Here at Hornet we’re big fans of Elska, the gay photography and culture zine that travels around the world, devoting each of its issues to the everyday guys of a different city’s LGBTQ community. Some of the bimonthly publication’s most recent issues have profiled the men of Seoul, South Korea; London, England; and Los Angeles, USA. Released today is a brand-new Elska Stockholm issue, in which we meet some of the Swedish capital’s gay residents through photos and their own storytelling.
Each of the guys profiled in the new Elska Stockholm issue were photographed both inside their own homes and outdoors in the city’s wintry landscape, described as a “cold and dark winter.” (In January Hornet took a look at reasons to hit up Stockholm in 2019 — check that out here.)
Swedes are notoriously shy and reserved, though the zine’s editor and chief photographer Liam Campbell notes he was able to get them to open up over coffee.
“I think that Swedes in general are quite easygoing and open-minded, but they also take some time to come out of their shells,” he says. “However in Stockholm I found them especially guarded and also maybe a bit more concerned about what others might think of them. Some were concerned about how much skin to show, if at all, in case their colleagues might see and then tease them about it. Others were concerned that their stories, which are meant to be personal slices of life, could be too personal, too vulnerable. But once they realised that Elska is a pretty small publication that their grandmothers probably won’t spot it on a supermarket shelf, they relaxed a lot.”
Campbell tells Hornet that, if anything, his only issue with Stockholm is that the city “sometimes seems a bit too perfect”:
I’m someone who’s very calm, quiet and a bit reserved in person. And I can’t think of anywhere in the world where the people share my attributes as much as Sweden, which makes me feel completely at home here. I also really like the music, the fashion, the coffee culture, the watery landscape and the climate. (I really don’t like hot weather.)
The only problem is that sometimes it seems a bit too perfect, from the clean and pretty streets to the well-dressed and pretty people. There are moments when I feel like a total disaster in the Stockholm setting, for example at my hotel breakfast where it seemed like the room was filled with supermodels and I was there in a sweatshirt and a hat to cover my bad-hair-day hair. But then you sort of realize Stockholmers really don’t pay much attention to you, and they’re also mindful of never appearing to show off. Once you figure that out, it’s easy to feel very at home here.
In addition to Elska Stockholm presenting to readers a brand-new city — the third Nordic-set issue of the magazine — it’s also the first issue with a new format. Elska is now a larger size than before, more pages (Elska Stockholm contains 200 pages), its paper is more luxe and the design has gotten an upgrade as well.
As always, the issue is available both in print and as a downloadable e-version, and its companion release, Elska Ekstra Stockholm (containing outtakes, more photos and behind-the-scenes stories), is also for sale.