent the evening getting to know each other. The next few days we spent going for dinner, out for drinks and ice-skating also. I knew from then she was special as I found it hard to leave her. Before meeting Sharni i was single for around 10 months. HOW LONG AFTER YOU STARTED DATING DID IT TAKE TO POP THE QUESTION, WAS IT AN IMMEDIATE YES? SHARNI We’ve been together since February 2014, we always spoke about our future and we always wanted to get married down the line. I arranged a trip away for us both & book us tickets to go and see Ariana Grande in Paris, I mean what could be better than
visiting one of the most romantic cities in the world together. Whilst we were there Robyn had a lock engraved for us with the date we met for when we visited the Love Locks Bridge. Whilst we were there she asked me to put the lock on the bridge and to my surprise as I turned back around to Robyn she was down on one knee in front of everyone proposing to me which definitely took me by surprise as I was the one who arranged the trip so I had no idea - but there was no hesitation at all straight away I said yes! One of the happiest days of my life for sure. ROBYN After being together for around 8 months long distance I moved to England to be Sharni as travelling each weekend was not enough for the both of us, Sharni had bought me tickets for Ariana Grande in Paris, I always knew I wanted to marry her and we’ve spoken about it previously so I knew this would be the perfect location so i got planning, I got a lock engraved with our names and anniversary on it and got Sharni to put it on locks bridge as she
LOVE // SHARNI & ROBYN turned around I was down on one knee proposing to her. It was definitely an instant yes followed by a few happy tears. The following christmas eve (my birthday) I came down stairs to “will you marry me” in rose petals and an engagement ring, again it was an instant yes from me. TELL US ABOUT YOUR BIG DAY, LOCATION, AMOUNT OF GUESTS ETC SHARNI Our big day was absolutely incredible, so good in fact I wish we could do it all over again already because it went way to fast for my liking. We had our wedding at The Loughshore Hotel in Carrickfergus. Our location was absolutely beautiful, we had looked at a lot of venues online but The Loughshore Hotel was the first we actually went to visit and as soon as we did we fell in love with the venue, the hotel is beautiful and exactly what we both pictured as we were looking around the venue we just fell in love with it even more so much so we had to put our deposit down straight away to secure our place as we didn’t want to even consider anywhere else. Plus the absolute bonus of the venue being right on the coast it was even perfect for our photographer and the wedding photos we dreamed of having on the beach even being a February wedding. We really wanted an intimate ceremony so we only invited 50 people to that part which ended up being the most perfect setting for ourselves, having made history and being on the news around the world having our most nearest and dearest witness us getting married was the best feeling in the world. We then had a further
50/60 people join us for the reception so we could celebrate in style and enjoy ourselves completely. ROBYN Our wedding day has definitely been the best day of my life, we had the whole day in the Loughshore Hotel including our hair and make up which was done in the salon at the Loughshore Hotel also. We had a small intimate wedding with close friends and family which was around 50 guests which was perfect for us. After the ceromoney we had a 15 minute media conference with so many different news and radio crews which was surreal but we wanted to keep it all seperate from our actual wedding, staff at The Loughshore Hotel were incredible making it easy as possible for us, ensuring our day was not crowded by media. We had a drag queen Miss Onya Beck do a performance for the guests, dance off and a lot of laughs it was amazing. In the evening we had more guests arrive for our DJ and everyone including ourselves had the best day. WHAT ABOUT THE FOOD AND DRINK? SHARNI The food and drink at The Loughshore Hotel was absolutely incredible, compliments from not only ourselves but from all the guests too. During the day we got to sit down to the most beautiful 4 course meal, which also featured a sparkling wine toast - we literally felt like royalty. A major positive for us also is that we were giving a choice of menu items to choose from, but not only this the hotel
actually catered well for the children and for vegetarians that were part of our party also. We had no problems at all, and for that we couldn’t be more grateful towards the staff of The Loughshore Hotel. Without them our day wouldn’t have been as perfect as it truly was. ROBYN The food was amazing, everyone enjoyed it including the 2 children who they also catered for at the Hotel, we had our cake made by heavenly treats and it was out of this world, everyone was complementing it throughout the day and still now talk about it, we also had a treat table from Heavenly treats which included macaroons, cupcakes, cake pops and rainbow pizza cake everything was perfect we cannot thank Alex enough she did an amazing job. DID YOU HAVE A HONEYMOON OR ARE YOU PLANNING ONE SHARNI Yes! We’ve actually just arrived back from our honeymoon today. We went to Cyprus for 2 weeks, we literally left our wedding venue the early hours of the morning after our wedding and headed straight to the airport. It was perfect for us especially with how big & overwhelming our day truly was. Cyprus was beautiful & being a winter season there was hardly anyone there but yet was still relatively warm so I really can’t complain. It was nice to get away just the two of us and to let everything truly sink in. ROBYN We have just got back from our honeymoon 2 weeks in Cyprus which was a wedding present from my mum. It was beautiful and so relaxing, everything you want after your wedding day. We left for the airport at 4am the morning after our wedding so it was amazing to just be able to relax after the stress of planning our big day. Cyprus at winter is amazing if you just want to relax as its so quiet and just really locals who are lovely and so welcoming. ARE YOU INTO THE SAME THINGS? WHAT INTERESTS DO YOU HAVE THAT ARE DIFFERENT ? SHARNI In our day to day lives we are pretty much into the same things, people sometimes say we’re like the same person! We enjoy the same programmes, the same movies, we both cook, we both clean so we pretty much have it quite easy that way for sure. The only difference we really have is that i’m really into my sport, especially football where as Robyn not so much she’s more
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LOVE // SHARNI & ROBYN into her music side which I love about her. Having the same interests really helps us out and we enjoy every single day we’re able to spend together. ROBYN Yes we are pretty much into the same things which is good for us, we have different friendships circles but we both socialise with each others friends together also, we are lucky that way to have amazing friends. Sharni’s very much into her football, any sport really where as i Love music and art so when there’s a game on i can get into some art work and loose a few hours and shes happy watching the match. DO YOU DO EVERYTHING TOGETHER OR DO YOU LIKE TO KEEP INDEPENDENT? SHARNI We definitely like to do the majority of things together, especially having similar interests but as we both work full time and sometimes our schedules are opposite we also like our independence and don’t mind being independent. Our career paths are completely opposites so we have that difference too, but no matter what we always support each other through everything and that’s another reason I love Robyn. ROBYN Yes we pretty much do everything together we are alike in so many ways which is nice as we enjoy the same things but we also do things separately if either of us is working or has different plans, we get the best of both worlds. HAVE YOU A FAMILY OR IS THIS SOMETHING IN THE PLANS FOR YOU? SHARNI We don’t have a family ourselves as of yet but we’ve always spoken about families and having a family together which we both cannot wait for! Our future ahead looks very bright and now we are finally married we can get that ball rolling. Our next step in our lives in to buy a house ready to start our family & to both pass our driving tests before the end of this year to be fully prepared. We are open to trying every option to start a family, we literally cannot wait, we’ve had our plan for years and finally the pieces are all coming together. ROBYN We don’t have a family yet, but we have always spoken about having children of our own. We cant wait to start a family and
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become parents its one of the things we have both always wanted to do so we are so excited for the years ahead, getting our own house and having children will be our next goals. NOW THE DUST HAS SETTLED, HAS ANYTHING CHANGED WITH YOUR RELATIONSHIP? SHARNI Now the dust has settled I can actually say that nothing has changed in our relationship at all, everyday we go through the more love I have for Robyn and for me personally I know that feeling will never change, we are very happily married and we can’t wait to see what the future truly brings our way. ROBYN No nothings changed, if anything I love Sharni more each day, I can’t wait for our future together it will definitely be a bright one for the both of us. We haven’t changed anything in our relationship from our wedding as to us it was perfect as it was, we both push each other to do what we want to and believe that we can achieve it, its nice to have that support from my wife. YOU WERE THE FIRST SAME SEX COUPLE IN NORTHERN IRELAND TO TIE THE KNOT, WAS THIS PLANNED OR WAS IT A HAPPY ACCIDENT? SHARNI I still find it so surreal we were the first same sex marriage in N.I. it’s the best feeling in the world, we feel so humbled and grateful to having been able to accomplish this because we fell in love. This was not planned at all and was a complete
coincidence, I’m quite an inpatient person and because we had been engaged since May 2015 I wanted to go ahead with a civil ceremony as I couldn’t see the bill being passed any time soon in N.I. we’d already waited 4 years by this time. We actually booked our venue in January 2019 and had all our paperwork for a civil ceremony filled out already but as fate happened the bill for same sex marriage finally got passed in September 2019 just 4 months before our big day! As soon as we found out we went straight down to our registrars office to change our paperwork and found out we could potentially be the first to be legally married. We really couldn’t have asked for anything more all we’ve ever wanted is to be equal and finally our dreams were coming true. ROBYN As sharni said its still surreal being the first same sex marriage in Northern Ireland, I personally didnt think it would happen anytime soon never mind to us. We got engaged in May 2015 and wanted to get married whether it be a civil partnership we just wanted to move forward with our relationship so we went to the registrar and got the papers for the civil partnership and had them filled in and ready to go however in September 2019 the bill was passed and the law changed so we immediately got the papers changed, we were told we could potentially be the first but never actually thought it would happen to us. We picked the date a year before the buill was changed and the reason for that date was that it was our 6th year anniversary so it will always be a special day for us being able to celebrate our anniversary and make history all in one day!
….your Perfect Day, done your way. It’s what we do.
Chimney Corner Hotel, 630 Antrim Road Newtownabbey, BT36 4RH Tel 02890 844925 www.chimneycorner.co.uk
RECOMMENDED // MARTY KEARNEY
RECOMMENDED // MARTY KEARNEY X-MEN // Disney + couldn’t have come at a better time. The day Boris announced lock down Disney+ was ready to go live in the UK months after it went live in the States and it was well worth the wait. With endless content from Disney Classics, Pixar, National Geographic, Star Wars and enough Marvel media to keep all us dorks happy for a long lock down. I myself have been making my way through an old Saturday morning cartoon favourite the X Men cartoon. Re watching this has bought back so many memories and I’m not ashamed I was a
CIRCLE OF FRIENDS // I have so many favourite films from childhood favourites, recently watched films and other films I’ve fallen in love with over the years but if I’m ever asked the question what is your favourite movie? I 90% of the time answer Circle of Friends. It’s a mid 90s movie starring Minnie Driver in her first lead role and Chris (made me realise I was definitely gay) O’Donnell. Circle of friends is set in a small town in Ireland in the 50’s, it follows 3 childhood friends has they go to college in Dublin. Chris O’ Donnell plays Drivers love interest and he’s so handsome. This was filmed after a scent of a woman and before he played Robin in batman forever but every time I watch him I get that crush all over again. And Minnie Driver is so loveable and relatable as out hero Benny. Alan Cumming plays the main antagonist, the creepy Sean Walsh, his performance would give creeps the creeps lol. Look out for it you will be glad you did.
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pre-teen when I watched this and watched until I was in my mid-teens I even played it as well with my cousin and yes you can bet your bottom dollar I was always Rouge and he was Storm and yes we even done their accents of a southern belle and an African woman. X Men was always a cartoon a head of its time for its mature themes and even today this 37-year-old is just enjoying it the second time around. I can’t wait for these characters to be introduced to the marvel cinematic universe.
RECOMMENDED // TV & FILM
SCHITT’S CREEK // As I sit down to write this, I’m excited yet a little sad having just watched the very last episode of the underrated Schitt’s Creek. It wasn’t until its later seasons this delightful little show made an impact and was nominated a lot in this year’s Golden Globes and I’m sure it will be in the years coming Emmy’s. I will admit I was late to the party as I only started to watch in December of last year and what a tonic it’s been. Got me though those dark January nights and made me laugh through these bleak days of Covid 19. Schitt’s Creek follows the Rose family as they lose their fortune and must move to the remote backward town of Schitt’s Creek that was bought for the son as a joke. Staring the dad from American pie Eugene levy, the Mom from Home Alone the amaze balls Catherine O’Hara, is by far the best Mom on television Moria Rose, Dan Levy the real life son of Eugene who also created the show along with his father and who also wrote a bulk of the episodes plays the son David and last but certainly not least Annie Murphy as Alexis #BOOP Alexis definitely is the character with the most growth over the seasons and look out for her mega banger little bit Alexis. Schitts Creek also has other loveable Characters such as Stevie played by the gorgeous Emily Hampshire who I think would be great as She Hulk in the upcoming Disney + Marvel Series. And one of my other favourite Characters is Patrick (one you could take home to the parents). At its core is the relationship between David and Patrick and it will pull on your heart strings. The first five seasons are available now on Netflix, if you hurry you can binge then all before the 6th and final season arrives in May.
COFFEE AND KAREEM // Coffee and Kareem These type of movies don’t really do it for me but it has Taraji B Henson in it and you readers know how I love me some Taraji so I thought I’d give it a go. I must admit I did LOL a few times especially at Taraji’s bits. A twelve year old tried to hire a gangster to scare his mom’s new boyfriend but he ends up getting into trouble himself and now must team up with the new boyfriend to save his mom. Its stars Ed Helm who I always wonder how does he get these gorgeous Co-stars. First it was Christina Applegate in Vacation and now Taraji b Henson in this, that said he’s a likeable actor. And one of my new favourite actress Betty Glipin plays a dirty cop and she’s amazing and funny AF. Highly recommended, it will definitely kill 90 mins of lockdown boredom.
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RECOMMENDED // MARTY KEARNEY
LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE // Resse Witherspoon is Resse witherspoon in the most Resse Witherspoonery role I’ve seen her in, and it reminds me why the world loves her so. She’s amazing in this. Kerry Washington Co starts and the chemistry between the two is immense. Based on the novel of the same name Little Fire is a slow burner family drama about the perfect Richardson family and how their lives intertwine when the mysterious Mia (Washington) and her daughter move into one of the Richardson’s Properties. I’m only a few episodes in and I must say one of my favourite things so far we get to see Joshua (Pacey
from Dawson’s Creek) Jackson in a pair of tighty whities, he’s even more handsome now than he was back in is Dawson Days. This 8-part limited series is a great binge and the performances of the supporting cast of teens is pretty darn good especially newcomer Megan Stott who plays Resse’s troubled daughter Izzy. She’s a dead ringer of Ginnfer Goodwin so I don’t doubt she will be cast as her daughter or a younger version of her career at some stage. Little Fires Everywhere is online now for your binging pleasure.
ZOEY’S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST // Us gays love a musical so this should be right up your street. Zoey stars Jane Levy last seen in Netflix’s What/If. Jane plays Zoey a young computer programmer with some family issues who has the ability to hear people’s emotions though song and musical numbers. It’s definitely not Glee but it is very enjoyable and speaking of Glee playing Zoey’s neighbour is Alex Newell granted he’s more or less paying the Character he played in Glee Unique Adams but that’s what for me is probably the best this about the show that and hottie Skylar Austin from the pitch perfect movies. Playing Zoey’s parents are played by Mary Steenburgen and Peter Gallagher who appeared as ex’s in the last series of Grace and Frankie and The Gilmore Girls Laura German appears as Zoey’s boss and even belts out a few numbers herself. I’ll admit none of the songs have yet to give me goosebumps but it’s light and breezy and has some ahh moments. You can catch up on previous episode on 4od.
SEVENTY EIGHT // GNIMAG.COM
RECOMMENDED // MARTY KEARNEY
DON’T SAY A WORD // You never really hear folk talk about amazon prime. Not really. Let’s Amazon prime and chill. It doesn’t have the same ring to it. I’ve only watched one series from it, The Boys, it was amazing. I’m not sure why I haven’t watched more as it has show’s I really wanna watch such as Vikings and Outlander not to mention all 15 seasons of Greys Anatomy. It has some great movies on it as well. One was bought to my attention when I saw a Facebook friend has watched it recently and turns out it’s available on prime it’s an oldie but goldie and I remember I went on a date to see it almost 20 years ago. Don’t say a word stars Michael Douglas as Psychiatrists who’s daughter is kidnapped and he must extract a secret from a rather difficult disturbed woman played by the late great Brittney Murphy. How I miss her. Unfortunately, the Actress who plays Douglas’s daughter Skye McCole Bartusiak also passed away in 2014. She had the same fate of Murphy and died of an accidental overdose. Tragic. Famke Janssen plays the mother and kicks ass in it even if she’s at home feeling helpless with her bed ridden with a broken leg. This movie is nail biting and even the second time around had me on the edge of my seat. It’s definitely worth a re-watch or a first watch if haven’t seen it before, I highly recommend, and you can thank me later. Just be prepared to feel sad when you see Brittney Murphy on screen. She was gorgeous an Earth-bound Angel who went home to heaven to soon.
THE HUNT // The Hunt was banned in the U.S for being too politically controversial and you can see why but that only adds to its greatness. I’ve only seen a handful of movies this year because of the stupid pandemic and this is my second favourite after Birds Of Prey. It’s kind of like a hunger games for the sick and twisted, 12 strangers wake up in a clearing field and isn’t long before bullets are aiming at them and picking them of one at but one badass takes matters into her own hands. The movie stars Betty Glipin from Glow, I’ve always liked her but now I’m a real fan. The last half of the movie has hell yea WTF moments. Hilary Swank plays the bad guy or in this case gal, the fight at the end is one of the best movie female fights I’ve ever seen. They beat the shit out of each, it makes the fights in Kill Bill look like child’s play, its up there with the big fight at the end of the Craft. Emma Roberts and Justin Hartley play their parts well. This is definitely going to get your juices pumping, especially if you love movies with a great strong bad ass female lead
SEVENTY NINE // GNIMAG.COM
OPINION // KATE OFF OF MISSTIQUE
KATE OFF OF MISSTIQUE DATING IN LOCKDOWN LET’S NOT PRETEND THAT DATING before the lockdown wasn’t weird. Think about it. Stage One: you both like each other enough to agree to an interview. Stage Two: tense relationship interview ensues where both parties attempt to determine the fitness of the other for ‘mating’, switching between interviewer and interviewee to ascertain: Are you mental? Is your ex mental? Are you doing anything at all with your life? Do you like eating cereal and watching Tiger King in your underwear? Do I physically repulse you, etc etc. Stage Three: the one who’s holding out becomes sufficiently comfortable or at ease with the other – i.e. pissed – to dispense with the central criteria entirely. You crawl into bed together for a (hopefully) above average bone storm or fish frenzy. It stops being weird, you stop dating. You are now in that happy category of people who can shout ‘It was Carole Baskin!’ whilst peeing with the door open. This of course is THE BEST case scenario, assuming your contrived ‘getting to know you’ dates have gone well and your potential paramour is not a psycho or, God forbid, DUP. But imagine the hellish universe where you are perpetually suspended in that most awkward phase – the ‘what’s your favourite colour’ phase – forever and ever in an interminably polite online chat window.
SO WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS?
1. GO ON DATES – ONLINE It’s hard to make that preserve of remote business meetings and distant family gatherings – the online video call – feel intimate. Drinking a glass of wine or slurping a plate of spaghetti together can help create a ‘date’ atmosphere – but there are all kinds of ways to go out while staying in. You can tour art galleries, stream plays and musicals, even meditate and exercise – all from the comfort of your own home.
So for the love of dogs, go easy. We’re experiencing an unprecedented, once-in-a-lifetime health crisis of global proportions. It’s scary. If you’re following the rules and staying alive, you’re doing great!
Of course, you could also wrap yourself in clingfilm and scream into the void – but that’s not likely to make the best impression, is it? Try washing and knowing which day of the week it is instead. https://www.louvre.fr/en/visites-en-ligne http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk/ https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene
5. I LOVE THEM BUT IT’S A PANDEMIC - IRL Your date may be very nice indeed but they are not the only human in the world who will ever exist ever. This isn’t ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ and whilst the exceptional circumstances may seem romantic in reality they suck. Really suck. So slow down. Try not to project on to someone you probably don’t know very well – and go on dates. Find out who they are gradually. That’s what dates are for.
2. HAVE SEX – ONLINE You might think it’s gammy and not the real thing, but if you fancy each other and you would feel comfortable getting naked, online sex – minus the lags, ads and looming threat of malware – can be good craic if you give it a go. Resist sending pictures and videos and keep it ‘live’ – you can disable recording permissions on most platforms and operate on a ‘tit for tat’ basis. Or tit for twat. Whatever floats your boat. Toys, masturbating and saying exactly what you’re into will probably get things going. And if it doesn’t you can always say ‘byeee’ and get a Pornhub Premium free trial and top vibe from Misstique online to sort you out. https://www.pornhub.com/ https://www.misstiquebelfast.co.uk/contact/
I feel you. It’s awful.
3. HANG WITH FRIENDS – ONLINE Out in the pre-lockdown world, getting your friends to meet (i.e. judge) your date felt like an essential service. But they can still give a prospective partner the once-over online. A pub quiz – especially one created by the two of you – will give your cronies the chance to see you as a couple in action. Try kahoot.com for enjoyable, user-friendly formats. https://kahoot.com/
You may be tempted to say, sod the regulations and, liberally dousing yourself in perfume and hand-sanitizer, arrive on your date’s doorstep to take things to the next level; ‘MY pants are pink what colour are YOURS’. And to you I say – that is illegal – but also, more seriously and sadly morally wrong. It’s all fun and games until someone ends up on a ventilator.
4. SELF-CARE – IRL Pandemics are stressful. Very stressful. And dates – especially the early ones – are probably the wrong occasions to express your immense Coronarelated angst. So look out for number one doing whatever it is you need to do to survive. There’s been a lot of productivity porn out there (my least favourite kind) insisting those of us staying at home should be using our ‘free time’ to somehow better ourselves – learning the oboe, practicing Spanish, making sourdough starters etc etc. That’s all very well if you’re Gwyneth Paltrow or very very very rich. For most of us mere mortals, not fainting every time we hear the six o’clock news is an
EIGHTY // GNIMAG.COM
(And if your date puts any pressure on you to achieve anything at this time, chuck them and go on chat roulette immediately.) https://chatroulette.com/
6. I DON’T LIKE THEM BUT IT’S A PANDEMIC – IRL/FML Sometimes pressure makes things very special, transforming them into diamonds, or coal or really cool fossils. And sometimes pressure just crushes things into nothing, transforming them into… nothing. If your dates are beginning to feel a bit nothing-y, and you dread your interactions with your lockdown lover, don’t delay, follow that gut feeling and dump them. It’s of course nicer to tell them in person, but you shouldn’t have to wait weeks or months to say ‘it’s not you, it’s Covid-19…’ ______________________________ ABOUT THE WRITER: Kate works at Misstique and is seeing someone lovely – very occasionally, in the supermarket, from a distance of no less than 2 metres. She volunteers at Framewerk’s soup kitchen, plays a lot of online scrabble and thanks Our Lady every day for her magic wand.
This is an opinion piece from the columnist/contributor and not the opinion of GNI MAG / Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd.
TRAVEL // MEXICO
MEXICO // CABO SAN LUCAS WORDS: GAVYN ANDREWS
EIGHTY ONE // GNIMAG.COM
TRAVEL // MEXICO
I GUESS MOST PEOPLE THINK of the
Mexican experience, with its colonial
The gay scene in Cabo San Lucas is
likes of Cancun when you tell them
architecture, art galleries, and lively
low-key, but very friendly. In recent
your jetting off to Mexico but in reality
town square encompassing much of the
years, many gays traveling to Mexico
Mexico has so much more and so I am
laid-back ethos of Mexican life.
have been drawn away from some of the more popular destinations nearby,
delighted to bring Baja California Sur, Mexico: Cabo San Lucas and San Jose
Cabo San Lucas is a vibrant, exciting
like Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, in
del Cabo aka Cabo.
destination renowned for its nonstop
favour of Los Cabos. The sophisticated
nightlife. Jimmy Buffet and Sammy
beach resort culture and the diversity
Now please don’t laugh but I have been
Hagar, who espouse their love of Cabo
of activities have continued to draw gay
a friend of reality TV shows growing up
in various forms, made Cabo famous:
travellers who feel right at home here.
from when they started and the US TV
Buffet with his Margaritaville and
hit the Hills first brought Cabo into my
Hagar with his Cabo Wabo Cantina and
sights with the relationship of one of
tequila. Here you will find the majority
the shows key male leads Spencer Pratt
of the all-night party venues, as well as
As you can imagine Hotels are not in
took his future wife Heidi to Cabo.
the often-photographed Arch at Land’s
short supply with multiple international
Global chains such as Hilton, ME
Cabo by Melia, Waldorf Astoria and
Officially called Los Cabos the area is actually a mix of Baja California
The Corridor connects Cabo’s raucous
my favourite JW Marriott Los Cabos
Sur, Cabo san Lucas and San Jose del
party scene and San Jose’s traditional
Beach resort and spa. All hotels offer
Cabo, Cabo has become a massive gay
elegance. This is where resorts, golf
something pretty unique whether it
friendly destination and it isn’t hard to
courses and super-luxury villas have
be its vibe, brand styling or maybe
see why with first class accommodation,
spread like wildfire.
location such as private beach etc. but
out of this world dinning and nightlife which can be as mad or a quiet as you like. If you have the money to burn then Cabo really offers you everything you could possibly want and should desire from a holiday destination. Los Cabos has often been seen as a hide away for celebrities and the rich and famous but today many people who used to choose the resorts of Cancun and Puerto Vallarta now opt for this wonderful much more safer and high end choice in Mexico. Due to the location of Cabo and its world leading landscape sport has become a real draw for the area and it offers world class golf courses , Whale watching, unrivalled sports fishing and any type of other water sport you can think of not to mention it being a nature lovers paradise. The 3 main areas are Los Cabos. San Jose del Cabo, the closest to the airport, is considered the Old Town. San Jose delivers the authentic
EIGHTY TWO // GNIMAG.COM
TRAVEL // MEXICO
rather late, so take a siesta after sunset, and head out to the clubs around 11 p.m. or midnight. Chandeliers Night Club as the only gay bar in town, this spot is host to the lion’s share of the LGBT party, and its events include theme nights, drag shows, and DJ sets. You can expect to find go-go dancers and drag queens depending upon the night of your visit. Pink Kitty, This hip and sexy nightclub offers high-end bottle service, a rotating cast of international DJs, theme nights and regular Ladies’ Nights where women drink for free. It’s one of Cabo San Lucas’ more popular clubs for electronic and techno music. El Squid Roe, spread over three floors and containing a number of bars and private places to party, this venue is one of the liveliest in town. It’s been a top spot to dance and mingle since what really stands out to me is the size
licences. It is also important to think
of the properties with some having the
about your travel insurance and what it
largest hotel spa’s I have ever seen not
covers just do not opt for the cheapest
to mention some having onsite 18 hole
and hope for the best.
golf courses. Prices range drastically
The best times to visit Cabo are usually
from hotel and product standard so
May & June but October & November
my advice is to check direct with the
is also good. This area does suffer from
hotels for any promotions and then tour
a hurricane season so it is always wise
operators and OTA sites.
to keep this in mind however it is most active from August to October.
I always recommend people to shop around for the best flights and hotels
Cabo really is famous for many things
to suit individual budgets but today
as we have discovered and its crystal
you have to think about the security
clear seas lap some of the best beaches
and insurance for your holiday should
I have ever experienced such as Lovers
your plans need to change. If you book
Beach, Playa Empacadora and Playa
you flights and hotels separate this is
del Divorcio to name but a few.
called DIY holidays and different rules apply to different parts of your holiday
1989, and today it’s as strong as ever. Finally If you are thinking about Mexico for your next holiday then why not have a good look at the likes of Cancun and Puerto Vallarta also as they might be more budget friendly than Cabo but if you do decide that Cabo is your Mexican retreat of choice then I guarantee it will leave a huge lasting impression on you for many years to come and I am in no doubt that you will go back and recommend it to friends and family. Keep traveling stay safe and I look forward to sharing my travel experiences again in the next issue.
Gay-Friendly Nightlife in Cabo
but you can be offered a safe guard of an ATOL licence if booked through the
Sammy Hagar even named his tequila
likes of Love holidays and Expedia. If
after the place, so you know the
you book through a tour operator such
nightlife has to be good! Keep in mind
as TUI Holidays you will automatically
that when it comes to nightlife in Latin
be protected with an ATOL and IATA
America, things don’t get going until
EIGHTY THREE // GNIMAG.COM
REVIEW // SLEEPOVER
EIGHTY FOUR // GNIMAG.COM
REVIEW // SLEEPOVER
SLEEPOVER // AC HOTEL BELFAST THE LATEST VENTURE FROM MARRIOTT, AC Hotel Belfast, opened its doors in Spring 2018. The brand’s portfolio also includes nearly 4,500 hotels in 87 countries across the world. Marriott International was selected as the brand for the new Quays Hotel on the Belfast’s Waterfront. This is the first Marriott Hotel to come to Northern Ireland and joins the world famous Shelbourne Dublin, a Renaissance Hotel and Powerscourt Hotel, Autograph Collection in Co. Wicklow. Where is it? Situated in an exceptional riverside location in the Belfast Harbour area, the AC Hotel has scenic views over the River Lagan, SSE Arena, Titanic Belfast, Harland and Wolff and the Belfast Hills. It is a short walking distance to the City Centre and the many sights of Belfast City including the City Hall, Titanic Belfast, Victoria Square and the SSE Arena. What’s it like? On arrival it has a definite touch of modern design. It is glass fronted with easy access to the reception. There is parking accessible across the street within easy walking distance. Once inside the look is equally as modern. The ground floor is of open plan to the bar and restaurant and other seating areas to relax with a drink. As we arrived late afternoon we checked in and went to the room to leave bags off and chill. There was a queue at the reception that quickly moved and check-in was warm and welcoming. Staff were very friendly and made the process pleasant. Lifts and stairs are close to the reception desk and convenient. Rooms There are 188 rooms over 9 floors. We stayed on the 8th floor in a king bedroom. Interiors and furnishings are of a high quality, making for a stylish and contemporary stay. First thing to gain my attention is the view from the windows, which sweep across Belfast Titanic Quarter and down the River Lagan. The large windows made the room bright and airy. There are a couple of chairs with a small table positioned beside the window, a desk supplied with AC power, a large wardrobe with iron and several drawers, plus a safe, while an Espresso maker/ tea service is also available. Beds are fitted with ‘Hypnos mattress’ as stated by the hotel and they are very
comfortable, with crisp linen and comfortable pillows. Also adding to the comfort levels are towelling gowns for guests. All rooms also have a mini-fridge, iron and ironing board. The room also featured high speed wireless internet and a 49”LCD screen TV with Bluetooth connectivity. The bathroom was extremely appealing. There was a waterfall shower, and vanity unit with well-lit mirror. Hotel toiletries including body wash, shampoo and conditioner as well as a shoe shine kit if needed. Food and drink As we arrived late afternoon, we were booked in for a 3 course meal early that evening. The hotel boasts ‘Novelli at the City’s Quay’ restaurant. It is a stylish Mediterranean and French influenced brasserie which serves high quality dining made from locally sourced products. ‘Novelli at the City’s Quay’ on the ground floor comprises three stylish distinct spaces – a bar, lounge and the main restaurant – which had a relaxed atmosphere the night we dined there. A bright, airy restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows and modern décor overlooking the river. On arrival for dinner we had a complimentary cocktail at the bar. The bar staff were friendly and the cocktail list had something to suit everyone’s taste. Having ordered a Bramble, it looked great on presentation and tasted fantastic, well worth a try! We were promptly taken to our table which was situated close to the bar. The atmosphere was relaxed, tables were spaced well throughout the restaurant and the staff were extremely attentive and friendly. The menu offers a taste of the Mediterranean and French, and includes a good selection of vegetarian and vegan options. There is plenty of choice for all on the menu. Starters are variety of vegetarian dishes to local seafood and meat dishes. For starter I choose the Portavogie crab salad. It was presented well and very tasty. Table service was attentive, time given to look over the menu, drinks order taken and water provided and topped up regularly. For main I ordered the Novelli 6oz Salted Aged Prime Burger dressed in Classic French style with choice of side. Again the food
arrived promptly, was well presented and delicious. The burger was succulent, and well dressed and cooked as I like, medium/rare. A complimentary bottle wine came with the meal. It was Vinuva Pinot Grigio Rosé Delle Venezie, our choice from the wine list. The desert menu was diverse with a range of choices. Many deserts were complimented from local products including local Irish whiskey. I chose, ‘Jack in the box nougatine caramel’. It was a light chocolate mousse with a rich taste of whiskey infused with roasted hazelnuts. Although filled after the starter and main course it was light and just enough to finish. An overall enjoyable and satisfying experience over dinner. I would definitely recommend and would book again for another occasion. An excellent breakfast is served here also, featuring self-service fruit, cereal, porridge, full Northern Irish breakfast and delicious pastries. Breakfast is served to 11am allowing for a lazy morning before check out at 12pm. Topping things off, the staff are friendly, attentive and welcoming. From check-in, the bar, restaurant and check-out all members of the team were very courteous, hospitable and mannerly. They ensured our stay was enjoyable and to the best standard they could make.
Verdict Modern style meets comfort. Urban retreat meets a warm welcome at this smart addition to the Belfast hotel scene. The location is great, with the city’s best areas for food, nightlife and culture on its doorstep and amazing views over the city and the River Lagan. • Best for The friendly, helpful and courteous staff. • Don’t miss Novelli at the City’s Quays restaurant. A big thank you to the AC Belfast for a great stay.
EIGHTY FIVE // GNIMAG.COM
FOOD// THE GOURMET BOYS
OUR APRIL FANTASY MENU THE GOURMET BOYS Here’s our April 2020 Fantasy Menu.
cabbage dumplings, Smoked seafood gumbo and Crispy Cajun squid “Double starters” is a great way to sample the excellent food at this busy East Belfast bistro! And we also had some of their delicious artisanal bread, perfect to soak up the fabulously smokey gumbo sauce. We simply couldn’t find fault with any of the food but, without doubt, our two favourite dishes were the smoked fish gumbo (terrific value for £6) and the hoisin mushroom pancakes - a vegan take on hoisin duck, and just as tasty.
STARTER GUMBO SEAFOOD LFAST AVENUE, BE CYPRESS
Starter Seafood Gumbo: Cypress Avenue (Ballyhackamore, Belfast) The menu pricing here offers the opportunity to mix and match “small plates”, as many of the dishes are either around £6 for a small portion or £11 on average for a large, so we prefer to order a number of smaller dishes rather than a starter and a main. That way we can sample a variety of dishes from the menu, which works out brilliantly. The vegetarian menu is particularly good, giving a lot of choice. As mentioned, we were dining with friends, so we really didn’t eat all of these dishes between the two of us - honestly! Roast gnocchi with vegetables, Hoisin mushroom pancakes, Goats cheese bruschetta, Kimchi
EIGHTY SIX // GNIMAG.COM
Main Smoked Cod Fillet & Poached Egg: North Down House/TT Bistro (Comber) Two of the starters of particular note were the crispy duck spring rolls served with a hot and sour sauce, and a deliciously unctuous smoked cod, pea, and prawn risotto.
Prosecco, and a mezcal-based cocktail. From the regular menu we ordered a selection of dishes, and we were also tempted by some DESSERT CHURROS WITH DOLC delicious E DE LECH LA TAQUER E IA, BELFAS T sounding specials. In La Taqueria, food arrives at your table when it is ready. Firstly, came a dish of guacamole especialé (delivered to our table with a little Latin shimmy courtesy of our wonderful waiter it’s a 10 from us!) and some citrusy ceviche accompanied by tortilla chips and refried beans. This was followed by a selection of Tacos; the crispy prawn special, oyster mushrooms, and fried cauliflower with a portion of papitas fritas.
SMOK M NORTH ED COD FI AIN LLETT DOWN & POA HOUS CHED E / TT EG BISTR O (CO G MBER )
The main courses included a wonderfully rich mushroom and spinach vegetarian lasagne with strong flavours of tomato and smoked cheese, and our star dish, smoked cod fillet on a bed of champ smothered in a white wine sauce, and topped with an oozing, perfectly poached egg. Comfort food at its best! We’ll certainly not leave it as long before our next visit to the TT Bistro. Dessert Churros with Dolce de Leche: La Taqueria (Castle Street, Belfast) We started with drinks; a very VERY hot margarita caliente (not for the faint-hearted),
We finished our evening with some sugary fried churros served with the most delicious salted caramel dipping sauce we’ve tasted in a long time, and I’m ashamed to say that one of us drank the remaining sauce after the churros had been eaten. No names mentioned! Follow the @thegourmetboys on Facebook and Instagram Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
See you in the next issue. If you have any requests for restaurant recommendations send us a message and we’ll get right back to you.
HERe NI empowers, supports and advocates for all lesbian and bisexual women and their families. Our vision is that all lesbian and bisexual women are visible, included and valued in all aspects of society. 23 -31 Waring Street Belfast | BT1 2DX Tel: 028 9024 9452 www.hereni.org email@example.com @NIHERE
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51 Downshire Road | Newry | BT34 1EE Tel: 02895 320 023
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The Rainbow Project is a health organisation that works to improve the physical, mental & emotional health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people in Northern Ireland. We deliver a range of services including Rapid Sexual Health testing and counselling. 23-31 Waring Street | Belfast | BT1 2DX Tel: 028 9031 9030 20 Strand Road | Orlan House Londonderry | BT48 7AB Tel: 028 7128 3030 www.rainbow-project.org email@example.com @TRPNI @THERAINBOWPROJECTNI
We support and advocate for the human rights of trans people in Northern Ireland, through community building, leading campaigns for social and political change, working with government and the community sector to improve policy and inclusion, as well as providing direct support and advocacy to individuals online and through the Belfast Trans Resource Centre. Belfast Trans Resource Centre 98 University Street Belfast | BT7 1HE Tel: 0300 302 3202 www.transgenderni.org.uk firstname.lastname@example.org @TransgenderNI
OUT North West is an LGBTQ+ Youth Support Service for 12-25yrs. We are based in The Foyle LGBT Centre in Derry. Orlan House | 20 Strand Road Londonderry | BT48 7AB Tel: 028 7128 3030