Latest issue of ‘Elska Magazine’ explores men of Northern Ireland, addresses stereotypes

The spotlight is on the beautiful men of Belfast, Northern Ireland! 

Back in September, we reported that Elska Magazine had chosen to shine their light on Sydney, Australia for their latest issue. This time around, the publication, which is dedicated to revealing the bodies and voices of LGBTQ men around the world, has decided to shine their light on Belfast, Northern Ireland, according to The Advocate

Northern Ireland is often viewed as more politically and religiously conservative than the Republic of Ireland or the rest of the United Kingdom. Same sex marriage was only made legal in Northern Ireland this year, six years after the rest of the United Kingdom and five years after the Republic of Ireland. 

Despite its reputation, Northern Ireland has a rapidly growing queer scene. The recent strides toward equality have empowered the large and diverse queer community of Belfast, but the history of inequality still weighs very heavy on the lives and stories of the queer men of Belfast. 

“I am always very interested in stereotypes, both how they are true and untrue,” says Elska editor and chief photographer Liam Campbell.

 “I knew about Northern Ireland’s unique political legacy but wanted to see beyond it. In reality though, this legacy still has a strong impact, and indeed most of the men I met here brought up the topic in some way, usually decrying how it has held back the LGBTQ community.”

When starting this project, Campbell also encountered another stereotype that he wanted to challenge — the stereotype of the Irish Ginger. 

I also encountered another stereotype though, after I started getting loads of messages on social media from people saying they hoped the issue would be ‘full of gingers.’ It annoyed me because of the fetishisation of a particular hair color and because it simply isn’t true that the island of Ireland is all gingers. But then during one shoot with a ginger guy, he talked about how proud he was of his hair because of how much he was teased at school for it. He proudly filled my camera with his long, red hair, and one of those images became the cover of the issue. The cover was in part me saying, “You want ginger? Here you go!” and also a way of honoring this man and his pride.

Liam Campbell, Editor of Elska Magazine

Elska Belfast is divided into 11 chapters, with each one dedicated to a different guy and filled with a selection of photos taken in their neighborhoods and homes, and features them dressed in their own style — and sometimes not dressed at all.  

Each chapter contains a personal story, with many of them reflecting how Belfast’s gay scene is rapidly changing. Some discuss politics and how the heavy burden of the conservative norms has shaped their lives, while others discuss more lighthearted and playful topics. Nevertheless, Elska Belfast properly displays the diversity of Northern Ireland and the men that call it home. 

Elska Belfast is currently being sold in select retailers around the world, or from the Elska Magazine website, which you can buy either electronically or in a classic print format. A companion e-zine Elska Ekstra Belfast is also available exclusively from the website, featuring behind the scenes tales, outtakes, and other bonus content not seen in the main magazine.

For more information, including subscriptions and purchasing, visit

Follow Elska Magazine on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

All photos courtesy of Elska Magazine

Latest Articles

BWM Staff

Our Staff Writing Team works hard to bring you great content and share news & events from the bear community and beyond.