‘Elska Kuala Lumpur’ is our twenty-ninth issue and our seventh visit to Asia, this time showcasing the capital of a country that is famous for its diversity and infamous perhaps for its continued criminalisation of homosexuality. Often overlooked among other Southeast-Asian metropolises in favour of holiday hotspots like Bangkok or Bali, we might have passed it by too if it wasn't for all the interest from local boys imploring us to visit. That enthusiasm convinced us to pay them a visit, and we're so glad we did.
Inside this issue you'll get to know over a dozen Malaysian lads who we met on our trip. We photographed them in their homes and in their neighbourhoods, revealing their personalities and their bodies via honest photography and through personal stories contributed by each of them. Some of the stories featured here include:
Sam Z, who introduces us to that universal gay experience, a visit to a local sauna, detailing the excitement, the fear, the lust, and the disappointment;
Gems A, who describes how rare and beautiful it is when a trans man can find a partner who isn't fixated only on ‘the equipment’ underneath the clothes. It's a story that I hope reminds us that trans visibility is too often accompanied by a fetishisation that renders the person within still invisible;
Jules N, who talks about his mental health issues, sharing some of the things that help him get through each day, as well as sharing how very hard it is to keep going in an environment where he feels so unwelcome;
Ashul S, who illuminates the sort of ‘coming out without actually coming out’ story that is common in many queer lives, whereby one can free themselves little by little through erasing ambiguity until truth is revealed, even if LGBTQ vocabulary is never itself used - highlighting an acceptance that is real yet never really complete;
Greg B, who opens his bedroom door in an explicit tale of the perfect encounter, a tale full of warm mouths, sticky bodies, and white ribbons all around.
Features images of / stories from: Khairul K, Gems A, Jules N, Jietwong J, Darren L, Sam Z, Muizz A, Ashul S, Azraai T, Greg B, J-son Y, Yang C, and Anthony C.
We also recommend ordering ‘Elska Ekstra Kuala Lumpur', a behind-the-scenes companion e-zine featuring loads of outtakes, extra stories, and exclusive content of one Malaysian lad that we didn't quite have room for in the main mag, John D.
Elska Kuala Lumpur is 196 pages. The print version is 170mm x 240mm (approx 6.7 x 9.4 in), full colour, sewn-bound, offset-printed, and on 130gsm (90lb) internal matte paper and 280gsm (110lb) textured coated coverage paper with flaps. One random Elska Collectors' Postcard is inserted inside.