- Belfast’s LGBT+ scene has emerged from the shadows and is growing in a year Northern Ireland also won marriage equality.
Elska Magazine has travelled to Northern Ireland – in the year it finally won marriage equality – to photograph the LGBT+ men of Belfast.
In the same way, Elska editor and photographer Liam Campbell wanted to showcase the diversity of gay, queer, and trans men in the Northern Irish capital.
However, this edition of his magazine unexpectedly became something else too – a celebration of being ginger.
Campbell says: ‘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 colour 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.’
A time to celebrate LGBT+ Northern Ireland
Of course, Belfast has a troubled history. However, Campbell found that new – and very much more positive – forces are now sculpting its LGBT+ future.
He said: ‘Belfast is a city that is often understood and misunderstood based on politics, religion, and sectarianism.
‘While these areas still inform much of Northern Irish society, they are by no means the only factors making up a rich and multi-layered culture.
‘Particularly with regard to LGBTQ life, Belfast has a bourgeoning gay scene, taking off at long last perhaps in part due to having finally won some battles toward equality.
‘Of particular note, the adoption of same-sex marriage earlier in 2020, six years later than the rest of the UK and five years later than the Republic of Ireland, this is truly a time to celebrate Northern Ireland.
‘This issue serves as a way to help mark Belfast’s bold and queer future.’
You can see more of the men of Belfast and hear their stories in the new issue of Elska Magazine. Find out how to get your copy here.