Many Polish gay men and lesbians remain in the closet for fear of being ostracized from family and friends, and in some cases losing their jobs. Coming Out in Poland offers a rare look into the lives of “out” gay people in Warsaw. The film profiles a radio personality who came out as a gay man on his own live show, while confronting homophobia, and a lesbian couple, one of whom lost her teaching job, as a result of speaking out publicly as a gay woman. Coming Out in Poland explores the issue of gay and lesbian rights in a conservative society, while providing a glimpse into the complex identity struggles involved in the process of ‘coming out’.
A survey was published by the Polish daily ‘Gazeta Wyborcza” on June 3, 2007 in which over a thousand people were asked one question: “What sort of husband or wife would you least like your child to marry?” 83% and the highest number of respondents replied “a person of the same sex.” This was followed by former drug users, criminals, Gypsies and Jews (the latter were mentioned by 29%.) For years, Gay Parades, called in Poland “Equality Parades” were either banned or brutally attacked by skinheads or Polish extreme nationalists. This indicates just how homophobic Poles are and how much improvement is needed in that area.
Despite cultural homophobia, young Polish gays and lesbians are finding more and more friendly clubs to attend, and there is a determined core of activists pushing for gay rights at the national level. ‘One way of fighting homophobia is to ridicule it’ says one of the leaders of Polish lesbian organization Anna. She shares her life with another lesbian activist, Yga. They talk about a Gay Parade they participated in Poznan and which was brutally attacked by right wing nationalists.
Also in Warsaw we meet Kuba, a radio personality. Kuba’s “coming out”, which happened a couple years ago was very public because it happened on the air and caused true sensation in Poland. He was the first Polish journalist to ever do so. Nowadays, Kuba hosts a 3 hour long radio talk show and any homophobic event in Poland (such as the story of the supposedly gay Teletubby or protests against Village People’s participation in the famous Sopot Festival) draws his particular attention.
Poland’s admission to the European Union will continue to have a significant social and economic impact, for better or worse, over the next years. But the price of admission to the club of Europe also requires that anti-gay discrimination be addressed and legislated against in unambiguous terms. After all, the European Court of Justice is not that far away, in the Netherlands.
Running time: 18 min.