(Undesirable… with Henry C from Cardiff)
So I sit here trying to write this and wonder if writing something about black guys is racist, as if it’s too expected, as if writing something about black people is to suggest that all I have to say about Henry is his colour. But well, since Henry is the first black lad featured in Elska Magazine, it’s the right time to do it.
I remember months ago, around when Issue (03) Reykjavík came out, that someone wrote to complain that there were no men of colour in Elska. I explained that we don’t choose the guys, but they choose us. We just turn up in a city, make posts and write to loads of guys regardless of race, and then shoot whoever wants to take part. It so happened that in Lviv and Reykjavík, we didn’t even see any black people; and in Berlin there may have been a few but they didn’t happen to get back to us.
So technically while I felt I was doing everything properly and absolutely wanted to keep Elska spontaneous and non-curated, I could see a problem. For the casual reader just flipping through a random issue, not seeing any black guys can make it seem like they’re not there because we don’t want them, that they’re undesirable. That’s a dreadful thing, but rather than change how Elska is made, I figured that the best way to approach this was to choose to make an issue in a city with a large black population. So initially I focused on Africa.
So far I’ve attempted to make contacts in three African cities, but it’s proved very difficult. Yes, if I wanted to do a Cape Town issue, it would be easy, but I felt that would be ignoring typical African cities in favour of a very unusual part of Africa. I’ve tried to make contacts in these cities but people aren’t even writing back. Homophobia is a very big deal in most of Africa, so that deters a lot of guys from participating. It could even be dangerous for them, so I expect an African issue will necessarily feature lots of fake names, vague (non-gay) stories, and perhaps even blurred out faces. So I don’t know what to do.
For Cardiff as usual we wrote to loads of guys, but Cardiff is a pretty white place, apart from a large Yemeni community. But Luke S, one of the lads in the issue happened to pass my details on to his friend Henry C, a guy of Ghanaian origin. When we met I asked about doing an Accra issue. “I have no idea”, he told me, “whenever I go back to Ghana for a visit, I pretty much spend all the time in the house. The guys there are really hot, but I don’t actually know any gay guys in Accra."I think that eventually an African issue will happen, but I’m gonna need some help. If you guys have contacts or ideas, get in touch. Let’s make it happen.
See more of Henry C and read his story in Elska Magazine Issue (07) Cardiff.