Here at Hornet we’re big fans of Elska, the gay photography and culture zine that travels around the world, devoting each of its issues to the everyday guys of a different city’s LGBTQ community. Some of the bimonthly publication’s most recent issues have profiled the men of Seoul, South Korea; London, England; and Stockholm, Sweden. Released today is a brand-new Elska Manila issue — the queer zine’s 25th issue — in which we meet some of the Philippines city’s gay residents through intimate photos and their own storytelling.
Elska editor-in-chief and photographer Liam Campbell notes that while some parts of the world are seeing lower levels of acceptance of queer people, Asia appears to be “a new queer beacon for the world.” He points to India’s decriminalization of homosexuality last September, Taiwan’s legalization of same-sex marriage last May, and the Philippines hosting the largest Pride parade to ever take place in Asia this past June.
“I really hadn’t considered Manila as a destination for us before,” Campbell tells Hornet. “Unfortunately most of the media I’d seen previously about the city focused on slums, Trumpian politicians and eccentric old ladies with shoe fetishes. However, over the years we’ve received so many requests from Filipino readers to visit and feature their country that eventually we had to pay attention and meet them. What I discovered was a vibrant Southeast-Asian metropolis with an especially proud and friendly community that really wanted and deserved a bigger spotlight on their city.“
Each of the guys profiled in the new Elska Manila issue were photographed both inside their own homes and outdoors in the city, and their photos are accompanied by a true story they’ve decided to tell.
Campbell notes that despite the Philippines being a predominantly Catholic country, the men featured in Elska Manila were far from conservative. Many of the guys stripped down and went nude in their photos, uninhibited in both their portraits and the stories they tell. Among the stories shared, Paolo D shares a story about his mental illness struggles; Bryill B speaks of a lustful encounter on a crowded rush-hour commuter train; and Rej T tells a story of a family wedding where he had to escape the attention of bridesmaids hunting for a single man.
Elska Manila is available as a collectible print “bookazine” or as a downloadable e-version. A companion zine called Elska Ekstra Manila containing outtakes, behind-the-scenes stories and other bonus content is also available.