June 2024

By Chris Chi

Sharing stories about us

Hello beautiful people,

Finally summer is here. Now people are busy with planning their summer trips. The idea of heading to the sea is irresistible. This June issue highlights the stories related to the beach and that feeling of freedom and liberty. Hopefully that will put everyone of you in the right holiday mood 🙂

I planned a trip to Gran Canarias. It will be my first time there. It’s good to have sometime for myself as June has been very intense with my first exhibition taking place and organizing events/photoshoots. 

Memory – The Governor’s Beach

I visited Cyprus in February 2023 without having planned photoshoots. Unlike other trips to Berlin, Paris, Madrid, Athens and other cities where I do regular photoshoots and meet people, Cyprus was a spontaneous destination. I read quickly the history about the separation between the north and the south and checked on some sightseeing information. I was ready to go.

The weather was mild in February but not too cold to prevent the brave people to try out the fresh seawater. After staying in Larnaca for 3 days and paying a visit to Nicosia, I headed to Paphos, passing by the Aphrodite rock, a landmark where I truly enjoyed the tranquility of sitting on the beach, sipping a can of cold cola, and watching some boys swimming in the sea. In Paphos, I had a massage by Philippe, who moved to Cyprus from the UK and settled down with his boyfriend. After the massage, he told me stories about guys seeking out for fun on hot summer evenings. On grindr, I happened to get in contact with Kwaii and Alex, a cute couple based in San Francesco. We agreed that we would take some photos.

My last destination was Limassol, famous for its own town and carnival parties. It’s almost a sacred ritual for Cypriots to come back to the island and celebrate carnival no matter where they live now. The old town has this non-stop celebration spree for days. People take their customs very seriously and try their best to create the most creative ones. And of course, the gays always go for the extra miles to make it extravaganza. 

Andreas, a Cypriot studying in Leuven, came back for the carnival. We met and had a drink at the Four Seasons. The next day, he took me to the governor’s beach, to the east of Limassol, consist of well-hidden small coves, crystal clear water, a natural beauty popular among the nudists. 
After we settled down in a small cove, put our things done on the sandy beach, a boy appeared and  he was walking on the white rocks above us. He was curious enough to greet us and check what we were doing. Maybe I was feeling a bit bold, affected by the natural environment, I asked him to join us and to pose in front of the camera, which was exactly what he did. It turned quickly a bit too hot. The two boys started to enjoy each other, surrounded by this beautiful scenery. It’s perfect.

We finished off the day by having delicious seafood at a nearby restaurant. It was already dark when we got back, but we were both satisfied. The next day was the last day. Before I drove back to Larnaca to catch the flight back to Brussels, I stopped at the governor’s beach again to meet Kwaii and Alex for the photoshoot. Photographing this couple at the same beach was another dynamic. I enjoyed it a lot again. They were both playful and cute. The chemistry was great, their bodies matching with the landscape. It’s a perfect end to my trip to Cyprus.

Kwaii & Alex in Cyprus

Imagine discovering the person you’ve been chatting with online lives just two doors down. Now the person you’ve been sending nudes to isn’t some stranger in your city, but your literal neighbor. Years later, I can definitely appreciate Grindr for making that connection because, without it, Alex and I might never have met. From awkward introductions, we quickly became friends, playmates, boyfriends, and now husbands. 

Our connection has deepened through the ways we support each other, especially during tough times. Just a month before our wedding, Alex was laid off from his job. Six months later, I faced the same fate. Both of us, working in tech, were hit hard by the rolling layoffs post-COVID. It wasn’t the easiest start to our marriage, but those challenging times laid a solid foundation for our partnership. We’re both fiercely independent, so learning to rely on each other was a new experience. But I’m grateful we learned how to do this early on in our relationship.
I think we’ve both found something really special in this connection. Growing up, neither of us ever imagined being so open with someone, but with Alex, it feels natural. I grew up with a single mother and she taught me to depend on myself, so I never thought I’d need someone else. Even now, I don’t think I need anyone, but I’ve learned how much I want and appreciate having someone. Alex is my person, and I’m thankful every day for this connection.

Our relationship has been about embracing each other’s complexities. Alex is calm, sensitive, and driven; I’m creative, emotional, and persistent. This balance helps us navigate the chaos of life together. We’ve learned to support each other’s strengths and work through our weaknesses. Intimacy plays a significant role in our bond. We’re both pretty kinky; Alex is my bratty leather pup, and I’m his soft dom handler. This dynamic allows us to explore our connection in ways that are both tender and empowering.
Alex is from Russia, and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine led his family to relocate to Cyprus. Traveling to Europe so I could meet his family was a pivotal moment for us. It was this journey that brought us to Cyprus, where we met Chris, who captured these amazing photos. That sunny day on the beach felt like a full-circle moment, a perfect reflection of our journey—bright, warm, and filled with promise.

I find it ironic that Alex, with his severe allergy to dogs, is my pup in our play. Sharing all of our desires openly and without judgment has taken some practice for sure, and has completely transformed our connection. Embracing our kinks has enhanced our communication and given us freedom from shame. As we grow up, society expects us to let go of playfulness and conform to adult norms. But kink centers pleasure, play, and freedom, allowing us to embrace our playfulness and stay honest. In a world where so much of our lives, gay or otherwise, is about hiding parts of ourselves, it’s transformative to be in a relationship where there’s no need to hide.

The Sea & The Beach

(Gabriele in Brussels)

When I was I teenager, I had a friend who lived in one of the pyramidal buildings surrounding the beach. She sometimes invited me to have lunch at her place, and we would later bathe in the sea.

Once, we decided to swim until the point in which the river flows into the sea, a sense of curiosity pervading us at the idea of taking a closer peek at the nudity of the people we could see sunbathing in that remote part of the beach. While taking respite from the swim, through a furtive glance, I had my first visual encounter with a naturist beach, and I exchanged a smile of mockery with my friend.

In a warm day of July 2020, two months after the first lockdown imposed during the Coronavirus pandemic ended, I took my towel and my sunscreen, I hopped on my bike and I went straight to the river mouth. My legs were shaking as I inched along the beach after leaving my bike tied to a pole.

Around me, some naturists sunbathed silently, spread out on the sand, others chatted not too loudly. Some turned their gaze discretely towards me as I walked past them. I laid my towel out on the sand,

I took my t-shirt off, and after a small hesitation, I took both my pants and my underwear off at once. I laid down on my towel, letting the warmth of the sand permeate my entire body without the impediment of any piece of cloth. I felt the fresh sea breeze gently caressing my exposed genitals.

With my eyes closed, I smiled with pleasure.

My father was a photographer. One of his favourite subjects were people laying in the sun on my hometown’s beach. He loved the poses they took while sunbathing, their imperfect body shapes.

Many of his shots were taken secretly, while people were sleeping or relaxing with their eyes closed. Many times he photographed beach goers a few meters down the beach, close to the housing estate. And yet, he never approached the part of the shore next to the river mouth nor the bushes behind it.

Reality did not scare him, as he did not seek to depict an idealized view of my hometown beach. Simply, he had a deep respect for the untouched nature of that place, and for its sole regular visitors.

We tend to consider that we have experienced all the most basic gestures and feelings of our bodies during our first years of life. For a small child, being naked in public looks indeed like a natural thing.

However, re-discovering the feeling of being naked in public in my mid-twenties was like experiencing it anew. This very simple gesture, and the sensation it provided me, was the single most revolutionary move my body enacted in its adult life. Since then, I have considered myself a naturist.


In 2022 I have moved entirely on my own to Brussels from Istanbul at the age of 21. I didn’t know anyone there, neither did I know myself just yet.I got to explore my sexuality in freedom for the first time which brought a lot challenges with it as well, to break years of pressure back home was not easy. Never knew before how physical intimacy and sex felt like – I was living through many things for the first time.After years of feeling stuck underneath the layers of my skin, I have finally recreated what it means to be me, reconstructed a whole new Umut who is in touch with every single part of his mind, body and soul and takes every moment to a light beacon for many.

—- photo and text by Umut


Photos by Richard Cross   

My philosophy is, “It doesn’t matter how you get there. The end result is all that matters.” Stupid and trite but, honestly, how I feel. What I do, for me, is just what I find interesting and hope others find it cool and fun. I don’t have a particular agenda politically or sociologically (although a therapist may find one hahaha) other than the world is a different place than when I grew up and I and other artists are freer to publicly express ourselves.



During the weekend of 7-9 June, I had my very first exhibition thanks to the Green Corridor Brussels who kindly had invited me to use their space. It’s always been my dream to hold an exhibition and finally it has happened. Everything just went so fast and I was sort of in euphoria. Lots of people showed up and people’s reactions were very positive. In the end it was an amazing experience. I can say that I was really content. The power of bringing people together is so important. I have decided to take one step further to start organizing more social events such as social drinks, going out, nude drawing, etc. It will be awesome to create a community and I am looking forward to what comes out of these events.
For more impression and a short video clip: click here

Meanwhile, the first nude drawing was a huge success. Even though I am terrible at drawing, I am very happy to be able to organize such event for artists to practice their art. The 2nd session is already taking place this Sunday. We will also have our first SPA wellness Sunday afternoon on 7 July in the nude area at Waer Waters. Join us if you enjoy hanging out in a social and relaxed atmosphere. Curious about the future events or want to join us? click here


Recently I shipped a large number of zines to a book shop in China. A few weeks later, I got the news that the shipment was confiscated by the Chinese custom and the zines would be destroyed because of pornography. It’s very unfortunately, and at the same time, it made me realize the freedom of expression was not to be taken for granted. Growing up in China as a gay man, I feel quite sad about the lack of rights for LGBTQ+ people there. Meanwhile, taleofmen also needs your project to keep going.

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