‘Elska’ Magazine Throws Middle Finger to Polish Homophobia, Showcases Queer Men of Warsaw
Every few months we’re treated to a new issue of Elska, the print and digital zine focused on highlighting an exciting and diverse cross-section of the queer men who live in cities around the globe. In the past Hornet has offered glimpses into issues showcasing the men of Manila, Stockholm, London, Los Angeles, Seoul and everywhere in between. The latest issue of Elska takes us to gay Warsaw, Poland’s capital, and inside you’re invited to get to know not just the city but queer life there, thanks to a series of no-frills photo stories and personal stories from some of the city’s local guys.
Of late, when Poland has been in the news it’s been for less than supportive reasons. These past few years have seen conservative values and homophobia surging throughout Poland, driven by religious extremism and the right-wing politicians who support it.
And that’s why an issue of Elska that dives into gay Warsaw is so important: Not just for giving a voice to these queer men who are silenced at home in Poland, but also by allowing the men of gay Warsaw to be seen, because that visibility embodies a proud, pro-LGBTQ message.
“I’ve been saddened by the headlines coming from Poland, from anti-gay protest marches to the national distribution of anti-LGBTQ stickers to even the arrest of local artists who have dared to use the rainbow in their work, and that’s why I knew we had to come to Poland now, says Elska editor and chief photographer Liam Campbell about his latest gay Warsaw issue.
“I hope that as many Poles as possible will see this work, whether they are proud or disgusted at the results. I certainly am incredibly proud of the men I met in Warsaw who were willing to take part in our project and so publicly and intimately declare themselves out and unafraid.”
Inside the Elska Warsaw issue, and its companion zine Elska Ekstra Warsaw, you’ll meet 14 local guys, each of whom took part in a photoshoot, intended to showcase the city, their personal style, their homes and their bodies. (Yes, some of Elska’s photography are deliciously NSFW, which we doubt you’ll mind.)
These men of gay Warsaw also contributed true personal stories, some of which include: Henryk M’s story about publicly making out with another man in a crowded part of the city; Lew Ż’s nightmare of getting separated on a mountain hike during a storm; Mateusz D’s tale of pimping out his IKEA furniture-making DIY skills to get close to a guy he had a crush on; and Maciek K’s tribute to the rainbow arch at Saviour’s Square, Plac Zbawiciela, which once made him feel so welcome in the city and now is sadly destroyed due to homophobic arsonists.
This latest issue of Elska is nearly 200 pages long and can be found in select retailers worldwide or purchased online at elskamagazine.com.