Watch our documentary on Poland's modern Stonewall

Right-wing political parties have supported the creation of anti-LGBT zones across Poland. But the country's queer community are fighting back.

by Douglas Greenwood
28 October 2020, 3:01pm

There is a movement happening in Poland right now; one born from a country recklessly grappling with the rights of the LGBT community, which have regressed in the past two years. Queer people in Poland are regularly the subject of violence and abuse in the streets of cities like Warsaw. Further east, their existence is outlawed, with 'LGBT-free' zones becoming increasingly more common amongst smaller communities.

But to step back into hiding is not an option for Poland's queer generation Z, and they're moving forth more powerfully than ever. This summer, protests against the anti-LGBT sentiment spreading throughout the country lead to the arrest of a non-binary activist known as Margot, who claims she was threatened with death and locked up for being violent towards a security guard, with no real proof of such events occurring. She became the face of what's being described as the country's modern Stonewall movement, as the community as a whole band together to change things. i-D went along to see these events unfold in real time.

In our new documentary, which launched this week, we get a deeper look into the everyday lives of queer people beyond the protests. We meet Avtomat, a queer DJ and activist who was there the day Margot was arrested, and was also the victim of systemic scare tactics following his arrest. "All of the events made us know that we're stronger than we think," he tells us.

We're also invited into the world of Poland's foremost voguing collective, the Kiki House of Sarmata. Founded in 2019, they're one of the few groups embracing the inherently queer practise. "The Polish scene is a bit like Polish society," they say, "in the sense that most people are white, and our minorities are mostly people from the east." Still, their community acts as a pocket of queer revolution in a society that suppresses them.

There's a chance to meet Margot face-to-face too, shortly after her release, as she explains what life is like in prison for a queer person during this fraught era in Poland's history. We go on to explore the familiar reality that nightclubs, full of vogue dancers and queer affection, become safe spaces away from the perils of the outside world. The violence goes on, but with an incendiary sentiment of kinship at its core: Poland's LGBT community aren’t going anywhere. "We will fight for ourselves," Margo insists.

Watch the documentary on Poland's Stonewall in full below.