ELSKA SHARES INTIMATE PHOTOGRAPHY AND STORIES ON QUEER LIFE IN TBILISI, GEORGIA
Elska, a groundbreaking project committed to showcasing the bodies and voices of LGBTQ communities worldwide, has recently turned its attention to the captivating city of Tbilisi, Georgia. In its latest edition, readers will have the opportunity to delve into the lives of a diverse group of gay, bisexual, and queer men in this breathtaking corner of the former Soviet Union. Through a combination of intimate photography and personal storytelling, Elska aims to capture the essence of these individuals and their experiences.
“I understand that featuring a gay publication centred around Tbilisi, a place that remains relatively unknown to many outside of its borders, might appear unconventional. However, Tbilisi has always held a special place in my heart as one of my top five favourite cities in the world,” shares Liam Campbell, the editor and chief photographer of Elska.
“Nevertheless, it wasn’t until our forty-fourth issue that we chose to explore this vibrant city. Georgia’s LGBTQ community faces numerous challenges, despite the existence of progressive post-Soviet laws that aim to protect them. The prevailing conservative and Orthodox society often pursues different priorities, resulting in a lack of safety for local gay individuals. For instance, a local LGBTQ magazine experienced a police raid on false charges, a community centre faced similar circumstances, and Pride marches have frequently encountered violent counter-protestors outnumbering attendees. Despite these obstacles, the LGBTQ community in Georgia perseveres. They continue to march, to create safe spaces, and their numbers grow year after year. Inspired by their resilience, I decided that we could support them by highlighting the existence of homosexuals in Georgia and affirming their deserving of our attention.”
Within the pages of ‘Elska Tbilisi’ and the accompanying zine ‘Elska Ekstra Tbilisi,’ you will meet fifteen remarkable individuals from the local community. Each man was photographed in the streets of this captivating city and the comfort of their own homes, offering an authentic glimpse into their style, mood, and body. Moreover, each contributor has penned a personal and introspective story, allowing readers to forge a deeper connection with them. The tales shared touch upon a wide range of subjects. For example, Omo T contemplates whether his thirtieth birthday should mark the beginning of a more settled life. Nika J recounts childhood memories of the day Russia commenced bombing his country during a war that ultimately resulted in the occupation of 20% of Georgian territory. Dmitrii G shares the challenges he faced when evading conscription into the Russian army and seeking refuge in a country that isn’t particularly welcoming to Russians like himself. Nika P recounts a visit to a traditional bathhouse that unexpectedly devolved into a brawl. Iakob M reflects on how the art of dance provided solace and protection from bullying during his high school years.
‘Elska Tbilisi’ boasts 196 captivating pages and can be found in select stores worldwide or ordered online through the Elska website. Additionally, the companion zine ‘Elska Ekstra Tbilisi’ offers the inclusion of four more local men and their stories, as well as hundreds of outtakes and a behind-the-scenes diary chronicling the creation of this remarkable Georgian series. For a comprehensive list of stockists and information regarding subscription services, please visit the Elska website at www.elskamagazine.com.