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(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.

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Cymru Pride!

Unpublished outtake from the new Elska Magazine issue (07) Cardiff (Wales)

www.elskamagazine.com

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Today marks the release of our latest edition: Elska Magazine Issue (07) Cardiff (Wales)

It also marks the first issue of the second Elska year, having released our first edition, Issue (01) Lviv (Ukraine), exactly one year ago. As a UK-based publication, it was great to finally set an issue in Britain, but on an island(s) so full of big cities, it was so hard to choose which one to focus on. In the end I went for the Welsh capital for three reasons: 1) I’d never been to Wales so it had the most to discover; 2) my partner is half Welsh and I was always curious to see his roots; 3) I love the local accent, which kinda even turns me on!

We met a lot of ‘local boys’ in Cardiff, so many that this became the hardest issue ever to edit down. In the end it’s the longest edition too, at 164 pages, and features sixteen photospreads, each accompanied by a story. Most wrote in English as it’s the native tongue of 80% of Cardiffians, but a few wrote in Welsh (Ceri V, Orrie M, and Dave R) and one even in Catalan (that’s Oliver D, a postgraduate student at the university). Plus, seeing as Brexit just happened before we shot, the impact of this is reflected in a few of their stories.

The Cardiff issue, besides being the biggest, is also the most diverse in terms of body type and age. As usual, we just turn up in a city, post a load of messages on social media and photograph everyone who responds and wants to be in the issue. There’s no scouting for particular guys or types of guys. Rather it’s a spontaneous and authentic operation. This usually results in more diversity than the average gay mag, but Cardiff took the cake! Beyond the ‘textbook-hot’ muscle boys, there’s skinny guys, thicker guys, and definitely a rugby player or two, as you might expect from Wales. But most striking of all is the age spread – from 19 (that’s Jon D) up to 75 (that’s Bruce B). 

If you haven’t yet seen the full Elska experience, I hope you’ll pick up a copy and join us for our latest journey. Head to the main site, http://www.elskamagazine.com, to buy one, to see a list of stockists, or to subscribe to a year of Elska.

Diolch, Thank you!

xx

Liam