The Pink Choice by Maika Elan is a profoundly-intimate and sensitive portrayal of the everyday lives of gay couples in Vietnam.
“Even though many people seem to be open about homosexuality in Vietnam, it turned out to be untrue when I showed many of the photographs of homosexual couples in intimate moments. Most of them found the photos disgusting and unacceptable. This reaction was a source of inspiration to me. My goal was to make photos about homosexuals that incite feelings of romantic love that are natural and beautiful. I chose to capture casual daily activities of the couples that can be familiar to anyone. By doing so, I hope to make the audience become interested, then gradually empathize with homosexual people.
Many artworks exploring homosexuality in Vietnam tend to focus on either deviance (especially in movies, with images of homosexuals portrayed in ridiculous clothing and make-up, mincing, shrewish, or rude manners…) or symbolic images. In photography, homosexuals are not presented simply as themselves. And if they are, they’re usually photographed from behind or with masks on. These all foster weird and absurd images of homosexuals rather than present more understanding perspectives. In turn, homosexual couples become even more intimidated and isolated.
The Pink Choice has a different approach as it seeks out personal stories using direct language: documentary photography to capture real moments and real people.
Moreover, stories about homosexuality in Vietnam and also in the world usually end in tragedy, especially in movies. On one hand, this tragic style of storytelling can make the audience become more sympathetic and understanding of the difficulties that homosexuals experience. On the other hand, the drama of homosexuals can also cause misunderstandings that the lives of homosexuals are vulnerable and regretful and that the choice to “come out” is an incredible effort against the community’s way of life. The point is, in real life, there are many homosexual people who live happily with their identity. There are homosexual couples who love, nurture, and build a happy family life together.
The Pink Choice is a series of photographs about the love between homosexual couples, focusing 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 photographs, but hopefully, they can feel the warmth of their love and mutual caring. In a way, I wanted to show what I see of homosexual people and not how they see themselves.”
– Maika Elan is a Vietnamese documentary and street photographer whose compelling, color-rich images impart the nuances of life in her homeland.