Maika Elan: “Pink Choice” – Life inside Vietnam’s Gay Community

Nguyen Thanh Hai, known professionally as Maika Elan, is a freelance photographer born in Hanoi, Vietnam. Elan is known for her first project, The Pink Choice, that focuses on the personal lives of gay couples in Vietnam.

Vietnam –  Homosexuality is no longer considered a big taboo in today’s world: people have heard a lot of it, have almost come to accept it. Many can easily say they are homosexual, or have homosexual friends. However, there still exists a large barrier, when the notion of homosexuality is still limited to define what homosexuality is and how “different” it is… The “acceptance” of the nature of homosexuality is mostly based on sympathy, ignorance or even contempt. There has not been any recognition and/or encouragement of homosexuality as human right to love and to be loved.

Insufficient and sometimes wrong notions of the community make homosexual people’s life very difficult. Depending on the society’s level of open-mindedness, homosexual people choose to act in different ways: Some gather at places like dance floors, karaokes, cafes. Others, more discreetly, make friends via internet forums. Some male homosexuals get married with women. Others choose to live alone. More noteworthy are those many (both gay and lesbians) who choose to live together openly as couples.


THE PINK CHOICEThe legs of Van Dung (1981, masseur) and Quoc Huy (1984, masseur), rest after work in Hanoi, Viet Nam on 04 March 2012. They have been together for 3 years.


Thereon poses questions about their private lives: How do they live together? How do they express their emotions towards each other? What is interesting about their lives? Those questions, however, have remained great taboos. People avoid asking them, avoid investigating them, and even be scared of the possible answers… Starting from my own curiosity, my own confusion and my own motivation, as well as my insights into homosexuals’ lives that I myself had a chance to witness, I wholeheartedly carried out this project: a photography document about homosexual couples’ daily activities and their private moments (called THE PINK CHOICE). I want to tell the story by going into the great depth of love and intimacy. I want to avoid stereotypes of homosexuality. I also want to avoid the tabloid/shocking news style. I want to show simply how they care and love each other in daily activities. More strongly, I want to show that their loving and caring for each other is nothing deviant. They are all normal and natural behaviors, attitudes, thoughts and emotions.

Love is beautiful, and we can only claim ourselves supportive of homosexuality when we accept their love – and see it beautiful as it naturally is!


THE PINK CHOICEVan Hung (1990) and his partner Xuan Hai (1963) are having sex together in their familiar hotel in Hanoi, Viet Nam on 13 July 2011. They have been together for a year.


“The Pink Choice is a series of photos about the love of homosexual couples which focus on living spaces, the affectionate touches, and more importantly, the synchronized rhythm of lovers sharing life together. Viewers may not feel the personalities of the subjects in the photos, but hopefully they can feel the warmth of their love and caring. In way, I wanted to show what I see of homosexual people and not how they see themselves.” – Maika Elan/MOST Artists

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