Around the time same-sex marriage became legal in New York the idea of complex sexuality seemed to be in the air around me. Fifty Shades of Grey was getting attention, political chatter was everywhere, a dominatrix was interviewed by Terry Gross, and my roommate told me about her fetishist friend studying for a PhD in psychology. Our culture is just beginning to accept sexual identity beyond the traditional male/female roles. This project is a natural response to what I feel is a limited understanding of (or desire to understand) the very complex nature of sexuality in America. I wanted to go further than the “norm” and meet people whose identity is more nuanced than the black and white concepts we are fed daily.
I started doing research and learned about the vibrant kink community in NYC, including a Facebook-like website called Fetlife.com, which launched in 2008. Not long ago it would have been quite difficult to contact a wide variety of fetishists without scouring the city trying to earn trust. A historically underground community is now meeting online, so I was suddenly granted access to thousands of people that are otherwise hidden.
Maika Elan is a 25-year-old freelance photographer based in Hanoi, Vietnam. Her recent photo series about gay and lesbian couples in Vietnam portrays an intimate, private view of love behind closed doors. Named The Pink Choice after a website for gay travelers, it documents same sex relationships in a nation and culture that has been hesitant to accept them.