Elska Magazine, a publication dedicated to sharing the bodies and voices of LGBTQ+ communities around the world, has put the spotlight on Singapore for its latest issue. Inside readers can get up close and personal with a cross section of ordinary men from the queer community of this city-state, which is one of Asia’s most diverse and evolving societies.
“Singapore is dichotomy, at once a modern, affluent city and also a conservative and authoritarian place where homophobia is formalised in law and censorship is strict and well-enforced,” says Elska editor and chief photographer Liam Campbell. “Because of this I never thought that Singapore would be the sort of place for us. As a publication that is actually illegal to sell in the country, what would be the point? Indeed the city-state’s ‘Undesirable Publications Act’ highlights specific ways in which our work goes against their values, such as the promotion of ‘normalizing homosexual lifestyles’ and also nudity, which is considered broadly obscene.”
“Despite these red flags we were hearing from more and more Singaporeans about how queer society was advancing despite the legal situation,” continues Liam. “Even in an authoritarian state many were lauding Singapore as home of the next great LGBTQ rights movement, and locals were telling me how ready they were to rebel. With this passion I decided to come and there I discovered some of the most bold and defiant population ever, leading to an issue that breaks all the rules and shatters all the stereotypes. It’s even the most naked issue we’ve ever made in Asia, definitely a sign that queer Singaporeans are ready to be seen as well as heard.”