Being Queer, Polish & Human
On the 12th July, the homophobic Polish president got re-elected for another term. On the 18th, we protested outside the Polish Embassy in London yet again. We organised a 'photo booth' outside the doors of the Embassy with a theme of 'I am Human' - following the remarks of the Polish president referring to LGBT+ people as ideology ahead of the election! We wanted to keep the demo positive, but still send a clear message.
There was lot of international solidarity there as supporters from England, Ireland, Slovakia and Ukraine joined us. Plenty of colour, positive energy and love there. We painted a beautiful rainbow outside the doors of the Embassy and then proceeded to take photos, one by one, and in groups - to make sure that we can send the message of solidarity back to Poland, reaching as far as possible.
A group of drag queens joined us, adding plenty of colour to the demonstration. As per usual, we proceeded to plaster the photos all over social media soon after, to ensure that our message of solidarity went out into the world. It did. But our colourful makeup has also proven too much for some... One of the comments we got (from someone who actually sees themselves as a supporter) was asking whether we always had too be so 'out there'! They still see themselves as supporter, and I'm sure they didn't mean harm. But it's a good reflection of where we are in Poland.
We'll get back to the whys that later...
After the demo, we marched together from the Embassy to a picnic in Green Park - rainbow-coloured, queer and proud. On the way there, we were greeted by nothing but smiles. London, that is why I love you! You are full of colour and life, and you embrace it, make it part of yourself. You welcome difference with open arms, as it is, ultimately, what you are. It is your heart. Difference makes you rich, and you know it.
Poland is the polar opposite of that. Not all of it, obviously! I know that there is diversity there too. Many groups which fight for freedom of choice, expression and inclusion. And yet, here we are - there is a Polish LGBT+ group (in London at that!) where supporters feel it's ok to tell us that we're too colourful! It seems (some) Polish people are quite literally objecting the rainbow!
In a way, it shouldn't come as that much of a surprise to me. I haven't felt comfortable going back for years. I could never quite put my finger on it. After all, I've never had blue or pink hair (not for lack of trying!), and yet, people still stared when I went back. Why is that? I often wondered. Was it enough that I opted to wear harem pants rather than the standard jeans? Or perhaps, I just started noticing things I never did before, when I lived there? One way or another, ever since I became a feminist, I could never quite feel like I fit in in Poland. Going back became a strange experience. I always smiled and sighed with relief whenever I landed back to London. Home, I thought to myself. It felt like a weight being lifted off my shoulders, every time. And then I started going back less and less frequently.
It's a strange feeling when your mother country no longer feels like home. Especially since Brexit - I still love London, but England no longer feels quite right either. No longer feels as welcoming as it did before. And so I started wondering where to next. It became a recurring thought of mine since Brexit.
But where do we go? The perpetual migrants. The queers. The feminists... Where could we feel like home? It feels like we almost need a country of our own!