Queer men of Istanbul spotlighted in stunning new Elska magazine

Over 20 locals feature in the 180-page publication, including one-half of the first gay couple to unofficially marry in Turkey.

An Elska Instanbul participant poses shirtless in front of the city skyline.

Elska Magazine, a project dedicated to sharing the bodies and voices of LGBTQ+ communities worldwide, has travelled to Istanbul for its latest edition. Inside, readers are invited to peer into the queer population of what has been described as the “gayest city in the Muslim world”.

Over 20 locals feature in the 180-page publication along with its companion zine Elska Ekstra Istanbul, each introduced through photos and personal stories. Among those to have contributed include Ekin K, one-half of the first gay couple to unofficially marry in Turkey.

“I must admit that I had been resistant to the idea of coming to Istanbul,” Elska editor and chief photographer Liam Campbell said.

A shirtless couple from Elska Magazine lie together in bed.

“Despite many messages that the city would make for a perfect setting for Elska, I simply was clouded by the notion that any Muslim-majority place would be antithetical to a project about celebrating queer life.

“But when one local gay man wrote with passionate insistence that Istanbul absolutely had to be an Elska city, and that he knew loads of people who would be interested in doing a photoshoot and story for us, I knew I had to budge. So I booked flights, asked him to spread the world, and hoped I’d been wrong,” Campbell continued.

“Almost immediately upon arriving I saw how much I misjudged the place. Istanbul was not only one of the easiest places to find subjects, but they were also incredibly open. The stories they offered were honest, and the images they allowed me to capture were relaxed, unposed, and revealing.

“Istanbul truly proved to be an ideal Elska city.”



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Elska Istanbul is purchasable from select shops around the world, as well as online from the official website. The accompanying zine is also available, featuring hundreds of pages of outtakes, behind-the-scenes tales and stories and photos of over a dozen more participants.

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