Elska Magazine, my publication dedicated to discovering gay communities around the world, honored gay Casablanca for its latest issue. Inside readers are invited to meet an assortment of ordinary, man-loving men in this iconic Moroccan city.
From the 1950s, a reputation for Morocco as a sort of hedonistic gay paradise emerged, inspired by the works of William Burroughs, Joe Orton, Truman Capote, Gore Vidal, and other queer writers and queer neighbors. While these realities surely only ever existed for a select few, that reputation continues to hold, as evidenced by Morocco’s continued popularity as a destination for LGBTQ tourists. For this edition, the Elska team traveled to the country’s biggest city, away from the hordes of tourists, to talk to ordinary Moroccan gay, bi and queer men about what life is really like for them, attesting to how the gay reputation of Morocco is not a reality for them. the inhabitants of today.
For a publication that typically foregrounds the portrayal of diverse gay men, Elska Casablanca takes on a different tact, letting the narrative take the lead. This decision was made out of necessity more than choice, due to the difficulties and dangers for Moroccans exposed as homosexuals. Indeed, it is a country where in recent years many men, locals and visitors, have been arrested for “homosexual acts”. and where threats and violence are real risks beyond the bounds of formal law.
I was desperate to make an issue in Africa despite it being a region full of harsh conditions for LGBTQ people. Of the 34 Elska numbers produced so far, only one had been produced in Africa (the 2018 version Elska Cape Town), so I decided I had to find a way to make it work. I spoke to many locals and activists in several African cities, and it seemed to me that Morocco would be the best and safest choice, both for me and for the participants. However, once in the country, although I found that many men were willing to meet me to talk, very few were willing to be photographed. Usually in Elskaphotography takes the lead, but for Casablanca I chose to present the issue in a more narrative form, rather than abandoning and ignoring Morocco and Africa.
Elska Casablanca is divided into 11 chapters, each dedicated to a different local man that Elska’s team met in town. Each was interviewed in unstructured ways, like conversations between subject and researcher, taking place during city walks, visits to Atlantic coast beaches, or over many quiet cups of tea. This style gives the issue a very intimate and intimate feel, inviting readers to feel in Casablanca with us, to know these men personally.
Some of these chapters also include portraits of men who felt safe to have their images published. Even so, in order to maintain a higher level of privacy and protection for these subjects, some of the more revealing images have been released only in the magazine’s print format. In addition, a strictly limited number of copies were produced.
Elska Casablanca is 164 pages and is available from a selected list of stores worldwide as well as for online ordering on the Elska website. Also available is a companion e-zine called Elska Ekstra Casablanca, which contains behind the scenes stories, takes, extra boys and extra stories. The list of resellers and details of the subscription service are also available on the Elska website, elskamagazine.com.
Get the latest issue of Elskaexploring gay Casablanca, now.