Today Elska Magazine, the gay culture and photography project that travels around the world meeting everyday men from diverse LGBTQ communities releases its latest publication. This time they headed to Dhaka, Bangladesh to shed light on a little known and threatened gay community through intimate photography and personal stories.
Dhaka is a huge metropolis, teeming with people and home to a vibrant and colourful South Asian culture, yet it is very little understood beyond basic associations with floods or the apparel manufacturing industry. As a publication often associated with giving a spotlight to diverse men and communities, it’s a prime destination for Elska to hone in on. South Asian men, and men from Islamic countries as well are too often invisible or exoticised in LGBTQ media, making this Elska issue one of the most revealing and unique of any of their twenty-three issues published so far. It is also perhaps Elska’s most important issue yet, urging us to give a thought to LGBTQ communities in places where being free is not so easy.
“It goes without saying that Dhaka is not home to a 'fabulous' queer scene like New York or Berlin, but like every other big city in the world, gay people exist here and I wanted to show them” says Elska editor and chief photographer Liam Campbell. “In a country where homosexuality is illegal and where prosecutions and hate crimes occur, I knew it wouldn’t be easy to make an issue in Bangladesh. However, after reading about some of the brave and inspirational work by local LGBTQ activists in spite of the danger, I felt inspired to meet some of them and try to amplify their voices. The men I met in Dhaka turned out to be some of the most defiant, proud, and also hopeful people I’ve ever encountered, and I’m so proud to share their beautiful bodies and harrowing stories with our readers.”
Some of the men introduced in Elska Dhaka include:
- Upal W, who longs for the sort of open and gleeful gay lifestyle that thrives in many other countries but which has become impossible in Bangladesh following the murders of two prominent local LGBTQ activists;
- Salman C, who speaks with hope that the American man he met and fell in love with on a business trip will one day return for him;
- Mir R, who talks about the day that everything changed, when he was forced to leave his family, his boyfriend, and his country to find safety;
- Shaman E, who opens up about a tragic event from his past that still haunts him, but which slowly is releasing its grip on him;
- Raj B, who reflects on a man who gave him love and made him who he is today, and also learns to accept his absence from his life today.
Elska Dhaka is 176 pages. It is available in a collectible print 'bookazine' or in a downloadable e-version. A companion zine called Elska Ekstra Dhaka which contains outtakes and behind the scenes tales is also available. A list of stockists and details of how to order online can be found on the Elska website.