Equality Parade in Warsaw

translated by Uschi „Sass” Pawlik

This year’s Equality Parade was an enormous success! Four thousand participants – true, fewer than last year, but numbers are not as important as the atmosphere, which was decisive this time. The march amongst rainbow and white-and-red flags was self-confident and joyful. A significant breakthrough happened – no fear could be sensed among participants of the Parade: it was a huge, happy, colourful happening, with a crowd of smiling people, dressed-up, waving balloons. Energetic dance music played from seven (!) platforms was a great background for the event. The real hit, however, was a Cadillac of the Greens 2004 Party, in which sat Professor Maria Janion (the queen of Polish feminism, queer and gender studies, specialist in literature) among her maidservants: Kazimiera Szczuka, Magdalena Środa, Kinga Dunin and Magda Mosiewicz. There was supposed to be a pink Cadillac, but it broke down (and the car that was used fumed a lot, which gives not splendour to the Greens). The atmosphere of fun didn’t change even by little during these three hours.

We started from the Parliament building much lalter than planned. By way of a certain tradition, the whereabouts of the monument of Fighting Poland gathered a handful of young men of nationalistic orientation, with banners and invectives. Their number was really small, they brought in no constructive elements to the discussion, the police reacted swiftly, as always, so we can spare to ourselves these unpleasant impressions.

By way of tradition, too, the Parade was backed by politicians from Poland and the whole Europe. We were joined and supported by those known from previous years: Claudia Roth, Volker Beck, Piotr Gadzinowski, Ryszard Kalisz, Marek Borowski, Małgorzata Piekarska, Joanna Senyszyn and many others, mainly from countries of Western Europe. Eastern Europe, not represented by anybody, was mentioned in speeches from the platform: speakers referred to those countries where the situation of LGBTQ people is even worse than in Poland and appealed for support for their efforts.

Speaking of well known persons who were not afraid to lend their faces to the Equality Parade – both from platforms and in the crowd – one may wonder about the absence of famous democracy defenders (e.g. those participating in the renowned conference at the Warsaw University several days earlier), including the former President Aleksander Kwaśniewski. It is all very nice to call for the creation of a civil society, but giving a personal example is also needed – and the Equality Parade provides for really model circumstances.

The weather also didn’t disappoint us – we couldn’t have dreamt of a better one! The feelings of self confidence of the crowd, definitely tired of homophobic and anti-freedom attitude of our authorities, brought up amazing energy. This may be the reason why political postulates seem to have melted (alas!) in the heat. There were fewer banners with demands e.g. of registered partnerships, anti-homophobia measures and tolerance. They were replaced by balloons and rainbow flags. It seems that LGBTQ persons and their supporters decided to spend this day in another way and immerse in the joyful atmosphere resulting from the feeling of community; this was also a very needed and constructive experience.

Finally, two more issues. One of the headlines of the day was students’ parade, organised on the same date. Scantily clad girls danced samba on platforms, just like during the Rio de Janeiro carnival. The media were delighted. If such a platform had joined our Parade, however, they would certainly have cried out in indignation about pornography, orgies, excesses and demoralisation. The media need scandals, as could be seen from TV coverage of the Parade. Here we come to the second issue: traditionally, the majority of news programmes focused on opponents of the Parade. They were given more air time to talk the same rubbish as ever. This is not fair, as it strengthens the message about the division “we vs. they”. As a matter of fact, it is not “us” that participate in “their” war: “their” complexes and prejudices don’t concern “us”, we are not the object of the conflict or hostages to their ideas about human beings and about Poland. There is democracy, they have the right to shout and fine, let them shout as much as they want. It is the media that create a false reality and simply do us harm: the thing is that “we” could be counted in thousand, “they” in dozens.

Organizers of the Equality Parade deserve big thanks. We also owe thanks to the police that protected us efficiently (especially for the swift action during the attempt of disturbance next to the Parliament building). This march was a great success of us all. We showed our courage, pride and strength; and our strength is in openness to other people, joy of living and colours of the rainbow. See you next year!

You can see photos from Warsaw Pride here:


zdjęcie Marcin Teodorczyk

Marcin Teodorczyk

Stowarzyszony w Otwartym Forum, współautor „HomoWarszawy. Przewodnika kulturalno-historycznego”, redaktor pisma uniGENDER.org. Współpracuje z feministyczną „Zadrą”.

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