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Issue 50 Mar / Apr 2022 £3.95 / €3.95


Years Years Darren Hayes

Darren opens up about the inspiration behind his latest single and video.

Big Day

Cliodhna & Lydia, and Steven and Jody share all the details of their wedding days.

Matt Willis

Member of Busted, TV star and now treading the theatrical boards.


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IT’S OUR 50TH BIRTHDAY, WELL kinda lol, we have reached our 50th edition whoop whoop, where has the time gone. So much has been going on personally, professionally and globally from our last edition. Obvs we had xmas and new year which was a wash as I had Covid for the 2nd time and on top of that having to deal with ongoing dramas with renovations in my new home though on a brighter note I attended the National Diversity Awards having been shortlisted for Entrepreneur of Excellence Award. What an amazing time I had with my family and all those in attendance, thanks again to all those who nominated me, I honestly feel truly humbled to be shortlisted for such a prestigious award.

DANIEL MAY Editor & Operations Director GNI MAG / Romeo & Julian Publications LTD / MAY DAY EVENTS Daniel has over 15 years working in Media and been with GNI MAG since 2015, steering the publication forward and keeping us relevant with our growing market, especially in these challenging times. He is also a keen Thespian who enjoys performing in productions across the province.

On to serious matters, thankfully Covid seems to be easing away though we have other things to worry about , our local government has collapsed (absolute joke), I am so sick of the 2 sides finger pointing, and playing games when they need to be legislating and doing what they were elected to do! the sooner we have a neutral party in the driving seat the better. There is a possibility of WW3 with Russia which is scaring the crap out of me and locally we are being smothered with increased bills, I live alone and am struggling with the rise in Gas, Electricity, Petrol and Food costs, my heart goes out to those millions of people with families trying to cope. Hearing that companies offering these services have reported BILLIONS in profits makes me furious, this simply should not be allowed, all of the above needs to be capped.

On to what goodies are within this issue, none other than Olly Alexander (Years & Years) is on the Cover, we recap his outstanding 7 year career, we have interviews with Darren Hayes, Layton Williams, Matt Wills and many others. We delve into an array of topics such as Homlessness, Fostering, Weird Fetishes, Eurovision, Trudy’s Madonna Night, Environment, new dating app and so much more. This edition features 2 recent weddings in this issue, Steven & Jody and Clodagh & Lydia, so great to share your special day with our readers, they both looked incredible, congratulations. No issue would be complete without your favorite columns within our Go, Life, You and Try sections - be sure to have a look at the recent massage I had in Beauty and Holistic Therapy (Crowne Plaza) and my food review at James St South. We welcome Megane Herrick onboard as an Intern for the interim and Tailor Maid & Connor Mills to the fold as Columnists who will be a great addition to the team. Thanks to all who continually support to make GNI possible it is such a team effort, readers, writers, advertisers you all play a key part in making GNI what it is. Enjoy reading - Daniel May

Volunteer at our first ever Pack Collection & Expo at Titanic Exhibition Centre


28th April: SET UP DAY 29th & 30th April 2022

40th Anniversary Race Day Opportunities 1st May 2022

















































































SALES Pauline Fitzpatrick DESIGN Tony Day EDITORIAL INTERN Megane Herrick SPECIAL THANKS TO... Olly Alexander (Years & Years) / Darren Hayes / Matt Willis / Layton Williams / Evan Pelx / Franny and Brenda / Steven & Jody / Cliodhna & Lydia / Micky Murray / Connor Mills / Carl Connielingus / Tailor Maid / Anthony Coole / Martin Murray / Gourmet Boys / Marty Kearney /Trudy Scrumptious / Gary Campion / Jeff Dorta / Noel Holfman / Vic Gerami / GOH / Rainbow Project / Jupiter & Lo / Action For Children / Fairview Park / Maldron Hotel / James St / Beauty & Holistic Therapy / Libertine / Chuff Media / SeanMcKee / Halestorm PR / Project Publicity / LK Communications / Jo Allen PR / Hope & Glory PR / Media Works / Tancredi Group and Neil Reading PR

GNI MAG IS PUBLISHED BY... Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd 13 Union Street Belfast BT1 2JF All submissions to GNI MAG are made on the basis of permission to publish the submission in GNI MAG and its licensed editions worldwide. In the case of a picture selection, the editor’s decision is final. Any material sent is at the owner’s risk and although every care is taken neither Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd or its agents shall be liable for loss or damage. We take great care to make sure all elements of GNI MAG are accurate. However we accept no liability for any misprints that appear in this magazine. You should seek professional advice prior to following any advice offered in this publication. Any opinions expressed are those of the writers and not those of GNI MAG or Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd. Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd 2022







In his seven years in the spotlight, he has carved himself a profoundly unique niche. A staple of the red-carpet fashion roundups, loved by the likes of Gucci and Palomo Spain, he’s one of the few men in Britain’s creative scene that can make a daring fashion statement while also assimilating into more conforming worlds. He’ll flaunt his styled pubic hair on the pages of niche European fashion magazines and sit on the sofa of The Graham Norton Show. He’ll wear leather and mesh on stage at live shows and guest present primetime slots on Radio One. There is, to put it bluntly, no man like him. However, Olly had spent three years trying to write from a place where inspiration felt low: forcefully, as a person standing in the spotlight every night. It was as if he hadn’t lived enough life -- or the right kind of life, rather, to write new music. “It feels so irreconcilable within your soul,” he says of the reality of fame, and how it doesn’t feed him creatively. “How can I be this person I’ve wanted to be all my life, and yet still feel the fucking same as always?” Clarity would come eventually, but it took a hard period of lockdown reflection. A conversation with his then-bandmates Emre Türkmen and Mikey Goldworthy led to an amicable parting of ways and Olly making music solo under the Years & Years name which resulted in his new album ‘Night Calls’. Years & Years push boundaries by challenging notions of identity and sexuality in a way that is new to pop music - and totally Olly Alexander’s own. - all of which, in its own way, has taken him to ‘Night Call’, the incredible new album from Years and Years featuring the singles ‘Starstruck’, ‘Sweet Talker’ (with Galantis) and more future-favourites from Olly Alexander. ‘Night Call’ is an 11-track dance record that bears the bruises of Olly Alexander’s past few years, songs about heartbreak are few; traditional ballads are almost non-existent. Instead, there’s an almost psychosexual energy coursing through it. This is a fairground ride of a record about embracing submission and twisting power play to reclaim your strength. ‘Night Call’ is inspired as much by 20th century disco and house pioneers like Sylvester as it is by the records that ushered in their 21st century revival, namely Kylie Minogue’s Fever, Madonna’s Confessions on a Dancefloor and underground writer-producers like SBTRKT and Santigold, the electronic pop sounds of Years & Years’ past are amplified and toyed with here. Those pining for the long-awaited return of banger are in luck: Night Call is brimming with them. It’s tailor-made for that kind of reckless abandon of sweaty nightclubs where lifelong memories are made and forgotten about by morning. Wall-to-wall synth work and high-drama disco breakdowns wash over it. “I wanted to have as much pleasure as possible in this music,”



Olly says. Stuck in the same four walls, he “was writing from a fantasy-space.” Written over the course of six months between late summer and early 2021, Night Call was co-written and produced in a manner familiar to Olly, with producer Mark Ralph at the helm and pulling in young and experimental song makers to work on the tracks with Olly, including the likes of Georgia, Detonate and George Reed. Communion was made in much the same way, signalling a return to Years & Years’ roots.

beautiful creature luring men to their death; searching for a love, or a lover, that’s out of reach” and that a lot of the songs featured on the album are ‘patchworks inspired by random memories and hook-ups, or men that I’ve met”. Embodying the new perspective of a character – like Ritchie in ‘It’s A Sin’ - also deeply influenced Olly’s song writing, with songs that blur the line between fantasy and reality but are bound together by their explorations of queer life. Hedonistic

During a week-long series of sessions last September, four songs that made the record came to be. By the end of that week, after years of creative tumult: “I could hear what [the album] should be: a deranged dance-along record,” Olly recalls. The album is a work of fantasy, and on its tracks, Olly layers his characters with glimmers of real life meaning. “The characters are me,” he insists. But there’s a dream-like detachment to them, as if he’s wearing suits of armour, or slipping off skin to show the braver layers beneath. The result is a pop album that sounds like the weight of expectation and approval has been lifted. Of a pop entity with an unwaveringly cool, egoless understanding of what his music does to people. In the years leading up to the release of Years & Years’ Night Call, the artist behind it came close to quitting. Little did Olly Alexander know that he held the key to this -- a shimmering work of sonic euphoria -- deep inside of him all along. Which, in turn, feels like a companion piece to the album’s titular track: a camp and energetic song that is, in its plainest form, about not being afraid to ask for sex. But that seduction also has a deeper, more layered meaning on “Night Call”: about seducing not only potential suitors, but himself, and the industry as a whole. The finished result is a domineering, glitter-doused synth floor filler.

and escapist, ‘Night Call’ captures that joy and anticipation of going out precisely because, says Olly, “I was writing from a fantastical space, stuck in the same four walls. I wanted to have as much pleasure as possible in the music.” Subversive, euphoric and ultimately feel-good, immerse yourself in the world of ‘Night Call’ now.

From its iconic artwork to its euphoric, rejuvenated sound, ‘Night Call’ is a thrilling new chapter for Years & Years. At the centre of it all is that mermaid of a muse: a beautiful icon luring men to their death, on an album partly about those searching for love (or a lover) but ultimately finding power in themselves. Olly says that he ‘wanted to identify with this


The album features the brand new and upcoming single ‘Starstruck’, which Years and Years have released a music video for. It is directed by Fred Rowson and choreographed by Sherrie Silver (responsible for Childish Gambino’s ‘This Is America’). ‘Starstruck’ is an irresistible, instant-classic Years & Years anthem about human connection (and the cosmos). ‘Starstruck’, says Olly, “came together one night at a studio in the countryside outside of London. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen so many stars, you get used to them not being there when you live in the city. Since we’ve all had to stop, all I’ve wanted to do is go out and dance. It was there that the era’s lead single “Starstruck” was written: a grooved-up “sugary” piece of dance-poptimism on which you can hear Olly shrugging off the idea of being besotted by someone (“I can’t help it / I get starstruck around you / what can I do, baby?”). It’s a clear-cut starting point for a record that oozes this freeing energy, albeit with a collection of different facets. Olly says that he struggled during the lockdown period ‘I found, like everybody, the pandemic hard’ and continues to suggest that writing songs for the new album was a sort of coping mechanism. “So I’ve been putting all that pent up energy into the music. ‘Starstruck’ is about the rush you get when you’re with somebody you’re really into, it’s about holding onto a

good feeling and not letting it go. Like most of us I’ve spent the past year at home, and I wanted to create something super positive and fun for people (and myself) to bop along too. Whatever we’re doing or wherever we are in life, I think we all deserve three minutes of interstellar ecstasy.” Another brand-new track featured in ‘Night Call’ is, the pulsating ‘Crave’ which was written in the same week as ‘Night Call’, and its incredible video featuring some of the cast of ‘It’s A Sin’ (Omari Douglas, Nathaniel Hall, David Carlisle) plus the likes of Munroe Bergdof. A daring dance track about leaning into submission to the point of embracing it, “Crave” is an undoing of the traditional idea of sexual submission in song form, and how it changes when we subvert it – commanding that domination instead: “Got all I wanted but if I’m honest / I must confess / The only thing I crave is the pain from you”. Olly’s voice swells and stretches over a brooding dance beat designed for the darkest corner of the club. Olly says for him “It was a playful way of inhabiting the deranged sexual energy I’ve always wanted,” he goes on to say that “In the past I felt like I’ve been dominated by toxic relationships, and I felt like it would be fun to turn it on its head.”. Consider this a risqué cut of kinked-up, club-ready pop, and Olly Alexander using his platform to push the boundaries of mainstream superstardom. If “Starstruck” felt like the bubblegum banger that opened the era, then “Crave”, the second track from Night Call, is its more sordid sister. A rage felt towards men who’ve messed him around shapes two tracks in particular: the funk-laced opener “Consequences” and the anthemic “Sooner or Later”. They are about, Olly says, “every man that has annoyed me in my life”. While a song like “Sooner or Later” harbours the reliable Y&Y hallmarks of lamenting past lovers, there’s a sour bite to the way control spins back to Olly in the lyrics, from “You’ll be the death of me” to “I’m gonna break you”. Another song on the album, “Strange and Unusual”;, is inspired by the chilled out house music -- the likes of Morcheeba -- that his mother raised him on and is in a away a love song that honours the


distinct queer experience. “Queer people are othered in that respect, so I wanted to write something that felt fun and transcendent for three minutes,” Olly says. Two tracks were salvaged from the 20-or-so cut demos that meant the most to Olly: “20 Minutes” and “Make It Out Alive”. The former is a winking track about the blush of affection felt, albeit briefly, during a hook-up; “Make It Out Alive” is the closest thing the record has to a lovelorn ballad. But it’s so fatalistic in its framing of love that it almost counts as high camp in its final form; as if it could be sung live from atop a trapeze wire, gazing at the moon. “I found a good groove on the people I was working with musically,” Olly says of these songs, “then we got on a roll.” Olly teamed up with Kylie Minogue for a remix version of ‘Starstruck’ as their first collaboration together, which he remarked was ‘quite literally a dream come true’. “Kylie is an icon who has inspired me since I first started making music, so this feels out this world,” he said. “I asked if Kylie would be interested in doing something on the song and I’m so thankful she said yes!”. He went on to say that he has ‘been on cloud nine ever since and she’s really brought so much to the song, her voice is divine, and her presence is just magic. I really hope people enjoy this moment of cosmic fantasy, I’m over the moon, the stars and the planets that this has happened!”. After the success of their first collaboration, Olly once again teamed up with Kylie on the joyous ‘Second To Midnight’, the lead single from Minogue’s ‘Disco: Guest List Edition’ (and also featuring on the deluxe version of ‘Night Call’). They performed the song together at The Big New Years And Years Eve Party which was hosted by Olly himself. Olly also performed alongside Sir Elton John at the BRIT awards where he sang ‘It’s A Sin’ which was released as a single in order support Sir Elton Johns AIDS foundation. The series ‘It’s A Sin’ was released on Channel 4 in January 2021 to mass critical and audience acclaim, and became a benchmark moment for queer television (breaking records

as Channel 4’s “most binged new series ever”) and aims to showcase the narrative surrounding AIDS and how treatment of the disease has progressed in the decades after the show was set. After the second episode aired, the Terrence Higgins Trust stated that they’d had more HIV testing kits ordered in that week-long period than ever before. “It was really overwhelming,” Olly recalls. “It tipped over into something that was

solo single as Years & Years.

impacting people’s lives.” People reached out telling him stories that mirrored the experiences of the characters in the show, both in the past and in more recent years. “It was such a deep wound for so many people. Making the show was a transformational experience, so I’m not surprised that so many people watching it felt the same. Connecting to that history has been painful but incredible. It was a privilege to tell that story.” The record-breaking show won Best New Drama at the National Television Awards earlier this month, continuing a phenomenal year for Olly. It’s A Sin’s behemoth success occurred in tandem with “Starstruck” being Olly’s first

‘THE NIGHT CALL TOUR’ DATES 19.05.2022 || Brighton 20.05.2022 || Bournemouth 21.05.2022 || Birmingham 23.05.2022 || Nottingham 26.05.2022 || London 28.05.2022 || Manchester 24.06.2022 || Dublin 25.06.2022 || Glasgow

Years and Years Album ‘Night Call’ has been released by Polydor Records and is available to stream on Spotify, Youtube Music, Apple Music and Deezer. The Night Call Tour’ is also on sale now and includes a homecoming date at London’s SSE Arena, Wembley on May 26th.



GNI REACHES 50TH EDITION MILESTONE WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT THAT what originated as a website and free a5 directory would grow into the multimedia publication and company we see today. Like so many businesses times have been hard with Covid but we strive ahead giving the people of N.I and around the world GNI MAG. This is now my 6th year with GNI, it remains interesting, challenging, fun and rewarding, I have had the pleasure of interviewing so many amazing people, engaging with forward thinking brands and clients and to award those who work tirelessly to improve the lives of LGBTQI+ people, none of this would be possible without the support we receive and the contribution of many. It has been a blast so far and I am excited with what the future holds for the business. Here are a few words submitted by some of the great people and businesses who work with us. Daniel May - Director – For many of us who are LGBTQIA+ Queer media and literature can provide solace, joy and a lifeline for support. This is why we are proud to work alongside GNI and support their work in supporting the LGBTQIA community here in Northern Ireland. Magazines such as GNI play an important role in creating visibility for the LGBTQIA community, as our lives and interests can be excluded from the broader media outlets. Well done to Daniel and GNI for the last ten years and we look forward to continuing our relationship into the next ten! Aisling Twomey Rainbow Project Working with GNI magazine has been fantastic, the relationship we have with Daniel has grown over the years, into more than a business account, we consider him a dear friend too. Congratulations on the 50th anniversary edition of GNI. Jane @ Jupiter & Lo (formerly Miss Tique) adult store – So I have been a writer now for nearly two years with GNI magazine and have thoroughly enjoyed offering advice related to health and fitness during this time. It is really great to be a part of such a diverse family of content creators who have an amazing wealth of knowledge around the issues that matter most to the LGBTQ+ community. I just want to take the opportunity to congratulate GNI mag in celebrating their 50th print edition and here’s to the next 50! Anthony Coole – Congratulations to all at GNI on reaching your milestone 50 th edition. Over the years, GNI magazine has evolved and grown to provide a far-reaching platform that celebrates diversity. One of the things that we love most about working with them is their commitment to inclusion, which is a core value of Action for Children. Daniel and the team are consistently professional and accommodating, and after already achieving so much, we are excited to see what the future has in store for GNI. Happy 50th ! Kellie Burch - Action For Children – I have been a feature writer for GNI for 7 years (27 issues out of 50) and I am so proud of our little award winning magazine. It has soared with Daniel at the helm, here is to the next 50 issues and the whole team past and present Martin Kearney



MICKY MURRAY COMING OF AGE. WHAT AN ACHIEVEMENT, FOR a local LGBTQ+ magazine to reach 50 issues!! It takes great passion and hard work to take an idea and grow it into what GNI Mag has become today, routinely having celebs on the cover of a local magazine, covering local and National issues, and giving our community a voice in a place where our voice isn’t always accepted or listened to. So I personally wanted to say a huge congratulations to those who have been here since the beginning and those who have helped grow GNI over the years, it’s an incredibly achievement and I’m humbled to be just a very small part of such a great project. Like GNI I too reached a milestone this year, along with a group of my very best friends I celebrated my 30th birthday in January in sunny Tenerife, covid approved, obviously. I’ve never really been worried about getting older, it’s not something that scares me or makes me anxious, but when I was speaking to a friend recently and described someone who is barely 50 as “twice my age”, before realising that they are, in fact, not twice my age, that I had a moment of self-reflection and, dare I say it, worry! Now, I totally get that turning 30 is not the worst thing that could happen to me, my social life isn’t over, I don’t have any major commitments or decisions that need to be made right now, and nothing really changed since being 29, apart from covid regulations lifting, and obviously if 50 is the new 40, then 30 must be the new 25? Yes? I feel like this is a year of


change, and it may just be a personal feeling that I’m having, or it may be because all the rules and regulations of covid are on the out and we’re able to return to some sense of normality, but, at the risk of sounding too “new year new me”, I really do believe that this year is going to be about change.

there’s huge potential to change the entire make-up of the Assembly, and in turn the NI Executive. Every recent election has changed the representation we have, may it be the 2019 local elections when smaller parties made gains where we’ve never made them before, the European Parliament election, when Naomi Long had a huge victory and was elected second to the European Parliament, or the most recent General Election when the DUP ceased to be the only elected voice for Northern Ireland to sit in Westminster, with both Alliance and the SDLP making gains. The tide is turning, and we all have a personal responsibility to ensure that our voices are better represented in local political institutions, so if you haven’t already reregistered to vote, ensure you do so as soon as possible.

“I’m now about to spend a couple of months coming up with my 30-35 life plan, which maybe sounds a bit obsessive and regimented, but I think it’s healthy to have a goal of where you want to be, and most importantly, to allow it to move and be flexible.”

The first big change for me, being a January child, is turning 30, so I’m now into a new decade and a new check box (30-39). A couple of years ago I had decided to set some quite personal goals to reach for myself regarding my personal life, finances, and general life-stuff, with a cork board and pictures I’d printed of all the things I wanted to achieve, such as finally learning to drive, buying a house, all things which I wanted to achieve by 30, and I’m actually really proud that I’ve managed to do most of them. The last one being getting into shape, and while I joined a guy a while ago, I’ve finally employed the help of a personal trainer to get me over the hurdle of hating everything about the gym, its been going well so far, I’m 2 1/2 stone down and hoping that’ll continue.

I’m now about to spend a couple of months coming up with my 30-35 life plan, which maybe sounds a bit obsessive and regimented, but I think it’s healthy to have a goal of where you want to be, and most importantly, to allow it to move and be flexible, if you suddenly don’t want to do something on your list, then take it off, or you want to stick something on, go ahead, but I would highly recommend, what some people would call, a vision board, it’s been such a tremendous help to me. Most importantly, for me, and you’ll know this is a major interest of mine, is the upcoming Northern Ireland Assembly Election scheduled for May. There has been such a swell in the “middle ground” over the past few years, and the only election we haven’t voted in since 2017 is the Assembly election, and

I’m the type of person who spends a lot of time reflecting and looking back, thinking of how things could have been different if I made different decisions, and while it’s probably not as healthy as looking forward with a new life plan, I think it’s important and reflect and see how far we’ve become. I’m not entirely sure of the point I’m trying to make, but one thing I have learnt from my forward planing vision boards is that, if you want your life to change, you have to be willing to work on it and create the change in your own life. -Thanks, Micky Murray Alliance Party

This is an opinion piece from the columnist/contributor and not the opinion of GNI MAG / Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd.


Darren Hayes



TEENAGE PASSION, MIDDLE AGED DESPAIR. THE FEELINGS OF SO MANY CLOSETED GAY GUYS, WHERE DID THE INSPIRATION COME FROM FOR LET’S TRY BEING IN LOVE? I never thought of the song as being about being in the closet. That’s an interesting take. That particular lyric is really talking about my own state of mind when I was writing the song and realising that I was going through a significant change of life that I always thought happened to other people. I’m talking about mid-life and all of the introspection and accountability that comes with the hindsight of almost fifty years of memories to look back on. I had just seen the movie ‘Call Me By Your Name’ and I had an unusually emotional reaction to the film. I remember being depressed for a while afterwards and I kept going back to see it, almost like an obsession. It took me a while to realise the movie did a couple of things. It both reminded me that I never got to experience the positive, loving and accepting reaction to my sexuality from the world in the same way the character in the film did about from his family. When I was most famous, I was the most confused and ashamed of my queerness, and so none of the attention was validating and there was a terrible feeling of imposter syndrome. The film also made me grieve for a teen and young adulthood that was carefree and free of shame like the life portrayed in the film. That strong reaction made me passionate about digging deeper into my feelings of restlessness and sadness and that’s how I always decide to make art.

It was this freight train of inevitability tinged with impending heartbreak. While on one hand I saw a future of freedom and living a completely authentic life as my fully realised self, it also meant leaving behind a life that I thought was the one I was supposed to live. A life that involved a wife, plans for children, just a whole universe that was ending while a new one was blooming .

THE VIDEO BRILLIANTLY DEMONSTRATES THE PASSION AND DESPAIR FELT BY THE TWO CHARACTERS PORTRAYED, COMPLIMENTED WITH A RETRO ANGST. WAS THIS YOUR VISION FOR THIS VIDEO FROM THE START OR WAS IT AN EVOLVING PROCESS? Every aspect of this era - from the music, which I produced, composed, performed and arranged entirely by myself - to the photos which I styled and art directed - and the music video - which I wrote, cast and art directed came from me. I wanted to create a cinematic experience to present a semi-autobiographical representation of how coming out felt to me.

SO, IT’S BEEN A DECADE SINCE YOU’VE RELEASED NEW MUSIC OF YOUR OWN. WAS THIS A CONSCIOUS DECISION TO STEP BACK FROM THE SPOTLIGHT? I had no plans to return to music at all. I can honestly say it was a surprise to me when the muse returned. I think I had reached a point in my career where I felt drained and uninspired and I didn’t want to go through the motions. I planned to quietly slip away without any fanfare. But then we moved to Los Angeles from London and I immersed myself in improv comedy. I studied for three years at The Groundlings Theatre - which is an improv comedy school where a lot of the


AT THE END OF THE VIDEO WE ARE LEFT WONDERING IF HE CHOSE LOVE AND HIS TRUE SELF, OR STAYING CLOSETED. TELL US WHAT YOU THINK WOULD HAPPEN NEXT... Again, I think the closeted aspect is something you might have read in, which is fine, I think all art is subjective. To me this is a story about a heterosexual couple who have a group of friends over for dinner and at and that dinner, something extraordinary happens between these two men. It happens between their glances and who knows if their relationship is a memory, a fantasy or the future. It was intentionally written that way. The one true fact is that my character’s partner definitely notices there’s a connection between me and this man and she confronts me and I assume that is the beginning of the end of their relationship. There’s an incredible moment where the actor who played my partner, Madeleine Coghlan, cried as she watched me talk to Scott Evans. It said so much in that moment. She knows she has to let me go. That was very much like how my own marriage played out in real life and how it ended. Amicably but not without pain.

cast of Saturday Night Live have come from. From there I met so many new friends, many of whom are in the music video for ‘Let’s Try Being In Love’. I wrote a musical, I became a godfather to a now 5 year old amazing kid who I essentially helped raise from the age of 3 months old. I guess you could say I lived life and I had a chance to miss being an artist. Eventually I learned more about music production and how to program and record myself and after a decade one day a song came that expressed the bittersweet feeling you hear in this first single and that pretty much started me off on a journey. IS THERE AN ALBUM ON THE WAY? WHEN WILL WE HAVE IT, AND WILL IT FOLLOW A SIMILAR TONE TO WHAT WE’VE HEARD IN LTBIL? I’ve been working on music since before the pandemic. I have so many surprises in store. Just you wait. I’VE BEEN A FAN FOR YEARS, I REMEMBER GOING TO YOUR CONCERT IN BELFAST AROUND 14 OR 15 YEARS AGO. BACK THEN I WAS A CLOSETED MARRIED GUY ABOUT TO HIT 30. SEEING YOU ON THAT STAGE, A PROUD GAY MAN, WAS AN INSPIRATION. UNASHAMEDLY YOURSELF. HAS THERE EVER BEEN A TIME WHEN YOU’VE FELT THE NEED TO HIDE YOUR SEXUALITY, OR DO YOU FEEL THAT YOUR POSITION IN THE PUBLIC EYE MEANS THERE’S PRESSURE ON YOU TO BE A VISIBLE ROLE MODEL? I never felt pressure to hide it myself but I certainly felt it from the record company. There was a fear that if the world knew I was gay it would ruin their cash cow. It resulted in a period of my career where they essentially buried me. I’ll talk more about that later this year as more music comes out - but coming back with music now and being proudly and defiantly proud of my sexuality feels like a chance to re-write a period of my life that was really difficult for me back then. There’s a misconception that back in the 90’s I was gay but didn’t admit it. The truth is, I was married and was really struggling to come to terms with my sexuality. When I did come out to family and friends, and the record company, I didn’t necessarily feel the joy and


elation and freedom I had hoped I would feel. If anything I felt like I didn’t really fit in to any specific part of gay culture. I second-guessed myself and I had a fear that I might be outed before I had fully accepted or come to terms with who I was. It took me a long time to realise I was gay, and then a long time to accept it. That height of the Savage Garden fame was some of the loneliest times of my life. I think we put too much pressure on people, not just those in the public eye, to ‘come out’. It’s a complicated and unique process for every person and it’s only when you rid yourself of shame that you can be truly proud of yourself to want to share that example for others. I’m at that place now. I REMEMBER A COUPLE OF YEARS BACK ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA SOMEBODY COMMENTED THAT YOU WEREN’T LOOKING YOUR BEST, BUT WHAT STRUCK-A-CORD WAS THAT YOU REPLIED TO THEM BASICALLY EXPLAINING THAT YOU FELT GREAT BUT YOU WEREN’T THE YOUNG GUY YOU WERE IN SAVAGE GARDEN, AND HOW YOU LOOKED WAS PURELY WHAT HAPPENS TO US ALL - WE GET OLDER. DO YOU THINK PEOPLE HAVE THIS IMAGE OF YOU STUCK IN A TIME GONE BY, AND IS THAT FRUSTRATING? I think that’s common to every person in the public eye. I think we assume if we don’t see someone for a few years, they are frozen in time. I go out of my way to dispel the beauty myths and promote a normal healthy body that is real. I also think social media and comments sections are toilet walls and they’re not the best places to go to for validation. SO WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR DARREN HAYES, TELL US YOUR HOPES AND ASPIRATIONS... Honestly I’m just excited to be back. I want to share more music and play live shows. It’s been way too long. THANK YOU FOR TAKING TIME TO ANSWER OUR QUESTIONS, YOU INCREDIBLE AND INSPIRATIONAL HUMAN. Thanks for the thoughtful questions!



CONNOR MILLS INTRODUCING THE NEW KID. This is normally the part where, as the new kid, you’d get up in-front of the class and; state your age, where you’re from and something about yourself (just ask people what their favourite Pokemon is, that’s a lot more telling if you ask me!). So, a bit about me; I’m 28, out and proud and I’m based in Omagh. You may have seen me feature in a previous issue where I talked about my business ‘Connor Mills Designs’, an independent graphic design brand. To describe myself, I have asked and my friends would describe me as a hyper, over enthusiastic, pessimistically optimistic five-year-old with good taste in music (anything with an 80’s beat that I can badly attempt dancercise to) and movies (a good psychological thriller or camp horror). When I have the time I enjoy escapism in the form of reading, complaining I don’t have enough time to read, gaming, complaining I don’t have enough time to game and enthusiastically bugging my partner to ‘watch the cool bit’ when I do get the time. (It’s Arcanine or Dragonite just for those who were curious). So, with my Grindr profile now nicely complete I want to start sharing with you some of those things that I indulge in to help make this chaotic preapocalyptic post pandemic world more enjoyable. I hope that sharing these things well help to inspire and encourage you take time out for you for your own wellbeing. Here we are, 2022. This year I want to have more experiences and try new things, more specifically things that are going to be purposeful and meaningful to me. At this time of year everyone’s talking


about new year resolutions and words that generally follow this are ‘gym membership’. I’m sorry to disappoint but at the risk of being basic I am going to elude to just this. More specifically the world of strength training; for me the first mental image when I thought of this was of 8-foot giants lifting actual cars in order to achieve peak SWOLENESS. Don’t get me wrong, I have always stayed healthy, I walk everywhere, workout daily and try not to have pizza every night. I had always been put off the idea of the gym because of the fear that I’d be judged for not being the “perfect” version of myself or laughed at because my deadlift had the posture of a halfcooked noodle. In January my partner suggested I join him to try something new; you can imagine my response. I’ve never felt comfortable in drawing attention to myself, I’d much prefer to sit in the background. Which is slightly hard to do when grunting for your life trying to prevent leg presses ending up like a scene from ‘Final Destination’.

of things I can do to relieve the stress of daily life and spend some time focusing on me and my own wellbeing. What I experienced was that the gym is not a scary place and other members can be so helpful, it’s also a fun hobby we enjoy doing as a couple.

“I brought in the new year on a Ferris Wheel (I’m terrified of heights), so I thought I’d face my fear of gyms too and give it a go. I put on my most flattering pair of shorts and ventured out of my comfort zone and into the world of lifting heavy things...”

I brought in the new year on a Ferris Wheel (I’m terrified of heights), so I thought I’d face my fear of gyms too and give it a go. I put on my most flattering pair of shorts and ventured out of my comfort zone and into the world of lifting heavy things and signed up to a membership with my local gym ‘Fit for Life’. Seriously though when I say I was pleasantly surprised, I mean it. After some induction from my partner and a few demonstrations of a real topic of interest to me, how to do a proper squat; I started to feel at ease and gave it my best shot. We spent the better part of two hours, laughing, lifting and breaking a sweat. I now feel a lot more comfortable in a Gym setting and have added it to my utility belt

One benefit of increasing my physical activity was then being able to enjoy some of my favourite treats guilt free such as perfectly flaky and fulfilling pastries and spot on coffees from ‘Forage and Folk’ a local delicatessen, an actual portal into a French patisserie. Nothing beats your own company, a coffee, croissant and a book!

Tranquil Tips: Don’t be afraid to take time out alone, do things alone and be you for you. I used to worry about doing things in public alone, such as the Gym or even going for a coffee. Everyone around you is on the same boat and you need to take that time out, get some physical activity in and enjoy a coffee and treat with a good book in your favourite local coffee shop. insta - connormillsdesigns website -

This is an opinion piece from the columnist/contributor and not the opinion of GNI MAG / Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd.

Weddings In The He a r t Of The C i t y






Lough Eske Castle, Donegal Town, Co. Donegal, F94 HX59 T: +353 (0)74 97 25100 E:





INTERVIEW // MATT WILLIS FOR THE PAST 12 YEARS OR SO YOU HAVE BEEN INVOLVED WITH THEATRE AND MUSICALS. DID YOU ALWAYS HAVE A LOVE OF THEATRE, OR HAS THIS RELATIONSHIP GROWN SINCE YOU HAVE BEEN INVOLVED? From the age of 14, I went to the Sylvia Young Theatre School with the intention of going into theatre. I always wanted to be an actor, I never really wanted to be a musician. It was a happy accident, don’t get me wrong. It is the gift that keeps on giving, the job I still can’t believe I do. But my first love has always been acting. I always loved the stage, being in a production. When I left there at 16, I was auditioning for drama schools. Then Busted got signed, and it took me off in that direction. When Busted ended, I did a few theatre shows. Then I went back to fulltime drama school and studied there for two years. It’s my first love, really. I love it, and I want to be as good as I possibly can. Musicals are fantastic, but I always look at everything from the point of view of an actor rather than a musical theatre performer. But I love singing, and I find that I can add a different element. Waitress has got such beautiful music, and it’s so descriptive that it really lends itself to being able to tell the story to music. I love theatre so much. I want to do it for the rest of my life. WHICH IS MORE CHALLENGING: TOURING WITH A STAGE PRODUCTION, DOING MULTIPLE SHOWS EACH WEEK, OR BEING ON THE ROAD WITH A BAND? It’s like rowing and swimming, both in the water but very different disciplines. Busted is a bit like a travelling stag do, a riot. In the studio we have a great time, real fun. It’s a raucous, rock ‘n’ roll environment. I’m not really that kind of guy anymore. But I assume a character when I go into that band. That guy. And I do that guy very well. But theatre is completely different. All I’m focused on is the two-and-a-half hours on stage. My whole day revolves around that. I wake up and go and train, and I steam and look after my voice. I’m really boring. Then I do the show, give it everything I’ve got, then go back and watch something and go to bed. It’s very different. APART FROM YOUR CURRENT ROLE, WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE CHARACTER TO PORTRAY? I recently did a movie called Wolves of War, a WWII film. I loved being that


guy. He was a straight, unemotional, hard killer, but for the right reasons. It’s weird to find yourself in that world, and I enjoyed that character a lot. I played The Dentist in Little Shop of Horrors in Regent’s Park. It was really dark and menacing, really fun. Orin Scrivello was my favourite part in theatre. I loved being that guy. I really threw myself into it. AND, ON THE FLIP SIDE, IS THERE A ROLE YOU HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO PLAY THOUGH HAVEN’T HAD THE OPPORTUNITY YET? There’s two that I really want to play. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Javert in Les Mis. I love that show and that part so much. I could find myself in that for a few years, I think. I don’t think I’m quite ready yet. I’d want to be a bit older to play Javert. But who knows? It’s a dream role that I really want to do. Such an amazing part. SO, WAITRESS IS COMING TO GOH ON 1ST MARCH, FOR THOSE NOT FAMILIAR TELL US WHAT THE SHOW IS ABOUT AND WHO YOU PLAY? So, Waitress is a story about Jenna, a waitress in a pie shop. She makes incredible pies, she’s an amazing baker. She finds herself in a pretty traumatic relationship and ends up pregnant by her husband. She goes to her gynaecologist, played by me. We end up falling in love. I’m also married. Which makes him sound like a bad guy, but for some reason, you understand where they’re both at. They both find each other at this point in their lives, where they both need each other. The music is by Sara Bareilles, a multiGrammy award-winning songwriter. She’s incredible. It’s a beautiful story with hard integrity, but it will make you laugh your arse off, and you’ll go away singing the tunes. I guarantee you’ll walk away, and anytime anyone says the word “sugar” you’ll go, “Ba-da, flour,” for a few weeks. I READ ONLINE THAT SOMETHING LIKE 25 VENUES ACROSS THE UK ARE CURRENTLY BOOKED UP TO THE END OF AUGUST, WITH MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED. WILL YOU BE DOING THE ENTIRE RUN? No, I’m not. I think I’m till June. I think Cardiff is my last week, I’m not entirely sure yet. I think there’s someone coming in for the end of the run. I have other commitments towards the end. You got a limited time, so come see me.

I SAW THE SHOW IN THE WEST END, SARAH BARELLIS WAS PLAYING THE LEAD, IT WAS AMAZING. HAD YOU SEEN THE SHOW BEFORE YOU JOINED THE CAST, AND HAVE YOU MET SARAH? Yeah, I went to see it. The West End production shut, because of COVID. It was a real tragedy, it was such an amazing production. We’ve got Chelsea Halfpenny now playing the lead, Jenna, and she is just absolutely stunning, the most incredible actress, and a beautiful singer. And she’s mastered this role. She’s really fantastic. But Lucie Jones played the lead in the West End and, and I got to start the tour with her. She was somebody

Busted is a bit like a travelling stag do, a riot. In the studio we have a great time, real fun. It’s a raucous, rock ‘n’ roll environment. I’m not really that kind of guy anymore. But I assume a character when I go into that band. That guy. And I do that guy very well. you’ll work with who you will remember forever, and I’ll remember working with Lucie Jones forever. YOU HAVE A FEW NUMBERS IN THE SHOW. MY FAV HAS TO BE, “YOU MATTER TO ME, “ AND ASIDE FROM YOUR SONGS I ADORE, “SHE USED TO BE MINE.” WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE AND WHY? George Crawford who plays Ogie, he’s got this amazing song called “Never get rid of me.” He blows me away. He’s so bloody good, an amazing comic actor. He’s perfect for this part, a real great character actor.


EMMERDALE FANS WILL KNOW CHELSEA HALFPENNY. SHE IS PLAYING JENNA. WHAT IS SHE LIKE TO WORK WITH AND HOW IS ALL THE CAST GELLING? She’s amazing, one of the best actors that I’ve ever worked with in my life. The most considerate, giving actress. She really pays attention to everything you do. She just picks up on character traits I have, and she’ll mimic them in scenes. She’s incredible, a master of her craft. You’ll want to see this show with her. She has to be seen to be believed. We’ve got a really amazing, stellar cast. We’re really lucky. And everybody in it, like Old Joe, Mickey, is an incredible, amazing actor. And he steals the show sometimes I think. MOVING ON. EVERYONE KNOWS YOUR WIFE EMMA. YOU HAVE BEEN

part of being married, and it’s about understanding that. We are both very different people, but we happen to love those people, so that helps. SOCIAL MEDIA CAN BE A FICKLE PLACE. YOU DON’T USE IT MUCH. YOU POSTED ON INSTAGRAM LAST SEPTEMBER YOU WERE HAVING A 7-DAY DETOX AND HAVEN’T POSTED SINCE. IS IT SAFE TO SAY IT’S NOT YOUR VIBE, OR DO YOU HAVE OTHER REASONS FOR STAYING OFF? Social media got in the way of my life a little bit. When I started the run, I have all this prep that I do for my character, every night. And when I’d walk off a scene, I think of where I’m going and where I’m coming from, that kind of thing. And I found myself going back to my dressing room, picking up my phone, and

TOGETHER 17 YEARS AND MARRIED 14. IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT IS THE SECRET TO A HAPPY MARRIAGE? I think every marriage is work at some time. You’ve got to take the good with

mindlessly scrolling. It was not serving me anymore, so I thought it was time for a digital detox, and I’ve never felt the urge to go back. I will go back, but I’ve been thinking, “What is the purpose of

the bad. The good thing is, we really like each other. She’s my best friend, the first person I want to call about anything. She’s everything to me. We still have space, our own lives, get on with our own thing. In every relationship there’s always some things you have to work at. That’s

this in my life?” If it has a purpose in my life, I want it to be meaningful, because everything else in my life is meaningful. I don’t want to be just another person posting their life for people to see. I don’t see the point of it for me right now. But when I do, I’ll go back with a purpose and

direction. At the moment, I’m trying to form what that is. AND LASTLY, I WILL BE LYNCHED IF WE DON’T TALK ABOUT BUSTED. WHAT IS THE SITUATION ATM? IN 2025 IT’LL BE 25 YEARS FROM YOU FORMED, WHICH IS CRAZY. CAN FANS LOOK FORWARD TO A REUNION? Busted is very much an ongoing thing. We’re doing our own things at the moment but we’re still together. We talk all the time. We have plans to do stuff again. It’s about timing, finding space in our diaries to commit to Busted. Busted is an all-consuming thing. We can’t have other things going on. It’ll be 20 years this year that we released an album, so it’d be a shame not to do something.





INTERVIEW // LAYTON WILLIAMS FIRST OFF, MASSIVE CONGRATULATIONS ON THE SUCCESS OF THE SHOW, LOOKING BACK, COULD YOU HAVE IMAGINED YOU’D BE IN L.A STARRING IN “EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE” ? THANKS! Omg not at all. How wild but 4 years ago I did a trip out to California before I began my Jamie journey. Crazy that I ended up back in the streets where I dreamt how my life was gonna be. It was meant to be. HOW HAVE YOU ENJOYED YOUR TIME SO FAR IN L.A? It’s been everything and more. Some ups and downs but thats life right. I’m just really proud to have finished the run knowing I gave it 100% ! FOR THOSE LIVING UNDER A ROCK AND NOT FAMILIAR WITH THE SHOW TELL OUR READERS BRIEFLY ABOUT YOUR CHARACTER AND THE PREMISE OF THE SHOW ETAJ following Jamie who is 16yo, out and proud and wants to be a drag queen! You follow his journey trying to chase his dreams with a few moments along the way that will make you laugh, cry and hopefully been with pride by the end. The core message, I feel, is hope! I SAW WICKED ON BROADWAY THEN THE WESTEND AND THE NOTICEABLE DIFFERENCE WAS THE CHANGE IN ACCENT TO GIVE THE SHOW A LOCAL FEEL, HAS YOUR SHOW OVER THERE BEEN ALTERED AT ALL TO MAKE IT MORE RELATABLE TO AUDIENCES? Only slightly for an international audience but nothing major. For example we’d say “pounds” instead of “quid”. Just small changes so people aren’t like “HUH” ! AMERICAN AUDIENCES TEND TO BE MORE VOCAL WHEN WATCHING THEATRE AND MOVIES THAN US IN THE U.K, WHAT HAS THE GENERAL REACTION BEEN TO THE SHOW? They literally were dying for it. They’d applaud at the most random of places sometimes but I obvs loved it, ha! I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEE THE WEST END SHOW PRE COVID AND CANNOT WAIT TO SEE YOU IN BELFAST,

ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO COMING BACK TO THE U.K.? BE HONEST NOW, I CAN’T IMAGINE YOU ARE EXCITED ABOUT THE DREADFUL WEATHER WE ARE GETTING . Storms aside, yes! Coming back to the U.K to sold out houses knowing that I only have 10

weeks left of this show is pretty special. Also I love Ireland so I’m buzzing to perform in Belfast. I WATCHED YOUR LATE LATE SHOW PERFORMANCE, BRAVO, IT WAS AMAZING, WHAT WAS JAMES CORDON LIKE AND WERE YOU HAPPY WITH HOW THE PERFORMANCE WENT? He was sooooo lovely. We have so many friends in common so it felt like I was just catching up with an old mate. I. Was. NERVOUS though. Prior to that performance I was having some vocal trouble so I legit had not uttered a single word for 3 days. THE SHOW IS PACKED WITH GREAT NUMBERS, ASIDE FROM YOUR SONGS, WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE? MINE HAS TO BE ‘HE’S MY BOY’, OMG IT HAS ME AN EMOTIONAL WRECK. Aw, I know its mosh. My fave is probs the finale coz I’m like omg I did it. We made it, ha! A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO I WATCHED THE MOVIE VERSION OF THE SHOW, I REALLY ENJOYED IT THOUGH NOTHING BEATS LIVE THEATRE, WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT AND ALSO I WONDER DID YOU AUDITION FOR THE MOVIE? IF NOT WHY NOT? I loved the movie but no, I didn’t audition for it. I wasn’t asked and I didn’t put myself forward. They knew I existed (lols) coz I was playing the part at the time so if they wanted me, they had my number! I’m a strong believer in what is meant for you will not pass you by… So don’t worry huns. That was Max’s moment. My movie moment is pending. I can feel it. And when its time ohhhh it will be the gag of all gags!

DO YOU TRAIN A LOT OR USE A VOCAL COACH? I have vocal coaches, speech therapists and all the things. Bets thing to do when I’m tired is rest. Full voice rest. Works wonders along with the obvious other stuff. UNFORTUNATELY WE CANNOT GET THROUGH AN INTERVIEW WITHOUT BRINGING UP COVID, YOU HAD IT OVER XMAS, HOW WERE YOU AFFECTED AND DID IT TAKE YOU LONG TO RECOVER? I was actually fine. Just a shame we had to shut the show but we made up for it! ON TO FASHION, OMG YOUR STYLE IS OFF THE CHARTS, MY JAW DROPS WITH ENVY AT THE INCREDIBLE OUTFITS YOU WEAR, THIS IS A TRIPLE PART QUESTION. HAVE YOU A STYLIST OR IS IT ALL YOU, WHO IS YOUR FAV DESIGNER, AND WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON ARTISTS SUCH AS HARRY STYLES WHO WEARS GENDER NEUTRAL AND SOMETIMES CLOTHES ORIGINALLY CREATED FOR FEMALES? Thanks. I do use sylists sometimes yeah as its way easier to get a leak for an event that way. However, day to day I dress myself.

OMG I couldn’t even pick 1 fave but I love working with queer designers. Harry can live his life and wear what the hell he wants. So should everyone else. LOOKING AT YOU I WONDER WHAT YOUR SECRET IS TO STAYING IN SUCH GREAT SHAPE, DO YOU HIT THE GYM MUCH OR ARE YOU GIFTED WITH GOOD GENES ? ALSO DO YOU FOLLOW A STRAIGHT DIET? Barrys Bootcamp is my fave workout to do to keep me in check. And yoga! Diet wise Im vegan so that helps a little (I think).


WHEN YOU GET BACK TO THE U.K WHILE TOURING YOU HAVE WORKSHOPS PLANNED, ANY BUDDING THESPIANS THINKING OF COMING, WHAT CAN THEY EXPECT AND IS IT SUITABLE FOR ALL LEVELS? All levels are welcome so long as you have some prior dance experience. It’s all about brining good vibes and energy. We have a laugh, have a boogy and slay the house down boots.


AND LASTLY WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR YOU, HAVE YOU ANYTHING IN THE PIPELINE AFTER THE JAMIE TOUR FINISHES? I have a couple things bubbling away and all I’ll say is if/when this gets the green light, its gonna be very exciting indeed. Watch this space!




MON 21 - SAT 26 MAR GOH.CO.UK | 028 9024 1919



BACKED BY A MAJOR UK charitable organisation and Dublin Pride - a new short film, Fairview Park, will share how the unfair and inhuman murder of Declan Flynn was a catalyst in 1980s Ireland’s gay rights movement with a new generation. The 31-year-old was viciously attacked by a gang of self-proclaimed queer bashers in Dublin’s local Fairview Park. But the team behind the film also seek support for their crowdfunder to share their vision of a deeper look at the equally tragic experience of Flynn hiding his sexuality for those who do, and some who still sadly don’t, benefit from the progress in LGBT+ rights today. Protests sparked on Saturday 19th March 1983 after the ‘vigilante’ group of teenage boys were given suspended sentences by the case’s judge. Justice Sean Gannon shockingly stated that their fatal attack of Flynn “could never be regarded as murder” and “no element of correction [...] is required. All of you come from good homes and experienced care and affection”. With no value given to 31-year-old Declan’s life and untimely death on 9th September 1982, audiences can now support the culmination of two years of work from the filmmaking team. By donating and sharing their newlylaunched crowdfunder, viewers can

revisit injustice through filmmaking, preserve the memory of the real life of a human being who became a symbol and show how much change continues to be necessary. In a humanising narrative to show the truth behind the headlines, the film follows a fictional day in Declan’s life from home to work to party. And Flynn’s visit to the historically important hub of the now-demolished LGBT+ sanctuary of the Hirschfeld Centre before his search for creating a connection leads to his fateful visit to the park. With in-depth research for the script including the insight of Declan’s family and brother, Paul Flynn, we meet a man who loved music, who enjoyed visiting the cinema as well as a man misunderstood by everyone around him, even himself. A struggle known to anyone who has ever felt disconnected from the people closest to them. Writer, Ellie Hodgetts also adds her reasoning behind bringing this particular story to life: “I want to highlight the systemic and blatant homophobia that occurred during and after Declan’s murder, and believe that this story is a very important part of recent Queer history that is often forgotten.”

Flowers may have been laid at the park bench of the attack as the Marriage Equality Referendum passed but Home Office figures show that reported LGBT+ hate crime has grown at double the rate of other forms of hate crime for the last two years. LGBT+ history has slowly received more attention in public from historians to filmmakers. But in the almost 40 years since the ‘Irish Stonewall’, where 400 people marched against anti-gay violence, hate crime legislation is still lacking. Ending with archival images and footage of the aftermath including the trial that galvanised the start of Ireland’s modern Pride movement, this film will move audiences and show how Declan Flynn’s story still remains relevant to individuals and British society today. The Fairview crowdfunder can be found here for individuals/ organisations to kindly donate and share: fairview-park




WAIT, IT’S 2022?? DA FUCK?? LOL I don’t know about you guys, but I’m still trying to process that it’s 2022, are yous the same?? Covid really made those few years almost disappear. But what a few months it’s been and now the Christmas and the New Year madness has subsided, plus restrictions being completely lifted, it’s time to hit the ground running. Plenty of concerts and events to attend this year and we hope to possibly squeeze in a cheeky holiday if we can. To be honest if we could move away we would, maybe in 5 years. Last time I had introduced our wee kitten Angel to everyone. but she unfortunately passed away due to neurological problems. It was very sad and heartbreaking to be honest, we genuinely had no desire for a new kitten because our hearts were broke, until the Missus decided we needed one and I’d like to introduce you all to Ozzy haha . . Still sticking with the Buffy theme (Oz was Willows BF for a while in the series lol), plus Ozzy Osborne because he’s a “Crazy Train” . . We love him very much.

“HEY MUMMY, I’M ON THE TELLY” Well guys, it happened!! Carl made their 1st TV Debut on RTÉ One’s Last Singer Standing for 2 episodes in November 21, and I was also informed by Producers that I was the 1st Drag King on Irish TV to have done so. I’m so unbelievably proud of my journey and achievements, as nerve wrecking as it was, it has just got me fired up to do more. So watch this space. From the show I have made some amazing friends and allies, even Samantha Mumba followed me on Instagram..I’m totally made up!! I want to thank everyone at RTÉ One, Shinawil Productions, the crew and production team, my Producer Jen and her team, Stylist Niamh and her team, Nicky Byrne, Samantha Mumba, Nadine Coyle and Joey Fatone for being super amazing and to everycontestant, we done that and fair play to us. Congrats to those who were in the running for Eurovision and every project that has came your way. I will remember the experience forever.



A QUEER LOVE STORY - CHAPTER VII It was our 3rd Valentine’s recently and it will be our 3rd Anniversary later in the year in November and wow, how time is flying, you just don’t see it goin in. We have so many plans this year that we have had to really put our heads down and just get shit done lol if the Chromatica Ball is announced then it’s mission save like feck. Having the new kitten has definitely been a massive serotonin booster, even tho he’s a rascal to the other cats and us, but we’ve also been actively trying to be more organised at home to help with that too. So we had a wee clear out to help clear our minds and spaces. It really helps getting it all done, until you fill your empty spaces with more crap haha any other couple or households




do this?? Spring clean then Summer fill up. With that, Hayley and I are now looking for jobs outside of our wee home studio, were we can grow in our fields!! And now restrictions have been lifted, we hope this is gonna be the start of some amazing opportunities and success, so fingers crossed for us beauts. And if there’s any makeup or barbering jobs going out there, then hit us up!!






If yous haven’t heard, seen or been..then you’re missing out at Libertine. Belfast’s newest LGBTQIA+ Bar/Nightclub/Disco Garden situated on Tomb Street, and with its cool and funky decor, amazing cocktails and tonnes of’s a spot not to be missed. I’m lucky to be a resident Drag King there along with other amazing Queens and Queer Artists/DJ’s (Storm included). Keep your eyes peeled for some future projects with Storm that are being cooked up..”DSRNR” - if you know, you know lol

Having recently been on TV, it does open some doors and I was very, VERY lucky to have been approached by 2 massive TV Shows recently to audition. One I can’t name just yet as I still don’t know the outcome, but the other one was America’s Got Talent and I am just so discombobulated that it even happened haha now I didn’t get a spot this time, but there’s nothing to stop me going for it in the future. How amazing is that?? Imagine I had have gotten in too lol madness. Maybe BGT since it’s closer geographically, what do you guys think??

MOVIES AND MUSIC Hayley and I have been relentless lately at trying to either watch new things that were popular and/or catching up on any series we had started watching. At the minute we are on Breaking Bad and Drag Race, altho there’s 2 Drag Race’s at the moment so that’s a lot haha still love it tho. We also


And with that comes the end of another Hits and Bits with Moi, your favourite “Premier Drag King” according to Belfast Live lol thank you for joining me on my journey and I look forward to filling you all in next time of my/our crazy adventures. This has been the most productive start to the year I’ve had in many years, albeit challenging but long may that continue. I’ve also noticed that I’ve had to really back away from certain things, people and situations because they are no longer healthy for me. I just want to let you all know that if you’re in a situation where you’ve been made uncomfortable or unhappy, please address it and find YOUR limit/balance. Whether that be walking away or getting someone to understand they’re doing you wrong and communicating properly. Also, accountability for yourself and your actions!! It’s the hardest thing to do but it’s definitely the most rewarding and I find, the best way to grow. Love and Light Within Us, Much Love and Peace Carl ConnieLingus Facebook:@carlconnielingus Insta: @carlconnie_lingus

watched some Austin Powers and Drop Dead Fred.. CLASSICS!! Carl has been in the background learning new songs and trying to prep shows for the future, so watch this space!! Hayley’s band Paper Tigers are currently recording a new EP and I cannot wait to hear it.

This is an opinion piece from the columnist/ contributor and not the opinion of GNI MAG / Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd.




CELEBRATING IT’S 100TH EPISODE MOVE, I’M GAY, THE PODCAST starring Francisco and Brendan (better known to listeners as Franny and Brenda) will premiere its 100th episode on Tuesday, February 22, 2022. Taped live each week from their studio in Portland, Oregon, the show has gained a national following for the comical comradery between its two seemingly polar-opposite hosts. While Franny dishes on the latest entertainment dirt, and maybe belts out a Top 40 hit or two, Brenda references obscure gay historical facts. There’s also a bit of politics thrown in, as the two banter, laugh and drink their way into listener’s hearts. “I had never been a fan of podcasts,” admits Francisco. “I have only listened to a couple and most of them have been true crime, so it’s interesting to find myself hosting a comedy show. Honestly, the real reason I’m here is I broke my leg and I needed something to do with my life.” The pair had only hung out with each other casually before starting the Move, I’m Gay


podcast in February 2020. “We have very different personalities,” Brendan explains. “Francisco is up on trends and I’m slightly clueless to them, but we seem to mesh well in terms of our interaction and it’s nice to have solidified our friendship through two years of weekly recordings.” The show’s segments are a favorite among listeners. In the “Gay of the Day” segment, they highlight some of the outstanding accomplishments of individuals in the LGBTQ+ community. “We love heaping praise on the bravery of celebs like Lil’ Nas X and JoJo Siwa who have come out loud and proud and others like Jeopardy! champ Amy Schneider who are raising LGBTQ+ awareness on unexpected platforms,” says Francisco. “It’s also encouraging to be able to report on progressive legal news, especially the expanded rights being enjoyed by queer people all around the world,” Brendan adds.

But with the sugar comes the medicine. The pair regularly share their real-life trials and tribulations, like in the “Hog Hunters” episode when Brenda was forced to come to terms with the truth about the man he had been speaking with on Tinder. “I had to be convinced live during the episode that I was being catfished. All of the obvious signs were there but I simply wasn’t willing to admit it.” In their “Bless This Mess” segment, Franny and Brenda lament on the week’s most shameful events. “Some of our most heated shows from last year were centered around transphobia and the right’s increasingly unhinged fight against BLM and voter’s rights, and their refusal to believe that we’re in the middle of a God damned global pandemic,” says Francisco.


EVAN PEIX IS INJECTING CALIENTE Latino flavor into today’s gay underground dancefloor with two energetic new singles, “Tu Si” and “Me Elevas.” The songs are part of a music genre called “Guaracha,” a sound that originated in Cuba and acclaimed for combining a rapid tempo with bold lyrics. “I was introduced to Guaracha two years ago while in Colombia,” Evan explains from his Miami home. “A cab driver played Fumaratto’s ‘Me Provocas’ and it literally threw me into a three-minute trance! I went into the studio to try my hand at Guaracha. That’s when ‘Tu-Si’ was born.” Written and produced by Evan Peix, “Tu Si” and it’s follow-up single, “Me Elevas”, are being distributed independently and are available on Apple Music, Spotify and all digital platforms. The videos are available on YouTube.


Both videos echo the frenetic, sultry joy of the singles. Directed by Evan Piex and Jorgino Freire, many of the dancers, including Malik Delgaty, who poses with a ball python in “Tu Si,” are models Evan regularly collaborates with on his OnlyFans page. “It’s important for me that my songs and videos reflect the same Evan Peix that guys know from OnlyFans,” Evan says. “For me, the singer and the social influencer are intertwined. Everything I create is a reflection of my art and sexuality.” Evan Peix was born in New York but moved to Bolivia when he was nine years old to join the South American version of the Mickey Mouse Club. 10,000 kids auditioned for the show and only ten were selected. “I loved going to the studio every day for rehearsals and our weekly filming,” he says. He and the cast were the closest of pals for the four years of production and in that time, they released multiple albums together. The friends remain in touch today. “Each one of the members have paved their own unique careers in life,” Evan attests. “From TV news anchors to super models, singers, dancers… even a drag queen! I was always the provocative stripper,” he adds with a grin. After dropping out of high school at 18, Evan moved to Miami with $500 in his pocket. “I found a room in Little Havana, Miami for $300 and spent the rest on protein shakes and a gym membership. I couldn’t afford furniture so I slept on a piece of cardboard.” He found a job bussing tables, but wasn’t very good at it. “I dropped more than one plate on the lap of an unfortunate diner,” he recalls. A gym buddy suggested he try stripping and when he did, he found it to be, in his words, “easy as breathing”. It was also very lucrative. He saved his first $60,000 and enrolled in audio engineering school. “Fans are always surprised with how multifaceted I am,” he continues. “I produce songs, create and edit videos, play instruments, dance, sing, tumble… give me a stripper pole and prepare to be amazed!”



TAILOR MAID SHE’S A COLUMNIST. WELL, WHAT A FEW MONTHS it’s been since we last talked. It was a long, cold, but busy Winter full of UPs and ‘LOCK’downs. Yes miss Rona hasn’t left us yet, and what a pain the hole she is…! I actually had a few gigs that had to be postponed due to Covid over the festive period which has been unfortunate, but a Queen doesn’t complain, she makes it work and finds the coin where she can. Is it just me or did everyone else feel that January seemed to last for six months all by itself? It’s such a long bleak month. It’s great to finally see the longer days come, the first signs of spring are on the way and that makes me very excited indeed. 2022 is all fun and games from here on out and the fun starts right now! I was absolutely delighted with the response from my column in the last edition of GNI magazine, it was only supposed to be a one off article covering ‘my story’ and how I re-found my love for drag. But I received a lot of messages and comments that really inspired me, so thank you all for the support it means the world. So how did I get the opportunity to write for GNI again, I hear you ask? WELL… STEPS Throwback to Nov 16th 2021, I was out in force with what seemed like the whole LGBTQIA+ Scene in Northern

Ireland to see one of my favourite bands ever, STEPS, for their What the Future Holds tour in the SSE Arena. I actually paid for the VIP Meet and Greet which was well worth it. I got to chat to the band and do some stretching with them before reliving my gay youth, bopping around to all the classic tunes as well as all the new tunes of their 2 new albums. While I was there, I ran into the fabulous editor for GNI Magazine, Daniel who informed me that there was great feedback from my last column and would I be interested in writing again for the publication, I was chuffed and never really seen myself as a Carrie Bradshaw, but not one to turn down an opportunity I said yes on the spot… and JUST LIKE THAT…. SHE’S A COLUMNIST!

“Rosé was such a talented queen, she sung live which was incredible. We got to hang out backstage and I even managed to grab a few nice photos with her as well as interview her for a project that I’m working on.”

So where do I begin? Well, with regards to my column I wanted to let you all know what you should expect from my little home amongst the pages.

I’ll be taking a really personal approach with the column providing a real insight into my life as Tailor Maid, the successes, the challenges and what it’s like to balance a drag career with 2 dogs, a partner and a full time job. It’s not all fabulous, I’ll say that, but it’s totally worth it! I’ll also be sharing anything fun that I get up to as James, as I do get to do some exciting stuff working with BPerfect Cosmetics and it might be cool to share that with you all too. So even with some postponed gigs the past 2 months have been super busy with Tailor and James so here’s the rundown:


In November, I was chuffed to be asked to cohost and perform at BPerfect Live : A Winter Wonderland as Tailor at the Europa Hotel for a sell-out crowd of 500 people to celebrate the launch of our Christmas Collection. A futuristic Fairy-tale. It was the first big makeup event I’d been to in such a long time and it was great to catch up with all of our collaborators as well as entertain the crowd. I performed a fun mixed of Mariah Carey’s All I want for Christmas (Standard), as well as playing some fun games and co-hosting the panel discussion and makeup Demo alongside influencer Gerry Lavs. The night was an amazing success, we even had ‘the Nadine Colye’ perform some of her hits from Girls Aloud to finish up the event. Partying ensued and lots of sore heads the next day. December was a bit quieter to be honest which was nice break from the busyness of the previous months. I got to rest and even spent a big part of the Christmas break in Glasgow with my partner’s family and our 2 little dachshund puppies which was lovely. January was where the real craziness started. CHROMACOVER If you live in Northern Ireland I’m sure you have seen that BPerfect Cosmetics have launched their first ever foundation Chromacover. This product was 2 and half years in the making, it was a real moment for the brand. I was honoured to be to asked to be on a team of makeup artists to assist the development team by trying out various formulas of foundation and giving feedback on


them. I also helped by writing education materials for the launch of the product, describing undertones and helping to pair up our extensive shade offering to other existing brands, which would make it easier for anyone to find their perfect shade. As a result of my involvement I was asked to be part of the global campaign which was

ROSÉ In early January, Rehearsals started for DFIU Events biggest show to date. We were bringing RuPaul’s Drag Race S13 Finalist Rosé to the Europa Hotel on the 8th of February, and had a huge show planned. I’m not going to lie the whole process of putting the show on was a labour of

live which was incredible. We got to hang out backstage and I even managed to grab a few nice photos with her as well as interview her for a project that I’m working on (more about that below). The other queens and I even got to join Rosé on stage for a rendition of Rupaul’s song Lucky for the final performance of the night. Reflecting on the show, I just want to mention, this was my biggest hosting gig to date in my drag career. I was so nervous before going on stage, I can remember my heart going crazy with all the excitement, but I can honestly say it gave me the biggest buzz and I cannot wait to host the next event already. If you haven’t heard already, DFIU is bringing Priyanka winner of Canada’s Drag Race Season 1 to the Europa Hotel on Monday the 30th of May. Get your tickets at

WHERE CAN YOU FIND ME? If you want to catch me on a night out, I have been joining Sassie and the team down in Libertine recently on Saturdays for Damnation as well as other nights. Check out my Instagram for which dates I’ll be doing.

all shot in Belfast in January by the amazing photographer James Rudland. The shoot day was incredible, it was a real pinch me moment to be involved in a project that was so cool and the first of its kind for a brand. I definitely ticked a box off my bucket list on that day. The launch date for Chromacover was the 2.2.22 at 2:22pm. So far we have sold over 60,000 units in 2 weeks, we have a tv advert, radio advert and billboards up everywhere. You Definity won’t miss Chromacover in the next few months across NI. To celebrate the launch we had a party in the Titanic Hotel hosted by myself where I got to quiz the development team on the process of bringing the product to market. What a fun time!

love. There was some tears, tantrums and lots of emotion on display in the run up to the show day. We started by holding auditions for dancers, from which we managed to select a group of the most talented performers in Northern Ireland to join myself, Fierce Injection and Sabrina Bewitched to put on a show like Northern Ireland has never seen before. We had the amazing Jordana McMurray choreograph the show and put us through our paces. There was no less than 8 separate rehearsal dates which were tiring. But the result was a fantastic show that we all were very proud of.

You can also catch me on... YouTube (coming soon) See you all soon! Xoxo Tailor

You can also find Tailor Maid on Instagram @totally.tailor Bookings on instagram or via email or call/ message 07540533943

This is an opinion piece from the columnist/ contributor and not the opinion of GNI MAG / Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd.

Rosé was such a talented queen, she sung


Key points: PrEP is highly effective. There are different ways to take PrEP - taking a pill every day is an option but there are other ways too. Remember to have a sexual health screen every 3 months Please call or text us if you have any problems Please visit these website for more information on PrEP: or

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The Rainbow Project has carried out research recently which has shown that 14% of LGBQTIA+ people have experienced homelessness and over 30% of those were homeless as a direct result of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. We have sought funding from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to provide a direct service working with people experiencing housing stress, and we are delighted have launched the LGBTQIA+ Housing Project alongside the appointment of a new LGBTQIA+ Housing officer–Éaibhín Brady. Their role is to support and advocate on behalf of those at risk of homelessness or housing stress, particularly within the LGBTQIA+ community. Homes provide access to job markets, schools, health care, and economic opportunities. We build our lives on this foundation, yet stable housing is less assured for LGBTQIA+ people. Having an unstable living environment can impede access to employment or education and can have a detrimental impact on well-being, mental and physical health. Alongside support from the Housing Officer, a client can be signposted into a range of other services provided by The Rainbow Project such as Counselling, Advocacy Support, Sexual Health or Peer Support. Many clients who are experiencing housing stress will come from a diverse

background and will have a range of support needs. We recognise that LGBTQIA+ people might experience discrimination that restricts access to stable and decent housing, or they might limit their housing searches to localities with good access to LGBTQIA+ support services. We are here to provide support to navigate the Housing Executive’s points-based system, accessing benefits, and to provide information around tenant rights and options within the private rental sector in the North. The Housing Officer will be able to support you if you have housing stress caused by domestic abuse, family breakdown or rejection by family members due to sexual orientation or gender identity.

along with increased vulnerability. However we still do not have LGBTQIA+ specific accommodation for our community and in particular no refuge for gay or bi men who have experienced domestic abuse. The LGBTQIA+ Housing Officer has direct experience of working with the homeless sector and has been providing direct support for those who are accessing the benefit system. The LGBTQIA+ Housing Project is there to help people live in safer homes, free from fear, and where we can celebrate our identity and support each other to achieve our full potential. You can contact Éaibhín by Email: housing@rainbow-project.og Telephone: 02890 319030 Mobile: 07842 613717

Our new Housing Officer Éaibhín will be at the heart of this new project and will be carrying out vital work in this area, as well as helping to carry out research into the impact of homelessness on LGBTQIA+ people in the North. The experiences of LGBTQIA+ people are often overlooked when it comes to studying and tackling the effects of homelessness. Additionally, as part of the project we will be looking at how LGBTQIA+ survivors of domestic abuse are an isolated and marginalised community with unmet needs. One consequence for many is homelessness,



JUPITER & LO REINVENTS ITSELF AFTER 26 YEARS, WE CLOSED our iconic Miss Tique store on 26th July 2019, and we opened the brand new flagship store on Gresham Street, Belfast on September 1st, 2021. We invite all fetish enthusiasts everywhere to come and experience a fresh approach to Leather, Rubber, and Fetish shopping. Don’t forget to visit our Jupiter & Lo social media pages for updates about our collection, our events, and community news. Come see our knowledgeable and helpful team for all of your fetish needs, supplies, event tickets, and more! WELCOME TO JUPITER & LO The perfect welcome to Belfast City gay quarter is the newly opened Jupiter & Lo erotica store. This is a one-of-a-kind adult boutique located in the Smithfield & Union area of Northern Ireland’s largest city. Jupiter & Lo (formerly MissTique) opened its newly revamped and gorgeous store in September 2021 close to the Gay area of Union Street. The store combines the classic Jupiter & Lo style with flamboyant styling of past and modern design. This beautiful and open-minded city is not only home to multiple forward thinking businesses and people who pave the way for the LGBTQI+ community but it also hosts N.I’s largest Pride event and this very award winning publication GNI annually awards people and businesses for the vital work they do When visiting Belfast for an event or holiday, Jupiter & Lo is a must-visit and central part of this city rich queer culture. EXPERT ADVICE FROM JUPITER & LO BELFAST The team at Jupiter & Lo Belfast consists of Guy, Aaron,


Charlie & Kate, where they each bring their passion, knowledge and expertise to every opportunity they can with shop visitors. You can depend on the team to give you the right advice and helpful information you need to make the most of your visit and your purchase. They know how to help you choose the right item for your sex life and how to best care for your quality items. Your visit to Jupiter & Lo will always be an enjoyable and informative one. JUPITER & LO BELFAST : MORE THAN JUST A STORE Jupiter & Lo is not only an adult shop but also a space to provide visitors with the full Jupiter & Lo experience. When you visit Jupiter & Lo you know you will be getting the best quality products and service, but also a welcoming, judgment-free and friendly time. The team makes sure you get not only a selection of free product samples, but also the necessary information to take the best care of your purchases. They also have a breadth of product knowledge, so you can feel comfortable asking questions about any products you see in the store. This team always knows the latest local community events and news, which means you can have the full Belfast community experience when you visit.

Jupiter & Lo, 27 Gresham Street, Belfast, BT1 1JL Opening hours - 7 days per week, late most nights. 028 9031 4185

Fashionable Purveyor of Erotica

Belfast’s newest adult lifestyle store, offering a huge selection of designer sex toys, fashion, gifts, lube, aromas, films and more!

27 Gresham Street, Belfast. BT1 1JL . 028 90 314 185




WITH EUROVISION RIGHT AROUND the corner, we are all itching to see who will make the couveted final, who the winners will be, who will lose out, and who is going to provide the most ridiculous form of entertainment that keeps us amused (we’re looking at you Jedward).

Heavily favoured to win are Mahmood and BLANCO from Italy with their song Brividi, meaning chills or shivers for us non-Italian speaking folk, and let me just say – chills is right. This love song has all the makings of a proper power ballad, power ballads are both a favourite of the fans and the countries. If the lyrics and the melody aren’t enough to warm the coldest hearts and move the most stoic of us, just take a look at these gents and you will definitely be interested! One brooding and mysterious and one with a soft and gentle demeanour, though both with bodies carved by the gods with equally gorgeous faces to match. This is Mahmood’s second time entering the competition, in 2019 he narrowly missed the winning spot by coming second place with the song Soldi. Italy won last year with Zitti e buoni by rock band Måneskin will be aiming for a double header, a feat conquered by few with the last consecutive winners being Ireland in 1992, 1993 and 1994, but with the traction they are already receiving, they may become the first in 16 years to win back-to-back competitions. Then we have Sweden, even though they haven’t yet announced who will be performing on their behalf they are always one to watch, in 2012 they gave us Euphoria which made it to top 3 in the Uk Charts, and also Heroes, which made it to 11th on UK chart in 2015. Sweden has come out victorious a whopping 6 times (just one less than the record holder of Ireland with a total of 7 wins) making them a definite contender for first place this year, and let’s not forget it was Sweden that gave us ABBA, so they will obviously be a favourite forever. Tied with them in the bookies is Poland, which is a shock because they’ve never won, half the time they don’t even qualify! Perhaps it’s because they have a new competition to decide who will perform in May, if they get that far. Krystian Ochman with his song river is favorite to win, and hence compete, with his belting notes and dead catchy tune. Pair that with the fact that he basically repeats the same 3 sentences, it’ll be one that gets stuck in your head easily, and

Poland might be on to a winner. Just coming in behind Sweden and Poland are Australia and Ukraine, although neither has released their song yet either. Australia’s will be released pending the winner of Australia Decides on February 26th. Favourites to win there is Seldon Riley with his heartbreak anthem Not the Same, it’s about how he can’t feel love the same as everyone else – we’ve all been there after a bad breakup. It’s relatable, smooth and perfect for a good sobbing session, but maybe going into your trauma is not a great fit for Eurovision, especially compared to the chicken dancing and weird beatboxing vibes of Netta’s song Toy that uplifted the viewers of 2018 and led her to victory. So maybe when Australia decides they will opt to pick someone else, who knows. Ukraine has only had 2 victories in the last 20 years, though they have had the most drama so far this year. Alina Pash was due to represent but has withdrawn/been withdrawn as a result of accusations of criminal activity. A post she made on Instagram says that she withdraws herself, but a statement made by The Supervisory Board of the Public Television of Ukraine (try say that 10 times fast) said that they would decide whether she was going to participate or not merely a day before she did it herself. Dramatic? Yes. It is now going to be way more exciting to see who they select in her place. I cannot wait to hear and compare them then. Go Ukraine, you’re doing great so far. Now onto us, The United Kingdom isn’t looking great to win and Ireland is looking even worse. Shocking I know, neither has won in a quarter of a century. Although Ireland has set the record for most wins with 7, and the United Kingdom isn’t too far behind with 5, but they do hold the record for most times finishing second and have the longest streak of placing in the top 5. We might not win this year, but at this point I think we’ve done enough, let’s show some of that hospitality we are so well known for and give some other countries a chance. Words by Megane Herrick





First off a little lesson! Sexual fetishism or erotic fetishism is a sexual fixation on a non-living object or non-genital body part. The object of interest is called the fetish; the person who has a fetish for that object is a fetishist. A sexual fetish may be regarded as a non-pathological aid to sexual excitement, or as a mental disorder if it causes significant psychosocial distress for the person or has detrimental effects on important areas of their life. Sexual arousal from a particular body part can be further classified as partialism. While medical definitions restrict the term sexual fetishism to objects or body parts, fetish can, in common discourse, also refer to sexual interest in specific activities. OK Let’s go, be prepared some aren’t for the weak stomached or easily creeped out!

Necrophilia Obsession with and usually erotic interest in or stimulation by corpses : sexual feelings or activities that involve dead bodies. Coprophilia Interest and pleasure in faeces and defecation, especially as a source of sexual arousal Frotteurism A person who obtains sexual gratification by touching or rubbing against the clothed body of another person in a crowd Lithophilia Arousal to stone and gravel


Actirasty Arousal to the sun’s rays. Xylophilia Arousal to wood. Gerontophilia Arousal to the elderly. Agalmatophilia Arousal to statues. Formicophilia Arousal to insects. Stygiophilia Arousal to the thought of hellfire and damnation. Each to their own and all that but for me these are a big no no for me though online has endless info if all this floats your boat. WE DO NOT CONDONE ENGAGING IN ANY OF THESE EXTREME PRACTICES , stick to your buttplugs, strapons, generic bondage gear and sexy underwear

Open Tuesday to Saturday 10:00am-5:00pm Closed Monday and Sunday Indoor & Outdoor Exhibitions Virginia Road Ballyjamesduff Co. Cavan A82 YP70 049 8544070



History Awaits…


CONSIDERING FOSTERING? IN THIS COLUMN, AVERY BOWSER, Fostering Services Manager at Action for Children, discusses how to know if it’s the right time to start your fostering journey.

The Action for Children website features fostering blogs filled with tips and advice. You can also find real stories from our foster carers who discuss what fostering is like for them. (Visit: how-we-can-help/foster-with-us/fostering-andadoption-blogs/)

Fostering is a big commitment and not a decision that you should take lightly. Here are some steps you can take to find out if fostering is right for you.

Now is the time to ask questions. Are you unsure if you meet the criteria to foster? Do you want to know more about fostering? Then contact our fostering team. They will send you a copy of our information pack. This will give you an overview of fostering, the application process, and the types of fostering we offer. They will be happy to chat through any questions you may have. We want you to have all the information you need to make your decision, so remember, no question is too small.

TALK Discuss what you are thinking with your family and friends. Ask their honest opinion whether they think you have the skills to be a foster carer. Things to consider would be: are you empathetic, caring, resilient and patient? If you know anyone who fosters, talk to them. They can explain the realities of fostering and discuss what a typical day looks like.

START READING There are a lot of resources out there that will give an insight into fostering, so start reading.



CONSIDER YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES Have you recently had a relationship breakdown, lost a job, or experienced bereavement? If you have had a major change in circumstances in the last year, now might not be the best time to foster. The application process, whilst often therapeutic, can be time

intensive and go into a lot of depth. We want you to be able to commit to the process, but we don’t want you to feel overwhelmed.

BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF Honesty is at the core of fostering and so, from the very first step, you need to be honest with yourself. There are questions you need to ask yourself. Such as, are you ready to invite someone into your family and your life? How is your general health, fitness and wellness? Do you have other commitments or stressors in your life? When you foster, you need to be able to say to yourself honestly that any children who live with you, will be your priority.

Fostering is not easy. But, watching a young person thrive in a safe and loving home is such a special and rewarding experience. If you are in a position to invite a child into your life, we would love to hear from you. To foster you need to be over 21 years old, have a spare room and have a lot of love to give. To find out more call 028 9046 0500 or visit:

Every family’s different But the one thing they should have in common is love.

Start your fostering journey today: 028 9046 0500 @AFCNIFostercare Registered charity nos. 1097940/SC038092. Company no. 4764232. © Action for Children 2021.1655.



“It has been a wild twenty years at Helix Studios,” reflects Keith Miller, the founder and CEO of the gay adult film company known for its twink models. “While the adult industry has changed dramatically since 2002 when we first launched, the two things that remain the same are our customer’s desire to view sexy young men and our commitment to scour the world to find them.”

Mitchell, Evan Parker, Max Carter, Kyle Ross and more.

Miller says big changes are afoot for the company in its twentieth year. Most significantly, the studio is preparing to release a platform that will allow its talent greater involvement in the creative process. “Today’s adult film stars want more control over their careers,” he says. “They want to make decisions on how they are portrayed in film and promoted to the masses and they want to be able to monetize their interaction with fans. We’re giving them that opportunity on our platform, one of the biggest in gay adult film.”

The other area of growth for the studio in its twentieth year is in its diversity. In 2021, the company premiered Helix Studios Latin America, introducing Hispanic talent like Sly Conan and Giorgio Angelo to its roster. In 2022, they are crossing the pond with Helix Studios Europe. The first film, out now, is from producers Vlado Iresch and Johnny Iresch of Motion Film in Prague. It stars newcomers Sammy Trakuza and Josh Cavalin, who meet at a go-cart racetrack and then set up a rendezvous in a secret wooded hideaway where the real fast and furious action takes place.

The new changes will not only affect talent, but members, too. Since its inception, Helix Studios has operated on a subscription model. Members currently pay a monthly fee for unlimited streaming and download access to over four thousand scenes on the Helix Studios network. Later this year, Helix will introduce pay per view access that allows non-members to stream and download single films at reduced prices. “Fans will be able to view individual films starring their favorite Helix exclusives like Travis Stevens and Josh Brady or stream/download a specific series of films including Pup Play and Helix Academy,” Miller explains. They can also download classic Helix films starring past studio darlings Blake


“As someone whose filming days are over, at least for the foreseeable future, it’s awesome that fans will be able to drop by my page, connect with me, stream my past content and keep up to date with my latest projects through the new platform,” says Kyle Ross.

“Helix Studios Europe is something I’ve been wanting to do for some time,” Miller continues. “It’s exciting to be speaking with producers in Italy, Spain, and Germany. We’ll be bringing some of the most sought-after European models to the Helix network.” And no doubt, Helix fans will be watching. Visit By Noel Hoffman




THE 4 BOLD NEW TRENDS LEADING MEN’S WEDDING FASHION AS A GROOM, IT might be daunting to know where to start when it comes to choosing your wedding suit. There are some classic choices you can go for. For years, grey, blue, or black suits have been the favourite for grooms across the nation, matched with timeless brown or black shoes. There are options to personalise this suit too, with bold ties or even socks giving you an opportunity to express your personal flair in a subtle way. But your wedding style shouldn’t be restricted by tradition. Here, we’re going to look into the trends of men’s wedding fashion and give you some tips on bringing these trends to your own wedding.

The roaring ‘20s and the 2020s Formal suits have been around for decades. However, fashionable suits from a century ago were worn very differently from the suits that have seen popularity in recent years.

way to express their style know-how. It can be tempting to play it safe with blues and greys, but your wedding day is the best time to make a statement. Now, you can opt for colours that will turn heads without sacrificing any of the class appropriate for the special occasion. In this sense, a deep red suit, in burgundy or wine, is a unique option that oozes sophisticated style. It’s a choice that will serve you well throughout the wedding day, being the perfect choice for both the ceremony and the late-night dancing. Depending on when your wedding takes place, matching your suit colour with the season can be a great way to tie your whole day together. Unsurprisingly, an ONS survey from 2018 showed that summer was the most popular season for weddings. To pair with this season, you should go bright with light and natural colours. If you’re having a winter wedding, dark colours are the most fitting, so try a pine green or earthy brown.

Having said that, with the global success of Peaky Blinders, ‘20s fashion is back in style. If you happen to be a fan of the series, why not take inspiration for your wedding suit? The cast is dressed to the nines throughout, and there are some easy ways to replicate their iconic look. First off, choose a tweed suit in Herringbone or Donegal for a more rustic style. To complete the ‘20s look, you’re going to need to make use of accessories. Naturally, the Peaky Blinders were defined by their muchmythologised peaked cap, so adorning yourself in one of these will give you that instantly recognisable silhouette that you’re looking for. Top this all off with a statement gold pocket watch to complete the look of a well-dressed working gent.

Marriage in microprint

Be creative with colour

There is plenty of variety in the patterns that you can choose too, so you can be specific about going for a pattern that really suits you. If you’re looking for ways to diversify your outfits too, you could use a microprint jacket with matching

While some of us will want to appeal to tradition, others will prefer to break away from those styles that came before. For these intrepid pioneers of fashion, experimenting with colour is a fantastic


Colour and material are overarching points to consider when choosing your wedding suit. You’ll likely already have an idea of what you’re looking for in these places. However, the smaller aspects of men’s suits are just as important as the main pieces. When you’re looking to add detail to your suit, many people will turn to accessories first. Pocket squares, ties, socks, and jewellery can be great additions, but a microprint suit can really serve to bind your look together. While forsaking the standard block-colour look, microprint items ensure that, no matter how close they get, people will always see more detail in your outfit.

coloured trousers and waistcoat. You could even go for a microprint shirt to give a more subtle splash of variety to your look.

A statement waistcoat There are many bold trends hitting men’s fashion that can make it overwhelming to settle on one style. Being restricted by tradition can be difficult, but being faced with too much choice can be just as challenging. Sometimes, a middle ground provides the best solution. If you’re fond of a traditional suit but would like to embrace a modern twist, picking a statement waistcoat for your look could be the perfect answer. You can incorporate this as a complementary colour or pattern to match the rest of your look, but you can be as daring as you choose. Pairing a tartan-patterned waistcoat in blue and green could be an understated flair of colour to really elevate your outfit. On the other hand, a striking mustard waistcoat against a dark blue suit will make sure that you’re the centre of attention throughout the day. Better yet, once it’s time to doff the jacket and hit the dancefloor, you’ll be impossible not to notice. These are a few ways that you can stay on-trend with the latest wedding looks and make sure that you’re dressed in style for the big day. Weddings are a momentous occasion, whether you’re the lucky groom or an honoured guest, so it’s important that you look your best. Sources statistics/933431/most-popular-weddingmonths-in-uk/ mens-suits/ what-is-tweed#8-different-types-of-tweed






I ASK YOU THIS QUESTION not as someone trying to sell you private health insurance but as someone who over the past 7 years has realised just how messed up the NHS Service has become, through no fault of the staff on the ground but of the managers upon managers on big salaries not being held accountable for their bad decisions, mismanagement of waiting lists and wastage of precious public funds. If I had the knowledge I have now 7 years ago, I would be asking the private health insurance salesman where to sign my name! As any of you that know me or know of me are all probably too aware of the serious equestrian accident I had in November 2014 that has left me with several physical and Neurological conditions which heavily rely on the NHS Services. Recently due to various mismanagements and the ever changing Covid-19 situation I have been left waiting on life-changing surgery longer than is acceptable even in the exceptional circumstances of a pandemic, leading to me having to look into the private sector both here and further afield in Europe while setting up a Go Fund Me Page. (If you’re feeling generous or curious: https:// The frustrating part of all this for me personally is that I have paid my taxes so thus shouldn’t have to be looking into effectively paying for my care twice by going private, especially given that it would potentially be the same NHS surgeon carrying out the procedure just in a different setting where I am at the will of his billable hours / procedures. With all this in mind I decided to do a bit of digging around to see…

Just How Much Does The NHS Service Cost? In 2020/21 the Department for Health and Social Care spent £192 billion. This money is used to fund a wide range of health and care services, including GP services, ambulance, mental health, community and hospital services, which are commissioned by the NHS, and public health. It also funds

some social care services, which are mainly commissioned by local authorities. £2.5 billion of the Department for Health and Social Care’s budget is spent on administration costs for the department and the health and care system, such as departmental running costs, regulatory costs and business services, eg, the NHS payroll. The total budget for 2020/21 was more than £50 billion higher than in 2019/20 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The funds raised through the Health and Care Levy and other additional funding commitments will see the department’s budget reach more than £170 billion a year from 2022/23.

What’s the cost of a GP appointment? A recent study estimated that, in 2020, the average 9-minute GP consultation costs £39.23.

What’s the cost of going to A&E? The cost of an individual going to A&E depends on the type of A&E an individual attends – from a major, consultant-led department in a hospital to an urgent care centre or walk-in clinic – and the type of treatment they receive. For someone who attends an urgent care centre and receives the lowest level of investigation and treatment the average cost in 2021/22 is £77. For an individual at a major A&E department who receives more complex investigation and treatment the costs start at £359.

What’s the cost of an ambulance trip to A&E? In 2019/20, the average cost of a patient being taken to A&E by ambulance was £292. Ambulance call-outs that didn’t result in a trip to A&E cost an average of £206. On an average day in the NHS... • More than 1 million people would attend a GP appointment. • More than 250,000 people would attend an outpatient appointment. • More than 30,000 people would call 999. • Nearly 45,000 people would attend a major A&E department, and about 20% of A&E patients would be admitted into

hospital. Around 750 patients would go into critical care.

How much does the NHS spend on the private sector? It is difficult to determine how much the NHS spends each year on the private sector. This is because central bodies do not hold detailed information on individual contracts with service providers, especially where these contracts may cover small amounts of activity and spending. Information on private sector spending is available from the annual accounts of the Department of Health and Social Care but also requires judgement and interpretation. In 2019/20 NHS commissioners spent £9.7 billion on services delivered by the private sector (also called ‘independent sector providers’). This is more than the £9.2 billion spent in 2018/19, Just to give you an idea of Private Healthcare costs here are some examples of Private healthcare plans with a £100 excess: • • • •

Vitality Health Insurance from £41.30 per month Aviva Health Insurance from £50.83 per month Bupa Health Insurance from £62.91 per month AXA Health Insurance from £78.46 per month

So the moral of the story is you may think you are fit, healthy and have no need for private health insurance but as my life has proven, you never know what is just around the corner! Some employers provide policies with a discount as an employment perk but if this isn’t the case have a think and investigate what is available for what you can afford because as the old saying goes “YOUR HEALTH IS YOUR WEALTH!”

This is an opinion piece from the columnist/ contributor and not the opinion of GNI MAG / Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd.



40 YEARS OF MADONNA IN ONE NIGHT PICTURE IT. OCTOBER 1982. AFTER 4 years working in the New York club scene to make a name for herself, a budding Michigan starlet releases her debut single Everybody. 300 million record sales (making her the best-selling female artist of all time), 20 VMAs, 17 movies, 14 studio albums, 13 UK number one singles, 11 World Tours, 7 Grammys and a Golden Globe later, Madonna is celebrating 40 years as the Queen of Pop. Fans and artists around the World will no doubt celebrate Madge’s legacy this year, including the woman herself; plans have been announced to re-release all 14 of her studio albums with bonus unreleased tracks and remixes never heard by the public before. A combination of sensational and provocative music videos and red-carpet appearances, and an unapologetic supporter of LGBTQ+ people (particularly during the AIDs crisis) catapulted her to icon status among queers, a community where she is still revered today. But how will the local community be taking part in the global Madonna celebrations? Step forward local drag legend and super fan Trudy Scrumptious. She is throwing A Night of 1000 Madonnas party in Black Box Belfast, to celebrate all things The Queen of Reinvention. A mixture of live performance, lip syncs and recreations of Madonna’s most famous and outrageous looks, there’ll even be chances for the audience of superfans to take part with surprises on the night. But what made Trudy such a fan of the material girl? “My earliest memory of Madonna was that iconic pink dress (from the Material Girl video), and I have memories of loving the videos of Like A Prayer and Cherish and singing and dancing along with them on MTV. She was so popular in the 80s and could transform in every video, and everyone was talking about her. I never really got it as a kid, but as I got older, I understood the power behind it. When Madonna had released Like A Prayer it was huge. Every Sunday, I used to record the charts and run down after bath time on a Sunday to hear the top 5, because I knew she was always going to be there. I got so excited when she was number 1 one week, I took my towel off and danced around naked in full view of my aunt!” The idea for the event was born during the covid pandemic, when


(along with many other entertainers) work had dried up, and gave Trudy a new lease of creativity, and how she would have her very own post-pandemic comeback: ”During the lockdown when the community didn’t have our venues, I wanted to celebrate us coming back together with an artist who has a relationship with the community, as well as a back catalogue of material and images that almost everyone from the community can connect with. Madonna is the soundtrack to so many queer lives. Bringing the community together coincided with a landmark year for her, so it seems like the perfect time to throw a party that is all things Madge!” Like many super fans, it is hard for Trudy to pick her favourite album: “It would be so hard for me to choose my favourite album she’s produced, but it’s a toss-up between Confessions and Ray of Light. Her best songs for me apart from Like A Prayer are Cherish, True Blue and Material Girl. Throughout my life she has sound tracked different eras of my life, every new album reflected a new stage in my life, and her influence on fashion and culture filtering down to queer culture has been fabulous to see”. Not only has she got fans from her early 80s pop days, but her constant regeneration saw her pick up new legions of fans: from the maturity of Ray of Light in the 90s to the disco throwback of Confessions in the mid noughties, any event involving Madonna should attract a crowd of all ages and tastes, uniting with their own personal memories of what made them first fall in love with The Queen of Pop. All these iconic moments and more will be honoured on the night not just by Trudy, but other local entertainers looking to make an ode to the Global star, guaranteeing a night of action that fans lucky enough to get tickets will never forget. A Night of 1000 Madonnas by Trudy Scrumptious is in Black Box Belfast on Saturday 2nd April 2022. Keep an eye on Trudy’s socials for an announcement on how to attend.




THE MASKED SINGER LIVE ON STAGE JONATHAN ROSS AND DAVINA MCCALL are today announced as judges at the two London shows on The Masked Singer Live tour in April this year. The original TV judging duo have provided ITV audiences with much delight battling over the secret identities of the mystery celebrity contestants in the smash hit TV show and they will bring the same excitement to the live tour in London. Jonathan will judge at The O2 on 3 April and Davina will judge at the final show of the tour at the OVO Arena in Wembley on 18 April. They will join host Joel Dommett and tour judges Denise Van Outen and Aston Merrygold live on stage. The addition of the two TV judges is sure to add to the thrill and drama to the live shows, where mystery celebrities will perform at each show - in newly created never-been-seen-before character costumes designed exclusively for the tour - to be crowned as The Masked Singer each night.

For the first time ever, the biggest entertainment show in the world, The Masked Singer is being transformed into a live stage show and coming to an arena near you! The Masked Singer Live will tour the UK in April 2022 for 10 super-sized shows across the country. Opening on 2nd April at Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena, the tour will then visit some of the biggest entertainment venues in the UK. Tickets are on sale from This is a unique chance to see your favourite characters from the TV show that has gripped the nation brought to life on stage, as different mystery celebrities are unmasked at the end of every performance – having been judged by the panel of celebrity judges. More celebrity announcements are coming soon!

I don’t know their identities, so I’ll be guessing along with the arena audiences. I can’t wait to get this show on the road in April, it’s going to be epic!”


Jonathan Ross said: “I’m looking forward to being at The O2 to enjoy a great fun night of live masked mayhem.”

Expect stunning set pieces, brand new and ever fabulously elaborate character costumes, along with some of the much-loved TV characters, with a dazzling series of spectacular song and dance routines. This is a first-class evening of entertainment for the whole family to enjoy.

2nd April 3rd April 5th April 8th April

Liverpool: M&S Bank Arena London: The O2 Birmingham: Utilita Arena Newcastle: Utilita Arena

Davina McCall added: “It’s such a thrill to be part of The Masked Singer Live. I know there will be an incredible line-up of celebrities behind the masks, but us detectives - just like the arena audiences – will have to guess who they are. There is such love for this show - it’s family entertainment at its very best - I really can’t wait.”

Joel Dommett said: “This tour is going to be absolutely incredible! I’m so thrilled to be hosting proceedings, as we bring all the excitement and drama of the TV series live to an arena near you. And being in arenas means it’s going to be bigger than ever! I’m excited to see who the different celebrities are at every show.

9th April 10th April 13th April 15th April 16th April 18th April

Glasgow: OVO Hydro Manchester: AO Arena Leeds: First Direct Arena Sheffield: Utilita Arena Nottingham: Motorpoint Arena London: OVO Arena, Wembley


The Masked Singer Live is produced by Phil McIntyre Live, in association with Bandicoot Scotland, producers of the International Emmy award-winning The Masked Singer on ITV. The UK Tour is masterminded by Elizabeth Honan, one of the UK’s most respected choreographers and creative director of The Masked Singer on ITV. Think you can guess ‘who’s that behind the mask?’


Ten Square Hotel , 10 Donegall Square South, Belfast, Northern Ireland BT1 5JD 028 9024 1001



OUR BIG DAY // STEVEN & JODY SO TELL US HOW YOU MET, WERE YOU SINGLE FOR A LONG TIME BEFORE YOU STARTED DATING? We met at a party on a Friday night in the glamorous Gilnahirk! We had both been single for a while and it was by chance that we met each other as Jody wasn’t sure if he would go or not. HOW LONG AFTER YOU STARTED DATING DID IT TAKE TO POP THE QUESTION, WAS IT AN IMMEDIATE YES? Once Marriage equality became legal in Northern Ireland then it was full steam ahead. Both of us had campaigned for marriage equality so were keen not to get civil partnered and decided we would hold off for the real deal. At the time of engagement we had been together for 12 years so we hadn’t been in a rush to get engaged! And yes, it was a straight yes.


“So the wedding that happened on the 1st January 2022 was a third time lucky event, originally we had booked to have the wedding in the George Best hotel, which as you know still hasn’t and doesn’t look like it will ever open.”

OUR BIG DAY // STEVEN & JODY TELL US ABOUT YOUR BIG DAY, LOCATION, AMOUNT OF GUESTS ETC. WAS IT PLANNED PRE COVID, HAD YOU TO ALTER MANY THINGS? So the wedding that happened on the 1st January 2022 was a third time lucky event, originally we had booked to have the wedding in the George Best hotel, which as you know still hasn’t and doesn’t look like it will ever open. After endless delays with the George Best hotel we decided to move to the venue and took a gamble on the newly acquired Templeton hotel which had just been bought by the Galgorm group. The wedding coordinator Abby sold us the concept that the new owners were planning and we signed up that day to have the wedding on 31st December 2020. Might seem like a distant memory but we had to cancel and move the wedding as everyone was in lockdown, unfortunately for us the 31st December 2021 had already been booked so we moved to the 1st January 2022 at now named Rabbit hotel. WHAT ABOUT THE FOOD AND DRINK? As the guests were arriving for the ceremony we had a trolley lined with shots for our guests to “take a shot, then take a seat”. We think that set the tone for the wedding and loosened everyone up for the day ahead. Our primary aim was to give our guests a great fun filled day which according to feedback we did! After the ceremony the guests were able to enjoy a few beers or Prosecco’s, with some fish and chip cones and play the casino or listen to the singer and have a mid afternoon boogie (thankfully dancing was legal again). After a few hours the guests were taken upstairs to the glorious “Loft” were we had a few short speeches and had a lovely 5 course meal. After the meal we had the Just Adam band and a dj entertaining us for the rest of the evening, we also threw in more food to keep the guests going! Top tip for a good wedding, keep your guests fed. WITH RESTRICTIONS WERE YOU ABLE TO GO ON HONEYMOON OR ARE YOU WAITING UNTIL RESTRICTIONS FURTHER EASE? Straight after the wedding we spent



the next few days at the Merchant hotel before heading home and back to normality for a few days. The next weekend we went skiing in Bulgaria but I (Steven) refused for this to be our honeymoon as I was not lying on a beach sipping a Pina colada. IN YOUR DAY TO DAY LIVES ARE YOU INTO THE SAME THINGS? WHAT INTERESTS DO YOU HAVE THAT ARE DIFFERENT? Jody is a hairdresser and heads out to work everyday while I work for a bank and sit at home on the computer surrounded by the dogs. Our jobs are pretty different, much like the rest of our interests. We have very little in common but we both agree that it’s a positive as it keeps us interested and so far after all these years it has worked so long may it continue. DO YOU DO EVERYTHING TOGETHER OR DO YOU LIKE TO KEEP INDEPENDENT? We have individual friendship groups and couple friends also so it’s a good mix. We’ve always ensured that we have


friends separate from each other as that is our support network. Decisions are made jointly (even if one of us doesn’t get our way), but we know each other enough to listen to the other’s advice. HAVE YOU A FAMILY, IS THIS SOMETHING ON THE PLAN FOR YOU? Yes we do! Of the furry kind though, we have 4 dogs (Lucian, Luna, Lily and Lucy) and Rocky, an African grey parrot. Jody would like to expand the family with more animals but it’s a firm no from Steven. TELL US WHO MADE YOUR DAY POSSIBLE IN TERMS OF RINGS, FLOWERS, PHOTOGRAPHER, CARS ETC. One of our bridesmaids works for Malcolm Jewellers where I (Steven) bought Jody’s engagement ring, both of us were keen for her to be part of the wedding rings too so we decided to use the same jewellers. The flowers were originally going to be created by our friend who lives in

Sydney, Australia although with the travel rules she wasn’t able to fly over. Luckily we had Carol from Sensations of Saintfield who stepped in and made the wonderful bouquets, it was quite a task given the number needed! Our Photographer was Nick Scott, he is a really great guy and had really great ideas for photos. He was under pressure as we only allowed him an hour in total for photos as we wanted to spend more time with our guests. Jodys stunning outfit was made by the designer Call me Sophia. Our humanist celebrant was Laura Fitzsimons who is an absolute gem, she created a lovely ceremony for us and really got to know us, she also made me feel so at ease in the run up to the ceremony and also took charge and made sure everyone was were they were supposed to be. Lastly but certainly not least a big shout to Abby at the Rabbit, who we became so close to over the years and worked her socks off to give us the perfect day, which she did impeccably.



A humanist marriage is much more than simply a legal contract between the two of you. It’s the chance to celebrate your love and commitment to one another in a personal and inclusive ceremony which perfectly reflects you. Indoors or outside, in a grand building or a cosy hall, you choose where and how you make your special day meaningful and unforgettable.

For more information about humanist weddings and our network of accredited wedding celebrants,







FITNESS // COACH ANTO WHAT MAKES A GOOD TRAINER? So now that the new year has well and truly kicked off, most of us are navigating our way through some sort of fitness routine or maybe you are still thinking about getting started. I just wanted to take a moment to pause and ask how are you are all getting on with it? If you have already started, are you enjoying your fitness journey so far and the programme you have been prescribed? Are you starting to etch away at those goals you set out to achieve in the beginning? How is your trainer/coach and have you got faith in their abilities in achieving those goals? There’s certainly a lot to consider when choosing the right personal trainer because before you know it you may find you are 6 months deep into a programme and not enjoying the experience. Most coaches are highly qualified in what they do and take great pride in helping their clients towards their goals, after all that is what they are getting paid for. If they are passionate about what they do for a living it will show in your day to day sessions with them and in time you will start to hit those fitness milestones. So here are some things I have noticed through my experience as a PT to look out for when choosing the right trainer for you. ARE THEY KNOWLEDGEABLE? You may have ongoing questions throughout your sessions with your trainer. These could be centred around what you are setting out to achieve. It might be exercise specific or diet specific. Your trainer should be able to answer most questions you have in regards to the programme they are taking you through. This shows that they know what they are talking about and not just taking you

through a copy and paste workout plan they found from some other trainer online, but one specifically tailored towards your needs and goals. ARE THEY PUNCTUAL/ON TIME? Most trainers take great pride in being there on time for each and every session. Yes there are times when factors out of their control can make them run a few mins late but on a whole they should be on time for pretty much every session and ready to go when you are. This shows that they take your time serious as we all lead busy lives and can’t afford to be sitting around in the gym all day because someone is always late. Do they frequently cancel sessions, or change your session times last minute to suit them without good reason? If they can’t show up on time for you then maybe it’s time you didn’t show up for them for good. DO THEY TIDY UP AFTER THEMSELVES/PUT YOUR SAFETY AND OTHERS FIRST? Now this is a biggy. How many times have you seen people in the gym just leave their weights and equipment at their ass and walk off because they know some poor soul will come behind them to tidy it away for them? Yes this happens a lot unfortunately. Its something I see all the time and seriously one of my biggest gripes! Not only does it create a messy atmosphere and frustration for others around them, but it also creates huge health and safety concerns for others in the gym. So if your PT doesn’t demonstrate good gym etiquette by tidying away their equipment every time they finish with it, then this is a classic example of a lazy trainer. And if they are lazy with something as simple as tidying away their equipment, you can be sure they will be just as lazy

when it comes to helping you in the long run. ARE THEY FOCUSED OR JUST GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS? During your sessions, does your trainer actively listen to you or keep an eye on things such as your form when performing certain exercises? If they are flicking on their phone or not in the same room (yes this does happen) whilst you’re killing yourself doing a deadlift then your best interests are definitely not a priority to them. If they aren’t consistently monitoring you as you perform each exercise with ongoing constructive advice then you are unfortunately on a one way trip to injury town. A classic sign of a disinterested trainer is one who isn’t listening or keeping an eye on your safety each and every time you set foot in the gym. DO THEY KEEP IN TOUCH WITH YOU OUTSIDE OF YOUR SESSIONS? Now I don’t mean that you need to be bessies but are they in touch outside of your session? A good trainer knows to keep tabs on clients and check in on them even when not in the gym. After all there’s a lot that goes on at home when it comes to chasing a goal, not just that allotted hour in the gym. Also, you may pick up small injuries along the way which is perfectly normal when putting your body through its paces each week, so a good trainer should be checking in with how you are feeling physically as well as emotionally when not in the gym.

a good trainer knows to shake things up a bit every once in a while to keep things fresh so you don’t become bored. Your body quickly adapts to the same routine and progress can dramatically slow down when it comes to hitting those PB’s and goals. You shouldn’t be able to predict each session exactly down to each exercise you do. A good PT will keep things as fresh as possible so you stay interested and continue to hit those goals. DO THEY OVERPRAISE? Every trainer has their own unique style of training but when every single rep performed is met with a huge cheer like you just won an Olympic gold medal then I think we can safely say that the trainer is maybe a wee bit too enthusiastic in their approach. Praise is good when appropriate; examples being when you finish a set or manage a heavier weight than the last time your tried it. If they are constantly overpraising you for the littlest things, then they might not be as genuine as you think they are. A trainer worth their salt will be honest with their feedback including constructive feedback to correct things like bad form and posture. So there you have it, these are just some tips I have for you coming from my experience as a trainer. I hope these will help you navigate your way through the pitfalls of choosing the right trainer. As always, good luck in your fitness journey and hopefully with the right guidance you will get there in no time!


Coach Anto.

Are you still doing the same routine you were doing 6 months ago? Yes there are only a number of ways you can work the same muscle groups but

insta tony_cools website





I RECENTLY MET WITH NATALIA O’HANLON SALES AND MARKETING MANAGER OF MALDRON HOTEL BELFAST CITY, WHILE GENERALLY CHIT CHATTING I LEARNED OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL WORK THE HOTEL HAS BEING DOING AND I SIMPLY HAVE TO SHARE THIS WITH YOU ALL AS IT IS COMMENDABLE AND SHOULD BE SHOUTED FROM THE ROOFTOPS, NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE ARE AWARE OF WHAT THEY HAVE ACHIEVED NATALIA FIRST OFF WHAT IS THE ETHOS BEHIND THE WORK YOU DO? The team at Maldron Hotel Belfast City are committed to reducing our carbon footprint and are always looking for ways to increase our sustainability efforts. Our Environmental Impact Team meet once a month dedicating themselves to the further improvement of green initiatives throughout the hotel. Whether it be through energy conservation or recycling and waste management we are proud to do our part to preserve the environment.

also have a herb garden which we utilise for garnishing dishes and dressing cocktails. Without being modest, tell our readers about some of the Environmental Projects your team has done recently. Well recently our Head Chef and General Manager went wild garlic foraging and made the most incredible garlic butter.

I SUPPOSE BEING RELATIVELY NEWLY OPENED HAS BEEN A HELP PUTTING THIS VISION INTO PRACTICE? Yes definitely, being one of the newest 4* hotels to open in the city we are extremely fortunate our building is highly efficient with LED lighting throughout and we have made conscious efforts to reduce single-use plastics across all departments. We have removed plastic water bottles and placed refillable toiletries into rooms. ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance) is a huge focus across our hotel and head office at Dalata Hotel Group and we have worked extremely hard to ensure staff and guests are fully aware of our inclusion and social efforts. WHAT IS THIS NEWS I HAVE BEEN HEARING ABOUT BEES ON YOUR ROOF TOP, FACT OR FICTION, TELL US MORE? It is very true and we are super proud of our Urban honey project – we have bee hives on our rooftop and will be harvesting our own in-house honey for breakfast too. We

play their part. We continue this also with guiding in-house guests on how to reduce their carbon footprint. Oh and we have adopted 2 WWF animals – a snow leopard and a polar bear and will continue to support endangered animals. HAVE YOU A CHARITY PARTNER OR ONE YOU SUPPORT ATM? Our nominated charity is Air Ambulance Northern Ireland, they do so much great work and are heavily underfunded , we consistently organise events such as a team hike up Cave Hill to raise vital funds. PRIDE SEASON IS NEARING, DO YOU DO ANYTHING AROUND PRIDE? Yes, pride is really close to me and the team, last year we celebrated by giving out free rainbow cake with each coffee. We haven't decided what we will do this year yet, all will be announced in due course.

Our Green Team took to the streets during lockdown cleaning the local area, particularly gathering rubbish from derelict buildings and we also went to Helen’s Bay beach to clean up litter and items left behind.

TELL OF US THIS COVETED AWARD YOU HAVE WON? After all our efforts we successfully attained a Gold Green Tourism award which we are extremely proud of and will continue to strive to maintain this going forward. You can read more about all their great efforts and achieved by visiting the website environment

Online our Marketing team share social posts on how to help the environment and strive to educate our audience on how to



INTRODUCING NORTHERN IRELAND’S MENTAL HEALTH CHAMPION NORTHERN IRELAND HAS ONE of the highest rates of mental ill health in the UK, and to tackle this and improve services the Department of Health launched a 10-year Mental Health Strategy that sets out the future strategic direction of mental health services in Northern Ireland. The Minister for Health, Robin Swann, also appointed a permanent Mental Health Champion as someone who would advocate for change to improve services in NI and be the voice for those with lived experience of mental ill health to inform the change needed. Who is the Mental Health Champion? Professor Siobhan O’Neill was appointed in September 2021, as Northern Ireland’s first permanent Mental Health Champion. As Professor of Mental Health Sciences at Ulster University, Siobhan is one of Northern Ireland’s leading experts in the field of mental health, known for her active and passionate involvement in suicide prevention. Siobhan has been an advocate for mental health at both public and governmental levels. With over 21 years’ research experience, her goal is to utilise research to evolve the narrative around mental ill health and inform future research and policy for the benefit of the next generation. Siobhan continues in her role as a University Professor, alongside her role as Mental Health Champion, believing that her work as an academic and scientist enables her to build upon her academic expertise and translate her research into practice, whilst remaining independent. In this role she is a Government advisor and is involved in shaping the delivery of mental health and wellbeing initiatives across Government Departments. As a mental health advocate, Siobhan is determined to act as a positive conduit between government, services, and the wider population. “Mental health needs to be a key priority for Northern Ireland as we move through this pandemic and beyond. I bring a wealth


of experience, from both an academic and personal perspective to this role. I have the opportunity to ensure that the voices of those who struggle with their mental health are heard, and that they influence policy and practice across Government departments.” What is the role of the Mental Health Champion? As Mental Health Champion, Siobhan will advise and assist in the promotion of mental health and wellbeing though all policies and services throughout the region. Professor O’Neill will advocate for mental health and be a voice for those otherwise voiceless. The role of the Mental Health Champion is to act as: • A public advocate for mental health, participating in the public debate around mental resilience, suicide, mental health, and recovery. • A consensus builder to integrate mental health and wellbeing across government. To encourage Government to think about mental wellbeing, resilience, mental health, and recovery and to help integrate wellbeing, resilience and mental health in all public policy making. • An adviser to senior stakeholders. To support research into mental health, and to provide a voice for those who otherwise would not be heard. The adviser role is supportive to drive mental health promotion and deliver substantive change to services. • A challenger of decisions and policies. To challenge decisions where mental wellbeing, suicide prevention, good mental health and recovery are not considered, and where such consideration would be beneficial. Why do we need a Mental Health Champion? We are at the start of the journey of transformational change to mental health services, with the implementation of the 10-year Mental Health Strategy. The Strategy consists of 35 actions within the Department of Health to reform mental health services here, and to further early intervention and

prevention. The strategy has three themes. The first is promoting wellbeing, resilience, and good mental health across society. The second theme is “providing the right support at the right time” and will deliver service improvements to ensure that those affected by mental illness receive the best treatments. The third theme, New Ways of Working, delivers a single Regional Mental Health Service incorporating the community and voluntary sector and structural changes to facilitate the effective and efficient delivery of mental health services. The Champion’s role is to push the 35 actions forward, challenging inconsistences and guiding those who are designing the services, ensuring that the perspectives of people with lived experience of mental illness and their carers shape service design and delivery. As Mental Health Champion, Siobhan has been meeting those affected by mental ill health and those delivering services to gain an understanding of what needs to change. She has been working with key advocacy groups and campaigners to ensure that services meet the needs of people on the ground. Now that the Mental Health Champion is in place, we have a voice for those working with, and living with, mental health issues. An individual to challenge Government, offer informed independent scrutiny, and collectively work hand in hand with the Government and other organisations to promote wellbeing. Plus, ultimately support the delivery of excellent mental health services for the population of Northern Ireland. Learn more about the role and work of your Mental Health Champion via its social media and YouTube Channels. YouTube Link: channel/UCKJJAcYQAAiRvrsj2QQaDJg Facebook page: MentalHealthChampionNI Twitter page:


Meet the Mental Health Champion for Northern Ireland #MentalHealthChampionNI

Professor Siobhan O’Neill



weddings at hilden brewery

"The wedding was a real success and everybody said the same! The team were really helpful and couldn't have done more for us! We were delighted with how everything looked and it went off so smoothly! " Orlagh McGinnity 2021

For more information about weddings at Hilden Brewery, contact Jenny at



OUR BIG DAY // CLIODHNA & LYDIA SO TELL US HOW YOU MET, WERE YOU SINGLE FOR A LONG TIME BEFORE YOU STARTED DATING ? We first met back in 2016 at a mutual friend’s Hen party. Lydia lived in Manchester at the time working as cabin crew for EasyJet. Neither of us were looking for love at the time…the rest is history. HOW LONG AFTER YOU STARTED DATING DID IT TAKE TO POP THE QUESTION, WAS IT AN IMMEDIATE YES ? C. We first started dating in 2016 and we were engaged in August 2019. We had booked a trip to America to celebrate Lydia’s 30th birthday. New York was our first stop so I thought it would be the perfect location to propose to Lydia. I designed the ring earlier that year and let my mum and sisters in on the big surprise and then just before we headed away I told Lydia’s mum and dad what I had planned. Everyone was over the moon! L. I had the same idea! I had a ring bought and hidden away for months waiting for the New York trip to come around. I also had


told my parents about the proposal and Cliodhna’s family too so they were trying to keep both of our secrets at the same time! C. When in New York we headed to Central park for a bike ride on one of the days. We had stopped to walk through a forest path when Lydia turned to me with tears in her eyes. I don’t really remember anything else except asking her if I could put on the ring, which was gorgeous! A few moments later, when we both managed to gather ourselves, Lydia went to ring her mum to tell her the good news and I knew now was the time to ask Lydia my question. I think it took us the rest of the day to get over the shock that we both had stunning rings and managed to plan it for the exact same day! Most definitely the easiest yes we’ve ever said. TELL US ABOUT YOUR BIG DAY, LOCATION, AMOUNT OF GUESTS ETC. WAS IT PLANNED PRE COVID, HAD YOU TO ALTER MANY THINGS? During lock down (the first one!) we took the opportunity at home to plan our wedding. We had researched quite a few venues on

social media and when we came across Hilden Brewery we knew it fitted the feel that we were going for. We wanted the day to be relaxed, intimate and designed to fit our style. We agreed pretty early on that no matter what happened, restriction wise, we would go ahead and get married on 26th June 2021 even if it was just with our closest family by our sides. It was a long and anxious wait to see if restrictions would allow us our guest list but our patience paid off and we were lucky that our big day went as we had hoped and imagined. Our ceremony at Hilden was planned to be just our immediate family. Karen Bell our celebrant made our ceremony so personal and intimate and when we look back it was definitely our favourite part of the whole day. The Team at Hilden were amazing at helping us ensure we were able to accommodate all 160 of our guests. We held our ceremony in their Tipi tents in the garden, had our photos taken in their beautiful grounds and then hosted all of our guests in the courtyard for a drinks reception before partying the rest of the day away in the Tipi tents.





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WHAT ABOUT THE FOOD AND DRINK? L. During the drinks reception in the courtyard we were gifted with glorious weather. Hosting our wedding in a Brewery had its perks because we were able to sample their own Belfast Blonde Ale, fresh from the keg and sip on prosecco while we had Rodney Beggs playing an acoustic set to entertain everyone. Cliodhna is an Irish Dancing teacher so we had some of the Maginn School of Irish dancing down too to entertain the crowd with a few jigs and reels. We didn’t go for the traditional 4 course wedding dinner. To fit with the Tipi/ boho style of the wedding we opted for a BBQ dinner which the guests loved. The team at Hilden helped make the whole day feel so relaxed and laid back which helped us enjoy our day even more. WITH RESTRICTIONS WERE YOU ABLE TO GO ON HONEYMOON OR ARE YOU WAITING UNTIL RESTRICTIONS FURTHER EASE? We had originally planned a Canadian/ North American trip for our honeymoon but Covid got in the way of that first plan. We then had our hopes set on Greece and were just hoping that travel restrictions would ease and we could bathe in sunshine there. That didn’t go to plan, so plan C was to find somewhere with sun, a beach and good food and where we could go without quarantining when we got back so Majorca became our honeymoon destination. It was amazing to get away and relax for a 10 days after a hectic few weeks getting ready for the wedding. IN YOUR DAY TO DAY LIVES ARE YOU INTO THE SAME THINGS? WHAT INTERESTS DO YOU HAVE THAT ARE DIFFERENT ? L. I work for EasyJet as cabin crew and Cliodhna works as a secondary school teacher teaching Maths so our careers are very different. We both love nothing more than heading out to a good restaurant for nice food and some wine, but equally enjoy a cosy night in with a takeaway. We both like getting out walking with our Poochon son Ollie. We’ve recently both joined our local Netball team, the first time taking part in the same sport together and we’re loving it. We moved away from our local areas to Glenavy so it’s been great to get involved in the community and meet new friends through sport.



DO YOU DO EVERYTHING TOGETHER OR DO YOU LIKE TO KEEP INDEPENDENT? C. We love our independence and we think that’s important to have in a relationship. I always think we’re very lucky in that we both enjoy doing things together like shopping, going out on nights out together and now with us both playing netball we can train together too. HAVE YOU A FAMILY, IS THIS SOMETHING ON THE PLAN FOR YOU? Our first born son is our dog Ollie who rules the roost! We would love to have a family someday and that’s something, we as a same sex couple, are exploring. It’s a complicated journey to weave your way through here in NI! TELL US WHO MADE YOUR DAY POSSIBLE IN TERMS OF RINGS, FLOWERS, PHOTOGRAPHER, CARS ETC We feel we assembled the A Team when it came to making our big day happen. Our journey started in Jill Jones Bridal where we both went individually and found our dresses. Jill was amazing at helping us find our dream boho dresses and it was great to have a set of eyes to see both dresses when we were wanting to keep it as a surprise from one and other.

Sarah at Myrtle and Thorn really made our boho wedding dreams come true with her flowers. We both showed Sarah pictures of our dresses described the theme we were hoping for and then let her have total creative freedom with the flowers. It’s the one thing guests kept commenting on in the days after the wedding. They were gorgeous. Our bouquets, button hole flowers for our dads and brothers, the table centres and hanging floral piece at the bridal table made us feel like we were in boho heaven. Colours everywhere! Our beautiful cake was from JMK Cakes, Jo was so lovely, we couldn’t have been happier with both how it looked and tasted. We Are Soulful and the team at Video Me Productions captured every moment of our day in beautiful fashion. We were both nervous about being photographed in what we thought would be a very formal way but when we met Tony from We Are Soulful for a shoot a few weeks before the wedding we knew we were in good hands. He made us feel so comfortable and on the actual day we had such a laugh getting all the photos captured in such a natural way. Our wedding rings were from Murray & Co and were actually picked over FaceTime so

thankfully we had great people there helping us through that process. As we mentioned before Karen was our celebrant who really made our day as special as it was. We wanted it to be about the love the both of us share for each other and the commitment we were making and she scripted the most beautiful ceremony that was so personal and special to our families. Karen took the time to get to know us, find out all about us as a couple and involved our families on what was the best day of our lives. We can’t thank her enough.

We feel so fortunate to have been to have our day just as we planned it after what was a rocky few Covid years and to be able to have spent it with our family and friends made it a day we will never forget. Our parents, our brothers and sisters have been there, supporting us always and helped make our wedding day so very special. We are also thankful that we were able to call it a wedding and that the laws in NI surrounding same sex marriage gave us the same opportunity to show our love just like everyone else.




BetMinded. In the first quarter of 2021, romance

experience to Fluttr, having delivered fundraising

UK’s first ever online dating app to require the

fraud cost UK dating app users more than £73.9m

and business growth initiatives for organisations

use of full biometric ID verification technology to

according to consumer association Which?. Action

such as networking group, The Chemistry Club,

improve user safety and security, launches today

Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud

female finance campaign group WealthiHer and

offering a secure platform where people can safely

and cybercrime, recorded a 40% rise in dating app

business consultancy The Maven Group.

find love and make new authentic connections.

scams in the same period as increased numbers

Fluttr has been designed as a new kind of dating

of people migrated to online platforms to meet

Rhonda Alexander, Chief Executive Officer and

app and online experience that puts real people,

people during the pandemic.

Co-Founder, Fluttr, said: “While online dating is now

whose identities have been verified, at the heart

the most popular way to meet people, fake profiles,

of the app to prevent commonly seen abuses

Creating a safe ecosystem is Fluttr’s top priority and

romance fraud and instances of abuse are taking

in the online dating and social landscape where

in addition to the work verifying new members, the

away the fun and thrill of online dating. We’re on a

anonymity and a lack of security allow multiple

app also has a team of content moderators tasked

mission to transform online dating and reclaim its

false identities, catfishing, and romance fraud to

with maintaining the safety of the platform by taking

excitement by retaining its fun and engaging parts

proliferate. Fluttr is a subscription only model and

down explicit images and removing users engaging

while working to make it safer by using biometric

does not allow advertisement nor does it sell its

in abusive behaviour. Next month Fluttr will launch

ID verification technology that ensures users don’t

users’ personal data.

its artificial intelligence content monitoring feature

have to worry about matching with a fake profile.

that detects inappropriate images and language Fluttr launches amid growing awareness of the

before they leave the sender’s phone, preventing

“As well as protecting users from fake profiles, Fluttr

importance of online safety in the UK as the

inappropriate content from ever reaching Fluttr’s

uses AI-powered content monitoring software to

Government moves to strengthen laws to stamp


prevent unsolicited pictures and abusive language

out content or activities that harm individual users

from ever reaching our users’ phones, and fun

online, with sending “threatening and knowingly

The Fluttr app’s secure and verified environment

in-app games to help people connect without using

false” messages becoming a criminal offence.

empowers Fluttrers to find real connections with

inaccurate matching algorithms. We look forward

The online dating sector is currently rife with the

genuine people in the Fluttr app where it is ‘safe

to seeing Fluttr help people across Britain find love

potential for abuse as highlighted in this month’s

enough to take the risk’, Fluttrers can connect and

by making online dating a safer and more engaging

acclaimed Netflix documentary “The Tinder

game together. Fluttr will launch with the Mystery

experience for everyone.”

Swindler”, which tells the story of a man who

Fluttr game, inspired by the popular TV show ‘Blind

scammed women for millions after matching with

Date’. Mystery Fluttr will allow users to play both

Robin Tombs, Co-Founder and Chief Executive

them online.

the roles of the contestant and the potential match

Officer, Yoti, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering

in a fun interactive feature, with Fluttr planning to

with Fluttr to help people across the world create

release new games every 6-8 weeks.

new relationships safely. Using our biometric

To combat this growing problem, Fluttr is pioneering the use of biometric ID technology to

ID verification technology, we’re helping Fluttr

verify every new member from the outset. Ahead of

Fluttr was created out of a vision to transform

protect users from fake profiles by ensuring every

being admitted into the Fluttr ecosystem to browse

the landscape of social media and give people a

person is who they say they are. We look forward

or engage with other Fluttrers, every new member

positive experience, as well as the safety and control

to continuing working with Fluttr as they raise

must verify their ID with Fluttr’s digital ID verification

they deserve. Fluttr is designed to combat the

the security standards across the online dating

partner Yoti, a global leader in digital ID services

malignant behaviours proliferating on the internet.


NUS and many leading UK retailers. Yoti’s state-of-

Fluttr can be downloaded through the App Store

Fluttr is the UK’s first online dating app to use full

the-art technology ensures all Fluttrers are providing

or Google Play store. As an initial launch offer, all

biometric ID verification technology to create a

their correct details which are verified from their

new users registering in February will be given a

space where people can safely find love and make

government-issued ID documents.

three-month free trial as well as the opportunity to

new connections by ensuring every user is who they

enter a prize draw for a case of champagne and a

say they are. As well as creating a safe online dating

The final identification of every user is verified so

dinner for two at the restaurant of their choice or a

platform, Fluttr is transforming the online dating

that users can be reassured that the individuals they

£1,000 shopping voucher to revamp their wardrobe

landscape by offering interactive in-app games to

are meeting on Fluttr are truly who they say they are,

or purchase the perfect date night outfit.

help users connect and develop their relationships.

abuse or by companies luring customers into false

Fluttr’s product and brand design team includes

Fluttr was developed to positively change the

interactions for fees, while seeking to populate their

creatives behind award-winning campaigns for

landscape of social media for good by ensuring

apps for commercial marketing purposes.

Universal Music, Queen, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent,

users are in a safe, trusted space. The Fluttr dating

Alexander McQueen and Selfridges.

app’s mission is to deliver a next-generation social

whose clients include the NHS, the Post Office, the

avoiding fake profiles created by people to commit

The growing popularity of online dating apps in

application that places user security, wellbeing

the UK has led to a sharp rise in romance fraud,

Fluttr’s experienced management team includes the

and fun at the heart of everything they do. www.

with at least one in five people having been the

company’s Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder,

victim of catfishing according to a 2021 survey by

Rhonda Alexander. Rhonda brings over 20 years of



DAN’S WEE COTTAGE WELCOME TO DAN’S WEE COTTAGE and we hope that you enjoy your stay with us as much as we have truly enjoyed creating our dream in restoring Dan’s to what you are about to stay in and become part of our story. ​ an was the last of the D Hughes family who resided here from 1948 until 2004 and we have tried to be sympathetic to his home whilst creating a modern yet traditional feel to the cottage. The family moved here from the top of Cratlieve Mountain that you can see from our large window looking up to the right and


lived here as a family with Dan remaining a bachelor all his life only married to the land that is situated to the rear of the cottage, which your host Francis still farms today. ​ our hosts are Lorraine and Y Francis Rice. Francis has grown up and been here all his life and Lorraine and he have been lucky enough to live here from September 2003 along with their three daughters Orláigh, Shannon and Líle-Róis in the shadows of the scenic and hypnotic setting of Slieve Croob which can be seen from the kitchen window in all its splendour.

Dan’s Wee Cottage is situated in the foothills of Slieve Croob, approximately 3 miles from the village of Dromara. The property is 17.4 miles from Newry and free private parking is featured. ​ his holiday home has 2 T bedrooms, a snug with wood burning stove, flat-screen TV and a kitchen/lounge, dining area and free wifi. ​ here is an outdoor wood T burning hot tub in the garden with a barbecue and fire pit at the cottage and guests can go hiking nearby.

Belfast is 17.4 miles from the holiday home, while Carlingford is 22.4 miles away. The nearest airport is George Best Belfast City Airport, 19.3 miles from Dan’s Wee Cottage - Dromara.

52 Carrigagh Rd Dromore BT25 2DD 07769691978 bookings4dansweecottage@ DansweecottageDromara


WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR BEFORE BUYING YOUR NEW HOME BUYING A NEW HOME IS a big step in anyone’s life, especially if it’s your first home. It might be tempting to be drawn in by the most appealing aspects of a new space; the lights, the furniture, and the new kitchen can be overwhelming when you enter a new space. Very easily, we might think about interior design before considering the fundamentals of our new property. While you’re swept up in the romance of your new home, failing to check on the maintenance of the place can leave you with some costly and lengthy repair processes in the future. If you’ve already invested in a new property, it’s worth double checking your home to make sure that everything is up to scratch. Here, Karl Tulloch from Rightio reveals some of the most important things to check for in your potential new home so you can make your purchase with confidence. Roof repairs Looking at a house, we’re often most commonly concerned with the floorplan. The wrong layout can be a dealbreaker and making sure that a home has enough space for you and your possessions is very important. What is easy to forget about, however, is what lies above our heads. Despite this, it’s worth making the extra effort to have a look at your roof. In the long run, it’s a lot cheaper to ensure that your roof

is properly maintained instead of neglecting it. Forgetting about your roof will mean that the whole thing needs to be replaced, a process that costs between £5,000 and £7,000 in the UK. That’s not to mention the discomfort that a poorly maintained roof can cause for you. Ceiling stains are a sign that it’s time to take action; If your roof is leaking, mould can thrive in damp environments. Insulating your home properly will also be difficult. Cold air can find its way through gaps in your roof and warm air will escape much more easily. Roof maintenance is vital to the integrity of the whole home, but harsh weather can take its toll. It can be easy to forget about your roof since you probably spend a lot more time inside your home than you do checking over the exterior. Before making your purchase, ask to see the attic to investigate for any problems. Heating problems Central heating is incredibly important for every home. We all want to be able to get comfortable and cosy in our home, so it’s important to make sure that your new property is set to accommodate for that. Making sure that you have the right insulation is key. You should make sure that the roof and walls have been correctly insulated before making the big purchase. The best way to do this is to tour the space and see if you can feel any draughts anywhere. If you’re checking the loft, you could even measure the thickness of the

insulation that has been used. If you find any draughty spots, you can use sealants to fill gaps and cracks along windows and brush strips around doors. Your heating system needs stable foundations, though, and checking insulation won’t help much if there is a problem with the heart of your heating – the boiler. This is so crucial in homes that, between 2017 and 2020, the third most popular upgrade to homes was a new boiler. Buying a new home, you want to know that your boiler is working efficiently, but you might not want to splash out on an entirely new boiler. To solve this, making sure that your boiler has a boiler service certificate will show that your heating system is working at maximum efficiency. Damp Damp can be a really difficult problem to remove, so it’s important to know how to prevent it in your home. If you’re looking to buy, then it’s vital to know what signs to lookout for when you’re viewing a property. When you’re looking at a house, the most obvious sign of damp and mould is discoloured patches on the walls and ceiling – be careful, though, since these might be hidden in hard-to-spot places behind mirrors or furniture. Pay particular attention towards windows, too, since frames covered with peeling paint will reveal present damp. Now you know what the signs are, it’s best to know how to prevent

damp. Poor ventilation causes damp air to linger in the home; the longer this air is in your home, the more susceptible to damp your home will be. Air out your home and ensure that air can circulate freely through your rooms. People create damp air, but is also caused by external factors, so check your home’s exterior. Any blocked pipes or guttering will create a place for mould to thrive in your home that will only spread throughout your walls, so make sure everything is cleared. Putting on the heating might seem like a straightforward way to prevent damp since heat will fight the cold. However, your pipes can become prime targets for condensation if left unlagged, which can seep into the walls. Coating pipes with foam or other suitable insulation will make sure that no matter how much you use the heating, your home will be dampproof. Buying a new home can seem daunting but there are a few things that are important to remember as you undertake your pursuit of property. We hope these tips well help you better understand exactly what you should be looking for in a good home, and how to tackle these problems before they become too expensive. Sources statistics/1242221/most-popularhome-upgrades-uk/ boilers/boiler-certificate/



SPORTING PRIDE IRELAND // MARTIN MURRAY LGBTQ+ SPORTS IN IRELAND. 2022 kicked of a return to live sporting events across the U.K. and Ireland bringing in great representation for LGBTQ Athletes here in NI. Belfast Azlans hosted the Cork Hellhounds on Saturday 29th January in Jordanstown and despite the freezing cold weather and heavy winds, the Hellhounds walked away with a 41 -27 Victory. Tries were scored by John Flynn, Aaron Kelly, Reno Malidis, John “JJ” O’Hea, and Nikolai Vasilev. Conversions by Conor O’Brien and FrankieDean O’Sullivan. What was most exciting was the support from family and friends of all ages coming out in the weather to support the growing LGBT sports scene and receiving messages from those who couldn’t make it wanting details of what was happening.

the last year with Na Gaeil Aeracha already having one of the highest followings out of the National LGBTQ teams and it’s great to see that they now have their officially registered mens team and womens team while keeping the social side open to welcome new members who are interested in developing their skills. Something that was highlights in the three open trainings they had over January and February with people travelling from all over to take part and enjoy

Sporting Pride Ireland has a range of events planned including talks on how to set up your own club and open days for recruitment where members of different teams and sports can network and help each other. The next major event will be Eurogames 2022 held in Nijmegen this year July 27th to 30th. EuroGames Nijmegen 2022 will be an inclusive sporting event with about 19 different sports and about 2.000 participants of all levels travelling from across the globe

the atmosphere of a safe space.

so check out the website now and get yourself to The Netherlands this July for a week of diverse and inclusive competitive sports.

Just a week later I was jetting off to London to meet Na Gaeil Aeracha GAA for the mens team first match against Eire Og Oxford. The friendly match took place in Oxford on Saturday 5th February with an Eire Og Oxford victory unsurprisingly did to their seniority as a team. Both teams showed a lot of respect and support to each other and after we’re able to sit down and watch Ireland in their Six Nations victory against Wales. That evening the team headed out to G-A-Y and Heaven to celebrate their first game and bond as a team. 22 gay Irish men going to London to play a GAA match against an Oxford team would have been a pipe dream just two years ago but they did it and came back a stronger team for it leading to their first competitive match on February 13th in Dublin against Ballymun Kickhams. The team posted a wonderful welcome to Na Gaeil Aeracha on their website after the game which read “ Our junior B team played a home league game on Sunday against a newly formed club who played their first competitive fixture ever. Welcome to the club scene, Rainbow Gaels! A brilliant venture to open up the club scene to the LGBTQ community and a club that we hope to see thrive and grow! Maith sibh!” The team support has greatly grown over


In final news, Sporting Pride Ireland has reached out to teams across the island looking collaboration ideas on how we can work with the teams and support their growth and we have also released a visual map of the island listing each of the LGBTQ Sports teams available to join. We hope to see more teams starting so if you know of any please reach out and let’s continue to build on this rapidly growing LGBTQ sporting community.

On a local level you can catch the All Ireland Pole Dance Championships April 23rd at Europa Hotel which will also be live-streamed to Boombox Belfast. Boombox is currently showing the six nations game every weekend on the big screen



Safe and welcoming spaces for LGBTQ+ community members, their friends and allies Mayo









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fun and comfortable to drive. It’s

be a bit tight for some and the


ultra-quiet, economical and has zero

boot isn’t massive for 4 adults’



luggage. There is a handy storage


area for the two charging cables Exterior :- This car looks sharp in


the Celestial blue, with its crisp lines and 18 inch alloys.

Lexus Link – App Lexus also had an app that can

Interior :- The seats in this model

be download so that you can

are a rich cream leather, with

stay in connection with your car

multiple adjustment including

remotely. It offers a number of

lumbar support and with heating

remote functions including a

and cooling options. There are

defrosting option which can be

many automatic features, such as

preset so that on a frosty morning

the lights and windscreen wipers,

you won’t need the de-icer: just

which make the car a pleasure to

jump in and drive. There





is a


a very comfortable vehicle with some good acceleration when required. You’ll get less than 200 miles from a full charge so plan you journey for charging points. Safety :Every model comes with Lexus’ Safety System Plus package, which includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, automatic high beam, road sign detection, front and rear parking sensors, and a rear-view camera which helps negate the restricted rear visibility. The Takumi pack also gives blind spot monitoring (BSM) with rear cross-traffic alert sensors to warn you of obstacles crossing your path as you reverse. The 360 degree panoramic


view monitor is really cool. It’s


Charging :The car has 2 charging options; a Type 2 socket


that will allow you to

tracker to help you

plug into your home car

find the car if you

charger, where you’ll get

have forgotten where

a full battery charge in

you parked it, and the

under 9 hours, and a

app can also help you

CHAdeMO socket for

plan your journey.

DC rapid charging. The rapid charging tops up

Performance :-

at 50kW, which results

It’s fast, quiet,

in an 80% charge in

economical, and feels

around 50 minutes.

stable on the road. Cost :- you pay The Lexus UX300e

upwards of £41,000

has a 54.3kWh battery

depending on the

and an electric motor


that powers the front wheels. It does 0-62mph

This car was

in 7.5 seconds. There

borrowed from Lexus

are several drive modes

Belfast, Boucher

to choose from of which


“Sport” provides the best

📞 028 9038 3600







WARNING THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS Let’s discuss, vent, debate and celebrate the great television shows and films above, shall we? First off Yellowjackets WOW. If you haven’t watched this amazing show yet, then why not? It’s fantastic! It’s kind of lord of the flies meets Mean Girls meets lost meets Desperate Housewives. It’s over the top,

scary, funny, dramatic yet a bit uneasy to watch in a good way. Yellowjackets follows a group of women who when they were in high school crashed their plane into the Canadian wilderness. The story is told in the present day in flashback form. We know from the very first scene that the girls have had to resort to cannibalism to survive. Yellowjackets



Lynskey and Sophie Nelisse as Adult and Teen Shauna. When we first see Lynskey on screen she is masturbating to a picture of her daughter’s boyfriend, so we know then this Woman has got some issues. Tawny Cypress and Screams Jasmin Savoy Brown brings the LGBQT+ representation in the no nonsense character Tassia. Ella Purnell appears as Jackie; little miss perfect and the most popular girl in school, but we can assume from early on Jackie does not survive the 19 months the girls have been stranded out in the wilderness as there is no adult playing a grown up version of Jackie though had there of been Sarah Michelle Gellar would be perfect in the role. That said we do know that there are other survivors we just have not seen the adult versions of them yet including fan favourite Van played by non-binary actor Liv Hewson who of all the girls goes through the most hell from surviving an explosion in the plane that literally just crash landed, gets attacked by wolves and set on fire by her teammates and girlfriend yet Hewson plays her so likable and funny.


Rounding out the cast is the amazing Juliette Lewis, she is fabulous in Everything she does, she plays the older Natalie while Sophie Thatcher portrays the teen version and in my opinion is the most likable and relatable character even though she is an addict and in rehab she just seems the most humane character. Casting suggestions lead to Drew Barrymore being cast as the adult Van and this would be cool as the two of them played mother and daughter in Drews Netflix hit show the Santa Clarissa diet. Another girl who we learn has survived is Lottie who happens to be bi polar, she keeps this from her team and has only a small amount of medication left, the season final has set up Lottie to become next season’s big bad guy and if I was the casting director for this show and I think I should be lol, id offer the role to Lela Loren who played Angela in Power, not only is she actress Courtney Eaton’s doppelganger Lena is a fantastic actress, I really loved her in Power and would love to see her come back to TV .

Last but centrally not least is Christina Ricci and Sammi Hanarty who play the adult and teen versions of the scene stealing antihero Misty, think Misery’s Annie Wicks meets bunny boiler Alex Forest from Fatal Attraction meets a hint of baby Jane Hudson and there is also some Allen from the hangover in her as well as she means well but her loyalty is toxic and intense . I’m totally dressing as her for Halloween this year. I predict Emmy’s and golden globes wins and nominations across the board and the creators have a 5 season planned so hopefully this great show will be around for a while to come.


Moving on from yellowjackets is SCREAM, actress Jasmin Savoy brown appears in the new Scream 2022, she plays Mindy the Niece of the Late Randy Meeks who was the movie buff and survived the massacre in the first Scream but met his maker in Scream 2. Mindy is to be expected to pop up in scream 6 but I also think she will have a similar fate to her uncle along with her twin Chad Meeks who also survived the latest scream movie, although I don’t think they’ll have the same luck in the recently announced sequel, in fact I don’t think any of the survivors except Tara (Jenna Ortega) Gail Weathers (Cortney Cox) and of course Sidney Prescot the franchise queen (Neve Campbell) should survive the next installment the reason being Screams new leading lady Melissa Barrera and although she’s super pretty and likable she just doesn’t have what it takes to carry the franchise, she’s nowhere near as iconic as Neve Campbell and although Neve didn’t have much Scream time (did you see what I did there) in this “requeal” she still stole the show whenever she was on screen and I hope she has more to do in the next one.

What I really want and I think I speak for the whole planet is that scream 6 must bring back fan favourite Kirby Reed aka Hayden Panettiere and make her the “final girl” or the killer, just give her something she can really sink her teeth into she certainly has the charisma and acting chops to lead the franchise, in fact she could pick her nose for 90 minutes wipe it on a a wall and i’d think it was brilliant. Hopefully casting news for Scream 6 will come soon and I can say I told you so. Scream 2022 wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t the worst in the franchise it was funny and enjoyable had some new shocking kills and for me Amber (Better Things) Mikey Maddison as one the killers has been the best killer from Laurie Metcalf’s portrayal

Billy Loomis’s mother Mrs Loomis in scream 2 closely followed by Emma Roberts being revealed as the killer in scream 4. Girls make for better killers in movies. Roll on Scream 6 and Hayden Panettiere’s well overdue comeback. I’m aware I wrote a piece on “And Just Like That” in a prior issue, that was more of a love letter to Sarah Jessica Parker. Now that all the episodes have aired, I’d like to share my thoughts. I loved it. Take it for what it is, Escapism! and although it wasn’t a critical hit it had got an audience, one of the biggest for HBO max so a second season will be very likely. I’ll be disappointed and angry if there isn’t.

Yes, it tried too hard to be diverse and “WOKE” but at least it tried. Yes, Kim Cattrall’s Samantha Jones was greatly missed. Yes, Sara Ramirez was a bit of a disappointment, I was expecting great things from them as they were one of my favourites in Grey’s Anatomy, I really hope they come back in it for a few episodes. As Callie Torrez. Cynthia Nixon, Kristen Davis and Sarah Jessica Parker brought us light, laughter, some tears and a lot of ACKS over winter and as a die-hard fan i’ll not le anyone say bad word against this cute little sequel series. Capishe?



GADGETS // SONY The SRS-XB13 EXTRA BASS™ Portable Wireless Speaker, with a waterproof and dustproof exterior, is ideal for anyone who wants to take their tunes with them on a date. Available in a range of colours including coral, yellow, and powder blue, the speaker is a fun and affordable gift for any music lover. (RRP: £44 / €59)

Document all those special moments throughout the year with the ZV-E10 interchangeable-lens camera. Built with vlogging in mind, the ZV-E10 is the perfect choice for anyone looking to capture their experiences and make them last a lifetime. (RRP: £680 / €750)

The clear handsfree calling setting on the WF-C500 headphones makes those long phone calls with your loved one all the more enjoyable. The IPX4 rating boasting a splashproof exterior means you won’t even need to cut your conversation short if you get caught in the rain. (RRP: £69 / €99)


Have your couple playlist ready to listen to on the WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones, and relive all the best times you’ve had. The over-ear headphones boast a truly wireless design with BLUETOOTH® wireless technology and a ‘speak to chat’ function which allows music to automatically pause when you start a conversation. (RRP: £350 / €389)





I’D BE FIBBING IF I said I didn’t enjoy perks of the job such as a food review, with Christmas, Covid, playing catch up etc this review which took us to the James St South was my first foody outing of the year and it blew all preconceptions out of the water, it was utterly divine, let me fill you in. Friday 18th Feb typical evening bar the not so joyous storms causing havoc, we ventured out as planned for our 7pm booking. On arrival we were escorted to the bar to enjoy a drink and look at the menu while our table was being prepared. I really enjoyed getting to chill at the bar for a few minutes and have a chat while watching the bartenders create beautiful cocktails.

Belly and a cauliflower & apple sauce, this was so moorish. Bravo. Debbie’s Squid was another triumph , I of course had to pinch a bit for journalistic purposes lol, they were so crispy, again I cannot fault the cooking, I would go as far to say best Squid i’ve had, the batter was so light which made for a perfect start to any meal. To our surprise the chef also sent our 2 other starters for us to try and I’m super glad they did, they were a Pulled Duck terrine and Beef Carpaccio, in honesty I tend to shy away from Carpaccio the thought of meat barely cooked scares me though in this instance I

I usually request a window or corner seat so I can get a feel for the surroundings and see everyone, in this instance I forgot though someone must have been physic as our table was in the perfect potion , tick 2 lol. Before jumping into the menu those not familiar with the decor I would describe it as unassuming, rustic with modern touches - The atmosphere was more of a bar setting rather than a fine dining restaurant which I adore, you can Executive Chef: Ryan Stringer with owner Niall McKenna speak freely without with worry of others hearing your conversation, the place was verging on had nothing to fear, I ate the majority of it, it packed which again I loved, was so great to was smokey and salty served with watermelon see and experience after all the covid dramas. which cut through everything. The Duck dish didn’t last either, we were fighting over it, On to grub, seeing the Menu ticked another again so delicious and annoyingly I can’t fault box, one A4 page with food and a second a thing. page for the wine, this screams confidence in the kitchen, chef’s who focus on quality not When I return I am going to find it hard to quantity, around 6 dishes to choose from for choose 1 starter having now tried 4 lol. each course, which included dietary options and sharing dishes. For the main, on recommendation we ordered the Chateaubriand, this is a sharing While giving the menu one final examination steak dish, around 600 grams more than we ordered the house bread basket, 4 mini enough for 2 people. In the past I have had a loafs, 2 portions of Champ Bread and 2 sharing Tomahawk cut but I was keen to try the Guinness Wheaten served with Abernethy Chateaubriand, this cut is more like fillet with Butter, they were delicious. I had to stop virtually zero fat. myself from devouring the lot. I am salivating while typing but must say this To start I was really torn though I decided to steak was by far the star of the show, cooked order the Scallops and my guest decided to exquisitely as we requested (medium) . The try the Crispy Squid. They were really fresh and coal oven gave the meat edges the perfect cooked perfectly, to accompany was Irish Pork colouring and added BBQ like flavour and in

the centre it was so vibrant , it fell apart. The steak alone would bring me back any day, I have honestly never tasted anything like it. Debbie’s dog’s also got in on the action, a few small pieces were left over, we asked for these to be boxed up, I wasn’t surprised to hear they loved it. This came with 2 portions of chips and choice of sauce though again the chef went over and above and prepared mushrooms and roast veg, both impeccable. Now onto the piesta de resistance the dessert, i’m a sucker for a pudding, when I see anything sticky toffee related that is me decided lol, so was in heaven when on the menu I seen a Sticky Toffee & Butterscotch Sundae, this was a great twist from the norm, I loved how the elements were deconstructed and layered, I shouldn’t have ordered a dessert in hindsight after the belly full though it was calling to me. It was delectable with the perfect mix of cake, icecream, cream and umptious butterscotch sauce which I could have drunk a gallon of, but my waist may not have liked that though lol. Bellies bursting we relaxed for a while sipping over a glass of wine, chatting and enjoying the atmosphere before waddling out the door to brave the weather. In all we had such a wonderful time, complaints to the chef, they really out done themselves. Thanks also to Management on the evening, the very attentive servers and to owner Joanne for the invitations Average cost for 3 course comes in around £40pp I cannot recommend James St enough. To book or see their various menu’s visit





Palm Springs and its neighboring town, Cathedral City, with consistently brilliant sunshine, offer visitors a little bit of everything year-round. This world-famous town in the Southern California desert is a mid-century haven. The atmosphere is very laid back, and the lifestyle much more relaxed than Los Angeles, about two hours away.

sand dunes for films about the Arabian desert.

The town’s LGBTQ population is now estimated at more than 51 percent, the highest per capita gay population in the US, if not the world. Even during Donald Trump’s homophobic administration, the desert getaway achieved a measure of fame in 2018 when voters elected the nation’s first city council consisting entirely of members of the LGBTQ community.

Year-round, significant events and attractions make Palm Springs and Cathedral City ideal to visit in all four seasons. Here are a few highlights if you consider the desert for your next vacation.

Some of the most famous queer celebs that lived or played in Palm Springs are Rudolph Valentino, Liberace, Dinah Shore (Leonardo DiCaprio bought Dinah Shore’s house in 2014), Tab Hunter, Rock Hudson, and Lance Bass, to current resident Barry Manilow and Bob Mackie. Palm Springs’ genesis and prominence can be attributed to Hollywood. In the 1910s, studios discovered the wonders of location shooting in Palm Springs with vacant land, mountains, and boulders for westerns and


With the emergence of the studio system when stars were not allowed to be any farther from Los Angeles than within a two-hour drive, in case the studios needed them, movie stars made Palm Springs their weekend retreat of choice.

The Movie Colony There is now a neighborhood that celebrates Palm Springs’ famous residents. The Movie Colony (TMC) is a neighborhood named after the many famous movie stars who owned homes between the 1930s & 1960s. Some famous movie stars who had a house in TMC are Cary Grant, Dinah Shore, Jack Benny, Marilyn Monroe, and Al Jolson. TMC is located in central Palm Springs, within walking distance to the downtown, and is comprised of approximately 170 homes. Modernism Week Modernism Week is a ten-day annual

celebration of mid-century modern design, architecture, art, fashion, and culture. Modernism Week features more than 350 events, including the modernism show & sale, signature home tours, films, lectures, premier double-decker architectural bus tours, nightly parties, and live music, walking and bike tours, fashion, classic cars, modern garden tours, a vintage travel trailer exhibition, and more. White Party White Party Palm Springs is the largest gay circuit party in the United States and typically attracts more than 30,000 attendees during the Coachella Valley’s spring season. Traditionally, the party takes place over

TRAVEL // PALM SPRINGS three days, with a series of pool and dance parties from Friday to Sunday. The weekend usually kicks off with a theme party on Friday night. On Saturday, guests are encouraged to dress in white for the main event. White Party also features internationally renowned DJs and music artists. Ariana Grande, Jennifer Lopez, and Lady Gaga performed in recent years. Cinema Diverse Cinema Diverse, a Palm Springs Cultural Center program, is dedicated to advancing and further strengthening our diverse gay community through the establishment of a world-class film festival that presents lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Cinema from around the world. It features an exciting and varied combination of Feature Films & Short Films from around the globe celebrating LGBTQ+ Cinema.

optional gay men’s resort in the world. Located just a few minutes from downtown Palm Springs, this 3.5-acre fantasy playground is described by its owner, Richard Altman, as ‘gay men’s Disneyland.’ CCBC is on a cul-de-sac, and Richard owns it, so in 2012, he had the city change the name of the street to ‘Gay Resort Drive.’ CCBC is a vast and expansive hideaway with beautifully landscaped paths and secluded coves, several swimming pools, Jacuzzis, a

vacation spot for outdoor enthusiasts, whether you’re into adventurous activities like rock climbing or milder pastimes like nature walks and guided hikes. No matter how you prefer to enjoy the outdoors, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to get outside in Palm Springs. You can go hot air ballooning, take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, or visit one of the many casinos.

Greater Palm Springs Pride The annual Greater Palm Springs Pride takes place on the first weekend in November, beginning the desert’s high season and attracting about 100,000 participants. It includes a parade, festival, and vendor marketplace. Palm Springs Pride produced its first pride festival to celebrate the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion on New York City’s Christopher Street. The Dinah The Dinah is the largest all-girl music annual festival globally and recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. Known for its diverse, eclectic, and multi-genre line-ups, the weekend festival is the longest-running LGBTQ+ womxn party that brings a massive line-up of pop, R&B, and Hip-Hop music’s very best to Palm Springs. The event has evolved from a small, one-night event at a Palm Springs Museum with 1,500 participants thirty years ago to booking luxury locations at deluxe hotels with some 15,000-plus attendees (LGBTQ+ women, non-binary & trans attendees, and straight allies). LGBTQ Veterans Memorial Cathedral City has the first LGBTQ Veterans Memorial in the US. In April 2019, the Desert Memorial Park cemetery in Cathedral City was designated as an official state memorial. The Memorial was first dedicated at Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City on May 27, 2001. A small cemetery obelisk -- with an American eagle, pink triangle, and explanatory plaque -- was dedicated to Memorial Day 2001. Cathedral City LGBTQ Days Cathedral City LGBTQ Days occurs during the last weekend in March and opens California’s Pride Season. The event brings together celebrities, artists, media, and community leaders for a festive weekend of entertainment, pool parties, concerts, dances, a picnic, exhibitions, music, and other scheduled events. CCBC CCBC Resort, which stands for Cathedral City Boys Club, is the largest clothing-

grotto, a dry sauna, and a friendly staff who manage the hotel with military precision. CCBC has an equally fantastic restaurant called ‘Runway.’ Located directly outside the resort, Runway features American casual dining, a full bar, nightly and weekend shows, and events.

Bio: Vic Gerami Vic Gerami is an award-winning journalist and the editor + publisher of The Blunt Post. Gerami is also the host and co-producer of the national headline news + politics program, THE BLUNT POST with VIC on KPFK 90.7 FM (Pacifica Network).

Gay Hotels No other resort can offer you the ultimate Palm Springs experience other than CCBC. However, there are over thirty other gay hotels and resorts in Palm Springs and Cathedral City to choose from. Some of them are clothing optional, while others are not. Seventeen of the hotels are in an enclave called ‘Warm Wands,’ all next to each other. There are all kinds of hotels to satisfy anyone’s needs, tastes, and sensibilities.

The Wall Street Journal featured Gerami as a “leading gay activist” in its landmark 2008 coverage of opposition to Proposition 8, the ballot measure that for years denied same-sex couples in California the freedom to marry. In addition to his years of volunteer work as a leading advocate for marriage equality, Gerami served as a Planning Committee member for the historic Resist March in 2017.

Desert Daily Guide If you want to know what is happening in the desert daily and it’s the type of information that is not found online, then pick up a copy of the Desert Daily Guide, the greater Palm Springs’ premiere LGBTQ publication since 1984.

In 2015, Gerami was referenced in the landmark Supreme Court civil rights case, Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the Court held in a 5–4 decision that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process and the Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

But poolside fun, nightlife, parties, and shopping are only a few activities popular with visitors. The desert is also a perfect



BEAUTY & HOLISTIC THERAPY BY AGNYTE FOR YEARS I HAVE RAN events in The Crowne Plaza, attended meetings, went for food and stayed over though I never have ventured further in terms of other things they offer, they have a swimming pool, gym and treatment rooms which brought me on this occasion Beauty and Holistic Therapy ran by Agnyte is such quaint set up , complete with two rooms, the first where massages, treatments etc are done and the 2nd is a relaxation room where you can unwind and zen out before/after a massage or other treatment - this room has been designed for two people and they offer prosecco, strawberries and chocolates when booked I arrived thinking I was in for a back massage which I was super excited about. I’d recently started back to the gym and was very tender though to my delight the masseuse had other ideas offering a full body massage and mini million dollar facial, of course I didn’t decline either lol. After having a chat with Agnyte and consultation about my skin & needs it was straight into the treatment, the full body massage was fantastic, I was in heaven with all the soothing smells, relaxing music and oils that were used it was just what the doctor ordered , I think I dozed off for a bit as the hour went so quickly. Agnyte used the perfect amount of pressure and was really clued in to areas that needed attention like my neck and shoulder blades. I particularly loved the use of the poltis , it was a different sensation to what I’ve had before, feeling rapid heat pressed against your body , it was lovely, the perfect temperature. I asked Agnyte to describe the treatment I had and she said


“I used MOHOM DEEP PRESSURE for muscle healing. Designed to encourage blood flow, reduce any stretch muscles and ease joints, this deep massage conditions the whole body. Thai therapeutic massage and pure plant essential oils work synergistically together and a warm, herbal poultice provides a medicinal remedy for sore or overworked muscles”. Having recently qualified to administer million dollar facials Agnyte was keen to try out the products and I was more than game having heard about all the benefits, I’m a sucker for any lotion or potion that can improve the skin. The facial included the following products - MD mask , MD hyluronic acid 15% and MD vitamin C serum Now that Beauty and Holistic Therapy is on my radar I will definitely be back, I want to experience the full Million Dollar facial with derma elements If you want to get out of the bustle of the city, this is the ideal spot , it’s the perfect retreat for couples , friends, family, if you have a stressful job or if you deserve a treat. I cannot recommend enough . Thanks so much for looking after me Words by Daniel May Check them out or book via qr code or website



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