Get to know Julia and Marcelina, a young couple from Poland. And if you have a problem with seeing two girls love each other, this interview isn't for you.
When did you know you were gay? How did your families react?
Marcelina : The first time I felt attracted to women I was 4 years old and she was my teacher. At that point I knew that I was gay. When I was 12, 13 I told my parents about it and their reaction was really positive. My mother said: “Oh my God, I thought that you were going to tell us that you’re pregnant!”. I laughed and answered: “No Mom, I’m just gay” and she said that was cool.
In Poland everyone is really religious, but my family isn’t at all, so they don’t have any particular beliefs that they have to follow. It made it much easier for them to accept me being gay. Even at school everybody knew and it was totally fine. Actually, I was probably considered the coolest kid in school because I was a lesbian.
Julia : I definitely think that since I’ve met Marcelina things have become clearer to me. When I was younger, I would have these littles thoughts about women. But I never thought it was something serious and that it could actually lead me to being with a girl. But basically when I met Marcelina we were just friends, and then it kind of kicked off from there. I don’t know how it happened but she helped me discover myself I guess. And I love her the most.
It wasn’t my first kiss with a girl but she made me realize that I wanted to be with her and that our feelings were real. But also, that being in a relationship with a woman is normal and completely ordinary. We’ve been together for over a year now - a year and one month and it’s been fantastic.
In my family everybody knows. My mom was the first one to find out because I told her. First she thought I was joking - I think she needed a little while to get used to just the thought of it. Because unlike Marcelina’s family, my family is very religious so it’s kind of strict, especially on these topics. At first my mom wasn’t very accepting of it, but now that she’s met Marcelina she’s really supportive. She came to visit us, here in Warsaw, and she’s slowly getting used to the idea that this is just how it is. My grandparents and my aunties also know but I think they were more supportive than my mother was at the beginning but now everyone is on the same level of support.
What are two things you like most about Marcelina?
Julia: The first thing that I love about Marcelina is her character. She’s a really strong person, and you can just see it when she walks in the room. And the other thing I think is her eyes and her smile. Also that’s three things but yeah, she’s wonderful.
Marcelina: What I love about Julia is that she will fight for everything she believes in and that’s why I got a tattoo for her. We were together for half a year and I got a tattoo on her birthday. It’s a Nefertiti because I think that they’re so much alike. The second thing is that… I don’t know, I have to think because there are so many… maybe it’s that she’s so faithful and loyal to me. Always, in every kind of her action. She’s so faithful and that’s the best thing I like about her.
On the streets of Warsaw, are you scared of holding hands / people watching you / have you ever had bad experiences?
Marcelina: Never in my life. I’ve never been scared. I’ve always felt comfortable with being gay and for me holding hands is just normal, giving her a kiss is normal. But maybe for some lesbians in Poland it’s different. We never hid something because we thought someone might see us or something like that. We are always open about how we feel.
Julia: I think it happens a lot actually to other gay people but we’ve never had a problem. However Poland is ,as we said, a really religious country and I think that being gay, and being LGBT, is just frowned upon in this country. Not by everyone especially because we are in Warsaw, I think it’s more chill but if you go to Poland to a city that’s much smaller (like our city) you’re definitely going to see some cringy faces and eyes on you because of the religion in this country. I think people are really closed-minded and they act as if we were still living in the 60s.
Do you know any gay Polish celebrities? How are gay people portrayed in the media/shows?
Marcelina: I think there are a few people who are gay but I don’t really know now that you bring it up… Who is gay in Polish media?... I can’t even think of one person on the top of my mind right now.
Julia: We were watching a random sTV show about a school the other day. One of the characters, the sister, was telling her friends: “My sister is saying she’s a lesbian, but I know that it’s only because she’s 15 and that it’s going to pass in like 2 weeks”. So, most times, if there’s a lesbian or gay character on TV, they’re telling you it’s a phase and that you’re going to grow out of it.
What do you hope for Poland’s future when it comes to LGBT?
Marcelina: Politically speaking everything is getting worse in regards to LGBT rights, women’s rights, abortions, everything like that.
Julia: As if we were going backwards again.
Marcelina: If we continue like this, being gay in 10 or 20 years is going to be forbidden in Poland. We won’t be able to do ‘this and that’. Our politicians are so religious now, it feels like they were born in Church and spent their whole life there. They are acting like that. And everything that they’ve done, they are doing it for the Church, for religion, but not for people. I think that the best thing to do for us, is to move out of Poland and I think that we’re going to do that in a couple of years.
Julia: Yeah, because we basically have no rights here.
If you had to move out of Poland, what country would you go to?
Marcelina: We would like to live in Milan, in Italy, because we just love everything about that country. But Julia wants to live in New York, so maybe there. And of course we would like to have kids someday.
Julia: We were considering New York. We’re not sure yet but we definitely are inspired to go live elsewhere because of the current situation in Poland. We need to make it work somehow.
What would you say to people who are scared and still closeted in Poland?
Julia: I think you should definitely jump out of the closet, not even come out but jump out! Don’t forget that it’s your life and you shouldn’t be spending time worrying about what other people think, what they believe is right or wrong. Maybe it’s different if your family is not so open minded, but I think that you can live with it even if your family isn’t accepting. They’ll learn to accept you for who you are the way my family has. You may be positively surprised by their reaction and if they react negatively, then don’t forget that it’s your life. Be patient and trust yourself.
Marcelina: You will find a way.
Julia: You’ll definitely find a way. I believe that love always wins.