Elska Glasgow

PHOTOS: Meet the gorgeous and gritty men of Glasgow, Scotland

Elska Glasgow

Elska is a project centered on traveling around the world, meeting a selection of everyday local guys, and introducing their city and their lives to readers through honest photography and personal stories. Below, photographer Liam Campbell shares exclusively with GayCities a selection of photos and behind-the-scenes commentary about some of the beautiful men he met in Glasgow, Scotland for the latest issue…

Diego E

Elska Glasgow

Before coming to Scotland I gave a thought to what visual themes I might encounter. It’s the same thing I do when approaching any Elska city. For example, when I went to Paris I wondered how many photos would feature a visible Eiffel Tower in the background, or if I’d do a shoot with a guy wearing a beret or holding a baguette… As it turned out, Elska Paris does include the first two of these, but not the baguette (though perhaps there are some baguette-shaped things in the issue)!

For Scotland I thought of the national flower, the thistle (which appears on our cover from the shoot with Scott H); and of kilts (two different styles of kilt were captured in our shoot with Nathan L). What I didn’t expect however were wildflowers, which we spotted everywhere during our shoots, delivering a dose of loveliness to sometimes dirty, grey, and damp backdrops.

I certainly didn’t expect flowers to become the main visual theme for the issue, but it turned out that each of the twelve men photographed for the issue would include one scene posing with a flower. It all started because of Diego, the first guy we shot in Glasgow, who chose to take us to the Glasgow Botanic Gardens for the outdoor part of our shoot. It wasn’t the setting that made us develop a flower theme though, it was Diego’s cheeky character in how he interacted with the flowers, like when he knelt down and took a bite out of a tulip. From that moment, I was obsessed with involving flowers throughout our time in Glasgow.

Damian M

Elska Glasgow

When I started Elska eight years ago, then based in my hometown of London, I knew I wanted to eventually publish an issue that was made in each of the four constituent countries of the United Kingdom. The first step towards achieving this goal came in the form of our seventh issue, made in Cardiff, Wales. Next came London, England for our nineteenth issue. Then this was followed by Belfast, Northern Ireland for our thirty-first issue. I don’t have a good reason why it took us until issue forty-five to finally hit Scotland, but I suppose it was mostly due to not being able to choose between Glasgow or Edinburgh, the nation’s two biggest cities.

These two Scottish metropolises can’t be more different. Edinburgh is famed to be pretty and posh while Glasgow is said to be gritty and down-to-earth. This characterisation really appealed to me, especially since I consider my Elska project to be an exercise in highlighting gorgeousness in the ordinary, undervalued, and imperfect.

I certainly don’t mean any offense by this, but when I met Damian he seemed the perfect representation for my idea of Glasgow as gritty-gorgeous. He turned up in a tracksuit, holding a cigarette in one hand and a McDonald’s cup in the other (which turned out to be filled with vodka and Red Bull, certainly not a strawberry milkshake). There was no pretense here, just a local guy who heard about my plan to photograph men in the city and in their homes and to publish a story written by each, and thought it sounded like fun. Somehow I fear Edinburghers wouldn’t have been so easy-going… but maybe one day I’ll try and find out.

Andrew M

Elska Glasgow

A week is certainly not enough to gauge the character of a population, but it’s enough to start to give some clues to it. In Glasgow, I’d say that I found people to be generally reserved and serious. I found people so chilly that I wondered if I needed to get a bottle of whiskey to bring people out of their shells! However, I quickly realised that this coldness was quick to lift away, that there’s a kind of suspiciousness that needs to be addressed before a wall can be taken down.

Andrew was the most interesting example I found of someone who seemed to vacillate between closed and open. When we met he was very quiet, and I got the sense that he would have told me to leave and forget the whole thing if only he could find the courage to tell me. But instead, he told me he needed to excuse himself to take a shower, and as I began to set up my camera and arrange lighting, I noticed that he’d not closed the door to the bathroom, leaving it not just ajar but wide open. I took this as a sign, so I gave a little knock on the door and asked if I should start shooting immediately. He nodded, and I started the shoot nude there and then.

Ultimately I shouldn’t have been surprised. When I later read the story Andrew contributed to the issue, he revealed that he’s an avid social nudist who met his fiancé at a naked Sunday swimming club and has taken holidays at naturist resorts all over the world. I realised however that Andrew still is quite shy, but this has nothing to do with being naked – nudity really is no big deal and we should all strip off more often!

Taner K

Elska Glasgow

Probably the least reserved person I met in Glasgow was Taner. Maybe this is due to his artistic side (he’s a professional pianist – and some gorgeous shots of him naked at his grand piano can be seen in our series). Or maybe it’s due to his half-Turkish roots (certainly the guys in our Elska Istanbul issue were rather bold). But Taner was so bold that even I started to blush…

It all started when he decided to walk us to a spot famed for summer picnics and queer history, Queen’s Park, for the outdoor portion of our shoot. For the first scene he was dressed in sportswear (this emerged as a fashion theme for the issue), for the next scene he put on a onesie in a Tom of Finland style, and for the third, he stripped off to nothing. This wasn’t what made me blush though; rather it was the arrival of a few spectators who made their way through the trees to watch the spectacle.

There are some incredible shots of him bent over trees and frolicking amongst the brush, but my favourite image came from the final scene… After telling him of my flower theme for Glasgow, he plucked up a bluebell and popped it between his bum cheeks! Classic!

Nathan L

Elska Glasgow

The idea of doing a shoot with someone wearing a kilt was something that kind of frightened me since I decided to make a Glasgow issue. Would I actually find a guy who owned a kilt? Let alone one willing to wear one for our shoot? (I feared they might find it culturally insensitive – too on-the-nose and stereotypical.) And if I did find one, would they do the bold thing and reveal whether it’s really true that Scots wear nothing underneath a kilt?

Fortunately for me, I happened to shoot a guy called Jake T in the Elska San Francisco issue who unexpectedly brought a leather kilt for his shoot. (And he revealed that nothing is worn underneath.) This took off the pressure for Glasgow, but when Nathan showed me that he had a kilt I couldn’t resist asking him to use it anyway. In fact, he had two kilts (one traditional, one more of a fashion kilt) and so we shot with both. One appears on the back cover of the mag, and the other (where what’s underneath is revealed) is saved for inside.

Les S

Elska Glasgow

Glasgow was actually one of the more difficult issues to make. Perhaps it’s to do with the reservedness I mentioned, or it’s something to do with the dreary weather, but I suffered a lot of cancellations here. This made me very anxious and meant I had to scramble to find replacements, including by using various dating and hook-up apps, which I prefer not to use to scout our ‘models’.

Sadly this method did not work well here, and the rejections and occasional nasty retorts at the idea of taking part in my project made me feel more down than ever. But then Les saved me, a little spark of light that salvaged my mood. We had such a fun shoot, and he’s the guy I chat to the most often today amongst the Glasgow Elskans.

Les and I have been toying with the idea of making another issue in Scotland, namely in his hometown of Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis. He’s not sure we’ll be able to find enough participants though, unless I don’t mind expanding the search criteria to include sheep! He says his family owns a bunch of sheep and promises to mention it to them in case they’d like to take part!

elska magazine

The new Scottish-dedicated issue, ‘Elska Glasgow’ is available in a limited edition print format as well as in an electronic version. A companion e-zine called ‘Elska Ekstra Glasgow‘ is also available containing hundreds of pages of bonus outtakes, behind-the-scenes tales, and two more Glaswegian men.

Don't forget to share:

Your support makes our travel guides possible

We believe that LGBTQ+ people deserve safe vacations that allow them to be their authentic selves. That's why our City Guides aren't locked behind a paywall. Can you contribute today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated

Related Articles

Now Open: Gay bathhouses that have stood the test of time

Latest Articles on GayCities

fem feast

Shhh! Peek inside this secret dinner in Puerto Vallarta

bear brotherhood

Redditors share the best gay bear events in Europe this summer

motors music and margs

Maya Mania is bringing an all-LGBTQ+ mariachi band to Long Beach Pride

she's got soul

Mexico City’s only soul food restaurant serves a taste of home for ex-pats & LGBTQ+ people

Pride in Places

Gianni Versace’s favorite gay bar is reinventing itself after 36 years

fun for everyone

4 amazing ways to get the most out of Orlando pride this summer

the afterparty

Eurovision may be “gay Christmas,” but the big queer party was definitely hot

epic escapades

Group tours for every type of LGBTQ+ traveler

best of both

Vancouver has two gayborhoods. Here’s where to unwind in both of them.

the truth

The worst part of traveling while gay

Pride in Places

Uncover a queer royal love affair at these stunning sites

mother's day

The perfect gift for Mom: Take her around the world with you