Here, Liam Campbell editor of gay bookazine Elska discusses the journey of putting together his latest issue…
‘We chose to feature India in large part because we see so few South Asian men in LGBT media. We wanted to shine the spotlight on a huge group of people who are so often invisible.
‘In the beginning, we didn’t know which city in India to focus on… but loads of guys said that people in Delhi are rude, that people in Calcutta are too conservative (in an already quite conservative country), and in Bangalore too boring… so in the end we chose India’s biggest city and entertainment capital, Mumbai.
‘Mumbai was such a wonderful place. One of my favorite cities visited so far for Elska. But also totally exhausting, uncomfortably hot, manically crowded and just plain difficult. But also seductive and totally worth every inconvenience.
‘It was really hard to choose whether to title the issue “Elska Mumbai” or “Elska Bombay”. Almost all of the guys we shot said they preferred to call it “Bombay”. They say it’s because it sounds more emotional and cultural to them. But people I talked to outside India thought it sounded too colonial… In the end I flipped a coin and ended up with “Elska Mumbai.”
‘All the guys I shot in Mumbai kept reminding me that homosexuality is actually a criminal offence in India, and also that the law was imposed during British rule. Another nice ‘gift’ from colonialization!’
‘The guys in Mumbai were some of the kindest and welcoming of any met for any of our issues. They were extending invitations to parties, taking me to the beach, cooking meals, and helping in any way they could. So I guess it’s the people that was my favourite part of India.
‘One interesting moment was when I was shooting one of the guys nude in his bedroom and his mum came in to offer us some tea. She had no idea what we were up to, so he just said he was changing clothes. I doubt she’ll ever actually see a copy of the mag, but if she does, she’s going to have a shock!
‘The worst thing about making this issue was that the cops were frequently bothering us. It was like seeing a white guy with a camera was some signal that they should go into intimidation and harassment mode. In the end, nothing bad ever happened, but it was certainly annoying and a bit scary.
‘As always, each of the photo spreads are accompanied by a story written by each boy. The Mumbai issue has some of the best. Actually it contains my favourite Elska story ever for any issue, one that takes the form of a letter from the boy to his grandmother.’