“I am an optimist”

I am an optimist. I have to be an optimist. So let me tell you an optimistic story.

Despite all the things that make our lives —the lives of LGBT+ people in Poland— worse than they were six years ago, we feel more accepted by society as a whole —more than we have ever been before—. Previous governments wanted us to be invisible, and invisible we remained. They did not want to deal with us or to help us; invisible people do not need help, nor any kind of attention or assistance. We have nothing against you, we heard; just stay home, and if you have to leave, pretend you are just like everybody else: straight. Our visibility was always a matter of scandal. 

When the current right-wing government came to power six years ago, we slowly understood that invisibility no longer protected us —that visibility was of crucial importance—. People are afraid of, or do not like, or buy false stories about things and people they don’t know —things and people they do not see—. 

At one point, five years ago or so, some LGBT+ organizations like Stonewall or KPH (Campaign Against Homophobia) started to attend every pro-democratic protest or rally with huge rainbow flags. At first they were often abused or asked to leave… by people and politicians who called themselves democrats. But with time people got used to the sight of rainbow flags flying above their heads; old heterosexual couples had no problem standing next to LGBT+ activists (something I had never seen before in my entire life and something I paid close attention to, observing people’s faces and their body language —relaxed, unbothered, and finally accepting—).

Many prodemocratic activists and citizens slowly realized that fighting for the rights of LGBT+ people is an inalienable part of being a democrat. And they had to make quite a leap, especially those who were raised in the communist era in a country where homosexuality, not to speak of intersexuality, simply did not exist.

Today many of my heterosexual friends and their partners display rainbow flags in their windows in solidarity with their LGBT+ friends, or attend Gay Parades clad in rainbow flags; and some of them are over sixty. In this respect, in six years we have observed a huge change in attitudes. Sure, most of the time these new attitudes are limited to bigger cities, but that is slowly changing too.

This week’s second of two posts from our Polish team comes from Marek — puno hvala, Marek!

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