How was it liking growing up in Poland?
My childhood wasn’t easy because I always felt like I was misunderstood. I grew up in a small town where there wasn’t a single gay person. I didn’t see people like me and so I always asked myself what was wrong with me. I didn’t feel like I could be myself and could be understood. As it’s a small town, people were closed minded and if there was an openly gay man, there was so many gossips about him. People would shout at him on the street and would call him all sorts of names.
So it was a struggle growing up.
How did you realise you were a lesbian?
I never really felt attraction to boys but I hadn’t thought too much about it.
But when I was 13 years old, I started to question myself. I had a friend, a girl, and I remember feeling a certain attraction to her. I looked at her in a different way.
I couldn’t accept that idea. I thought it would pass, change and I wanted to be cured. I wanted to have a family and I imagined that I’d have a husband, a perfect wedding, children and I would live a life like any normal person.
I met a boy and I really enjoyed talking and spending time with him. We started dating because it felt like a logical thing to do. We were enjoying each other’s presence but then he held my hand and I felt strange. Something didn’t feel right. I remember that on our first official date I was looking forward to seeing him but at the same time I was praying for him not to kiss me. I closed my eyes and I prayed for him neither to kiss me nor hold me which may sound strange considering I really liked him. That’s when I had to accept that there was a reason for that rejection and I didn’t want to fight the feeling anymore. I explained how I felt and he was very understanding and supportive.
We’re still really good friends today. I truly cherish the memory of our relationship and I learned a lot about myself.
After breaking up with him I was 14 years old and met a girl. She kissed me and it was amazing. That was it. I had butterflies in my stomach and it felt right. I wanted to spend as much time as I could with her. I liked holding hands and feeling her close to me.
One day, on our very first date, I thought it would be a good idea to go to the park. There was a straight couple sitting on a bench in the middle of this park. They were kissing, too openly for me but I didn’t say anything. I went with my girlfriend in an alley and we sat on a bench. She gave me a gift and I wanted to hug her so much but the couple walked by and shouted at us: ‘no gay people here!’. They screamed and laughed at us, and then kissed in front of us.
We weren’t even kissing, we were just hugging. I was devastated and remember how unfair the situation was. It was a combination of sadness and anger.
Did you come out to anyone at that point?
I was scared to tell my friends, especially my girl friends. I thought that if they knew that I was a lesbian, they would reject me and stop spending time with me. I was afraid of what they would think and that they would misinterpret my intentions towards them.
Although I was afraid of their reaction I still decided to be transparent and tell them.
Surprisingly enough, they were incredibly supportive and said that as long as I’m happy that’s all that mattered.
However I was scared that other people would know in my hometown and that the word would spread. I was so scared that my school, my mother and other friends would hear about it and use it against me. I kept it a secret for a couple of years and recently came out to some friends.
Have you come out to your mother?
I grew up without a father and have always been close to my mother. She’s always there for me. We are really best friends and I feel that I can tell her everything except the fact that I’m gay. So no, I haven’t explicitly come out to her. I don’t want to tell her because she will not understand. She thinks it’s an illness she won’t change her mind. I tried hinting that I’m in love with a girl but she clearly doesn’t want to know. I try talking to her about tolerance, and that I will not do the thing she wants me to do. I will go my way. I suggested that maybe in the future I will do things that she will not like but I really would appreciate her support.
I aspire to become an LGBT activist and help other people out. I would love to share all that with her but she doesn’t want to hear it and will never accept it. For her, one day I will bring a man home, get married and have many children.
It’s hard for me because she’s an amazing person. I understand that it’s difficult to change your point of view when you’ve been brainwashed all your life. When you’re an adult, you often think you know everything about the world because you are so experienced. I can understand her point of view because I grew up that way too. I still love my mother and will always support regardless of her beliefs.
How is your life now in Warsaw?
Now in Warsaw everything has changed for me because I met so many people who are LGBT and I finally feel free. I’m involved in the community and I want to do things to get people to know that we are normal, we’re in schools, in public places, at work and not only at rainbow parades. We live with you. I think it’s important to give visibility and show that we are normal people and have the same feelings, dreams and that’s all.
How accepting are Polish people of LGBT?
You would be surprised of how much intolerance there is on the internet in regards to LGBT people. I often read comments of people who want to kill us, burn us, and wished for us to burn in hell. It’s depressing. They even want to make concentration camps for us. I don’t understand where all this hate is coming from and it does affect me. I can’t even describe in words how it feels like, especially when you’re younger and I was young when I started seeing this all over the media. I thought that if I came out someone would kill me and that they want me to hide.
It’s really weird because these people aren’t just on the internet but they are in the society. I meet them, I’m with them, I talk with them and they don’t know I’m a lesbian. But then they go home and write that they want to kill people like me. It’s very scary and I understand that many people in Poland are still closeted.
I think people are hateful because it’s a very catholic country. I was a very religious person myself and it was really hard for me because I didn’t accept myself at the time. I had always heard from Church that being gay is a sin but that it could be cured.
Polish people are also convinced that homosexuality is a concept from the West. They think it’s their weapon to destroy families and the country. They also think that all homosexuals have AIDS and are pedophiles. Unfortunately, I believe people are more and more scared of differences.
Do you think things are getting better in Poland?
I wouldn’t say they are getting better just now. Our government is an extremist party that came to power and does not recognise LGBT rights. They firmly believe that LGBT people are deviant, monsters and pedophiles. I guess we’ll have to wait 4 years before we can elect a new party and hopefully things will change for the better.
I would say that the younger generation are more and more accepting, although many are closeted, but it’s still very hard for the older generation to understand. Many people are conservative. In the meanwhile, we have to fight to show that we exist and that we are not sick.
What would you say to young people who want to come out?
I would say that the most important thing is to accept yourself, feel good about yourself and then you can come out to the world. First you can come out to your friends, and closest people such as your parents. Find people who will accept you, support and believe in you. Always remember that you have only one life so try to make the most out of it being yourself.