GNI MAG ISSUE 61

Page 21

WITH SPECIAL GUEST T’PAU’S PERFORMING ‘CHINA IN YOUR HAND’ TUE 19 – SAT 23 NOV 2024

STARRING
THE SOUNDTRACK OF YOUR YOUTH NOW A BRAND NEW MUSICAL
BOOK NOW AT GOH.CO.UK
NINA WADIA
save the date 16 NOV 24 GNI MAG AWARDS TWENTY TWENTY-FOUR
Contents 8 // JOHANNES REDEBE 12 // CONNOR MILLS 13 // THE LIBERTINES 16 // TAILOR MAID 18 // CAUSEWAY PRIDE 21 // KAWALA 24 // PAUL McALLISTER 26 // McCONNELLS DISTILLERY 39 // HAIR LOSS 44 // CAN I FOSTER 46 // JACK TRACY 48 // HATE CRIME 50 // XAND 52 // SEXUAL TRAUMA 54 // FASHION PRIMARK 59 // BIG DAY 66 // DAVID BECKHAM EYEWEAR 72 // ELLISE FITNESS 74 // MARTIN MURRAY 76 // THREE SPIRITS 78 // GARYS HOT HITS 80 // WOLLF REVIEW

Credits

Daniel May Operations Director daniel@gnimag.com

Pauline Fitzpatrick Sales Executive

Columnists: Connor Mills / Xand / Gavyn Andrews / Danny Malone / Gary Campion / Martin Kearney / The Gourmet Boys / Martin Murray / Paul Mc Allistar / Scott Aldred / Ellise Richards and Tailor Maid

Thanks to:

Johannes Redebe / The Libertines / Koala / Florrie / The Irreplaceables / Susan Hill / Brian Falto / Jack Tracey / Hannah McKimm / Robert & Jonathan / Larry Olsen / Mia Isabella / Jeff Dorta / Jack Maitland - Scalp Venture NI / Karen Cahill

- Love Your Locks / Safilo Group / Primark / David Beckham / Wolfe Grill / Three Spirits / Causeway Pride / McConnells / The Four Seasons / The Rainbow Project / Action For Children / Project Publicity / GOH / Chuff Media / Halestorm

PR / Excalibur Press / Measure PR / Thomas Whyte Media / Robin Elliott / MW Advocate and those who submitted content.

GNI

MAG is published by: Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd. Union Street Belfast, BT1 2JF
instagram @gnimag All submissions to GNI MAG are made on the basis of permission to publish the submission in GNI MAG and it’s licensed editions worldwide. In the case of picture selection, the editors decision is final. Any materials sent is at the owners risk and although every care is taken neither Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd or it’s 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 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 2023 28 // GRUMPY OLD BUGGER 30 // FLORRIE 32 // SUSAN HILL 34 // BRIAN FALTO 36 // YOUNG CHEF 82 // TRAVEL LANZAROTE 84 // MARTIN KEARNEY 86 // GOURMET BOYS 89 // DANNY MALONE HAIR
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An introduction from our editor...

We are back with our 61st edition though before I reveal what’s within the pages of this issue let me bring you up to speed on what’s been going on with me. From February my life has completely changed, my foster journey started approx 10 weeks ago and what a rollercoaster it has been. In such a short span of time I have been through so much, at times I have been at breaking point and others elated with joy. I don’t think any amount of prep really prepares you for someone coming into your life that relies on you for their every need. I have learned so much and have a new appreciation for my parents, siblings and all parents for that matter. Bring on the many fun, challenging, new and exciting times, I cannot wait for what the future holds and I am so excited to take the wee man away on a summer holiday.

My show Kinky Boots was such a success, I loved swapping my shoes for stilettos to portray Lolo. It was great working with the cast and production team at MADS (Moyraverty Arts Drama Society), thank you for the opportunity. I am now having a very much needed stage sabbatical, between a bonkers 3 year old and a thriving business I have enough to manage Other news, I’ve been getting tattoo removal to finish a sleeve and improve my brows - not a fun process folks, moral of the story, do your homework before getting tattoos.

Over the next couple of months there are loads of things I’m looking forward to, mini break to Tunisia, seeing Take That and Girls Aloud concerts and plenty more.

That’s enough about me - Let’s move on to this Issue and what’s filled within the pages ___

We have Johannes Redebe back on the cover, we chatted about his tour ‘House of Jojo’, Strictly Come Dancing, working with Queen Camila and so much more.

We also have interviews with Kawala, The Libertines, Florrie, Susan Hill and Brian Falto

So many topics are covered in this edition, Fostering, Hate Crime, Hair Loss, Sexual Trauma and more.

We feature fashion from Primark’s Summer range and sunglasses from David Beckham

Our columnists share what’s been going on with them and our Try section has tonnes of recommen dations, Gary shares his Hot Hits & Celeb Bits, The Gourmet Boys share their latest food experiences. We cover movies, travel, fitness, sport and plenty more.

It is now full steam ahead working on the Pride edition of the magazine which will be out on Friday 28th June, to get involved drop me an email daniel@ gnimag.com

Plans are also piecing together nicely for the GNI Awards in November - keep your eyes on our web site and socials for info on how to nominate or get involved.

Enjoy Reading, until next time.

Daniel May Editor and Director

JOHANNES

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JOHANNES

We recently got to chat with the flamboyant, fun and our favourite strictly pro dancer Johannes. On the 29th April he will be back in Belfast’s Grand Opera House and if the show is anything close to the last tour it will be an iconic night you don’t want to miss . Tickets for ‘House of Jojo’ are on sale NOW get over to goh.co.uk before they are gone!

Before we chat let’s play a wee game to break the ice - one word answers unless you feel the need to elaborate lol

Tea or Coffee?

Coffee

Lift or be lifted?

To be lifted!

Beauty or Intelligence ? Intelligence

Night Owl or Early Bird ? Night Owl

Cook or Take Away? Take Away

Plan & Budget or Blow it all (you may be gone tomorrow)

Blow it All

Biggest Fear ?

Losing Mama

Guilty Pleasure ?

Prosecco

We got a few fan questions via social media, most of which unsurprisingly in appropriate lol though there are a couple we thought you could answer

Mandy Sykes asks - When you hear a piece of music on

radio that you have choreographed a routine to, do you think back to that performance ?

Definitely – I can’t help moving! Once you’ve done a routine it always stays in your bones.

Dean Johnston asks - Have you ever forgotten the dance steps during a performance? Sadly yes!! Although not often!

First off I must say thanks for taking the time to chat and get a picture after the show last year, I don’t say this lightly but OMG you really did bring the party to Belfast and we cannot wait for you to come back.

We need to chat Strictly, we absolutely adored your partnership with Annabell. It was bound to be gutting not making the final?

I was gutted that Annabel didn’t get a chance to lift the glitterball – without doubt she was the most improved contestant. In the beginning I didn’t see the final in our sights – she just wanted to dance, it was never about winning. When we made it to the semi-final –something changed and suddenly winning was in the realms of possibility. Regardless I have made a friend for life in Annabel.

Ellie, Bobby and Layton were left, we all know the outcome but had you a favourite and did they go on to win ?

They were all amazing, but if I had to choose I’d go with Bobby – I think Bobby represented what strictly was all about.

I read that you had reservations about dancing with Annabell, after the loss of her husband, any truth in that ?

INTERVIEW JOHANNES GNI MAG [13]
GNI MAG [9]

There’s no truth – if anything I was apprehensive about the Strictly Journey last year – my cousin had killed himself not long before the season was due to start and so understandably feelings were still raw. With her losing her husband to stomach cancer, the partnership could have been an emotional disaster but ended up being the start of a beautiful friendship. She is a wonderful woman.

You moved in with her family during the show, are you still there now or are you back in your own pad ?

I’m back in my own apartment now. She’s calling me right now telling me the sun is out and the garden is waiting for me!

She has been doing the Strictly tour, I know she is in the capable hands of Graziano, is it difficult not being able to join them on the tour due to other commitments?

Oh my gosh! FOMO! FOMO! FOMO!. I went to see them at the o2 an all I wanted to do was jump on the floor, as I knew every piece of music and choreography.

I hear audiences that attend the London Palladium Matinee on 4th May will be in for a treat as you will be reuniting on stage.

Yes that true - I made a promise on the last day of strictly that we’d dance again one day, and the fact it is at The London Palladium is the cherry on the cake!

It’s early days yet for 2024 announcements though can we take it as a given that you will be back ? Please say yes

I’m still waiting for the call – but as I always say, I’ll do strictly for as long as my bones will last!

Right, let’s get on to the tour. Last year was all about ‘Freedom’ and you return with ‘House Of Jojo’ without giving too much away what is the concept for this tour ?

During the past two years of touring, in my head I was building a home – a house where people could come and know they are welcome, wherever they are in the world because I think it’s so important

to create safe spaces in today’s world. The first two shows focused around y South African Roots, whereas this time I wanted to explore my time in the UK and themes of belonging.

Is it daunting to think that you will be taking the tour across the U.K to 38 locations or is this the dream ?

This is the dream. I have to pinch myself constantly.

You come to Belfast on 29th April for 3 nights, will you get some free time to do tourist things while you are here ? And also what’s your favourite thing about the city ?

I love Belfast! The thing with this tour being one nighters is that it’s pretty full on – we move constantly from place to place and never stop. So when we land in a place for a day or two, we all just crash and recuperate! My favourite thing about Belfast is without doubt the people – I’ll certainly be visiting the marks for the food and drink. I also have a book signing at Waterstones on 1st May at 11am!

Touring and Strictly are so different, have you a preference ?

I love them both equally because they both have a different reach.

Is it true that a Memoir of your life is being made into a film? If so, what can you tell us about it ?

I am! Another pinch me moment! It’s going to be filmed in both England and South Africa, and I already have friends from home asking what their role is going to be!!

We have to ask about you meeting Queen Camila and presenting her with tap shoes - omg that was bound to have been a massive pinch me momentwhat was she like ? Oh and do you know if she tried the shoes on ?

No I don’t know if she tried the shoes on but she has invited me to teach her tap and I said I’d be there! What was amazing about her was how selfless she was in her time and how she made effort with every single person in the room – that was humbling. Knowing what we know now

about her family health worries– she was the quintessential queen how she conducted herself –I was inspired and in awe.

Your tour finishes in June, anything exciting planned for later in the year ?

Rest! – I’ll be Travelling for the first time in a long time. I’m going to the French open with Annabel croft. Just generally time to relax and unwind ahead of making my musical theatre debut as Lola in Kinky Boots – I can’t wait to visit Belfast for a longer period of time, maybe then I’ll be able to be a tourist and take in your beautiful city.

And lastly a pretty much typical question but where do you see yourself in say 5 years ?

We adore you dancing though we would LOVE you on the judging panel.

Oh definitely!

Thanks for taking the time with us Johannes, it has been a pleasure as always

Be sure to get over to goh.co.uk to snap up the last remaining tickets .

Interview by: Daniel May

INTERVIEW JOHANNES GNI MAG [14]
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SPRING AWAKENING Connor Mills

Spring Awakening: A Personal Journey into Sexual Health

Spring has sprung and with it the expectation of hopefully donning less layers, a “grand ol stretch in the evenings” and the constant urge to assemble at a beer garden and live life a little easier. (We’ll not talk about the abhorrent number of times I’ve used “it’s a wonder day” in group chats already this year).

With this change in season a lot of us look to physical health and with the ease of which we’re able to start taking advantage of the great outdoors, it seems like an obvious choice, but in this issues column I wanted to shine a light on health of a more intimate, nature.

In recent years the environment of sexual health has come on leaps and bounds. With Gum clinics set up around most major cities and towns with organisations such as The Rainbow Project running drop-in sexual health clinics, offering safer sex packs, and providing general advice / help.

My personal experience of sexual health and clinics has been one of shocking privilege and self-admitted ignorance, the only real thought I had given to sexual protection and health being borrowing a friend’s PREP before and after visiting a certain Belfast sauna. It’s the same story that I feel a lot of us relate to but maybe not so openly, knowing the correct sexual protection practices, but not employing these until after a learned moment. Of course, this is a generalisation and just a small example through talking to friends on their experiences, yet, with HSCNI reporting that in 2022 there was 42% increase in STI diagnoses in Northern Ireland alone it can be said that it’s not just a small number of isolated incidents.

Recently being run down made me want to understand my health more and through this I felt a want to take my first sexual health test, not being able to attend a GUM clinic in person without sacrificing a day’s wage, the at home test kits which can be ordered through SH:24 were a welcome solution. The test kits are free and are a great alternative for someone who may find it more difficult to travel or who would prefer to take a sexual health test from the comfort and confidentiality of their own home. I didn’t know what to expect at first and I won’t lie seeing all the different tests with specific instructions, it can feel slightly daunting, well for someone as scatterbrain as myself, definitely daunting, but every test was accompanied by a handy how to video which helped immeasurably. (Where’s all my visual learners at.)

Full disclosure the blood test one, yes it is a pain, I mean it’s a home test they can only do so much but nothing is quite as humbling as doing star jumps in order to try and get blood flowing enough to fill a vial and then dropping the blood you previously spent the past two

minutes trying to cultivate on the kitchen worktops or even the COVID flashbacks when doing the swab test but honestly completing the tests took half an hour max and came with discreet packaging in which to return your well-earned bodily fluids. Maybe more if you’re like my partner and find it difficult to “pee with purpose” I’d consider pencilling in slightly more time.

It’s services such as this that really help to transform people’s outlooks on sexual health, I had always figured that I would have to travel to a clinic, and no Omagh is not the most rural community in all Northern Ireland but for those living in rural environments this particular service is an absolute game changer. Pop the tests in the post and await the results in a couple of days. It really helped shape my preconceived notions of what sexual health testing was and really helped me learn what was involved therein. I would say to those that haven’t been tested or are reading this and finding yourself curious to give it a go. Again for “big city” folks this may be coming across as trivial and routine but I’m more so speaking to those of us who don’t have sexual health services within walking distance or feel like it might not apply, there are so many sexual health services throughout N.I that offer a wide range of support and none of us are immune to less than healthy decisions. What I’m taking from the experience information is always power, assumptions aren’t always true, and it doesn’t matter your sexuality being in the know about your sexual health is always cute, so like let’s just all be super cute.

GNI MAG [12] COLUMN CONNOR MILLS
Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.

THE Libertines

INTERVIEW THE LIBERTINES GNI MAG [25]

THE LIBERINES

NEW ALBUM ALL QUIET ON THE EASTERN ESPLANADE

THE LIBERTINES RELEASE THEIR FOURTH STUDIO ALBUM ENTITLED,

ALL QUIET ON THE EASTERN ESPLANADE. THE RELEASE

THE BAND’S FIRST NEW ALBUM IN NINE

On All Quiet On The Eastern Esplanade, the quartet of unlikely lads have gathered from their new-found homes in France, Denmark, Margate and London to solder a strongest-ever internal bond, and scale new creative heights resulting in the best music of their extraordinary career so far. The albumnamed as a nod to their hotel’s street address and their enduring love of Erich Maria Remarque’s landmark anti-war novel – is an unequivocal triumph.

Opening the album, ‘Run Run Run’ is quite a statement track. At what point in the writing process did it appear?

Pete Doherty - I can remember that moment, we were in the studio at Margate and we realised pretty quickly that we didn’t have enough stuff that we’d written together. So then we had to start pulling out songs that we’d written for our side projects as Carl had asked me if I had any, I said, “Yeah, I’ve got a couple”, I asked him the same thing, and he said he’d also got a couple. So he played me his, and I played him mine, and ‘Run Run Run’ was either one of the ones that “he” was saving or “I” was saving. And he added a couple of lines to it! [Laughter]

Carl Barât - Oiiiii, you cheeky sod! But yeah, I was playing that on the road with my other solo band, but we changed it all up.

Pete - As soon as I heard it, I thought I wasn’t so sure about this as he’d played it to me acoustically, and I feel the lyrics are some of the best that he’s ever written. Yet, he didn’t get it over as he mumbled it. And then... I heard a demo of it and I could listen to all the lyrics, and it was a bit more upbeat, and I said, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Why didn’t you play it to me like this? Why did you mumble it?” It was as if he didn’t want me to use it.

Carl - No, it wasn’t like that. It was literally like, “Go on. Turn out your pockets. What have you got? I know you’ve got songs. [Laughter]

So, the album is a combination of songs already in hand, amongst new ones added once you’ve all got to the recording studio?

Carl - I think we were writing for the album long before we were officially writing for the album. As we gravitated together more in our day-to-day lives, the album became a possibility and a reality. At that point, everything we were writing started to be geared subconsciously towards the record. We went to Jamaica and did a bit of writing and we got some beauties out there. I mean, if you were to tot up the value for writing for those particular lines in the songs, you might have struggled to get them through management, but as it happened, it was necessary, spiritually, for us to go out there and do our thing.

Pete - It’s very important. It [the new album] wouldn’t have happened if we’d done anything less. I think these songs are better than anything anyone else is writing at the moment. The ‘Mars To Liverpool’ song by Liam [Gallagher] & John Squire sounds all right. Would you say the same thing, Carl?

YEARS.

MARKS

Carl - You can’t say it’s better than what anyone is writing unless you know what everyone’s writing. Nobody says that anymore.

Pete - So, I’m not allowed to say what I believe? It’s what I believe.

Carl - I love that you believe that, but that becomes a headline really quickly, and then it just becomes very crass, and people get pi$$ed off.

Pete Doherty - There could be an argument in the papers where they’d say: “Pete’s got a big head; he thinks the songs are the best in the world. And Carl pleads modesty or something. The juries out!” [Laughter]

Carl - You can say that if you like.

By going to Jamaica, it sounds like it was more about focusing on re-gelling that songwriting creativity as a pair?

Pete - I don’t think so. I feel we’re both pretty creative anyway. We could just sit around and be creative all day, every day, really quickly, making soundscapes, you know, even comedy scripts. Still, when it comes to actually writing and crafting songs that are going to creep into people’s ears, brains, hearts, and souls, and get right down to the f**king toenails, then yeah, we did have to focus on that.

It’s this endless quest to see if we could write the perfect pop song. We’ve never been stationary, we know that some people love our songs but still feel like we have yet to get the recognition we deserve.

Carl - We needed to go and be together again without any distractions, be it the people we work with or people just hanging around.

Pete - We went to the ‘Fountain of Youth’.

Carl - We did. It didn’t work, did it? I came back looking older! [Laughs]

Was there any pressure from the label to get this album out on time?

Pete - There was no pressure from the label, but there was a little bit of pressure from ourselves.

Carl - I think we all want this album to be the best it can be. I want it to be great. And you’ll do everything you can to give it the birth into this world it deserves.

Is this new album the one you’re most proud of seeing as you’re all - as Carl told the NME “You’re facing in the same direction”?

Carl - Right now, I feel as proud as I did... I think I was too insecure to be proud of the first record [Up the Bracket - 2002], but personally, I feel prouder of this record than I have done with anything we’ve done yet.

INTERVIEW THE LIBERTINES GNI MAG [26]

Pete, would you say you’re most proud of this new one?

Pete - First of all, I think these new songs have got a hell of a lot of competition. They’ve got to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with ‘Death On The Stairs’ and ‘Time for Heroes’ and all these songs, even though they are decades old, they still give the old “frissons” [French for chills], do you know what I mean?

We wrote them all in a studio, recorded them live and then went away for months. Now we’ve come back playing them, and the fact that they are each standing their ground and we’re able to do them

justice would suggest that, yeah, I am really proud of it. I think this is the first time we actually sat and listened to the recording together in a car. We did it the other day, and I was thinking how long it would take for one of us to go: “Oh, I didn’t like that bit. I don’t like this bit.” But it didn’t happen, which is unusual. We listened to it all the way through and then wanted to hear it all again. I think that speaks louder than the question itself.

All Quiet On The Eastern Esplanade is available on CD, deluxe CD, 12” vinyl in limited edition coloured variants, deluxe double vinyl cassette and digital download.

Visit thelibertines.tmstor.es to purchase

You can follow The Libertines across their socials: www.instagram.com/thelibertines www.facebook.com/thelibertines www.threads.net/@thelibertines www.youtube.com/@TheLibertinesofficial www. tiktok.com/@thelibertinesofficial

INTERVIEW THE LIBERTINES

YOUR DOSE OF TEA Tailor Maid

Hey Spring Chickens, what’s been clucking?

Tailor Maid here, with your bimonthly dose of Tea. A lot has happened since we last talked. I’ve been all over the UK And Ireland with work. I’ve taken my drag with me to Italy with BPerfect and to Manchester for Saint Patrick’s Day and Easter has come and gone. I hope you all gorged yourselves on lots of chocolate eggs and celebrated the big man coming back from the other side in what ever way you seen fit. (But let’s face it, these days Easter is all about the chocolate).

At the time of writing this article, I’m sat here listening to the oddly satisfying, and calming sound of rain pelting against my window. Rain in Belfast… Groundbreaking. At least the longer days are here now that the clocks have gone forward. All 2 days of our traditional Irish Summer are on the way, and I can’t wait. Yet it does make me wonder what month they will fall into this year. May/ June? Who knows! Global warming is here and its consistently playing havoc with a gal’s ability to dress appropriately no matter the month.

Even with the dull weather there is a lot to be looking forward to this year. A lot of firsts for my little drag career that I’m absolutely delighted about, so grab a coffee stop scrolling for a minute and read on to find out all the salacious details.

Saint Patrick’s Day and Cosmoprof Italy

Before I get into what’s coming up, I just want to recap some highlights from March.

I had a busy wee month with a grand total of one day off, which was spent sleeping. Oh, the glamour. As well as my full-time job at BPerfect I had 3 drag brunches in Happy’s in Dublin, hosted a Mother’s Day event for the fabulous Erin Mc Gregor and Denise Phillips from Voduz and headed back to Cruz 101 in Manchester for a very special Saint Patricks Day performance.

depending on which way you look at it. I was a lady of the deepest night, for one night only. I can’t be making that a regular occurrence. I need my Beauty sleep.

Less than 36 hours after I returned from Manchester, I hoped on a few more planes with the BPerfect crew to travel to Bolonga Italy for the Biggest Cosmetics trade show in the world.

Manchester and the team at Cruz were great craic as usual, the night was called Queen Supreme, I was headlining, and I performed a very Irish mix of tracks that went down a storm. But the thing was…my 1st performance was at 3:45AM. It was the perfect way to welcome in Saint Patrick’s Day, but also way past my bedtime. It was kinda fierce though, it was my latest or earliest performance yet

Cosmoprof brings together, factories, retailers, suppliers and brands who are all looking for innovation and business opportunities in the cosmetics industry. It took place over 4 days and had over 240,000 attendees this year plus one very glamorous drag queen. Moi!

The days were long, but the tuck was tight. I felt like an absolute princess in a custom BPerfect gown from Call me Sophia. Complete with disco ball crown and necklace. Glamour at its finest. It was my duty to host the Bperfect stand and welcome everyone who visited, to entertain, pose and strut the purple carpet on the daily. I definitely got the steps in, but alas I didn’t loose any weight, because the food was INCREDIBLE! Pizzas, pastas, chesses and lots of wine. #yum What a TREAT!

Now on to the exciting stuff. I am beyond thrilled to announce that I will be hosting Marina Summers UK Tour with DFIU Events in May this year. Taking place over 11 days in 8 cities, we will be visiting Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland and performing in some absolutely iconic venues. I’m really looking forward to the Clapham grand in London on the 30th of May, It’s a venue I’ve always wanted to perform in. We will be joined by an amazing roster of local talent

GNI MAG [16] COLUMN TAILOR MAID
Marina Summers Tour

in each city to complete the show line up, and I can’t wait to meet and perform with each one of them.

I’m looking forward to living my tour life fantasy, driving up and down the UK in a tour bus with the crew. It’s been a dream of mine to go on a tour since I started drag and now here we are. Its big responsibility to host the show each night but something I am totally up for. This is what I do!

If any of you watched Drag Race Philippines or the recent series of Drag Race UK versus the world then you will know how much of a powerhouse Marina is. This tour is going to be Lit to the tit! Yeoooooo!

Stafford Pride

Pride season is starting, which means summer is on its way. Normally I love a good pride day out with my friends drinking and dancing the day into night. But this year I will be attending one for a very different reason. I can’t wait to join my drag sisters across the pond in Stafford to co – host my first pride event in Stafford on Saturday the 10th of August. Its Stafford’s very first pride event/ parade and I am excited to be part of this historic event. Its going to be an absolute blast.

Tina Burner and Baga Chipz

my drag life with all the other responsibilities in my everyday life and work. Yes, sometimes it is tough, exhausting even, but the big rewards in life don’t come to those who don’t put the graft in. I’m not shy in working for what I want or putting the effort in. I’ve just had to be smart about how and where I choose to work to make sure my drag work doesn’t impact on other areas of my life too much.

I feel that I have found what is best for me and that’s performing during the day at drag brunches. I usually do 4/5 brunches a month depending on what month it is, as well as my other gigs. With a brunch, I can do my thing, perform, entertain, act stupid and still be home in time for a Chinese to spend some time with my dogs and partner. It’s ideal for me.

If you fancy it, you can catch me at Margot in Belfast or if you are travelling to Dublin you can catch me in Happy’s. Check my socials for dates and details of which dates I’m doing. You will have a scream guaranteed.

As usual thank you so much for reading and for catching up with me, and I hope to see some of you at an upcoming gig soon!

Loads of love

Tailor xoxo

Get your tickets for Marina Summers Tour @ www.dfiuevents.com

On Thursday the 18th of April, I will be joining the fabulous Tina Burner and Baga Chipz presented by DFIU Events and Taboo in the Mandela Hall with my fabulous drag sister Wicked White for a camp aul time. Baga and Tina are combining their individual tours to bring us a showstopping double headliner show and I can’t wait to see what they’ve cooked up.

Brunch, Brunch, Brunch

In the past year, I feel that I’ve really found my rhythm and flow with balancing

Get your tickets for Tina Burner and Baga Chipz @ www.taboopresents.com

You can also find Tailor Maid on Instagram @totally.tailor Bookings on Instagram or via email jamesmcguigan@me.com.

Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.
COLUMN TAILOR MAID GNI MAG [17]

Just one month before in inaugural causeway pride a hoax device was left outside the home of a local councillor wrapped in a pride flag. It was left to try and scare us back into closets. But we won't go back.

Last August we proudly stood and said: We’re here, We’re Queer And We aren’t going anywhere. This year things haven’t changed. The recently published Cass review serves as a reminder as to why

we can never take our rights for granted and why ultimately pride remains a protest and a necessary one.

They won’t stop trans rights, if they succeed they will continue pushing until all our rights are rolled back so we must continue to stand as one, we must continue to support LGBTQIA+ activists and allies both at home and elsewhere.

Causeway pride exists to honour the legacy of Mark Ashton whose hand of solidarity helped bring about one of the biggest shifts in LGBTQIA+ rights here in the United Kingdom and so we reach out in solidarity to all those in need.

Growing up queer during the troubles must have been a really traumatic experience. It takes a special kind of person to be able to take that trauma and turn it into something beautiful and to ignite a passion in those around you that continues to burn long after your passing.

We hope that you will join us during pride month and on August 3rd for the Causeway coasts first ever Pride Parade as we remember him and we remember all those queer kids gone too soon. But also as we stand proud so that others know they are not alone. And we make the causeway coast a truly inclusive place

Riley McCahon Causeway Pride Co-Chair

Standing on the north strand brings so many people a joyous and fresh perspective, a sense of self and calmness and fun. For many years, people who were different had a choice: to try to hide some of their identity and fit in or to leave. I love the serenity of Portrush, but, for many people, and for many years, people had to leave our rural areas as they did not feel comfortable.

Mark Ashton left here in the late 1970s. I cannot imagine how tough it must have been to leave such a beautiful place. He did so because it was a criminal offence to be gay here. Times have changed: the squeaky wheel of progress has achieved many rights for a lot of us. We still do need acceptance in rural areas and this is the magic of our rural prides. While they may not have all the noise and glitter of the city ones, rural prides are more special. They are about local people coming out to show other local people they are accepted.

My favourite bit of activism from Causeway Pride in 2023 was a shopkeeper. I don’t know his name. He had put some sticks of rainbow rock beside the till. That was a sign I was welcome, a sign that Mark would’ve been welcome, a sign young LGBTQIA+ people are welcome. Very much looking forward to the solidarity and joy of Causeway Pride 2024.”

Copeland Chair – Portrush for Mark Ashton Campaign

Kawala

GNI MAG [21] INTERVIEW KAWALA
Interviewed by: Gary Campion

Hi Guys, firstly thanks for taking the time out from your tour and rehearsals to talk to us.  To start tell our readers about yourselves, how you all met and what it is you do/bring to the band.

Thanks for taking the time to interview us! We’re all old friends growing up in North London & I (Daniel) play guitar & sing all the harmonies. Self-confessed back front man if you will.

On first listen to your tracks on Spotify one key thing jumped out at us from the get go.... Those harmonies! They are off the charts in their blend and tightness through every track.  How hard is it to keep them as tight when performing live and have there been any funny vocal mishaps when on performing live? How do you recover from the mishaps?

Well firstly thank you for saying that! The funny thing about the harmony side of what we do, is that I never considered myself a singer. Front man Jim was the one right at the start who really pushed me to sing more. I think the key to our vocal blend is that I kind of learnt to sing from listening to Jim, so that my voice could blend with his rather than exist on its own. Never any massive mishaps but it’s always quite funny when one of us forgets to sing & leaves the other one panicking.

When researching you guys it’s very clear you have been honing your craft and sound, building your fan and supporter base by a community based word of mouth.  If you had to go back to your music college in Leeds and explain to a room full of students how you’ve got to where you are now how would you do it?

Well awkwardly we dropped out of Leeds after our first year so I’m not sure we’d be the best role models! But honestly our best advice would be to face the industry head on. We had no connections, but just got out there, gigged relentlessly, met as many people as we could & worked tirelessly. A big part is just massively believing in what you make. If you love it, there’ll be people out there that’ll hopefully love it too.

Better with You was recorded in phases due to the dreaded C word that took over the world for a few years, but you didn’t let the stop you.  Tell our readers about the creative and producer opportunities that you got due to recording the album this way.

Ah yes the strangest of times. We had a full album & a years worth of touring ready to go before the world came to a standstill. That period really gave us a chance to reflect on exactly what we wanted to be & how we wanted to sound. So we went away & wrote a whole new record (bar a few songs that survived the cut). We were so lucky to work with such a range of top producers, & in a way that kind of became the message behind the album. We wanted to celebrate all the people that made this possible.

Ticket to Ride is a favourite of ours in the office here, tell us how it came to be part of the FIFA 21 Soundtrack.

Glad you like it! It’s easily one of our faves to play live. Well, as you know it was a funny time; lockdown hit & we lost so much momentum. We were naturally feeling sorry for our selves (as most people were) & were desperate for a win. All of a sudden, FIFA got in contact asking to use our song! It was an absolute childhood dream & one we’ll never forget.

Your videos are always creative.  How much creative input do you have into them and what’s the process from a start to finished project?

We’ve always loved using our music videos as a way to showcase the slightly weirder side of our personalities & humour. Whether that be us playing dodgeball against a team of drag artists, or flying to space to save a monster from an evil witch. Often the ideas will initially come from us & then some poor videographer has the painstaking task of trying to flesh it in to a proper video. We always to have fun though!

You are about to embark on a UK, Ireland tour with some additional European dates.  What can people expect from the show? Do you follow the same set list every night? What’s the dressing room rider like for KAWALA? Any pre shoe rituals?

Our fave thing ever is to be on the road & we can’t wait for this run! I guess you can expect a healthy mix of Kawala classics & a few new ones thrown in for good measure. Expect a lot of fun, unique dance moves & some underwhelming stage chat. Something for everyone!

Funnily enough, with regard to pre show rituals,

we actually haven’t had one for a while. But we’ve just come back from an EU tour where we saw other bands doing amazing ones & now we’re desperate to add one if anyone has any suggestions!

This or that

* Studio or live performance? Live performance every time! That feeling will never be matched.

* Sweet or salted popcorn? Has to be mixed. Is that cheating?

* Acoustic or electric? Now this is tough. I’ve always played acoustic but the new music is all on electric. I might have to stick to my roots & say acoustic.

* Cats or dogs? Definitely dogs!

* Pop or rock? There’s great & awful in both. I’ll have to say pop.

* Boxers or briefs?  Boxers. Comfort is everything.

* Tour bus or plane? We’ve actually never been on a tour bus, but I’m also a big fan of being on the ground so I’ll have to say tour bus.

* Football or rugby? Football!

* Curry or gravy? Now that’s maybe the toughest. Big fan of both. I’d say curry but only as us Londoners don’t know how to make gravy properly.

* And most importantly Kylie Minogue or Kylie Jenner?  Oh Kylie every time.

INTERVIEW KAWALA GNI MAG [22]
GNI MAG [23] INTERVIEW KAWALA

WHY ARE YOU SO SENSITIVE? Paul McAllister

Have you ever tried to communicate your concerns about someone’s behaviour towards you, only to be dismissed, mocked, or told you’re exaggerating or ‘too sensitive’? Maybe you were told you couldn’t handle a joke, and they blamed you for always misinterpreting and getting upset. Such experiences might leave you feeling foolish, perplexed, emotional, immature, or embarrassed.

In the colourful tapestry of human experience, sensitivity emerges as a trait that varies widely among individuals. While it’s a quality often celebrated for its capacity to enrich relationships and deepen emotional connections, it can also be a double-edged sword, exposing individuals to heightened vulnerability and empathetic strain. In the realm of queer identity, sensitivity takes on a multifaceted significance, reflecting not only personal characteristics but also the complex interplay of social, cultural, and historical factors. So, why might queer people be more sensitive than their non-queer counterparts? Let’s explore.

Queer individuals often navigate a complex landscape where their sexual orientation or gender identity intersects with other aspects of their identity, such as race, ethnicity, religion, and socioeconomic status. These intersecting identities can expose them to multiple forms of discrimination and marginalisation, intensifying their sensitivity to social cues and environments. For example, a queer person of colour may experience compounded prejudice.

The queer community has a rich and tumultuous history marked by struggles for acceptance, equality, and basic human rights. From the Stonewall riots to the AIDS crisis, queer individuals have faced profound challenges and traumas that reverberate through generations. This collective memory of persecution and resilience can foster a deep sense of sensitivity, as queer individuals remain acutely attuned to signs of prejudice and discrimination, even in progressive societies.

In response to societal pressures and stigma, queer individuals often develop sophisticated coping mechanisms and emotional resilience. These coping strategies may include heightened empathy, emotional intelligence, and a keen awareness of social dynamics. While these qualities can be sources of strength, they can also render queer individuals more susceptible to emotional distress and empathetic overload, contributing to their heightened sensitivity.

For many queer individuals, the journey towards self-acceptance and authenticity is fraught with internal and external challenges. The process of coming out, embracing one’s true identity, and navigating societal expectations can be emotionally taxing, requiring a profound level of introspection and vulnerability. As a result, queer individuals may cultivate a heightened sensitivity to their own emotions and those of others, valuing authenticity and emotional honesty as essential components of their identity.

Research suggests that queer individuals experience disproportionately high rates of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and suicidality, often stemming from experiences of stigma, rejection, and internalised homophobia or transphobia. These mental health disparities underscore the need for sensitive and affirming

support systems within queer communities and society at large, highlighting the profound impact of identity on emotional well-being.

Empathy is what makes people feel safe in relationships. Along with self-awareness, it’s the soul of emotional intelligence, guiding people toward prosocial behaviour and fairness in dealings with others. In contrast, non-empathic people overlook your feelings and don’t seem to imagine your experience or be sensitive to it. It’s important to be aware of this, because a person who isn’t responsive to your feelings won’t be emotionally safe when there is any kind of disagreement.

Emotionally mature people see you positively and keep a mental library of your best qualities, referencing your strengths. They are capable of taking a look at themselves and reflecting on their behaviour. You’ll also discover that when you feel distressed emotionally mature people don’t pull back. They aren’t afraid of your emotions and don’t tell you that you should be feeling some other way, embracing your feelings and wanting to learn about the things you want to tell them.

For queer individuals, sensitivity takes on a distinctive significance, reflecting the intersectionality of identity, historical trauma, coping mechanisms, and the quest for authenticity. While heightened sensitivity can be both a source of strength and vulnerability, fostering deeper connections and empathetic understanding, it also underscores the importance of fostering inclusive and affirming environments where all individuals can thrive authentically. In celebrating the richness of queer identity, we embark on a collective journey towards greater empathy, acceptance, and love for all.

Indeed, our culture is maturing, and our moral compass is evolving. We’re becoming more adept at recognizing harm and no longer overlook things that we might have excused in the past.

What one may perceive as sensitivity, another may view as a refusal to tolerate abuse.

Paul McAllister- Aho Wellness IG: aho_wellness Facebook: aho.wellness.belfast Email: wellness.aho@gmail.com

GNI MAG [24] COLUMN PAUL McALLISTER Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.
25 June 2024 THE MAC, BELFAST Join us on Tuesday 25 June 2024 for a day of interactive workshops, inspiring speakers, and fantastic networking opportunities. Perfect for HR and EDI professionals, Staff Network group members, and anyone driving LGBTQ+ inclusion at work. Book now to support your team in creating workplaces that are truly inclusive. Everything you need to know about LGBTQ+ workplace inclusion, all in one place. www.stonewall.org.uk/ belfastwc Book now

McConnell’s DISTILLERY

McConnell’s Distillery and Visitor Experience officially opened its doors at Crumlin Road Gaol today, joined by the First Minister and deputy First Minister and U.S. Special Economic Envoy Joe Kennedy. The new Distillery, which is already employing 34 people, is expected to attract 100,000 visitors each year and will be a significant addition to the Irish Whiskey industry as well as providing a significant boost to both Belfast and Northern Ireland’s expanding tourist offering.

Minister for Infrastructure, John O’Dowd, Economy Minister Conor Murphy and Communities Minister Gordon Lyons also attended the event. They were joined on site by Board members of Belfast Distillery Company who have made the private sector investment which has delivered this landmark project. The McConnell’s Distillery and Visitor Experience, built over the last two years in the ‘A’ wing of the iconic gaol, cost £12m as part of an overall £30m investment in the company.

The Department for Infrastructure has provided Belfast Distillery Company with the lease to develop its distillery within the historic Grade A listed building while the Department for Communities and Invest Northern Ireland have both provided funding. The public-private investment is completed via support from Santander Bank.

The McConnell’s management team is led by Chief Executive John Kelly, who comes from north Belfast. John was delighted to welcome guests to the distillery today.

He said: “We have worked towards this day for the last number of years and now this project has gone from

being a shared, ambitious vision to a working reality. We are all very proud of what has been achieved here thanks to our investors, partners and team. Working with Invest NI and the local Government departments, we have turned an empty wing of an historic gaol into a place of investment, employment and opportunity, and it is now the home of the famous McConnell’s Irish Whisky which was originally born in Belfast in 1776.”

First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “I am committed to maximising every opportunity to further strengthen our economy and improve the lives of all our citizens.

“This new Distillery is a remarkable story of imagination, innovation and determination.

“I want to ensure this is a place where entrepreneurs can thrive and where people can come and work in first class facilities such as we see here today.

“Let us all work together to help make this an even more successful and prosperous place for the future generations.”

Deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly said: “The state-of-art distillery in this unique location will make a significant contribution to the local community here in North Belfast and beyond.

“The scale of investment in this project, the creation of a world class visitor experience and the employment opportunities created are all particularly welcome. It’s a great example of government departments working together with the private sector to deliver.”

Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd said: “The A wing

of this historic gaol has been truly transformed by this ambitious project which will complement the existing Gaol Visitor Attraction and Conference Centre by encouraging more visitors to the Gaol and helping to put North Belfast on the global stage. I wish all involved every success.”

Economy Minister Conor Murphy said: “In little more than a decade, distilling has re-emerged as one of the north’s most innovative, dynamic, and export-driven industries. McConnell’s has identified the opportunity the north presents as an exciting investment opportunity. They have created this beautiful new distillery and visitor experience as an innovative export focused business, producing a quality product at a venue that will attract and entertain tourists, along with creating a range of jobs in an area that has suffered from under-investment.”

Communities Minister Gordon Lyons said: “I’m delighted to attend the opening of this iconic Distillery and Visitor Experience here at Crumlin Road Gaol, which is rich in history. This project has shown the benefits of my Department’s regeneration programmes, and I am pleased that we have been able to contribute to this wonderful project. Creating places where people want to live, work, invest and visit is not only a priority for my own department, but contributes to a wide range of social, community and economic outcomes.”

Tours of the Distillery & Visitor Experience can be booked at www.mcconnellsirishwhisky.com

GNI MAG [26] FEATURE McCONNELL’S DISTILLERY

THE IRREPRESSIBLES RETURN WITH NEW MUSIC

The Irrepressibles is the creative guise of Manchester artist Jamie Irrepressible, who’s been singing songs of the gay experience since his debut album, ‘Mirror Mirror’ back in 2009. His biggest songs ‘In This Shirt’, ‘Two Men in Love’, and ‘The Most Beautiful Boy’ – which became the soundtrack to Netflix’s hit series Young Royals alongside collaborations with the likes of Royksopp have helped him grow a huge international LGBTQI audience.  They have amassed a whopping 270 million streams on Spotify and an astonishing 8.1 billion streams on YouTube, cementing his status as one of the most innovative and influential acts in contemporary music.

Jamie’s artistic journey also took a poignant turn in 2014 when he performed his song “Two Men In Love” at the UK’s first gay wedding, marking a significant moment in LGBTQI+ history.

Fast forward to 2024 and Jamie is back with new music, and has just released a new single, ‘Will You’ the first release from an upcoming new album, due later this year. ‘Will You’ is sexy grunge stoner-rock about the allure of men’s eyes meeting in a bar with pent up sexual tension in the air with a great chorus of ‘Oh homo! Will you take me home?” It’s a queer sex positive indie-anthem which comes with a stunning video set in the ‘afters’ of a gay bar featuring a real life dancer gay couple & other queer performers from the London scene - directed by Will Kennedy who made previous queer videos for artists like Anna Calvi & Hercules & Love Affair.

Here’s Jamie on the new music: “The project’s focus is always about telling the homosexual story and with the next album I felt it was time to get visceral with The Irrepressibles with a return to my indie-rock roots.”

The Irrepressibles will be touring this summer and the new album is due later this year.

GNI MAG [27] FEATURE THE IRREPRESSIBLES

GRUMPY OLD BUGGER

Scott Aldred

A wise woman once said, ‘It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me’. I never really paid much attention to Taylor Swift before. Sweet and inoffensive she fluttered around on the periphery of my consciousness like some posh, glittery moth. Or butterfly. I prefer moth.

It was one of those lazy Sundays when you’ve eaten your bodyweight in potatoes and you’re trying hard not to think about Monday morning approaching like a Tsunami of cold grey misery, when I stumbled across the Miss Americana documentary on Netflix. I was only about half an hour in and I wanted to murder Kanye West.

To be fair, I didn’t have a spectacularly high opinion of him going into the thing, but watching his rank misogyny and entitlement play out at the Grammys with a little context behind it, I found myself wanting to reach into the screen and collapse his wind pipe. Mind you if I had, I’d have probably received a lifetime achievement award from the Recording Academy.

Note to self, less violent references going forward.

The thing is, we love an underdog. We do. Whether its someone falling flat on their arse on Dancing on ice, or a contestant on ‘Britain’s Got Talentless Freaks’ singing their self composed dirge to their mum who ‘Can’t be here tonight…cos she’s a lazy cow’, we like to champion those who are going through a bad time. It triggers something primitive in us. We superimpose ourselves into the place of the person losing their bikini and being dragged face first across the Atlantic on a paragliding holiday. We empathise with the lady doing a gender reveal (genital reveal, get it right) who discharges a confetti cannon into her own face and ignites the hairspray she spent twenty minutes applying that morning. We wince when the bride pushes the grooms face into the wedding cake only to realise he’s lost both eyes in a freak skewer accident. Note to everyone – don’t push people’s heads into cakes… they invariably are held together with sharpened bamboo canes and barbed wire.

We care. We say ‘Aww’, or ‘Awk/Ack’ as I’m learning in Northern Ireland. We share with a little sad faced emoji

That is of course…until it’s a Facebook breakup. Then, all bets are off. You make a brew, grab a bowl of popcorn and before you can say, ‘No more snakes its just me and the babbies from now on’ you are settling in for the long haul. The prospect of entertainment better than anything Ms Swift can offer up. No offence to the glittery moth, no really, she seems self-aware if nothing else. I’ve grown quite fond of her of late.

Anyways…there was, let’s call him a gentleman, on my Facebook feed that had had the misfortune of a breakup with his boyfriend. The break up took place over a year ago. I wasn’t overly invested in the relationship. You know what gays are like. They can’t defrost a pack of mince for dinner without sticking it on Instagram whilst flashing a peace symbol. So when they get a boyfriend its spam city. I’m going to change the details here so as not to alert anyone but I recently observed a guy meet a boy, enter into a relationship, pose for multiple photos having a pillow fight and break up in the space of 24 hours. Honestly, they barely had time to adopt.

I digress. So normally we get this constant drip feeding of every minutiae (to those on my Facebook yes I know – pot, kettle) of their lives and so when suddenly they start posting pics of themselves at axe throwing classes…ON THEIR OWN, we sit upright. Its understandable… we need a bit of closure too.

It starts out subtly enough. You see them with new friends. Or people you know they hate but their real friends have already picked a side so beggars can’t be choosers. They lose weight (jammy bitch) and they get a new tattoo or a buzz cut.

Then…someone begins what we’ve all been waiting for. The airing of the dirty laundry.

‘Guess I was a mug for thinking you can be friends with an ex….more fool me’

‘Taking time to focus on me. No time for sleeping around…UNLIKE SOME!!!!’

Or my personal favourite

‘Beware [REDACTED] unless you want an STD as he is riddled. He has robbed me blind and the police are aware’

It’s usually at this point the ‘DM me babe’ responses start to land. Sod off. We’ve spent time following this particular pantomime… we need answers. How long has this been going on? Which STD? You don’t know I’m one of the people he met do you? DO YOU??

COLUMN SCOTT ALDRED GNI MAG [28]

Which brings me to the start of this, lets call it an article. How often, post break up, do you see ‘I behaved poorly’, or ‘I could have handled this better?’. You don’t, because the people that are mature enough to think like that know better than to parade their misery on Facebook for the entertainment of others. They reflect. They go over old actions with a sense of regret and hopefully learn a lesson. Mark my words, when you see someone going full batshit crazy online you can guarantee this isn’t a one sided fight. I watched 12 months of the most vile, offensive garbage being posted and what was worse was the sheer volume of ‘friends’ all too keen to jump in and agree with every barbed comment. Naming the other guy and vilifying him for everything from the cheating to the building of the Berlin Wall. Fanning the flames so the author would reveal more and more of their considerably soiled linen.

Schadenfreude, as Dame Edna once said ‘is the gift, a priceless gift, which is the ability to laugh at the misfortune of others’. Those friends aren’t concerned. They’re emotional parasites only to happy to prolong the suffering so they can revel in it.

I found myself having to say something. Not easy when the mob are wielding pitchforks and any hint of dissention is classed as treachery. So I tried to keep my advice simple and to the point. It fell on deaf ears, so I allowed myself a sly dig and left it there.

Perhaps Ms Swift should

told she lurks online and pays peoples tuition fees if they say nice things about her. She could lurk and wait for relationship breakups. Pouncing when she sees the trademark ‘Had enough of false friends…’ and wade in with a few wise words. Break ups are a grim business. We get it you’re upset. You can however be upset and retain a little integrity.

When I split from my last long term relationship I at least had the decency to keep my story telling 1 on 1. However, I could have been better. I enjoyed being the victim. Its not a good look. Watching peoples jaws drop as I recounted tales of horror that would have made a good six part Netflix series. Truth is, I reacted badly and when you know better you do better.

If you’re going through a bad time, just remember – nothing lasts forever, good or bad. If it’s bad, grit your teeth, it’ll pass. If its good, enjoy it…it too will pass.

And, if you have an axe to grind… go to a class and throw one… and move away from the keyboard.

COLUMN SCOTT ALDRED GNI MAG [29]
take up part time work as a counsellor. I’m
Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.

FLORRIE ANNOUNCES ALBUM THE LOST ONES OUT JUNE 14TH

And Kissing In The Cold, the second track to be heard from her upcoming debut album. The stunning track reflects on a past relationship, and contemplating on how things could have been different if they had met at a different time in their lives and features Florrie’s signature drums, and her emotive vocals. The new single and video are OUT NOW!

ALSO ANNOUNCED AS SUPPORT FOR THE FORTHCOMING GIRLS ALOUD O2 ARENA LONDON SHOWS

Florrie, the rare quadruple threat - multi-instrumentalist, singer, producer, and songwriter, is back with a bang in 2024. She announces her debut album, The Lost Ones, set for release on June 14th via BMG and Xenomania Records, along with its first single and title track of the same name. Adding to the excitement, Florrie also shares that she will be supporting Girls Aloud on their 5 O2 Arena London shows this summer.

For Florrie, making exceptional pop music has always been more of a marathon than a sprint. Since crashing into the music industry in 2010 with her fizzing, independently-released debut EP, Introduction, Florrie has enjoyed the breathtaking highs and endured the devastating lows of the industry’s winding rollercoaster. After two more EPs of forward-thinking independent pop that earned her international acclaim, a major label signing, and a challenging period of navigating differing opinions about her artistic direction, she took a step back from music to rebuild and rediscover her love of writing and producing. Now, in 2024, after a run of well-received independent singles, including 2019’s Grey’s Anatomy-soundtracking Borderline, she’s back with her long-awaited debut album, the pearlescent pop masterpiece, The Lost Ones. “I have been waiting to make my debut album for the last 12 years and it deserved all the time and love I’ve put into it.”

The title-track and first single, The Lost Ones is an anthemic, future live favourite that captures a sense of outsidership and transforms it into a superpower. Speaking of the release Florrie said “This is a song about letting go; of past regrets, mistakes you made when you didn’t know any better, and keeping hold of hope when life gets hard. There was a time when I almost gave up on music, and I went through a rough couple of years. I wrote this song while rediscovering myself as an artist and a human being.”

Florrie has also released the brilliant video, mixing a captivating performance with a sense of nostalgia, showing old family videos of her playing drums, her first ever performances and more. “I filmed this video in the hills behind the old Xenomania studio, where I started my career as an artist, and it felt very poignant being back there. I also wanted to include some old videos to show where it all began...and as a reminder to never give up.” Watch the official music video here.

Florrie is an artist taking charge of their career, and this is set to be her most exciting year yet. Written and produced predominantly by Florrie and Xenomania founder, Brian Higgins, the album also sees her collaborate with hit-maker Takura Tendayi (Rihanna, Chase and Status). Later this Spring, she hits the USA with multi-instrumentalist G Flip, on their tour starting in New Orleans on 16th May. Florrie will then support Girls Aloud on the 5 London dates of their phenomenal comeback tour at the O2 Arena in June. It’s an exciting, full-circle moment, having played drums on Girls Aloud’s 2008 hit, The Promise and co-written their 2012 single Something New.

If you haven’t heard Florrie’s music, you’ve definitely heard her songs. The London-based songwriter picked up attention and accolades as a member and drummer in the supergroup of songwriters and producers, Xenomania and has co-written huge hits for artists such as Kylie Minogue, Rebecca Ferguson, The Saturdays and Pet Shop Boys.

Follow Florrie www.instagram.com/florrie www.facebook.com/florrie.music www.tiktok.com/@florriemusic www.youtube.com/@florriemusic open.spotify.com/artist/2fkmfYw1KeOiDLA6MHDwU8 twitter.com/Florrie

FEATURE FLORRIE GNI MAG [30]

SUSAN HILL

THE WOMAN IN BLACK

INTERVIEW SUSAN HILL GNI MAG [32]
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The Woman in Black arrives in Belfast’s Grand Opera House on 13th May as part of its UK Tour. We spoke with the acclaimed author of the original novel, Dame Susan Hill, to find out all about how she came up with the spooky story of The Woman in Black and what it’s like seeing your work told on stage.

The Woman in Black ran for an incredible 33 years in the West End, and is now touring the UK again. Did you anticipate the show would have such a long life when it first opened?

Oh no, we thought it would run for six weeks! It opened in Scarborough in 1988, and it started because they had a pantomime on in the theatre and Alan Ayckbourn who was the Artistic Director wanted to have something to put into the studio theatre alongside the pantomime. Stephen Mallatratt went on holiday and at the airport he picked up The Woman in Black. He was then lying on a beach in Greece and thought he could make this work on the stage. When he wrote to me asking if he could adapt it I thought it was mad but it’s a truly remarkable piece of theatre.

Were you nervous about handing over your story to a new team when you were originally approached about adapting the novel to the stage?

Not at all! The play is very true to the book and yet simultaneously very different by nature of being a piece of theatre. It works brilliantly in theatrical terms and it is still my book, but it is also not –and that is exciting.

What was it like the first time you saw your characters appearing in the flesh on stage?

The Woman in Black herself very much existed in my mind, I knew what she felt like, so it is very peculiar to feel her presence in a theatre. They two gentlemen are such brilliantly developed characters and utilised so well by Stephen’s writing for the stage that they become quite different. I’m always interested to see new actors taking it over, because although it is the same text, every pair of actors bring something different to it, it really does change!

Stephen Mallatratt’s adaptation utilises some very traditional theatrical techniques in very innovative ways. Does the play capture the atmosphere of Eel Marsh House the way you envisioned it?

I think the great thing about the show is that it really does use the theatre, the stage, and it makes

the audience work. Stephen Mallatratt’s writing makes you use your imagination, and that’s the brilliance of it and also what makes some elements all the more scary!

Where did your original idea for The Woman in Black come from?

I have always loved reading ghost stories but had realised that in recent years not a lot had been written. People were writing horror, but horror is different to me. You can have a horror story that doesn’t have a ghost, whereas a ghost story could be horror but also could be unnerving in a different way or even heartbreaking.

I ended up making a list of the key elements I thought a good ghost story should have and worked from that. I thought it should have atmosphere, lots of atmosphere, an isolated location which in itself is unnerving, and I was absolutely sure that the ghost needed a reason to be there. I wasn’t sure at first whether that would be because they wanted revenge, or they needed to communicate with the living world but I knew they had to have motivation.

The Woman in Black, she came to me straight away – I wanted her to be a woman and of her period. Then various things that I had found alarming as a child came back into my mind and I wanted to incorporate them including the image of the dusty, cobweb covered nursery which I always think has elements of Miss Havisham in it.

Why do you think we as readers or audience members enjoy being scared?

It’s a funny thing isn’t it? It’s a very primitive instinct, to be frightened. However, the joy of a ghost story is that it is just practice really, we are being frightened delightfully. Whilst we may jump and scream in the theatre, we know that we are safe and can allow ourselves to be scared which I think is essential! Perhaps it is our way of learning to manage our fears?

How does it make you feel when you hear the audience’s reactions to The Woman in Black?

I’ve seen it so many times and yet sometimes it even makes me jump! I like to watch the show from the wings and be able to see the audience from that angle. It’s especially good when you have school parties in who aren’t expecting to be frightened but then as it begins to get tense suddenly

you see the body language of the whole audience shift. Sometimes people react really strongly and shout things out almost involuntarily as they’re so involved in the action on stage!

Do you believe in ghosts?

I think I do, in a sense. I’ve never seen one (as far as I know!), but enough people I know have been in a place which emanates a sense of evil and have felt the urge to immediately get away from it. Also, you always hear of dogs having that sense of something not being right, being spooked, and why would an animal make that up?

For lots of young people, coming to see The Woman in Black will be their first experience of live theatre. What do you advise they look out for?

Go into the theatre with an open mind and try to immerse yourself in the show. Allow yourself to imagine everything the show invites you to!

What do you think it is about theatre that makes it such a wonderful storytelling platform, and do you have any other works of yours that you’d like to see adapted for the stage?

People love live theatre. There’s something special about it which you can’t get from Netflix or YouTube. The Woman in Black has a lot of young people in its audiences, many have whom have never been inside a theatre or to a play and it bowls them over. I hope, indeed I know, that it introduces many to a lifetime of theatre going which makes me and made Stephen Mallatratt very proud.

When my elder daughter went to the theatre for the first time, to see a David Wood children’s play, aged three, she watched intently for the first few minutes, then said, ‘Mummy, they’re REAL!’ It’s that, the flesh & blood immediacy that makes it so special. The fact that something may go wrong, or maybe take off into the best performance ever. Nothing else can give you that edge of excitement. I’d love to see any other of the ghost stories on stage though they wouldn’t all work. Someone very clever could make The Man In The Picture work, I think. If you can do The Woman in Black, with a pony and trap, a ghost, a dog, a mist shrouded graveyard and all the contents of the mysterious house, you can do anything!

Get your tickets NOW for Woman In Black via GOH.co.uk

GNI MAG [33] INTERVIEW SUSAN HILL

BRIAN FALDUTO

The latest single from Brian Falduto’s Gay Country album is one more example of what’s become the modus operandi for the Hollywood child actor turned Nashville crooner: it’s the same old country love song, but it’s gay. He covers Dolly Parton’s beloved classic “Why’d You Come in Here Lookin’ Like That,” but his version adds a modern twist that while humorous, also carries real significance to Falduto and a large segment of country music fans that have long felt ignored by the genre. “As far as I’m concerned, we all belong in country music,” he asserts. “White, black, straight, gay… country music is about storytelling and it’s time we hear some new stories.”

Brian Falduto first gained fame playing the role of Fancy Pants in the Jack Black cult classic film School of Rock. The intense focus on the effeminate mannerisms he displayed as an adolescent would have a major impact on Brian’s coming to terms with his sexuality as a teen and young adult. “Mine is a story of what happens when society attaches a label on something they don’t understand in order to avoid their own discomfort,” he reflects today. Brian would later pen a pivotal essay about his sexual awakening in The Advocate and he now travels the country performing and speaking at Pride events, sharing himself vulnerably and offering hope to people in the early stages of their coming out.

In 2023, Brian released his first country music song, “Same Old Country Love Song.” It was greeted with a flood of positive encouragement and excitement and would become an LGBTQ+ country music anthem. Subsequent releases followed including “Hottest Guy Here”, “Big Boys Club, and “Skip the Step.”

In his live shows, Brian Falduto often mixes his original material with cover tracks. He finds familiar songs complete the vibe of his sets and showcase his inspirations. Dolly’s always a favorite because of her consistent support of the LGBTQ+ community and he is especially drawn to tongue-in-cheek songs like “Why’d You Come in Here Lookin’ Like That” because they are similar to his current catalog. His version of Dolly’s beloved classic doesn’t delineate too far from the original, but it does contain some rootsier, folkier elements that color the song differently. Also, in its production, Brian draws inspiration from the Cam song, “Diane.” “Tonally, ‘Diane’ is similar to ‘Why’d You Come in Here Lookin’ Like That’ so I’d say my version marries the two,” Falduto explains.

The biggest alteration from Dolly’s version is Brian’s queer storyline. “People forget this song is about a player,” he laughs.

“The cowboy is charming but doesn’t treat his lover so right.”

Brian admits that he can relate to the song. “In my twenties I was always chasing attractive but unavailable men who were incapable of an authentic connection.” (Anyone interested in learning more about Brian’s dalliances can listen to “One More,” a single he released earlier this year chronicling a flirtatiously romantic encounter.)

The “Why’d You Come in Here Lookin’ Like That” video was filmed in NYC at Hill Country BBQ. It was directed by Brian Falduto and styled by Brendan McCann. Hollywood actor Dan Amboyer (Younger and Uncoupled) plays the charming, cheatin’ cowboy.

“I love that Brian is taking a classic Dolly song and flipping it, making it his own,” Amboyer says from his NYC home. He is excited to play a part in Brian Falduto’s mission to make country music more LGBTQ+ inclusive. “There’s a perception that gays are urban-centric and that country music isn’t for us,” Dan Amboyer continues. “But that’s not my experience. My husband grew up on a cattle ranch. I grew up with pet chickens and pulling bullfrogs out of creeks.”

Brian has noticed a positive shift towards inclusion in country music in recent months. He points to Beyonce Knowles shaking up the genre with “Texas Hold ‘Em,” but also feels there is still a lot of work to be done. “I mean, Beyonce was the first black woman to have a number one single in country music? It’s not because black country artists don’t exist.”

He places the blame on country music radio who, for too long, have been the gatekeepers on what music gets played on air and what is discarded. “Thanks to streaming services, long silenced genres of country including queer country music are finally finding an audience,” says Brian, adding, “This is only the beginning.”

Brian Falduto’s “Why’d You Come in Here Lookin’ Like That” is available on Spotify, Apple Music, and all streaming platforms. The deluxe edition of Brian Falduto’s Gay Country album releases this summer.

Visit http://BrianFalduto.com

Follow Brian Falduto on FB, IG, X and TikTok @BrianFalduto

INTERVIEW BRIAN FALDUTO GNI MAG [34]
INTERVIEW BRIAN FALDUTO GNI MAG [35]

DO YOU KNOW THE RISING STAR YOUNG CHEF OF THE YEAR?

Do you know the next culinary sensation? Families First NI Ltd is on the lookout for the Rising Star Young Chef of the Year 2024 following the competition launch at the Forestside Cookery School in Belfast.

If you know someone between 10 and 16 years old by July 31, 2024, then this is their chance to shine. Whether they’re a whiz at whipping up healthy meals for a family of 4, mastering budget-friendly bites for students, or just have a family favourite signature dish that wows every time, we want to see what they’ve got cooking!

Think they’ve got what it takes? Simply send a short video of them cooking their signature dish along their your name and a contact number for their parents/guardian to: youngchefni@gmail.com

Leading the charge for the Rising Star Young Chef of the Year competition is Ann King, Managing Director of Families First NI Ltd and the competition's founder. As a devoted mother of four and proud grandmother of 11, Ann's kitchen has long been a space for culinary exploration and education. Under her guidance, the competition promises to be a platform for young chefs to showcase their talent and creativity, fostering a spirit of innovation and culinary excellence.

The esteemed Chef Stephen Jeffers will serve as Chief Judge for the

competition. With over twenty years of experience in the culinary world and as the principal tutor at Belfast Cookery School, Chef Jeffers brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the judging panel.

The Rising Stars Young Chef 2024 competition is designed to inspire and empower young individuals by providing them with an opportunity to showcase their culinary talents.

For more information or to submit your entry video along with your name, address, parents/guardians contact number email: youngchefni@ gmail.com

FEATURE YOUNG CHEF OF THE YEAR GNI MAG [36]

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow!

HAIR LOSS/THINNING AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT

Let’s get into the facts and figures before I dive “Head” first into the products, Services and treatments that can help you keep your barnet fair at its best for a little Longer.

FACT

In the UK approximately 8 million women and 6.5 million men are affected by hair loss, according to the NHS.

FACT

Across the UK, it is estimated that over 15.4 million people are suffering from hair loss at any one point. From temporary to permanent hair loss, there are many ways in which people can lose their hair.

FACT

By and large, the most prevalent

way in which people suffer from hair loss is through a condition called pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia).

FACT

Pattern baldness is a hereditary condition that affects both men and women.

FACT

Hair loss can also occur as a result of environmental factors such as stressful lifestyles, vitamin deficiencies and harsh styling practices. Although, these cases are rarer than pattern baldness and usually

only cause temporary hair loss.

FACT

Researchers estimated that by age 35, 2/3 of men will experience some form of thinning hair or hair loss. Unsurprisingly, this percentage increases as men age. 80% of men are reported to experience hair thinning and a receding hairline by age 70.

FACT

One of the reasons why male pattern baldness is so prevalent is that men typically have higher levels of testosterone than women. Hair

loss is caused by a chemical called dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is produced by testosterone.

FACT

A Stressful Lifestyle can greatly Increase your Chance of Hair Loss Over the next few pages, I am going to go through some of the best hair cleansing and styling products, hair replacement systems and longer-term medical treatments.

FEATURE HAIRLOSS GNI MAG [39]

If you want thicker, fuller hair, you need to start with the right cleansing routine and premium supplements.

Salt Grooming's Thickening

Shampoo and Conditioner

duo set (£29.99) are a total game changer. Packed with powerful ingredients like Ginkgo Biloba and Saw Palmetto, this dynamic duo not only thickens and strengthens your hair but also actively prevents male pattern hair loss. My hair certainly was thicker and fuller-looking from the very first wash. I also enjoyed the invigorating wild mint fragrance that lingers, adding an extra touch of freshness to my oily fine hair.

Greens Shampoo and Conditioner (£7.99 each) offers a natural and soothing option. Formulated with colloidal oats and botanical extracts like cucumber water and rosemary oil, this duo helps fine, thin hair appear

For those with a more sensitive scalp, Aveeno's Volumising+ Fresh

thicker and fuller while maintaining scalp health. With its clinically proven formula, you can say good-bye to an itchy scalp and hello to soft, shiny, healthy fuller hair.

You can also give your hair a boost from the inside out with Slick Gorilla's Hair

Strength

Gummies (£9.95). Packed with Biotin

and boasting a delicious watermelon flavour, these vegan gummies are designed to support optimal hair health, from root to tip. With no animal testing and free from harmful additives, these gummies are a safe and tasty way to maintain your impressive mane from within.

Now that your hair is cleansed and strengthened, you need the right styling products.

First up look no further than Slick Gorillas Hair Styling Powder (£11.95 per bottle) - This bestseller boasts a texturizing formula that outshines its competitors, providing a matte finish and a medium to strong hold suitable for any hair type. With its undetectable feel and impressive staying power, this powder effortlessly adds volume and texture to your hair, making it perfect for various styles on both short and long hair. Plus, a little goes a long way, making the bottle last 4-6 weeks with daily use.

For a beachy, tousled look, you have to try Slick Gorillas Sea Salt Spray (£12.95 per bottle). This parabenfree formula not only gives your hair a stylish, beach-inspired look but also conditions and hydrates your hair and scalp. Enriched with seaweed extract, this spray offers hydration, strength, and heat protection, while reducing frizz and providing styling control. The light citrus scent and added aloe vera

FEATURE HAIRLOSS GNI MAG [40]

ensure a fresh and clean feel, making it a versatile product for all hair types and lengths giving your hair body, grip, and texture without feeling sticky or heavy.

Looking for all-day styling with a natural finish? Check out Salt Grooming's Hybrid Hair (£19.99 per tub) a groundbreaking styling compound that combines the benefits of wax and clay making it suitable for all hair types. Two years in the making, this lightweight formula is infused with organic ingredients like unrefined Atlantic Sea salt, Icelandic bentonite clay, British beeswax, Arabian aloe vera, and Vitamin E. This formula nourishes your hair and scalp while delivering powerful styling properties. With a sweet scent and gentle gloss, this product provides a refined, natural look that's easy to rework without losing hold and the ability to absorb excess oils and grease, this product is a gamechanger for both short and longer styles of hair.

Improving your hair game and achieving long-lasting results has never been easier thanks to the array of innovative products and services available in the market today. Whether you are battling hair loss, looking to enhance your natural locks, or simply seeking a

more voluminous mane, there are solutions tailored to your personal preferences, budget, and needs.

One of the most advanced technologies in hair rejuvenation is the iGrow Laser Hair Rejuvenation System. This cutting-edge device utilises Low-Level Light Therapy to stimulate hair growth by energising the hair follicles and molecules, promoting natural regrowth. The helmet-style design of the iGrow ensures maximum coverage of the scalp, allowing the laser to reach the hair follicles effectively. What's more, you can enjoy your treatment while listening to your favourite music through the built-in audio port. With just 20-25 minutes of use every other day, you can expect visible results in as little as 4 months. Clinical trials have shown an increase in hair growth of up to 37%, making it a popular choice for both men and women. Plus, with a money-back guarantee after 6 months of use, you can confidently embark on your hair growth journey.

For those looking to enhance their hair with extensions and weaves, Love Your Locks in Ballyhornan and Dunmurry Belfast offers a range of top-grade options at affordable prices. From Nano Ring Extensions to Clip-in Styles and Ponytails, there

are solutions for every preference and hair type. Karen, the expert behind Love Your Locks, is renowned for her transformative before-and-after results, ensuring a natural-looking finish that blends seamlessly with your existing hair. The next pages delve deeper into Karen's expertise and the services she offers, providing a glimpse into the world of hair extensions and weaves.

If you are considering a more permanent solution, micropigmentation may be the answer. This technique involves using specialised ink to replicate the appearance of real hair follicles, creating a realistic and natural look for individuals dealing with balding or thinning hair. Whether you opt for density or full-coverage micro pigmentation, the results can be truly transformative. Jack at Scalp Venture NI in Holywood is a trusted professional in the field, helping individuals regain confidence and achieve the illusion of fuller, denser hair. His work extends beyond aesthetics, as he is dedicated to supporting cancer survivors in rebuilding their self-assurance through micropigmentation.

For those seeking a more definitive solution, hair transplant surgery remains a viable option. This

specialised medical procedure involves transferring hair-bearing skin from one part of the scalp to bald or thinning areas, providing a permanent remedy for hair loss. While hair transplants can cover bald spots effectively, it is important to note that they do not prevent further hair loss. Combining surgery with medical treatments may be recommended to address progressive conditions like male pattern baldness, offering a comprehensive approach to managing hair loss.

By embracing these innovative products and services, you can unlock your hair's full potential and maintain a stunning, thicker, and fuller mane with ease. Whether you opt for laser rejuvenation, extensions, micro-pigmentation, or surgery, there are solutions available to cater to your unique needs and preferences, ensuring that you feel confident and empowered in your hair journey.

On the next two pages you’ll meet my hair saviours, two local business people who are rebuilding the confidence of people from Northern Ireland and beyond.

FEATURE HAIRLOSS GNI MAG [41]

JACK MAITLAND SCALP VENTURE

NI

vasive, cost-effective, and permanent hair loss solution.

SMP involves using a specialised carbon-based ink to replicate the appearance of real hair follicles, creating a natural and realistic look for individuals experiencing balding, thinning, or receding hairlines. The treatment is suitable for individuals over 18 years old and offers two main options: density and full coverage.

Micropigmentation, also known as SMP, is a revolutionary cosmetic treatment that has been changing the lives of individuals dealing with hair loss. As the owner and founder of Scalp Venture N. Ireland, Jack brings expertise and passion to the field of micro pigmentation.

Jack's journey into the world of micropigmentation started during his university years. Motivated by the hair insecurities faced by his friends and the impact of hair loss on their confidence, Jack delved into research to find a solution. This led him to discover the power of SMP and its ability to provide a non-in-

maintain the desired results.

Depending on the extent of the hair loss, clients can opt for density to camouflage areas of thinning or full coverage for a complete transformation with a new, youthful hairline. The process typically involves 2-3 sessions, allowing for a gradual build-up of realistic impressions and optimal healing of the pigment in the skin.

One of the key advantages of micropigmentation is its minimal healing process. While some redness and dryness may occur temporarily, clients can expect quick recovery

In terms of cost, micropigmentation is a more affordable option compared to alternatives like hair transplants or systems. At Scalp Venture, treatments range from £399 to £1499 depending on the individual's needs, making it accessible to a wide range of clients.

Scalp Venture welcomes individuals from all walks of life, offering treatments for various concerns

post-treatment. Additionally, SMP is a permanent solution, though some clients opt for periodic touch-up sessions every 5-7 years to

a charitable element of paying it back to his clinic services, he has set up "TIB" (Take it Back), with the aim to support one cancer survivor

per month providing them with a free micro pigmentation treatment, helping them regain confidence and feel empowered after the difficult times they have endured.

The clinic is located at Kings House on High Street in Holywood, County Down. To connect with Jack and learn more about micro pigmentation, readers can reach out via: Instagram @scalp_venture or Facebook @Scalp Venture.

from small scars to full head coverage. Jack understands the emotional impact of hair loss, whether due to hereditary factors or challenges like chemotherapy and has introduced

As a special offer, Scalp Venture is extending a 25% discount to readers of GNI Magazine, making it easier for individuals to explore the transformative benefits of micro pigmentation.

FEATURE HAIRLOSS GNI MAG [42]

KAREN CAHILL LOVE YOUR LOCKS HAIR EXTENSIONS

AND WEAVES

en across the UK, ensuring that she stays abreast of the latest techniques and trends in the field.

Love Your Locks offers a diverse range of hair extensions, catering to every client's needs. From Nano Ring and Weave Extensions to Clip-in Styles and Ponytails, Karen provides solutions for those seeking to add volume or length to their natural hair. Moreover, her specialisation in Mesh Integration Systems addresses the unique needs of clients experiencing hair loss due to various reasons such as alopecia, hair thinning, menopause, post-Covid recovery, and cancer treatment.

The journey of embracing one’s passion and turning it into a thriving business is a tale Karen, a dedicated Hair Extensions Technician & Educator, knows all too well. With almost a decade of experience in the industry, Karen's story is one of transformation, both personally and professionally.

After transitioning from a corporate role in leadership and development to the realm of hair and beauty, Karen founded Love Your Locks with a mission to provide clients with the most natural and beautiful hair solutions available. Her commitment to excellence is evident in the extensive training she has undertak-

exudes passion, empowerment, and positivity, serving as a beacon of inspiration for those looking to follow their dreams and believe in themselves.

Mesh Integration Systems, a non-surgical hair transplant solution, offers immediate results and full-volume hair, providing a transformative experience for clients struggling with hair loss concerns. Karen's personalised approach and deep understanding of the profound impact of one's self-image on mental well-being underscore her dedication to helping clients regain their confidence and feel whole again.

At Love Your Locks, it’s not just about outer beauty; Karen emphasises the importance of nurturing self-confidence and empowering individuals to embrace their uniqueness. Through her professional and inviting service, she creates a space where clients can not only look fabulous but also feel valued and supported.

on a journey of self-discovery and confidence, one stunning hair transformation at a time.

In addition to her services, Karen extends her expertise to aspiring hair extensionists and hair loss consultants through the Love Your Locks Training Academy. By sharing her knowledge and experience, she nurtures the next generation of professionals, guiding them to success in the industry. The courses offered are designed to empower beginners with the skills and business acumen needed to flourish in this competitive field.

In a world where self-care is paramount, Love Your Locks stands

If you're considering hair extensions or Mesh Integration Systems, Love Your Locks is the place to be. With prices tailored to individual needs and a commitment to quality and affordability, Love Your Locks ensures that every client receives personalised care and attention.

Located in Ballyhornan, Downpatrick, with a clinic at Lipstick & Lashes Beauty Salon in Belfast, Karen makes her services accessible to a wide audience.

For those intrigued by the possibilities that beautiful hair can bring, Karen invites you to connect through Facebook, Instagram, or the Love Your Locks website. By mentioning GNI, readers can avail of a special 10% discount on any booked services, making the journey to fabulous locks even more enticing.

The success of Love Your Locks is built on the foundation of meaningful relationships with clients. Karen's ethos revolves around making each individual feel special, confident, and beautiful. Her brand

out as a sanctuary of transformation, empowerment, and beauty. Through Karen's expertise and passion, clients embark

FEATURE HAIRLOSS GNI MAG [43]

Can I Foster

Our foster families are made up of wonderful people – people just like you – who give children the love, care and stability they desperately need. Unfortunately, there are still many myths around fostering that continue to discourage people who have the desired skills to foster from even applying. If you have thought of fostering but weren’t sure if your application would be considered because of your lifestyle or circumstances, please read on as we bust some major myths…

Can I foster if I am gay?

Yes, of course. We welcome potential foster carers from all backgrounds. You can be single, in a civil partnership, married or living with a partner. We know that there are all kinds of ways to be a family.

Can I foster if I live alone?

A quarter of our foster carers live by themselves. Your support network is really important though, so we’ll chat to you about family, friends and neighbours. We offer lots of help, too. This includes a dedicated fostering social worker, 24/7 phone support, and peer support groups.

Can I foster if my children are at home?

Lots of our foster carers have children at home. During the assessment, we’ll talk about how you’ll meet

the needs of your own children and a foster child. Every child needs space so a separate bedroom is a must. If your own children are very young, we might ask you to wait a while before we start the assessment.

Can I foster if I don’t have children?

Absolutely. We’ll talk to you about your experiences with children, your skills and qualities. The most important thing is your ability to meet a child’s needs.

Can I foster if I rent my home?

It doesn’t matter if you own or rent your home. But –if you are renting – you’ll need to get your landlord’s permission. We’ll also need to do some home safety checks. You’ll need to let your landlord know these. Some of our foster carers get housing benefit. It’s worth checking if fostering will affect your benefits.

Can I foster if I work?

You’ll need to be around to settle a young person in and go along to meetings and training. But many of our foster carers go back to work after being approved. So long as someone is always there for the young person, it’s possible. We’ll talk about how this might work – and your support network – during the assessment.

Can I foster if I am retired?

Absolutely. To foster you need to be over 21, however we don’t have an upper age limit for our foster carers. We’ll chat to you about your general health, but so long as you can meet the needs of the children living with you, there’s no reason why we can’t consider your application based on your age.

Can I foster if I have pets?

Yes! Pets can often be very therapeutic for our children and young people, helping them to settle into their new home. Helping to look after pets can also help them to develop life skills such as caring for others.

Can I foster?

To foster with us you’ll need a spare bedroom. You’ll also need to be over 21 and have space in your heart and time in your life to prioritise a young person’s needs. If you would like to find out more, please get in touch with our friendly fostering team who will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

If you would like to know more about fostering, follow us on Facebook @AFCNIfostercare, call 028 9046 0500, email fostercareni@actionforchildren.org. uk or visit actionforchildren.org.uk/fostering

FEATURE CAN I FOSTER GNI MAG [44]

JACK TRACY

Ho-Mantic Comedy

FEATURE JACK TRACY GNI MAG [46]

Danny Will Die Alone dives deep into the hellscape of being a single gay man today trying to find love via the hookup apps. Created by and starring Jack Tracy, the series is loosely based on his own dating life in New York City. He plays Danny: a man on a mission. Recently single after a devastating breakup and freshly entering a mid-life crisis, Danny finds the dating scene markedly different from the last time he was on the market. Emotional unavailability, fear of commitment and hypersexuality abound and Danny is forced to navigate his way through unhinged flakes, fakes, and bots, all while remaining blissfully unaware of his own multitude of flaws.

In addition to its jaw-droppingly vulgar humor, Danny Will Die Alone presents a critical look at modern dating and its shifting relationship styles. It explores how gay men use the apps, treat one another, and the differences in their behavior when interacting virtually and in-person. “On the apps, you’re never quite sure if the man you are speaking with is looking for something real or if he simply enjoys the chase,” Tracy explains.

He notes there is a huge emphasis on casual sex encounters today. “It’s as if long term relationships and traditional dating structures have been abandoned by men in their 20s and 30s,” Tracy continues. “Once you get into the 40s, it’s a whole other macrocosm of messiness; mostly married couples who have opened their relationships and are looking for a temporary third to complete their throuple.”

Initially built as a web series, the first nine episodes of Danny Will Die Alone are fifteen-minute affairs, each focusing solely on Danny’s encounter with a man that represents a particular corner of the gay dating world. Characters pop into Danny’s life only to never be heard from again, no different than how it goes while dating in the modern era.

It begins with Danny attempting to convert a wellendowed hookup into a forever partner. After that fails, he meets hipsters, conservatives, spiritual beings, gym gurus, and men with all kinds of kinky sexual proclivities. All the while, Danny breaks the fourth wall to regularly let viewers know what he’s thinking about during the ongoing car crashes. “It’s a way to bring the audience into Danny’s issues,” Jack explains. “The viewers become the confidant Danny vents to.”

Viewers may sympathize with Danny, but not too much, because Danny is jaded to the point of near insanity, and is as awful as the situations he finds himself in. Like when he realizes the apps have become the land of unwanted bottoms and he enters his “top era”, or when it dawns on him that the apps simply aren’t ‘appening, and he hires a professional matchmaker.

It’s nonstop hilarity at Danny’s increasingly desperate antics as he futilely searches for his one true love.

Jack Tracy is a New York based writer, actor, producer, and recording artist. He has released three LPs,

numerous EPs, and is best known for his feature film Snowflake, and his web series History, Big Law and Millennial Memoir. Danny Will Die Alone is his first Dekkoo original series. When not working on his latest creation, Jack spends time with his cocker spaniel and, like Danny, continues his search for love.

Season two of Danny Will Die Alone is filming now. It will shift to six full half hour episodes with a continuing storyline and additional lead cast members.

FEATURE JACK TRACY GNI MAG [47]
Danny Will Die Alone streams this summer on Dekkoo.

HATE CRIME

THE RAINBOW PROJECT

In 2021, the Scottish Parliament passed the Hate Crime and Sentencing Act, which made a number of significant updates to their existing framework for tackling hate crime. Now, three years later and following extensive work to ensure it was able to be fully implemented and enforced, the Act has come into effect on the 1st of April. The Act made two main changes to the legislative framework: it added new protected characteristics to the existing list, namely age and differences in sex characteristics (intersex), while also introducing a new offence of “stirring up hatred” against these characteristics or any of the existing ones, which includes sexual orientation, transgender identity, race, religion, and disability.

Naturally, no progression of protections or rights for marginalised communities in any region of the UK can come into force without profound and vicious backlash, fuelled by dis- and mis-information. A certain famous author and outspoken advocate against trans communities stepped into the fray, putting out a series of quite offensive and upsetting (but clearly not illegal) tweets about trans people alongside a challenge to Police Scotland to arrest her for this speech. This challenge prompted a dizzying number of frenzied articles from across the UK media demonstrating little to no willingness to actually engage with the legislation as it is being enacted, but rather obsessing over a series of “what ifs” which are not reflective of the changes the law actually made. “What if” this hate crime bill will destroy freedom of speech? “What if” we can’t say anything offensive or subversive anymore? “What if” I get arrested for misgendering a trans person?

Of course, as you can likely tell from my tone, these hypothetical questions being posed are nothing but a distraction and a conceited attempt to undermine and frustrate what is, in reality, a positive development for LGBTQIA+ and other marginalised communities in Scotland. Hate crime perpetrated against gay and bisexual people have been steadily increasing since records began in 2010, and hate crimes perpetrated against transgender people spiked in 2021-22, possibly in response to increasing anti-trans rhetoric in the media and political discourse. Disability hate crime has similarly been steadily rising since it was included in the 2010 law change, with those with learning disabilities being the disproportionate victims of this rise.

Hate crime and hate speech perpetrated on social media has reached a fever pitch, with a small number of extremely vocal individuals and groups engaging in incessant targeted attempts to incite and stir up hatred against marginalised groups, particularly trans people and migrants. Reform was necessary to bring the law up-to-date with

this increasingly fervent and prevalent hate, to be fit for a digital age, and to include age-based hate and intersex people in the existing statutory aggravator to ensure that those hate crimes could also be captured by the law.

The above “what ifs” do raise an important question, though, around the cohesion of this new legislation with existing protections for and understanding of the right to freedom of expression – a question which was asked and answered in 2021, during the initial passage of the Bill. The Bill, now Act, was amended to include specific protections for freedom of expression, above and beyond existing protections in Scotland. Beside this, the Scottish Parliament – much like the Northern Ireland Assembly – is bound to act compatibly with the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 10 of which explicitly protects the right to freedom of expression and to “shock, disturb or offend the deeply-held beliefs of others”. This new Hate Crime Act could never – and was never intended to – breach or alter that commitment to free expression and speech. What it does do, however, is ensure that where speech meets the threshold of what a reasonable person would consider “threatening or abusive” behaviour, and where the perpetrator has the intent to stir up hatred against a particular individual or group, the law and criminal justice system is equipped to respond to this. Freedom of expression does not give everyone the freedom to threaten or abuse someone on the basis of their identity, their race, their disability, or any other characteristic. Indeed, England has had similar protections for stirring up hate on the grounds of sexual orientation for over a decade and against stirring up racial hatred since the 1980s.

The fact that this change to the law has caused so much consternation and furore speaks more to the rising tide of hate being stirred up against particular marginalised groups in our society than it does to concerns about the actual legislation itself. Police Scotland reported that they had received over 4000 hate speech reports in the two days following the laws enactment – a significant number of which, it turns out, were vexatious claims made against Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s First Minister, in a transparent attempt to frustrate the new law. Such a coordinated effort to scupper the implementation of the Hate Crime Act should not be taken as a sign that it is unworkable, but that it is more necessary than ever.

So what about Northern Ireland?

Our hate crime legislation here in Northern Ireland lags far behind even the previous Scottish law. We operate on an ‘enhanced sentencing’ model, wherein the hate motivation for a crime is only applied (if at all) at the sentencing stage, rather than being considered throughout the judicial process.

The statutory aggravation model operational across Scotland, England and Wales for over a decade ensures that the hate motivation is considered at every step, from the charge levelled at a perpetrator right through to the judgement and sentencing, helping to ensure victims of hate crime know that this hate motivation and the disproportionate impact it has on them is being truly taken into account by the judicial system.

Not only is our entire framework for prosecuting hate crime outdated, but the law also doesn’t include transphobic hate crime – something which has been steadily on the rise over the past number of years, both within official recorded hate crime and in reporting within community services such as The Rainbow Project’s Hate Crime Advocacy Service. According to the PSNI’s official statistics, recorded transphobic hate incidents have risen sharply since 2018, and reached a peak last year, causing untold harm to our communities and individual victims.

A judge-led Independent Review of hate crime legislation, published in December 2020, generated a series of recommendations, which included moving to the aforementioned enhanced sentencing model, incorporating transgender identity and differences in sex characteristics as protected categories within any new law, and ensuring that the multiple identities and characteristics of victims can be accounted for in reporting and prosecution. Following this review, the Justice Minister Naomi Long committed to bringing forward many of the recommendations, stating that transphobic hate crime would be covered by any new Hate Crime Bill brought before the Assembly.

Of course, this all occurred before the Assembly and Executive were brought crashing down in 2022, grinding to a halt most work on hate crime and other areas of interest such as banning conversion practices and reforming gender affirming healthcare. The two-year delay has resulted in a much reduced Assembly mandate in which to push for positive change and progress the rights of LGBTQIA+ communities in Northern Ireland, who have suffered from inadequate protections and failing services for far too long.

It is high time that the Justice Minister, and the wider Executive, rapidly worked to enact a new Hate Crime Bill, and avoid any further unnecessary delays which can only serve to embolden opponents and provide opportunities for the public discourse around these reasonable reforms to descend further and further into disinformation-fuelled chaos.

FEATURE HATE CRIME GNI MAG [48]
GNI MAG [49] FEATURE HATE CRIME

LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE Xand

How many times have you heard someone tell you to “Look on the bright side!” when you are filled with anxiety and feeling lower than a snake’s arsehole? This dear reader, is called “Bright- siding”, and it is as ubiquitous in Ireland as the fucking shamrock. I only recently came across this term when watching a splendid queer film called ‘Breaking Fast’ with the gorgeous Haaz Sleiman and the rather yummy and ever so fuckable Michael Cassidy. Incidentally, after 17 long dickless, joyless, sexless months of celibacy, I’d love to be the extra filling in that man sandwich! But I can’t really complain about the self-imposed lack of dinkle as I’m keeping meself nice for a Bradley Cooper look-a-like innit. What? If ya don’t ask, ya don’t fuckin’ get!

Anywho, I had to go to my friend Google to research the term ‘bright-siding’ and it didn’t take me long to realise that it’s a slightly less toxic version of ‘gas-lighting’. In other words, it’s the subtle invalidation of a person’s feelings, experiences, and opinions and an attempt to trivialise genuine feelings of anxiety or trauma by telling them to ‘look on the bright side!’. Yeah. We’ve all experienced it and it doesn’t feel good. It’s narcissism shoved in a crappy little box and wrapped up in a shitty bow with a gift tag that reads ‘Fuck You!’, and this little pressie is often offered to us by ‘well-meaning’ family, friends, and loved ones in times of sadness, heartache and depression and it’s about as useful as a steering wheel on a canoe.

The problem with not being listened to, especially for a queer person in 2024, is that we are made to feel disempowered and less important. Our feelings don’t matter and the more we’re made to feel this way, the more we retreat into ourselves, which can be a very dark place indeed. You only have to look at the statistics in a 2023 report on mental health in Northern Ireland (mentalhealthchampion-ni. org.uk) to notice when asked, “Half of males (49%) and 40% of females reported having difficulty talking to other people about their own feelings and emotions.” More worrying is the fact that “There has been a 28% rise in self-harm and suicidal ideation presentations together, since 2012/13”.

When it comes to the LGBTQIA community in Northern Ireland the report said the following:

“Evidence suggests that people who identify as LGBTQIA+ are at a higher risk of experiencing poor mental health. Research carried out by the Rainbow Project in 2021,87 showed that a third (33%) of the LGBTQIA+ community in Northern Ireland has experienced poor mental health, 65% of those responses said that they have experienced depression, and 45% have experienced suicidal idealisation. The Northern Ireland Census includes data on self-reported emotional or mental health conditions. The 2021 data shows that 26.55% of those who identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or other sexual orientation indicated they had an emotional or mental health problem expected to last 12 months or more.”

The simple fact of the matter is that Queer people in Northern Ireland often have to cope with some level of discrimination, prejudice, or abuse (physical or verbal) on a regular basis. Hell, I’m almost fifty fucking years old and just last week a deeply stoned guy in his early twenties called me a “Queer Bastard” in the street in broad daylight. At the time I laughed it off as this guy is a local drug dealer who is on the road to disaster and frankly, I felt pity for him. Feeling pity for someone like that, even if they’re a homophobic cunt, feels more empowering to me because once I get angry I lose my power. Power is in staying

calm and remembering that God created homosexuals so the truly gifted needn’t be burdened with children (apart from you Daniel of course!). Our lovely editor has been chasing his tail innit folks! I know what it’s like being a dad, but my twins are small and covered in fur and I’ll never have to pay off their student loans. Thank Fuck!

If people are reporting having difficulty talking about their feelings due to the stigma surrounding mental health, I propose this is because they’re being told to cheer up and look on the bright side instead of being heard. Pushing one’s feelings down and not talking is a bit like pushing an empty coke bottle to the bottom of a swimming pool. Guess what’s gonna happen? Yeah, sooner or later it’s going to shoot up and hit you in the fuckin’ face.

One of the most powerful books I have ever read was by an amazing woman called Louise Hay called ‘You Can Heal Your Life’, who, along with many others, believes that negative feelings, thoughts, and emotions manifest physical health problems, diseases, and even cancer. Stress, anxiety, unhappiness, loneliness, fear, trauma, sadness, and depression can have a direct effect on a person’s physical health. I lost my sister to cancer two years ago. She was stressed and anxious her entire life.

I asked Google the question, “How common is cancer?” - “Cancer is a common condition and a serious health problem. Excluding non-melanoma skin cancer, there are around 9,000 new cases diagnosed each year in Northern Ireland. It is estimated that one in two people will develop cancer at some point in their lives.” Northern Ireland is a tiny place with a population of only 1,903,175 according to the census of March 2021. That’s pretty high for such a small place! According to drugsandalcholni.info there were 350 alcohol-specific deaths in 2021 -the second highest on record with the previous year. 53% higher than 10 years ago. When you Google rates of binge drinking, “The global status report on alcohol and health found that 39 per cent of all Irish people aged 15 and over had engaged in binge drinking, or “heavy episode drinking” in the last month. The figures put Ireland ahead of Britain’s 28 per cent and just behind Austria’s 40.5 per cent, out of 194 countries.”

I wonder how many of these problems are down to people feeling invalidated and unheard. How different would these statistics be if instead of being told to ‘look on the bright side’, people were treated with respect and if the conversation went more like this, ‘I’m sorry to hear you are feeling lower than a snake’s arsehole today, let’s have a coffee and we can talk about it? I’m listening...’. Well, I feel like Dr Frasier Fucking Crane this morning god dammit! Having done my good deed for today I’m gonna fuck off and have a coffee! Laters!

GNI MAG [50] COLUMN XAND
Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.
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HANNAH MCKIMM

FEATURE SEXUAL TRAUMA GNI MAG [52]

Sexual Trauma Expert Calls On Victims & Survivors To Come Forward

“In the wake of events surrounding Jeffrey Donaldson’s resignation, a wave of emotions will undoubtedly be triggered across our community” said Belfast-based trauma-informed therapeutic coach Hannah McKimm of Hannah McKimm Coaching.

“As an expert in sexual trauma, I want to first speak directly to any survivor of sexual trauma. Your voice matters, and it’s never too late to seek justice and healing in whatever way that feels right for you to find your way forward,” said Hannah, 36.

As a survivor of sexual trauma, Hannah leverages her personal journey and professional expertise to advocate for survivors’ empowerment. Reflecting on her work as a trauma-informed therapeutic coach, Hannah explained: “In my work, it is incredibly moving and powerful to see survivors come forward and seek support to find a way through the impact of their experiences.

“I see the worst in humanity in hearing how people have been treated but also the best in people to see how they can find the strength and resilience to build a path of growth beyond this trauma. It also reminds me of the strength that lies in speaking our truth.”

For many survivors, especially when the perpetrator is in a position of authority, the dynamics of power and control can be a significant obstacle in their journey to speaking out. Fear of not being believed, retaliation, and the overwhelming sense of isolation can add to the feelings of shame and turmoil they will already be experiencing. However, breaking that silence can be a significant step towards reclaiming your life following sexual trauma.

Hannah said Brené Brown brilliantly captured the essence of why breaking the silence is so crucial, she explained: “If you put shame in a petri dish, it needs three ingredients to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgement. If you put the same amount of shame in the petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive.”

This highlights the transformative power of empathy and the importance of creating safe spaces where survivors can speak their truth without fear of judgement.

Hannah believes this highlights the transformative power of empathy and the importance of creating safe spaces where survivors can speak their truth without fear of judgement.

“For survivors, speaking out is more than a call for justice; it’s an act of reclaiming your power and shows others that they are not alone in their struggles.

“This is one of the reasons why I spoke up in 2021 about my own experiences, after which one survivor told me, “You have now given me hope that I can do this too”.

For survivors considering this step Hannah’s advice is:

• Know that your safety and well-being come first

• Find someone you trust and most importantly feel safe with, whether that’s a friend, family member, or professional, this can be your first step towards healing.

• Know that people may not react how you would like but that your truth is valid and you deserve to be heard.

Hannah added: “This is one of the main reasons why I have created my therapeutic coaching group ‘Growth Beyond Trauma’ to provide a space where survivors can share their stories, find understanding, and begin the journey of healing in a way that feels authentic and meaningful to them. It is about more than just surviving, it highlights how growth and thriving are available and possible for everyone.

“Whether you get support through ‘Growth Beyond Trauma’ or another support avenue, of which there are many in Northern Ireland, reaching out is a courageous first step toward a life beyond the impacts of trauma.

“In the coming days, weeks or months, if someone discloses any sort of sexual trauma to you, please listen to them without judgement and most importantly let them know you believe them and that there is support out there.”

Let’s build a community where every survivor knows they are not alone, their story matters, and healing is within reach.

About Hannah McKimm

Hannah McKimm, 36, is a Belfast-based trauma-informed therapeutic coach. As a survivor of sexual trauma, she leverages her personal journey and professional expertise to advocate for survivors’ empowerment. After a career in the Film and TV industry, including work on ‘Game of Thrones’, Hannah pursued a Master’s in Art Psychotherapy as well as additional training in trauma-informed practice and Brainspotting. Her transformation led her to found Hannah McKimm Coaching, where she supports individuals through one-on-one sessions, group coaching, and public speaking.

Hannah’s work extends to policy advisory roles, contributing to the Domestic and Sexual Abuse Strategy and the Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy. Her podcast, “Growth Beyond Trauma”, is a Top 100 hit on the Apple self-development chart, and her insights are featured in the Amazon bestseller “Step Aside and Rise”.

Committed to creating emotionally safe environments, Hannah is developing a trauma-informed training programme for businesses and workplaces. Hannah’s story and her advocacy for cultural change against violence towards women and girls in Northern Ireland have been shared on various media platforms, including ITV, The Irish Independent and the Belfast Telegraph.

FEATURE SEXUAL TRAUMA GNI MAG [53]

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OUR BIG DAY

Robert & Jonathan

BIG DAY ROBERT & JONATHAN GNI MAG [61]

In the heart of two distinct Irish landscapes, from the quaint village of Macosquin in Coleraine, Northern Ireland, to the serene town of Cavan, emerged a love story that transcended distance, culminating in a magical wedding celebration at the Four Seasons Hotel in Monaghan in February 2020.

Robert Tannahill and Jonathan Farrelly found each other through the digital threads of the internet in 2018. Their connection was instant, their conversations vibrant, and soon they found themselves planning their first face-toface encounter.

Their first meeting, set in a cosy diner in Cavan, marked the beginning of a beautiful journey. As they shared laughter, dreams, and late-night snacks, it became clear that their bond was something special. Despite the distance between them, their love blossomed effortlessly, bridging the gap between Coleraine and Cavan.

Six months into their whirlwind romance, Robert couldn’t contain his excitement any longer. On a crisp January evening in 2019, surrounded by the warmth of their shared love, he knelt beside Jonathan, proposing a lifetime of happiness together. With the blessing of Jonathan’s mother, their intimate moment sealed their commitment to each other.

Their journey to the altar was nothing short of enchanting. On the auspicious date of 20th February 2020, amidst the elegant ambiance of the Four Seasons Hotel in Monaghan, Robert and Jonathan exchanged vows in a ceremony curated to reflect their unique bond. With

Harry, Robert’s son, standing proudly as the best man, and their closest friends by their side, the couple embarked on a new chapter of their lives.

The wedding day was a tapestry of cherished memories, from the melodious notes of “Tale as Old as Time” guiding them down the aisle to the heartfelt speeches that resonated with love and laughter. Their first dance, swaying to the rhythm of Miley Cyrus’s “When I Look at You,” encapsulated the depth of their affection. Amidst the celebration, Robert and Jonathan took a moment to express their gratitude to their cherished suppliers. From Buchanan Jewellers in Coleraine, where their engagement ring sparkled with promise, to the skilled hands of Emma Stewart Cake Design in Omagh, each vendor played a crucial role in bringing their vision to life.

But it was the Four Seasons Hotel in Monaghan that truly stole their hearts. With impeccable service, delectable cuisine, and a team that felt like family, the hotel became the perfect backdrop for their love story to unfold.

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As they look back on their wedding day, Robert and Jonathan offer a piece of advice to future couples: “cherish every moment, for time is fleeting.” Amidst the hustle and bustle of the day, take a moment to pause, breathe, and bask in the love that surrounds you.

Their journey didn’t end at the wedding altar. Following their nuptials, they embarked on a brief getaway to London, eager to explore new horizons together. And though their honey -

moon was cut short by unforeseen circumstances, their love remained steadfast, a beacon of hope and joy amidst uncertainty.

In the end, Robert and Jonathan’s love story serves as a testament to the power of love, transcending borders, and overcoming obstacles with unwavering devotion. As they continue to write the pages of their fairy tale, they do so hand in hand, bound by a love that knows no bounds.

BIG DAY ROBERT & JONATHAN GNI MAG [65]
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FASHION DAVID BECKHAM GNI MAG [66]

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Try

GRIEF FITNESS

Grieving isn’t just an emotional process. It can be physical too!

It’s been a little while and this will be a slightly different one from me this time.

Recently I’ve had a little bit of necessary down time from the social media and writing side of things when it comes to my job.

I want to be as transparent and honest as I can with how I’ve been feeling and what’s been going on.

So here it is...

The past while has been difficult for me after losing a loved one and all the things that it has brought. We all experience loss and the grief that comes with it, we all deal with it in our own way. It’s definitely something we can all relate to in one way or another.

Grief has definitely tackled me in waves, one week I’d be keeping myself busy and the next I’d find myself not even wanting to go outside. Anyone that knows me well, will know that this is just a recipe for disaster for my wellbeing. I love to be out and around nature. It’s a physical and mental health MUST for me.

I definitely had days that I didn’t have the head space to think about much else other than what I was already feeling. Never mind thinking about keeping my routine, focusing on my sleep, training and what I was eating.

To clarify, IT’S OKAY TO STOP and work through your feelings.

I can rant and rave to you on how important your health and fitness is but sometimes that can be as important as just allowing yourself to be and feel what you need too at the time.

There were weeks that coaching and training were the only things getting me through and giving me the routine I needed. Some weeks my training felt extremely tough. On the tough

days showing up and getting some form of exercise done, whether it was a small walk or a short training session, it was a momentary relief and a building block to getting back on track. The more consistent I got the more manageable my days became.

Grieving isn’t just an emotional process. It can be physical too, it can leave you feeling exhausted, achy, restless and even under the weather. Your mind and body can be run down and it leaves you feeling burnt out. So It’s a working progress, be proud of getting the basics ticked off.

In truth, it’s easy to feel guilty at times when trying to look after ourselves, especially whilst mourning, whilst trying to be there for family who are also experiencing loss.

‘Secure your own mask first before assisting others’ if we can’t be there for ourselves how are we meant to be there for others. And it’s especially important around a time like this.

At this point we all know that Physical activity releases endorphins which help relieve discomfort and lift our mood. Eating the right foods and getting some form of exercise when experiencing loss can reduce stress levels and will help you sleep better at night.

When you’re going through something so traumatic, the best thing you can do is just move your body and fuel it correctly.

Here are a few things that have been getting me through and helping on the way to getting my own spark back.

Rethink Your Definition of Exercise- A period of mourning is not the time to make every workout super intense. It’s perfectly okay to go easier on yourself than you normally would. Build Up Slowly- Your body will be feeling emotionally and physically fatigued. Start with 10 minutes, if that feels okay, work up to 15 the next time, then 20 and so on. It’s creating a

really positive environment around movement that’s going to motivate you to want to do it more, especially when you don’t feel like it or you’re going through something.

Quick tip!

Don’t overdo it on the exercise, either. Some people may use exercise as an escape from grief in a less-than-healthy way. If that sounds like it could be you, ask yourself: “Am I doing this to feel mentally better? or am I doing this because I don’t want to deal with the grief?

If it’s the latter, give yourself an exercise limit. Stick to the healthy exercise schedule you kept before your loss for a familiar routine. Your body will be dealing with a lot too. The last thing anybody would need is to fully fatigue their body. Run into exhaustion and end up with a training injury.

Remember that it’s important to feel the waves of grief.

The meaning behind your training- Having an understanding coach to hold you accountable , a training plan to follow or signing up for a race, event or competition to honor your loved one will be a powerful way to keep you consistent. I had previously done a fitness event which meant something to me and I knew I was supporting something and someone close to my heart. It pushed me through. Knowing your efforts contribute to a good cause could bring a welcome sense of purpose to your workout.

It’s not just about the physical- Talk to a professional. Therapy is a massive help and I’d fully recommend it. Dealing with your mental health is also a flex.

Fuelling your body- it’s important to fuel the body correctly especially in low periods of time. Casseroles made in the slow cooker are a good way to get the nutrients in with minimal effort. The last thing you’ll want to do is be a chef in the current moment and an easy one to

FITNESS ELLISE GNI MAG [72]

separate into portions or share with the family.

It’s okay to be within your Comfort Zone-

This probably isn’t the time to push yourself over extra miles or to try an intimidating new workout. It’s about tapping into what you’re comfortable with to give your body what it needs.

Be in nature- I mean it when I say being in nature is my safe haven. And when I finally had it in me to do so it was a massive help (you might not be there right now but I promise you, you will get there)

Go on a walk to a forest with a friend or family member. Go to your loved one’s favourite harbour or beach and talk about all the lovely memories you have of them. Go dip your feet in the sea. Climb a little hill. Feel the sun on your face. It’s a nice (but also active) way to feel close to those we miss.

Sending all the hugs to those of you that need them right now, Ellise @ EFR Coaching x

FITNESS ELLISE GNI MAG [73]

50 DAYS SOBER Martin Murray

As A Drag Queen, Actor, Singer, Writer and Recreational Sports Administrator working across Ireland I often find myself meeting with collaborators in bars restaurants and running events with after parties which means I spend a lot of time around people who drink and smoke. I was 18 years old and working on a production of Romeo and Juliet as an assistant to the designer when I took up smoking as it was a great opportunity to meet producers and directors in the smoking area. 15 years and about 45 productions later and I was still smoking and drinking at least 2 or 3 times a week.

I have never really wanted to quit smoking as I enjoy smoking and I can handle my alcohol very well but this was the problem you see. Most people get too drunk to stand and can’t drink anymore. I just get more energetic on alcohol so can continue drinking for hours past most of my friends so this year I decided to look at my finances and realise that on an average month I was pending over £500 on cigarettes and alcohol.

On top of the financial motivation I regularly take part in public talking and media interviews on LGBTQ mental and physical health; and a smoker who drinks a lot isn’t the best representation of that brand. So on the 3rd of March at 2am I put out my cigarette and downed my vodka and coke and looked around at people in the bar and thought I don’t want any part of this. I write this article on Day 39 of sober life and you will read it after day 50. The benefits are only really starting. There are nights I can’t sleep as the chemicals in my system are changing so my minds more hyperactive and I cough a lot as the toxins leave my body but every day I cough less and sleep better. I have also taken up travel again so going to Manchester this weekend.

Following my sobriety I have taken up a lot of public speaking events and most excitingly I have stepped up my GAA game and joined Down LGFA PRO team. We are working on a number of programmes to celebrate Down LGFAs 30th Anniversary and this includes continuing to develop a relationship with the LGBTQ community of County Down who have

supported Down LGFA. Check out the Instagram to keep up with some of the exciting events we have coming and epic photos from Gareth Carville.

The New Danú

As part of my sober journey I am aware that people put on weight so I am focusing on my performances and drag. The first step toward this was to increase my work with Quire, Belfast’s LGBTQ choir so I am delighted to take on the role of Vice Chair as we train to take the Quire to perform at Hand In Hand in Bristol. This biannual celebration is a chance for singers from all corners of the UK and Ireland to unite in their love for music and their pride in being part of the LGBTQ+ community. The festival offers a fun and welcoming environment where performers can come together, share their music, and form lasting connections. From its humble beginnings in 2013, Hand in Hand Festival has become a must-attend event for LGBTQ+ choirs and music lovers alike. With hundreds of singers coming together to celebrate their shared passion for music, this festival truly embodies the spirit of community.

As well as working on my vocals via choir, I am getting to know my voice and body more through my drag. Drag turned into a negative thing for me for a while with people putting their own expectations on what I should do and how I should do it so I decided to reclaim my drag by exploring my range further afield which is why I am so delighted Paul Ryder cast me in their Drag competition The Ringmaster in Cork. The Ringmaster’s

COLUMN MARTIN MURRAY GNI MAG [74] Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.

Drag Race, hosted by Paul, is a drag competition giving contestants the chance to become the new Queen of the Irish drag Scene. Previous guest judges have included Michelle Visage and Alaska.

Tuatha Dé Danann

April 2024 marks 2 years since I founded Ulster’s LGBTQ+ GAA scene. Since then I have developed The Lagan Mermaids rowing club, The Belfast Frontrunners, In4Squash, Out2Tennis and helped develop the social media profile and PR for Laochra Aeracha GAC in Cork. Although I have had great success developing the cities sports scene, I never really left my mark. Everything was for the community so I made sure not to make any of it too possible.

To celebrate my 2 years I wanted to mark it with something special so I went back to my GAA roots and begun developing a Rounder’s team. This time to make my stamp I wanted to put a part of me in the name. When I developed the community and started my drag I chose the name Danú as she represents mother Ireland to me. She is known as the mother of Tuatha Dé Danann, a group of magical beings or gods. I decided to call the Rounder’s team Tuatha Dé Danann after my character and also because there aren’t many GAA teams named after women and I would like to change it.

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Three Spirits

Three Spirit is a functional non-alcoholic drinks range created by bartenders, winemakers and plant scientists.

We make botanical alcoholic alternatives designed not to mimic but pay homage to wines and spirits while embracing novel flavours and ingredients.

We are on a mission to show the world alcohol-free doesn’t mean pleasurefree. After years spent in libraries, labs, bars and fields,

we’ve created plant-based alternatives to alcohol that celebrate what you put into a drink, rather than what you take out. Crafted

by a mix of plant scientists, world-class bartenders, winemakers, hedonists, herbalists and artists, each of our award-winning elixirs offers a unique sensory experience.

Botanical Alchemy is at the heart of everything we do; from the plants we combine in our drinks, to the blending of minds and different expertise of the people who make them. Using adaptogenic plants and nootropics, each elixir offers a third

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way between drinking and not drinking; combining ingredients for flavour and function, and extracting active compounds from the highest grade, ethically sourced plants used for centuries in remedies and ceremonies to stimulate the palate, mind and body. Energise, connect, unwind... choose your mood.

Their Story

Founded in London in 2018 by a blend of plant scientists, world-class bartenders, hedonists, herbalists and artists, Three Spirit create plant-based alternatives to alcohol that celebrate what goes into a drink rather than what is taken out. Extracting active compounds from the highest grade, ethically sourced plants, they combine ingredients for flavour and function to create a ‘Third Way’ of drinking and socialising that stimulates the palate, mind and body.

Welcome to The Third Way

People drink for flavour and feeling... not just one or the other. The social aspect of coming together for a drink is a fundamental human necessity, but its bond to alcohol is not. We use adaptogenic plants and nootropics in our drinks to offer a third way between drinking and not drinking, so you can Choose your Mood.

Recyclable & 99% plastic free

Vegan & cruelty free

About our drinks

We design drinks for moods and moments, and believe alcohol free doesn’t have to mean pleasure free. We like to break rules and create new rituals. We are pushing the boundaries of what defines a non-alc liquid, experimenting with ingredients and extraction methods to harness the full potency of plants and create drinks with function, flavour, texture and mouthfeel.

Livener - The Pick-Me-Up

An exotic, fiery Botanical Elixir, powered by guayusa, schisandra and energizing plants. This invigorating Botanical Elixir is the perfect party pick-me-up. Powered by energising guayusa and schisandra berry, Livener is fresh and fiery with watermelon, guava and ginger. Bitter notes of ginseng and floral green herbs combine for a lingering dry finish of rich tannins, hibiscus and a hint of heat.

Feeling: Energised and uplifted. Natural caffeine & L-theanine from guayusa and green tea uplift and energise. Watermelon, ginger and ginseng stimulate, unlock energy and fight fatigue, while guava leaf protects.

Taste: Exotic botanicals and vibrant fruits, Livener is complex and punchy, starting with watermelon and guayusa freshness, moving through to ginseng bitterness with floral, green herbs and a lingering dry finish of hibiscus and tannins, guava and ginger with a spicy kick.

Social Elixir - The Mood Maker

A dark, herbal Botanical Elixir enhanced with lion’s mane mushroom, cacao and mood-making plants.

This dark herbal elixir is the ultimate social companion and mood elevator. Natural, blissful feeling with lion’s mane mushroom, yerba mate and damiana. Full-bodied and bittersweet with a curious savoury bite. Feeling: Calm, connected and ready to mingle. This dark, herbal Botanical Elixir is the ultimate social companion and mood elevator. Powered by mood-making lion’s mane mushroom, cacao, damiana, green tea, passionflower, tulsi and yerba mate, to raise spirits and forge deeper connections.

Taste: From powerful plants come powerful flavours. Full-bodied with a curious, savoury bite. Bright, dry spices on the nose lead to rich, complex dark apple and cacao notes.

Nightcap - The Dream Maker

A smooth, indulgent Botanical Elixir blended with tree saps, bright spices and soothing plants.

This award-winning dreamy elixir is the ultimate slow-sipper. Relax and unwind with naturally calming lemon balm, valerian, ashwagandha and hops. Tree saps, aromatic plants and bright spices entwine for dreamy, mellow moments.

Feeling: Naturally zen lemon balm & hops help to settle the mind while turmeric, black pepper and ashwaghanda help to stimulate the body’s rest and repair response. Rich maple and aromatic valerian combine to provide a deep sense of satisfaction and wellbeing.

Taste: Decadent flavours of wood, bright spices and citrus herbs make a luxurious slow-sipper. Mellow aromatics give way to smooth maple and rich vanilla.

Learn more and order via threespiritdrinks. com

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HOT HITS AND CELEB BITS! Gary Campion

My top 5 hits on repeat What I am listening to!

Ariana Grande - “We Can’t Be Friends” - The High Ponytailed One/ Galinda the Good comes at us with the second single of her seventh studio album, and this one is giving me real Robyn vibes.

Teddy Swims - “Lose Control” - His voice in this song is a masterclass on how to deliver a gravelsounding vocal rollercoaster. The lower key ranges to the vocal climbs are something else!

Spring has finally sprung, and the days are getting lighter and longer…. More time for listening to the biggest new releases and trending classics. Let’s get stuck in:

Album Releases I’ve been lucky enough to preview ahead of their release:

Maggie Rogers - Don’t Forget Me - 12th April

Maggie Rogers’ eagerly-awaited album is a captivating tribute to self-reflection and emotional depth. The album, which is released under Capitol Records, is a testament to Rogers’ growth as a multitalented artist. The lead single, “Don’t Forget Me,” was released on April 8th and embodies her signature blend of vulnerability and artistry, immersing listeners in a world of authentic storytelling.

Produced in collaboration with Ian Fitchuk at Electric Lady Studios in New York City, “Don’t Forget Me” takes listeners on a soul-stirring journey through Rogers’ personal experiences and collective stories. The album’s introspective tracks, such as “The Kill” and “So Sick of Dreaming,” are a testament to Rogers’ evolution as a songwriter and performer who can connect with audiences on a deep level.

Sabrina Carpenter“Feather” - She has come a long way from opening for The Vamps. She has found her sound, this tune is a pure summer tune!

David Guetta ft. One Republic - “I Don’t Wanna Wait” - Let’s be honest, David Guetta could make “Baa Baa Black Sheep” sound like a dance anthem. This track features a sample from Ozone’s 2003 hit “Dragostea Din Tei” but with the lyrics in English.

Empire of the Sun - “Changes” - The Australian electronic duo’s latest offering has a summer beach bar with a cold beer/ice cream in hand sound to it. I predict plenty of festival season coverage for this one.

With a mixture of heartfelt ballads and poignant melodies, Rogers invites listeners on a nostalgic road trip through the complexities and joys of life. As she explores themes of love, loss, and self-discovery, Maggie’s authenticity shines through in each song, leaving a lasting impression of warmth and sincerity. “Don’t Forget Me” promises to be a timeless addition to her already acclaimed discography and a testament to her unwavering commitment to musical storytelling at its best.

Ben Platt - Honeymind - 31st May

Ben Platt’s latest single, “Andrew,” sets the tone for his much-anticipated third album called “Honeymind.” The song showcases his evolution as an artist who is not afraid to delve deep into vulnerable themes of love and introspection across the album’s 13 tracks. The song’s raw emotion, intricate lyrics, and haunting vocals reflect a sense of tenderness and authenticity that has come to resonate with his listeners.

“Andrew” was produced by Dave Cobb and Alex Hope. The accompanying music video, directed by Sam Wrench, amplifies the song’s minimalist beauty further.

The forthcoming album is a deeply romantic journey rooted in personal experiences and reflections on love and finding one’s true self. “Honeymind” signifies a new chapter in Platt’s illustrious career. He is known for

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My Top 5

Mighty Hoopla 2024 Headliners

With getting the opportunity to attend and write about “My 1st Hoopla,” I thought what better top 5 to compile, maybe I’ll see you there!

his acclaimed performances on stage and screen. With a stellar track record in Broadway, film, and television, Platt’s musical prowess shines in “Andrew.” The single offers a glimpse into the heartfelt storytelling that awaits us in this upcoming album.

Vinyl of the Moment - The way all the great music should be played!

Back to Black - Songs from the Original Motion Picture17th May

This soundtrack is a touching tribute to the incredible talent of Amy Winehouse. It captures the very essence of Amy’s soulful artistry by seamlessly blending together her iconic hits from the celebrated album “Back to Black” with tracks from her musical inspirations like The Shangri-Las and Billie Holiday. The inclusion of a new original track by Nick Cave brings a fresh perspective to this nostalgic collection. Moreover, the printed inners contain a personal note from director Sam Taylor-Johnson that enhances the overall experience, providing a deeper connection to the film’s narrative. This is a must-have for music enthusiasts and Amy Winehouse fans alike.

Nelly Furtado - Maneater - once the iconic and easily recognisable beat starts you know you are going to burst into hair flips and hip kicks!

En Vogue - Free Your Mind - the original power vocal girl group whose vocals, harmonies and sass blows even the most glued down of wigs off.

Jessie Ware - Save a Kiss - The UK’s modern disco diva and mother will be headlining the Sunday night, I literally cannot wait to see her live again!

Becky Hill - Believe Me Now? - 31st May

The album is available in a Limited Edition Black & White Splatter format and showcases Becky’s evolution as a powerhouse in the dance music scene. It solidifies her position as a trailblazing female artist, pushing boundaries and redefining genres. The album features chart-topping hits like ‘Disconnect’, ‘Side Effects’, and ‘Never Be Alone’, and is a testament to Becky’s artistry and global appeal. Collaborating with top-tier producers adds layers of sonic richness to the tracks, creating a dynamic listening experience. With over 10 billion career streams and six UK Top 10 hits, Becky Hill’s authenticity and passion shine through in every beat of this career-defining album.

I can officially announce that in the next issue, I will be reporting about all things “Mighty Hoopla. “ The guys at Hoopla/Brockwell Park have been so kind to organise press and VIP access for me, let’s see who I can get a quick photo and a chat with over the weekend I am labelling Gay Glastonbury.

Now to decide and create my outfits….go big or go home! Kisses G xx

Rita Ora - RIP - You either love her or hate her, but you can’t deny she has some extremely catchy hits. I personally love this 2012 track she did with Tinie Tempah!

Bananarama - Love in the First Degree - so many amazing tracks, so hard to choose from, for this list, I decided to go for this camp classic!

Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.
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REVIEW

The Titanic Hotel’s Wolff Grill

The Titanic Hotel’s Wolff Grill recently unveiled its updated menu and revised opening hours, extending a warm invitation for us to experience their culinary offerings firsthand. From the moment we stepped through the doors to sample their new menu, we were met with a warm welcome from Ethan Mawhinney, the restaurant manager, and Adrian McNally, the General Manager, their personal attention set the tone for a delightful dining experience.

I started my culinary journey with the Chicken Caesar Salad Croquette, a deceptively small dish bursting with rich flavours that served as the perfect prelude to my main course. Across the table, my guest indulged in the salt and chilli squid featuring Asian slaw and a lively lime emulsion. The zesty lime notes elevated the dish while maintaining a delicate balance, setting the stage for the courses to come.

For the main course, we savoured the butterfly supreme of chicken with garlic butter and truffle fries as a side, as well as the Rib eye steak with peppercorn sauce paired with skinny fries. The attention to detail in both the presentation and taste of these dishes highlighted the culinary

finesse of the Wolff Grill, set in the opulent ambience of the Titanic Hotel’s restored Titanic planning office, complete with an original bollocking box lovingly preserved for historical charm.

As a self-proclaimed dessert enthusiast, I eagerly sampled the Creme Brulee with Lemon Curd, accompanied by homemade shortbread and a scoop of refreshing strawberry ice cream. The harmonious blend of sweet and tangy flavours was a testament to the chef’s skill. Meanwhile, my companion savoured the comforting Apple Crumble topped with a dollop of velvety vanilla ice cream, a classic dessert executed to perfection.

exceptional, masterfully combining culinary artistry with impeccable service and a historical backdrop, creating an unforgettable dining experience. The updated opening hours of the Wolff Grill, now operating from 5 pm on Monday to Wednesday and from 1 pm on Thursday to Sunday, ensure that guests can relish the culinary delights at various times throughout the week.

Whether seeking a refined meal or a casual gathering, the Wolff Grill delivers on every front, making it a must-visit destination for food enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike.

Our experience at the Wolff Grill in the Titanic Hotel was nothing short of

The Wolff Grill Restaurant, Titanic Hotel, 8 Queens Rd, Belfast BT3 9DT Phone: 028 9508 2000 Website: www. titanichotelbelfast.com

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TRAVEL Lanzarote

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Lanzarote Make your stay unique

Spanish Canary Islands

As we move from the darkness of winter into springs brighter and longer days many people are looking to escape the wet and grey sky gloom of the UK and Ireland. And to be honest I don’t Balme you. I personally wish we had much better weather here but hey life goes on and I guess the good thing is that if you want sunshine then for all of us we have to make the effort to travel somewhere a little further south. Northern Ireland is well served during the winter months by tour operators and low cost airlines offering us all the opportunity to book a 2 -4 hour flight down to the warmer climates of the Mediterranean and North Africa.

Ever since the beginning of my travel career back in 1997 as a newbie retail travel agent the Spanish canary islands have always been at the top of customers travel requests. Most LGBTQ+ community members will automatically think of Gran Canaria first due to its reputation as a key European Gay hotspot which holds annual summer and winter Pride events as well as a having dedicated resorts such as Playa del Ingles and Maspalomas for the community to let loose in and feel totally free. ( This isn’t everyones dream holiday when your gay though)

The sister islands of Lanzarote, Tenerife and even Fuerteventura are just a welcoming if less GAY. I want to suggest to you all that Lanzarote could offer you just as good a holiday or even better experience than Gran Canaria. Lanzarote too me is a much prettier island with a really strong mix of affordable self catering apartments to 5 star luxury hotels and private resorts and offers some truly spectacular resorts such as Play Blanca in the south and the lsland’s liveliest resort Puerto Del Carmen not far from the island Arrecife airport.

First impression count and you will instantly notice the landscape with its white sand dunes and the islands mix of white sandy beaches with some black volcanic beaches. Lanzarote offers such a unique landscape that it was declared a UNESCO Biosphere reserve back in 1993.

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So why do you come to Lanzarote for a holiday and well the answers are pretty simple it offers amazing all year sunshine with its volcanic , lunar and mars like sands to world class wine and seafood. It is actually the 4th largest of the canary group of islands.

On this island you will find some truly unique landscapes due to the islands volcanic creation and history. This island is Hot and you will notice from the many sand dunes which line the roads as you transfer on your way to the resort not to mention mountains which seem to be covered in plastic (They grow Grapes this way).

Over the years I have been very lucky to stay in many of the different resorts on the island and would highly recommend Puerto del Carmen for those people looking cafes, shops, bars and restaurants on the door step mixed with an abundance of activities and also it has a really lovely beach which offers some spectacular views of the airports holiday flights arriving and departing. I stayed in self catering accommodation in Puerto del Carmen the last time called Oasis Apartments which where typical Spanish style duplex buildings surrounded by a welcoming communal pool. We tended to do the typical supermarket shop for fresh breads, ham, cheese and tomato to make breakfast or lunch and then headed out every evening down to the Carmen beach strip for food and drinks in the resorts bars.

As I mentioned before Lanzarote isn’t that in your face Gay Island so please please don’t book to come here if your a Gran Canaria, Sitges or Benidorm fan because the island only has one yes one Gay bar and its called XXL. I think it is a very welcome addition to the resort and offers the LGBTQ a space to both relax and cruise if that’s your thing. The bar itself is small in stature but does its best to be the face of the community and offer a good night out even on its quieter days. The reviews it has been given shows how happy the community are to have this space and how much effort the owner and the staff put into making the bar a success. My advice would be to make an effort and have a night out here even if yo are not staying in the resort itself it would be well worth it.

If having gay bars isn’t at the top of your list when choosing a holiday then the island offers some stunning alternative resorts with world leading hotel chains. I have stayed in the Playa Blanca resort built around a cove with some truly stunning 5* hotels dotted throughout the destination . One such hotel which I can highly recommend for couples is the H10 Timanfaya Palace which was one of the first luxury hotels in the resort and was first opened back in 1997. This unique property is on the seafront and offers an Arabic style with ultra modern facilities and services. You will be in the heart of the resort with amenities such as Aqualava Waterpark, Quemada beach and Play Bel Janubio all located within 350 meters. Timanfaya is also a national park and has some of the islands most breathtaking scenery which can also often be very dramatic.

The island is very small and during my visits which have been either 1 or 2 weeks in duration I have always hired a car. The prices are very good and the roads are excellent and allow you to experience more of the islands unique characteristics at your own pace.

I have often found the islands to be a little pricer when I visited over the years compared to mainland Spain but if your staying in any of the 4-5* hotels you will most likely be bed and breakfast or half board meaning your food is often already sorted and the spending money will be spent on your own entertainment needs from excursions or nights out.

Due to the islands small size I would say a week is really long enough but 2 weeks can be excellent when comparing prices. Lanzarote is around the 4 hour flight time from Northern Ireland and operators such as Jet2 and TUI offer packages but you can also self package your flights and accommodation needs via low coast airlines from both Belfast and Dublin airports even mixing them to get the best possible prices.

If you do plan to stay for two weeks I think it would be a really good option to book two alternatives resorts to get a better feel for the island maybe mixing some luxury of the large hotels down in Playa Blanca to maybe a smaller

hotel in Puerto Del Carmen or even checking self catering options.

Lanzarote is a very well known spot for athletes to come and train due to the climate and its differing landscapes. You will often see many cyclists and runners some of which will be training for global athletics events like Olympics and triathlons. If your simply looking for a destination also that offers sports holidays the island offers Club La Santa which runs over 500 sports from cycling to Gymnastics all within a fantastic complex .

A holiday means different things to different people and I think its always important that you really think about what you want from a holiday ie do you want to simply chill and enjoy the sun or are you looking to explore the destination and try something different. Lanzarote offers a traveler so much choice that it really is a destination with multiple choices.

Its your money , its your life and I would say do what makes you happy because I am sure you deserve a holiday like no other and to make the best new friendships you can. A holiday is often an escape for people from the daily reality of life but maybe just maybe your next holiday could become your daily reality and no longer be a dream.

Keep travelling any which way you can because life is for living.

Enjoy.

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CASTING COUCH - THE SPIN OFF ERA! Martin Kearney

This following article will go over some of our readers heads it is a passion project perhaps I have too much time on my hands this one is for fans of Greys Anatomy.

In an era where TV shows come and go faster than you can say “McDreamy,” Grey’s Anatomy has defied the odds, not just surviving but thriving for over two decades. That’s right, folks, 20 years of surgeries, love triangles, and enough emotional turmoil to keep your therapist on speed dial. It’s been renewed for its 21st season, proving that this show has more lives than a cat in a lead role.

Keeping the show fresher than a newly minted intern, Grey’s Anatomy continues to introduce a carousel of new characters while giving our beloved veterans storylines that glue us to our screens. Its recipe for success has even spawned two spin-offs: the swanky “Private Practice,” which introduced us to Derek Shepherd’s wonderfully complicated sister Amelia, and the fiery “Station 19.” Although I only tuned into “Station 19” for the crossover episodes that is until Carina DeLuca sister of the late Andrew Deluca was made a regular, I’m not quite ready to bid adieu. And don’t get me started on missing “Private Practice” – I lie awake at night losing sleep manifesting my ideas for further spinoff shows into existence.

This series would be a family drama and explore the estranged and dysfunctional relationship between the shepherd sisters and their husbands and young adult children.

Without further ado, let’s take a whimsical wander into my fantasy spin-off ideas – a gift to fellow Grey’s Anatomy aficionados.

Show 1: The Shepherds

Amelia is offered a Job in NYC that she can’t refuse this ignites her relationship with her sisters and mother. Link Not being able to be away from Scout also joins her along with his new Wife Jo and her daughter Luna. Link and Jo would recur in this Series but would be regulars in my second idea but more on that later.

Charlotte from Private Practice also would turn up with her children grieving the loss of her husband cooper.

Cast would include Caterina Scorsone, Scream Queen Neve Campbell, KaDee Strickland, Embeth Davidz, Amy Acker, Cagney and Lacy legend Tyne Daly, throw in some hunky middle-aged actors for their husbands for example Demian Bichir, Matthew St Patrick, Adam Rodriguez along with some fresh new talent or alumni from The CW shows for their young adult/ teen/pre-teen children.

This show would cross over heavily with my second idea.

Show 2: Complications

Taken from the original name that GA was originally called.

Complications would be another Medical Drama following the staff at St Patricks Medical Centre in NYC.

Familiar faces are at every corner of this hospital including Chief Callie Torrez her wife Arizona Robins along with highly respected Dr Nicole Herman. Stephanie Edwards is now an attending in neurology. After Moving with his new wife Jo so as a family they could be closer to Scout and co parent with Amelia Shephard (recurring) Link finds himself back in the hospital he done his intern year in. Jo Wilson also starts training as Fetal surgeon in the same hospital and a position the head of Gynob welcomes Dr Carina Deluca who moved from Seattle with her wife (Maya/ Recurring role on both series) and son to start a new life.

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Some story lines would include. jo and links new marriage, catching up with Callie and Arizona, Callie having a coming out as non-binary story line.

Romance for Stephanie and Burn victims being represented.

Maya has a brain tumour one of the reasons they moved to NYC and why Carina took the new post. Her story would cross over heavily with The Shepherds. Amelia and Stephanie once again teaming up to take on an even bigger tumour that Nicole Herman had.

Catherine would also show up from time to time as she is trying to purchase the new hospital and it makes her but heads with a competitor. Another massive name in the medical industry and that character will be played by Madeline Stowe

Penny, Brody and Leah would also recur.

Cast would include.

Camila Ludington, Sara Ramirez, Jessica Capshaw, Chris Carmack, Jerrika Hinton, Stefania Spampinto with movie star Gena Davis and Madeline Stowe. Special Guest Star Danielle Savre/Debbie Allen. Recurring: Tessera Ferrer, Samantha Sloan, Vivian Nixon (fun trivia Vivian Nixon who plays Brody is the real-life daughter of Debbie Allen).

For those scratching their heads, wondering if they’ve stumbled into an alternate TV universe – fear not. You can catch up on all the drama, heartbreak, and miraculous surgeries across the Grey’s Anatomy universe on Disney+. To fellow dreamers and Shonda Rhimes devotees: let’s start a campaign. Who knows? Our collective fan energy might just reach the execs at ABC Studios.

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Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.

HIDDEN GEMS The Gourmet Boys

Given the current trend for six course tasting menus in many local restaurants, we’d like to present our brand new “Fantasy Six Course Tasting Menu”, championing some of the restaurants which we believe are really putting Northern Ireland on the culinary map.

Snack – Hot & Sour Beetroot Tart at Banh Boy.

We recently visited an absolutely fantastic dining gem in East Belfast. The newly opened Banh Boy in Ballyhack serves incredible Asian-inspired dishes and cocktails with separate Brunch, Evening and Bar Snack menus at “Mi Boy”, including an extensive vegan & vegetarian selection. We started our lunch with a couple of fantastic cocktails; a perfumed Lychee Martini, and a refreshingly tart Midori Sour. To accompany our drinks, we were treated to a couple of snacks; a delicious Okonomiyaki, and a delightful Hot & Sour Beetroot Tart; simply sublime; with hints of lime crema, and nori, this was the perfect amuse bouche snack.

Course 1 – House Cured Duck Prosciutto at Idyll.

The dictionary describes “IDYLL” as “an extremely happy, peaceful, or picturesque period or situation”, and that pretty much sums up our recent visit to this fantastic café on the Ormeau Road, and on Fridays and Saturdays, the restaurant is open in the evenings with an outstanding seasonal menu. We were blown away by the incredible quality, presentation and variety of all the small plates on offer. Dishes arrive when they’re ready. To begin, we ordered one of the new evening dishes, a House-Cured Duck Prosciutto with Pine Oil, Black Pepper Aioli, Rocket & Shallot Salad, & an Orange Vinaigrette, with Toasted Sourdough, which was light, fresh & delicate while delivering a subtle smokiness. Idyll ticks all the boxes, with its relaxed, informal vibe and a faultless small plates evening menu.

Course 2- Fish & Chips at Orā

Orā, on Great Victoria Street, serves tapas-influenced small plates reflecting an innovative fusion of modern and classic dishes with the focus on fresh, local produce, but above all taste. The standout plates for us were the seafood dishes. The Marinated Blackened Tempura Monkfish with pickled veg was sensational, the Garlic Fermented Chilli and Lime Mussels had a fresh citrus kick, and our favourite dish, the Orā Fish & Chips was a radical reinvention, yet still retaining all the comforting flavours of a chippy tea! Dining at Orā is a relaxed, informal experience with terrific wines and great food served in stylish surroundings.

Course 3 - Hake at Gullion

Gullion Restaurant at Killeavy offers diners a unique culinary expedition. At the launch of the new Gullion, Executive Chef Darragh Dooley created a fourcourse ‘Taste of the Estate’ menu with wine pairing, unveiling the culinary artistry that defines the Gullion kitchen. We loved the delicate, flaky Breaded Hake with Armagh Mushrooms, Beetroot, and a Buttermilk Sauce. The event

was an immersive experience, a journey that transcended the ordinary, where the landscape became an integral part of the culinary symphony on our plate.

Course 4 – Mushroom Rigatoni at Marcel

Marcel on the Belmont Road serves stunningly good dishes, cocktails & wines in a warm, contemporary venue, featuring a menu with a modern French slant. Our Main courses featured some wonderful French Bistro staples; the Steak Frites was cooked perfectly pink, and there were nods to Italy and California in the delicious, crispy skinned Seabass Cioppino with squid, mussels and prawns in a lightly spiced tomato sauce, but our favourite Marcel dish was a creamy, earthy Mushroom Rigatoni. An absolute must on our Fantasy Menu.

Course 5 – Paella at Edō

One of our favourite Belfast city centre restaurants, EDŌ, serves modern sharing style dishes, and is perfect for enjoying a range of taste experiences through a flexible, award-winning menu. The Seafood Paella is an authentically Spanish dish, fragrant with saffron and packed with Monkfish, Mussels and Langoustines. There’s also an earthy Duck Liver Paella with Sweet Onions & Truffle. EDŌ: excellent food, delicious wine choices, and outstanding service.

Course 6 – Dessert at Roam.

Serving the finest local ingredients, Roam is a terrific restaurant in Belfast’s Callendar Street. With beautifully presented, delicious dishes, the menu changes with the seasons. Desserts are always a triumph; we loved the pretty little tart of Roasted Plum and Blackberry Sorbet with Oats, and the cocoa-rich 55% Chocolate with Miso Caramel, Cacao Nibs, Hazelnut and Vanilla. There’s also a fantastic Irish Cheese Plate with three great favourites: Durrus, Young Buck, & Gubbeen-more than enough for two to share. All so delicious, it’s hard to choose just one, so we had to include them all in our Fantasy Menu!

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If you have any requests for restaurant recommendations send us a message and we’ll get right back to you.

FOOD THE GOURMET BOYS GNI MAG [86]
FOOD THE GOURMET BOYS GNI MAG [87] Course 2 Course 3 Course 5 Course 6
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HAIR

Danny Malone

This season, chic cuts are making a bold statement, offering a perfect blend of sophistication and trendiness. From the classic bob with a modern twist to the versatile lob, there’s a plethora of options to choose from. The pixie cut continues to reign supreme for those who dare to go short, exuding an edgy and confident vibe.

For those seeking a softer look, consider discussing the romantic layers that add movement and dimension to any hair length. Face-framing layers or curtain bangs are also popular choices this season, effortlessly enhancing facial features and providing a touch of elegance to your overall look.

When delving into the world of chic cuts, it’s essential to consider factors such as your face shape, hair texture, and maintenance routine. Consultation with a stylist to find a cut that not only complements your features but also fits seamlessly into your everyday lifestyle. Remember, a well-executed haircut can be a game-changer, boosting your confidence and leaving you feeling refreshed and stylish.

If you are thinking of something new why not come book in with me at Macc hair Royal Ave Belfast.

COLUMN DANNY MALONE
Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.

TITANIC HOTEL BELFAST

PER PERSON WEDDING PACKAGE

In the breathtaking and historic Drawing Office One

£7 5.00 per person

Minimum numbers apply. Subject to terms and availability.

Red carpet arrival and welcome bubbles for the Wedding Couple

Tea, coffee and homemade shortbread on arrival for all guests

Hire of the room for the full day and evening

Three course dinner menu with tea/coffee and petit fours

Evening buffet of sandwiches and wraps

Non-floral centrepieces on every table

Personalised menu booklets for each table

Complimentary bedroom suite for the wedding couple on the wedding night Menu tastings are available for the wedding couple

To add the ceremony at the hotel is an additional £500 fee.

Contact our wedding specialists on +44 (0)28 9508 2000 or weddings@titanichotelbelfast.com.

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Articles inside

HIDDEN GEMS The Gourmet Boys

4min
pages 86-89

TRAVEL Lanzarote

9min
pages 81-86

The Titanic Hotel’s Wolff Grill REVIEW

1min
page 80

Three Spirits

7min
pages 76-80

GRIEF FITNESS

8min
pages 72-76

DAVID BECKHAM

1min
pages 67-71

OUR BIG DAY Robert & Jonathan

2min
pages 61-65

HANNAH MCKIMM

3min
page 53

HATE CRIME THE RAINBOW PROJECT

9min
pages 48-50, 52

JACK TRACY

2min
pages 46-47

Can I Foster

2min
pages 44-46

KAREN CAHILL LOVE YOUR LOCKS HAIR EXTENSIONS AND WEAVES

2min
pages 43-44

JACK MAITLAND SCALP VENTURE NI

1min
page 42

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow!

5min
pages 39-41

DO YOU KNOW THE RISING STAR YOUNG CHEF OF THE YEAR?

1min
pages 36-39

BRIAN FALDUTO

3min
pages 34-36

THE IRREPRESSIBLES RETURN WITH NEW MUSIC

14min
pages 27-33

McConnell’s DISTILLERY

2min
page 26

Kawala

7min
pages 21-25

THE LIBERINES

12min
pages 14-21

SPRING AWAKENING

3min
pages 12-13

JOHANNES

5min
pages 9-11
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