April 2024

By Chris Chi

Sharing stories about us

Hello beautiful people, 

 I sit on the patio of the airbnb in Melaka, overlooking the bay, an area covered by failed real estate projects and marshy wetlands. It’s my last day in Malaysia. Tomorrow I will fly back to Brussels and my apartment, pick up the routines there and try to construct my life further alone. Adaptation is the key. Like this 20 days’ trip to Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Penang and Melaka, the adaptation to the tropical climate has been hard, but I survived. The adaptation to traveling alone was intercepted by new encounters, both expected and unexpected. And the adaptation to new things and phenomena that I was not accustomed to, after all, it’s been 4 years since I was back in Asia before the covid pandemic broke and almost 9 years since I visited SE Asia for the last time.

Nevertheless in all these places there’s a sense of familarity, let it be childhood nostalgia, memories of previous trips, sharing stories with people… Life goes on no matter where you are. I’d like to think we grow a little as time passes by, even after we have reached the age of adulthood. 

Treat yourself kindly. Treat others kindly.


MEMORY – TOM

(Tom, in Berlin, August 2023)

Tom just moved to Berlin from Poland together with his boyfriend “Le shark” when we met. His apartment was still stacked with boxes waiting to be unpacked. He’s quite adamant about the messiness of his apartment, which reflected his character of being a perfectionist (Maybe he’s a VIRGO too?). To be honest I didn’t know Tom very well back then. I knew he’d done some sexy photoshoots before. He’s hot and had a bit of kinky side based on the photos. (or it’s purely my imagination?) Later it’s confirmed to be true, when he put on the black hooded face mask and took out the handcuffs. After all he’d moved to Berlin, right?

I vaguely remember what we have talked about that day. My memory often fails me now, an aftermath of burnout and loosing my husband. I remember I was joking about his HUEL meals. We took photos mainly on the couch, because that’s the only space not occupied by the boxes. There was a statue of Jesus behind the couch in one of those boxed, which surprised me. Only if Jesus knew how sinful these boys were 🙂 We did the photoshoot, something sexy and something simple. After I left his apartment he told me that he had to jerk off and came a lot. I was like, “Can you do a 2nd round and I will be there to photograph that?”

We kept in contact after I left Berlin and were updated about each other’s life bits by bits. We met again this Feburary, no photoshoot, just to catch up. He was again complaining about how messy his apartment was. But as a matter of fact, it was spotless and cosy. “Le Shark” was there too. I finally met him, an adorable person with a smile that brightens the world. It was a very emotional evening as we all knew what happened earlier in my life. They carefully asked about how I was doing. And I told them everything, including those emotions hidden deep inside my heart. “It’s so raw.” “Le Shark” said. And yet it’s beautiful and precious. We were drinking wine and tasting decilious truffle sausages. Tom prepared carrots with hamus. I swear it’s the most tasty carrots I have ever had. 

And we cried. Three of us, hugging each other and letting the emotions flow over us. I think it’s much needed as those emotions water and nurish us, like rain after draught. I do appreciate what they had done, their words and the fact that they were simply being there. “What is the most important in our life?” I think we all have found the answer that evening.

Tom texted me again after my mom left Belgium in March. He told me that I could call him anytime I wanted coz he’s a friend. He would plan a trip to visit me in Brussels with “Le Shark” so that I would have friends around. Needless to say I was very touched. I pled,” please do.” “Le Shark” stated “Don’t worry. We will. Tom is the one that makes things happen.” Then one day Tom told me that he booked the tickets, living true to his reputation. That made my day. Thanks, you boys. See you in May.


Anthing you lose comes around in another form

George Town, Penang, where time has stopped. Soaked in the sun, this quaint UNESCO world heritage town eternally appears to be in a laid-back, relaxed state. Old houses, temples, streets, allies feasted my eyes, making connection with my mind and childhood memories. I marveled at the lavish decoration of ancient mansions and temples. The carvings of woodwork were incredibly imposing and detailed. “You would have loved seeing these.” That’s my first reaction when standing in front of the Choo Chay Keong temple. This realization was hard to swallow.One day we passed by a bookstore in the old center of the George Town, in front of it, there was a blackboard. “Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes around in another form.” A quote by Jalaluddin Rumi, a 13th century poet originally from Afghanistan. I read it then sighed. As much comfort as these words might bring, I still felt a bit hopeless, desperate in giving new meaning to this new reality. I embarked on this trip, hoping it might give me some space and time to be away from everything back home in Brussels. I had no goal, no plans, no desire. “Simply let it happen.” I told people. 
I flew to Bangkok, a city that I had visited three times before. Thailand is the first foreign country that we visited together. Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, I remember very well the exotic places, golden temples, motorbike ride, elephants, sandy beaches…We had a wonderful time, happy and in love. There were two things I set my mind to do: visiting the golden mount and taking the ferry in the Chao Phraya river. Tracking the memories, following the steps that we did, 19 years ago. It was a very emotional moment when I reached the golden mount. I remember vividly how much we enjoyed this place. We set birds free at the food of the hill. We were energized by the sight of the lavish green scenery in this tropical heat. We climbed the stairs to the top of the golden stupa and watched people pray in front of many golden buddha statues. Little had changed as if it was yesterday when we visited this place. This time, you were in my heard and in my mind. Feeling this close to you made me happy. My heart was full again. I needed to remind myself that all was not lost. I can still connect to you in many different ways and you are still here, being the most important part of my life as you have always been. This thought give me bravery.I sat at the back seat of the motorbike, a small change I made. Instead of taxi, I ordered a motorbike driver to take me to my destination. Throw myself to the world. Go out there! I felt free the moment when the motorbike rushed out onto the congested streets in the center of Bangkok city. It’s chaotic, hot, noisy… My adrenaline was pumped through my entire body. Suddenly nothing mattered. Strangely a sense of relief flooded all over me. 
Carlos asked me one afternoon if I was on the journey to track down the past,  and hunt the memories shared with him. I told him no. There’s no explanation of what I do now and why I do it. Merely existing and functioning. He said he had had 4 or 5 lives already. We talked, for 1.5 hours, about his lives. All this time, I was wondering if my current life was the beginning of something or the end of something. I want to find out the answer. “Forever” was the thread of our conversation. People change. Feelings change. Everything changes. Who are we to solve all the puzzles in this fleet of time that we call “life”? I walked into the Hardcover Open House Art Bookstore to find the photo book of Ark who captures the beauty of men and the intimacy among men, which I appreciate a lot. Accidentally, next to his book, was a photo album called “Forever, or death is just a waste of time”. It struck me hard. I cried and cried while the friendly lady unwrapped books for me to browse. I couldn’t, I simply couldn’t read those words about love and death, and look at the photos of the last moment of a person who was loved deeply by another. It’s like tearing fresh wounds apart. It’s too painful. “Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind.” For the first time, I think, I will live with this feeling forever and ever. And it’s ok. One night, You came into my dream again last. This time we were saying goodbye to each other. You told me that you were sorry for leaving. You were crying. Then you told me to be strong firmly just as you had been for almost your entire life. I nodded and promised that I would. Waking up with tears, I felt glad that you had sent me this clear message and that your presence was so real. I took your wallet with me, the wallet you carried when we first met. I wore the watch you bought for my birthday and our rings, and the same bracelet that they put on your waist when you passed, so I could feel closer to you in my daily life. But I miss you. I can’t say it enough. This feeling is omnipresent and has become the fiber of my life.

“Death is not an option, but a solution.

I was so proud of you

how you took the journey

with such a courage

and such an understanding of death,

reavleaing and containing all truth of the matter

the moment all matter falls apart

as if nothing matters but love

which carries us on and saves us all

in the web of illusion with no name and one  heart

in a stroke of breath which spans across all oceans

tides rising,

waves waving,

shores bleeding in the sea”


Boy Who Write Journals

The longest relationship I’ve had has been with my journals. For over nine years, they’ve become the most constant thing in my life. No lover has come remotely close. As many good things, it started with a downer, a breakup which nowadays I can barely remember. From something unpleasant, something nicer and bigger came up.

Four years ago, I made it my lockdown project to read all my journals. Since then, I go back to them regularly. It is a funny experience to see myself from afar. 

I saw the clueless young guy after his first breakup, with no real life nor TV example of what a healthy gay relationship was. 

I notice all the internalized homo-shame, which was never explicit, but it is encoded in the multiple omissions when I did not write the full story. But I also see how I grew through the years and became more confident, secure and honest with my words. 

I read about homophobic rejection and the immense amount of work that took to undo its harm.

I read about the numerous exciting experiences with lovers, friends, and strangers which shaped me into a more daring and adventurous sexual being. Not only that, but I see my romantic side that tends to idealize everything, as well as the side that is very visceral and raunchy.

My most current tale is of how I became too comfortable being alone for years. How I convinced myself love was not compatible with being a so-called slut and that was fine. And how that belief collapsed when love came in a very unexpected shape. Lovers and lovers of lovers have now become a topic on which I never imagined I’d be embarking.

When I read my journals, I wish I could comfort my past self when he sounds lost. But I also sometimes feel very proud of myself from the past. How strong I was and how far I’ve taken myself. I even find myself often taking advice from things I wrote six years ago.

I guess there are many tales I can tell.

I have written them all…


Take Away Gay

Choose and pick
Ass or dick
Supermarket songs of neon love
Like and share
Click and buy
From Gaza to a sex date
From Kiev to a guy

Take away gay
Oh take away gay
Make me forget my troubles
But I’d prefer you not to stay

Fresh and crispy skin
In the artificial lights
Between the pleasure and the sin
Of forgetting all the fights

Take away gay
Oh take away gay
The world might be on fire
But it was wonderful to play

I touch the world when I touch the screen
Eager fingers swipe and wipe
Choose consume and tap me
Make me forget all that I’ve seen

Sauna horny
Wanna fuck
Hosting now
Blindfold suck

Watch me wank and
Make me moan
Hung and horny
Home alone

Take away gay
Oh take away gay
Make me forget my troubles
But I’d prefer you not to stay

Take away gay
Oh take away gay
The world might be on fire
But it was wonderful to play

Brussels, Oct 2023

—- By @morpheussons

Morpheussons’ anecdotes are brutal, melancholic and honest. They also have a sense of fragility. This sentimentality is what is missing in this world where people bury emtions deep and consume fast content/trend on social media. Read more on his instagram.


Featured Artist: Ark Saroj

(Ark’s house, his cameras and some photos of him shot by a friend, his chair and sofa covered by white bedsheets next to the windows)

Photos by Ark Saroj

Website: https://arksarojdir.wixsite.com/arksaroj

Interview: Ark talks about being gay and giving tips for gay travellers to Thailand

I came across Ark’s work on IG when searching for potential contacts in Bangkok. I was immediately captured by his honest way of capturing intimacy and sensuality. Like the title of his book “Lust & Love” implies, sex (with emotions) is a focus in his work. He talked about the time he spent back in New York and its impact on his sex positive life-style and mindset. 

We met in his house on a hot afternoon in Bangkok. His house is like a warehouse, with several floors. “You live here alone?” I asked. “Yeah. I used to live in a condo in the city but I didn’t like it. This house is passed down from my parents to me. Now I live here on my own.” I recognized that lots of photos he took in his book were actually taken in this house. Lovers, dates, models travellers…. “Will you pose for me?” I asked. We hadn’t really talked about this but why not? He’s a care-free man who enjoys cameras. There are a lot of photos of him (selfportraits and with his subjects) in his photobook. “You are just like me. It’s our kink when we hold cameras.” He brutally said it. “Maybe just a little.” I laughed. 

Later that day, we talked about how difficult it was for artists like us to be recognized. I told him that his work should be known by more people because he deserved it. So if you guys ever visit Bangkok, make sure to grab his photobook “Lust & Love” at pulse.gallery or Open House Handcover artbookstore. He’s planning to publish a 2nd photobook soon. He showed me some photos that he wanted to put in the new publication. They were even more raw. Ark showed me his favoriate camera, an Olympus Mju Digital 400, a mini camear that is 20 years old. The best camear is the one that you have, right?

SEE MORE PHOTOS HERE


TALE OF MEN ZINES

Have you got your hands on the new Tale of Men Zines?

I am thrilled to announce that from today on, the zines are also available at the dorbeetle bookstore in Hangzhou, China! It means something to me, as I was born and grew up in China. I had experienced the time when there’s almost no information available on LGBTQ community and it’s very hard for gays to socialize and meet their own kind. Given the sensitive matter of the subjects in my zine (gay, sex nudity), I never thought that my work would be available in China. Nevertheless, it’s awesome, to think that my work might inspire some people and the stories shared by my models might bring solace to them, or it offers a glimpse of freedom when it comes to self-expression and sexuality. So, thanks, dorbeetlestudio, for making it possible.

If you are in Europe, you can also find my zines at Les Mots a la Bouche in Paris and Prinz EisenHerz in Berlin.

PS: Some issues have low stocks now. Get yours before it’s too late.

YOU KNOW THEY ARE SEXY!

New issue 14 & 15 + Sex Zine 2

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