This month Elska Magazine celebrates its seven year anniversary. Over these years the project has been dedicated to showcasing a diverse range of extraordinarily beautiful ordinary men from LGBTQ communities around the world. So far thirty-eight issues have been published, each dedicated to a different city and including a range of everyday gay, bi, trans, and queer men living in the targeted city. The goal is to let readers feel as if they’d travelled themselves to the city and got to know LGBTQ life there by meeting some locals. To this end, participants are photographed in their streets and in their homes, dressed in their clothes or sometimes not dressed at all.
Then each participant also writes a personal story, adding even more to the sense of intimacy. Elska's focus on honesty is accompanied by a focus on equality, with each of the men given space in the publication no matter their age, race, identity, body type, or whether they fit the mould of body types we usually see privileged in gay media. The men in Elska are not celebrities or models; they are our friends, our lovers, our brothers, our partners, the people we love — indeed the name ‘Elska' means ‘love' in Icelandic. In addition to spotlighting diverse kinds of beauty, Elska places an importance on including a wide variety of geographies throughout its canon. That means multiple issues made on every continent (excepting Antarctica). The purpose is two-fold — first Elska aims to show that LGBTQ people exist everywhere and deserve our attention; second Elska seeks to highlight a range of locations so as to emphasise simultaneously how different gay life is based on where you live and also how the hopes and wants of people everywhere are essentially the same. Issues made in places such as Germany, the UK and Australia stand alongside issues made in Morocco, Poland and Bangladesh, together proving that the whole world is queer, beautiful, and to be loved.
“When I started Elska my initial idea was simply to find an outlet for my passions for photography and travel,” says Elska editor, founder, and chief photographer Liam Campbell. “I chose cities based on where I personally wanted to visit and then I just met whoever I could find there, spontaneously and without any special selection criteria. My motivation then altered once I started being able to afford to travel outside my native Europe, which happened from the fifith issue. Suddenly we started receiving complaints about featuring ‘too many' non-white men. Further negative reaction to our inclusion of trans men, older men, and various body types also soon arrived, but rather than let them upset me I let them inspire me to stand behind my belief that beauty is not something narrow. Furthermore, it is through visibility and a sincere portrayal of diversity we can erode all the '-isms' that plague our community.”
“Although in general our ‘whiter' issues have tended to sell more than others,” admits Liam, "the amount of love we receive in the form of le_ers and messages for sharing the bodies and voices of less visible communities more than makes up for any monetary deficit. However I have been seeing a gradual increase in positive aktudes towards diversity over the past couple of years, and it’s fuelled me to keep going. It’s also convinced me to keep visiting more unexpected locations. Some of the plans for the next year’s cities are certain to surprise even our most loyal readers.”
Elska’s collecXble print publicaXons are sold in select shops around the world and for order online. Also available are limited edition signed art prints, e-zines, annual subscriptions, and more. A list of stockists and more information can be found on the Elska website, www.elskamagazine.com . Contact: Liam Campbell +1 401 437 7894 / [email protected]