Nguyen Thanh Hai (Maika Elan) was born in Hanoi, Vietnam, in 1986.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree in sociology at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Maika started to use the camera to take pictures of her daily and private life in 2006.
She turned to professional photography soon after, starting collaborations for editorial clients and fashion firms in Vietnam.
In 2010, Maika moved to documentary photography and her first project, The Pink Choice, focuses on the personal lives of gay couples in Vietnam.
The Pink Choice 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.
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!