QUEERWARSAW historical and cultural guide to warsaw
QUEERWARSAW historical and cultural guide to warsaw
Yga Kostrzewa Michał Minałto Marcin Pietras Wojciech Szot Marcin Teodorczyk Krzysztof Tomasik Krzysztof Zabłocki
STOWARZYSZENIE LAMBDA WARSZAWA Warsaw 2010
QUEERWARSAW. Historical and cultural guide to Warsaw Published by Stowarzyszenie Lambda Warszawa in partnership with Stowarzyszenie Otwarte Forum and Abiekt.pl Originally published in Poland as HomoWarszawa. Przewodnik kulturalno-historyczny by Abiekt.pl, Stowarzyszenie Lambda Warszawa, Stowarzyszenie Otwarte Forum, © Abiekt.pl 2009. English translation copyright © Stowarzyszenie Lambda Warszawa Cover art copyright © 2010 Radosław Dankowski © Copyright for photos no. 108, 109 by AGORA SA © Copyright for photos no. 18, 19 by Gryna © Copyright for photos no. 47 by Radek Oliwa, InnaStrona.pl © Copyright for photos no. 11, 13, 68, 129 by Pink Press © Copyright for photos no. 46 by Piotr Tukałło © Copyright for all other photos by Stowarzyszenie Lambda Warszawa Publikacja została wydana dzięki dofinansowaniu ze środków m.st. Warszawy The project was realised with financial support of the City of Warsaw
Edited by: Wojciech Szot, Marcin Pietras Translations: Mateusz Urban, Anna Błasiuk, Sebastian Buła, Jacek Gałkowski, Tobiasz Kaźmierski, Dariusz Kołaczkowski, Justyna Kowalska, Justyna Leśniak, Marcin Łakomski, Urszula Pawlik, Anna Piórkowska, Marta Staniszewska, Paweł Szmidt, Olga Vigovskaya, Łukasz Wódkowski Photos: Radosław Cetra Polish version proofreading: Sebastian Siembora English version proofreading: Urszula Pawlik Polish version edited by: Authors Layout, typography and setting: Bartek Matusiak | ISBN: 978-83-926968-1-0 Without limiting the rights under copyright, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written consent of the copyright owner, except for brief reviews.
Table of contents QUEERWARSAW . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Preface. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 (Non)Presence - an attempt at reconstruction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 What’s Up In Poland?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Warsaw: City Guide and Tourist Attractions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Airports and Railway Stations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Hotels. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Health and Safety. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 City Transport, Tickets. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Taxis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Food. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Culture and Arts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Currency. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Shopping. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
QUEERWARSAW . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
11-Listopada Street “Basin”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 3-5 Marszałkowska Street . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Alhambra. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Ali Baba. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Ambasador. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Amigos. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Andrzejewski Jerzy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Arkadia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Atlantic Cinema. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Balkan Electrique. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Bankowy Square. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Bar pod Dwójką [No. 2 Bar]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Barbie Girls. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Baryłka [Barrel]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Bastian Agency. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Bastylia [Bastille]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 Beaches . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 Białoszewski Miron. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Boy-Żeleński Tadeusz. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
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Broadway. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 Brühl Palace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 C-13 Club. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Cafe Fiolka . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Cafe Rose. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Cafe-clubs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Campaign Against Homophobia [Kampania Przeciw Homofobii] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64 Centre for Contemporary Art [Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 Cottages and cruising areas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66 Dąbrowska Maria. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 Dmowski Roman. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Drag Queen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Europejski Hotel [European Hotel]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 Fantom. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74 Feminoteka Foundation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 Foucault Michel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 FreeDum. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 Galeria. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 Galla. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 Gay Pride Parade [or Equality Parade - Parada Równości]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 Gombrowicz Witold . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 Grand Theatre and Polish National Opera [Teatr Wielki – Opera Narodowa]. . . . . . . . . . . 87 Heaven. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88 Hłasko Marek. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89 Hortex. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90 Iwan Groźny [Ivan the Terrible] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90 Iwaszkiewicz Jarosław. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92 Janion Maria. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94 Kaczyński Lech. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95 Kokon Club. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97 Konopnicka Maria. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98 Konstytucji Square. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 Kopciuszek [Cinderella]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 Koźla Pub . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101 Krzywicka Irena. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104 Kuczalska-Reinschmitt Paulina. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105 Lambda-Warsaw [Lambda Warszawa]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105 Le Madame. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107 Lesbian Agreement LBT [Porozumienie Lesbijek LBT]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111 Lodi Dodi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111 Luna Cinema . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113 Łaźnia pod Messalką. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113 M25. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115 Manekin [Mannequin]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116 Manifa. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117
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Masoneria. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118 Metro Centrum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119 Między Nami [Between Us]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120 Motto Cafe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121 Mycielski Zygmunt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121 Mykonos. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123 Na Przełaj [Across Country] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124 Nasierowski Jerzy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125 Nicolaus Copernicus Monument in Warsaw. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 126 Niech nas zobaczą [Let them see us]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127 Nowak Maciej. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128 OLA-Archive [OLA-Archiwum]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129 Operation Hyacinth. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 130 Palace of Culture and Science [Pałac Kultury i Nauki, PKiN, Pekin]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133 Palladium . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135 Paradise. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135 Park at Książęca Street [Park im. Lorentza]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137 Park Skaryszewski. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137 Parliament. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 140 PASTA. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 143 PRL [People's Republic of Poland] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 143 Pink Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144 Political Critique [Krytyka Polityczna]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145 Polonia Hotel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 146 Powązki. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147 Praga . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148 Press. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150 Queer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151 Raczek Tomasz. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 152 Radziszewski Karol . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153 Rainbow Cinema [Kino Tęcza] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154 Rajkowska’s Palm. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155 Rasko. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 156 Red Club. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 158 Refform. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 158 Rodziewiczówna Maria. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160 Rotunda PKO BP. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161 Rudawka. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162 Sadowska Zofia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 164 Salons. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165 Saski Garden. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 166 Sigismund Column . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 167 Sigma. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 169 Sikstinajn. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170 Sobański Antoni. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171
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Sokratesa Starynkiewicza Square. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172 SPATiF. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172 Squat Elba. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175 Stryjkowski Julian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177 Swimming pool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177 Synkret. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 178 Szymanowski Karol. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 178 Ściek [Sewer] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180 Teatr Polonia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 182 Teleskop ECafe. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183 The National Museum [Muzeum Narodowe]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183 The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185 Toilet on Widok Street. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186 Tomba-Tomba . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186 Toro. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187 TR Warszawa [Rozmaitości Theatre] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 188 Trams in Warsaw. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 190 Trzech Krzyży Square . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191 UFA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 196 Unii Lubelskiej Square. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 196 Utopia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197 Victoria Hotel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 199 Volcano. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 199 Waldorff Jerzy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 200 Warsaw Gay Movement [Warszawski Ruch Homoseksualny, WRH] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 201 Warsaw University of Technology [Politechnika Warszawska]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 205 WC-Club. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 205 Whore Pits [Kurwie Doły]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 206 Wild Club. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 207 Women's Club “Teddy Bear Clinic” [Klub Kobiet “Klinika Pluszowych Niedźwiadków”]. 208 Wyszyński Memorial. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 209 Zawieyski Jerzy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 210 Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute [Instytut Teatralny Zbigniewa Raszewskiego]. . . . 212 Złote Tarasy [Golden Terraces]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 212
Epilogue EN. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 215 Члены RU. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 219 Schlusswort DE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 225 Députation FR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 231 Medlemmar SWE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 233 Resumo EPO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 237
Ladies and ladies! Gentlemen and gentlemen! Ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to Warsaw! Welcome to Queer Warsaw!!!
oming to Warsaw to do gay tourism – who would have such a crazy idea some years ago? We do know many of you could have some “ideas” what our city can look like. Central Europe? A post-communist country? A land of homophobia? Ouch! What to look for there?
Well, let us put all this prejudice aside! Warsaw is today a city open to all visitors. A city proud of its diversity, a city clearly opting for the future. Great monuments, a rich history, great culture and an infrastructure which goes better and better with years – what to offer more to tourists! But is there any gay scene? In a country criticized so many times for not accepting differences? Well, we are here, come and see us! This book wants to make your trip to Warsaw an exciting time. We want to present the city where we live in all its queer aspects - today’s party places, cultural venues, cruising areas! To bring a more complete view, we will try to explain to you where we come from, what our history is, what our challenges and joys look like.
This book is in fact an international version of HomoWarszawa. Przewodnik kulturalno-historyczny, which we edited in 2009. How did it all start? Well, we have to go back to 2004, when in Wrocław, a south-western Polish city we strongly recommend to visit, a group of friends started an on-line gay magazine Homiki.pl. In 2009 it was a recognized e-magazine and the headquarters moved to the capital city – Warsaw. We were looking for ideas how to celebrate the 5th birthday of the magazine in a fancy way. This is how the idea of a tour visit of Warsaw came to our minds. We asked Krzysztof Zabłocki, regular contributor to homiki.pl and lecturer at the Warsaw University, to set up the content of the tour. Then, others contributed to it with new ideas. When Wojtek Szot, a well-known blogger and successful editor joined the team, we knew we have to prepare a kind of souvenir hand-out to be distributed to the tour’s participants. But then we saw all the texts produced, we knew that it had to be a book. Thanks to Radek Centra it could be illustrated with great pictures, we also used archive shots to better commemorate those places that does not exist anymore.
The book came in libraries in fall 2009, this is also then when we finally organized the tour. Due to large media coverage more than 200 people followed the guides! It seemed more a “mini gay-pride” event than a tourist tour. We visited bars, clubs, meeting points, cafes and other places, existing and already closed, which we described in the book. There are of course some important differences between this version and the Polish one. Many things which are obvious to a Polish reader (as basics facts of history) here have to explained in more details. Some other parts of the book had to be re-written – you can imagine many jokes or funny stories accessible to a Polish reader would be boring or unclear for a foreign audience. Instead, we focused more on showing you the rich culture that our city – Warsaw – has to offer. Through the pages, you will have the opportunity to discover the amazing diversity of our city. You will learn stories about people, events and places that made us be who we are now. Our history follows the bright and dark moments of the history of our country and Warsaw itself. For many of you coming to Poland, a country still without any legal regulation of same sex couples and vulnerable to explosions of homophobia, can be a social and political experience. We do count on your presence to bring Warsaw more queer visibility! But the gay community of Warsaw is part of city’s life. This is what makes it rich, interesting and valuable. Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people contribute to that amazing thing, which altogether brings to a city a unique flow. From activism to culture, form politics to everyday life, we want to invite you to share with us some good moments and fall in love in Warsaw!
(Non)Presence - an attempt at reconstruction
or children in elementary school, the history of Poland begins with the year 966 which is the year of baptism of the Polan tribe ruler, Mieszko I. For historians, of course, it is a simplified date, but for many Poles this moment marks the beginning of what today is called the Republic of Poland (Rzeczpospolita Polska). It is, however, not the only beginning of Polish history. In modern history, the year 1918 is considered to mark the beginning of the Polish state - the moment of independence after 123 years of Partitions by the three monarchies – Russia, Prussia (Germany) and Austria-Hungary. Today, another revival of Poland is being “promoted”, which occurred after the collapse of the communist regime in 1989. Poland is a country with an incredible will to survive - drifting through the centuries between Germany and Russia, and in a certain period of time between the Ottoman Turks and the AustroHungary, the Poles learned to fight for their country; this is exemplified by numerous uprisings, continuous presence of various oppositions against dictatorships and totalitarian regimes, and finally the emergence of mass social movement in the times of communism – Solidarność (Solidarity). Poles like to invoke their history, showing the continuity of their own fate, the recurring historical processes, and leading figures from the past. However, Polish history has still many white spots. For us - Polish gays and lesbians from Warsaw - this white spot is the absence of historical narratives which were not hetero-normative. When asked about the beginning of “our” history and “our” ancestors, we have so far not obtained an absolute answer. We are absent from publications which claim rights to describe the past globally, we can find only a few mentions, often written from a homophobic point of view. Therefore, an attempt to reconstruct the history of Polish gays and lesbians breaks against the studies of original texts by a heterosexual researcher who ignores everything that does not suit his normative framework
(Non)Presence - an attempt at reconstruction
of history. So we do not have a single history of gays and lesbians, but only fragmentary information, unsaid scraps from chronicles or diaries, and only in the twentieth century we get confident: yes, gays and lesbians have always formed Polish history and culture. In QueerWarsaw, we want to introduce to you the history of gays and lesbians against the background of the history of Warsaw, and now we invite you to take a short trip into the past - to get to know our heroes. Many chronicles have written about the Polish customs at the dawn of written history, but only with the development of historiography in the 13th century do we find the first written references interesting to us. In 1279, the Krakow duke Bolesław Wstydliwy (Bolesław the Chaste) dies, and his widow establishes a monastery in Stary Sącz, in which she will be living until her death. Kinga, because that was her name, will become in the future a saint, and - what is even more stressed - a virgin. Was Bolesław’s chastity based solely on his deep vows and passionate faith? Historians for many years believed that Bolesław was just impotent, but chronicles show that rather than spending his time with his own wife, he was more interested in male companionship for hunting, and he was even far from being called saintly if one of the chroniclers wrote about him: He was a mild man, but variable in deciding cases, not free from bribery. Knowing that he would have no children, Bolesław the Chaste decided to designate as his successor to the throne of Krakow (Krakow was the capital of Poland at that time, which is being stressed by its inhabitants to the present day) another “impotent”, younger than himself, Leszek Czarny (Leszek the Black). Leszek the Black’s spouse was far from being as saintly as Kinga and after some years of an unconsummated marriage she called a meeting of knights and ladies from Sieradz; she told them that while living for six years with her husband she had remained an untouched virgin. Gryfina, because that was the name of Leszek the Black’s spouse, outlived her husband and did not give an heir to the throne, and soon after her husband died she moved to… the monastery in Stary Sącz, where the position of the prioress was occupied by Kinga. And thus fate brought together two marriages; however, any larger intimacy between the characters that now arouses our relentless curiosity cannot be confirmed by anything going beyond the scraps of a normative story. Perhaps one of the books on Poland which can be bought in European bookstores mentions the battle, in which in 1444 Poles and Hungarians fought against the Turks at Varna. We lost that battle, and the Polish king – Władysław – was killed on the battlefield, but his legend has just been revived. According to a chronicler, the king was willing to have pleasures with men. There is even speculation that his partner could have been his secretary Jan, who the king was very fond of. However, these stories and others which we may encounter in the meanders of Polish history require appropriate interpretation, which often can drift toward wishful reconstruction rather than factual stories. Indeed, homosexuality was attributed to many Polish kings, but records which have survived to this day do not allow the unequivocal statement that we are dealing with objective information, rather than an attempt at slander (well, today in Poland, homosexual orientation is rarely a cause for pride).
(Non)Presence - an attempt at reconstruction
Sodomy – because that is what the sexual relations between men were referred to - was for a Pole always something terrifying, disgusting and filthy. People to whom the tendency of sodomy was attributed were called “gomorrahians”, “sodomites”, “page-lovers” or “male concubines”. Due to the Polish contacts with Turkey, which was for us the embodiment of all the debauchery, the term “amuse oneself in Turkish way” came to use, meaning “to have anal sex”. It cannot be hidden that “the famous Polish hospitality” about which you will most probably hear more than once, and “tolerance”, especially religious, was often only declarative. When Henryk Walezy (de Valois) came to Poland to settle on the throne as a ruler elected by the nobility (“democratic” election of rulers was invented by Poles in 16th century), his different style of dressing and his behaviour imported from the French court immediately aroused resentment and accusations of “sodomy”. But at that time, even stranger characters travelled on the Polish soil, which is reminded to us in this story:
In the year 1561, Wojciech from Poznań was placed before a court, accused of “dressing himself up like a woman” for ten years. In Krakow he married Sebastian Słodownik and lived with him for two years in Poznan. (…) After returning to Krakow, he married again, this time Wawrzyniec Włoszek. In the public he was seen as a woman. For an offense against nature was burnt at the stake.
The so-called Magdeburg law provided only one punishment for relationships “between a male and a male” - to be burnt alive. Knowing that burning alive awaits them, homosexual people did not disclose themselves, so it is no wonder that even in the 18th century the German physician Kausch wrote:
When it comes to pederasty, which is in a great favour with our Polish neighbours, it needs to be said in praise of Poles that it is not known here (…).
This is the earlier part of Poland’s history from the perspective of homosexuals - some dozen pieces, most of which are of a homophobic attitude, that allow us to partially reconstruct the reality of those years, but which prevent any generalization, and even less - a narrative history. Let us go therefore to 19th century when Poland was partitioned between three powers - Germany, Russia and Austria-Hungary. In 1849 Paulina Zbyszewska writes to her partner, only recently imprisoned for membership in an illegal organization:
My one and only, I love you with all the strength of my being - but to love you I lack in dignity and virtue and elevation of spirit - not quite enough - but from all the treasures of my soul I gave you everything - everything. Only with you do I come to feel that I exist…
The woman in prison is Narcyza Żmichowska, a poet, novelist, precursor of Polish feminism. Three years before the letter, her novel Poganka [Pagan] is published, which is
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still regarded as one of the best works of her era. The main theme of the book is the love between Benjamin and Aspasia, but we can already say that the under the character of Benjamin, the author had hidden her own alter ego, the fact which was neglected for many years, but the scandal that accompanied the release of the book shows us that those who knew Żmichowska well seemed to be aware of the book’s autobiographical nature. Żmichowska was a very courageous woman, as she wrote in of her letters:
Although I tore and burnt more sheets than I have printed, none have I ever withdrew under the threat of social convention.
Thus, in partitioned and occupied Poland she released the first Polish novel which is now regarded as “lesbian”. This paradox also reveals another important element: this is the first time we are talking about homosexual women. Until now, our whole history had focused on men - women were in it only an addition; the history of Poland has no examples of strong queens like Elizabeth I or Catherine II. Even such remarkable women as Italian Bona Sforza, wife of Polish king Zygmunt Stary (Sigismund the Old), were rather wives of their husbands than independent characters. The 19th century saw in Poland, just as was the case with English-speaking countries, the emergence of a so called “women’s friendship”. Women, often single, wanting to remain independent of men, formed their own social circles. Of course it would be an overinterpretation to say that most of them were lesbians, but there must be something to it, since female Poles – let us call them “pre-feminist” – revealed in their letters, journals, or – less frequently – books, their fascinations with women. The “She-Hetman” of the Polish feminist movement of that time, Paulina Kuczalska-Reinschmitt, was in relationship with Józefa Bojanowska; the prominent writer Maria Konopnicka who fought for women’s rights was bound for the last twenty years of her life with the painter Maria Dulębianka. Now, in the spirit of the discovery of a “lesbian continuum” they appear on our banners and provide patronage for gender studies, though we are still far from reliable and openly written biographies or books about them. It must be remembered that in the 19th century a “scientific” approach towards sexual orientation began. In Poland, as well as in the West (Havelock Ellis, Richard von Krafft-Ebing), physicians and lawyers began to think about the issue of homosexual orientation. The first text which speaks positively about homosexual people, although written in a proper stylistics according to his days, is an article by Leon Wachholz from 1900 Krytyczne uwagi w sprawie uranicznego poczucia płciowego [Critical remarks on the uranic sexual attraction]. In the preface the author calls out – especially to lawyers and doctors – to have a fair approach to the issues and be free from prejudice against the author and the subject, which suggests that acts of censorship and attacks against those who wrote about homosexuals could have happened. Wachholz had the right to appeal to both groups, because he was both a psychiatrist and court physician. What is most important for us, Wachholz accepted the position of Krafft-Ebbing’s (whose Psychopathia Sexualis was published in Poland in 1888) that homosexuality is
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not acquired but congenital, and from this he derived his protest against penalisation of homosexual relations. Another important and rather revolutionary view was that criminalisation of homosexual acts leads to the underground spread of prostitution. These views, widespread in the West, in Poland were a novelty. In the same year – 1900 – Franciszek Neugebauer (1856-1914, gynaecologist) wrote in Kroniki Lekarskie. Pismo poświęcone przeglądowi postępów umiejętności lekarskich [The Chronicles of Medicine. Views on the Progress of Medical Skills]: Some forms of sexual anomalies can be the result of wrong education… a man being treated like a woman or vice versa,… can lead an individual to murder or suicide. These anomalies are, of course, homosexuality, and Neugebauer’s view is sometimes still being used by extreme right-wing journalism. Wachholz’s novelty was the fact that he also presented views on homosexuality (which he called “self-adultery”) in a book important for many students of criminology, Podręcznik medycyny sądowej... [Handbook of Forensic Doctors...] (1899) and later included in Medycyna sądowa [Forensic Medicine] (1919), when he was already regarded as the greatest Polish specialist in forensic medicine. Since we look for Polish Hirchsfelds, we cannot forget about another outstanding forensic physician Antoni Feliks Mikulski (1872-1925), who in his article published in Odczyty kliniczne [Clinical Lectures] in 1920 called for the abolition of penalisation of homosexuality, pointing to the achievements of Western science. Mikulski pointed out that the medical community was one which should be the first to react on this issue. Polish newspapers devoted much space to medical issues of homosexuality, for example Nowiny lekarskie [Medical News] which reprinted key shortcuts of important works in the field of medicine and published many studies – of varied quality on the subject that interests us; this is an excerpt:
In the school the patient’s behaviour was very noticeable and visible. Already earlier had he masturbated with male school companions. The result of this was a constant desire for sexual intercourse with the same sex. He even saw male figures in his dreams, merging with night pollution. Although he wandered to various brothels he found no pleasure in women. The sexual act with them was for him repulsive. The awareness of his sexual perversion gave him a constant fear of being discovered. Homosexual pranks of the patient soon led him to a conflict with the law.
But let us return to our history to the year 1907. A 31-year-old writer and poet Maria Komornicka, considered a rising star in literature, burns her dress and adopts a male name. Henceforth she will be known as Piotr Odmieniec Włast. Her transgression became a sensation, but Piotr Odmieniec Włast himself sank into ruin - his/her next poems were not successful, his progressive insanity forced him to live over the years in psychiatric institutions, and at his funeral in 1949 only three persons were present. Thanks to an outstanding researcher of Polish literature, Maria Janion, the person
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of Piotr Odmieniec Włast crept back in 1990s into the debate about people crossing the borders of their own gender, trying to break the male-female dichotomy. The interwar years, when Poland regained independence, the borders changed and the social situation, were quite a different time than the end of 19th century, bringing us a multitude of references to homosexual people. Dozens of characters who are only now being discovered populated cafes, urban squares, and sometimes also courtrooms. The latter is where the story of the “Polish Oscar Wilde” ended. This time, Oscar Wilde was in a skirt, never wrote novels, but by chance had to defend herself against accusations of sodomy. In this way we refer to Dr. Zofia Sadowska, who was accused of lesbianism and of encouraging her patients to it. The case caught the attention of the press, not only in Warsaw, where the process was going on - newspapers in remote locations wrote about it with enthusiasm. Initially, the press was unfavourable of Sadowska (calling her a “degenerated woman”), but during the process Sadowska not only managed to avoid a conviction, but also won an apology from the newspaper journalist who first wrote about her lesbian tendencies. In the process, Sadowska is believed to have said that she was not ashamed of her behaviour, and the press described with delight her male outfit and non-female behaviour. The comparison with Wilde may seem too exaggerated, but as for Polish conditions … Reading about Sadowska’s process it should be noted that, until gaining independence, Polish citizens were subjects to three legal systems, and each of them penalized homosexual relations. The Russian Code from the year 1903 (Article 516) sentenced persons condemned for “pederasty” for from three months to one year in prison; in the German part of Poland the now-legendary Paragraph 175 was binding which provided for “fornication against nature” the conviction (only of males) for two years in prison; in the Austrian zone there was a similar provision (Austrian Criminal Law, Article 129). After merging the Polish lands into one state it was decided to harmonize the provisions of the criminal code. Unfortunately for homosexual persons, it was based on Russian law and the record of criminality for “pederasty” was not removed. Only in the Code from 1932 - after fierce debate in the press – was the penalisation of voluntary sexual relations between persons of the same sex abolished. Poles like celebrating round (and not only) anniversaries, so we hope for a boisterous celebration of this event in 2012. The next date: the year 1933 in Lviv (now it is a beautiful city located in the Ukraine, but the Polish language can still be heard there) saw a book rolling from the printing presses – The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall, in Polish. A legendary book in Britain, in Poland it passed unnoticed, but the introduction to it – after all these years - has become one of the most important literary pieces in the fight for the rights of sexual minorities:
Gender inversion? I do not want to translate this word as deviation. Deviation encloses in it a notion of morbidity. Inversion is rather a representation, reversal
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of instincts. This represented instinct can be in itself perfectly normal. No one shall call a left-handed person a deviant. …Pederasts have practically flooded the contemporary literature and theatre, demanding their right to speak up. Their somewhat different physiology certainly influences their alternative perception of the world, and therefore those of them who can speak honestly show us quite a different reality, exotic and puzzling for the instincts of the “majority”. The introduction was written by Irena Krzywicka, a woman with an incredible biography; gossip contained in her autobiography contributed to outing several people from the thirties, and she was regarded as one of the first persons openly speaking about gays and lesbians in the spirit of tolerance and equality. Six years remained until World War II; homosexuals already took control of some cafes - Adria, Ziemiańska, IPS (Institute for the Promotion of Art), met in homes; a pool at Łazienkowska Street was very popular, and it seems very few people actually swam in it. Almost like Berlin or Paris. Almost - because the intensity of this “queer” life was not too great, and even today we know a lot more about western capitals than our own. At the same time many names, sometimes forgotten, revive when we start telling the queer-story: Antoni “Tonio” Sobański, Antoni Borman, Juliusz Osterwa. A new reading and interpretation of the works of the greatest – Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, Karol Szymanowski, Józef Czapski - is also taking place only now. The interwar period is a gold mine for us, into which we are slowly descending, but exactly like in the early stages of the extraction of ore - to reach out to it, you have to dig through tonnes of documents which, unfortunately, no one has yet dared to do. On 1st September 1939 the cataclysm of World War II befell Poland. Official historiography still forgets that among its combatants and victims were homosexual people. We already know quite a lot about violence used by the German Nazis against gays, but we still remain silent about the fates of Polish homosexual men and women. Fortunately - as usual - we always have some shreds of information. Thirty-year-old Stanislaw Chmielewski together with his partner Władysław Bergman fled just after the beginning of the war Warsaw to Lublin, where Bergman decided to seek refuge deep in Soviet Russia, and Chmielewski promised that he would return to Warsaw and bring from there Bergman’s mother Stefania. Stefania, however, did not think of fleeing, but she pulled Chmielewski into the network of people helping Jews. This is how Chmielewski wrote about his motivation:
… I knew how I would fight the Nazi invaders. Not with weapons, which I didn’t posses, but with weapons that were given to me from birth - God’s commandment: love thy neighbour as thyself.
Chmielewski began to help Andrzej Szawernowski, probably one of the few gay men who were called by Chmielewski “a small but loyal and trusted group of friends” (note that one could not help the Jews alone – a clandestine network of collaborators was
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necessary). Shortly after the creation of the ghetto (October 1940), especially after its isolation from the rest of Warsaw in November 1940, Chmielewski dealt with smuggling food and medicines for his Jewish friends. Another of the tasks which he accepted was the evacuation of the family of his partner from the ghetto. Gunnar S. Paulsson, researcher writing about the fate of the Jews in Warsaw during World War II, mentions that there are indications that the majority of persons from Chmielewski’s grid were homosexuals. Unfortunately, all the history about Władyslaw Bergman is lost - we do not have any information about him, but the fact that his partner returned to the occupied capital to help his “mother in law” and her family demonstrates the extraordinary love and very strong ties between the family of Chmielewski’s partner. After the tragic period of World War II came the communist era in Poland - the communist state which was imposed on us by the division of Europe into spheres of influence by the victorious powers. And suddenly, like by a mysterious wave of a wand, homosexual people disappeared from the public space for many years. In conducting dozens of interviews, we found only isolated memories, toilets in which they met, cruising areas in parks. Science at that time dealt with homosexual themes only in such contexts as prostitution, crime and prisons. The official culture avoided the topic, although there were exceptions. The press depicted gays as a characters connected with criminal environment and homosexuality itself as a “major mental flaw”, resulting usually from harassment, demoralization, and generally - criminal grounds. Fortunately, gays began to create their own disguised space to which no one else had access:
In the capital there are several such [meeting] sites. Younger people usually come here because they want to make some profit. Their actions are camouflaged and difficult to discover for the uninitiated. The average inhabitant of the city, much less a visitor or a tourist, may pass by these sites several times and still have the impression that nothing out of the ordinary happens here.
Such places as described above were numerous, but the cottages risked attacks from criminals, police raids and for many people such visits ended tragically. However, the sphere of art started seeing quick changes… 20 November 1980, Office of the Art Exhibitions in Poznań. Wojtek and Krzyś, dressed alike in black trousers and a white shirt, met at a square table. There was a rectangular mirror lying on the table, in which they could see each other. Later on the mirror, placed vertically, marked the axis of symmetry when they bared their torsos one after the other and cut each other’s hair. At that moment they were at one side of the table, facing their reflections in the mirror placed vertically at the opposite end of the table (the reflection in the mirror was a reminder of the symmetry). When they finished cutting each other’s hair, the clipped wisps were collected in a little pile and placed on the mirror which again was lying flat on the table. They put on their shirts and started to sew together the sleeves,
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doing it by turns – one took the needle, made a stitch, and passed the needle to the other. Their forearms were connected by a net of parallel threads stretched over the table. Finally they set fire (simultaneously?) to the pile of hair and burnt the threads (in the flame?). When they were separated, black threads hanging down from the sleeves of the white shirts, they sat at the table for a while, looking into each other’s eyes. (Grzegorz Kowalewski, 1999, transl. Maria Olejniczak) Krzysztof Jung, along with his partner, Wojciech Piotrowski, created a series of homoerotic performances – Rozmowa [Conversation]. Other works of Jung, especially drawings, were full of a homoerotic feelings, unique - not hiding anything, speaking openly, today we would probably say - gay. Homoerotic threads started appearing in the art already in 1970s, but today the character of Krzysztof Jung - the most outstanding Polish gay artist - is unknown to the wide audience. However, it was the Academies of Fine Arts that were the first harbingers of changes in the perception of reality - the first coming-outs in Poland were made through art. Less than a year after the performance of Jung, the most important Polish weekly magazine Polityka published a revolutionary article by Barbara Pietkiewicz. Entitled Bitter Pansy [Gorzki fiolet], it dealt with the situation of gays in Warsaw – their meeting places, such as the legendary toilet Grzybek [Mushroom] at Trzech Krzyży Square. This article became a breakthrough – this was the first time (remember the censorship!) the nationwide press wrote about gays and their issues. Many of our interviewees, without whom this book would have never been created, remember it as one of the most important events in their lives, something that restored their dignity and commanded optimism about the future; according to one of the memories there were even special reading session held, where more accurate passages were read aloud… But just a few months after the publication of this text, General Wojciech Jaruzelski imposed the martial law and our hopes turned out to be futile. The state strengthened its course. Marek lives in Gocław district, is gay, has no permanent partner, but in the Grzybek at Trzech Krzyży Square he finds momentary sexual satisfaction. In his search for a permanent partner he can be assisted by the first same-sex singles ads, which were published since 1983, in Kurier Polski and Relaks, but it is like finding a needle in a haystack, and the first major newspapers addressed to Marek will not appear until the early 1990s (Inaczej). On 15th November 1985, police officers show up in Marek’s flat and arrest him without explaining the charges against him. Driven towards the city centre Marek hears something about “catching faggots”. He is taken to Mostowskich Palace, where the police headquarters is located. They order him to wait in the corridor in which more and more men are being gathered. Some are familiar to each other, and they realise why they were caught - they were all gay. One by one, they are being led into the interrogation room, to respond to simple questions - do you know other homosexual men, give their addresses. There is no pressure, but the enormous fear remains. Many of them have wives, children, and fear that they will lose their jobs, that the family or friends will find out. After several minutes of conversation, most are released.
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This is how, in the perspective of many people, Hyacinth Operation looked like a well-organized raid on gays. How did the police have their addresses? Informers were common among people: because of the fear of being outed many gays collaborated with the communist security services in various areas. Now, the police decided to take action to shut the mouths of their informers, so that in the years to follow the police knew that the communist state would not survive long - no one would know about its activities. In the official propaganda materials, the operation was explained as organised to protect homosexuals from the risk of becoming easily pulled into criminal circles. Knowledge about the existence of the records from the operation, referred to as “pink files”, is quite widespread. Many of us are afraid of their content. Four years later, the Communist authorities give away their power and the reality in Poland becomes “capitalistic” and “democratic.” At the beginning, chaotic destruction of documents is carried out by the slowly dying communistic security forces. After some time, the chaos is brought under control. We have a democracy, and power is in the hands of Lech Wałęsa and Solidarność [Solidarity]. Enjoying the freedom, Polish homosexuals ask the authorities to indicate what happened with the “pink files”. Created as a result of violation of human rights, the files are subject of fear of disclosure and destruction of many lives. The state authorities, however, are unable to find the files and avoid answers - and so to this day no one knows what happened to the remainders of the Hyacinth Operation. State authorities refuse to recognize such events as shameful, do not conduct investigations, consider this matter as closed and harmless. The state which violated the dignity of homosexual persons still refuses them the right for fair settlement of the past era. In this interesting time, the world-famous film director Derek Jarman comes to Poland. Here is what he wrote in his diary about Warsaw:
There aren’t any clubs for gays, and apart from a park, a sauna and a corner of a bar - which no one can afford - there is nowhere to meet. On 10th March a great party is organized. The event looked like early meetings of the Gay Liberation Front, with one vicious middle-aged faggot always cutting in: “We’ve discussed everything except what is most important. What will be in fashion this year?”- that’s what he said to people who barely have anything to wear at their back.
These were the days when the LGBT movement in its conscious form was just being born, just as capitalism in Poland, experiencing a period of fascination but also absolute improvisation. At the beginning it seemed that now it is going to be easier. In 1991, the Deputy Minister of Health who stated that homosexuals should be medically treated was dismissed. But history showed that 15 years later, the Minister of Education could say undisturbed that homosexuals cannot be teachers. So the year 1989 was a breakthrough for the country, and a small step for us in the fight for equality.
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June 2005 saw the disappearance of the infamous toilet Grzybek [Mushroom] from Trzech Krzyży Square in Warsaw. No one remembers when it appeared, probably even before World War II, but we all know perfectly well that this was the most famous cottage in the country. Of course, it was not a safe place, you could come across people like a certain Mr. Łazowski, employee of public utility company MPO:
Łazowski swore to himself that he would cut off the perverts, homosexuals practicing their dealings in the urban urinals. When reaching a public toilet, he first walked around the urinals and if he noticed four legs standing next to each other, he quickly entered the public toilet, requesting a bucket of water from the toilet attendant and doused the perverts. If they insulted him, … he handed them over to the police. The worst plague were toilets in Trzech Krzyży Square and the one in Ujazdowskie Avenue at the corner of Agrykola Street. Jan Łazowski died in 1948 in Warsaw…
Grzybek was secretly removed at night. The next day, after the discovery of this crime, candles appeared at the spot and every now and then come back to this place. That is how Warsaw “faggots” said goodbye to the old era and entered a new one. Next to the place after Grzybek, trendy cafes have opened that crowds of youngsters like visiting - they no longer remember the “dark” past period. How nice it is however, to look through the windows of Szparka cafe towards the empty square where Grzybek stood – a trace our history which we are still proud of. And so, we entered a period of democratic Poland - the time in which gays and lesbians for the first time decided to organize, to create such organizations as Stowarzyszenie Grup Lambda [Lambda Groups Association], Kampania Przeciw Homofobii [Campaign Against Homophobia]; when they began to talk not only about tolerance, but rights of homosexual persons. At the same time these are times when we decided to show ourselves - by billboard campaigns, Equality Parades. Gays and lesbians appear increasingly in the mass media. We stopped meeting in parks and public toilets - we have our clubs, bars, and we feel accepted in many straight places. However, our relationships are treated as if they were of secondary quality - we have virtually no legal protection, sexual orientation is the cause for discrimination and the law protects us against it insufficiently. At the same time we create initiatives to study not only our current situation, but our past. We hope that QueerWarsaw brings you a little closer to our lives in this country, which is not without advantages. Based on: ■■Krzysztof Jung (1951-1998), exhibition catalogue, curators: Maryla Sitkowska, Grzegorz Kowalski, Muzeum im. Xawerego Dunikowskiego w Królikarni – Oddział Muzeum Narodowego w Warszawie, Warszawa 2001. ■■HomoWarszawa. Przewodnik kulturalno-historyczny, Stowarzyszenie Lambda-Warszawa, Stowarzyszenie Otwarte Forum, Abiekt.pl, Warszawa 2009. ■■Anna Augustyniak, Hrabia, literat, dandys. Rzecz o Antonim Sobańskim, Warszawa 2009.
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■■Paweł Fijałkowski, Homoseksualizm. Wykluczenie, transgresja, akceptacja, Warszawa 2009. ■■Andrzej Krasicki., Homoseksualiści w Polsce. Studium środowiska, typescript in Biblioteka Stowarzyszenia Lambda-Warszawa ■■Irena Krzywicka, Wstęp [in] Radclyffe Hall, Źródło samotności, transl. J.P. Zajączkowski, Warszawa 1933. ■■Jan Lewandowski, Zapinka króla Jana, “Ekspres Reporterów”, 3/1987, pp. 87-129. ■■Antoni Mikulski, Homoseksualizm ze stanowiska medycyny i prawa, “Odczyty kliniczne”, Serya XXII,. 11, 12. ■■Gunnar S. Paulsson, Utajone miasto. Żydzi po aryjskiej stronie Warszawy (1940-1945), transl. Elżbieta Olender-Dmowska, Kraków 2009. ■■Włodzimierz Karol Pessel, Antropologia nieczystości. Studia z kultury sanitarnej Warszawy, Warszawa 2010. ■■Monika Płatek, Sytuacja osób homoseksualnych w prawie karnym [in] Orientacja seksualna i tożsamość płciowa. Aspekty prawne i społeczne, ed. Roman Wieruszewski, Mirosław Wyrzykowski, Warszawa 2009. ■■Piotr Oczko, Dlaczego nie chcę pisać o staropolskich samcołożnikach. Przyczynek do “archeologii” gay studies w Polsce [in] “Teksty drugie”, No 5, 2008. ■■John Stanley, Constructing a Narrative: The History of Homosexuality in Poland [in] New Social Movements and Sexuality, ed. Melinda Chateauvert, Sofia 2006. ■■Leon Wachholz, Krytyczne uwagi w sprawie uranicznego poczucia płciowego, “Krytyka Lekarska”, 7-8, 1900. ■■Agata Zawiszewska, “Zostawić całą hańbę”, lecz “zwrócić się przeciw tyranii”. Poglądy na temat homoseksualizmu w pierwszej połowie XX wieku w Polsce [in] Kultura wobec odmienności, vol. 2, ed. Bernadetta Darska, Warszawa 2009. ■■Tadeusz Żeleński-Boy, Wstęp [in] Narcyza Żmichowska (Gabriella), Poganka, Wrocław 1950. ■■Narcyza Żmichowska, Listy, t. 1-3, ed. Stanisław Pigoń, Wrocław 1957-1967.
What’s Up In Poland?
s soon as the decision was made to hold the EuroPride in Warsaw in 2010, it became clear that the year would be a break-through to LGBTQ people in Poland. Some even believed that an event of that rank would be a revelation, automatically ensuring social equality and civil partnership legislation. The very prospect of several hundred thousand visitors from the still mythical Western Europe gave some hope of strengthening the equality movement in the Polish LGBTQ community and in the society at large. Such strengthening is more than welcome. Gay men and lesbians in Poland still have to cope with the sad legacy of 2005–2007 when Poland was governed by the xenophobic party Prawo i Sprawiedliwość [Law and Justice, PiS], which politicised the fight against homosexuality in the name of moral purity. Openly homophobic and xenophobic politicians were appointed ministers. More than that, the Prime Minister and the President, identical twins of the same political formation, gained international notoriety with numerous controversial public statements. The government exploited irrational fear of “loss of national identity” and economic uncertainty following Poland’s recent EU accession, closed their patriotic ranks, and managed to stir the spirits of intolerance and nationalism. The backlash was epitomised in the figure of Father Tadeusz Rydzyk (aka Father Director), head of a media empire, and his political clout. Radio Maryja and TV station Trwam [whose name could be translated as “I stand strong”] have never shied away from politics; they promote a radical, ultraconservative position, both anti-communist and anti-European, xenophobic and conservative. Rydzyk’s “media empire” may be less powerful than the biggest radio and TV stations, but is has the strongest reach among the elderly and the poor who do not catch up with the fast changing reality. Rydzyk’s target group are the “mohair berets” – throngs of elderly ladies dubbed so due to their preference for the old-fashioned hats. Thousands of those excluded from active social and political life found support in Father Director’s broadcasts, but their newly found sense of belonging had a high price: indoctrination, brain drain, and
What’s Up In Poland?
financial contributions. The radio station exploited their naiveté to build its might with their pension money. The “untouchable” Father Director invested their donations in a TV station, a media school, and a cell phone network. Now the political clout of Father Rydzyk has eroded, but when the Kaczyński brothers were looking for potential voters, politicians from their camp pandered to Father Director’s demands. Government officials turned their back on public media and instead announced and explained their political decisions in Rydzyk’s Catholic network. Their efforts proved to be in vain as Father Director’s sympathies wavered and he soon called his former protégés “traitors”. With or without Father Rydzyk’s assistance, the idea of the “Fourth Republic” (as the Kaczyński brothers liked to call it) soon became grotesque. Fed up with constant political and social conflicts, Poles finally parted ways with the xenophobes. The elections were won by the other major political party, Platforma Obywatelska [Civic Platform, PO] led by Donald Tusk who looked more trimmed and propagated the “politics of love”. Unfortunately, it did not quite include homosexual love. Like most political parties in Poland, PO (which currently has the majority of seats in the Sejm) is a conservative party attached to “Christian values”. The most liberal party, Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej [Democratic Left Alliance, SLD], has the third biggest representation in Parliament and is unlikely to win more than 15% of seats. In this context, it is difficult to imagine new LGBTQ-friendly legislation, including the most needed civic partnership law. At least the government does not interfere with the lives of LGBTQ people in any way: it offers no help, but it does no harm either. PO is a party guided by opinion polls, torn between relations with Brussels and Washington on the one hand and powerful lobbies, in particular the Catholic church supported by a big part of the political class, on the other hand. As a result, Poland is shrouded in a veil of piety while paying lip service to political correctness, which means that more extreme positions on sexual minorities tend to be censored. Gay men and lesbians in Poland took a deeper breath after the homophobic hunt inspired by the Kaczyński brothers. No one speaks of work camps, ban for homosexual teachers or other absurd prohibitions. This is not to say that homophobia is gone, it is still strong, but at least not part of the government agenda. Some say that, paradoxically, this weakens the Polish LGBTQ movement. As a nation, Poles are really effective in the opposition rather than in constructive work; hence, the absence of a clear opponent (like the Kaczyński brothers) gives false comfort to local activists. Besides, the number of LGBTQ activists is very low, estimated at well under a thousand, not an impressive figure in a population of 40 million. Interestingly, many gays and lesbians in Poland support the Civic Platform. This may result from their limited political awareness and vulnerability to catchy liberal economic slogans or promises to cut red tape in social life. PO’s success is largely driven by
What’s Up In Poland?
the hypnotic warm smile of the party leader Donald Tusk, in stark contrast to the confrontational, arrogant and hateful attitudes of the PiS cabinet; thus, to vote for PO is to choose the lesser evil. It is also to do with politics of small steps: some believe LGBTQ issues can be advanced by supporting the leading pro-European political actor. The post-communist left, theoretically the natural political ally of minorities, worked hard to scare away homosexual (and many other) voters. The late 1990s, when the revamped left-wing SLD came to power, proved disappointing. Paradoxically, in the absence of any support from politicians, the LGBTQ movement lost its momentum, the gay press went bust, and the evolution stagnated until we closed our ranks in the era of the Kaczyński brothers. Little wonder that homosexual voters did not want to reelect the incumbent left-wing party which did little for the LGBTQ people notwithstanding some lip service. When these voters look to the right for a lesser evil free of radicals and haters, they have to end up voting for the prim and smiling PO politicians. This political constellation crystallised in the 1990s. After the downfall of Communism and the victory of Solidarity in 1989, the opposition from the old system came to power and, like everyone in Poland, started to learn about democracy. Several rightwing cabinets were exhausted by auto-destructive internal strife. Missing the old order, the voters elected the post-communists. When their cabinet came down in a mire of scandals, the political pendulum swung right again. After the first decade of democratic government, Poland gravitated towards religious conservatism: abortion was virtually banned, religious instruction was imposed in schools (in spite of half a million people signing a protest petition), the new Constitution clearly provided that marriage is a “bond of man and woman”. The course of events obviously affected the emerging LGBTQ community. Enthusiastic about the new freedoms and the transition, LGBTQ organisations were founded in many cities in the early 1990s and the gay press developed (several non-pornographic quality gay/les magazines were published at the best of times). A public debate unfolded on issues officially ignored in socialist Poland: pornography, homosexuality, AIDS, drug use, unemployment, prostitution. However, the pace of change soon slowed down: only one gay/les magazine remained in circulation, the first demonstrations (not yet parades) gathered a handful of people wearing face masks, the community grew around home parties and clubs. The difference was that now the clubs were official so skinheads knew where to go to bash gays. Even the Internet did not initially boost LGBTQ movements or consolidate the community. In the absence of co-ordination, determination and sense of belonging, the web mainly facilitated personal contacts and provided entertainment. A real change came with the new enemy (the Kaczyński brothers) and the new ally (the European Union). Today, in the era of web 2.0 and community portals, at the time of advanced social liberalisation and generational change (young gay men who did not know the old times lack the complexes pestering their older brothers), there are countless cultural and academic events, film showings, discussions, performances,
What’s Up In Poland?
exhibitions held every day across Poland. There are many new LGBTQ publications and gay-friendly locations. The latest developments have been facilitated by general improvement of the social sentiment, fuelled not only by the change of government. Once the uncertainty after the 2004 EU accession proved unfounded, many Poles felt they really were Europeans. The national complex gave way to industriousness, hard work and entrepreneurship. More than a million Poles found new jobs in the UK and Ireland, both as cheap labour and hard-working qualified staff. The Polish economy grew fast. Despite the backlog of socialist economy, the Polish economic and financial system improved so much before the global financial crisis in 2009 that Poland proved one of very few economies to stand strong in the face of the earthquake on the markets. Poland was the only EU member state to report GDP growth in 2009. Economic growth is additionally driven by the preparation for the European football championships Euro 2012. The road and rail infrastructure, Poland’s Achilles heel, is being improved and developed. The hotel sector is growing. The event is expected to make Poles, especially city inhabitants, more open-minded about foreigners. Poland effectively applies for and absorbs co-financing from EU funds. The entrepreneurial spirit is strong; some say the less the government interferes with the private sector, the better for the Polish economy. However, the ideological strife did not stop. One of the main topics of public debates over the past two years has been in vitro fertilisation. Conservatives and Church officials want to ban artificial fertilisation, but the procedure is supported by a large part of the general public. The proponents of the ban argue that destruction of human embryos is the bane of evil, equal to abortion and the Holocaust, and haste to add that the procedure could be used by… lesbians: in vitro fertilisation could indirectly open the door to homosexuals who want to have children (as if they didn’t have them already!). If the in vitro legislation is adopted, it is likely to ban access to homosexual users. The LGBTQ community also lacks a clear strategy or vision. Activists use three models of emancipatory discourse. The first model is the coming-out strategy: only the coming out of many gays and lesbians can foster acceptance of homosexuals. The second model focuses on the proposed civil partnership legislation. The third model derives from academic reception of queer theory in Poland and the influence of the US history of LGBTQ movements, often copied blindly, disregarding the Polish tradition and its historical context. On the other hand, this discourse stimulates debates about people who do not fit the homosexual category, such as transsexual and transgendered persons. The three models obviously overlap, intertwine and interact. The debate within the community is very active. It helps to advance ideological discussions and boosts new independent initiatives – social and cultural events. Scores of LGBTQ projects
What’s Up In Poland?
were initiated in 2009, especially in smaller cities. It is an important development as gay pride events used to be organised only in Warsaw, Kraków and Poznań; now parades take place in the streets of other cities. People no longer raise a brow, and the Warsaw parade does not stir so much media attention any more. Meanwhile, the LGBTQ community is winning new strong allies, including the growing feminist movement. This year’s Manifa (annual demonstration on 8th March, Women’s Day) for the first time gathered representatives of trade unions and traditionally female professions: nurses, teachers, supermarket cashiers; the participants were addressed by celebrities including Jolanta Kwaśniewska, the former First Lady. Feminism is still negatively perceived by the general public in Poland and is often ridiculed; in some circles, “feminist” is a swear word. On the other hand, the opinion-making women’s magazine Wysokie Obcasy (weekly supplement to Poland’s largest daily Gazeta Wyborcza) named Magdalena Środa the 2009 Polish Woman of the Year. Środa is considered one of the most radical feminists; in fact, any feminist opinion is considered radical in Poland. The 2009 Women’s Congress was a great success story. Several thousand delegates discussed social and political issues with the participation of many different groups, some radically opposed, like the two First Ladies, Jolanta Kwaśniewska and Maria Kaczyńska. The Congress initiated the collection of 150 thousand signatures in favour of grassroots draft legislation on election list parity. The Civil Platform initially supported the initiative but later lowered the bar to propose 30% parity. Like gay men and lesbians, women are often used as a fig leaf in propaganda; politicians are ready to discuss their difficult position and social problems until after the election ends. Human rights groups in Poland now also include the growing new left grouped around the editors of Krytyka Polityczna. Left-wing parties in Poland were traditionally associated with communism, the biggest of them is still identified with the old regime and its reputation is mired by scandals from when it was in power. Krytyka Polityczna builds on the non-communist left-wing tradition of the early workers’ movements and their ideological followers. It grew to be an important intellectual movement of national reach (local KP clubs are being founded all around Poland), perceived as a counterweight to conservative and nationalistic politicians, and appreciated for its idealism and ambitious publications. KP clubs hold regular LGBTQ meetings, film screenings, exhibitions and other projects. KP members are still away from mainstream politics, although their leaders contribute to it with their publications and media appearances. The new left is consolidating and gaining popularity, especially in universities; it is likely to join mainstream politics within years. The movement is taking root in Warsaw: it has recently opened a very popular club called Nowy Wspaniały Świat [Brave New World]. Taking root must take years because, unfortunately, the Polish election law excludes public subsidies to small parties, hampering their active growth and effective election
What’s Up In Poland?
campaigns. This is to the detriment of equality and environmental groups, especially the Greens, a political option with a strong presence in Western Europe, which only has some local clout in Poland. All of this means that the prospects look moderately optimistic. The attitudes of the general public have not evolved much since the poster campaign Niech nas zobaczą [Let Them See Us] in the early 2000s. The posters presented same-sex couples holding hands, and prompted an avalanche of protests and attacks from self-proclaimed guardians of morality. The road to full equality of rights of the homosexual minority and the heterosexual majority is long. Compared to other countries in Europe, which are more open-minded about difference, Poles lag behind, even though they have made major steps in the two decades of freedom. LGBTQ issues are increasingly present in the media and public discourse. While media reports tend to be sensationalist and attention-grabbing, even this is changing. While some papers still have trouble differentiating between a gay man and a zoophile, the biggest opinion-making daily Gazeta Wyborcza and the most important commercial TV station TVN both speak clearly in favour of homosexual persons. Some public figures have come out. The most popular celebrity gay couple was named the 2008 Most Beautiful Couple of the Year by the readers of a women’s magazine. The broadcast of the award ceremony on public television (run by the major parties) stirred controversy and resulted in disciplinary actions, a reflection of the mentality of politicians, the media propensity for sensation, and opinion polls indicating unwavering hostility of the general public towards homosexuals. However, their homophobia is largely declarative. Agnieszka Graff, a renowned intellectual and feminist, wrote in her book that Poles are not as conservative as politicians tend to believe. Yet their conviction is reiterated so much that we all believe it. Those who are courageous enough to come out find that Graff is right: few openly gay people regret their decision due to hostility of others. Coming out is certainly easier in Warsaw, but it is also becoming popular in smaller cities and towns, proof of evolving attitudes of the general public and consolidation of the LGBTQ community. We still have a lot to do, but some factors drive the process of change. As already mentioned, these include EU membership, availability of the media and independent news, and – first and foremost – the generational change. Young gay men and lesbians are not affected by the old ways. While the general public seems to be lagging behind in the process of change, the evolution is strongest in the attitudes of gay men and lesbians themselves. Once they have entered the public space and joined the debate, they won’t be pushed back into the closet. Individuals whose dignity has been trampled go to court and win, making the headlines. Keep your fingers crossed. Our revolution is only starting!
Warsaw: City Guide and Tourist Attractions
he population of Warsaw is over 1.7 million people. The capital city is Poland’s political and cultural centre. It is situated between Berlin and Moscow, in the eastern part of Poland, on both banks of the Vistula. The right bank district Praga joined the conurbation in the second half of the 20th century. The city centre with the major streets, shops, bars, tourist attractions, and institutions (including embassies) is on the left bank. The airport and the central railway station are also on the left bank. The main downtown landmarks and traffic junctions (it is good to learn these names) include the Palace of Culture and Science [Pałac Kultury i Nauki] and the nearby central railway station [Warszawa Centralna], the two central roundabouts Rondo de Gaulle’a and Rondo ONZ, the Castle Square [Plac Zamkowy] and the main thoroughfare Marszałkowska Street with its many squares: Bankowy, Konstytucji, Unii Lubelskiej. The underground will help you move around these locations. The historical highlights are situated close to the Royal Way [Trakt Królewski], a stretch from the Old Town and Zamkowy Square along Krakowskie Przedmieście Street and the nearby Piłsudskiego Square, on to Nowy Świat Street, Trzech Krzyży Square, along royal parks Ujazdowski and Łazienki and government buildings, all the way to the suburban residence of Polish monarchs at Wilanów. You should definitely have a look at communist development featuring the Palace of Culture with its observation tower and the MDM district (around Konstytucji Square). The Pola Mokotowskie park is a perfect spot for a Sunday stroll. The Trzech Krzyży Square is nice for an evening out.
Warsaw: City Guide and Tourist Attractions
Airports and Railway Stations The Fryderyk Chopin Okęcie Airport is Warsaw’s only international airport. It is close to the city centre and can be reached within 20 minutes outside peak time (before 6am, in the evening or at the weekend). You can get to/from the airport by bus (175 line, ticket costs PLN 2.80) or in a cab (you should not pay more than PLN 50 even at night or on a bank holiday). Warsaw has three international railway stations: Wschodnia [Warsaw East], Centralna [Central Station], and Zachodnia [Warsaw West]. To arrive in city centre, get off at Warszawa Centralna. The station is scheduled for a major overhaul before the Euro 2012 football championships; for now it boasts a complicated maze of underground passages which are hard to navigate. There is no direct access to the underground station. Centralna never sleeps so keep your luggage close and watch out for thieves, pick-pockets and beggars. If you travel to another destination, it is best to locate the glass cage of ICC (InterCity) ticketing office in the corner of the station’s main concourse, which also houses a tourist information office, ATMs, a post office, 24/7 money exchange, and a pharmacy. The Złote Tarasy shopping mall is a few steps away.
Hotels Warsaw is still a city of business more than a tourist destination: paradoxically, hotels offer real bargains on weekends. International chains have their hotels here, including US and French brands: Marriott InterContinental, Hilton, Mercure and Novotel. The Bristol***** is a real gem with a century-long tradition (it is located at the Royal Way next to the President’s Palace). The art deco hotel Rialto is just as exclusive, but small and cosy. Economy rooms (PLN 200-300 per night) are hard to find in high season. Economy brands include Campanile, Ibis, the Polish chain Gromada, as well as low-cost chains Etap and Premiere Classe. Hostels are few and far between. No hotels advertise as gay friendly or offer special deals to LGBT guests. In any case, before you arrive, check out prices online (HRS, Booking.com): you are likely to find a half-price bargain for a weekend stay.
Health and Safety As a huge anonymous city, Warsaw is more tolerant than other Polish cities, but it is a far cry from some European capitals where ethnic or sexual diversity are part of
Warsaw: City Guide and Tourist Attractions
public life. Warsaw may aspire to big city lifestyle, but public displays of same-sex affection, holding hands, or kissing may prompt violence or at least disapproval. Streets of Polish cities are patrolled by police officers as well as “city guards” [straż miejska] with a more limited mandate. Shops and clubs hire private security. City transport, public spaces and institutions have CCTV. You can contact the police and the fire department or call for an ambulance by dialling 112 on a cell phone (but you cannot be sure that they will speak to you in anything but Polish). Warsaw has its share of pretty dangerous locations (such as some areas in Praga district). Streets are roamed by beggars, the homeless, and pick-pockets. Downtown is fairly safe, but be careful after night falls, especially in cruising areas (see the main text). Clubs are safe thanks to door selection and security staff. LGBT gatherings and street parades no longer attract active violence thanks to police protection. All city hospitals offer emergency medical service 24/7. Selected pharmacies in every neighbourhood are open round the clock: if you stay downtown, it is best to go to the central railway station, the pharmacy on the mezzanine floor in the main concourse is open 24/7.
City Transport, Tickets Like any major city, Warsaw is plagued with traffic jams, especially on weekdays. Many bus lines which cut across the city centre are altered on weekends. The best way to move around is to rely on the rails: the underground, suburban trains, tramways. Warsaw has only one metro line which runs parallel to the Vistula, but it offers optimal routes combined with the tram network. Suburban trains operated by several different companies are useful for a trip outside of town. Warsaw’s main junction is the Metro Centrum station, close to the central railway station: this is where the underground and the tram (and bus) networks meet. All city transport uses the same tickets recognisable by the yellow-and-orange logo with the letters ZTM. You can choose between single-ride tickets (fare PLN 2.80 per ride) and transfer tickets (fare depends on time, starting with 20 minutes at PLN 2.00 to 24 hours at PLN 9.00 to three-day tickets at PLN 16.00). You can buy tickets at most kiosks and newspaper stands as well as machines in city centre (these feature English and German instructions and accept credit cards). Remember to validate your ticket before the first ride. The validity of the ticket will be automatically printed on the back next to the black magnetic stripe. Day city transport operates between 5am and 11pm, followed by night bus lines which all depart from the central railway station. The underground also runs by night on weekends but less frequently. Taxis are the safest at night.
Warsaw: City Guide and Tourist Attractions
Taxis You will need them for your nights out. But be careful: taxis are operated by many different companies, each asking a different fare per kilometre. The weekend and night fare will cost you 20% more but a trip between any two locations described in the book should not take you back more than PLN 100. Some drivers may want to cheat: tourists have been asked to pay several hundred zlotys for a ride from the airport. Try not to flag down a taxi in the street or at a taxi rank. If you really have to, pick a car with the name of the taxi company and telephone number; each taxi should have its number placed on the door or side window. You can always ask for a bill because drivers are legally required to print them. Each taxi should have a meter displaying the fare. Before you pay, make sure that the driver is asking only as much as the meter says. Drivers may try to cheat and say they only speak Polish. If you can, call for a taxi by phone (there is a taxi desk at the airport), you can always ask restaurant or hotel staff to help you. In case of doubt, or if you left something in the car, you can always trace back the driver. Some taxi companies (like Sawa Taxi and Merc Taxi) accept credit cards. Even if you pay slightly more, the receipt can help if you have any complaints.
Food You can obviously find in Warsaw all the international fast-food chains (McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King, Subway, Jeffrey’s, Pizza Hut, etc.) and café chains (Coffee Heaven, Green Coffee, Starbuck’s at Nowy Świat). Local chains include the ubiquitous Dominium Pizza, the vegetarian GreenWay, W Biegu Café, and Sphinx which offers Middle East food, especially kebabs. Interestingly, kebab is probably the most popular type of fast food in Warsaw. There are dozens of kebab bars, restaurants, kiosks and stands, many open 24/7 as the last resort on a night out. It is virtually impossible to order food by phone after 11pm. Szpilka Café Bar (at Trzech Krzyży Square) is a rare exception, feeding the hungry round the clock. Shopping malls are a fast-food paradise. Restaurants are aplenty in the Old Town, at Krakowskie Przedmieście Street, and in the neighbourhood of Marszałkowska, Świętokrzyska, Nowy Świat, and Hoża streets. The MDM area around Konstytucji Square features cool bars. Polish cuisine is known for a variety of dumplings (pierogi), sour soups (żurek and barszcz), groats, meats, and cabbage dishes (prominently, bigos). All these meals are spicy, many include wild mushrooms. Warsaw has many restaurants offering local specialties, including Chłopskie Jadło, Smaki Warszawy, Oberża pod Czerwonym Wieprzem, Dom Polski, and several dumplings restaurants (pierogarnia). Magda Gessler, a top-rank Warsaw cook, owns several prime restaurants and cafes around the town
Warsaw: City Guide and Tourist Attractions
(U Fukiera, Polka, Ambasada Smaku, Słodki-Słony); they may be pricey but definitely worth every penny. There are several gay-friendly hang-outs: the pancake restaurants Bastylia and Almond, the café bars Między Nami and Szpilka, the snack bar Sklep z Kanapkami and Tel-Aviv .
Culture and Arts Most public museums close on Mondays and their permanent exhibits are open free of charge one day each week. Entry is not expensive (under PLN 20.00) but temporary exhibitions may be more pricey. The most interesting museums with original concepts and multimedia renderings include the popular Muzeum Powstania Warszawskiego [Warsaw Uprising Museum] and Muzeum Chopina [Chopin Museum] revamped on the bicentenary of his death (2010). The Royal Castle and the Łazienki park are worth a visit. Leading art galleries include Zachęta and Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej [Centre for Contemporary Art, CSW]. Cinemas in Poland show movies in the original language version with Polish subtitles, except for children’s movies. Tickets cost under PLN 30.00. There are two multi-screen chains, Multikino and Cinema City, with cinemas in the big shopping malls. Independent productions are screened in several cinemas including Muranów, Femina, Kultura and Luna. Kinoteka in the Palace of Culture is the only major cinema to offer an LGBT night (screenings every Thursday). Several clubs and cafes regularly show LGBT films (from DVD), including Nowy Wspaniały Świat and Queer. Major theatre events, especially in commercial theatres, may feature subtitles in English (ask at the theatre). Tickets for the most popular shows are sold out weeks ahead; prices range from several dozen to more than a hundred zlotys depending on the theatre. Disregard the language barrier and see a musical at Teatr Roma, an internationally acclaimed production at TR Warszawa or Teatr Nowy, an opera or ballet at Opera Narodowa, or simply listen to a concert at Filharmonia Narodowa. Warsaw is home to many festivals of culture, some of them part of the international cultural agenda: Jazz Jamboree, the Warsaw Film Festival, the Ludwig van Beethoven Festival, the independent art festival Re:wizje, the Francophone Festival. Regular LGBT events include the Equality Festival in the week of the annual Equality Parade. The music and performance Queer Festival is held weekly at Saturator. Kino. Lab presents regular film reviews. For the agenda of current events see a Polish LGBT portal like innastrona.pl or homiki.pl (only in Polish). You can buy tickets for upcoming shows and concerts in the biggest stores of the empik chain (downtown locations including the shopping mall Złote Tarasy and Marszałkowska Street).
Warsaw: City Guide and Tourist Attractions
Currency The Polish currency is the złoty (PLN or zł). The exchange rate is stable. As an approximation, use the following rates: 1 USD = 2.5 PLN, 1 EUR = 4 PLN. Officially, few shops accept cash in euro, but clubs, bars and restaurants are more willing to. You can exchange your currency in most banks, but they charge hefty commissions. As an alternative, find a money exchange desk (kantor): there are many of them in Warsaw and some operate round the clock (central railway station) – mind the exchange rate! Shops, restaurants and bars, and even ticket machines and many taxis accept debit and credit cards. If you have a chip card, remember to punch in your PIN. The ATM network is dense, but you will be charged a fee for a money withdrawal (rates vary; usually 1.5% of the amount but not less than a few zlotys).
Shopping Warsaw has several shopping malls (centrum handlowe, CH) open every day, each home to several hundred high-street shops which sell clothes, shoes, gifts, jewellery and watches, CDs and books, computers and electronics, drugs, perfumes, as well as cafes, restaurants, florists’, and multi-screen cinemas. All of them house international fashion brands: Mexx, Nike, Adidas, Marks & Spencer, Zara, H&M, Diesel, Bershka, Sisley, Boss, Benetton, Esprit, etc. The most popular malls include CH Arkadia, CH Blue City, Galeria Mokotów, and most prominently CH Złote Tarasy by the central railway station. A shopping mall on the other side of the Palace of Culture at Marszałkowska Street is almost as popular and accommodates the same chains. Top-shelf brands have boutiques at the Trzech Krzyży Square, including Emporio Armani, Trussardi, Hugo Boss, Escada, Tommy Hilfiger, Zegna, etc. More fashion boutiques are at Chmielna and Nowy Świat streets. Outside shopping malls, most shops are open until 7pm or 8pm on weekdays and until late afternoon on Saturdays, while they close on Sundays. Popular food and staple chains open 24/7 in Warsaw include the French brand Carrefour, where you can also pay at an automated register (including at Złote Tarasy).
QUEERWARSAW 11-Listopada Street “Basin” clubbing area, concentration of gay- and les-friendly clubs
A magical inner courtyard – in one of the renowned Praga clubbing areas, has grown from the desire to restructure the Warsaw’s right bank – the part of the city that has a reputation of being dangerous, or at least unfriendly to outsiders. At the same time, the 11-Listopada Street “basin” is rebellious, rooted in the protest against the ordinary, against the homogenising glamour, and the trendy club culture of the Warsaw’s left bank. The post-industrial sites and Praga tenement houses form a perfect opposition to places like Szpilka, Szpulka and Szparka cafes at the Trzech Krzy˝y Square. Here, the climate is oldschool, vintage and full of nostalgia for the communist times, unknown to the young generations. It is even visible in the names of the clubs, inspired by films or institutions from the 1960s or 70s. At a first glance, it is hard to realise that there is anything like club life in the area. Unless you go there in the summer, when it is overtaken by outside dining. Club signs do not particularly stick out: Hydrozagadka, Skład Butelek, and Saturator a bit further. It is easiest to spot a plate with a surprising message: “Zwià˝ mnie” [Tie me up]. Just to look at this place is to realise it is something exceptional. In the middle of the night, when clubs are packed to maximum, crowds pour out to the shared courtyard. There, in the middle, just near the fence, a mobile van selling sausages and other foodstuffs turns up to feed the hungry. The courtyard at number 22 attracts a whole lot of avant-garde people, those who think and act different - the true queers, some of whom are indeed LGBT. However, in the case of Hydrozagadka and Saturator, these are also queers that differ from the stereotypical image of complaisant gays. Here, nothing is treated seriously, but rather with a sense of contestation and nonchalance, typical of alternative circles. There is no shortage of cultural pleasures, the oldest club here – Skład Butelek – regularly 1. Zwiąż Mnie ad
11-Listopada Street “Basin”
features movie screenings, plays, exhibitions and concerts. It is the place of choice for a quiet chat over beer or wine, while the eccentric crowd travels in frenzy to and from all other clubs in area. The speciality of Hydrozagadka, the newest venue in the area, is alternative music scene, often containing queer elements. Raw concrete interiors and huge dancefloor with a comfy bar add to the extraordinary experience. The biggest range of diversity will be found, however, in adjacent Saturator, which stretches through three storeys. There is something different on every level - harder sounds in the basement, chill-out music on the ground floor and on the first floor, the latter also serving as gallery or movie room. How about we enter the basement first? Here, especially during themed parties, we encounter an entirely different world. Formalwear with missing sleeves and trouser-legs? Carefully disfigured fabrics and hairstyles, finished off with provocative make-up? Lycra-suits and fancy hats? Wild pogo dancing on concrete basement flooring? A wild performance in the nude, with the use of a phallic courgette? This is Saturator for you. The venue had become known for its Pink Disco series, and it also has conducted a few editions of a weekend-long event under the name Queer Festival, which is even frequented by queerpunks from Berlin, and fans of other aggressive sounds. Even low ceilings will not stop anyone from jumping up high. The club is open to all sorts of minorities. Since its launch, Saturator has been famous for organising Belarusian or Japanese events, or celebrations of the Vietnamese New Year. Its Bollywood parties attract Pakistani, Bengal and 2. 11-Listopada Street “basin” 3. Zwiąż Mnie club 4. Saturator club 5. Skład Butelek club
3-5 Marszałkowska Street
Hindu public, not to mention West European tourists, who prove to the owners that the reputation of Praga as a neighbourhood hostile to outsiders is only a legend now. A completely different climate dominates on the other side of the courtyard. Akademia is a stage, run by dancers and choreographers, connected with the Warsaw’s Academy of Fine Arts. Summer festivals are organised here, in co-operation with local Praga artists. An unaffected hangout called Zwiąż Mnie occupies the second floor. Its name comes from Amodovar’s film “Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down”, which lets you imagine what kind of public the owners hope to attract. The interior of this huge apartment is definitely colourful. The spacious bar area leads you down to a dancefloor-room, filled with folksy 1980s and 90s hits. The upper room has an almost intellectual climate and long conversations are held with the support of consecutive rounds of alcohol. Zwiąż Mnie is run by Monika Nowak (and her… husband), known to many as the administrative officer in the headquarters of Kampania Przeciw Homofobii [Campaign Against Homophobia], and a project-manager to many undertakings of this non-governmental organisation. 11-Listopada Street area has also become a host for the first Polish theatre run by a trans person, the famous Rafalala. Teatr Warszawa has just had its first premiere, Sto [A Hundred]. Hydrozagadka, Zwiąż Mnie, Pracownia Krawiecka, Skład Butelek and Saturator combined, as a group of cultural initiatives in Praga, were nominated to Wdechy Prize 2008, awarded by the most popular Polish broadsheet Gazeta Wyborcza. It is worth to mention that this most prominent Warsaw prize for cultural initiatives has on many occasions been awarded to places and people mentioned in this guide: Krytyka Polityczna, Krzysztof Warlikowski, Chłodna 25 pub, Teatr Polonia and Le Madame. New and similar conglomerates are still appearing in Praga. The newest cultural and entertainment area (with a club called Sen Pszczoły [Bee’s Dream]), is located nearby, at Inżynierska Street. See also: ▶ Cafe-clubs, ▶ Campaign Against Homophobia, ▶ Le Madame, ▶ M25, ▶ Political Critique, ▶ Praga, ▶ Tomba-Tomba
3-5 Marszałkowska Street gay&les clubs and institutions, since 2004, partly non-existent
Next to Unii Lubelskiej Square, in the triangle formed by Marszałkowska, Polna and Zoli streets, a few years ago there was for a short time a truly queer hub, in which three clubs operated and where also several institutions were established. The building in the courtyard was erected for a carpet factory Towarzystwo Akcyjne Bender i Spółka [Bender Joint-Stock Company], in 1908 transformed into the Warszawska Akcyjna Fabryka
3-5 Marszałkowska Street
Dywanów [Joint-Stock Warsaw Carpet Factory]. Later the place hosted a printing plant of Kurier Warszawy daily, and after the war – of Życie Warszawy. Over the years the deserted buildings have become another field of activity. Behind a large, metal gate from Zoli Street’s side there still is some thriving night club life, but only owing to Toro on the left side of the courtyard. The halls on the right, in this moment again deserted, at the beginning of 2007 were renamed to The Palace. Planned as an elite and worldly place, a multilevel “gay&les” disco ended its life a few months after the opening. The front buildings opposite serve as offices, hired to all sorts of businesses, organizations and initiatives, among which are Fundacja RównoÊci [Equality Foundation] responsible for organizing the annual parades. One of the tenants was also Fundacja Centra, or UFA, which specializes in promoting women and non-heteronormative people. The first floor – a small loft – served as its office space, and the large hall was the scene of queer, cultural and artistic events: film screenings, psychological workshops, poetry nights and queer-electro discos. During the week, classes were held of an LGBT language school founded by the Foundation for Equality, and on weekends – photo sessions, hairdressing and UFA cabarets. In the evenings, socializing began – parties, concerts and events with invited guests, including for example, native drag kings whom you will not find in the space of gay clubs. With UFA to a new location Solidarności Avenue, the floor became a bit quiet.
6. Eternal club 7. Entry to the inner yard - Toro club 8. The Palace, former club
Right before the gate, in turn, on the last floor of a high staircase and in the place once occupierd by Turboo club you will find Eternal, with a queer moment in its history. When it opened at the beginning of 2007, women took a liking to it, and its climate then was described as “bi- and heterosexual”. Soon, however, the club disappeared
from the queer map of Warsaw and became totally straight, and though tried to return, it did not succeed. A bit further into Marszałkowska Street, there was once the famous Red Club. Currently, and on the other side of the street, the famous theatre TR [Teatr Rozmaitości] neighbours with Delikatesy TR, a spot with a rich cultural offer, including LGBTQ events. See also: ▶ Toro
Alhambra cafe, 32 Jerozolimskie Avenue, opened in 1950s, closed in 2007
Located in downtown Warsaw, next to the Dom Handlowy Smyk (a department store with all-children merchandise), Alhambra was one of the most prominent informal spots on a queer map of Warsaw. Being a communist relic it offered basic bar food dishes, cheap beer and liquor. Unfortunately, the place was also popular among drug dealers, the fact frequently reported in newspapers. The Ekspres Reporterów daily wrote:
9. Alhambra in July 2009
11. Alhambra in 90's
10. Inside Alhambra (July 2009)
Initially Warsaw's drug trafficking took place at the Alhambra Cafe, but its regulars belonging to queer circles had enough of people who disturbed them, spoiled atmosphere and often “attracted” the police so dealers moved downtown to the Mocca Cafe at the backside of the Domy Centrum department store.
Establishing contacts at Alhambra was facilitated by the table arrangement that formed alcoves separated from the main room. The original setting appears in Robert Gliński’s documentary Homo.pl, where a legendary Polish LGBT activist Waldemar Zboralski and his partner Krzysztof Nowak tell the story of their relationship. Alhambra was also a host of Barbara Pietkiewicz’s interviews for the newspaper article The Bitter Pansy [Gorzki fiolet] that stirred so much enthusiasm among our older sisters and brothers.
The article made all Warsaw queens stand at attention and even reading sessions were held with most significant passages being read out loud.
Today, the cafe does not exist, its place is occupied by a chain bank of insipid decor. Its ending signifies a current phenomenon of modern Warsaw, where gastronomic and cultural venues in downtown are slowly declining and relocating to shopping malls. Empty display windows and haunting spirits of old bars, pubs and restaurants are a direct outcome of the City Hall ill policies that have failed to preserve such places in the downtown district. See also: ▶ Ambasador, ▶ Kopciuszek, ▶ SPATiF
Ali Baba pub, at the corner of Złota Street and Zgoda Street
Currently the site embraces a modest kebab place, but in 1960s there was a second-rate pub, apparently highly occupied by homosexual men, and a haven for male and female prostitutes. Remnants of its decor can still be found on the walls. We recommend paying a visit to feel the spirit of the past.
Ambasador restaurant, 8 Ujazdowskie Avenue, not functioning, currently LemonGrass restaurant
The Ujazdowskie Avenue embraced the legendary Ambasador restaurant, a popular venue for gays in 1970s and 1980s. A journalist from a Polish weekly described the phenomenon: 12. Formerly Ali Baba pub
The Spartacus International Gay Guide list of places mentions three spots in Warsaw: Alhambra cafe, Antyczna cafe and Ambasador restaurant. Decent places to drop by, have a chat and perhaps make a new acquaintance. The Alhambra manager feels pity for the poor sods and explains to the staff: “it’s a sort of like being ill”. The staff women try their best not to show their strongest disgust. These are a polite and well-bred clientele after all, as if apologetic for the very fact they exist. The Antyczna manager, on the other hand, is cool but amiable. She tries to get rid of the odium of being included in the guide which results in less eager visits to the place recently. It is Ambasador that makes you feel at home at night. Red dimmed light among boudoir-like walls, soft movements, dulcet eroticism. Masculine charm seems fancy and cattish – and the outward fanciness binds and helps leave daily anxities behind.
The most successful in gathering queer party was a bar hidden behind a curtain in Ambasador. The end of 1980s saw a clear-cut division into “queens from Trakt” and “queens from Ambasador”, the two most expensive among homo-friendly venues. One of our interlocutors recalls that when we transferred from Trakt to Ambasador we were hollered at: “There come queens from Trakt!”.
13. Ambasador restaurant in 1990s
See also: ▶ Alhambra, ▶ Kopciuszek
14. Ambasador restaurant today
Amigos club, 44a Rozbrat Street, closed
The early 2000s saw the difficulty that leaders of the post-communist left-wing parties had with full and unanimous support of LGBT rights. Strangely enough, the building that served as the headquarters of the main Polish left-wing party SLD [Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej - Democratic Left Alliance] housed Amigos, a gay bar that was a rather unsuccessful and short-lived enterprise. Its elaborate decor was made up of a gray panelling decorated with fluorescent patterns that were supposed to give it
a modern character. The building also embraced Pod ˚ubrem [Under the Wisent] bar, which caused a confusion reported in the Polish edition of "Newsweek".
Why according to Gejowo [a gay web site] is it worth dropping in at Pod Żubrem bar? The answer is because of its “interesting atmosphere and intriguing bartenders”. The problem is that the building housed two bars. One was Pod Żubrem while the other one was located in the cellar, where according to Pod Żubrem’s owner gay men would usually meet. The former is mostly frequented by SLD politicians.
The location of the gay bar and its political significance is important. It was only in 2000 when the SLD placed the idea of tolerance and civil union support on their agenda thanks to a strong political involvement of LGBT activists. One of them was Robert Biedroń, awarded the Rainbow Laurel that same year. The leftist government’s 2001-2005 term under the leadership of Leszek Miller was wasted as SLD’s MPs not only failed to pass the civil union bill put forth by lawyer and Warsaw University professor Maria Szyszkowska, but they expressed reluctance to the very idea of respect toward non-heterosexual people. Homophobic statements among leftist politicians were common and a Labour Code amendment instituting the ban of discrimination based on sexual orientation, which was required by the European Union, was passed with unconcealed distaste. Very few left-wing politicians addressed LGBT issues openly and with understanding. Despite these attitudes the SLD decided to embrace a gay club in its party seat, which until very recently seemed an unbelievable combination. Should such a proximity to LGBT circles not have strengthened acceptance among left-wing politicians? Or perhaps closeted party members were supposed to have faced the situation? We wish them well, of course. These days non-heterosexual people in Poland are uncritically perceived as left-wing supporters, which neglects the complexity and diversity within the group. Many lesbian and gay voters support homophobic parties, whereas gay and lesbian intellectual circles are mostly left-biased but tend to be interested rather with new leftist movements that are recently growing in importance. See also: ▶ Parliament
Andrzejewski Jerzy writer, 1909-1983
Jerzy Andrzejewski, before the war a “Catholic writer”, right after the war became the frontline “engineer of souls” of the social realism and later joined the opposition and started literary experiments. He gained a position of the leading writer thanks to the novel Popiół i diament (1948; Ashes and Diamonds, translated by D.J. Welsh,
Northwestern University Press, 1996), revised in the 1950s to become more ideologically “correct”. This well-written, realistically told story about post-war ideological and political conflicts of Polish people, was part of the school curriculum until 1989. Popiół i diament has become immortalized in a master film adaptation directed by Andrzej Wajda with the great role of Zbyszek Cybulski. In 1980s (20 years after it had been written) his other book was published underground. Miazga [The Pulp] presents a panoramic view of the attitudes of Polish intelligentsia. The book has very distinct gay motifs. This subject was always present in Andrzejewski’s writing, sometimes quite directly, which was a rare thing in the case of “pre-emancipation” writers. But probably the most interesting work of Andrzejewski’s is a novella about dying called Już prawie nic (Almost Nothing More, not published in English), inspired by Leo Tolstoy’s masterpiece The Death of Ivan Ilyich. The writer also refers to Thomas Mann, one of the most significant and closeted gays of the past. Jerzy Andrzejewski, like all the other male and female writers mentioned in “QueerWarsaw”, was a very colourful figure: a homosexual who had a wife and children, an intellectual, an erudite of great sensitivity, and a man torn between ideological and political choices. A friend of Iwaszkiewicz, Gombrowicz and Miłosz, for many years – just like Gombrowicz and Iwaszkiewicz – a candidate for the Nobel Prize. Andrzejewski was also fascinated by young Marek Hłasko (1935-1969), with whom he had sexual relations.
15. The house where Jerzy Andrzejewski
After “breaking up” with People’s Republic of Polived land Czesław Miłosz published his famous Zniewolony umysł [The Captive Mind] in 1953 in Paris. Andrzejewski was also described in the essay, under a code name “Alpha”. Miłosz presented “Alpha” as one of four tragic figures broken by the system, amongst other writers – Iwaszkiewicz, Borowski and Gałczyński – although seemingly at the peak of their popularity. Around 1956 Andrzejewski performed another ideological U-turn and got involved in the opposition activities. He was a co-founder of Europa magazine, which the authorities dissolved before the first issue was published. He signed the famous List 34 [Letter of 34] in 1964 demanding liberalisation of culture. In 1968 he protested against the Warsaw Treaty’s armed forces entering Czechoslovakia. Between 1972 and 1979 Andrzejewski had a regular column in Literatura weekly, entitled Z dnia na dzień [Day-to-day]. Apart from a short break, he was publishing his thoughts up until 1981. After he passed away, the columns were published in book form by Czytelnik Publishing House: Z dnia na dzień [Day-to-day] and Gra z cieniem [Playing with shadows]. Here is an interesting excerpt from the second volume, focusing on the term “homophobia”:
7 July (1980) Homophobia: a disease undoubtedly more often present than the love of fellowmen. It seems – rather unfortunately – to be more natural, and therefore more deeply and broadly entrenched in human nature, fed more abundantly with earthly aliments. In the case of exacerbation of disease, homophobia becomes really difficult and bothersome, although I am not sure how much the ill person suffers because of that extreme misanthropy. Anyway one can suffer homophobia also in a crowd, even not despising ostentatiously and not manifesting this particular mixture of dislike and fear. Homophobia does not mean hatred for humankind. It just does not contain any elements moulding the love of fellowmen, which, by the way, seems to be a disease as well, although of a higher rank, which does not stop it from entering the domain of troubles and dramatic conflicts.
Prefix “homo-” in this fragment has its Latin meaning: “human being”, not as in a strange Greek-Latin cluster “homosexuality”, derived from Greek “homos”: this, the same. However are those two meanings – the older and the newer – so very different? Let us end with another example of Andrzejewski’s juicy writing (this time from the novel Miazga – The Pulp):
I have a right to call you Mummy, because in a way I have the right to the title of your daughter-in-law, oh, excuse me, I did not express myself correctly, I am your son-in-law, Mrs Ambassadress, because I, you should know, fuck Ksawery, in bed he is a woman and I, my dear Mummy, shag him, he only likes to be fucked by a boy with a huge dick, Ksawery says that my dick is very good, you have no idea, Mummy, what a whore Ksawery is, I wonder if Mummy liked it this way too, when she was young…
However the most interesting episode in Andrzejewski’s life was his open letter to the authorities demanding… civil partnerships. There would be n0thing strange about it if not for the fact that the letter was written in 1976. Even in other, more liberal countries at that time it would have raised eyebrows. But it appeared that the letter was not written by Andrzejewski after all, but by State Security Service. It was sent around Warsaw to damage the reputation of the writer. Though perhaps it is a shame that it was not Andrzejewski who wrote the letter? Andrzejewski’s old apartment was in Praga District, on the corner of Solidarności Avenue and Jagiellońska Street (number 53/4). We recommend a visit. Right next door you will find… a bear pen – ZOO’s showcase. It seems a bit strange that you can see bears on one of the busiest streets in the city. So far none of the congenial animals died of pulmonary disease. See also: ▶ Gombrowicz Wiktor, ▶ Hłasko Marek, ▶ Iwaszkiewicz Jarosław, ▶ Parliament, ▶ Powązki, ▶ Praga
Arkadia shopping mall, “Radosława” Roundabout
Shopping malls can be found all around the world. Then why do we stop at one of them in Warsaw? Because it is here – unfortunately, or perhaps luckily? – where all the urban life flourishes! Why is on Sundays the Krakowskie Przedmieście Street often empty, but Arkadia center is crowded? One of the authors of this book has suffered a nervous breakdown when an acquainted group of genteel ladies from Żoliborz district decided to move their traditional coffee and cream puff meetings from the elegant Nowy Świat Street to… Arkadia. It is no wonder then that the strict downtown becomes deserted, and stores and gastronomic facilities give way to second-hand clothes shops or plastic banks that are open till 5 pm, and restaurants – to kebab bars. Arkadia is also a very multi-class place, where pensioners and post-lumpenproletariat hurrying to “Karfur” (Carrefour supermarket) after sugar on an occasional price mix with the clientèle of expensive boutiques and refined cáfes. It is worth to pay attention to the representatives of each social class in order to notice that Arkadia is thought of (alike other malls) as a place for spending one's free time and taking strolls. According to the local custom, the outer garments are to be left in the car (except for the post-lumpenproletariat that would obviously not recover the clothes left on a tram) in order to present to the biggest possible number of people one's brand new pants, suit-jacket, scarves, jewellery and other accessories. Sleek gays and femme lesbians can present themselves here en tout and always count on an enthusiastic audience. Mall centers already perform nearly all social functions, well, maybe except for living in them - but this too was planned by one of investments in Ochota district. If almost all functions, then also the sexual ones. The role of sexodrome is 16. Arkadia mall successfully performed by the malls' bathrooms and parking lots. Web dating ads swarm with the descriptions of “the fourth cubicle away from” a certain clothes line store. But today in mall centers gays mostly give in to quite a different need: hunger for being a star. A handful of useful information: Arkadia is open seven days a week from 10 am till 10 pm, except for Sundays when it is closed an hour earlier. In the late afternoons (especially during the post-seasonal sales) and on the weekends the crowds are so huge that it considerably decreases the comfort of shopping. So, those interested are recommended to shop on the week days, from the morning until the afternoon hours. See also: ▶ Rasko, ▶ Swimming pool, ▶ Złote Tarasy
Atlantic Cinema 33 Chmielna Street
Is located at 33 Chmielna Street, nearby a chunky building of Domy Centrum department store. At the entrance, remnants of a restroom, which used to be next to it, are worth noticing. It played a key role in forming homosexual relations during the communist regime especially among elitist circles. Public figures like journalists or academics attended the place. An excerpt from Gejzer refers to it:
17. Former toilet near Atlantic cinema
A nightly unsatisfaction could be felt by the dawn. A funny situation by Domy Centrum next to the Atlantic Cinema. Not many urinals, half occupied by queers. Only a few available for those who were emptying their bladders so a line soon formed. Both groups confused. I burst out laughing and left.
Balkan Electrique a music band, operated 1988-1994
A musical duo made up of Fiolka Najdenowicz and Sławomir Starosta, created in late 1980s. It became a phenomenon not only due to the original mix of Balkan folk music with the new-wave electronic, but also because of gay themes in their songs, also in the context of the outbreak of AIDS. While the Bulgarian influences can be traced down to family roots of the vocalist with a powerful voice, the queer themes appeared thanks to Starosta, who was one of the first media personas to publically speak about their sexual orientation. The band's fortunes were changeable. They gave splendid concerts and performed during the most important national music festivals, which at that time was still one of the main promotional methods. Their material was played in the leading radio and television programmes (public television even sponsored a music video to the openly homoerotic piece Dwa Słońca [Two Suns]. And yet, neither of their two albums sold in spectacular amounts. A German offer of recordings for the Western market never entered the realization phase. This, however, in no way diminishes the contributions of the band which through Starosta's voice set within an interesting musical frame directly touched upon homosexuality, a topic virtually non-existent in the Polish pop genre. One of Balkan Electrique's best known songs, Kochaj nie zabijaj [Love, don't kill] became the anthem and the leading
motif of the social campaign under the same name which promoted safe sex. The music video created for the song quickly disappeared from television after viewers’ protests, outraged at the fact that the vocalist was licking her lips while singing about sperm. Today the song is still eagerly played by the media on the occasion of the World AIDS Day. Balkan Electrique disbanded in 1994, and ten years later a best of DVD appeared under a simple title Songs. Sławek Starosta took up the business of erotica for men, becoming a publishing potentate within the pornographic magazine industry (under the sign of Pink Press). As of today he still runs the oldest gay sex club in the capital, Fantom. Fiolka Najdenowicz used to be the name sponsor to one of once most popular Warsaw gay locals, Cafe Fiolka. She has also released a solo album. See also: ▶ Cafe Fiolka, ▶ Fantom, ▶ Koźla Pub, ▶ Sigma, ▶ The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Bankowy Square It is today one of the most important public transport transfer areas. With so many tramway and bus routes and the metro station, one can have the impression of an endless chaos. The same is with its architecture! On one side we can see an enormous building standing where before the war Warsaw Jews had their Great Synagogue. The construction of the Blue Tower took for more than 20 years, people started to talk it was a curse – a Jewish one of course. On the other side, a monumental set of 19th century buildings remained; we can find there offices of local and regional authorities. There is also a Hall of Marriages – it remains inaccessible for ceremonies of same sex couples, still not respected by our law. For the LGBT history, the square became an important place in 2004. It was there that – instead of the Gay Pride Parade, our gay pride march, banned by the then mayor Lech Kaczyƒski – activists organized on 11th June a “stationary pride”. More than a thousand people took part in the event. One of the reasons for banning the march, expressed by the mayor, was that it was supposed to “display pornography”. Mayor Kaczyński said with conviction that organizing the pride means forcing the inhabitants of Warsaw to take part in a “sexual event”. Ironically, in Poland’s recent history, the public space was given some porn not by gays and their parades, but by… a group of extreme right activists. It happened in Kraków. A group of enthusiastic nationalists was sentenced by a local court after they displayed very nasty posters aiming at presenting in an odious way the idea of emancipation. On Polish television, it is not gays but right wing publicists that like to talk cock and “what anus should be used for”. Well! The Bankowy Square saw the ending of the 2007 march and was a starting point for the marches in 2008 and 2009. See also: ▶ Gay Pride Parade, ▶ Kaczyński Lech
Bar pod Dwójkà [No. 2 Bar]
Bar pod Dwójkà [No. 2 Bar] operated in 1990s
It was located at Marszałkowska Street and Unii Lubelskiej Square. In early 1990s it used to be a popular venue for gays and lesbians. Currently the place occupies a drug store. Gay and lesbian magazine Okey reported queer parties were organized in Bar pod Dwójką on Fridays and Saturdays. The magazine sided sometimes with the club.
You have been whining the space is too small. But that is its charm! A restaurant is not a condom. …And I totally can’t understand the tall queen who slipped in a restroom, twisted her ankle and rebuked the manager for execrable conditions. Can the organizers be blamed for her lameness? One needs to look down where they tread, avoid a slippery surface, instead of starting a clamour or perhaps the staff should carry such an oaf in a litter? These days club standards have slightly improved, our complaining, however, has not changed. We grumble even if sometimes it would be better to just chill out and have fun instead of paying attention to every single shortcoming. See also: ▶ Cafe Fiolka, ▶ Rudawka
Barbie Girls cabaret, established in 2005
The cabaret was set up at the initiative of a lesbian couple: Gośka Rawińska (vel RudedeWredne [GingerdeScurvy]), an activist known for being for ages the only lesbian who came out in mass media and Ewa Tomaszewicz (vel Absolutely Fabulous), who lead for many years the LGBT magazine Replika. The team was then strengthened by the queer activist working on the history of human sexuality Ag 18. Barbie Girls: Nula (left) and Gośka in the gig Birthday nieszka Weseli (on stage as Furya Konopnicka). Finally, DK Tivv (a.k.a. Nula) joined after 19. Barbie Girls: (from left on) Agnieszka, many successes in the drag king band DaBoyz. Gośka and Ewa in the gig 2009 Equality Parade The cabaret quickly gained popularity and received acclaim from the public and press critics. They started to tour Polish cities with their sketches, linking absurd and nonsense humour, queer music and dancing. Even mainstream media had to fight to have them in their national releases.
Their biggest media success has up to now been the cover Wysokie Obcasy, a popular women's magazine, addition to Gazeta Wyborcza daily. Of course such an event had to become a starting point for a new sketch: “Chicks from the magazine front page”! Barbie Girls showed that lesbians are as good as straights to show a proper sense of humour and can laugh even of themselves! See also: ▶ Manifa, ▶ UFA
Baryłka [Barrel] restaurant at the corner of Wilcza Street and Marszałkowska Street, now closed
Baryłka was located at the corner of Marszałkowska and Wilcza streets. One could often meet military personnel there who took a fancy to the restaurant and their gay fans who also frequented the place and could afterwards go trying “wooden cruising” in the yard (the entrance from Wilcza Street). Nowadays the vicinities of Marszałkowska and Wilcza streets are visited by a throng of handsome policemen from the nearby station. We particularly recommend having a dinner in the Vietnamese restaurant, where they often drop in. Big helpings for a low price, amiable staff with barely any competence in either Polish or English and last but not least unforgettable views make it a unique offer. Previously the policemen were seen at the Lodi Dodi pub, but the habit has unfortunately been quit. See also: ▶ Lodi Dodi
Bastian Agency a singles agency, 1/61 Puszczycka Street, operated in 1990s
The Bastian Agency was one of the first companies in the first half of 1990s advertising their products in Polish LGBT press and remained the only that published its address (a common practise being only a post office box) and did not demand money for sharing desired addresses. Many similar institutions regularly cheated their clients. In mid 1990s, the Correspondence Social Club in Szczecin gained considerable publicity under an investigation involving paedophilia charges, which resulted in the club clients’ data being handed to the police. Hearings soon followed. Evidence was not found, the case was dropped, but the question still remains how many people, a lot of them being husbands and fathers, were outed. See also: ▶ Pink Service
Bastylia [Bastille] a creperie, 17 Mokotowska Street, opened in 2001
One of very few gay&les-friendly places in Warsaw where you can eat a meal during a day. A French creperie offering a variety of crepe toppings: sweet, vegetarian or with meat. Any time of year you can sit at outdoor tables, have a big crepe with a coffee or a beer. The rainbow flag has flown above the entrance since the beginning, a still rare phenomenon in Warsaw. Although Bastylia has traditionally been a lesbian venue, everyone will feel comfortable here, even the faithful leaving the church situated across the street. The creperie web page reads:
And you know what? It does not bother parents with kids, elderly ladies who come after a church service, nor their pets. This is our greatest success.
Indeed Bastylia has been successful as one of very few places in Warsaw that are involved in promoting tolerance towards LGBT people, and still remains open to everybody. Pretty many reasons to find a while to visit Bastylia creperie if you stop in Warsaw. See also: ▶ Freedum, ▶ WC-Club, ▶ Women's Club “Teddy Bear Clinic”
19. Bastylia bar
20. Bastylia bar
21. Zbawiciela Square
Beaches Błota [Marsh], Grota-Roweckiego Bridge, Âwidry
Neither are these cottages nor full-time beaches, and their popularity is rather due to the lack of any place in Warsaw where one could sunbathe undisturbed by the recoiling cars and riverside walkers. Warsaw has an amazing treasure in the form of the Vistula River, but this treasure is still undiscovered by our authorities. We can only walk by the Vistula river, although such a walk can sooner be a trigger to an asthma attack than to relaxation – the Wisłostrada
route runs along the river, and in the spot where the street turns into a tunnel no one even thought about tipping at least a gram of sand. Apparently it is to change when the construction of Science Centre “Copernicus” is finished, but for several years the city authorities were promising to turn towards the river and nothing is being done in this direction. Błota is the most import homo-beach, or more precisely, gay beach, because a lesbian can
hardly be seen there. For non-motorized – we are promoting an organic lifestyle – municipal transport to Błota from the city centre is a nightmare, but please try it. After getting through to Waszyngtona Roundabot, find the bus stop of bus 146 and drive towards Falenica. It should take over half an hour, so you will have time to read “QueerWarsaw” or some other of “our” books. Get off at the “Strzygłowska” bus stop, then go down Sitowie Sreet in the direction of the sand pit. Here you can spot the first traces of homo-tourists in the form of a wild car park and a trodden path by the Vistula. On a dune behind the sands there are traditional nudists, and a little further – on the island – extends our kingdom. On warm days it is difficult to find a single seat. Post-emancipation gays are no longer fond of such cruising areas as our older sisters, so do not expect to find an orgy at the spot, but a little imagination and anything can happen. A portable shop with beer operates at Błota beach, but for better comfort we advise that you purchase your drinks earlier. Note that water in the Vistula River is not suitable for swimming, and the bottom of the river is treacherous and hides many household appliances. Be careful. Watch out also for safety – places such as Błota are famous for its army of pickpockets and other thieves, as well as raids of young people who cultivate the old Polish game “run after the faggot.” Unfortunately, the sport still has its fans, so whenever you feel threatened, it is better to withdraw from the beach. A lot is also being said about the beach in Żoliborz district – right at the Grota-Roweckiego Bridge on the left bank of the river. Take bus 114 or 118, get off at the on-demand-
stop “Most Grota-Roweckiego” and head towards the Vistula. There are quite a lot of beach places in the area, so there is plenty to choose from.
In the old days, the beach close to the town Âwidry Wielkie (near Józefów) was very popular. Many naturists spend their time there nowadays. For city-people it is quite a long journey, and that is why Świdry beach lost its importance. See also: ▶ Cottages
Białoszewski Miron writer and poet, 1922-1983
Miron Białoszewski was a poet and prose writer, the author of the incredible Pamiętnik z Powstania Warszawskiego (1970, English edition: A Memoir of the Warsaw Uprising, Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press 1991), one of the most original Polish artists, who became an iconic figure while still alive. There are plenty of
Białoszewski’s marks all around Warsaw. Let’s start at Tarczyńska Street (11/33), where in a beautifully renovated building dating from 1912 the shows of Tarczyńska Theatre were held between 1955 and 1958. Białoszewski staged them with the help of his friends, amongst whom were Ludwik Hering and Lech Emfazy Stefański. It was in Stefański’s aunt, Olga Schmidt’s apartment, where the plays were staged. The shows were ticketed with invitations on matchboxes. The audience would gather in the living room and the stage was a black box. This is how Stanisław Prószyński reminisces about those times:
All in all, in each season there were dozens of plays in Tarczyńska Street. As to the audience numbers, Lech’s room turned into the theatre could hold – I don’t remember exactly – around 30-40 seats. If need be, there were extra seats on the floor in front of the audience benches. On top of that a lot of theatregoers could stand wherever possible or sit down – for instance – on Auntie Ola’s dresser in the hall, from where you could see the stage. There were shows with over 100 viewers, or even 120!
The Tarczyńska Theatre was followed-up by Teatr Osobny [Separate Theatre], run by Białoszewski in his own apartment at Dąbrowskiego Square. Nowadays Tarczyńska Street holds annual “Mironalia” in June – a festival celebrating the incredibly wide artistic output of Białoszewski’s.
22. Street sign on Tarczyńska Street 23. Tarczyńska Street
24. Plaque on Tarczyńska Street
The artist’s next marks are at 90 Leszno Street, where he lived before World War II and then at 40 Chłodna Street, where he lived during the German occupation (both buildings have survived). Close to Marszałkowska, at 37 Poznańska Street, where Master Miron lived between 1945 and 1958, there is a memorial plaque (it was from here that the “stove like a triumphant gate” from Miron’s famous poem was taken). The next address was 7 Dąbrowskiego Square (also in central Warsaw) where the poet spent the years 1958-1976.
The last address of the “separate poet”, as literary critic Adam Sandauer called him, was 2 Lizbońska Street in Kępa Gocławska district (1976-83). Białoszewski called the estate where his last apartment was located “Chamowo” [Oafville]. Similar to his attitude to the “worse Saska Kępa” was his attitude in the later years to the rest of the country:
On the side I whisper to my noblewoman that it would be better if she didn’t come to Poland right now, because Poland has recently turned into an oaf.
In 2005, the biggest Polish influential newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza published Tadeusz Sobolewski’s text Leszek, Henk, Miron which was about Leszek Soliƒski, who died that year. He was a painter and long-term Białoszewski’s partner, flatmate at Dąbrowskiego Square and co-founder of the Separate Theatre. Soliński often appeared in Białoszewski’s writing as “Le.”. It was not an easy relationship, which is attested by the excerpt from the poet’s diary, quoted by Sobolewski:
The love for Leszek turned into a big friendship. Nothing more difficult and nothing better could have happened.
On the other hand, the academic literary historian Hanna Kirchner recalls Miron’s words: Without Leszek I couldn’t exist… When Białoszewski passed away, Soliński inherited his copyrights. Sobolewski mentions that Soliński spent his last years in Holland:
25. Sobieski Hotel
Leszek was friends with a Dutch Slavist, who appears in Białoszewski’s writing as Bear the Dutch [Misio Holender]. When years later Leszek’s health went down and he became weak, Henk Proeme took him in, to Oegstgeest. He stayed with Leszek till the end, with great devotion. They entered into civil marriage, according to the Dutch law. A few weeks later a bilingual note from Holland arrived. ‘It is with great sadness we inform you that after a short illness Leszek Stanisław Soliński has passed away, my husband, our uncle and brother-inlaw… mijn echtgenoot, onze oom, oudoom en zwager’.
Currently, the attempts to reconstruct Polish artists’ biographies in the context of homosexuality are met by the wall of silence, unpublished diaries and families hiding or destroying documents. That is why everything that we do know makes us so excited. There is an ongoing big debate in Poland on whether we should be discussing great artists’ lives or not. We are not attempting to strip away their privacy and mysteries. We want to show that – similarly to other groups excluded from public debate – we too have our “forebears” who left a lot of traces. They just need to be found. See also: ▶ Janion Maria, ▶ Powązki
Boy-˚eleƒski Tadeusz writer, journalist, 1874-1941
In QueerWarsaw we mention Irena Krzywicka, we cannot forget about her lover – Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński, who lived at 11 Smolna Street between 1922 and 1936. This is where the unusual couple met (Krzywicka interviewed Boy for Pologne Littéraire). Boy-Żeleński wrote many times about homosexuality, especially in the perspective of works by Proust and Gide. He was one of the few people who, on the occasion of the amendment to the penal code in 1932, called for depenalization of homosexuality. His most famous articles concerning homo-eroticism in literature are Przedwiośnie [Early Spring] and Literatura “mniejszości seksualnych” [“Sexual minorities” literature]. In the latter he calls:
Let us not search for homosexual soul in this or that Nobel Prize winner, even if otherwise entitled to represent it, let us search for it in these modest little notebooks, resembling at most some junior high-school magazines. … Let us imagine the position of these people, among whom there are many most valuable individuals. After all, this mysterious whim of nature can take a high official, a judge, a prosecutor, a priest as an object of its viciousness. What a life! Innocent at soul yet pressed with burden of a social disgrace, still under threat of some disaster, still with unsatisfied hunger of heart, bashfully hiding their lives – that's fate!…
Following the traces of our history it is worth to sit on the square separating Smolna Street from Jerozolimskie Avenue, to become engrossed in reading of writings by Boy-Żeleński or Krzywicka. It is only a pity that texts from before decades came out of date so little. See also: ▶ Krzywicka Irena, ▶ Sadowska Zofia
Broadway cruising walkway, from 1975
The biggest and most centrally located cruising walkway in Warsaw was given a bombastic and high-sounding name. Originally its path was the inside subway tunnel at the Dworzec Centralny [Central Railway Station], extended into alleys above the ground between the Palace of Culture and Science and Warszawa Śródmieście station. Central Railway Station, the second most controversial building in the centre of Warsaw, is - just like the neighbouring Palace of Culture and Science - the end product of success propaganda, only two decades younger. Built hastily to be ready for Leonid Brezhnev’s visit in 1975, it needed a few repairs straightaway. Just like in the case of the Palace, its demolition was considered, not only for aesthetic
reasons, but mainly practical and economical. Its maintenance is very expensive and you cannot see any effects of invested money anyway, but after a major lift in coming years it is supposed to weather the football-touristic storm of Euro 2012. A complicated web of station corridors and passages, as well as good transport connections and an option of quick evacuation, were fostering underground life, especially night life. Big turnover of passers-by, travellers, visitors and the nouveau-riche willing to grab a taste of life in the capital encouraged an on-going observation and combing for new, young, desperate faces. Good understanding of the station’s nooks would allow a quick escape, both from possible attackers and from the law enforcement forces. The subway could also provide a shelter from the vagaries of the weather, so no wonder it quickly became the terrain of sexual pursuits. The cottage started at the famous huge public toilet at the Central Railway Station, known as the Queen of Warsaw Public Convenience. It held this status until it got divided into two parts during a renovation several years ago. It is strategically located close to the exits to tram and bus stops. Before the era of ads in gay magazines, not to mention the Internet, this was the place where one could meet “the whole Warsaw”, because – as the American writer Edmund White said – cottages are a classless phenomenon. Here, amongst the queer mob, a famous writer, a great economist, a professor of College de France appeared (incognito, of course). What mattered here were attributes of purely “personal” nature – although wits and charm did not hurt; as everybody knows, the “whole package” is what matters.
26. Central Railway Station 27. Broadway
28. One of the toilets
The “toilet granny” from the Broadway toilet did not have it easy. This is how Mariusz Szczygieł described her in 1986 in Na Przełaj weekly:
The toilet granny swears more and more. Indeed she got the worst “cottage”, i.e. lavatory. She only opens 3 cubicles out of 9 in the men’s. The buggers wreck everything. She finds bottles and needles. She even found a “stiff ” man. …And so the cottage lady complains that 5 zlotys from everybody entering does not cover her losses. If one could at least kick the faggots off; but for them the toilet is a sanctity. They come and come every minute. There was one that barged in fifty times one night – she counted. And maybe even more. She is not entirely sure, because she had fallen asleep later on. He was pretending to wee. His luck that men do not pay for peeing. They stand there in a line in front of the urinals, and there are many urinals there – fifteen – and they peek above each other’s shoulders… Oh, if only AIDS devoured all those faggots. … They have no flats of their own, the families kicked them out, the police chases them – so where are they supposed to meet others like themselves? Sometimes she feels sorry for them and swears just ostensibly, so they don’t make her work difficult.
29. The Queen of Warsaw Public Convenience
30. Broadway “on the surface”
Here is how a participant of the toilet activities describes one of the methods of toilet “pulling”: Between the cubicles there were gaps by the floor, so if you didn’t want to stretch one’s neck, you could put a mirror on your shoe and see what was going on next door. One gal pal had an idea to use a dental mirror, which revolutionised pulling.
Nowadays it would be to no avail to look for those wide passages divided by the famous thirteen columns, where the thrill-seekers would linger. The promenade is now full of retail and food booths, pawnshops, newsagents, bars and cafés. On one side there is still a row of storage lockers – this is where the so-called “gallery” used to be – a place to watch visiting “rough trades”. After the renovation, a new toilet, closer to the Palace of Culture, took over the modest baton of cottage No. 2 from the legendary first one.
Above the ground, the Broadway goes on in the direction of Marszałkowska Street and the present day Metro Centrum station. The toilets there quickly became an attractive terrain of sexual encounters. In its best times, the Broadway was every day full of gays of different kinds. The special day was Friday, when a real “fairy rally” would start:
“Sisters” from every corner of Poland come here for guest performances. They gather in groups, talk, make plans for night encounters, decide at whose place to throw a “pink ballet” (popular sex-party), sometimes in the corner they drink plonk or booze bought at the nearby den. “Sometimes it gets very merry here”, says Dzidek, a twenty-year-old boy with blonde hair and impeccable manners. “We have a blast when one of the ‘sisters’ gets all dolled up, puts on a dress, heels and make-up. People are left open-mouthed. Why do we meet here? It just happened. We need to meet somewhere after all”.
And this is what Krzysztof Boczkowski wrote in his pioneering book Homoseksualizm [Homosexuality] and Małgorzata Dragan related in Kurier Polski daily:
… “the feeding ground” becomes busy after 8pm. In winter-time even earlier, right after dusk. Who needs dusk, anyway? After all, although it is just a corner of the Central Railway Station, it is brightly lit regardless of the time of the day.
As one of the Broadway guests relates, one should start pulling considerably early, especially in the park by Palace of Culture and Science:
As the evening and then the night goes by, especially right before dawn, the criteria decline … Sometime around midnight and even much later, you pull whatever is there, as long as it does not hurt your eyes…
Nowadays the hunt and anonymous sex have changed entirely. Mostly these are meetings arranged beforehand on the Internet. In this respect, metro system toilets are very useful as well as toilets in massive shopping centres. There are clubs advertised in the circles with vast and well equipped darkrooms. Cottages that still exist are just one of many ways to establish casual contacts. But before the breakthrough of 1989, places like Broadway were one of a very few ways to fulfil one’s needs. Many guests of the station admitted that the lavatory is a last resort, but – equally often – it is the only resort. No wonder then that one is on one hand the memory of establishments like this pushed out of gay collective conscience, but on the other hand they have achieved a legendary status. Broadway – right next to Trzech Krzy˝y Square – is one of them. See also: ▶ Cottages, ▶ Palace of Culture and Science, ▶ Trzech Krzyży Square
Brühl Palace 1641/3-1944
Looking towards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, on the right we note a disorganized pristine area – a remnant of the Brühl Palace, housing in the pre-war time the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, dynamically led by the famous minister Józef Beck. The palace was built between 1641 and 1643; stretched before it was the courtyard, the guard-house and stables. After the death of Chancellor Ossoliński in 1650, it belonged to his daughter Helena, wife of Aleksander Lubomirski, governor of Sandomierz. The expansion of the building took place in the years 1681-1696; Tylman van Gameren took on the job, and a new sponsor and at the same time a new owner, Karol Józef Lubomirski, financed it. Fortunes tied to the palace Janusz Aleksander Sanguszko, who is worth more attention.
31. The Brühl Palace was here
Janusz Aleksander was heir to a gigantic fortune and one of the most colourful 18th-century Warsaw figures. Although in 1731, when he was 19 years old, he married Constance Columbus, Denhoff countess (she was then 15 years old), rumours about his homosexuality were common. Memoires sur les principales maisons de Pologne contain mentions about him:
… The head of the family (he was the last of the male line of the family), although derived from branches of the Jagiellonian and bearing the title of the Marshal of Lithuania, is widely despised.
Well, what was this act unworthy of a “Jagielonian branch member”? We could only guess, but other sources exist: Agnieszka Jakuboszczak wrote that the spouse of Sanguszko:
… spent most of her time alone in the estate in Baranow. Annulling the marriage was not an option, though Janusz Aleksander was known for his weak spot for alcohol, gambling and men. The marriage was childless. After the death of Janusz … in 1775, Constance acquired the will to live.
Let us not wonder about that, especially after what we have read in the chronicles. Marcin Matuszewicz reported that Constance returned to her parents not having received from her husband any proof of her marriage but one good morning in the morning and good night at bedtime. Another diarist, Jędrzej Kitowicz, says that the prince gave the city Koźmin and seventeen villages to his lover Karol Szydłowski. About others he writes as follows:
The object of his passion was a comely young man, for whom he could empty almost all his treasures: the lord of his heart ripped the prince of his money … . Many of his favourites became law-abiding citizens and wealthy men.
Sanguszko sold the palace in 1750 to Henryk Brühl (hence the next and final name – Brühl Palace), so he enjoyed it only for just a few years, but we understand – somewhere he had to earn money for the comely young men. The palace was demolished in 1944 and now in its place is a monument of the long-term president of Warsaw Stefan Starzyński, which uses the base portion of the palace.
C-13 Club sex club with no permanent location, established in 2002
Originally, the club appeared in a particular location – at Chrzanowskiego Street in Praga district, immediately oriented towards a very particular activity: as space for fans of fetish and intensive sensations. Entrance was possible only in a proper outfit (skin, track suit, uniforms, leather, latex, rubber) or… in nude. The guests were obliged to submit to a dress code, the details of the required outfit for a particular party (e.g. permitted kinds of jeans) being announced in advance. The entrance price (several dozen zloty) guaranteed a certain amount of alcohol and the door being closed till the morning. The club, run by sensation seekers, was open only on the days of party events which were announced on the Internet. And it is still this way today, except that now the club has no permanent location: the consecutive parties are hosted by various rented locals; the place of the meetings and all the details are announced on the club's website. See also: ▶ Fantom, ▶ Wild Club
Cafe Fiolka gay club, 257 Puławska Street, operated 1990-1992
A legend and an institution. According to the collective memory, it is Café Fiolka that deserves to be referred to as the first genuinely gay club in Polish history. It is not true, though. There were many places which for many reasons the gay label could be applied to. However, it was Cafe Fiolka that was the first to throw openly gay parties: for the first time a Polish bloke could dance with another bloke and not cause any sensation (Tomasz Adamski, Nowy Men magazine). The need for such a place was underlined in one of letters received by Mariusz Szczygieł, gay movement forerunner in the Polish press, in 1986: …please write to me and tell me the address of this Warsaw café where such people meet. I am fed up with the life without a man like me.
The name of the place derives from the name of Fiolka Najdenowicz, one half of the Balkan Electrique duet. Café Fiolka was opened on 7th October 1990. It was located, as it often would in those times, in a typical 1970s-style two-storey shopping pavilion of a simple brick shape. You could reach the café through outside stairs typical of such buildings. The opening of the cafe was accompanied by the performance of a rising rockwoman Edyta Bartosiewicz, who just a minute later became a shining star of the Polish music scene, as well as by famous bands Balkan Elecrique and De Mono. Later, the Fiolka Promotion Scene saw also the debut of another famous group, Elektryczne Gitary. It is said that the grand opening of Fiolka had to take place twice: once for openly gay people, another time for its undisclosed supporters. Contrary to the legend, the cafe was not only for gay people, except for two days (or rather evenings) a week. On Thursdays there were gay movies screenings, whereas Friday was a dance night. Now it is difficult to say how exactly the “identity” of the guests was checked. There were various reactions to Fiolka. Inaczej magazine (7/90) described Fiolka as a first-class place, where you can buy national and foreign gay press. Tomasz Adamski recalls that the interior was rather shabby and the investments made to improve it did not help much. Most visitors were men, and female customers had predominantly masculine features. Café Fiolka was so popular that there were negotiations with the ZTM (Public Transport Authority) in Warsaw to set up a bus stop (on-demand) next to the place. A bus stop was a good idea, especially since there were many attacks on gay people at Fiolka. Most of our interviewees remember that no one would go to the bus stop alone at night.
˚aklina, a famous draq queen artist, says:
There was a large balcony in Fiolka at a height of five or six meters above ground. You would go there to have a smoke or drink when it was warm outside. During riots some people were thrown off the balcony over the railings. A few people ended up crippled.
Tomasz Adamski is very honest about Fiolka in his memories: Local drunkards discovered quickly that it was a great battle ground. …I will never forget one of the fights between the native regiment and a host of bouncers. Taxi drivers got involved in the fight equipped with monkey wrenches. Then I understood how dangerous a disco could be in Poland.
As one of our interviewees said: Unfortunately, this was a daily bread at Fiolka. Once every few weeks, a group of boys with baseball bats would visit to bash faggots. But since faggots were not
really keen on being bashed, a regular fight would start using stools, chairs, etc. Girls and those more cowardly would hide in loos. I, myself, spent a little time there, before the “baseballers” were tamed. Once they managed to scare off most regular guests at the club and almost smash it to pieces. Two girls ran away to their car and locked themselves from the inside (I remember that it was Fiat 125). The attackers turned the car upside down. This was one of the reasons why Fiolka was criticized in gay press quite soon. Paula Pilch wrote in Filo:
Cafe Fiolka is a monopoly in Warsaw. It is the only place where gay men and lesbians can meet and have fun in their own company. The organizers realise that people will come irrespective of the service provided. That is why the quality deteriorates every day.
Two months after this review Fiolka collapsed, destroyed by its neighbours from the surrounding blocks. The club was closed on the basis of the decision of the Council of the Housing Cooperative that owned the premises. The reason for closing the club was allegedly non-fulfilment of the conditions by the owners who: through their failure to renovate the premises on a regular basis, contributed to its devastation and put the cooperative at risk of a loss in the amount of PLN 100 million (today ca. EUR 2500). One of the reasons was of course the concern of the residents that it was a meeting spot for a criminal group. It was March 1992 and the gay residents of Warsaw had to move to Rudawka or start cruising again. Today, the old shopping pavilion does not exist anymore. Currently, a housing estate of apartment buildings is being built there with a relaxing view of a nearby crossroad that the residents can enjoy after work. See also: ▶ Balkan Electrique, ▶ Koźla Pub, ▶ Bar pod Dwójką, ▶ Press, ▶ Rudawka
Cafe Rose restaurant, operated in 1994
Café Rose operated in the Institute of Bulgarian Culture situated at the intersection of Świętokrzyska and Emilii Plater streets. Although a short-lived phenomenon on the Warsaw queer map, Café Rose enjoyed such a strong popularity among gay men that the ambassador who was in charge of the restaurant demanded that “these men” stop dominating the venue. One of the reasons behind his decision were “homosexual orgies” allegedly happening there already before its official opening! The restaurant was also mentioned in the first report concerning gay and lesbian discrimination in Poland, prepared by Stowarzyszenie Grup Lambda [Lambda Groups Association] in 1994.
Café Rose was rented from the Institute of Bulgarian Culture. During the opening ceremony, the owner received a call from the Bulgarian Embassy and was ordered to get rid of the guests immediately and close the premises.
A few days after the incident the restaurant was opened again, but it failed to attract customers and was soon closed down. In the meantime, the Bulgarian ambassador admitted in the interview with the tabloid Super Express that the closure had to do with the restaurant’s popularity among homosexuals. Thus, the restaurant became a symbolic ancestor to the other symbol of institutions' fight against gay and lesbian friendly places – Le Madame. See also: ▶ Le Madame
Cafe-clubs “Klubokawiarnia” [cafe-club] is a Polish word which is strongly rooted in the times of communism. It then represented a cafe which also performed important social functions by creating culture or at least by bringing people together for integrating purposes. This was particularly visible in small towns or in the countryside, where almost every village had its own cafe-club: during the day it functioned both as a cafe and library, and in the evening – as a traditional pub. It was here that cultural events took place – unless they were too pompous, in which case they were moved to the fire station. In cities, cafe-clubs looked more or less like contemporary trendy cafes or pubs. Today they perform socializing functions, but usually within an elegant, capitalist, designer decor. The fact that regarding most of them one can use the oldfashioned word “cafe-club” is connected to their atmosphere, tinted by nostalgia for the days already gone and often unfamiliar to the youth.
32. Mural at Żelazna Street
Recent years have seen a true boom of places with special atmosphere and aspirations, a boom that also considerably enriches Warsaw’s cultural offer. Some of them directly adapt the space and decor from the old days, like for example a considerably new club PowiÊle, opened in an old building which used to serve as a railway station. The ones that should be credited as
the precursors of the cafes with aspirations are certainly the older Warsaw spots, with Chłodna 25 at the forefront. It is one of the most welcoming places in the capital, the trendsetter for the new generation vintage club-cafes which are characterized by a rich extra-gastronomic activity. The place is involved in both the very local life and the issues of the whole city by organizing debates on Warsaw's architecture, as well as supporting alternative culture. In the evenings, the upper floor buzzes with extraordinary discussions whose participants often occupy also the arcade by the cafe-club's entrance; whereas during the cultural party events, the lower floor practically bursts at the seams. At a nearby intersection of Chłodna and Żelazna streets in the times of the Second World War a famous footbridge was located, connecting the Jewish Ghetto with the rest of the city, which has been commemorated by the club animators in the form of a thematic mural upon one of the front pillars. Beer fans can order here wheat beer from Ukraine, as well as the domestic production from local breweries. Along with another friendly cafe P´dzle i Szczotki [Brushes and Brooms] at Solec Street, Chłodna 25 promotes the idea of responsible consumption and fair trade. Everything here makes the place stylish and open to diversity – the brand in itself. The club is ideal for an afternoon cup of tea, meeting with friends, non-commercial film screening, cabaret, political debate or gig – be it alternative or classical. The high level of Chłodna 25 is being equalled by other cultural spots on the map of Warsaw that were opened over recent years, such as Powiśle, OSiR, Sklep z Kanapkami [Shop with Sandwiches] or the pompously inaugurated Nowy Wspaniały Âwiat [Brave New World] under the aegis of a leftist journal Krytyka Polityczna. This list should certainly be expanded by adding bigger clubs such as those located in the so-called 33. Chłodna Street basin of 11-Listopada Street and Sen Pszczoły [Bee’ Dream] in Praga disctrict, 1500 m2 do wynaj´cia [1500 m2 for Rent] in Powiśle district, Powi´kszenie [Enlargement] at Nowy Świat Street or Pankiewicza club which has no permanent location. All these places create the conditions and atmosphere favourable for cultural activity, especially by young artists. They host or organize concerts, film screenings, theatrical performances, film cycles (for example LGTB-oriented or presenting the worst movies of the world), vernissages and shows, lectures and debates which attract a young, thinking audience searching for an alternative to the places strictly for clubbing. Even in the case of dance events, people party to the sounds more alternative than house or techno; often, there is also live music available. Due to rich programmes the clubs often host events also on the weekdays.
Campaign Against Homophobia [Kampania Przeciw Homofobii]
The venues which are within these activities favourable to the topics of LGBT and gender are Saturator (Queer Festival and themed parties), Zwià˝ Mnie, Usta Mariana (evenings with cabaret, theatre and film), Nowy Wspaniały Świat (LGBT-themed film evenings and debates), and Pankiewicza (themed events and film screenings). 1500 m2 do wynajęcia facilitated its rooms for a photography exhibition within the festival A Million Different Loves. Also Chłodna 25 gladly contributes to gay-friendly cultural life by cooperating with various organizations or organizing promotional meetings for the authors of LGBT-themed books. See also: ▶ 11-Listopada Street “basin”, ▶ Freedum, ▶ Luna Cinema, ▶ M25, ▶ Między Nami, ▶ Political Critique
Campaign Against Homophobia [Kampania Przeciw Homofobii] organization, 68 ˚elazna Street
Kampania Przeciw Homofobii [Campaign Against Homophobia, KPH] was founded on 11th September 2001 (sic!), and its first members were Robert Biedroń and Marta Abramowicz, but also people currently not associated with this organization – Bartosz Żurawiecki (film critic) or Jacek Kochanowski (sociologist). The group's headquarters were originally set up – due to the lack of an actual base – in the flat of its first president, Robert Biedroń. Thanks to the fact that he moved a number of times during his term of office we have so many charming street names, like Ogrodowa Street or Tagore'a Street, on our guide's map. It is worth noting that Mr and Mr Biedroń organize annual parties, thrown for tout Paris and not only. During the “Niech nas zobaczą” epoch (the “Let them see us” campaign) a very important place for the flourishing organization was the office of 34. KPH’s office Federacja na rzecz Kobiet i Planowania Rodziny [Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning], situated at 13/15 Nowolipie Street, where KPH was granted “secret” abode, thanks to a great support from Wanda Nowicka, the Federation's director, whom KPH calls its godmother. The usual meeting place for the voluntaries was the basement of Le Madame, where also a revolutionary group, Grupa Młodzieżowa KPH [KPH Youth], was brought to life. KPH rented its first official headquarters in a building on the corner of Wołoska Street and Racławicka Street, and soon after that moved to Żelazna Street, where you can find a huge archive collecting data on LGBT life in Poland, as well as a large library. Since 2009, the president of the organization has been Marta Abramowicz. KPH conducts many important projects, like LGBT discrimination watch, educational activities, lobbying
Centre for Contemporary Art [Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej]
for changes in the law, and Robert Biedroń has become – at least from the point of view of the heterosexual media – Poland's gay-in-chief. Since 2010, KPH has had its branches in every voivodeship. KPH also distributes the bimonthly Replika, currently the only non-pornographic gay and lesbian magazine. After 1989 there was a real nationwide profusion of LGBT magazines (in Poznań, Gdańsk, Łódź, Warszawa). Most of them declined after some (usually very short) time, or deteriorated in quality (like the greatest of them – Inaczej). In the age of the Internet the need for paper periodicals virtually disappeared, and every enterprise aiming at publishing a non-pornographic magazine was a failure. Replika, with articles by Tomasik, Żurawiecki, Tomaszewicz and numerous guests, remains a free of charge curio, distributed in clubs mostly thanks to subsidies, a bimonthly character of publication, and a relatively small circulation. The editor in chief is Mariusz Kurc, who took over the post after Ewa Tomaszewicz. See also: ▶ 11-Listopada Street “basin”, ▶ Centre for Contemporary Art, ▶ Feminoteka Foundation, ▶ Gay Pride Parade, ▶ Lambda-Warsaw, ▶ Niech nas zobaczą [Let them see us], ▶ Political Critique, ▶ Press, ▶ Squat Elba, ▶ UFA, ▶ Warsaw Gay Movement
Centre for Contemporary Art [Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej] cultural organisation, 2 Jazdów Street, established in 1985
Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej [Centre for Contemporary Art], located on the edge of Ujazdowski Park slope in the picturesque, late-Baroque Ujazdowski Castle is the place where contemporary art in all its forms is created, shown and documented. It is presented through exhibitions (so far about 600), festivals, installations, performances, book events, plays, lectures, seminars and workshops. From the 1990s, it has also housed the Information and Documentation Centre, and from 2000 – the Film Form Archive. In 2002, the permanent exhibition of International Contemporary Art Collection was opened. It consists of, amongst others, works of renowned Polish artists such as Magdalena Abakanowicz, Katarzyna Kozyra and Zbigniewa Libera. The Centre does not steer clear of queer issues. 35. Ujazdowski Castle It was here that a retrospective exhibition of a young scandalous artist, Karol Radziszewski, was held, and recently it hosted Dark Rooms, an exhibition of photographs by Konrad Pustoła. Gay and lesbian films are a regular feature in Centre’s cinema Kino.lab, also in their artistic and experimental variety – a recent example is a film tribute to William E. Jones. The most controversial
Cottages and cruising areas
so far proved to be Festiwal Tęczowych Rodzin [Festival of Rainbow Families] organised in 2008 by Kampania Przeciw Homofobii [Campaign Against Homophobia] and Stowarzyszenie Trans-Fuzja [Trans-Fusion Association]. Bringing up children by lesbian and gay couples was one of the subjects discussed. In Poland these issues are still considered taboo even amongst homosexuals themselves. See also: ▶ Campaign Against Homophobia, ▶ Radziszewski Karol, ▶ The National Museum, ▶ Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute
Cottages and cruising areas We present here the list of cottages for which there was no space in the book or about which we had too little information; addresses that surely remind many a gay the time of his youth and allow guests to tour Warsaw in a way they did not expect. Many of those cottages are in captivating places, architecturally or historically interesting. In making of this list, the article Poczet pikiet warszawskich [The Gallery of Warsaw Cottages] (remembered by Stanisława B. and supplemented by Lizka Bracka-Nowogrodzka, Gejzer magazine No. 2/99) was incredibly helpful. Here are some of the places remembered by the respectable Authors:
Dworzec Wschodni [East Railway Station] – nothing much really happened there. Koszykowa Street next to Konstytucji Square (at present, the 7 pub). Floryda (or Chemia [Chemistry]) – behind the parking lot on Bracka Street – famous place where group orgies took place and high-ranking government officials were seen. Dworzec Gdański [Gdański Railway Station] – supposedly things happened there as well. Holes in the cubicles might indicate that. Dworzec Wileński [Wileński Railway Station] – this cottage where there were two cubicles joined with a hole was unfortunately walled up. Dworzec Zachodni [Zachodni Railway Station] – famous (especially due to youngsters) cottage in the station's underground. Supposedly you can still catch visitors there. Piękna Street, corner of Mokotowska Street – on a small square – only the picking-up occurred there. At present, shish kebabs and “Russian” dumplings (with potato and cheese stuffing) are being served there. Próżna Street – in one of the yards there was a wooden public toilet where you could go in search of intimate moments. Kijowska Street – two cottages: one is at the gate of the building on the corner of Targowa Street, in the second passage-yard; the other in the first old building on the right – both were typical yard toilets of the past times.
Cottages and cruising areas
Dziewiątki [Nines] – wooden cottages by Stadion X-lecia [10th Anniversary Stadium]. Much was happening there, just as in the whole triangle between Poniatowskiego Bridge, railway bridge and Vistula river, as well as in the socalled Kurwie Doły [Whore Pits] – further towards Syreny Bridge. During the construction of Świętokrzyski Bridge you could score soldiers there, and during the renovation of Poniatowskiego Bridge – workmen. Żelaznej Bramy Square – behind the building of PSL in bushes there was a tin shed and behind it a small palace where soldiers were stationing. In the summertime they would sit on windowsills wearing merely underpants and wait for “girlfriends” who in return for sexual services offered beer and “Sport” cigarettes. All that happened before housing estate “Za Żelazną Bramą” [“Behind Iron Gate”] was built in that place. We stand no chance of verifying the “girlfriends'” truthfulness, but from the skilful descriptions we conclude that ladies orientated themselves well to the geography of the city. Another cottage is remembered by one of the co-authors (through the mists of childhood years, when strolling about holding his grandma's hand) – just as on Trzech Krzy˝y Square, a cottage similar to “Grzybek” [“Mushrom”] was located on a small square on the corner of Madalińskiego and Puławska streets; however, it was destroyed probably back in the 1960s. As it was written in one of the gay magazines, the place was worth visiting till late evening hours… Obviously, our university, being a reputable academy, does not lack in cottages. Until mid-1990s, significant cottage among the “college community” was toilet in the Warsaw University Library (BUW) on the main campus. After the renovation of the historical building and the construction of an amazing edifice of “new” library in Lipowa Street, the building is now referred to as the “old BUW”, and a porter's lodge is now where toilets used to be. Another cottage on the campus – although of lesser importance – was the facility in the basement of Auditorium Maximum. Not only social contacts were established there by men who even included professors. Our interviewees from college cottages got sentimental when reminiscing about toilets in Philosophy Institute (with classic drilled glory holes), and even under the office of vice-chancellor in Kazimierzowski Palace. Of course, we encourage a visit in the campus because of its architectural value. The Kazimierzowski Palace – built back in 17th century, re-built in 19th century – is one of the most beautiful buildings around Trakt Królewski [the Royal Road]. We also recommend a visit in the “old BUW”, located in the centre – a gorgeous example of revitalisation of former interiors and using them for science needs. Another interesting building is Auditorium Maximum (on the left from the old Library), unfortunately, the interiors still remind that Polish education suffers from constant lack of money. And so from cottages we went to University – isn't it a great city? See also: ▶ Beaches, ▶ Broadway, ▶ Palace of Culture and Science, ▶ Park Skaryszewski, ▶ Park at Książęca Street, ▶ Salons, ▶ Sokratesa Starynkiewicza Square, ▶ The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, ▶ Toilet on Widok Street, ▶ Trzech Krzyży Square, ▶ Whore Pits
Dàbrowska Maria novelist, 1889-1965
This time you will be surprised. We are inviting you to a museum devoted to… a lesbian. Well, okay – it is a slight exaggeration. Although one of the best Polish novelists of the 20th century was indeed a lesbian, you will not learn much about that at her museum. At 40 Polna Street, if coming from the direction of the Technical University, you can see a commemorative plaque with the visage of Maria Dąbrowska. The museum dedicated to her is located on the second floor, in an apartment, where she lived with her partner Anna Kowalska (1903-1969). Maria Dąbrowska moved to the Polna Street apartment in 1917. This is where she wrote her most famous novel – Noce i dnie [Nights and Days, not published in English]. Not as famous, however, to convince the nation to read it – most people were satisfied with just watching the 1977 television series based on the book. Nor has the fame brought with it many foreign language translations of this masterpiece.
This is how Dąbrowska described her apartment in 1951: I've been living in Warsaw for 34 years, in the same house, on the same street. I've lived here for most of my life, and it is here where most of my writings were conceived. To live so long in one place, when others go through tens of homes, cities, countries in their lifetimes, would seem rather boring and monotonous. But if I wrote a novel that didn't go beyond the history of this house, it would turn out to be a sonorous history of this city, history of Poland, history of man even, in almost all its aspects of his personal and public life.
Less than three years after writing this, Dąbrowska moved to 163 Niepodległości Avenue in the Mokotów district, and other tenants went on to occupy the Polna Street flat. Throughout the years the house continued to deteriorate, and due to the plans to construct a tube station entrance in its location, it was selected for demolition. After grass-roots protests organized by Stefan Lorenz, art history professor, the blueprints for the Warsaw Metro were eventually changed, and the building was saved. However, it was not renovated, and its neglected, run-down state and ugliness continue to scare passers-by. Maria Dąbrowska's private life is a biopic in itself. First, she was married, and then for many years shared her home with another female novelist, talented but incomparably less-known Anna Kowalska. And not just with her, but also with Anna’s daughter! A true gay family – although things were not that gay in their everyday life. Maria did not have a good relationship with Tula (the daughter), and even the relationship between Maria and Anna was often filled with tension. In her Dzienniki [Diaries] Dąbrowska wrote that she
felt overwhelmed by Anna's presence in “her” apartment. And in Anna Kowalska's Dzienniki 1927-1969 [Diaries 1927-1969] we read:
3rd July 1952: Around noon I found M. very odd. She reeked of alcohol. I froze.
Even the most fervent, the most devoted love cannot be enough for her. For this is not what she needs, but constant adoration, confirmation, compliments etc. Unfortunately, this is what I can give no one in the world.
Later in their lives Maria and Anna moved to a mansion in a village of Komorów, near Podkowa, where Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz lived, but this neighbourhood was just a coincidence. Dąbrowska died on 19 May 1965 and rests in Aleja Zasłużonych [the Alley of the Meritorious] at Powàzki Cemetery. Her tomb was designed by Marian Wilk. Maria and Anna’s relationship was very peculiar. Dąbrowska did not enumerate Kowalska among the people who were to take care of her literary legacy, which was very upsetting for Anna. Thankfully for her, another version of Dąbrowska’s will was found, in which Anna was named as one of the heirs. It could be casually mentioned that Kowalska physically represented the butch type. She was a sturdy, robust, burly and rather peremptory woman. Dąbrowska, on the other hand, seemed like a sensitive, capricious and neurotic femme. This is a frequent configuration in same-sex couples – one could point to the tempestuous relationship between Oscar Wilde and the beautiful Lord Alfred Douglas. Or Verlaine and the young Rimbaud. Or from Polish examples: Maria Rodziewiczówna and Jadwiga Skirmunttówna.
36-38. Museum of Maria Dąbrowska
A visit to the Museum of Maria Dàbrowska is, of course, a proposal for the brave. A foreign (or even a Polish) tourist is not a very frequent sight there. And sadly, the exhibition itself does not really say anything interesting about the life of Maria Dąbrowska and Anna Kowalska. See also: ▶ Powązki, ▶ Zawieyski Jerzy
Dmowski Roman politician, 1864-1939
At the crossroads of Szucha Avenue and Ujazdowskie Avenue we encounter a statue of Roman Dmowski. This controversial politician of the interwar period has his monument at the mouth of the Szucha Avenue. The leader of the National Democracy holds in his hand the Treaty of Versailles, a document by which Poland was reborn after the First World War. In principle, here the merits of Dmowski end. The 1920s and 1930s were for him the times of spinning nationalistic, but also anti-Semitic and xenophobic daydreams. This is not the place to remind the most “interesting” passages from the works of Dmowski, but one may give you the hint of the whole picture:
I have a lot of data that our internal problems, which we now have more than enough, come not only from ourselves, but that many of them are contributed to by the influence of our enemies, the Jews, Freemasonry, and even the Sanation*) movement that by such or other routes penetrated within our ranks. Mostly, people do not know that they are working for their opponents. I completed some of these figures myself and I hope soon to reach a full picture of the intrigue.
39. Roman Dmowski Monument at Na Rozdrożu Square
Roman Dmowski’s nationalistic thinking in those years was nothing strange. It was then that at our western boundary the Nazi state was launched and, as history has shown, antiSemitism was able to connect even the worst enemies. The fact that the monument of such a nationalist and chauvinist stands on the Royal Route [Trakt Królewski], next to the Prime Minister's Office, Ministry of Education and the planned Museum of the Polish History was considered a scandal. Protesters against the erection of the monument in 2006 included Marek Edelman (one of the leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943) and Maria Janion (literary scholar and philosopher). Today Dmowski is a mere idol of the likes of
*) Sanacja [Sanation] – political movement centered around Józef Piłsudski; preached the primacy of the national interest, contended against the system of parliamentary democracy, and supported authoritarian government.
the youth militia of the Liga Polskich Rodzin party [League of Polish Families, LPR], fascinated by the theme of paederastic copulation and enthusiastically colouring the Equality March with their idiotic songs, whose main aim is our destruction. As a patriotic idol, Dmowski serves only political dinosaurs; not surprisingly, his first name was given to the son of the former MEP Maciej Giertych who maintains that people and dinosaurs lived together on Earth, and the Wawel Dragon (the one from Kraków) existed not only in fairy tales. Although, fortunately, Roman Dmowski’s ideology faces now extinction, putting his statues in such a prestigious place (as giving his name to the roundabout in the city's most important place) is a slap in the face to all those who fight for equality and tolerance in a country in which these words too often still mean exclusion. See also: ▶ Kaczyński Lech, ▶ Rotunda PKO BP
40. Na Rozdrożu Square
Drag Queen Drag Queen is an inseparable part of gay folklore, and drag performers are for LGBT what samba dancers are for Brazilian carnival. They serve similar functions – to bring entertainment, amuse the audience, defy conventions, but also impress with artistic skills and richness of their shows. The first Polish DQs, those lucky enough to make their debuts in the colourless reality of PRL, brought some flashy glamour to the heteronormative political regime, a bit of laugher and joy to the publically-non-existent gay world. Gays who chose this career path, performing on microscopic stages in microscopic gay clubs, looked like western stars; their gorgeous attires, sequins and feathers were like a gentle breeze of the American splendour. It would appear that back then, at the times when gay and lesbian culture did not have any chance to surface, gays tried to cherish every single aspect of it, and this is the reason why the DQs from that epoch did their best to maintain the highest standards of their performances. Nowadays DQs are often neither funny nor successful parodies of a woman’s style. Żaklina, one of the most popular Polish DQs, makes the following comparison:
When I worked in Mykonos I observed a real proliferation of drag artists – it was about creating a cabaret, a performance, not those pitiful attempts that you can see now. And the audience has changed as well – people moved to a faster mode. In the past people looked forward to our performances, they were involved
in them, and now they just want to have a quick fun, have a drink, and we are just an optional addition. However, some of the drag performers stand out from the trashy, miserable crowd and their appearance on a stage in a club guarantees a good performance: Żaklina – one of the most popular and the longest-performing Polish DQs, gracing with her presence the galas in the most luxurious hotels in the world. Famous for her fantastic costumes, a ready wit and great contact with the audience. Lola Lou – a legend of Polish drag stages, an artist who sang with her own voice. In the real life Lola was Luc, a Frenchman who built his career in Poland as a DQ and achieved worldwide success which he owns to his huge vocal and choreographic talent and great charisma. Now the biggest Lola’s fans recollect her farewell tour, after which the star settled with his husband in RPA. Lady Camilla – the most popular Drag Queen in Warsaw, belonging to the “younger generation”. A perfect sense of rhythm and professionalism on stage are her trademarks. She graced many gay parades with her presence, and her performances in a grass skirt with nothing under it became legendary in her mother club, Rasko. Dżaga – an artist-parodist, impersonating one of the most popular Polish singers. The impersonation goes well and, though her performances are nothing out of ordinary (so to speak), she manages her career quite successfully. Daruma – another star, who officially quit the stage, but still performs on some parties from time to time. The richness of her choreographies, orgy of costumes and makeups, as well as good understanding of what it is to be a drag queen, made her one of the best drag artists in Poland. Druga Maryla [The Second Maryla] – a look-alike of a Polish music icon, who is famous for using her own voice, but also for a lawsuit filed by the original for stealing her stage image. Kim Lee – Rasko’s offspring and the only Asian on the Polish drag scene. The inability to learn lyrics and lack of coordination skills are usually forgiven thanks to his original attires, for which he has rented a separate dressing room. Kim Lee’s clumsiness and cordiality is so endearing that we decided to mention him here. There are many artists and even more debutants in Warsaw not mentioned here, but their road to perfection is still very long. It is a pity that the drag king culture is still so uncommon and represented only on very few women-lesbian festivals. See also: ▶ Mykonos, ▶ Rasko
Europejski Hotel [European Hotel]
Europejski Hotel [European Hotel] 13 Krakowskie Przedmieście Street
Europejski Hotel was opened in 1857, but nowadays it is going through hard times, blemishing Krakowskie Przedmieście Street with its run-down facade. The building has a square ground plan whose north side comprises Ossolińskich Street. A popular Przekąski-Zakąski bar is situated on the corner, while a few meters further one can see still see the impressive socialist-realism styled entrance to Kamieniołomy club that used to attract queer clientele. Going down the street one can get to the place that Andrzej Dąbrowski recalled in Kurier Plus:
At the other end of Ossolińskich Street right by the sidewalk café that cuts into Saski Park, one can spot a cocktail bar, from where squiffy figures would go past our windows to taxi cabs or the 24/7 cocktail bar in Bristol Hotel, to ultimately complete the night’s thrills with new companions and immerse in a few hours of nirvana. Some of these figures were Warsaw celebrities, but my parents were discreet and would never reveal to me names of any of them. Sometimes, though, I heard them saying that Broniewski was not only a commie asshole but also a never satisfied drunk. …The sight of Jerzy Andzrejewski passionately sunk into Marek Hłasko’s lips was summed up by my mother as alcoholic folly and that at least they are not fighting as it used to happen. My father reproached her again for being too liberal. … many women were sexually attracted to my father, as well as men who had a liking for grim faces. In this bar he was adored by Wilhelm Mach, who fortunately soon quit his advances when he realized the object of his sighs 41. Europejski Hotel had not read any of his novels.
In its prime the hotel housed a little drink bar, popular among queer guests as well as Polish young male prostitutes and undoubtedly fondly remembered by cultural attaches or consuls. Close to the hotel, an arcade walkway embraces a bar Sklep z Kanapkami [Sandwich Shop] run by Krystian Legierski. The rainbow flag invites to drop by after work and relax with – what a surprise – sandwiches.
Fantom sauna and sex-club, 20a Bracka Street, opened in 1994
Hidden in the courtyard, Pałac Brzozowskich [the Brzozowskich Palace] is one of the most interesting buildings at 20 Bracka Street. In order to find it, you need to find the gate that goes through the building at 20 Bracka Street. Soon you will see a ragged facade of the building. The Palace was designed in 1882 by Bronisław ŻochowskiBrodzic. Unfortunately, the building was destroyed in World War II. After the War, one storey was added during renovation. Sadly, the renovation has not been fully completed so far. Pałac Brzozowskich has been a character of many books (for example, it served as a prototype of the palace of the Duchess Bilińska, where one of the plots of the novel Sława i chwała [Fame and Glory] by Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz takes place). It was also present in many pornographic films due to its sanctuary of pleasure called Fantom. Entries to various parts of the club are on both sides of the palace. The club was established in 1994, which makes it the longest-running gay venue in Warsaw. It was divided into two zones: a sauna and a club, which is nothing else but a bar with a really spacious darkroom (the first genuine darkroom in Warsaw). Fantom is one of few places in Warsaw which you can visit in the afternoon to sweat in the sauna and “spend some nice time” in male company. If your imagination does not do it for you, the Fantom will assist you and inspire you with an assortment of “blue mov 42. Brzozowskich Palace ies” and erotic accessories available at the shop. The prices are decent. Apart from the shop there is also a bar, a darkroom with a variety of “toys”, and a small screening room. Also the “wailing wall” is very popular. It is a doorway between the bar and the darkroom. This is the only place where you can take a closer look at the boys before any tasting that might come next. It gets busy at the sauna starts at 2 p.m., and the crowd wears down in the evening. The customers are democratic and include a variety of people. The sauna itself has a steam sauna, a dry sauna, a huge jacuzzi bath, a well-stocked and cheap bar, and a small darkroom. An interesting fact is that in 1998 official Gay Pride parties were organised at the club. Sławomir Ślubowski, Super Express journalist, reported:
…at Fantom at Bracka Street, in an incredibly stifling air, about fifteen people would party wearing only underpants. Others would watch “Priscilla”, “Maurice” or other popular gay movies.
Currently, the repertoire is less challenging, but still worth recommending. It should be pointed out that straight journalists visit Fantom. Seeing the then only gay sex-club, they would become almost euphoric:
No woman can pass through the restrictive door selection. Ever. Located in the basement of this tenement house in Warsaw at 20a Bracka Street, the club organises all sorts of male entertainment. In this respect it bears striking resemblance to hardcore gay clubs in Amsterdam. Although no one asks about your sexual orientation at the gate, it would be difficult to imagine heterosexual customers paying the admission fee and disappearing in the darkroom or a TV cabin for a while… It is not really a dancing place, and even wellknown gay men reluctantly admit to attending the club regularly.
43. Entrance to Fantom club
Although you could compare the darkroom with a TV cabin, comparing Fantom with Amsterdam clubs would put a smile on the faces of regulars at such venues. However, a City Magazine journalist paid attention to a different aspect: Fantom with its famous wall with holes at waist-height, is a place associated with sex rather than any other entertainment. And, allegedly, women can't “ever” access the club… Remember that when you visit Fantom, there is a buzzer at the door, and when you go inside you meet the legendary Dragon, a bouncer and good spirit of the club, who has thrown out a number of troublemakers. The Dragon looks seriously, but deep in his heart…that gives you an idea of the origin of his nickname… So be nice to the Dragon and remember about good manners. Final remark: The best time to visit Fantom are weekends from midnight till 3 a.m. You should visit the sauna on weekdays. When you leave Fantom, turn right and you will see the Goethe Institute building around the corner. This is where Łaênia Diana [Diana Bath] used to be (13 Chmielna Street). Like in almost any bath, gay people would meet there. The bath was opened in 1833 and operating until 1979. The renovation (reconstruction, to be precise) of the house left no traces of that venue, which had such a significant role in the history of gay life. Fantom continues the tradition of that place proudly. See also: ▶ Balkan Electrique, ▶ C-13 Club, ▶ Galla bathouse, ▶ Heaven bathouse, ▶ Iwaszkiewicz Jarosław, ▶ Między Nami, ▶ Toilet on Widok Street, ▶ Wild Club
Feminoteka Foundation established in 2005
Fundacja Feminoteka [Feminoteka Foundation] is the biggest Polish organization concentrating feminist circles. Its web site soon became one of the most important discussion sites, also for LGBT matters. Among its priorities, the foundation stresses counteracting gender discrimination, popularising gender and feminism issues, and counteracting violence against women. It publishes handbooks addressing subjects which bother women’s circles, monitors public life, reacts in cases of women’s rights violations, and carries out educational and awareness-spreading activities. Feminoteka also runs a feminist bookstore, apparently the first one of such kind in Central and Eastern Europe. Texts and articles published on its web site have provoked many fiery discussions. The present seat of the organization is located at the back of Nowy Świat Street at 8 Warecka Street. See also: ▶ Campaign Against Homophobia, ▶ Lambda-Warsaw, ▶ OLA-Archive, ▶ Political Critique, ▶ UFA
Foucault Michel philosopher, 1926-1984
One of the most interesting anecdotes in the annals of Polish LGBT history concerns the French philosopher Michel Foucault, author of The History of Sexuality and a number of other works. In 1958-59 he worked in the French Institute in Warsaw, heading the Warsaw University's French Civilization Center (which exists to this day). His stay in Poland ended after a provocation organized by the Polish secret police. Foucault's biographer, Didier Eribon, describes the incident:
…Foucault met a certain boy who entertained him with his company in that sad and depressing country. However, the boy had been employed by the secret police, which was trying to invigilate Western diplomatic posts. Eventually, Burin de Roziers summoned Foucault and bluntly said, “You have to leave Poland”. “When?”, asked Foucault. “Within the next few hours,” the ambassador replied.
Other versions of the incident are more explicit – according to one of them a highranking official of the embassy caught Foucault and his lover in the act. But let us stick with the “official” version. The secret services considered homosexuality a “sensitive” factor, increasing the potential for blackmail, well into the 1990s. Today, the growing emancipation movement has decreased the value of sexual orientation as blackmail material… unless we are dealing with hypocritical right-wing politicians, who carefully conceal their homosexual urges with a thick coating of militant homophobia. See also: ▶ People's Republic of Poland
FreeDum club, 39 Chłodna Street, operated 2007-2009
FreeDum was a women-oriented club operating until recently in one of the pavilions at Chłodna Street (in the proximity of Chłodna 25 club). It was set up in 2007 and soon gained popularity among lesbians. Although the dance floor was rather small, a familiar atmosphere and decent prices gave it a chance of survival. FreeDum was not restricted to women, female-oriented parties took place only twice a month, yet women outnumbered its clientele. Unfortunately the club made it only to early 2009. Lesbians had long had difficulties with organizing “men-free” parties. Gays have many venues where women are not admitted at all; in bigger premises with men-only zones such a floor or darkrooms, lesbian customers are often disregarded. This phenomenon predominantly owes to a stereotypical opinion that lesbians can spend the whole night with a cup of tea. Even when clubs had started organizing parties restricted to women, they were scheduled for weekdays, like Wednesdays or Fridays. It was only on 12 June 2004 when ReGeneracja club (61 Puławska Street) decided to hold the first ever women-only party on a Saturday. Recently, highly successful women-only parties were organized by lesbijka.net web site, bearing each time a direct reminder that admission was restricted to women. The parties usually took place in Discrete club (6/8 Żurawia Street), and occasionally in some other places like Migawka Club (22 Nowogrodzka Street) or Level (9a Chmielna Street). Currently Rasko is starting to be associated with lesbian clientele, more due to the density of girls on the dance floor on a Saturday night, than an intended policy of the managing staff. See also: ▶ Bastylia, ▶ Cafe-clubs, ▶ Praga, ▶ Rasko, ▶ WC-Club, ▶ Women's Club “Teddy Bear Clinic”
Galeria gay club, operates in Hala Mirowska market hall (1 Mirowski Square, next to Jana Pawła II Avenue)
Let nobody be mistaken by rainbow flags on the front facade of Hala Mirowska market hall. They do not advertise a gay club but the idea of cooperativeness, the old Polish “Społem” cooperative that runs the hall. The two buildings (the other being Hala Gwardii, also a market hall, situated in the depths) were built in 1899-1910. They are examples of functional architecture from the turn of 19th and 20th centuries, although further reconstructions, e.g. the 1960s pavillion hiding the facade of the front hall, have caused the loss of their unique traits. Hala Mirowska with the adjacent area, a peculiarly Polish marketplace, is a quite oldfashioned entity. Located in the centre of a European capital, literally a few steps away from modern skyscrapers, takes us back to the times when trade and services used to mean something different than today. The two market halls house supermarkets that
are slightly outdated in their form and decor, surrounded by a circle of service stalls (a herbalist’s shop, shoe repair, optician, zipper repair, tailor corrections, a pawn shop, etc.). Outside of the halls there is an outdoor marketplace with meat and greengroceries stands as well as the cheapest flowers in Warsaw. Some of the stalls are open 24/7. According to an urban legend, the market offers the best quality and cheapest meat in town (lamb, mutton, even horse meat). Additionally, we come across people selling various, often strange commodities – wild flowers, jackets of unknown origin, tomatoes from a backyard, dairy products with a soon expiring consumption date, or mistletoe and illegally cut Christmas trees. One can obtain literally all possible treasures of nature: dried mushrooms, fresh eggs, flowers and seedlings, and allegedly the best sauerkraut. As the market befits, haggling is very welcomed. It is an outdated but unique place of a familiar atmosphere, shared by the sellers and the customers alike. Regulars have their favourite stands with best meat or vegetables. Untill late 1990s, market stalls were also present on the other side of Jana Pawła II Avenue. Now the site is occupied by shining Atrium Plaza skyscrapers of the Warsaw business district. Despite those changes, we may still get the impression of moving back in time a couple of decades. The market played a key role under the communist regime, when many commodities were not available otherwise. Its original appearance can be seen in Polish comedy Kogiel Mogiel where a protagonist was really delighted with the smell of cauliflowers she bought, while Polish singer Edyta Geppert sang in the background: Look for me happily day by day. When the night falls, Hala Mirowska becomes one of the centres of the Warsaw gay and lesbian community. It is enough to call at the inconspicuous door on the left to the hall’s main entrance, next to a 24/7 drugstore. Behind the door is the famous Galeria club. The club is run by former owners of legendary and national-famous Paradise club, which is al 44. Hala Mirowska housing Galeria club ready a high enough reason to visit the venue. Initially it was a small place, resembling a regular gay pub. In mid 2000s it was transformed to gain the present modern look. The main bar decor was changed as well, with new sofas rearrangement, which made it look brighter and gave an urban character. The main elongated room has a stage surrounded by mirror walls. It serves as a dance floor with top charts pop hits of the last decades, often played on request. Apart from regular drag-queen performances, numerous charity concerts with special guests also take place. The club supports HIV/AIDS awareness activities.
The other side, downstairs, embraces a bigger dance floor with a dancing pole, another bar, and a few tables. Perhaps a bit small, but during a crazy night it may even be an advantage. When you have enough of house music which rules there, you can relax in the chillout area on the right of the main stairs. Despite the reconstruction and extension, its small size is still the greatest disadvantage, which causes the music from the bigger dance floor to drown out whatever happens upstairs. Low quality amplifying system gives its toll particularly during live concerts. As for a gay&les club, Galeria ranks between Toro and Utopia clubs, with its degage and unconstrained atmosphere but also a VIP-room and posh clientele. On weekdays it turns into a cosy place with regular karaoke nights, where you can take a seat and have an undisturbed chat. It is particularly popular among young boys (it is rumoured women are not warmly welcomed), who just get started their new gay life and will soon flood other Warsaw queer clubs See also: ▶ Hłasko Marek, ▶ Rasko, ▶ Toro
Galla bathouse, 2 Ptasia Street
The sauna at 2 Ptasia Street is the second-oldest (after Fantom) continuously functioning queer place in Warsaw. Its owner described the evolution of its target group in 1999: The bathhouse was originally intended as a hangout for affluent young people. In the beginning we offered an even split of men-only and women-only days, but far fewer women than men showed any interest in the place, so we reworked the schedule to 6 days for men and 1 mixed-gender. Bathhouses harking back to the 19th century obsession with hygiene went extinct in the 1990s. In their place arose brandnew “bathhouses for men”. The idea was rather simple: sex was tolerated, but certainly not the focus of the old school men's baths experience, while the new saunas place sex in centre. The realisation of the concept tends to be the same everywhere – there is a locker room where one can undress and don a tiny towel, wet bar, dry sauna, steam room, showers, and TV dens screening movie loops about the pursuit of same-sex procreation. Behind the bar, condoms share shelf space with juice boxes and lotion. See also: ▶ Fantom, ▶ Heaven
45. Ad of Galla bathhouse
Gay Pride Parade [or Equality Parade - Parada RównoÊci]
Gay Pride Parade [or Equality Parade - Parada RównoÊci] annual LGBT event, since 2001
Officially, Gay Prides in Poland date back to 2001, when the first such event took place. Public demonstrations of homosexual peoplewere held before (the first one in 1993), but they were sporadic, and only the new millennium saw the annual march become a regular city feature, like in the West. Today similar events are organised in other cities as well (for instance in May in Krakow, in October in Poznań), although often these also encompass other minorities (ethnic, religious, disabled people) and are held under slogans less likely to offend sensitive ears – such as Equality or Tolerance. There were only two kinds of public gatherings, or protests, that represented ideas uncomfortable or dangerous, for governments in 20th century Central and Eastern Europe: the ones that did not officially exist, and, when due to their scale they became impossible to conceal, the ones that were more or less forcefully pacified. In Poland, in every decade after WWII there was some brutal intervention of the government against its people: workers' November 1956 in Poznań, student protests in March 1968 in Warsaw, Gdańsk, Krakow and Poznań – to channel them the authorities launched an anti-Jewish frenzy. Then there was December 1970, June 1976 and August 1980 – the way things developed forced the government to introduce martial law. These steps did not however stop the inevitable: in 1989 on a wave of general détente, communists gave up their monopoly on power. When the instructions, the levelling and censorship were no more, then it also turned out that apart from people's unhappiness with their living standards, the communist authorities were neatly sweeping many other issues under the carpet – like the unemployment, drug use, ethnic, religious or sexual minorities. In the new system, all these groups and issues resurfaced, including the gay population who, in larger cities, began to organize, publish magazines, and appear in the media. It was only a matter of time that they would also mark their presence in public spaces. Of course on a scale that was possible back in the day – only some of the more progressive activists took part in those first events, and considering their numbers it is hard to speak about the real “voice”. The first public gay demonstration took place in Warsaw in 1993, under Sigismund’s Column on Zamkowy Square. As the gay magazine Inaczej reported:
On 14th of February, on Valentine’s Day, for the first time Warsaw's gay people gathered for a manifestation. Signs that read: “Miłość jest jedna” [There is one love], “Gej jest OK” [Gay is ok] were hung on the column. Barbara Stanosz from the Association for Humanism and Independent Ethics said that every person should have the right to choose a life model that fits their sexual preferences. Around 50 participants, and an equal number of journalists, took part in the happening. It was organised by Stowarzyszenie Grup Lambda. “This is
Gay Pride Parade [or Equality Parade - Parada RównoÊci]
our first event. Though it might appear otherwise, we are present in the society. We love like everyone else, we live like everyone else. Gay is OK” Kacper from Lambda Warsaw told the media. Another five years had to pass before next such protest took place. Speaking about homosexuality publicly was still exceptionally rare – gay people appeared on television still more as a sensation or attraction. Usually, with their faces hidden and voices modified. And yet, it was then that one of the first public coming-outs was made – by the writer Izabela Filipiak;
That was my first interview for a glossy magazine. We met in a newly rented flat in the Saska Kępa neighbourhood. The journalist took a look around and asked: “Do you live here on your own?”. If I had said yes, it would have turned out like this: “This woman came from abroad, she didn't make it there and she's single – because no one wanted her. Because that's how feminists end.” I didn't think about it as a coming out, because interviews for such magazines are always some sort of a creation. It was only about choosing what to create. And I instantly told myself that playing unwanted and lonely does not suit me at all. I was then in a very hot phase of a romance, I felt marvelous about it, so I started talking about it.
Zamkowy Square was not a story from a glossy magazine. It began with a bang – the District Of- 46. Konstytucji Square during the 2009 fice did now allow for a happening titled KochaGay Pride my tak samo [We love the same]. In an interview 47. Flags in front of the British Embassy for the tabloid Super Express, a spokesperson for in 2008 the district admitted, however, that no one bothered to look into this case, because half of the staff were on holidays. Flaunting the ban, at 4 pm, among crowds of journalists, three people stood under Sigismund's Column with their faces covered, holding signs with the names of their professions. These were: manager, baker and journalist. One of these men was Szymon Niemiec, an LGBT activist, later co-organiser of Pride parades, currently a senior pastor of the Free Reformed Church. Sent as a journalist to the event to report, he suddenly joined the other side. In his autobiography “Tęczowy Koliber na Tyłku” [Rainbow Hummingbird On A Bum] (published at 30) he recalls:
Gay Pride Parade [or Equality Parade - Parada RównoÊci]
I don't know what pushed me to do this. If it was on an impulse of the moment, or maybe some internal need to stop living in the closet. I cannot answer this question today. Back then. however, I was determined. I gave my jacket to my surprised photo-reporter and went to the boys. “Give me some dark glasses, a hat and a bandana. I'm going there with you,” I said rather calmly. They were shocked. A hat was quickly found, together with a bandana and glasses. I quickly wrote “Jestem dziennikarzem” [I'm a journalist] on some piece of paper.
There was some argument with skinheads gathered at the square. A statement directed to authorities was read out, and volunteers were collecting signatures for a petition to the president Aleksander Kwaśniewski to create a programme for “shaping open and tolerant social attitudes”. Kurier Polski published a comment by Krzysztof Garwatowski:
The attitude of the Polish society towards gay people is so unwelcome that organising a parade would result in unpleasant incidents.
However, only three years later, on 1 May 2001, the first official gay pride parade set out from the same spot under the Column. The press estimated 300 to 500 participants. Only one rainbow flag was flown, sound system speakers were mounted on a passenger car, and the whole thing was organised in a few days. The date was not coincidental: 1st May – International Labour Day – in the post-communist times kept its character of a holiday and a day for numerous marches and demonstrations, to which no special permission was needed. The march went through Krakowskie Przedmieście Street towards the statue of Nicolaus Copernicus. One year later, on 3rd May (another national holiday), the march went in the opposite direction. In front of the baroque Wizytki Church, near the statue of the Primate of the Millennium Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, the before-mentioned Szymon Niemiec, then one of the most important LGBT activists, read out an “Appeal to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church”. In the following years the march kept changing its route, walking in various variants along the main streets: Marszałkowska, Piękna, through the showcase boulevard of Ujazdowskie Avenue, between the squares Bankowy and Teatralny – and along the Parliament Building or the seat of the Council of Ministers. Undoubtedly, some focus should be given to Prides during the Kaczyński-twins rule over Warsaw, between 2004 and 2005. Kaczyńskis’ aggression against gays and lesbians had paradoxically helped the latter. The 2005 parade broke attendance records when several thousand people turned up, in protest to the efforts to have it banned. It became much more than a demonstration of LGBTs and their friends – a demonstration of a large part of Polish society upset with the style of Polish politics. It should be noted that at this time, Marches in other cities were forming tempestuously – in Poznań and Krakow – during which street battles with far-right wingers were a regular thing. In Poznań, over-zealous police even pacified the Pride.
Gay Pride Parade [or Equality Parade - Parada RównoÊci]
In Warsaw on 11th June 2004, the Gay Pride Parade, banned by the then-mayor of Warsaw – Lech Kaczyƒski, was replaced by a Rally of Freedom (also called a "stationary pride"). It was organized by the Assembly of Humanist Groups, and around 1000 people took part in it. Lech Kaczyński claimed that one of the reasons for his ban was “promotion of pornography” that according to him was taking place. He also said that the Parade would force the residents of Warsaw to take part in “events of sexual nature”. The Parade-ban was twice lifted by the voivode, a regional governor appointed by the government. Although he had the power to cancel the ban completely, he preferred to send the decision back for “reconsideration” to City Hall. Where, needless to say, it was sustained. A year later Lech Kaczyński decided to block the Pride using the argument of being unable to secure safety during the possible clashes with counter-demonstrators. Of course the Prawo i Sprawiedliwość [Law and Justice, PiS] party (to which Mr Kaczyński belonged) did not hesitate to add what they thought about similar events in their election commercial: Instead of provocative parades of homosexuals we want social security for Polish families. This time they got a tougher enemy. LGBT organisations, taught by experience, launched the Equality Foundation, a special organisation to deal with all matters connected with the Warsaw Pride. It was decided that instead of a march, a series of Equality Rallies would be organised, and the de facto parade would go between them. Only two of the rallies were not banned, and so on 11 June 2005 several thousand people (estimates claim between 2500 to 10 thousand) marched from the Parliament building to the Palace of Culture. The Banned Pride found a huge reaction, in the Polish media and beyond, but its
greatest success was the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in the case Bączkowski and others v. Poland which stated that Poland, represented by the authorities of Warsaw (and therefore Lech Kaczyński who was its mayor), breached the European Convention on Human Rights. The sentence was proclaimed on 3rd May 2007 (Polish national holiday, anniversary of the first constitution). It was probably the biggest court success of Polish LGBT organisations in history. During the trial, authorities claimed that the main reason for the ban was that the organisers did not fulfil an obligation to supply a plan for street traffic alteration, even though there was no mention of such obligation in the Public Gatherings Act. On the day before the Pride, the Warsaw Mayor Office presented an opinion poll, in which most residents said they opposed the March, yet still 47% of respondents said authorities should not ban it (41% held opposite opinion). Democracy won over homophobia. Lech Kaczyński remained unshaken. When he became the president of Poland, he created a profound confusion in the world media by a remark made during a state visit to Ireland:
If this kind of attitude towards sexual life was promoted on a large scale – the human species would disappear. There are some people suffering from this different
Gay Pride Parade [or Equality Parade - Parada RównoÊci]
sexual orientation among my friends, but they enjoy full rights, and are able to develop in many aspects of life. This orientation has always existed, I don't know why. I am not going to fight with it, or force a therapy. At the same time I don't think promoting this orientation is right. Paradoxically his attitude was really beneficial for the Polish LGBT movement, bringing a lot of attention to the issue, both in Poland and abroad, from where – due to open hostility of the Polish government – some real support started coming. Poland's membership in the European Union (since 2004) gave foundations to stabilise the situation. Next Prides – organised by the Equality Foundation – took place not only with the consent of Warsaw authorities, but without any major incidents, and with growing amity of the residents of Warsaw for the colourful event. The event, which – despite the accusations of its opponents – was more of a nerdy picnic than a street orgy. For several years, the March has been accompanied by a week-long Equality Festival – with film screenings, plays and music concerts organised by the Equality Foundation. The Foundation also created and awards the Hiacynt Prize for individuals and public institutions who contribute to promoting the ideals of tolerance. In 2006, due to lack of other sensations, the media covering the Pride focused its attention on a peculiar political “incident”. A controversial left wing politician, one of the speakers at the end of the event, included in her address one of the more famous quotes of the untouchable Polish figure and moral oracle: pope John Paul II. And she was even holding a leather whip! The straight media went berserk. Since 2008, the support for the Pride and for the LGBTQ movement – thanks to instructions from the British Home Office – is manifested by the United Kingdom embassy in having a rainbow flag flown next to the Union Jack. Normalisation and lack of a real political enemy (did we mention that Polish people are far more eager to demonstrate against something than for something?) led to a dangerous stagnation. Organisers of the 2009 Pride were accused of abandoning political issues and focusing on fun, which dominates such events in the West, where the LGBTQ communities had already won their fight, and now can just celebrate. The choice for the Hiacynt Prize winner, in that particular year, also brought the Equality Foundation a lot of criticism. A test of running a larger scale event, which Pride might become in following years, could come in 2010, when Warsaw as the first city in the former communist bloc will host the pan-continental edition of the event – EuroPride. First bits of info on it and the accompanying programme were announced at the beginning of the year. See also: ▶ Bankowy Square, ▶ Campaign Against Homophobia, ▶ Kaczyński Lech, ▶ Konstytucji Square, ▶ Lambda-Warsaw, ▶ Luna Cinema, ▶ Manifa, ▶ Parliament, ▶ Political Critique, ▶ Sigismund Column, ▶ Wyszyński Memorial
Gombrowicz Witold writer, playwright, 1904-1969
Witold Gombrowicz is one of but a few people described in this book whose artistic outcome is known to the whole world. You can even read in English his legendary Dzienniki [Polish Memories, Yale University Press, 2004]. Gombrowicz achieved success in Poland before World War II, and his Ferdydurke [Ferdydurke, Yale University Press, 2000], published in 1937, is now part of the school curriculum. When the war broke out on 1st September 1939, Gombrowicz was in Argentina – and he did not come back to Europe until 1963. In Poland, Gombrowicz got banned in 1958 and had it been not for underground illegal publishers, his books would have been unobtainable in his homeland. Many accounts prove that Gombrowicz had a brush with the Nobel Prize, which he never received. Perhaps it was because he died several years after his return to Europe. It would be untypical of us not to notice a certain publishing “coincidence”: Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas mentions Gombrowicz in his outstanding autobiography Before night falls (Penguin Books, 1994). The book was published in Poland, but - a certain excerpt related to our hero is missing. And it is not a result of interference of a communist censor, but a decision of a commercial publishing house, as the book in Polish was published in 2004! It seems that not everybody wants Polish secondary students to have to confront the image of one of the greatest Polish writers with the description of the way he made a living in mid 1940s in Buenos Aires and ailments plaguing him at that time. It should be mentioned here that in those days Gombrowicz was simply without a penny to his name.
48. Plaque on Chocimska Street
In the Polish version we only read that two expatriates – Cuban playwright Virgilio Piñera and Witold, became friends and buddies in cruising and sexual adventures. Surely hitting on hot-blooded Latino girls (by the way, the term cruising was translated into Polish as picking up)… The original lines relating to erotic adventures with men got crossed out in the Polish edition. So let us recall the original text:
Gombrowicz, as was said, was very handsome then; to survive he became a male prostitute at the Buenos Aires baths, letting himself be fucked for a few coins. According to Virgilio, on one occasion his friend met an Argentine with a huge
penis; the man had already paid and insisted on fucking him, and of course, he did. But, as Virgilio told it, the man ruptured Gombrowicz's anus to such an extent that he came home all bloody. Virgilio filled the bathtub with hot water, took the clothes off his friend, and got him into the tub to ease his pain. Virgilio said Gombrowicz spent two days in the tub until his wounds started healing. The truth of at least a part of the above mentioned account is confirmed by remarks quoted repeatedly (also by Rita Gombrowicz’s, whom Witold married shortly before his death) that wartime was a taboo period for the writer, he did not want to talk about those times. We recount the scandalous testimony, for the first time in Poland, in order to achieve a fuller picture, an entire truth about the great writer. After all, this episode does not denigrate Gombrowicz, in fact the opposite: it shows his rich humanity. The “moralists” can be consoled by the fact that this drastic paragraph is only present in English editions of the book. It is missing from many “continental” versions, which makes us think that the stronghold of “the great guardians of virtue” was mostly successful in expunging the offending fragment. On the other hand, a Polish writer and philosopher, Andrzej Banach is convinced that a homosexual lobby exists. Here is how he describes it in a conversation with journalist Joanna Siedlecka:
…please trust the old writer – they support each other across continents – promotion and publishing is a big deal, after all. They really have something like their own International.
Gombrowicz’s homosexuality is a rather complicated matter, because officially the writer was “denying” everything and he even got married in later years. However, the “international homosexual lobby” knows better and anyway Gombrowicz himself was not too persistent in his “denials”. He talked about (his own) sexuality in outright queer terms:
I don’t like touching that subject. A long time will have to pass before you will be able to talk about it, not to mention writing about it. There is no other area so hypocritical and blinded by passion. Here nobody wants to or can be impartial. De gustibus… Outrage of disgusted “manly” men – “manified”, cultivating the manhood in each other, making it bigger – the curse of morality, all ironies, sarcasms and angers of culture guarding the primacy of female charm – these all fall on the ephebe, who creeps furtively at the dark edge of our official existence. … The only difference between me and “normal” men was the fact, that I loved the gleam of that goddess – youth – not just in a girl, but also in a young boy, that a young “he” was for me an even more perfect impersonation of her than a young “she”… Yes, the sin, if it existed, boiled down to the fact that I dared to admire youth regardless of the sex and would extract it from under the reign of Eros – that on the pedestal, where they put a young woman, I dared to place a boy. …
Grand Theatre and Polish National Opera [Teatr Wielki – Opera Narodowa]
Above everything to be not a man – but a human being, who is a man only in the background – to not identify with manliness, to not want that… Only when I am able to extract myself from manliness in this way, firmly and openly, its rule over me will lose its claw and I will be able to talk about many untellable things.
And in a letter to Juan Carlos Gomez he wrote: Just remember: I am not homosexual, but I practice it sometimes, when I feel like it.
Some credible insight is also provided by the vision of the crowd of young intellectuals and writers surrounding Gombrowicz in Buenos Aires cafés. How far is it from farmhand boys from his family estate before the war! So far and yet so close! Gombrowicz can be remembered in Warsaw in Chocimska Street (right next to Unii Lubelskiej Square) where he lived between 1934 and 1939 in the building at number 35. There are still houses in Próżna Street (number 7) and Wspólna Street (number 1), which his father acquired as an extra source of income for the whole family after the passing away of “the head of the family”. Until recently there was at Próżna Street a plaque saying: “Property of Gombrowicz family”. See also: ▶ Andrzejewski Jerzy, ▶ Mycielski Zygmunt, ▶ Unii Lubelskiej Square
Grand Theatre and Polish National Opera [Teatr Wielki – Opera Narodowa] 1 Teatralny Square
The building belonging to the Grand Theatre and Polish National Opera is already visible from the Piłsudskiego Square and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was designed by Antonio Corazzi and erected in the years 1825-1833 to be a temple of theatrical and opera arts in Warsaw. In recent years the competition from other commercial theatres that manage without the founding of the state or city has caused the Grand Theatre to come alive only for great operas that became its specialty. Despite the undisputably provincial status of the Warsaw Opera, as it is common for this type of institution, it attracts the queer male folk, making its foyer a place for intellectually inclined gays to socialize in. Lately, increasingly bold gay motifs have started to appear in the National Opera’s spectacles. It is after all a noticeable tendency in European opera – today, the notions present since the beginning of this so very queer type of art are
49. Grand Theatre
brought forward and reinterpreted. It was a breakthrough when Król Roger [King Roger] created by Karol Szymanowski (with the libretto of Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz) returned to Warsaw’s scene in year 2000. It would be hard to call this piece a gay opera, but the strong motif of sexual uneasiness and ambiguity was skilfully exposed in Mariusz Treliński’s spectacle, thus opening the way for continued attempts to reinterpret opera classics. Despite close proximity to the Balet School that continually forms new talents, the National Balet was separated from the Opera and awaits to be returned to its former glory of the times of Witold Gruca. This is surely one of the most gay-saturated places in the capital city – while this looks to be an unfair stereotype, there might be a grain of truth to it yet. One could simply point out that Jerzy Waldorff’s partner Mieczysław Jankowski was for many years a dancer in the Opera and National Theatre. On top of that, the homosexuality of numerous famous dancers is no mystery to many admirers of this art. See also: ▶ Szymanowski Karol, ▶ Waldorff Jerzy
Heaven bathouse, 13 Waliców Street
The 2010 EuroPride seems to be an excellent opportunity to develop LGBT infrastructure in town. The new venue, strictly gay, is Heaven, a sauna opened in the same premises where some of us can remember Favola, a sauna enjoyed by many guys for years. In the 2000s, Favola used to be one of three gay saunas in Warsaw. When it was closed in 2007, we had only two institutions of such kind left: Galla and the sauna part of Fantom. People say the sauna was badly managed, it changed its owner many times. We can also think that other saunas had the advantage of being located close to popular gay venues. After relaxing, it was not necessary to travel through the streets to find a party. Today Heaven is seen as the first European-like sauna in the city. An ascetic, littledesigned premise, new furniture and a complete overhaul made the first guests to deliver really positive feedback. Heaven consists of a sauna, a bar, a chill-out zone with adult movies and comfortable seats, then two darkrooms. On almost all days you can also get a professional massage. The venue is men-only, it is not expected that women’s days will be organized. Heaven is clearly looking for its own characteristic feeling. It became popular among foreign guests who seem to appreciate the venue. Nearby, you can find other places – The Wild Club, Galeria club or Chłodna 25, a gay friendly café. You can see Heaven as an excellent starting point, but also as a good idea to finish your night! We do hope Heaven's darkrooms will become those ones to really finish the night in a good company! See also: ▶ Fantom, ▶ Galla, ▶ Wild Club
Hłasko Marek writer, 1934-1969
Let us start with a simple fact: Marek Hłasko, a writer popular in mid-20th century, was in fact straight. Another fact – he was indeed handsome. And finally – he was a literature genius. Maybe this is why all gay writers were so fascinated by him. Marek Hłasko (1934-1969) wrote the famous and revolutionary in Polish literature set of novels, Pierwszy krok w chmurach (1956) (A First Step into the Clouds, only some of the novels have been published in English, ex. The eighth day of the week, translated by Norbert Guterman, Westport, Conn.; Greenwood Press, 1975). He is also author of famous memoires Piękni dwudziestoletni (1966) [Beautiful Twenty-Year-Olds, unfortunately never issued in English]. He died in Wiesbaden in unclear circumstances – suicide is one of the possible reasons of his death. His biographer Barbara Stanisławczyk wrote: he was beloved both by men and women. But he didn't want to love men and he didn't know how to love women. Let us give the floor to the writer himself:
…Me and him [Andrzejewski] kissed our hands, and then we kissed in a more general way.
In a letter to Jerzy Andrzejewski he wrote: …you can believe me or not, it is something big for me, I know, we can't change it, things can or even have to change that way, but Jerzy, I think I can't be for you all those thing you would like to and even all those things I would like to be for you. I can't be responsible for that, I can't be responsible for who I was born.
We took that quotation from Miłosne gry Marka Hłaski [Marek Hłasko's love games], a book by Barbara Stanisławczyk. It was a blasphemy for many publicists as the author suggested many 50. The house where Marek Hłasko lived “close” relations of the famous writer with other men we describe today in QueerWarsaw. Is it a coincidence? Was Marek Hłasko a muse of a male company, or was it real lust? This question has to remain unanswered. But while visiting the Galeria club let us find, on the other side of the Jana Pawła II Avenue, a tiny building where Marek Hłasko lived for many years (3 Chłodna Street). See also: ▶ Andrzejewski Jerzy, ▶ Galeria
Hortex coctail bar, at the intersection of Marszałkowska Street and Świętokrzyska Street, now closed, present-day restaurant Sphinx
The intersection of Marszałkowska and Świętokrzyska Streets is one of the most popular addresses in Warsaw. This is the site where the first McDonald’s restaurant has been opened. It is barely possible today to imagine the city without such establishments! Prior to the 1990s, the very term “lunch” was not in use and people would eat out in a typically Polish cheap dining establishment – the milk bar [bar mleczny]. A few of them have survived to the present day – “Familijny” at Nowy Świat Street or “Bambino” at Krucza Street. Milk bars offered soups and vegetarian dishes, e.g. pierogi (boiled dumplings of unleavened dough stuffed with varying ingredients), pancakes or croquettes. Another kind of long gone dining establishments were cocktail bars frequently under the Hortex banner, which served milk desserts, e.g. cocktails with frozen strawberries. These days Warsaw, like other metropolitan areas, has been undergoing a standardization process, which results in the emergence of a number of worldwide brands, e.g. the golden M letter, Burger King, or Pizza Hut. Another important venue in the vicinity of the intersection is Underground club (126134 Marszałkowska Street), situated as the name suggests, in the basement. It gained nationwide popularity in 1990s and is run by Grzegorz Okrent, owner of Utopia, the present day most prestigious Warsaw club, also located nearby. Formerly the underground area housed public toilets, notorious for attacks on older gay men.
In the basement under Hortex bar (present-day Underground club) there is plenty of room and plenty of urinals. I was about to empty my bladder in quiet when suddenly a man showed up. He stood next to me. A short glance and we understood each other perfectly. The toilet lady started yelling at those who occupy stalls too long. “Enough of the fondling, gentlemen! How long are you going to stay here? Others are waiting!”. When one of the stalls got empty we immediately rushed in there. Soon the granny called to us. But we did not care anymore. Did not care at all.
See also: ▶ Utopia
Iwan Groêny [Ivan the Terrible] gay club, Foksal Street, operated in beginning of 1990s
The mysterious club Iwan Groźny [Ivan the Terrible] was located in Foksal Street. Anna Laszuk, TokFm journalist, author of the book Dziewczyny, wyjdźcie z szafy! [Girls, come out of the closet!] and editor-in-chief of the reactivated "Furia Pierwsza" periodical, describes it as follows:
Iwan Groêny [Ivan the Terrible]
Anna Laszuk – Looking for the Woman-From-the-Train: It was a club in the basement of the elegant building (not far from the palace) at Foksal Street, opposite the Journalist House. It was a very mysterious place – upstairs supposedly was the Russian Culture Centre or something like that. News about Iwan were spread by word of mouth. It was the first gay-lesbian club that I went to. It was perhaps 1992 or 1993. To make it more interesting, I went there with a mission – looking for the Woman-From-the-Train, who I had no chance to find (there was no Internet at the time and she disappeared without trace in Łódź). Unfortunately very few women were coming there, and half of those coming were friends of "their gays", who they were trying miraculously to seduce. Statistically the proportions were 5:20 (five women for every twenty men). Of course after a few months the club became very popular. I think there was nothing else at that time. On Saturdays it would be absolutely packed. Later on, when Iwan got shut for unknown reasons, I would see many people from there in Rudawka bar in Elbląska Street. Compared to the crude, post-PRL Rudawka, the tiny Iwan embodied a Utopian level. Two rooms for talking (including one with a bar), plus the third one for dancing, with stroboscopes. The design was not outstanding, but the place was nice, cosy and very civilized. And on top of that – centrally located! Foksal was a particularly friendly street. At that time, in Cafe Foksal closer to Nowy Świat Street women’s (a.k.a. lesbian) Wednesdays were held. There was no dancing there, but the atmosphere was brilliant to talk (and women love that). In those years places of that kind were serving the basic meeting function (let me remind you: we lived without the Internet!).
51. Formerly Iwan club
On Fridays and Saturdays one would go there with – excuse me – a churchlike devotion (it was the society’s meeting place, although structureless). It is different nowadays and perhaps that is one of the reasons for the lack of intergenerational exchange in the clubs and the drive to meet other people being realised online. PS. I have never found the Woman-From-the-Train…
Oh, we do know something about going to joints as if they were churches. Bartender was a confessor and regulars fellow believers… To complete the Iwan’s description let’s just add that there were lots of complaints about the bathrooms, which you were not allowed to enter in pairs (A security guard was making sure of that. He would explain that these were Russian Embassy’s toilets and if the Iwan gets its own bathroom, then yes, please, feel free.). Local residents did not like the “raging” homosexuality in Foksal, so they sent letters to the local press. Express Wieczorny daily published the following letter:
We are the residents of Foksal Street. There is the Polish-Russian Friendship Club [Iwan] in our street, where a licensed restaurant was opened. …Last month saw raging homosexuality in our previously quiet street and little square. Scenes that we witness, i.e. men kissing each other, stripping in stairways, screams and shouts, loud music until 5am, are a real inconvenience. We pleaded with the director of the bogus club, but to no avail.
Five months later, in September 1994, Iwan got shut. See also: ▶ Koźla Pub, ▶ OLA-Archive
Iwaszkiewicz Jarosław writer, poet, MP, 1894-1980
Composer and music critic, Stefan Kisielewski, wrote in his Dzienniki [Diaries]: It is a strange thing with those faggots. It seems that there is more and more of them, a peculiar clan indeed. And Iwaszkiewicz is their king.
Who was the “king of faggots”? Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz (1894-1980), one of the Great Faggots (Reinaldo Arenas’ charming phrase) and unquestionable literary King of Kings. Iwaszkiewicz is a great figure not only because of his widely known artistic outcome – youth poems, poignant poems of the old age and novella masterpieces, which helped him find his one-of-a-kind tone, a voice that is direct and honest, supposedly “naive’” That in itself earned him the status of the Master, which nobody can undermine, vet, cross out, although many have tried. Thankfully, nowadays the writer finally takes his well deserved place in the history of Polish literature. But Iwaszkiewicz is first and foremost a great figure in terms of humanity. A beautiful and brave man during the years of war occupation, when his house in Stawisko in Podkowa Leśna town became an asylum for so many. Cultured man and erudite. Aristocrat, full of dignity, easygoing while amongst greatest figures of the world literature, culture and politics, which left him completely uninhibited. And the physical
charm: once a beautiful, slender boy (the proof is in the youth photographs), even as an old man Iwaszkiewicz still kept his beauty, which turned into a beauty of an old man. That only happens to very few Chosen Ones. Chosen by whom? Surely by Muses! And let those less blessed creatures posing as Moral Law interpreters strain their voices in vain… Globetrotter, faggot, diplomat, gourmet, poet and pawn – this is how Leopold Tyrmand described Iwaszkiewicz in Dziennik 1954 [Diary 1954]. But Tyrmand, despite his cult novel Zły [The Man With the White Eyes, New York, Knopf, 1959] and excellent Dziennik, can only be Iwaszkiewicz’s literary butler; and as the butler we can grant him the right to provide such an unceremonious description. Iwaszkiewicz spent most of his life with wife Anna Lilpop-Iwaszkiewiczowa in a beautiful house which was a part of the Stawisko estate in western part of Podkowa Leśna town. Anna was a daughter of a rich industrialist and it was her dowry. Nowadays the building houses a museum devoted to the famous couple. It is a place really worth visiting – a noble architecture of the house, sophisticated though not possessing rich interiors – a testimony to the owners’ good taste and unconventional sense of style. A lot was written about Iwaszkiewicz, also about the Master’s private life – for example a history of Iwaszkiewiczs’ marriage published several years ago. It is known that Iwaszkiewicz had a strong emotional bond with his wife. He died two months after she had passed away. And at the same time he worshipped boys, which is very obvious in the modernistic stylistics of his writing. At any one time a protégé was staying in Stawisko. One of them was Wiesław K´piƒski, who 52. The house where Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz lived at the age of 11 lost his parents and brothers in the Warsaw Uprising and miraculously survived himself. Iwaszkiewiczs took him, in response to the appeal of the well-known journalist, Karolina Beylin. Wiesław lived in Stawisko until he became self-reliant. In 2006 he published a book about the interesting years spent with the writer, Sześćdziesiąty pierwszy [Sixty one] – he travelled with him and met numerous famous people, for instance the pianist Artur Rubinstein and Belgian Queen Elisabeth of Bavaria, Chopin’s admirer. Both Rubinstein and the Queen visited Stawisko during their visits to Poland. Iwaszkiewicz’s biggest love was Jerzy Błeszyƒski, who inspired the writer’s best books – short stories: Tatarak [Sweet rush; filmed by Andrzej Wajda], Kochankowie z Marony [Lovers of Marona] and three-volume Sława i chwała [Fame and Glory; unfortunately not translated into English]. Iwaszkiewicz’s diaries contained a very distinct description of Jurek’s death. Here is an excerpt:
It is horrible to pass that year, a whole year since our pinnacle; this whole year I was coming down and I will still keep coming down, further and further until that day and you …will wane. I cannot believe that it really was, that it was so wonderful, that your eyes were there and that they were looking at me so kindly – and that red wine and your hand as wonderful as an amaryllis flower, and that hand’s squeeze so good, so devoted. I love you, my dear – nobody loved you or will love you that way. The struggle …not for long. Unnecessary struggle, and then it will be peace. With you. Love, Jarosław.
You can think about Iwaszkiewicz in Szucha Avenue. Iwaszkiewicz had a studio flat in one of the buildings in this street (even now getting to Stawisko is not easy, so it is no wonder that the writer had two places). What was Master Jarosław’s smart studio in Szucha Avenue used for? Was it for meetings with dignitaries and luminaries of culture? Surely, but perhaps it functioned in a more complex way… Perhaps he would see promising, good-looking young man here, to “have a go” – just like before the war he could have had a go with a very handsome, subsequent Nobel Prize winner in Literature, Czesław Miłosz in the Mickiewicz’s Konrad’s cell at the Basilian Monastery in Vilnius, when the night was wonderful, with the moon and nightingales…? This famous, puzzling phrase appears in the first volume of Dzienniki. And although we do not know for sure what it means, at the same time it may describe an activity quite obvious for our rampant imagination… Iwaszkiewicz was an “official” writer, cherished by communist authorities. He avoided dissent, which often led to his writing being turned down in the “new” Poland. Currently however, especially while reading Dzienniki, we forgive him for being a “system’s pet” and we discover a great man, who was able to combine his “official” life – his marriage – with a private one, for example his long-term relationship with Jerzy Błeszyński. Jarosław (as he was known in literary circles) is really moving – his life wonderful, although spiced with bitterness, and its nectar that he drank to the last drop. See also: ▶ Andrzejewski Jerzy, ▶ Fantom, ▶ Parliament, ▶ Stryjkowski Julian, ▶ Szymanowski Karol
Janion Maria professor in literature, born 1926
On Trakt Królewski [Royal Road], you certainly cannot miss the building just behind the Copernicus monument, Staszica Palace (72 Nowy Świat Street). It is not interesting due to its architecture (after many refurbishments we hardly see the original idea of what used to be a fine example of eastern European architecture), but this is there, in this classicistic edifice, that professoress Maria Janion (born 1926), famous professor in Polish literature and author of numerous magnificent books on the Polish romantic
era, was giving for ages her famous lectures. Recently, the Polish queer and transgender writer Maria Komornicka a.k.a Piotr Włast was re-discovered for a large public due to her and her students' research. (More about that in (Non)Presence – an attempt at reconstruction at the beginning of this book). Maria Janion, as a researcher, focuses on the Others, the Excluded. For the Polish LGBT movement she became a major figure. In 2009 our Napoleoness – as we call her – received the Hiacynt Award, the only existing Polish pride prize, founded by the Equality Foundation on behalf of the queer community. She is also a symbolic matron for all those who re-read biographies of Polish artists. In an interview for the LGBT magazine Inaczej (issue 2/98) she said:
We do not know anything about the letters sent in the triangle: Miron Białoszewski, Józef Czapski and Ludwik Hering. It can be – maybe – a huge part of the Polish gay literature. Such forgotten and lost things – we can find many more of them. It is painful for me that time has to pass before we can find more on that. But it is due to our culture, its style – we do not like to go into someone's intimacy and we prefer to play with hypocrisy. We have to follow the will of the writer.
In 2007, Professoress Janion was present at the Warsaw parade. She was driving a pink cabriolet, which was for the mass media a bigger event that the parade itself. See also: ▶ Białoszewski Miron
Kaczyƒski Lech politician, 1949-2010
President of Poland tragically killed in a plane crash of a Polish Air Force near Smolensk. After winning the presidential election of 2005 he uttered the memorable words: “Mr Chairman, mission accomplished”. It would not have come as a surprise was it not for the fact that the said Chairman was his twin brother Jarosław, the founder of Prawo i Sprawiedliwość [Law and Justice], a political party to which Lech had also belonged. At that time, Jarosław Kaczyƒski had taken power and became Prime Minister of Poland. Political commentators agree that Kaczyński’s term of office was a failure and his political decisions were greatly subordinated to his brother’s interest. Lech Kaczyński became (in)famous in his term as Mayor of Warsaw for banning the Polish Pride of 2005 on the pretext of defending traditional morality. This sparked a demonstration outside Sejm, many participants of which would have never attended the Pride, but felt that the ban was a violation of civil rights. At the last moment
53. Presidential Palace
the left-wing government of that time decided to revoke the ban. That is how an illegal parade marched on the streets of Warsaw, to the astonishment of all, including the participants. The banned parade made the front pages of the time, but its greatest success was the verdict of European Court of Human Rights on Bączkowski and others against Poland case, saying that Warsaw authorities (including Lech Kaczyński) violated the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court’s decision of 3rd May 2007 was the greatest success in the history of Polish LGBT movement. It is worth mentioning that the main excuse for banning the parade was the lack of plan for street traffic alteration which according to the authorities should have been provided by the organizers, though from the law’s perspective such a document was not required. The day before the Pride a poll was carried out and the results showed that, although many inhabitants admitted that they were not very pleased with the parade, the majority of them (47 to 41) agreed that the authorities were not right to ban it. Democracy triumphed over homophobia. Another Kaczyńki’s well-known line is “Spieprzaj, dziadu” [“Get lost, loser”*)], which he addressed to a person who confronted him on a street. Since that day the line is used by Kaczyński’s opponents and appears on banners on demonstrations. Praga district, the borough of Warsaw where the event took place, introduced even its own coin with “Dziad” denomination, which is accepted in a number of bars and restaurants as a tourist attraction. The President had a reputation of a homophobe, and well-earned it was, though when asked about it by the foreign media he denied it, claiming that some of his close associates and friends are homosexual. In contrast, while visiting Ireland as President, he delivered the following speech, leaving aghast the international public:
If this kind of attitude towards sexual life was promoted on a large scale – the human species would disappear. There are some people suffering from this different sexual orientation among my friends, but they enjoy full rights, and are able to develop in many aspects of life. This orientation has always existed, I don't know why. I am not going to fight with it, or force a therapy. At the same time I don't think promoting this orientation is right.
There are many rumours concerning sexuality of Lech’s twin brother Jarosław, the chairman of the second largest political party in Poland, who is a confirmed bachelor and lives with his mother. Lech Wałęsa, the icon of Solidarność, hinted once during his term of office that he would invite Jarosław with his husband. However, the alleged homosexuality of Jarosław Kaczyński has never been proved. *) The word “dziad(u)” is translated as “loser”, but the English translation does not convey the depth of its semantics; the word used by Kaczyński is very old-fashioned, if not low, and – in addition – Kaczyński made a grammatical mistake while saying it, typical for uneducated provincial people, which is probably why the line earned its fame – translator’s remark.
Kaczyński brothers also made their mark in Polish cinematography, taking part as children in the cult production O dwóch takich co ukradli księżyc [The Two Who Stole the Moon]. After the tragic accident any criticism of Lech Kaczyński is hardly acceptable; however, as philosopher Piotr Balcerowicz said, if we adopt the notion that a person’s death changes the nature of their achievements, it would mean that the very basics of ethics have collapsed, because we all die, eventually. See also: ▶ Bankowy Square, ▶ Dmowski Roman, ▶ Gay Pride Parade, ▶ Rajkowska’s Palm
Kokon Club club, now closed
While in the Old Town, you cannot miss a shabby yard behind the Krzywe Koło Street buildings. If you take the way along the medieval walls starting from the Barbakan fortress, you will find the Brzozowa 37 building. It belongs to the Metallurgical Guild and for many years it has been rented to LGBT clubs. In 2002, a new club, Kokon, was set up here. It was a new quality in gay clubbing in Warsaw: a four floors club! From a two-floor venue, the club was developed to finally use all the space in the building. Paweł Trześniewski wrote in the Polish Glamour monthly magazine:
54. Tomba-Tomba club 55. Invitations to Kokon club
On the ground floor you can find tables and chairs, more a bar than a dance floor. Upstairs there is more place to dance around the bar in the middle. The decoration is made of fancy webs with little blue lights. You can even see couples kissing in a small room with coaches, next to the cloaking room! …It can happen that gays try to pick up straight guys.
This is how a mainstream journalist saw a gay club in 2002! We are deeply sorry all straight clients of Kokon for our attempts… The club started to fall into decline in the time when LGBT places became really popular among the straight public. Straight young women in their twenties started to dream of having a “gay best friend”, all that to be more like celebrities in magazines, and of joining those gay friends in weekends parties. The situation became really problematic when young girls started to go to gay clubs in bands or – how ugly – to bring there their straight boyfriends. See also: ▶ Tomba-Tomba
Konopnicka Maria poet, 1842-1910
When you feel like you could use a quiet moment, why not relax on a park bench near Maria Konopnicka Street. This small road near the parliament building was named after a woman who was a poet, a feminist, and of course… a lesbian. Find a commemorative plaque with her short biography on one of houses in the area, it is easy. However, it will be hard to notice any mention she spent twenty years of her life in a lesbian relationship with a painter and feminist Maria Dul´bianka (1861-1919). The age difference between them was quite substantial. They represented completely different types of looks, had completely different dress-sense, and so they very nicely fitted the butch-femme pattern. Maria Konopnicka arrived in the capital at the end of 1870s. With six children at her side, she decided to leave her husband and begin her career as a writer. She supported herself and the children by giving private lessons and publishing articles in magazines. Constant financial problems and struggles connected with raising teenagers were the rea 55. Maria Konopnicka Monument sons she kept moving houses so many times – until the end of 1880s. At least eight addresses are known, and she preferred the city centre. When her youngest daughter reached the schooling age, and could be enrolled at a boarding school, Konopnicka set on a very long journey throughout Europe, with Dulębianka as her companion, whom she affectionately nicknamed “Pietrek” (Peter). The ladies settled down back in Poland not sooner than in 1903, when the nation presented Konopnicka with a country estate in Żarnowiec as a token of people’s great appreciation of her writings. Dulębianka gave Konopnicka some sort of security. That is how she described her departure from a ferry, when she almost got stampeded by excited crowds: Pietrek, pale and manly, was not afraid of anything and protected me. In June 1907 the ladies took part in a women's convention that ended up with a scandal:
All sources claim the speech of Zofia Nałkowska (the one that ended with the Polish feminist catchphrase “We demand the whole life!”) caused the greatest outrage. Konopnicka and Dulębianka left the meeting in a rush. As other sources claim, the gathering begun with awkward comments (laughs, protests, questions) slamming Dulębianka. Comments, some say, referred to political points, others recalled their erotic nature, and said were focused on the relationship between Konopnicka and Dulębianka. These were brave women. The gossip has
it Konopnicka particularly enjoyed to sunbathe in the nude in her Żarnowiec estate. Taking into account that she was over 60 at the time, it seems she was a more interesting and less clichéd person then Polish schools tell their students. Should you wish to read Konopnicka in English, you will have no choice but to search in second-hand and rare book stores for a 1947 Edinburgh edition of The Brownie scouts, or for The Golden Seed, a volume from 1962. These are children's poems, which is the kind of writing that Konopnicka is most famous for. We also recommend other Warsaw sights connected with Konopnicka: A statue of Maria Konopnicka. The hideous monument by Stanisław Kulon is neatly placed in Ogród Saski park. It got there thanks to the efforts of little children reputedly impressed by her literature, and a scheme orchestrated in 1965 by a children's magazine Płomyczek. Children collected recyclable paper, donating their incomes for the erection of this “work of art”. Ugliness of the thing is striking, so we only spend a minute here and move on. At the New Market Square your eyes will surely turn to the little white church, before the Vistula river. It is St. Kazimierz Church, more commonly known as Sakramentki's Church, which has belonged to Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration since 17th century. The building was designed by Tylman from Gameren, and was founded by queen Maria Kazimiera Sobieska. It is one of the best examples of baroque temple on a Greek cross layout. The reason it is mentioned here, is because between 1855 and 1856 Maria Konopnicka attended the Benedictine Sisters' school, where she and Eliza Pawłowska, known 56. Marii Konopnickiej Street to Polish schoolchildren as Eliza Orzeszkowa, formed a perpetual friendship. (Orzeszkowa's writing is obligatory school literature, and is the synonym of everything that is wrong about it: it is boring, pretentious, and sermonising). Orzeszkowa would later become the publisher of Konopnicka's prose. In 1862 Maria (then) Wasiłowska got married, and a year later Maria Dulębianka was born. But you already know the story. It is clear Warsaw has more to offer than Chopin. Unfortunately for those who love to uncover the history of gays and lesbians in Poland, even though the centennial of Maria Konopnicka's passing has just gone, it is only Chopin's anniversary that gets celebrated, his music plays everywhere. While Maria is surrounded by silence. See also: ▶ Nicolaus Copernicus Monument in Warsaw, ▶ Saski Garden.
Konstytucji Square The square was created in the first years after World War II. New monumental districts were then built on the ruins of the city. Sometimes, as it happened there, remaining hotels particuliers were destroyed to give space to the “new times” monument. This is the only place in our city with a pure soc-realistic architecture. All lovers of this style will be delighted seeing not only the buildings, but also the huge lamps and other “urban furniture”. The volleyball player neon remains of the artistic “advertisements” of the communist times (on Piękna Street, the neon was set up in 1961). For many years such ads have been left forgotten, only recently the trend is to restore them. The new Museum of Modern Art starts a collection of Polish neons. Other examples we can find of the then “school of light design” are Delikatesy TR in the restaurant of that name in the TR. Warszawa building or the set “Polonia”, today at the entrance of the theatre created by Krystyna Janda. For us, this place is important for other reasons. On 27th November 2005, the Gay Pride Parade took place here to support the gay pride march in Poznań, brutally dispersed by the police. More than 2000 people gathered and at the end of the demonstration, they created with light the inscription “art. 57”, reminding of the constitutional right of assembly, provided for in Article 57. In the following years, the Equality Parade crossed the square many times on its way to the Parliament. See also: ▶ Gay Pride Parade, ▶ Teatr Polonia
Kopciuszek [Cinderella] bar, at the corner of Marszałkowska Street and Jerozolimskie Avenue, now closed
A restaurant popular in the 1950s and located at the corner of Jerozolimskie Avenue and Marszałkowska Street; it is one of the oldest gay venues recalled in printed memoirs that we found:
In the early 1950s “our” most popular place was Kopciuszek at Jerozolimskie Avenue. The pre-war style interior with dimming lights created a nice atmosphere. In the left corner there was an old piano and the same old lady would play romantic tunes. Small tables, filled with chairs, wonderful (unfortunately female) staff made the pleasant atmosphere. Most guests were young people …. Everyone knew each other well and knew “who was with whom”. …The personnel, although female, knew their way around the guests, were discrete and caring. Later at night you could go for a walk with someone you met there and you would know nothing bad would happen.
In his book Zły [The Man With the White Eyes New York, Knopf, 1959] Leopold Tyrmand wrote:
Kopciuszek cafe was once in its heyday. It was a favourite meeting spot of the local bohemians mingled with machers from the black stock exchange and girlfriends and boyfriends of artists. However, in those times, even the fact that there was a lit and warm cafe in Warsaw during winter was a reason enough to be joyful. In those times some night clubs at Jerozolimskie Avenue would open cafe-gardens in summer and become world famous thanks to the moon that would hang over the dancing crowds as a lamp in a lace made of burned walls, ruins hanging over their heads, empty and charred windows, showing a stretched sail of silvery navy-blue sky*).
Finally, we would like to quote the words of Olgierd Budrewicz, a journalist: In the first post-war years the symbol of Warsaw was the Sigismund Column, which in fact disappeared, and Kopciuszek, which was there indeed. Where have those times gone! How fragile fame is and how ungrateful the human memory!
See also: ▶ Alhambra, ▶ Ambasador
Koêla Pub 10/12 Koêla Street, now closed
Le Madame was not the only place that marked with the presence of gay people
in the New Town area of Warsaw. Let us go back to 1990s. Just nearby the future Le Madame, in a basement of the building on 10/12 Koźla Street was Koźla Pub, known as Kozły [Billy-goats]. The picture shows the entrance to its inner yard. Let us give the voice to Krzysztof Tomasik, who enjoys researching homosexuality of Polish icons and did enjoy his times at Kozły:
Gay and lesbian clubs in Poland are typically short-lived. None of the places that functioned when I first entered the gay club scene, at the beginning of the 1990s, exist today. Kozły, as the club near the today defunct Wars Cinema was nicknamed, played an important role in those days. When I got there for the first time in April 1997, the bar had been running for over four years and had its regular clientele. This was indeed quite a climatic place, whose limited spaces forced greater closeness between customers, and encouraged to get to know new people. The club was theoretically open from 5 pm, but when you arrived too early you'd ring the bell, and a bouncer (always the same) always turned up at the door. He decided whether to admit someone or not. It wasn't door-selection, it was about safety. From time to time new gossips spread about gay people being battered, or about (less-than-peaceful) gangs of skinheads waiting outside for the gay people.
*) Free translation.
The club had no sign, and the only information announcing its existence was a small golden plate of the size of a visiting card, placed on wooden doors. Behind them stretched a long staircase leading down to the only room. Décor was very simple: dark-green carpets covered the floor, two wooden tables with benches, some stools at the bar, and that was basically it. Everything else was “standing space”, and not too much of it. The whole club might have had up to 30 square metres. The legend was that the club served previously as public toilets that were popular for cruising, but I don't know if there was any truth in it. Anyway, the room had only one tiny window, which meant that stale air and cigarette smoke were regular features. Thirty people were a crowd, but when there was need – even 100 got in. It was particularly crowded between 8 and 11 pm, sometimes longer. Many clubbers would then move on to Paradise gay disco that overtook the premises of Skra stadium (5 Wawelska Street). Sometimes huge chains of taxis departed from the narrow one-way Koźla. 175 busses that used to connect the New Town and Skra stadium were mainly occupied by gays, lesbians and friends on weekend nights. Most people would of course pop round on weekends, but there wasn't a day when the club wasn't filled with people. Regulars plus wellknown bartenders equals not just friendly atmosphere, but much more than that: being part of a local community, where people like and sup 57. Le Madame next to Koźla Pub port one another. It's no surprise that gatherings on special occasions were particularly popular: Christmas parties, Halloween, New Year's Eve, and especially the club's birthdays, celebrated with a fete in May. Because there was only one, co-educational toilet, queues could stretch all along the stairs, while the more desperate relieved themselves outside, near the bins. On warm days there were attempts to enlarge the club by annexation of bits of outside courtyard. The policy was that the club was open until last guests leave, but in practice there was no one left after 2am, although occasionally parties did last until five. One of the owners of this place, Grzegorz Okrent, currently known for running Utopia, was the leader of Lambda in early 1990s. He often came to the pub and observed it from behind the bar, and smiled to prettier boys. Clientele was very diverse, although young guys were a majority. There were visibly fewer lesbians, but straight women – hags – were quite a numerous group. Bartenders played a very important role in this club, and they were always straight. It didn't stop some regulars from fantasising, and inventing stories involving them, like sex in the back-room. There was a regular fluctuation of staff. At some point only Arek was left form the first crew. He looked like that actor Tim Schweiger. Therefore he was the object of adoration for both gays and straight girls. Another barman Marcin, worked here, and then in other Okrent's clubs – Underground and Utopia.
There was no particular style of music preferred by the club, house, rock and pop were mainly played. The gay divas were a separate category – in 1998 the comeback record by Zdzisława Sośnicka became a huge hit at Koźla, especially the “Czasem mówię nie” and “Będzie co ma być” songs. Older regulars often recalled a tragic incident involving Abba: their tape got stuck in the sound system, and was played over and over again for two weeks. Which made some people hate the band forever. Sometimes drag queen nights were organised, that's where I saw Lola Lou for the first time. There even was a jazz concert once, but that usually didn't go that well due to limited space. Of course celebrities went there, too. In June 1997, Andy Bell of Erasure popped in, just after his concert. There were also some peculiar people. In February 1998, for instance, I met Martin from Australia, who claimed he learned from a trusted source that Ricky Martin was in a relationship with Leonardo DiCaprio. In Koźla I run into a colleague form my primary school, friends from university, and my teacher from high school, and his boyfriend. I don't think it's necessary to add that long-lasting friendships, relationships and… hatreds were being founded there. It's also the place where I met my first boyfriend, he used to go there a lot. Kozły were changing, unfortunately for the worse. In October 1998, a flatscreen tv was hung on the wall. That killed the atmosphere. It played FashionTV, particularly men's fashion, or the Polish MTV. In 1999 another change – major refurbishment. New cloakroom appeared at the entrance, carpets were gone, together with dining tables. In came light-coloured flooring and IKEA-like tables. That did not turn out to be a great idea, either. The club still had a faithful following, although new places were already dominating the LGBT club landscape at that point. For instance Mykonos, in Hotel Maria near Babka roundabout, was very popular, particularly thanks to its marvellous lesbian Wednesdays. Finally, at the beginning of 2000 I found out that that Kozły was closed. According to rumours, the landlord did not renew the lease – conflicts with local residents were a regular feature there. Some time ago the site was let out to a Jewish association. And then in 2003, near the former Kozły, a new club called Le Madame was founded, and Koźla Street again became an important spot on Warsaw's gay map. Today, in the age of Internet and numerous public discussions about homosexuality, it is hard to understand how important clubs like Kozły were in 1990s. It was not just a place to have a good time – what counted most was the possibility to find friends, or a partner. Especially for younger gays, such clubs were forming places, helping them accept their homosexuality. Even just by getting to know people from the community, and understanding how many people are LGBT. Kozły played that role in my case, but my older friends tell me they all had a place like this: Iwan, Fiolka, Red Club. Nothing is left after these clubs, while they are a very important part of LGBT history. It is time to reclaim that. See also: ▶ Cafe Fiolka, ▶ Iwan, ▶ Le Madame, ▶ Red Club, ▶ Utopia
Krzywicka Irena writer, 1899-1994
If you find yourself in Mokotów district, use a map to direct you to Langiewicza Street. It was in one of the houses along that street that Irena Krzywicka run her salon in the years 1955-1962. Irena Krzywicka was an extraordinary figure – a writer, publicist and commentator of Warsaw's social life in the pre- and the post-war period. She frequently spoke about homosexuality (often calling it “pederasty”, but well – such were the times then), and her autobiography Wyznania Gorszycielki [Confessions of a Scandalous Woman] contains many coming-out passages upon which we heavily drew while reconstructing QueerWarsaw. She was one of the first to actively support women's right to abortion, for which she was being rebuked for many years, and not only by rightist commentators. The most important piece on homosexuality (mind the fact that it was during the thirties) is certainly her introduction to Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness, published in Poland in 1933 by Towarzystwo Wydawnicze “Rój” (with Melchior Wańkowicz as the co-owner and director).
The relevance of this piece today is stunning: Gender inversion? I do not want to translate this word as deviation. Deviation encloses in it a notion of morbidity. Inversion is rather a representation, reversal of instincts. This represented instinct can be in itself perfectly normal. No one shall call a left-handed person a deviant. …Pederasts have practically flooded the contemporary literature and theatre, demanding their right to speak up. Their somewhat different physiology certainly influences their alternative perception of the world, and therefore those of them who can speak honestly show us quite a different reality, exotic and puzzling for the instincts of the “majority”.
More privately, Krzywicka was visibly fascinated with Queers: I once met this beautiful man (they are always pretty) and I firmly told him, “Sir, if it turns out that you too, I shall write what I think of this”. It did turn out that he was. What, then, shall stop me. Perhaps the fact that they marry in the end and are said to be better husbands than the rest.
In this matter not much has changed, unfortunately – many homosexuals still decide on entering into a more or less insincere and superficial life within the opposite-sex marriage in order to avoid public persecution. Irena Krzywicka and her perception of the world – devoid of prejudice and thoroughly “modern”, makes her one of the leading figures in the battle for emancipation and respect for our rights. See also: ▶ Boy Żeleński Tadeusz, ▶ Sadowska Zofia
Kuczalska-Reinschmidt Paulina feminist, 1859-1921
If you choose to go to Utopia, visit also Boduena Street (next to the club). The building at no. 2 housed since 1907 the first headquarters of Związek Równouprawnienia Kobiet Polskich [Association of Polish Women's Equality] (renamed “Unia” [Union] in later years, and moved to Nowy Świat Street), initiated by Paulina Kuczalska-Reinschmidt. Kuczalska – feminist, founder of the magazine Ster [Rudder], creator of the first feminist associations – was for most of her life related to Józefa Bojanowska. According to another feminist, Cecylia Walewska, the two never parted, wonderfully complementing each other’s character, intellect and temperament. Romana Pachucka wrote in her memoirs:
While Kuczalska was the brain of Polish feminism, Bojanowska can be compared to its heart. When the first planned, the other one in flight caught the idea to transform it into a real action.
Their relationship lasted thirty-two years. The “She-Hetman” of Polish feminism was buried at the Powązki Cemetery, and on her tomb it reads as follows: Paulina Kuczalska-Reinschmidt / President of the Association of Polish Women's Equality / Editor of Ster / Glory to you / Who lived for the idea. See also: ▶ Powązki
58. Tombstone of Paulina Kuczalska-Reinschmidt
Lambda-Warsaw [Lambda Warszawa] organization, 24a/4 ˚urawia Street
“Our” organizations started flourishing legally (and finally) at the beginning of 1990s. A prominent LGBT activist at the time was Grzegorz Okrent, now the owner of many clubs, including Utopia. Back then, the most important group in Poland was Stowarzyszenie Grup (SG) Lambda [Lambda Groups Association] founded in 1990, the branches of which were present in many Polish cities. In Warsaw, together with SG Lambda, operated the mysterious OÊrodek Rainbow [Rainbow Centre].
Lambda-Warsaw [Lambda Warszawa]
It would be hard to make a distinction between SG Lambda and Ośrodek Rainbow. Rainbow was never a registered group, but a “cover-up” for Lambda – the fact that it was a gay organization was not announced publicly. Therefore, one might find the sign of Rainbow instead of the Lambda’s on many documents, though both of them were supported by the same people. The Centre hosted support groups meetings, including the famous group for parents, which helped a number of thirty- and forty-year-olds keep good relations with their families, confused by their children’s “other sexual orientation”, as it was called. There was also a gay and lesbian Christian group which, in contrast to those in many western countries, has been ignored by the Polish Catholic Church to this day. At the end of 1990s, Christians from Lambda received some support from priests who nevertheless were hiding this fact from their superiors. The meetings with those priests were held in a Protestant church on Małachowskiego Square and one of the pillars of the group was Michał Czajkowski, a priest and a lecturer in a number of Warsaw universities, who collaborated with Lambda on a regular basis. The initiative came to an end when many supportive priests disappeared from public life due to various scandals. Lambda/Rainbow quickly established cooperation with UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) in Warsaw. UNDP was at the time a fig leaf for pro-health activities like HIV prevention, resulting from Poland’s opening to the world. While Ministry of Health was quite reluctant to take up such issues like propagating condoms or HIV prevention among gays, UNDP discreetly ventured on filling this gap. In 1995, thanks to UNDP’s support, a gay and lesbian helpline was created, shared by Lambda and AIDS Helpline. 59. Śniadeckich Street Also, thanks to UNDP funds the first “coming 60. Qfajka bar out” leaflets were circulated, “Gays and lesbians come out of the closet”, with an embarrassingly awkward image of a pink triangle. In 1997 conflicts and lack of organization caused SG Lambda to split into independent regional centres, including Lambda Warszawa. The rumor has it that the bone of contention which wrought havoc on the organization was a purchase of an electric kettle… Lambda Warszawa suspended its work for a few months after losing its office on Śniadeckich Street and started again on July 9th, 1998, moving to a small two-room flat at 178 Czerniakowska Street, and in the summer of 2002 – to 50/40 Hoża Street. Today, the most prominent Polish LGBT organization works from 24A Żurawia Street. The absence of right-wing politicians' offices is compensated by the neighbouring star
of TV programme Taniec z gwiazdami [Dancing with the Stars] and "pederasty specialist", Krzysztof Bosak. Today, like it its beginnings, Lambda is above all a support organization. Its helpline for LGBTQ people, as well as their friends and families, is active every evening. Currently, within Lambda operates ten support and meeting groups, including such unique ones like the group “50+” for mature gays and bisexuals, or a recently set up group for disabled people. Twice a month there are gay, lesbian or trans films screenings. Every month Lambda provides counselling services – psychological, sexual, and legal. Additionally, the organization employs streetworkers and “partyworkers”, who are active in clubs and teach about the importance of safe sex, or the dangers of date rape drugs. The impressive archive and library are accessible twice a week and one can find real treasures there, like gay magazines from the early 1980s, photocopied. The resources on Żurawia Street cover a huge part of the gay movement history and allow to observe how the evolution of the movement took place. It is worth noting that Lambda Warszawa is the only invariably resilient Lambda Groups Association spin-off. The other groups, save for Lambda Krakow, ceased to exist. However, in 2008 two new Lambda Associations were called into being – this time in smaller cities, Bydgoszcz and Zielona Góra. See also: ▶ Campaign Against Homophobia, ▶ Feminoteka Foundation, ▶ Gay Pride Parade, ▶ Sigismund Column, ▶ Sigma, ▶ Squat Elba, ▶ UFA, ▶ Unii Lubelskiej Square, ▶ Warsaw Gay Movement
Le Madame club, 12 Koêla Street, operated 2003-2006
The most rebellious Warsaw club in the 21st century. The issue of its closure had become an ideological and political war, covered by national media. The club had its place on what was previously, after the World War II, the site of military industry and workshops, located among residential buildings for strategic purposes. In 2003 Krystian Legierski, highlander and lawyer, together with Elżbieta Solanowska, Katarzyna Szustow and Piotr Wierzbicki – became interested with the post-industrial ruins. Le Madame was launched in one of the buildings, where formerly radars and light military equipment were manufactured. The idea to open a club-gallery in this location was a hit. The boring, very “formal” Old and New Town had, in those days, only some old-fashioned restaurants and pseudo-Irish pubs to offer. The Old and New Town were going down, and it was the new Le Madame (popularly nicknamed Le Ma) that saved this area and brought it back to life.
Behind the massive gates – the club entrance, which could as well belong to a medieval castle, was a glass hall, where in the old days products were assembled. Inside, on the left, was an entrance to the staircase. Some office spaces occupied the upstairs. Downstairs was the party heaven. And on the right, something you just had to see: a peculiar bar – a window-counter, like in a bank. Serving beer, liquor and legendary “toasts”. On the same side there was also a smaller non-smoking-room, the only one where the interior resembled an actual club/bar, while the main area was furnished with old arm-chairs, chaise-longues, couches, sofas and even old bathtubs – everything of a high-class and dumpsite origin. The basement had a very popular room with a fountain, with adjacent “co-educational” toilets that did not differentiate between “ladies” and “gentelmen”. The press went ecstatic, it was a solution similar to the one in Ally McBeal, a TV series very popular back then. The dancefloor was covered in darkness. Other rooms on this floor were lit by candlelight. And at the end – an icing on the cake – a darkroom with furs as wallpaper. Before getting in, it was obligatory to take off your shoes. There were long arguments over the club's “sexual orientation”. When it became clear that it was something more than just a new hangout, different groups began to “claim” Le Ma. Gazeta Wyborcza, the most popular broadsheet, was proud to report on Le Ma's darkroom, “an invention of gay culture”, which thanks to Le Ma has become a universal temple of pleasure. Le Madame regulars – who really were they? Were they just, what it seemed, overdressed politicking youths? Not really – it was literally everyone. On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, rooms were often filled with elderly people, sipping drinks and engaged in lively discussions, or playing cards. The club was very inviting to local families. Kids and their mums, for whom there was no playground in the area, had their corner with toys, boardgames and other attractions. The club had an exceptional offer of evening entertainment on artistic level. Music there was creative, unpretentious, and very different from the commercial sounds in other establishments. The club was also different from other places in its spontaneous openness to all emancipation groups and very diverse initiatives. The Polish Green Party was founded on the first floor. In the basement, new Catholic churches, often LGBT-friendly, conducted their services. Kampania Przeciw Homofobii [Campaign Against Homophobia], homeless at the time, was having their meeting there as well. And in 2004, its 3rd birthday was celebrated there, with participation of many politicians and celebrities. Around 60 theatres performed in Le Madame, including TR Warszawa, or troupes from the USA. This was the gathering place for feminist activists, and the place where TVN24 news channel recorded their talk-show about books. Here, the Polish Radio organised discussions on what the death of John Paul II meant for people outside the mainstream culture, including LGBTs. Here lesbians and gays interviewed candidates on parliamentary elections. Various institutions enjoyed the club’s hospitality,
like Mistrzowska Szkoła Andrzeja Wajdy [Andrzej Wajda's School], Polskie Stowarzyszenie Racjonalistów [Polish Association of Rationalists], or Stowarzyszenie Drama [Drama Association]. It would be hard to name any artistic activity in the noughties in Poland that would not be featured in Le Madame. All this thanks to the motivated team and the creativity of citizens, who refreshed the Old and New Town. This citizen awakening was of such liberal sorts that Warsaw's authorities of the time were fed up with it. The scandal of Le Madame's eviction was an important episode of the 2005-2007 period, dominated by the rule of the ultraconservative Kaczyƒski brothers, and their Prawo i Sprawiedliwość [Law and Justice] party. It began quite innocently in 2005: Eureka company, managing the site since the collapse of communism in 1989, was summoned to return the property to the city council. The official reason for this, were the company's unpaid bills, to the loss of the city. However, the decision was commonly perceived as a perfect opportunity to get rid of an ideologically uncomfortable lodger. Or in other words: to get rid of the perverts – instead of aiming to preserve this culturally vibrant place, important for the city's image (as it would probably have happened in any civilised country). The city stopped accepting rent payments from the lodgers, claiming it was due to its discord with the middleman – Eureka. This only increased the debt, which then served as a pretext to evict the club.
61. Invitation to Le Madame club
Seweryn Blumsztajn, editor in chief of Warsaw supplement to Gazeta Wyborcza, wrote: [The mayor of Śródmieście district] absolutely wanted to evict Le Madame for ideological reasons. I wrote previously that Krystian Legierski, the owner of Le Madame, should treat his liabilities more seriously, as it is about public money. I was wrong. Mayor Brodowski doesn't give a damn about our money. He will sacrifice every sum from the city budget, to get rid of some left-wing and not-soheterosexual sorts. Legierski would not have been able to save Le Madame for any money in the world and it’s good he didn’t allow to get himself blackmailed..
Le Madame's eviction met with an outpour of civic disobedience. Diverse spontaneous events sprung up, and slogans to keep the club were increasingly directed at the Kaczyński brothers. The Le Ma scandal has become a legendary for the local and national politics. Most prominent politicians made a stand in this matter. Homiki. pl portal reported:
Today’s session of the Warsaw City Council, devoted to the discussion on vote of trust for Law and Justice party nominated city management, will be interrupted by a drag queen performance, a group of mimes, and a Japanese butoh dancer. The performance is a part of the Flying Circus Le Madame. Head of the Prawo i Sprawiedliwość delegation to the city council, Wojciech Starzyński, is outraged with the contempt of the City Council, and reminds Le Ma that this is not the first time they dared such a thing. Previously, to make it worse, they turned up on Holy Thursday.
The news about an imminent eviction caused a national mobilisation. Due to the scale of popular outrage of those who enjoyed the club, some commentators came up with a new phrase: “Generation Le Madame”. John Malkovich, who visited Poland at the time, joined the campaign to save the club. It was all to no use. On the 7th April 2006 the bailiff closed the club and welded entrance gates. But he managed to do that only after a three-day occupation strike. An innocent newsagents outlet and a small gallery, which shared the building, also ceased to exist. The city had very ambitious plans for the property. Officials dreamt about a theatre, run for instance by Joanna Szczepkowska, an actress famous for her announcement, in a 1989 television programme, that communism had ended (interestingly, she took part in the campaign to save Le Madame). The former factory hall was to become an elegant shopping arcade. Then a private “European” school. However, only in 2009 life returned to the site. But shockingly, the new tenant, a foundation no one has heard of, instead of high-culture, provides an expensive and “exclusive” restaurant. Warsaw City Council felt deceived and are fighting for a new eviction order. For several weeks after the closure Le Madame continued on the pavements in front of its former premises. Generation Le Madame became history and spread around the city. Partly to Krystian Legierski's new establishments: Tomba Tomba (in the Old Town) and M25 in Praga district (where Le Madame birthdays, after its closure, were still celebrated). He also opened a sandwich shop Sklep z Kanapkami at the main boulevard Krakowskie Przedmieście Street. All these places partly realise the politics of openness launched in Le Madame. It is only a slight consolation that Law and Justice party and the Kaczyƒski brothers decreased their presence in the local government after next elections. Because the loss after Le Madame's closure cannot be repaired. The case of Le Madame is a sad example when citizens are defeated in a dispute with authorities. Instead of an authentic and free culture – ideology and excessive ambitions of “civil servants” (who think they can do things “better” and citizens only stand in the way) brought shame on Warsaw. See also: ▶ 11-Listopada Street “basin”, ▶ Cafe Rose, ▶ Koźla Pub, ▶ M25, ▶ Rajkowska’s Palm
Lesbian Agreement LBT [Porozumienie Lesbijek LBT]
Lesbian Agreement LBT [Porozumienie Lesbijek LBT] unofficial group
Porozumienie Lesbijek LBT [Lesbian Agreement LBT] was the first thoroughly independent (i.e. not set up by another organization) unofficial group whose efforts were aimed at the presence and visibility of lesbians and bisexual women in the society, and who made attempts to be acknowledged not in conference rooms or closed establishments, but in the public space. The group came into being as an initiative of about fifteen female activists from Warsaw, joined later by women from other cities. Unfortunately, despite the widespread interest and official support, the movement did not become broadly popular. After a year and a half of hard work the organization suffered from burnout and the strength of PL (LBT) wore off. The planned registration was not carried out, and in 2007 the group de facto ceased to exist. However, it was never officially dissolved. The name Lesbian Agreement LBT has grown to be symbolic, the achievements of the group have endured (the idea of anti-homophobic clinics, the leaflet Facts Against Myths about Lesbians and Gays, We Are in Poland*) calendar), and the members continue their activities in various fields. Among the most significant accomplishments of PL (LBT) was the co-organization of Manifa in Warsaw in March 2005 (the two equivalent subject matters of the protest were the economical discrimination of women and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation). Thanks to Manifa, homosexual and bisexual women were for the first time acknowledged by the media. The banners bore slogans: “Guess which one of us is a lesbian?”, “Love doesn't have gender”, “My parents are cool girls”, “Woman – man – whatever”, “I'm a lesbian, like my mother”. Two additional events took place, during which the subject of breaking the taboo on lesbian existence was raised. It is worth noting that PL (LBT) did not use any formal support, which is common for a non-governmental organization – the members did not carry out the projects thanks to grants, but spontaneously responded to current needs and events, being in direct contact with local communities. See also: ▶ Manifa, ▶ OLA-Archive
Lodi Dodi pub, 23 Wilcza Street, opened in 2003
A narrow yet still impressive, art-nouveau tenement house adorned with elements that give it a historical touch hides one of the cosiest places in QueerWarsaw. Behind the brown-and-honey-coloured panes with the inscription LD one comes right across the counter, surrounded by Lodi Dodi regulars. *) A game on words; the original title of the calendar is ‘Lesteśmy w Polsce’, where the Polish word ‘jesteśmy’ [‘we are’] is mixed with the word ‘les’.
The floor space of the local is considerably small, but its three levels can fit in a surprising number of guests. Above the counter hangs an intimate, solely candle-lit entresol with tables, while the basement hides another bar and a darkroom area. This is a level available only to men, and on chosen days it offers additional attractions. Back in the day it were the famous topless evenings or untypical service in the form of a naked bartender. Friday nights at the club are reserved solely for men – the only evening during the week when no women are allowed in.
Lodi Dodi is one of the few gay-friendly places in Warsaw that offers truly warm, almost homely atmosphere, and – what is important – treats all age groups with equal kindness. It is an ideal place for quiet evening conversations with friends or favourably disposed bartenders, without being deafened by the newest music hits. Here time flows at a different pace to popular songs from the golden era of the Polish 1960s and 1970s light music. On Wednes 62. Lodi Dodi club days the inestimable owner of the place reaches deeper into his rich musical archives for true rarities and presents the discography of a chosen artist, while in the meantime the guests can try a home-made cake that is put out on the counter. The venue is conveniently located in the heart of the city, constituting a great base for further forays to more entertaining clubs, such as those at Unii Lubelskiej Square or at Bracka Street. Lodi Dodi functions also on the weekdays. Still another advantage is the proximity of a police headquarters, thanks to which the guests do not have to worry about safety. As for other attractions – under number 25, like in many Warsaw yards, one can find an enchanting, small chapel of Virgin Mary. A similar function is performed by a pub Queer, which was opened at the beginning of 2010 in Old Town, but it has been decorated in a much more modern style, and so far has not yet managed to develop a comparably exceptional atmosphere. See also: ▶ Baryłka, ▶ Queer
Luna Cinema art organisation, 28 Marszałkowska Street, established in 2003
Until recently, it was probably the most gay-friendly cinema in Warsaw. For years it was a location of numerous gay film screenings and festivals, such as "Inaczej niż inni" ["Differently than the others"] organized by Campaign Against Homophobia in 2003 and 2005 or "Dzień Kultury Lesbijskiej" ["Lesbian Culture Day"], part of the Equality Parade in 2005 which was a film retrospective combined with a conference Inne spojrzenie (Different outlook). Two recurring festivals were also held at Luna: Festiwal Kina LGBT “Pryzmat” (LGBT Cinema Festival "Prism"; two editions: in 2006 and 2007) and "Dni Równości" ("Equality Days"; three editions: 2006, 2007 and 2008). Thanks to such initiatives, Luna cinema quickly gained an opinion of a gay-friendly place which is why news about its closure in 2008 terrified so many. In June 2009, the award ceremony of Fundacja RównoÊci’s prizes Hiacynt – awards for people
and institutions promoting tolerance – was held in the Luna. The cinema as not closed down in the end, but it does have a new owner, who has plans to give up on arty and festival activities as was feared.
In the meantime, many new places appear that give LGBT circles a chance to see gay and lesbian films. Kino.lab is located not far from Luna, in Ujazdowski Palace. Film screenings are also or- 63. Luna cinema ganized nowadays in many clubs and cafes, such as Zwià˝ Mnie, Nowy Wspaniały Âwiat or Usta Mariana. And when it comes to large, commercial cinemas, the baton was passed on to Kinoteka in the Palace of Culture and Science. 2010 saw the start of Czwartki LGBT [Thursday LGBT film nights] in Kinoteka. See also: ▶ Cafe-clubs, ▶ Gay Pride Parade, ▶ Rainbow Cinema
Łaênia pod Messalkà old bathhouse, 16/18 Krakowskie PrzedmieÊcie Steet, now closed
Right next to the University Gate at Krakowskie Przedmieście Street one can have a cup of coffee or another drink at Pod Messalkà restaurant (16/18 Krakowskie Przedmieście Street). But before that, we recommend that you go and take a look around the tenement house's annex, which hosts an exclusive boutique and a restaurant Likus Concept Store. Built in 1910, the tenement house used to be one of the most luxurious buildings in the Warsaw of that time. Its apartments even had electricity, central heating and elevators (alike the exclusive Bristol hotel)! However, what we find the most interesting
Łaênia pod Messalkà
is the Łaźnia Główna [Central Bathhouse], opened in 1911, whose tiles and ceramic decoration designed by Stanisław Jagmin and produced by Allina & Laurysiewicz company have survived to the present day. This is how the bathhouse is remembered by one of its former regulars:
It was… huge, entered through the second gate right behind the Statue of Copernicus I guess – if you walked from Nowy Świat Street. It offered the so-called cubicles, and there you had sex. Supposedly one was to walk around in a towel, but it was an idle notion.
In other reminiscences we can read that: There were no such huge saunas anywhere, the nearest one probably in Berlin. After 1989, the Central Bathhouse was the only one functioning. Everything took place in the bathrooms, and if there were only a few guests then also in the main rooms, though of course not everyone fancied penta- or hexagons. …Central
64. Preserved interiors of the Pod Messalką Bathouse
65. Pod Messalką tenement house
66. Preserved interiors of the Pod Messalką Bathouse
Bathouse was officially frequented by male prostitutes, probably the entire Poland knew about that. There would also be a guy from vice squad – never the same one, they rotated. As far as you could recognize a prostitute, it was impossible to unmask a policeman. What's more – they were gay… With one of those I had a “circumstance” in a cubicle. The richer ones would go to the sauna at Grand Hotel – there you could meet many actors, people from the film industry, song writers. Sophisticated sort. They have not come out to the present day.
The sauna was closed in 1991, an occurrence noted by Men magazine: Ultimately, the Warsaw Central Bathhouse has been closed down, …gays no longer have a real sauna where they can make acquaintances freely and in a considerably safe way… . The mean ones say that it's no loss, since recently the bathhouse was frequented by clientele which, like the place itself, remembered the times of Kaiser Francis Joseph.
In the following years the rooms of the former sauna disintegrated, until the year 2008 when, already as part of Likus store, they were solicitously renovated. The restored interior decor along with the preserved swimming-pool are exceptional not just by Warsaw standards – and the staff never protests against sight-seeing. Strictly touristic, obviously. See also: ▶ Sokratesa Starynkiewicza Square
M25 club, 25 Miƒska Street, opened in 2005
M25 took its name after the address – it is located in Praga district in a post-industrial space at 25 Mińska Street. Hidden among sheds and warehouses, this post-factory building has been readjusted for clubbing activity, matching up similar venues in Berlin or London, particularly due to professional sound systems and the club's interior. The first floor is a bar section, hidden behind a vast corridor. The corridor is divided into intimate boxes with couches, armchairs and even a six-person bed that hangs on chains and looks at the darkroom entrance on the other side. The upper floor offers a large dance floor with a stage section and another bar. Concrete prevails here, the fact praised by some dancers. Particularly interesting elements of the interior include a cocoon at the ceiling, which is the best possible spot for the DJ to observe the course of the party. The outer stairs adhering to the wall offer an alternative (and faster) route to the garden in front of the building. Due to the powerful sound reinforcement and the crowds on the lower floor, the garden is the best place for nocturnal conversations and broadly understood social activity.
Because of the club's owner, Krystian Legierski, the spot has not escaped comparisons to the legendary Le Madame. And although it is difficult to enter the same river twice, the club is perceived not only as party space, but also one promoting alternative culture. After all, not long after its opening – as Le Madame at one time – the club was subject to bigots' attacks when it facilitated its space to a staging by the controversial theatre SukaOff. In November 2005, Praga Południe district's mayor filed information to the public prosecutor's office concerning the spreading of pornography during a Flesh Forms spectacle. As it often happens, he neither saw nor even wanted to see the performance – he just read a sensational report by Fakt, the most popular Polish tabloid which represents the lowest kind of journalism. No similar scandals happened later, although one has to admit – M25 is rarely concerned with properness.
The club regularly hosts events with meaningful titles such as Fetish Fucktory, Goth’o’mania, Queers & Freaks; the Kvir Sfera collective [Kvir Sphere] organizes here e.g. break dance workshops. In 2007, M25 held a birthday party for 67. M25 club Le Madame club, then already closed for several months, an event honoured (not for the last time) by performances of the artists connected with the legendary club. The club has organized, among others: Warszawski Praski Festiwal Tolerancji Multi Kulti [Warsaw Praga Festival of Tolerance Multi Kulti] and concerts within Moving Closer Festival. In 2008, M25 hosted a theatre performance, an afterparty after the Warsaw Pride and a Valentine's Day event closing the festival Równe Prawa do Miłości [Equal Rights to Love]. It would be a hard task to list all gay-friendly events organized by the club. What is interesting is that officially, M25 functions only during particular events – the fact that it is open virtually on every weekend speaks for itself. See also: ▶ 11-Listopada Street “basin”, ▶ Cafe-clubs, ▶ Le Madame, ▶ Praga
Manekin [Mannequin] bar, 26 Twarda Street, now closed
One of the most original bars in Warsaw is now closed down. Famous for its openness to “otherness”, it was a meeting place of Warsaw fetishists and transgendered people. The first Trans Party in Poland took place in Manekin on 6th November 2004. This is how crossdresing.pl website announced the party:
The party is for trans people and their friends. We warmly welcome all ts, tv, tg people. Of course we welcome both girls and boys, friends and supporters of trans people. We predict that tv girls will be in majority… Dress code? Whatever you like; fancy costumes are welcome, although, of course, within reason and good taste. The club will provide a changing room at the back with a mirror, a table and a sink. Because of the limited space this improvised dressing room can only accommodate two people at any one time. But what matters the most is that if you want to, you can get changed there. If you are not sure, you don’t need to dress up at all. Just remember – we all want to feel comfortable. So don’t force anything!
The Trans Party idea is 5 years old now and has started spreading across the country. Trans Party South turned into Outdoor Trans Party. Three parties were organized in Poznań. The last Warsaw Trans Party (at the time of publishing QueerWarsaw) was held in Rasko club in Burakowska Street. See also: ▶ Motto Cafe, ▶ Rasko
Manifa annual event, since 2000
If you have the opportunity to visit Warsaw in early spring, do not miss the 8th March. Of course it is the International Women’s Day, but for us, in Poland, it has a particular meaning. Everything started in 2000 with a group of female activists, getting more and more angry. Women rights have been a challenging point of politics in Poland. Governments, influenced by religious beliefs of many of their members, have since the end of communism been reluctant to following the gender emancipation. It was Polish politicians that were seen during the Beijing conference in the late 1990s as the only Europeans being in line with most radical Islamist politicians to stop women’s rights. In the field of abortion, in early 1990s a strict “pro-life” policy was officially adopted in a law that is presented today as a “compromise”, without any consensual element to it visible. All in all, it is not surprising that women, economically and socially disadvantaged, got angry. The occasion to show this anger publically was a series of marches taking place in various countries in 2000. “Democracy without women is a half-democracy”, the banners were saying that year. The idea of the march was quickly adopted by civil society structures. In the first years, they were organised twice a year – a weekend close to the 8th of March and in December to commemorate the Human Rights Day (10th December). After 2002, a quite pompous name of “Great Women March” was replaced by the less formal “Manifa” – better reflecting the idea of the event. Manifas are probably the greatest civil society marches that we have been organising here in Poland. Highly mediatised, they have a clear impact on the society, but politicians are still hard to reach. The marches gather lots of people of all genders and different interests.
In recent years, economic topics have been covered more visibly, but we still focus on things such as human rights and sexual and reproductive health. What about gay participation in Manifas? Well, things did not start well. It is true that some women activists were not happy to see among all participants girls – and boys – with banners related to lesbian, gay or transgender rights. One of the leaders of women’s right movement, an important figure in the academy world, even said on one early Manifa “And you girls with this rainbow flag, don’t follow us!”. Things changed and now, in 2010, all groups learnt not only to “be together”, but also to follow a common goal. See also: ▶ Barbie Girls, ▶ Gay Pride Parade, ▶ Lesbian Agreement LBT, ▶ Parliament, ▶ Wyszyński Memorial
Masoneria bar, operated in 1990s
The bar could be found in the beginning of 1990s on Foksal Street, then it changed its name to Casanova, finally it was once again renamed Cyganeria. It was rather a café bar. In August 1992, the magazine Inaczej described it as follows: 15 square meters and eight tables. One of the regulars said: Such a boring place and only three tables! Masoneria was a regular meeting place for lesbians from the Lambda Bilitis structure. What is funny, Żaklina, one of the most famous Warsaw drag queen artists, used to be a barman there. He recollects:
Thant was this kind of bar where people gathered to have vodka together. It was run by two guys, both named Rafał. I was the barman and I was responsible for the Friday nights: the Russian night, the Italian night etc. I was performing there.
68. Masoneria club in 1990s
Men, another gay magazine, also mentions Masoneria:
Fag places in Warsaw change like in a kaleidoscope! We go less and less to Corner and Pasaż, more often to Masoneria. The owners of this fancy bar didn’t decide if it should have an official gay character or not, so it is not advertised in any special way in gay magazines. Finally, the group of regulars is growing
very slowly and some people start to say it is a good address for geriatrics fans! This is because of the veterans of all our gay planet. Those silent queens are so bored with their dresses and faces. We all need more fresh meat!
Metro Centrum subway station
If you want to reach the spot called Patelnia (“frying pan” – the square opposite the entrance to the subway station), simply go with the flow of the crowd starting from Rotunda along the subway passageway, taking its right side. Occasionally, you can see same happenings here, the examples being the project Poradnia Antyhomofobiczna [AntiHomophobic Clinic] or Dzień Milczenia [Day of Silence] organized for the occasion of celebrating IDAHO – International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. As you are already here at this subway station, it should be mentioned that a group of gays is said to have been responsible for closing off the whole subway passageway some October morning – the famous case known as Gay-Bomber Case. The alleged preparator of the bomb attack paralysed the city of Warsaw on 20th October 2005. A general turmoil followed the discovery of thirteen boxes with the inscription “BOMB” at eleven points in the city. As it later turned out, they were only dum- 69. Metro Centrum mies. Right at that time, the Polish media received a certain mail criticizing one of the-then candidates in Poland’s presidential elections – Lech Kaczyƒski. The “message” was signed by somewhat unidentified organizations (gangs) "SilnyPedał" ["Strong Faggot"] and "GayPower". A suspicion immediately followed of the bomb malpractice by homosexuals, especially as Lech Kaczyƒski – after dishonourably banning the Equality Parade in 2004 and 2005 – did not have a good press. The investigation was sluggish. On 4th November 2006, the police announced having charged Roman W., artistic director of one of gay clubs. However, the lack of any evidence finally compromised the police and three years later the prosecution dismissed the case. By some bizarre coincidence 2005 saw the release of a new product onto the market – energetic drink Gay Power – to win the hearts of homo consumers. Right after the attempted attack the sympathetic tabloid Super Express kept circulating the gay bomber posters within the public sphere – it showed this “figure” as someone likely to have difficulties with accepting his own orientation. Perhaps the politicians have same difficulties?
Mi´dzy Nami [Between Us]
The subway system should also be perceived as an original example of a post-modern flying cruising spot – just like chains of cafés – to serve clients “on the run”. Men are in the habit of quickies in its toilets. In numerous dating advertisements or popular chats you may come across this hidden message – the Metro Centrum bog. It is, though, not encouraged to be any kind of nuisance for the toilet attendants. So do satisfy your desires in a more civilised way!
Mi´dzy Nami [Between Us] cafe-club, Bracka 20, opened in 1992
One of the oldest extant gay-friendly hangouts in the capital, opened over 16 years ago. This place, with its starkly plain interior and unique style and vibe, keeps drawing in each subsequent generation of gays and lesbians. Między Nami stands out among other cafes thanks to its kitchen, which stays open well into the night (Szpilka on Trzech Krzy˝y Square gained popularity for the very same reason), and a large beer garden in the summer months. It does not avoid fine arts, though, and provides support to young artists.
70. Entrance to Między Nami cafe
Among its regulars you will find the current celebrities and TV and fashion personalities. The cafe used to aim for a natural selection of guests by posing as a members-only club, which has never been true, though a faded placard to this effect still remains on its door. The openly gay Sikstinajn also used this trick. Today, the patrons of Między Nami form an interesting conglomerate of gays and not-necessarily-straight men desperately trying to hide their true sexuality under the vague umbrella terms of “queerness” and “metrosexuality”. Its perfect location – in the heart of the city, between other popular queer hangouts, Utopia and the sex-club Fantom – also serves to attract a certain clientele.
The recent news of impending closure caused by a 300% rent increase imposed by the city resulted in a flurry of media and online activity in defence of the place that became a fixture in Warsaw's cityscape. See also: ▶ Cafe-clubs, ▶ Fantom, ▶ Rodziewiczówna Maria, ▶ Sikstinajn, ▶ Utopia
Motto Cafe cafe, 10/12 Ordynacka Street
This cafe, located conveniently close to Nowy Świat Street, is one of the few places in Warsaw frequented by transgender people. In the words of Anna Grodzka from Trans-Fuzja Foundation, the charming proprietress, Kaja Makacewicz, treats transgender people with friendliness and acceptance, so it's fine to go there when your gender presentation doesn't match your ID. Online message boards state that Motto’s “crew” is familiar with TV issues and they don't bat an eye when big, strapping males start referring to each other with female names. Unfortunately, places like this are few and far between in Warsaw – while there is a number of friendly clubs, “daytime” transgenderfriendly hangouts remain a rarity. See also: ▶ Manekin
Mycielski Zygmunt composer, 1907-1987
To understand the story we want to tell you here, we have to recall two facts from our communism past. First of all – you could get a flat either by good connections or by inheriting it, and because of the absence of a free market, houses built by the state were distributed according to the order in the queue. Therefore, owning a home was considered something special and no one was surprised if adult people lived with their parents until their death. But what if you are a gay couple, and you have two tiny apartments and want to live together in something larger? You have to go… to the Prime Minister. Zygmunt Mycielski (1907-1987), composer, author of the excellent Dzienniki [Journals, not translated into English], lived at 10 Chmielna Street with a translator, Stanisław Kołodziejczyk. To get a flat at Chmielna Street Mycielski with 71. The house where Zygmunt Mycielski Kołodziejczyk had to exchange their previous lived flats for it. As he writes in Dzienniki: My room (18 sqm) and Stasnisław’s room (15 sqm) have to be dealt with by the Prime Minister. Was the Prime Minister not surprised that the two men gave up their earlier “rooms” and wanted to live together? That Mycielski did not mention.
Dzienniki by Mycielski contains many interesting and deep reflections on culture, history, politics and celebrities of the era, as well as very personal reflections of spiritual and erotic nature, and tragic passing of the human condition, pinched in time and fixed patterns of thoughts. In Dziennik 1960-1969 volume we read:
Nieborów, August 4 [1965; Palace “House of Creative Work”]: In the pouring rain I saw in the hallway two boys, wet as poodles. Their motorcycle broke before the gate of the palace.(…) I do not know whether they were 35 years old in sum. But I do not want to write about them. About myself. About my agitation to show them the living rooms, through which their eyes wandered. Such a bargain! They do not know where to stay, my room is a double, but also double in fear – from the beginning, I knew that today I could neither go out with them or enter here. They would go, and I once again would have to concentrate on the notation paper, in an empty room, with a broken artificial jaw. I could be their grandfather. Absurd. I thought about Gombrowicz. Yes. But why does Gombrowicz beat about the bush with his homosexuality?
And then, on the same date, about Andrzej Bieńkowski (son of well-known literary critic Flora Bienkowska):
And I can see how some older men seek talks with him as he is honoured to take part in them, again with that Gombrowicz’s adulthood, while the adults are just looking for contact with his youthfulness. …It is no consolation is that this young Andrew B. will be a in a few years old and ugly. I went up to the window and saw a bald guy with a pot-belly, smiling sweetly, and before him leaned Andrew, in his tight sweater and “blue jeans”, with yet too large hands, which he puts on the back, grabs for his covered neck – he does not know what to do with these hands, the skin on these hands has been touching another skin all too shortly and strives for contact – with itself. I looked furtively, went back to the black instrument, thoughts ran away from my music, from the submission of these sounds. One life seems to be something infinitely richer than all artificial imaginations. Any form of body contact is more than all works of art – suddenly they are all dead, compared with one breath, withheld or hastened with passion.
For consolation, we can add that out of those young men most are already in their sixties – older than the legendary author of Dzienniki at the time the records were created… Let us hope that they enjoy good health. And let us rejoice that dentistry has made significant progress since then – nowadays people in the age of Mycielski do not have to wear artificial jaws, they still have their own ones… See also: ▶ Gombrowicz Witold, ▶ Polonia Hotel
Mykonos club, Radosława Roundabout, now closed
One of the most legendary Warsaw bars – Mykonos, the best address on Warsaw's map in late 1990s and early 2000s – was opened in fact in 1999. At the very beginning it was located on Babka Roundabout, north west of the city centre (today's Radosława Roundabout with the famous mall Arkadia). But this was not the most important; what made Mykonos a legend were the regulars: a group of pre-emancipation-era gays more and more open to spend their time in “gay” ways: 72. Formerly Mykonos bar travesti and drag shows really did it! The owners 73. Information about gay-clubs in Gayzeta tried to open in the backroom an erotic theatre called Delos, but that did not meet the expectations of the public. The LGBT activist Yga Kostrzewa says (...) on Wednesdays Mykonos used to be a lesbian place. I remember once more than a hundred of women came, the party ended up with tabledancing! In 2001 Mykonos left the tiny premises and moved to the shopping mall Land, close to the Służew metro station. Despite the fact that there was much more space and the owners were successful in recreating the same aura, it lost its public. Maybe too far away from other venues? Along with Kozły and Paradise, Mykonos was a kind of “educational gay playground” for people in their 30s and 40s today. Jacek, known as the drag queen Żaklina, used to be manager in Mykonos. He tells us about his work in the club:
When I worked for Mykonos many drag queen artists emerged. Drag shows used to be real cabarets, not simple performances as today. I think there is nothing interesting in today's shows and artists of that scene. The public changed. They ask for a quick entertainment nowadays. In early years, people were asking and waiting for our performances, they were engaged. Now they want entertainment, then a drink, nothing more.
The “new” Mykonos was closed after protests of inhabitants, “traditional” for Warsaw. According to them, the club resulted in violent and noisy people coming to the neighbourhood, as a barman from Mykonos recalls. See also: ▶ Drag Queen, ▶ Paradise, ▶ Rudawka
Na Przełaj [Across Country]
Na Przełaj [Across Country] scouts magazine, 1957-1992
One of few youth magazines of the Polish communism, issued from 1960s to the beginning of 1990s. In the second half of 1980s, though still under omnipotent state control and censorship, and perhaps even with its permission, it has become (along with Rozgłośnia Harcerska radio [Scouts’ Broadcasting Station]) a medium favourable to free and alternative ideas, including ecological and anarchist movements. At that time, some young people helped and joined the team who are nowadays well known journalists, such as Sławomir Ślubowski, Tomasz Raczek, Jacek Żakowski and Mariusz Szczygieł. The latter became a forerunner of publications concerning homosexual issues in the magazine. Na Przełaj was the first magazine publishing both advertisements and letters from gay readers.
Mariusz Szczygieł says: In autumn 1986, Na Przełaj decided to print a story about the underworld in Warsaw Central Station, entitled Coverage for Adults. …Several letters from young homosexuals came to the editorial office. The newspaper was targeted at readers between 15 and 21 years of age and in this age were also the correspondents. These letters landed on a separate shelf and no one answered them. …I got the idea to follow the footsteps of several such letters, and write a new coverage. We shared some stories together with my friend Ewa Żychlińska. We met with our heroes, and so, the most important of these coverages – the text “Rozgrzeszenie” [“Absolution”], was published. … The letters which showered us after this publication have probably never been fully counted. Three weeks later, we printed some of them, writing at the end: “Those of you that stray – please contact us. Hold on. The Editors.” It was probably the cause of the amok which broke loose all the correspondence. 23 years have passed, now I remember that we got 763 or 673 letters. Most of the authors – schoolkids from small towns and villages – asked us to get them in touch with anyone, so far as it was a person of the same sex who was looking for friendship… We printed three episodes of letters entitled “Rozgrzeszenie” and began to contact their authors with one another. It was a difficult job, you had to somehow match letters to each other, and so that their authors could become future friends. Soon began to letters of thanks, but also complaints that “I had wanted a taller boy” and “that Monica, she isn't anything like feminine.” Those gay people who moved in gay circles of larger cities informed the editors that they came up with a new code “Is he 5-1? “,” I met two boys 5-1”, etc. They spontaneously began to call themselves a “five one” so as not to expose their inclinations. Five-one took its name from the 51st issue of Na Przełaj in which the article was published.
Even if by the consent of the communist machinery, Na Przełaj succeeded in making an ideological breakthrough. Thanks to similar publications about homosexuality, people finally began to write and speak loudly about it. Until then, this and other social problems such as drugs, unemployment and prostitution were covered with an embargo of silence, in accordance with the principle that difficulties which are not uttered simply do not exist. In the mid-1980s, however, the authorities figured out that some sentiments among the youth cannot be pacified, so they tried to canalize them, allowing the organization of festivals such as rock concerts or more open publications in the press and media. See also: ▶ Press
Nasierowski Jerzy writer, born in 1933
Jerzy Nasierowski is an extremely interesting and complex figure. As a young promising author (Godzina pąsowej róży [The Hour of the Crimson Rose], filmed by Irena Bielińska, 1963), he became a face of one of the most infamous cultural scandals and court trials of the 1970s. It all happened due to his shady sexual relations with the crime world. He used his contacts to help criminals organise robberies. Convicted of murdering a housemaid of Mira Zimińska-Sygietyńska, a famous actress before the World War II, a murder which was actually committed by her husband, Nasierowski was sentenced to prison, where he wrote a novel Zbrodnia i… [Crime and…], which he first published under a pseudonym Jerzy Trębicki thanks to the patronage of another controversial writer, Roman Bratny. A half of the first edition of Zbrodnia i…, a prison epic and a gay romance, was censored. The edition of 70 000 copies was allegedly sold out in two days. Reprinting was not allowed. Then the book was chopped into short volumes. It was not until 2006 when a gay-friendly publishing house Ha!art decided to publish a full, two-volume version.
74. The house where Jerzy Nasierowski lived
In his novel Nasierowski took stock of his life before prison, which involved time spent in rendezvous spots, the crime world; above all, however, he shows a brutal reality behind bars, i.e. social relations between inmates, routines, sexual life. Still, he leaves room for tenderness and love. Exhibitionism and explicitness of Nasierowski's writing is certainly interesting. However, it is difficult to treat his nickname “Polish Genet”, which he was given on the basis of biographical similarities and fascination, seriously.
Nicolaus Copernicus Monument in Warsaw
First of all, despite biographical similarities and the fact the books of the Foremost Faggot of the third Republic of Poland (which was a nickname given to Nasierowski by Jerzy Urban – censorship manager of the communist times, currently the editor-inchief of a infamous monthly – and which Nasierowski gladly adopted) were written in prison, they have features of scandalous gossip literature. This is even suggested by the egocentric titles of his successive books: Seks, zbrodnia i kara [Sex, Crime, and Punishment], Nasierowski, ty pedale, ty Żydzie! [Nasierowski, you faggot, you Jew!], or Nasierowski, ty antychryście! [Nasierowski, you antichrist!]. In the old times, Jerzy Nasierowski lived at Nowy Świat Street. Unfortunately, his books have not been translated, so you will not have a chance to read the works by the Foremost Faggot of the Republic of Poland at a boulangerie situated just opposite the old apartment of “our Genet”. See also: ▶ Warsaw Gay Movement
Nicolaus Copernicus Monument in Warsaw Krakowskie PrzedmieÊcie Street, built 1822
Right in front of Staszica Palace on Nowy Świat Street stands Nicolaus Copernicus Monument. The astronomer (1473-1543), famous for displacing the Earth from the centre of the universe, was honoured with a monument by the chisel of Bertel Thorvaldsen, a Danish sculptor, to whom we also owe the sexy statue of Prince Józef Poniatowski, situated in front of the Presidential Palace.
The bronze Copernicus wields a pair of compasses in his right hand, an armillary sphere in the left, and was unveiled on 11th May 1830. The venerable priest-astronomer would have never become a part of this guide if it had not been for Juliusz Machulski, the director and scriptwriter of the cult Polish comedy Seksmisja [Sexmission]. This is the film where the memorable sentence “Copernicus was a woman” comes from. Thanks to this, he/she (Copernicus) has become one of the symbols of 75. Staszica Palace and Nicolaus Copernigender studies in Poland, which is confirmed cus Monument by the names of workshops, or film festivals (Olsztyn – “Copernicus Was a Woman – an Almost-Feminist Festival”). Copernicus in his female self is also present on the logotype of postgraduate gender studies on Polish Academy of Science, bearing the name of Dul´bianka and Konopnicka. The monument was the destination for the first Polish Pride in 2001, and on 3rd May 2002, the second Pride followed. It is also a setting for many various queer events,
Niech nas zobaczà [Let them see us]
like e.g. the International Paris Hilton Day brought to life by an outstanding Polish queer scene figure, known under the name of Jej Perfekcyjność [Her Perfection]. See also: ▶ Konopnicka Maria
Niech nas zobaczà [Let them see us] social campaign, 2003
“Niech nas zobaczą” [“Let them see us”] was the first gay and lesbian public advertising campaign in Poland. It sparked a nationwide debate about LGBTQ rights and introduced the topic of homosexuality into the public sphere. This was a pivotal moment in the emancipation of Polish gays and lesbians. The campaign was organized by Kampania Przeciw Homofobii [Campaign Against Homophobia] and executed by Karolina Breguła, who photographed 30 same-sex couples (15 lesbian and 15 gay; later it was disclosed that some of them only posed as couples for the purposes of the campaign) holding hands in public spaces. The photos were supposed to be displayed on 500 billboards in Poland's biggest cities, but the company renting out ad space backed out at the last moment. Another one provided its structures, but the posters were soon vandalized. The photos eventually ended up on display in art galleries throughout Poland.
76. One of “Let them see us” posters
“Niech nas zobaczą” was a breakthrough, possibly the most important event on the timeline of emancipation of Polish gays and lesbians since the depenalisation of homosexuality in 1932. It gave lesbians and gays media exposure – for the first time in Poland. The campaign met with immense amount of conservative protests; quotes about “deviants”, “flaunting homosexuality” and “homosexual propaganda” were thrown around, even though the couples in the photos were only holding hands. Currently, queer theorists criticize the campaign for its crudeness, enforcing a “one true way” to be gay or lesbian, and pandering to heterosexual sensibilities by sugarcoating queerness. See also: ▶ Campaign Against Homophobia
Nowak Maciej art manager, theatre and food critic, born 1964
Head of Instytut Teatralny [Theatre Institute] and restaurant critic. Colourful figure, by many considered controversial – a familiar face in Warsaw salons and avant-garde crusader in one, connoisseur of life and different cuisines, 21st century Renaissance man. Once, in connection with Gdańsk events, Dziennik Teatralny magazine called him the main player of the Polish theatre life. He started his official coexistence with the theatre shortly after finishing high school with a review in the specialist press. He quickly moved away from the official tone after the groundbreaking year 1989 in which he established his own periodical Goniec Teatralny. This magazine steered away from the essay/review concept of the theatre press and focussed instead on relating events, not just theatrical plays, but also news from smaller venues. The paper ceased to exist over a year later, but it had made a breakthrough in journalism. Whilst working on several jobs in Trójmiasto, Nowak had become a favourite of the elite and a frequent visitor to salons. He has become the cultural editor of one of the biggest daily papers in Poland Gazeta Wyborcza, and in 2000 – director of the Wybrzeże Theatre, where he fulfilled his vision of a dynamic and involved theatre. It was under his guidance that the number of new plays realised by young, promising artists had increased to a dozen or so. During this period he performed an official coming out in Gazeta Wyborcza. In a controversial declaration he wrote that his life in Poland as a gay person was comfortable and he did not experience any discrimination. However, time has shown cracks in this idyllic vision. In August 2002, another article said that it was exactly because of his homosexuality that he was refused as a blood donor. As a result of the discussion kick-started by this text, the question about sexual orientation has disappeared from blood-donation centres inquiry forms (the issue came back a few years later, and finished with a positive outcome for LGBT persons). But Nowak paid dearly for his openness about his identity and his nonchalant attitude. Despite the high attendance in Wybrzeże Theatre and critics’ acclaim, the conflict with authorities was becoming more and more apparent. The latter were not happy with the art organisations that were under their control because they saw them as being too liberal and, in the opinion of some, seditious. Nowak was accused of wastefulness and of disregarding the taste of an average theatregoer. The press wrote:
If you don’t live your life according to the rightist morality, you can lose your job. During the last year, when it has became apparent that in Poland the Kaczyński brothers, Tusk and Rokita are pushing ahead to get the power and are bringing with them the catchword of the moral revolution – the hunt for Nowak has
begun. Because Nowak is not only a hedonist, but also gay. A faggot. A poof. Who announced his homosexuality publicly in Gazeta Wyborcza. The scale was tipped to the director’s disadvantage by the 2005 photo shoot for the Lifestyle magazine, which showed him in boxer shorts only and with a huge string of sausages hanging on his neck. Numerous city councillors decided that was inappropriate behaviour for somebody in his post. Inspectors entered the theatre and proved that the institution was in constant debt, which was therefore deemed as a breach of contract and as such the director was sacked. This must have speeded up his decision to move to Warsaw. He could devote himself in full to the Warsaw Theatre Institute, which he had been heading for two years already. See also: ▶ TR Warszawa, ▶ Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute
OLA-Archive [OLA-Archiwum] organization, Pi´kna Street 66a/11, established in 1996
On 66a Piękna Street operates OŚKA – Ośrodek Informacji Środowisk Kobiecych [Women's Interest Information Centre]. Within the hospitable walls of OŚKA, OLAArchiwum [Ogólnopolskie Feministyczne Archiwum Lesbijskie – Nationwide Feministic Lesbian Archive] is based, the founding of which in 1996 might be called a kind of watershed in the history of Polish lesbian movement. The group was an initiative of Olga Stefaniuk and was an unofficial organization till 1998, when it was registered as an association. The first member meeting was held in the head office of La Strada (a foundation against women trafficking), and then at 26/17 Narbuta Street. OLA-Archiwum ran a library and an archive of the lesbian and feministic movement in Poland, organized films screenings, meetings and discussions. A huge step forward for the formation of a socially active lesbian community was the setting up of the literary feministic lesbian magazine Furia Pierwsza [The First of the Furies] in 1997. In the eight issues than came out (the last one was circulated in 2000) a reader could find articles by the currently leading queer studies specialists, translations of theoretical and literary pieces and political manifestos (e.g. by Adrienne Rich, Charlotte Bunch or Gertrude Stein). In the early 2000s, the ever-camouflaged activity of OLA-Archiwum declined gradually, and finally the library and the archive was closed and the association was dissolved. In 2009 it was revived with headquarters on Piękna Street to stimulate women's circles again and, together with Feminoteka Fundation, runs the reactivated Furia. See also: ▶ Feminoteka Foundation, ▶ Iwan Groźny, ▶ Lesbian Agreement LBT, ▶ Press
Operation Hyacinth undertaking, 1985-1987
On 15th November 1985, following the orders of General Czesław Kiszczak, Minister of Internal Affairs at the time, the police on the whole territory of Poland started detaining and arresting individuals “suspected of being homosexual” or of contacts with the so-called “crowd”. Records were created for those arrested, nowadays known as “pink files” (there are supposedly 11 thousand of them). The operation, code-named Hyacinth, lasted with breaks until 1987. The police were trying to hoodwink the press by telling them that they were “helping gays”. Those in the police forces who were not convinced that they should be “catching the faggots” were effectively motivated by their own publication W służbie narodu [In the Service of the Nation], where the Ministry of Internal Affairs' political officer Sławoj Kopka published an extensive “explanation”:
Preventive actions and conversations should act as a warning for many who are active in the homosexual circles. Also the policemen themselves, many of whom had never been in touch with this issue before, had a chance to gain a lot of new and interesting information regarding the essence of the phenomenon itself and its functioning, as well as some tips useful in detective work.
It was also often stressed that the operation was not aimed against anybody and was carried out with the “support of homosexual individuals”. Propagandist actions were often carried out in an arrogant style:
More and more individuals appear. Younger, older, of different professions, educated and almost illiterate. Nobody is protesting, nobody claims that it is not their “ trade”. Tens of patrols are out again in the late afternoon. This time they penetrate well-known eateries, like “ Alhambra” and “Antyczna” cafés or “Ambasador” restaurant. Also the railway stations get inspected, especially Centralny, where the biggest group of “them” tends to gather. Corridors are crowded again. And again nobody is trying to explain that they are here by mistake. Everybody calmly waits for their turn, without protest yields to routine procedures. They know that in a few hours' time they will leave, often with some new addresses from new acquaintances from the corridor.
Kopka also tells the story of a Mr Zygmunt, who: …was fetched from his own flat. Shortly before the arrival of the policemen, two guests had left his place. “Yes, I know them”, he admits. “They visit me sometimes, when they are in need.” “In need?” “Yes, they need some extra cash every now and then.” “How much did they get?” “500 zlotys each.” Mr Zygmunt is not trying to hide his sexual needs, what’s more, he eagerly talks about his beginnings
30 years earlier, when he was still trying to hide his disposition. He got used to it over the years and now he does not get outraged nor embarrassed when somebody does not want to shake his hand or if he is called “a poof ”. Indeed, he says, it is not especially difficult nowadays to find eager boys, but they are more and more shrewd. They demand not only food and sleep, but also money. Sometimes they threaten, they are violent or steal. It has already happened to Mr Zygmunt a number of times. He also knows about the gay killings, as news travels fast in these circles. 54-year old Mr Zygmunt knows lots of “boys”, usually by their nicknames. He also knows his “trade” colleagues. He says that they try to protect themselves from the thugs. They check their “partners” IDs, ask for details that might help identify them, hide notes with personal data in different places around the flat, lock the door and hide the key in places known only to them. Sometimes that is enough to protect yourself, sometimes not quite, but it is difficult to give up on “pleasures”. Despite assurances of the police, the operation was opposed by many important people, including professor Mikołaj Kozakiewicz, later on the speaker of the Contract Sejm. In conversation with him Kiszczak has confirmed the existence of the records, but then stipulated that they were created only for those suspected in criminal cases (which definitely was not true). In 1993, Helsińska Fundacja Praw Człowieka [Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights] applied for eradication of the documents gathered as a result of breaking the law. After 2000, several attempts were made to verify what happened to the “pink files”, but Instytut Pamięci Narodowej [Institute of National Remembrance, created to deal with the communist past] and 77. Mostowskich Palace the police provided conflicting information. Currently, three possible explanations are taken into consideration: the files were destroyed at the beginning of 1990s, they are stored in IPN and police archives, or they are in possession of private persons. In February 2008, IPN refused a suggestion by Jacek Adler and Szymon Niemiec to start proceedings against General Kiszczak. It explained:
It has been proven during the proceedings that the operation “Hyacinth” had a preventive character. Its aim was to identify criminal threats in hermetic circles of homosexuals and as a result to prevent and fight crime. For these reasons actions undertaken by the police cannot be considered illegal.
This reply outraged LGBT circles. Operation “Hyacinth” was one of a number of illegal actions undertaken by dictatorial authorities. Gays and those considered gay,
victims of this terrifying project, have earned their right to be commemorated not less than other victims of the PRL [People’s Republic of Poland] system. We do not know much about Operation “Hyacinth”. Victims’ statements are missing. We should ask not just what has happened – because as to that we have a general idea thanks to the surviving documents and the conversation between Professor Kozakiewicz and General Kiszczak – but why after more than twenty years, do we still not know what is happening with the files? The real reasons for undertaking the operation still remain a mystery: actions of this type aimed at gays were never undertaken on a massive scale, even in the times of the deepest PRL misery. One of the plausible hypotheses is an attempt to intimidate the homosexual circles. In earlier times some gay people cooperated with the police. While the communist system was deteriorating and becoming less stringent, homosexual persons were more often refusing to cooperate with the police. This was the time when the first LGBT organisations were being formed, such as the Warsaw Homosexual Movement. What is s more, according to Waldemar Zboralski, one of the first LGBT activists, Polish gays in the 1980s were communicating intensely – as intensely as it was possible at that time – with the West, over the “Iron Curtain”, which could not have gone unnoticed by the oppressive system’s services. Perhaps operation “Hyacinth” was aimed against people’s attempts to organise themselves and establish contacts abroad? The Catholic church, backed up by General Kiszczak, was campaigning against the first LGBT organisations, such as the supporters of the niche magazine Efebos. 1980s was also the time of numerous misunderstandings around HIV/AIDS issues. Not much was known about HIV/AIDS at that time and protecting the society against this phenomenon was one of the supposed reasons for the operation. No wonder the witnesses kept quiet. Unfortunately the operation did succeed. It intimidated its victims, as well as the whole queer society of the time:
At that time we were meeting at Trzech Krzyży Square, in the centre of Warsaw. One November night several police paddy wagons arrived. Policemen with gas and batons jumped out and started pummelling us. We were arrested and taken to the police station in Wilcza Street. They photographed us, took our fingerprints and asked about our connections with other homosexuals.
Operation “Hyacinth” is now one of the symbolic events in the history of Polish LGBT, unaccounted for and inconclusive. We want to remember those events for as long as possible. The best place to recall the operation is in front of Mostowskich Palace (2 Nowolipie Street), where many of the arrested were kept. The palace was built between 1762 and 1765 for the Minsk Voivode, Jan August Hilzen. After Hilzen’s death Tadeusz Mostowski became its owner, and the palace is known under his name. It was destroyed during the war and after reconstruction was allocated as premises for the Police Headquarters. Currently it is a seat of Warsaw Police. See also: ▶ People's Republic of Poland, ▶ Warsaw Gay Movement
Palace of Culture and Science [Pałac Kultury i Nauki, PKiN, Pekin]
Palace of Culture and Science [Pałac Kultury i Nauki, PKiN, Pekin] public building, 1 Defilad Square, built 1955
A souvenir and a token from Uncle Stalin, though he himself did not live to see the inauguration in 1955. A gift from the Soviet nation, which was supposed to be a reference to the American concept of sky-scrapers. Today there is a pitched battle for the building, both amongst the architects and Warsaw citizens. Extremists demand tearing down the disgraceful and unsightly building, others limit themselves in their spatial plans to encasing it with other buildings, merging it with the surroundings, repainting etc. There are also many of those for whom the Palace has become an inherent part of the cityscape, more, they even like it, therefore they propose to leave it alone. And this solution is quite likely since it became a listed building by a controversial decision in 2007. The reason for the decision bases itself on the fact that it is an almost untouched relic of the social realism era, with numerous and rich decorative elements and furnishings, in many cases by Polish artists. All that beauty can be admired from a short distance one night a year, when the Palace opens its doors to visitors. The main tourist attraction is undoubtedly a viewing deck on the 30th floor with a panoramic view of the city. The Palace’s defenders rightfully point out that many social and cultural organisations, 78. Palace of Culture and Science museums, cinemas and theatres are located in the building. It contains some of the best places in town such as the Kulturalna CafeClub at the Dramatic Theatre, as well as Club 55. The building also houses festivals and independent art marathons that are organised on the first two floors. In the biggest room, Sala Kongresowa with 3000 seats, numerous shows and concerts take place with world famous artists. Of course, we find the Palace interesting for different reasons. It is centrally located, next door to the railway stations, surrounded by greenery and avenues. It has become the perfect tryst venue. Parallel to Jerozolimskie Avenue was the biggest gay cruising place in Poland (aptly named Broadway). Here you had the equal opportunity of a quickie, a one-night-stand, assault and battery. There was also a popular gay “meeting” place inside the Palace – one would bring their “rough trades” picked
Palace of Culture and Science [Pałac Kultury i Nauki, PKiN, Pekin]
up in the park next door to the toilets on the seventh and eighth floor. But it was a dangerous place. There were cameras in the Palace and most of the cottage “users” did not want to show their faces. Even today, it is forbidden to take photographs in many gay places. Another place where you could meet men looking for other men were the bus stops on the side now taken by Złote Tarasy mall, previously unroofed and rather dingy, but providing an excuse to wait for an “occasion”. Here is Bartek’s story, written down by Gejzer reporter:
00:12 on the digital clock. The corridor where they meet (known at the time as Broadway), is, as always, full of hungry and intrusive looks. The look says it all. It is enough to recognise each other without mistake. At first it is searching, often trading – one assesses if you are handsome, smart and if you could possibly have a place to go to. Later, when first lucky couples disperse around Warsaw, when there are fewer and fewer of them left, only lust remains. It is here that lust strips you of all limitations and inhibitions. It takes over you. It arouses rampageous visions and intoxicating looks. The western toilet, the corridor between the taxi rank and baggage lockers [nowadays there are bars and shops and there is no exit from the station on that side because of Złote Tarasy], the other toilet – a thorny route. It is always the same. A row of queer oldies in every toilet. They can stay there like that for hours. They are not ashamed of anything anymore. They expertly stick their heads above the dividers between urinals to look into youngsters’ flies. They do not seem to be hoping for anything else. Is it going to be like that in a few years time? No, I don’t want that. I have to have a say. The younger ones come here to get goods rather than feelings. How do you tell the difference? They do not stay long. It is not nice to be the object of lecherous faggots’ lust. And it is good, that it is not nice. It teaches you life.
One would want to sigh: “c’est la vie”. In the second half of the 20th century many gays had started this way. For many years, apart from cafés known only to insiders, public toilets and cottages were the only way to find others like you. Some people would want to forget that, erase such occurrences from the LGBT’s past, but you cannot hide it: this is how our life was in the previous era. Today – when we talk about queer Pekin (Beijing), we rather mean parties at Club 55, Czwartki LGBT [LGBT Thursdays] in Kinoteka cinema or Antony Hegarty’s concerts. Until 1989, Sala Kongresowa held consecutive conventions of the ruling, communist party. Now, during EuroPride in June 2010, two foreign gay choirs will perform for the first time. It will be a first concert of that kind in Poland in general. See also: ▶ Broadway, ▶ Cottages
Palladium club, 7/9 Złota Street
The club is located in the city centre, on Złota Street. Before World War II it was a theatre (the building itself dates from 1935-37). We could see here brand new movies up to the end of 1990s. It is not in fact a gay club, it is not even advertised as a gay-friendly place, but due to the localization in the city centre and with many other venues around it is very appreciated by LGBT people, also thanks to artistic events it hosts. What is more, it is also a place for many excellent concerts. The stage offers enough room to host international stars. We could see performing there such artists beloved by the gay public as Rufus Wainwright, CeCe Peniston or Gloria 79. Palladium club Gaynor. Not only soloists and bands play there, the venue invites to see festivals (as the much appreciated Blues Rock Jazz Warsaw Festival). Finally, on the right to the entrance we can still find an old-fashioned cruising area in a shabby toilet.
Paradise club, 5 Wawelska Street, operated from early 1990s to 2005
The Paradise club was an unquestionable institution and a place where the generation of present thirty-something-year-olds “grew up”. It is probably also known to many foreign friends who visited Warsaw in the beginning of the 2000s. Even the most respected national daily, Gazeta Wyborcza, regretted its disappearance from the map of Warsaw. We consider Paradise as the club from the “pre-emancipatory” age that stayed in business the longest. Paradise was the place to spend weekends in, especially that its location in a bit isolated spot on the Skra stadium, in a former changing room building, did not favour visits “by chance”. The stadium, as many other objects of this kind from the times of communism, was almost completely destroyed and later, at the end of 1980s and the beginning of 1990s, an awful market place offering the imitations from “the upper shelf ” arouse there. You could purchase there quite good quality clothes of “leading” brands: Cocon Chesnel or Adadas. Paradise, when established, turned out to be the only gay-les club in the capital. The way to the building led through one of the side gates and the same passage led to nearby straight dance-sheds of different sections and origins. The entrance to Paradise itself was guarded by an excessively “discreet” bouncer, sensitive to complicated
social issues and asking questions such as: “what other clubs do you go to? do you consider yourself an open person?”. The inside of Paradise could impress – very big dance-floor with a stage, large room with boxes and tables, supplemented by a third, smaller room where interchangeably was blissful silence and possibility of discussion or noisy fun such as karaoke competition. From this small room you could get outside to inconspicuous garden. The real legend of Paradise, however, were the spacious toilets, negatively standing out with their indispensable, repulsive character. The image of those unpleasant toilets cast a shadow over the prestige of the whole club, tenderly nicknamed “Paraszajs” [“Parashmise”] or “Pederajs” [“Fagarise”]. Newcomers from straight press were also impressed by colours:
The Paradiso [sic!] club has got a blue hall and a pink bar-room. Inside there are pink radiators, three-coloured curtains and lamps with corrugated lampshades on windowsills.
Paradise was also a scene of innumerable important events… … it has several unpleasant moments on its scorecard, such as skinheads raids, collapsing of roof parts under a couple of gays burning in love desire, who deprived of significant pieces of clothing fell right into the dancing crowd, and a fight between two aunties who broke each others' noses with handbags in the bog.
Very popular were cyclical parties such as Aunt's Name Day Party, Polish Mister Gay Contest, Gay Pride Days, Fetish Party. Concerts accompanying Gay Pride Days happened there and later those accompanying Equality Parades or 3rd World Cultural Conference of Gays and Lesbians (2000). Charity concerts featuring “immortal” kitschy polish pop stars, adored by a queer audience (do not miss those names while checking out old LPs: Waldemar Kocoń, Ewa Bem, Alicja Majewska…) also took place there. During one of the charity concerts the guest of Paradise was ex First Lady, Jolanta Kwaśniewska, which Szymon Niemiec mentions in his autobiography:
She made extremely positive impression on us, when, despite her short presence in the club, she could show us all that she felt at ease and wasn't embarrassed by the awareness of being in a gay club. To be honest, the press, when briefly mentioning this event, didn't say a word that Paradise is a club for gay people.
Paradise disappeared (the last party was on 13th August 2005) and left a feeling of bereavement and, at the same time, the feeling of relief over the passing age, where your partner was “a cousin” and being gay – “loving differently”. See also: ▶ Mykonos, ▶ Rudawka, ▶ Toro
Park at Ksià˝´ca Street [Park im. Lorentza]
Park at Ksià˝´ca Street [Park im. Lorentza] The easiest way to get to the park is from the palm at the de Gaulle Roundabout. We go along Nowy Świat Street, and later to the Trzech Krzy˝y Square. On the left we pass the Stock Exchange building. The National Museum and the Stock Exchange have shared facilities with a park on a slope, named after Professor Stanisław Lorentz (1899-1991), historian of art, honoured for the distinguished reconstruction of the Royal Castle. This is one of the most “active” cottages and cruising places. While during the warm summer days the park fills up at lunchtime with brokers taking sunbaths, at night it is full of intense, vibrant socially-sexual life. It seems that out of cottage participants select passages slope in the vicinity of the Museum of the Earth 80. Park at Książęca Street (20 Na Skarpie Avenue), since the site for the National Mu- 81. Stanisław Lorentz Avenue seum is too often patrolled by she-strollers armed with dogs. Also the fashion to jog in the park makes this place cease to be a cosy retreat, which it was in the days of our ancestors. Most absurd are still emerging advertisements on websites, such as: Come at 20, mark: newspaper in your hands. Many stockbrokers returning through the park to their closed housing, holding in their hand a fresh newspaper, were accosted as “him”. And probably more than one turned out to be “him”. See also: ▶ Cottages, ▶ The National Museum
Park Skaryszewski park in the Praga district
Let us begin our walkabout in this area from taking a look at the corner of Grochowska and Lubelska streets. First impressions tell there is lots of redevelopment going on the area. That is because of the European Football Championships EURO 2012. Slowly but steadily, they are changing the face of the formerly rather neglected Praga district. We take a deep breath – yes, that is the smell of chocolate. Nearby is the Wedel chocolate factory, famous, both in Poland and elsewhere in Europe. Wedel, next to various alcohol brands, is one of the few Polish products recognised around the world. Walking down Lubelska Street we reach an alley stretching through the northern side of the park. We are still separated from the main part by the Jeziorko Kamionkowskie pond. We turn right towards the back passage of Teatr Powszechny, one of the most important Warsaw theatres. Back in the day it was the playground for the rivalry
between two great divas and gay-icons: Krystyna Janda (awarded in Cannes for Interrogation) and Joanna Szczepkowska (recently famous for flashing her naked bum during the premiere of a play by the outed director Krystian Lupa). Circumventing the pond, we get to the proper Park Skaryszewski.
Park Skaryszewski, founded before 1939 (similarly to the Stefan Żeromski Park in Żoliborz dictrict), had a different name in the interwar 82. Skaryszewski Park period. It was then Ignacy Jan Paderewski Park, after a pianist and Prime Minister. The charming place is perfect for a romantic walk, chill-out, or a date, or maybe even a picnic near the waterfalls. You can easily come across interesting art works from the 1920s (it is worth to look for the Rytm [Rhythm], a sculpture by Henryk Kuna). Soon Park Skaryszewski will be closed entirely for general refurbishment. Maybe then it will finally get rid of the huge heating pipes than run, as a cost-cutting measure, on the edge of the park. Or the monument for the Soviet soldiers that spoils the perspective, will finally get moved somewhere to the side. The charming pond is an oxbow lake, a meander cut off from the main stream of the Vistula river, and there is a boat hire service available from the bankside bars.
Skaryszewski is not only a beautiful park, but one of Warsaw’s prime cruising areas. It is said that the first cruising-type fun was going on here before World War II. And during communist times “fag hunting” in the park was a popular sport among police constables. The interest of cruisers is focused, although to a lesser extent than in the past, around Waszyngtona Alley. The cruising epicentre was located around the nearby public toilets (next to 83. Misianka cafe the Soviet Army monument). In mid 1990s – to the shock of 84. Ad of Misianka cafe the fans of al fresco sex – the toilets were closed, and the building was given a make-over turning it into a cafe/patisserie named Misianka (can be roughly translated as “Teddysserie”). This is how the Polish gay erotic magazine Men described the situation:
As outraged girlfriends tell us – the famous cruising area in Skaryszewski Park has been given a makeover. Unfortunately, instead of shining cabins and mirrors, the unleashed wild capitalism has given this place, which ruled the Warsaw gaydom since the dawn of time, into the hands of pastry-makers. Instead
of a rainbow flag above the building, you can now see “Coca-Cola” signs. The snacks, allegedly, blow… Mainstream media have given this story some coverage as well. In Hanna Rydlewska’s report M jak Misianka [M for Misianka] the owner, Misia Zielińska recalls:
At the beginning, before the refurbishment began, I wanted to see how many people visit the park. So I sat on a bench and observed. This was marketing research of sorts. And so I got a pretty good view of homosexual couples playing in the bushes. They also frequented the toilets. A district constable told me that people who were caught there “with their pants down” belonged to all social classes and every age group: from priests, through artists and famous university professors, to local 85. “Rytm” sculpture by Henryk Kuna elements. …Former “residents” of this place in Skaryszewski Park found it very difficult to deal with its closure. At the beginning some gentlemen kept coming to Misianka. Maybe they felt nostalgic for this place. They tried to become friends with us. They wanted Misianka to acquire gay atmosphere. Sometimes a person who hadn't heard about the closure of the toilets turned up. They arrived and were visibly upset that the cruising area has become a cafe. Anyway, gay people did not disappear from the park – adds Misia. …The Saska Kępa cruising area was, in some aspects, exceptional, because of the people who frequented it: intelligentsia, artists, communist party dignitaries.
As you see, in its heyday the Skaryszewski cruising area was an interesting example of democratic and peaceful cooperation for mutual pleasure: accessible on equal rights to local Praga hoodlums and educated folks from the nearby posh neighbourhood of Saska Kępa district, alike:
…Skaryszewski Park was one of the most important cruising areas, at least most definitely after the war, but quite possibly before the war as well (it was then called Paderewskiego Park). The toilets were the central feature of the cruising area, which was said to be different from other such places – more “elitist”, meaning that intelligentsia, academics, artists, priests and media executives were coming here. But chavs, too.
A member of the parliament for the extreme right-wing Liga Polskich Rodzin [League of Polish Families, LPR] party opened his office in a nearby building. He was clearly attracted to the place. He justified his aversion to gay people by what “these repulsive pederasts” were up to after dark in this park. Such knowledge (gathered firsthand?) of the cruising area was one of his reasons to not shake hands with “pederasts”. And to place a notice on the door that gay people were forbidden from entering his office. Today the cruising area has lost its former prominence and moved from the cafe primo voto toilets to the nearby bushes. See also: ▶ Cottages, ▶ Praga
Parliament Should you find yourself near the Trzech Krzy˝y Square, all you have to do is take a turn next to the Sheraton Hotel into Wiejska Street (the direct English translation is “Village Street” and says quite a lot about the place located there, as you will soon realize) and after a couple of hundred meters you will stumble upon the Parliament building. Architecturally speaking the Parliament Complex and parliamentary buildings are a very diverse structure. Before taking on its current functions it housed the Alexandrian-Marian Institute for Fostering Young Ladies. Truly, many a “lady” gained her political credentials here. The building grew with changing political systems of independent Poland. The grandest of rebuilds was conducted by Kazimierz Skórewicz in 1926 when the building was given its current shape. In early 1950s came the end of works on a new building complex designed by Bohdan Pniewski. We focus our attention on the Parliament for several reasons. Firstly – homosexuals were among the Members of Parliament. Some out and proud homosexuals competed in contemporary elections. On top of that the Parliament’s surroundings themselves were many a time filled by LGBT-friendly manifestations.
“Our” MPs were, among others: Jerzy Zawieyski (MP mandate 1957-1969, member of the National 86. Parliament Council – the most important organ of the state – from 1957 to 1968), Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, (MP mandate 1952-1980, Speaker Senior in the period between 1969-1980), Jerzy Andrzejewski – (MP mandate 1952-1957). Many other queer representatives sat within the halls of the parliament – people talked about it, are talking about it and certainly will continue to do so. Perhaps in a couple of years, when the next edition of QueerWarsaw is out, we will be able to add the article Gays and lesbians of the Polish Parliament, but for now we must be content with those three names of people so very important to the political and cultural fate of an entire nation.
Surely an interesting counter example would be made of the MPs who during the rule of the conservative-nationalist coalition in 2005-2007 vocally opposed the “civilization of death” and the notion of civil partnerships. Those are cases more suitable for psychiatric study, since homophobia shouted through the microphone usually stems from hidden and unaccepted homosexuality. We have nothing but the utmost pity for those people. If they believe in reincarnation (and most likely they do not, but Polish Catholicism can be full of surprises), may they be reborn in the bodies of “healthy” straight machos. But you cannot hide from fagotry – be it your own, someone else’s or imaginary. The Parliament is not only about political debate but also… victuals. The Parliament’s facility was managed once by a restaurateur so described in a blog by an exMP of the Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej [Democratic Left Alliance, SLD]) Piotr Gadzinowski:
Roman Maliszewski managed during the regime times a buffet in the KC PZPR (Central Commity of the Polish United Workers Party) building. He thus had remarkable references to create a restaurant business in the renewed Parliament. From 1990s to 2006 he fed the MPs as best he could. During the first mandate – according to the ideals of PRL: sizeably and fat. Roman’s diner resembled in decoration, atmosphere and menu, but most of all the sheer volume of food, the best taverns in provincial community cooperatives during Edward Gierek’s times (1970s). And so did the staff. Warm, plump ladies parenting to the customers, prepared for their favourite clients meals from under the counter. The famous “dumpling chicken soup” was made only for Speaker Józef Oleksy. The unforgettable tartare steak was flushed down with white vodka. For the shy ones there was the “opened tonic”, meaning a bottle of appropriately reinforced tonic. People drank in harmony, above all divisions. Mandate after mandate Mal 87. Home Army and Underground State iszewski was losing customers. Cosmopolitans Memorial arrived in the Parliament, people who had a taste for foreign cuisine and started to dine out. The “have-nots” group grew in numbers. Those were people who considered the prices too high and resorted to cooking for themselves in the MPs’ hotel. Why spend money in the diner?
The tavern supporters kept disappearing while the new crew in power decided to finally get rid of Maliszewski, for not only did he feed the commies during PRL, but his was a queer as well. A couple of years ago we were electrified with the news that Maliszewski is to publish his memoirs where he would “out” many MPs. The shock wore off in time but we are still waiting. In 2008 the tabloids elaborated on a “scandal” with an SLD MP Andrzej P. in the lead role. His wife had the most to say in the Super Express tabloid:
He was a waiter in the Parliament’s restaurant. My husband bought him clothes, took him to the movies. I think he really fell in love with him. …Even when he had a wide spread heart attack I was only told a couple of days later. …They say this waiter, his lover boy, watched over his bed day and night. The worst part was when my husband returned from the hospital. He had absolutely no craving for sex. And I petted him, cheered him up, I told him that if he can’t, we don’t have to “do it”, that sex is not the most important thing in marriage after so many years… I thought he became impotent after the heart attack, but he just wanted to do it with men.
In that time there was only one SLD MP named Andrzej with a last name beginning with P. We invite the curious to browse the Internet – ask Google. And to explore the halls of the Parliament please feel invited to the annual tour of the Parliament and the Senate during the anniversary of the Constitution on the 3rd May. The Manifa finds its finale at the Parliament. The event is organized by Porozumienie Kobiet 8 Marca [8th March Women Alliance] and the informal Porozumienie Lesbijek LBT [Lesbian Agreement LBT]. The Equality Parade of 2003 ended at the Parliament and this is how the InnaStrona.pl portal relateed the ending:
...an appeal to the Polish government was red by the chairman of ILGCN – Szymon Niemiec. The deputy chief of the Parliament’s Chancellery accepted it in the Parliament’s name. A speech was given by Joke Swiebel, Member of the European Parliament who participated in the parade and by Wanda Nowicka, chairwoman of Federacja Praw Kobiet [Women Rights Federation]. Despite prior assurances, no politician came out to the demonstrators.
Not only Manifa wanted to accentuate her presence at this spot. Between 2005 and 2007, equality parades marched out from under the Parliament (and ended at the Teatralny Square and Bankowy Square), the Parade of 2009 ended here as well. Traditionally during feminist or queer protests under the Parliament or around the Home Army and Underground State Memorial, counter-manifestations will gather members of Młodzież Wszechpolska [All-Polish Youth] and ONR [National Radical Camp], as well as other right-wing radicals. See also: ▶ Amigos, ▶ Andrzejewski Jerzy, ▶ Gay Pride Parade, ▶ Iwaszkiewicz Jerzy, ▶ Manifa, ▶ Zawieyski Jerzy,
PASTA public building, 37 Zielna Street, built 1908
PASTA is one of the most important historic buildings in the vicinity of the Palace of Culture. Built in 1908 for the Swedish phone company, it got its name from the name of a company which was established in 1922: Polska Akcyjna Spółka Telefoniczna [Polish Joint Stock Telephone Company], founded by the Polish government and the Ericsson company. With its 51 m, at that time it was the tallest residential building in Europe, and up to 1934 the tallest building in Poland, so it quickly became a landmark, as well as a building of strategic importance. During the Warsaw Uprising it was stormed several times to finally pass into the hands of insurgents. Since 2000 it is being managed by Fundacja Polskiego Państwa Podziemnego [Foundation of the Polish Underground State], which is why even now it bears the distinctive logo of the Fighting Poland. Next door, the depths of Zielna Street housed for a long time one of the oldest gay sex clubs in Warsaw, Wild (now moved to Chłodna Street). There is also the Austrian Cultural Centre, an institution very honoured in the field of LGBT initiatives, which included an exhibition of “Homofobia. Tak to wygląda” [“Homophobia, That’s what it looks like”] and the many conferences devoted to problems of otherness. The neighbouring building of Centrum Zielna also hosts LGBT conferences, lectures and meetings.
88. PASTA building
PRL [People's Republic of Poland] For some of you, coming to Poland can mean coming for the first time to a former communist country. Well, for some of us watching the communist Poland, which was indeed a reality to 1989, is also like a visit an unknown land. Those born in late 1980s simply cannot remember anything. They can learn about the “communist Poland” only through the memories of their parents and friends, from books and movies. For others, the years before 1989 were nothing less than a reality of their lives. This is where they were growing up, going to school, working, loving, living.
The first thing we should explain is that even if we sometimes call those times “communism”, it is better to see this as an authoritarian (or even totalitarian) regime, without going into details of any ideology. Ideology is not a major point here. What mattered was the climate of violence and little hope we or our parents had to live in. Our cities were shabby and gray, we had no contact with global culture, music or fashion trends, we could not travel and see the world, we had no access to books and movies. We were closed as in a prison behind the iron curtain – for as many as 45 years. Today, young people, younger gays, often see the communist times as a “golden age” of their young parents. You can see similar phenomena in Germany where many people have the so called “ostalgia”. We like to remind ourselves how it was – the radio hits, the furniture that looks strange today, the few car types distributed then (everyone dreamed of a Soviet or Hungarian car, not mentioning the Eastern-German Trabant!). In today’s Warsaw you can find many places “celebrating” the communist times by reminding that atmosphere, music, design or clothing habits – which could be an absolute nightmare for foreigner form behind the “curtain”. But do not make those times a joke. It was a real authoritarian regime, not a sketch form the still popular comedies reflecting in funny ways the communist reality (we would recommend you to go and see those movies, but we think that without a Polish “cultural” interpreter you would not understand a thing ). During “communism”, people were killed or persecuted because of their beliefs or opinions. This includes the LGBT community. The aim of a secret police action “Hiacinth”, initiated in mid1980s, was to “register” all homosexuals “for their own good”. At least 11 thousand people suffered of this monstrous idea and the “pink files”, created then, probably still exist somewhere in the police archives. For the gay community in Warsaw, communist times were the times of the first bars, first meeting and cruising places. This was the beginning of the “legend” of Trzech Kry˝y Square, sometimes even called “Wassermann Square” (form the name of the inventor of the syphilis test). Parties in Kamieniołomy or in Âciek bars were so close to those we have today in Utopia club. Well, everything changes – or maybe nothing? Today, we still have “bary mleczne”, those “milk bars” co-financed by the government, where anyone can have a meal for less that 1 euro. There are still remains of the “communist times”, but we strongly hope that the most important one, which is violence, has gone away for good. See also: ▶ Europejski Hotel, ▶ Foucault Michel, ▶ Operation Hyacinth, ▶ Warsaw Gay Movement
Pink Service company
An enterprise initiated by Sławek Starosta in June 1990, based on Bałuckiego Street, on the corner of Różana Street. Even the name of the company suggests the comprehensiveness of its services: Biuro Obsługi Gejów i Lesbijek [Gay and Lesbian Client Service
Political Critique [Krytyka Polityczna]
Office]. Pink Service was situated on the ground floor of a pre-war tenement house, almost opposite Guliwer theatre, which still exists. In the apartment there was a separate room where you could buy or rent video cassettes, as well as select from a wide choice of gay English-language magazines, mostly American. The shop was run by Cezar Krasicki, whose name would later became famous thanks to his book Wal pókiś młody [Wank While You’re Still Young] and his brothel research project for a weekly magazine Nie. Pink Service also tried to start a gay travel agency (Pink Travel), but the idea fell through. Later, the shop moved to Waryńskiego Street. The company published English-language magazines Warsaw Gay News and Men! (in the publishing of the first gay pornography, support was provided by a Dutch company Vector Dordrecht B.V.). There were attempts at running more magazines, like !Bravo Boys!, Video Men, or Nowy Men Foto, and even a magazine for lesbians – Arabella, however, till this moment the indestructible work of Pink Serivce (thanks to its lacquered cover) is still Nowy Men. See also: ▶ Bastian Agency, ▶ Press
Political Critique [Krytyka Polityczna] organization and much more, 63 Nowy Âwiat Street
A quarterly left-wing journal published since 2002 by Stowarzyszenie im. Stanisława Brzozowskiego [Stanisław Brzozowski Association], which brings together young and ambitious social activists and intellectuals. The main offices of the organization are located in a cafe Nowy Wspaniały Âwiat [Brave New World] at 63 Nowy Świat Street. Krytyka Polityczna draws on the non-communist leftist tradition from the beginnings of labor movements, as well as from posterior thinkers. Thanks to such consequence in inspiration the organization has become an important nationally-acknowledged intellectual movement, an opposition to conservatives and nationalists, one praised and valued for an ideological approach and for publishing ambitious literature on various subjects. The branches of Krytyka Polityczna, located in the largest Polish cities, often organize meetings, film screenings and exhibitions concerning LGBTQ issues. So far the members of the association have stayed away from active politics, even though they do unofficially influence it and the leaders of the movement are frequent guests of media programmes. The consolidation of the young leftists is an ongoing process – they
89. Political Critique
are gaining popularity so far mostly within the academic circles, but during the upcoming decade they are expected to enter the world of big politics. One can observe a certain snobbish trend related to frequenting the meetings organised by Krytyka Polityczna, but it also works the other way around – it befits to officially criticize the organization's activities. As the rough and tumble continues, the Association is publishing successive, important books. It is also going to facilitate its rooms in Warsaw to Kampania Przeciwko Homofobii [Campaign Against Homophobia] for organizing a PrideHouse within EuroPride 2010. See also: ▶ Cafe-clubs, ▶ Campaign Against Homophobia, ▶ Feminoteka Foundation, ▶ Gay Pride Parade, ▶ UFA
Polonia Hotel 45 Jerozlimskie Avenue
The massive forum of Polonia Hotel, situated on Jerozolimskie Avenue (after recent renovation renamed Polonia Palace Hotel) cannot go unnoticed. The hotel, established in an early 20th century tenement house, is the most appealing and best refurbished example proving that the old days Jerozolimskie Avenue was not a quasi-highway, but a fine city street, surrounded by apartment houses and busy sidewalks. The most interesting for us, though, is the hotel bar, reported in Inaczej magazine as gathering in the past particular gay clientele accustomed with the milieu, the “cream” of gay circles. Polonia had also an underground establishment, best described as a dive. That is how 90. Polonia Hotel Zygmunt Mycielski remembered the place:
Yesterday night I was at the Ksawery Krasickis’. They treated me to vodka, and after I left I acted like an asshole, bringing home two guys from the worst possible premises in the basement of Polonia Hotel.
Hotel bars also included male courtesans: Dolly, Rolled-up Sue, Starlet, Watchmaker, Operetta – male prostitutes renowned for the high standard of their service accustomed the restaurant staff to their sight. The progress has apparently deprived us of quite nice fun.
Poznańska Street, formerly known for countless number of male and female prostitutes waiting at night for, as it would be called today, a donator, is in the proximity of
the hotel. These days the prostitutes have moved to downtown (as the consequence of housing and loan market boom) or to Emilii Plater Street near Mariott Hotel. See also: ▶ Mycielski Zygmunt, ▶ Press
Powàzki cementary, established in 1790
One of the most valuable historic cemeteries in Poland. Situated in Wola district among other cemeteries, including the Jewish cemetery. In the heart of Powązki lies Aleja Zasłużonych [the Alley of the Meritorious] where the remains of meritorious and distinguished Poles – artists, aristocrats, leaders – are buried. Among thousands of heterosexuals of the necropolis, there are some LGBT tombstones. Among them musicologist Jerzy Waldorff and writer Maria Dàbrowska. In farther corners of Powązki one can also find other writers like Jerzy Andrzejewski or Miron Białoszewski.
91. Plan of Powązkowski Cemetery
Life histories of the above mentioned persons can be found in this book. With reference to this place, the most interesting history seems to be the one of Jerzy Waldorff – a music critic and a writer extraordinaire. Next to him, in accordance with Waldorff 's last will, lies the urn with ashes of Mieczysław Jankowski – a dancer and his partner for 60 years. Yet one can search of any appropriate inscription on the sarcophagus in vain – the plate disappeared mysteriously only a few months after it was installed in 2005 and has never been found since. Waldorff 's burial in 1999 went not without a scandal
92. Tombstone of Maria Dąbrowska
93. Tombstone of Miron Białoszewski
94. Tombstone of Jerzy Andrzejewski
as well. It was rumoured that he would not be buried at Powązki. The reason for it was his homosexuality – sedulously hidden and just as well-known. The scandal might have potentially be even bigger, since it was Waldorff who first started a campaign to save and restore the unique historic tombstones of this cemetery. For this purpose he created in 1974 Stołeczny Komitet Opieki nad Starymi Powązkami [Warsaw Committee for Care over the Old Powązki]. Annual fund raising on 1st November (All Souls’ Day) led by popular artists, actors and singers became a tradition. Thanks to those collections, the Committee was able to restore over a thousand historic tombstones. Given such background, the strife about the final resting place of a person of such merit to the cemetery left a feeling of repugnance. It has also shown the degree of bigotry and hypocrisy which LGBT persons have to face, also in the realm of building their history and identity. Shortly after the publication of the Polish version of QueerWarsaw the authors of the book decided to commemorate the luminaries who, in the light of recent findings and publications, can and should be referenced as LGBT. Such motives were duly excluded from official biographies of Polish poets and writers. Therefore in 2009, just before the All Souls’ Day when all Poles visit the graves of their loved ones, a tour was organized to visit the graves of the most prominent gay and lesbian persons in Powązki, which several dozen people attended. One can write books about them and walk around them for hours. Except for famous graves – Waldorff 's (across the Aleja Kolumnowa [Column Alley]) and Dąbrowska's (in Aleja Zasłużonych) – it is time worthy to find the tombstone of Jerzy Andrzejewski (quarter 170, near Aleja Zasłużonych), a very interesting tomb of Miron Białoszewski (quarter 163, east of Aleja Zasłużonych) or the intriguing inscription on Paulina Kuchalska-Reinschmitt's tomb (quarter 329, near Gate VII – entrance from Ostroroga Street). One can also pay homage to Kalina J´drusik – a gay diva, buried with her husband Stanisław Dygant in Aleja Zasłużonych. Most of the tombstones of prominent LGBT persons are presented in the guide, so readers should have no problems with finding them (there is a map with quarter numbers at the entrance to the cemetery) See also: ▶ Andrzejewski Jerzy, ▶ Białoszewski Miron, ▶ Dąbrowska Maria, ▶ KuczalskaReinschmitt Paulina, ▶ Rasko, ▶ Waldorff Jerzy
Praga district, exists from 15th century
Not only the Czech Republic has their Prague, but so does Poland (Polish: Praga). This is a popular name for the part of Warsaw on the right side of the Vistula river. Originally it was a hamlet located opposite the Old Town. At the end of 17th century it became part of the capital’s structure, but even now it exists in the minds of Warsaw citizens’ as a separate formation. Which is not a surprise, as Praga is a very Mazovian
town indeed, while left-bank Warsaw is an artificial formation, created on the basis of it being a capital and thanks to people flocking to a cosmopolitan city to study and work. Those borne and bread in Praga usually say about going across the river that they are going “to Warsaw”. The division between “Praga” and “Warsaw” can be even found in 1950s guides. Over the centuries, Praga was many times destroyed during wars, but suffered less in World War II than Warsaw proper. And nowadays, although for many years it was neglected, Praga goes through its second youth, turning into a bohemian district, full of the avant-garde. The buildings are finally getting renovated, often for the first time in 40 years. In front of the gateways, quite recently full of pimps and yobbos, now one can see spruce youth drinking (illegally!) alcohol beverages, matching previous “locals”. Praga is becoming a place of growing importance on the Warsaw cultural map, especially alternative one. Katarzyna Rączka wrote in Teatr [Theatre] magazine:
95. Future Praga District Museum
The blossoming of the old Praga is in a sense a response to the development of Warsaw as a whole. Warsaw’s landscape is more and more defined by glass office buildings. But it is enough to cross the river and you are suddenly in a different place. Old brick buildings, backyard shrines and poorly lit streets – a mysterious labyrinth, overwhelming with its starkness and naturalness. In Praga time goes slower, in some places it even stops. Right-bank Warsaw has not been yet overtaken by the frenzy of transformation, progress and development at any price. Praga tempts with its peacefulness. It is an asylum for those tired of modernity. (…) It is a district of a slightly suspicious atmosphere, full of shady businesses and stadium traders. It can offer lower rents and bigger spaces. Praga – exotic and a little bit dangerous – is a real school of street-smartness for artists. Its postindustrial spaces are unique. It is in Praga that old factories are turned into clubs, galleries, theatres, it is here that first lofts in the capital are being created – apartments in adopted warehouses. More and more often this is where one goes to private views, exhibitions, concerts or theatre plays, to Praga. Fabryka Trzciny, Teatr Wytwórnia and Fabryka Wódek “Koneser” or old furnitare warehouses in Wróblewskiego Street or Inżynierska Street, have already become solid points on the cultural map of Warsaw. The whole area between Wiatraczna Roundabout and Eastern Railway Station up to Inżynierska Street and 11 Listopada Street is where different art activities are taking place. Warsaw got itself a real artists’ district. But you
still “go” to Praga, or “come back” from Praga, and its residents are not necessarily that interested in bohemian life. Many of those places open their doors for creative people, artists and not necessarily heteronormative visitors. On a gay-lesbian trail there are some historical places in Praga, as well as active now clubs, parks, shops. Festivals, concerts, film screenings are organised in clubs like Sen Pszczoły, Zwià˝ Mnie, Saturator, M25 – you can find descriptions of those and other places under the right terms. See also: ▶ 11-Listopada Street “basin”, ▶ Freedum, ▶ M25, ▶ Park Skaryszewski, ▶ Refform
Press Except for erotic magazines issued by Pink Service, many other titles for the LGBT target group have been appearing in Warsaw. Warszawski Ruch Homoseksualny [Warsaw Homosexual Movement] published the gay-lesbian Efebos (eight issues were published, the first on 8 June 1987). Paweł Fijałkowski from the portal Homiki.pl wrote the following about the first magazine in Warsaw (and the second one in Poland, after Filo in Tricity):
We appointed a three-person editorial team, which I was a member of. The editorial team had been meeting since the first days of June at Sławek's place in Grochów district or Krzysztof's place in Żoliborz district. Sławek is a film director, a bit older than us, and Krzysztof was then a student at the Warsaw University of Technology. This was where Efebos – the official magazine of the Warsaw Homosexual Movement, as we had named our organization – came to being. Waldek, who was the chairman or as we liked to call it “the leader” of the Movement, thought our magazine should mostly contain pictures of nude boys. We did not like that idea, because the magazine was xeroxed which, given the then technical level, would yield miserable effects. Most of all, we wanted to create a social and cultural magazine. We convinced Waldek and chose texts for the first issue from the gathered material, either our own or literature reprints. It was supposed to consist of two A4 sheets of paper, giving a total of eight small pages. The technical side of the enterprise looked as follows: every text was type written, then cut into pieces which were glued into a mock-up and filled in with Sławek's cartoons. Such material was then xeroxed… at the Public Prosecutor's Office. On 16th June I met Grześ in the morning at one of the Warsaw University's of Technology buildings and he brought a fat pile of sheets wrapped in gray paper. It was the first couple of issues of Efebos as loose sheet which we ourselves had to bind and start distributing. We planned a total of 50 copies, which is an awfully small amount, given our intentions for the magazine to reach not only gays, but also “the rest of the world”.
Early 1990s saw a boom of such types of magazines – there was the monthly Okay published by the L'Europe printing house (1990-1993) and O zmierzchu [At Dusk] – formerly known as Gayzeta. Nie? Tak! [Gayzette. No? Yes!] which also diminished quickly. The only all-lesbian magazine was Furia Pierwsza [The First Fury] published by OLAArchiwum [Nationwide Feministic Lesbian Archive] between 1997 and 2000. Unfortunately, market competition and the dawn of Internet has decimated queer magazines. A few free clubbing magazines are published, like Ayor or earlier Queer City and Queer. Replika is the only influential magazine for the LGBT community, but if it was to be published on market principles, it probably would not have survived for long (the magazine is published with the aid of various organizations) In 2010, Furia Pierwsza was reactivated as Furia, but after only two issues it is hard to tell whether it will stay and if it will maintain its predecessor's amazing standard. Inaczej [Differently] published by Softpress (based in Poznań) in 1990-2002 is in turn a legendary monthly Polish magazine. It was an exceptional magazine – the only influential and non-pornographic magazine to be distributed via newspaper kiosks. In times before the Internet, many couples met thanks to its personal ads’ section. Over the twelve year it was appearing, about 100 interviews were published. Its interlocutors included politicians of both the left and right side, as well as artists, actors, journalists, scientists and other public figures. Inaczej is a legend, but even that did not protect it from declining, mostly due to high retail profit margins and the development of gay and lesbian Internet portals. See also: ▶ Cafe Fiolka, ▶ Campaign Against Homophobia, ▶ Na Przełaj, ▶ OLA-Archive, ▶ Polonia Hotel, ▶ Press, ▶ Warsaw Gay Movement
Queer pub, 1/3 Rynek Starego Miasta, opened in 2010
The newest spot on the party map of Warsaw. Set in a very favourable location of the Old Town Market Place, the tiny club belongs to the owners of Jazzownia Liberalna, situated on the corner of Jezuicka Street only two numbers away. At the first visit it takes some effort to notice a small, yet characteristic violet sign above the gate. The way in leads through a long hall and doors obscured by silvery drapes. Queer is divided into two small rooms. On the right, over the bar, there is an entresol (watch your head!), on the left you will see fluffy settees and other sitting places. The place is furnished fashionably with violet and gold and makes an impression of slight gaudiness; one might also catch sight of some misplaced elements (like too stylish handrails leading up the entresol, or too shallow sitting places on the sills). But for those violets, mirrors and lampshades, you would have an inkling of finding yourself in a less cosy, designer-version of Lodi Dodi.
The place advertises itself as a typical before-party hangout – it is open at noon and you can have a drink or a beer and a chat in a peaceful environment. In the spring the tables are going to appear outside the establishment and a menu, from Jazzownia’s kitchen, is going to be introduced. In the evenings you may see performances – a bit static due to the lack of space – or participate in movie meetings (e.g. screenings of Queer as Folk). Queer is visited by a diverse clientele, yet the owners flaunt it as a "slightly sexist" pub, which might be taken into account by the female readers of this guide. However, the place is still too young to earn the title of having an atmosphere, or win potential loyal regulars. Behind the bar you will find numerous and muscular gentlemen in white t-shirts, though in this case quantity does not always mean quality. The same goes for the music, which is as assorted as accidental – the staff often puts on their favourite CDs from the first track to the last, making no effort to mix in different artists (a chance to catch up with discographies of your divas, though). On the other hand, one cannot be ignorant to the fact that after closing Usta Mariana and Tomba-Tomba in March, Queer became beyond doubt the only LGBT place in this part of the city. The Old Town has emptied a bit yet again. See also: ▶ Lodi Dodi, ▶ Tomba-Tomba
Raczek Tomasz journalist, publisher, born in 1957
Probably the most famous openly gay celebrity in Poland nowadays. Press and television journalist, book publisher, man-institution, dealing for several decades with culture and film. Co-author of audience’s favourite film night programme on public television. In the past, deputy director of the public TV channel for a certain period of time. Contributor to main newspapers and magazines and, in certain moments, head of a few of them. He introduced the local edition of Playboy and bi-weekly Gala relating the lives of celebrities. Tomasz Raczek currently heads a film channel on one of the digital platforms where he introduced the favourite series Queer as Folk. He is also a publisher – among others he publishes novels by his long-term partner, Marcin Szczygielski. It was in the foreword to one of his latest books in 2007 that he revealed his homosexuality. A joint comingout of the couple was linked to the release of an openly gay novel, later turned into a play. Although some people perceived this as a successful and effective marketing move, it would be difficult to overplay the social importance of his coming out. Somebody of such importance and, more importantly, an audience’s favourite has proven to be gay. What is even more important is that the audience did not turn away from him, in fact quite the opposite, the readers of one of the women’s magazines awarded Raczek and Szczygielski the laurels of the Most Beautiful Couple of the Year. It is unprecedented in the country where many press titles still publish homophobic texts
and comments. The awards ceremony was transmitted by the public television, laying the organisers as well as the station open to the avalanche of criticism from the guardians of morality. Raczek also does not steer away from involvement in the cultural LGBT events. In 2008 he was the official head of the Equality Festival, accompanying the Warsaw parade. He appears at many events and meetings. See also: ▶ Toro
Radziszewski Karol painter, performer, publisher, born in 1980
One of the most interesting Polish young artists, received a prestigious award Paszport Polityki from one the leading Polish opinion-forming magazines, Polityka, in the category Visual Arts. He was the second openly gay artist distinguished with this award. In one of the previous editions Michał Witkowski was awarded in the category 'Literature', among other things for his well-known novel Lubiewo. Radziszewski avoids labelling himself as a great “gay artist”, even though many of his projects explicitly regard his homosexuality. In 2005 he came out in his radical exhibition Pedały [Fags] displayed in his own apartment in the district of Żoliborz in Warsaw. Pedały was a collection of works verbalising the expression of homosexual desire, starting with pornographic scenes of male gay orgies on Radziszewski’s emblematic mural (one of the most characteristic motifs, whose replica could be seen on the walls of the club Tomba-Tomba), through the sublime voyeuristic act (a video Man-the Object of Desire) and portraits of boys, to radical political declarations (photographs God hates fags and God loves everybody, even niggers). In 2006 Radziszewski, convinced by Michał Witkowski, produced a series of Polaroid photographs referring to Witkowski’s gay novel Lubiewo. Some of them were used to illustrate the exclusive new edition of the book. He also produced performances (and recorded them) about the activities of a fictional anarchist gay guerrilla unit Fag Fighters, shown, among other things, at a retrospective exhibition at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw. Radziszewski is also a co-founder and co-publisher of an artzine DIK Fagazine. Being the first such magazine in the Central and Eastern Europe, it quickly entered the first league of the limited-edition and non-commercial gay magazines due to its consequent artistic line. It was successful at exhibitions and symposia all over the world. Therefore, it is available in selected bookshops in Paris, Tokyo, New York, Madrid, Amsterdam, and Berlin. The premieres of successive volumes (among other things, at TR Warszawa and Raster Gallery) turn into social events and exhibitions of artists and performers cooperating with the magazine.
Rainbow Cinema [Kino T´cza]
In 2009, Radziszewski debuted in Poland as a fashion designer when he opened a fashion boutique at the Centre for Contemporary Art. He was also a curator of the exhibition at the Zacheta National Gallery of Art, whose collections he sought through looking for, among other things, gay motifs. A presentation called Siusiu w torcik [To Pee in a Bun] received mixed reviews. The controversy was even bigger since it included the screening of the first gay porn Chłopcy Fantomowcy [Fantom Boys] produced in Poland at a separated place at a specific time at the gallery in 2000. In Warsaw you can also find traces of other “non-trade” activity of the artist in Warsaw, who specialised in works produced in public areas. These include the largest 35-meterlong mural produced at the Marymont metro station and parts of his graduation work HOUSE — BLOCK — STREET. More about gay art in Poland you can find in the album Art Pride. Gay Art from Poland, published by our co-publisher. See also: ▶ Centre for Contemporary Art, ▶ TR. Warszawa, ▶ Tomba-Tomba
Rainbow Cinema [Kino T´cza] 6 Suzina Street, opened before World War II, closed in 1995
The cinema was located at 6 Suzina Street (Żoliborz district) in the old boiler house building. Here, between 20th and 28th February 1990, a retrospective of a legendary gay film director Derek Jarman took place. He directed, amongst others, films such as Sebastian or Caravaggio. Here is how the director described Warsaw in his diary:
There aren’t any clubs for gays, and apart from a park, a sauna and a corner of a bar – which no one can afford – there is nowhere to meet. On 10th March a great party is organized. The event looked like early meetings of the Gay Liberation Front, with one vicious middle-aged faggot always cutting in: “We’ve discussed everything except what is most important. What will be in fashion this year?”that’s what he said to people who barely have anything to wear at their back.
Jarman died of AIDS 4 years later. Tęcza Cinema was also where Stowarzyszenie Grup Lambda [Lambda Groups Association] announced its Raport o dyskryminacji ze względu na orientację seksualną w Polsce [Discrimination because of sexual orientation in Poland] on 4th October 1994. It was the first document of that kind and its publication was noticed by the press across the country. At the beginning of 1990s, because of lack of big gay gatherings, mini film festivals became very important. In 1993 gay press was writing with delight about the retrospective of Rosa von Praunheim which took place in Stolica Cinema (50a Narbutta Street, later the cinema was taken over by Iluzjon Filmoteki Narodowej and is now undergoing a refurbishment). 1994 saw a retrospective of Almodovar’s films in Wars Cinema
(5/7 Nowego Miasta Square). Not all film shows were peaceful, though. In 1995 the film The Priest (directed by Antonia Bird) was released, dealing with the topic of a homosexual priest. Public showing of “that kind” of film was taken to the Public Prosecutor General’s Office. The opponents of the “depravity” camped in front of cinemas. Here is how it was described in Inaczej:
[In front of the Kultura Cinema] several dozens of cinema-goers trying to get in through a narrow door were very aggressively pushed aside by relatively young people … On the pavement there was a group of people (of about 100), mostly elderly women singing religious and patriotic songs (for instance “Rota”) … Singing women had rosaries, crosses, prayerbooks, Pope’s portraits and socalled sacred pictures.
Dr Zbigniew Izdebski commented in Gazeta Wyborcza daily: Only this particular aspect [homosexuality] drew attention. However, nobody noticed that the film contains a brutal scene of child abuse by a Catholic father. Thanks to the “unintentional” promotion provided by the protests, over 200 000 people saw the film in Poland. Let us just add here that The Priest got a Teddy Award on Berlinale (the award for the LGBT film). Warsaw (and Poland) had to wait a long time for their first proper LGBT film festival. It took place on 19-24 May 1997 in the Job Club Cinema (14 Ciołka Street) and was organised by sociology students as part of their Pod Spodem [Underneath] film club. 13 films were shown. Nowadays pretty much every film season or festival screens films of “that kind”. Lambda Warszawa and Campaign Against Homophobia regularly organise film shows followed by discussions. See also: ▶ Luna Cinema
Rajkowska’s Palm art installation, Jerozolimskie Avenue – Nowy Âwiat Street junction, created in 2002
A little art provocation originally planned to last one year. Within that time it became such an inherent part of de Gaulle Roundabout, that… it is still there. It is the artist, Joanna Rajkowska’s, reminiscence of her trip to Israel, where she saw palm trees in the streets, which – especially in postcards – looked as if they were photographed in Warsaw in 1980s. And that was the source of the idea to put a palm tree (artificial this time) in the street which has a name directly referencing Jerusalem – Jerozolimskie Avenue. The palm hit its time. It was erected at the beginning of December 2002 when it caused, not untypically in Poland, some aesthetic, practical and even political controversies. Right-wing circles accused it of taking over the city space. Here is how the author of the installation explains the situation in one of the interviews:
The palm is a certain vision of reality, a vision that contains a lot of substance considered as leftist. In the sequence of crises in the history of the palm, people would gather there, people of certain political convictions, for instance the Greens, Le Madame club circle, environmentalists, all of those who want Poland slightly different than Poland now. They organised public collections (for palm’s reconstruction) and wrote letters to the mayor. … From the very beginning, the palm was not accepted by the authorities of Warsaw at that time, led by Mayor Kaczyński. As I read in the press, the reason for this was that the previous team had accepted the project. Quote: Usually at Christmas time the Christmas Tree was erected in this spot. It is our tradition which we should nurture. Therefore everything that I was trying to do was blocked. The right wing does not have any sense of humour, there is nothing that scares them more that irony (…). A radically nationalistic Pole under the palm tree will look like a caricature, because the palm tree does not like national 96. Rajkowska’s Palm ists. After all, the palm itself is not from here. But I imagined on many occasions a beautiful Corpus Christi Feast altar under the palm. It’s a perfect place. I do not see a problem with erecting a Christmas tree next to it as well. It should be there. The thing is that everybody is afraid, because the palm has the power to disarm, undermine and ridicule. As you can see, time managed to bring a change, also in minds of Warsaw citizens – the city authorities come and go regularly, but the palm is still there… See also: ▶ Kaczyński Lech, ▶ Le Madame
Rasko gay-les club, 12 Burakowska Street, opened in 2001
Rasko is one of the few pubs that become legendary while still in business. Once a cosy pub, originally located in Krochmalna Street, for years it attracted frequenters who, rather than listen to the thudding of club music, preferred to talk to their friends over the mug of beer, have fun in the rhythm of (high-level) karaoke or get crazy during acrobatic drag queen's performances. Acrobatic, as the size of the stage did not allow for much. Lesbians reminisce with amusement the striptease show “for women”, held on women's Wednesdays. Straight female stripper was quite scared and seemed to perform for the only man present in the room, i.e. Pawełek. Pawełek, or Paweł, is the club owner
and, at the same time, its good spirit – sometimes it may seem he has an additional employment as a master of ceremonies there. It has to be added that, apart from guest appearances by foreign professional artists, the situation is often similar with strip shows for men, when a straight male stripper desperately addresses his performance to a female spotted in the audience. The only drawback (especially for the owners) of the old location of Rasko was its before party character: the very limited space and the nearness of Galeria club at Hala Mirowska – before midnight the customers craving for more club-like experiences just moved there. No wonder that in 2009 Rasko changed its location to a much bigger space of an old warehouse at a bit further Burakowska Street. The present place between Powàzki Cemetery and Arkadia shopping mall is a giant compared to a little thing from Krochmalna Stret – it has several rooms for different functions. However, the climate is similar: a bit old-fashioned with familiar and family atmosphere. Many complain about the present décor of the club which definitely has not seen any designer, but it has to be said that the frequenters tightly filling the place appreciate the fact that the interior of Rasko less and less resembles the interior of a garage that it used to be. The performances still take place in the club, in 2009 and 2010 it held the nationwide Miss Drag Queen contest. Besides, Rasko is famous for Drag Shows, and organises such performanc- 97. Rasko club es the most frequently from all clubs in the capital city (three to four times a week).The club is getting more and more democratic – gay men do not outnumber lesbians, there is even an opinion that females dominate. And there are more and more local hoodlums appearing. The experiment with opening additional space for men only with horribly organized darkrooms on -1 level did not work out. It is worth mentioning that just next to Rasko there is CDQ club [Centralny Dom Qultury – Central House of Culture] which always willingly hosted queer and gay events. In Burakowska Street there is also one of the formerly most important Warsaw's clubs – Piekarnia [Bakery], at present sinking into oblivion. See also: ▶ Arkadia, ▶ Drag Queen, ▶ Freedum, ▶ Galeria ▶ Manekin ▶ Powązki
Red Club club, operated 1992-1995
Red Club was situated at 9/15 Marszałkowska Street. In the early 1990s the place was to be a specific pastiche of nonsenses of bars from the times of Polish People's Republic; its décor referred to “the best” tradition of socialist realism. Kitsch in the very idea of the club, and kitschy interior attracted gay and lesbian clientele who felt at home there for good. Let us give voice to TokFM radio journalist, Anna Laszuk:
The red in name isn't coincidental – the club was styled for socialist realism. Folksy glasses with no handle (but with necessary saucer), clumsy chairs and highly-polished tables. Bread with lard or “Russian” dumplings (with potato and cheese stuffing) were sometimes served there, accompanied by pure vodka of course, but rather for the climate than clientele’s taste. After closing of Iwan Groźny club it was the number one place, with a room to talk in upstairs and a place to dance downstairs, with compulsory stroboscope and a second bar – with no signs of socialist realism. Downstairs, darkroom for gays was extremely popular (as far as I know, the first darkroom for lesbians wasn't opened until in Eternal, so nearly 20 years later, and – what's characteristic – it wasn't a great success). The division into upstairs and downstairs was a symbolic day and night division. Upstairs was were the social life took place, also on weekdays, downstairs crowded on weekends. More women frequented that place than Iwan and although it wasn't geometric progression, it was significant. 98. This building housed Red Club However, the club’s activity was interrupted by protests of housing cooperative and the Red Club collapsed after only a few seasons in 1995. As Anna Laszuk says: after liquidation of the Red Club we were left with Rudawka in Elbląska Street, that is a ride into socialist realism through and through, genuine with no need of stylization. See also: ▶ Le Madame
Refform Once you have found your way to Praga district, we need to inform you that in this area, seemingly unfavorable for gays and lesbians, there is the one and only Warsaw queer shop with public access. Its offer includes mainly “toys” for big girls and boys.
To find it you need to find the intersection of Kijowska and Targowa streets (trams 22 and 25 run here from the city centre, get off at the Kijowska stop), then walk towards the railway embankment. Just before the embankment your attention will be caught by modest commercial pavilions, a remnant of the small craft initiatives barely tolerated in communist times. It is in pavilion number 30 that Refform is located. And when it comes to what is sold in the store, what Polish gays like come up with and what enriches their erotic life told us the owners, Marcin and Robert.
The shop has been operating online for four years, though it became serious one and a half year ago. The “real” shop was launched in March. That’s why now we are mainly visited by customers who have previously purchased our products online, but others have also begun to appear: their friends or persons who have no access to or trust in the Internet. Customers – of different age – start to –increase in numbers; they come both older and younger. As for the range, it is often not enough for people to buy some ultrasound gel and they begin to be interested in other specifics. Also popular are sets of electro-sex. This is not simple connection to power, as most might think. The current is delivered by this device in very small intensity, which can be adjusted at intervals. You decide on what is happening, you recognize your reactions to the current. It's not just a pink bunny vibrator, but the larger models. Poles are discovering that such things even exist. You could say that we begin to get more hardcore like Western Europe, where such shops like ours are thriving very well. In Poland, we are actually precursors, and yet 99. ReFForm shop a man must find an outlet for his needs. Here you can enter, watch, ask, you do not need to buy right away. Many people want to touch, smell, only then they decide. They say to themselves, “Damn! It suits to something I like, I'll try it”. And then they buy. While you can find dildos in other stores, it is virtually only in ours that a client would get a wide range of latex products. Soon we will also sell leather clothing for guys. At the same time hardcore is not characteristic only of gays, straight couples also come to us. They talk to each other, with us, often we witness a very intimate conversation. Yesterday, for example, a woman came with her man, and selecting one of the toys discussed very personal topics. In addition, Praga is not so terrible. We haven’t so far had any incident. Our store is located quite discreetly, which is a good aspect both for us and our clients.
Let us hope that there will be more shops for gays and lesbians and that straight shops will perceive us as potential customers for whom it is worth to advertise. Once
Miron Białoszewski was delighted with the porn-shop in New York, now he could also write this about Warsaw:
…I ran to nearby porn shops to watch porn-magazines and there I spent an interesting afternoon in New York. In any porn-shop there is on the one side female-male love, and on the other – male-male, very abundant. …Yesterday I was here too, I bought a lot of beautiful nudes. …I bought myself today a very sought by me cymes, only 6$. A Great Negro with a giant “package” blows himself good. As gigantic package as his I had twice. …With this porn I live with the nuns. And all is well.
See also: ▶ Białoszewski Miron, ▶ Praga
Rodziewiczówna Maria writer, 1863-1944
If you are planning to visit Mi´dzy Nami cafe or Fantom club, then you are going to end up in Bracka Street. We should not forget that Maria Rodziewiczówna (1863-1944) lived here. She was the author of popular youth novels Lato leśnych ludzi [The summer of Forest People] and romances Między ustami a brzegiem pucharu [Between the lips and the edge of a goblet]. The only book of hers in English was Anima vilis: a tale of the great Siberian steppe which was published in 1900. Because of her “masculine” clothes and appearance, she looked more like beaus than heroines from her novels. She owned an estate in Hruszowa in Polesia region (nowadays northern Ukraine) where she lived together with Jadwiga Skirmunttówna. She usually spent winters in Warsaw at her ex-partner, Helena Weychert’s spacious apartment in Bracka Street. It was also at Weychert’s place that Rodziewiczówna found shelter during the war, when she and Skirmunttówna ended up in Warsaw in February 1940. The ex and current partners did not like each 100, 101. Tombstone other very much. of Maria Rodziewiczówna
Rotunda PKO BP
Rodziewiczówna stayed in Warsaw through the Warsaw Uprising, but then died on 6 November 1944, exhausted by the war experiences. Maria Rodziewiczówna’s looks had a “revolutionary power” – always in suits, “masculine”, which made her an iconic figure for the lesbian movement. Here is how the most famous Polish butch was dividing the housechores with Skirmunttówna:
Straightaway Rodziewiczówna wanted me to take a distinctive place of a housewife, so bit by bit I did take on everything that was related to this position: the household and the woman’s domain; she left the business and manly part of the relationship for herself.
See also: ▶ Między Nami
Rotunda PKO BP building – meeting spot
Rotunda PKO BP at Dmowskiego Roundabout is a very special place on the map of Warsaw. A neglected eyesore, yet still it attracts thousands of people. Its grim history is unforgettable. On 15th February 1979, a gas explosion in Rotunda resulted in 49 killed and 110 injured. The event is commemorated by a plaque on the south side of the building. Thanks to its great location from the point of view of an urban traveller (the metro, trams, buses, urban trains), this is the meeting spot of the people from the city and the suburbs. Hugging couples are a common sight here. Though lately shopping centres become increasingly more popular dating places (good grief!), the act of waiting “at Rotunda”, especially when it comes to a person met an hour before on the Internet, and looking out for them in a crowd of people swarming out from the underpass, never loses its appeal.
102, 103. Rotunda PKO BP
Recently, the bank which is the owner of the building has decided that Rotunda would be razed to the ground and a new construction, similar, but not the same, would be erected. It led to a strong backlash, and you may join thousands of people protesting against this idea on Facebook. We recommend the group “Uratujmy Rotundę” [“Save Rotunda”].
The most vital information: when an inhabitant of Warsaw arranges a meeting in the city centre, he thinks, beyond any doubt, of Rotunda, or – in more modern fashion – Złote Tarasy. See also: ▶ Dmowski Roman, ▶ Złote Tarasy
Rudawka restaurant, Elblàska Street, currently replaced by an apartment building
From the 1980s up until 2001, in a very unassuming restaurant-bar on Elbląska Street, gays and lesbians got together every Friday. It was a place where the weekend fun began, and where gay social life flourished. Rudawka was a peculiar remnant from the age of the Polish People's Republic, as it previously served as a community centre cafeteria. As the new system approached, Rudawka was promoted to a venue where a wedding, wake, family gathering or business meeting could take place. The owner of the place was called Lalka, and s/he was a legend of Warsaw gay life. From the word of mouth stories, Lalka was most frequently seen in Na Trakcie, especially in times of police raids. Yes, yes! – police did sometimes raid bars, checked IDs, and detained “suspects”. No one knows what they were really looking for, however Lalka was never seriously affected by the raids. S/he was as cheeky as to shout after the police: "Since you're taking everyone, maybe I'll go with you too?" In another story we learn s/he would go outside wearing a lampshade and a dress made of sheer curtains, and walk like that through the entire city. Lalka was also very creative businesswise. Drag queen Żaklina recalls that thanks to the charity meals given away to locals in Rudawka, it was a much calmer place than Cafe Fiolka. We asked someone who frequented Rudawka for her reflections:
Rudawka in its heyday, just after the closure of Cafe Fiolka, was the most popular gay club in Warsaw. Probably because it was the only place of its kind. And neither the decor nor the service particularly predestined this venue for such a role. At Rudawka everyone was having a blast, the atmosphere was very amiable and even the appalling service could not spoil it. Ladies working there had sequin dresses, ballet shoes, and hairstyles like Alf, the sitcom alien, only dyed blonde. They hated the whole world for the fact they had to serve gays, and were vocal about it. The cloak-room lady, who also hated everyone, never agreed to return someone's jacket just for a moment. And when someone lost their cloakroom ticket, which happened often, she would often tell them to wait until the last person left, at 6-7 in the morning. Only when all coats and jackets were gone, she divided what was left among the poor sods.
Her best friend was the toilet attendant lady, who charged horrendous fees for the use of the facilities. However, her main focus was on making sure the toilets
are entered by one person at a time. This all contributed to the peculiar climate. On the other hand, Rudawka was the place of pilgrimage for gays and lesbians from Western Europe, for whom this venue was so exotic and so exceptional that every visit there was like going to another planet. Several days after its closure, I was asked in Helsinki by a person who never visited Poland, if this “cult” place in a one-storey building on the outskirts of Warsaw, where the waitresses wore sequin dresses, still existed. Opinions about Rudawka are varied – some are enthusiastic, and some are very critical:
…this was the last resort, if you wanted to cop off. It was such a terrible dive. What was even worse, was that those men who thought they could “cure” a lesbian used to go there. – They imagined we were so sexually sophisticated.
Yga Kostrzewa, an LGBTQ activist, has different recollections: It was just an ordinary restaurant, run by a gay man, nicknamed Lalka. And on Fridays the place turned into a strictly gay and lesbian discotheque. I used to go there in the beginning of the 1990s. You had to reserve a table in advance, otherwise you'd be standing. But whatever – who would worry about that? The important fact was that it was OUR place, one of very few in Warsaw at that time. Its bouncer (door selection was practiced even in those days) Marzena was 104. Construction site in the place a butch, who could pick a drunk by the flies of Rudawka bar and drag them out, she was scary, in general. The music – as with music in those days – no one was complaining, no one had any expectations. It was enough to have a beer, a bunch of friends, and the party would go on until morning. I remember some peculiar attractions: erotic dance and striptease performed by a straight couple! There was also a lottery every night – the lucky winner would get a bottle of champagne or something stronger. I remember one night a pilot was partying there, in full regalia. I remember meeting friends – from all over Poland. That's how it was, you would go to parties, to clubs, discos anywhere in Poland. I met friends from all kinds of places, you'd always see someone there. There were no mobiles, no Internet. So the meetings were usually accidental. But how pleasant… The venue was operating for quite a long time, around 10 years in total. But then a totally different era came – clubbing, laser lights. Rudawka did not fit into this world any more.
Other interlocutors confirm: …but local boys started gathering in Rudawka. Rudawka would have died as a gay club anyway: now you have those typical gay places, open for gay people every day, and Elbląska had “their” discos only once a week.
Today the building does not exist any more. An apartment block is being erected in its place. See also: ▶ Cafe Fiolka, ▶ Mykonos, ▶ Bar pod Dwójką, ▶ Paradise
Sadowska Zofia In mid-1920s a scandal broke out in Warsaw whose main character was a physician Zofia Sadowska. She was accused by the then tabloids of leading her patients into lesbianism. The press did not get away with that. Zofia Sadowska decided to defend her good name and went to court. She did not fight for the editors to deny her being a lesbian, though, but for apologies for insinuations about her “converting others into lesbianism”. From the existing records we know that during the trial she did not deny her sexual orientation. This is what the top scandalmonger of the then Warsaw, Irena Krzywicka, wrote about the whole issue:
It was a famous then case of a woman gynaecologist, Dr. Zofia Sadowska, accused of lesbian practices and inducing her patients to them. Those involved were, apart from Stefa [Osińska, Krzywicka's cousin], Miss Wanda Herse, the head of famous fashion house, her friend and to some extent wife – Tworakowska, the pre-war divinity of Warsaw – operetta singer Lucyna Messal, called Messalka, and some other ladies, I guess. Today we find it amusing: adult women were doing what they liked, and it's nobody else's business. I can hardly imagine a doctor inducing her patients to lesbian indecency. Fibs! …Yeah, but the denunciation came, even a trial, and, if I remember correctly, Dr. Sadowska was severely punished, either imprisoned or deprived of her medical practice. Warsaw was partly feeling indignant, partly scoffing, partly laughing in corners.
Unfortunately, during the trial most of the testimony was classified, so we only know press gossips and suppositions about events in the courtroom. Some descriptions of the trial sound as if they were taken from a Gothic novel – let us remind the readers that so called court reports were then one of the most widely read press genres. Dziennik Białostocki [Białystok Daily] (we quote this paper as it provided news to readers who did not know “the Warsaw glitterati” and so the descriptions were more vivid) wrote: Yet, this show of ten degenerate women is harassing a girl with rods.
Contrary to what Krzywicka wrote, the trial ended with punishment for Jerzy Plewiński, the editor of Express Poranny, who spread rumours. The negative effect for Sadowska was removing her from the military hospital on Dworzec Wschodni [East Station] (she worked in first-aid station of Red Cross). Sadowska was probably the most famous lesbian of the 1920s. This is how Dziennik Białostocki, which with excitement related the process of profound moral background, described her:
…to the Warsaw audience she is a person well-known by sight, not everyone knew, though, that this figure arousing interest in the street, wearing a man's hat, sporty-strange clothes, walking like a trained private, is the exact Ms. Dr. Sadowska. The way Dr. Sadowska dresses must attract attention even of the least perceptive observer.
To end with, let us cite an anecdote. Boy-˚eleƒski when writing about a good manners rule according to which women in opera were supposed to look through opera glasses only on other women, noted: I only know one lady in Warsaw who followed this rule strictly, and she had a court trial. Sadowska lived in 7 Mazowiecka Street, and it is nice to think that “lesbian orgies” could take place in an apartment of Warsaw diva, equipped with central heating. Even today, after so many decades, there is no other way to perceive Sadowska but with respect. She demonstrated great courage; as a reporter wrote – in a courtroom she was to say that the charge of making lesbian love is not a dishonour. It might be high time to discover Polish Oscar Wilde while drinking coffee for example in Pod Messalkà café (16/18 Krakowskie Przedmieście Street) which is in the same tenement building where orgies with Sadowska were supposed to take place. See also: ▶ Boy Żeleński Tadeusz, ▶ Krzywicka Irena
Salons “Salon” was an apartment that served as a closed place for cruising for sex. Usually, it was owned by a wealthy older person who would give it at disposal of others for sexual purposes. The most popular “salon” in Warsaw was Grandma Rostkowska’s salon:
There was no place to get fucked, you could do it in a loo or park, because not many people had their own apartments. So there were such rendezvous points as the Grandmother Rostkowska's, where you could get fucked, watch a porn. Actually, it was a 24/7 party. Of course, rendezvous points had their rules, either you were hot and you would have to fuck the owner or you were considered an equal and could bring your own fuck friends.
As Sławek Starosta recalls: Grandmother Rostkowska's apartment was situated at Okólnik Street next to the Music Academy. It was one of a few places in Warsaw with a VCR and, of course, porn films. That is where I watched the first film by Candinot… Grandmother had a hole in her wardrobe and she would peep at guys in the loo taking a piss to see whether they are worth anything. There I got my first whites (gonorrhoea)… Oh, I have so many memories... But I was not welcomed there because I didn't want to fuck Grandma and I would not bring any fuck friends for her. So they thought I was useless at the rendezvous.
Undoubtedly, there are still numerous salons, especially in closed circles, such as the BDSM lovers. However, we have to admit that when the housing credits availability increased, the popularity of “salons” fell. See also: ▶ Cottages
Saski Garden The Saski Garden, formerly the gardens of the Saski Palace, is a particularly pleasant and neatly maintained park, perfect for a romantic date. Communist-era romance blossomed around the Temple of Thought (the small white building of the water tower of Marconi's irrigation system, which provided water for the neighbourhood), which used to be a bustling cruising area. One of its regulars told us:
I went there to pick up soldiers. I would tell them I was studying to be a masseur, and offer to show them various important points on their bodies. A few firm touches in the right spots and a bit of talking about girls would provoke the obvious response. They used to wear drill underpants tied with knotted string or ribbon, so getting to the “point” was a hilarious task… But it had a certain allure.
105. Saski Garden
106. Temple of Thought
Of course, that is not the extent of the Garden's delights: a monument of Maria Konopnicka was placed in the park, and the Zachęta art gallery is right across the street. Zachęta boasts a respectable number of homocentric art shows, more than
most Polish galleries. Indeed, it is well worth a visit regardless of the topic of its current exhibition – it is invariably a cultural event! See also: ▶ Konopnicka Maria, ▶ The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Sigismund Column monument, Zamkowy Square, built in 1644
It would be difficult to miss the column which dominates Zamkowy Square and is one of the most distinctive symbols of the city. It is worth spending a while here, as it is a place of exceptional importance to us. The Column, erected in 1644 by king Władysław IV Waza (de Valois), was to remind the next generations about his father Sigismund, whose wonderful idea it was to move the capital of Poland from Krakow to Warsaw. The column was created by Wazas’ court artists – Constantino Tencalla and Augustyn Locci, and king’s figure was sculpted by Clemente Molli and cast in a Warsaw workshop of Daniel Tym. Just like Warsaw itself, the Sigismund Column had a very turbulent history. The most tragic moment was its fall during the night of 1st to 2ⁿd September 1944. A copy was made and re-erected a few metres aside from where it was before and revealed on (goes without saying) 22ⁿd July 1949 (communist state holiday) as a “decorative element” of the W-Z Route. The remains of the original column can be seen at the southern side of the Royal Castle. The Column played an important role in the history of Polish LGBT movement. It was here that in 1993 first public gay manifestation took place. Here is how Inaczej magazine described it:
On 14th of February, on Valentine’s Day, for the first time Warsaw's gay people gathered for a manifestation. Signs that read: “Miłość jest jedna” [There is one love], “Gej jest OK” 107. Sigismund Column and Royal Castle [Gay is ok] were hung on the column. Barbara Stanosz from the Association for Humanism and Independent Ethics said that every person should have the right to choose a life model that fits their sexual preferences. Around 50 participants, and an equal number of journalists, took part in the happening. It was organised by Stowarzyszenie Grup Lambda. “This is our first event. Though it might appear otherwise, we are present in the society. We love like everyone else, we live like everyone else. Gay is OK” Kacper from Lambda Warsaw told the media.
The second protest took place in 1998. It started shakily – the borough authorities have not issued approval for the happening entitled “We love the same way”. However,
in an interview with Super Express daily the borough’s spokesperson admitted that nobody had time to consider the approval because “half of the employees are on holiday leave”. Despite the ban, at 4pm 3 persons with faces covered by scarves were standing under the column (amongst the crowd of reporters) with banners announcing their job titles. There was: a manager, a baker and a reporter. One of these men was Szymon Niemiec, an LGBT activist, later co-organiser of Pride parades, currently a senior pastor of the Free Reformed Church. Sent as a journalist to the event to report, he suddenly joined the other side. In his autobiography “Tęczowy Koliber na Tyłku” [Rainbow Hummingbird On A Bum] (published at 30) he recalls:
108. The first public demonstration of homosexual persons at Zamkowy Square, 1993
109. Demonstration of homosexual persons under Sisigmund Column at Zamkowy Square in 1998
I don't know what pushed me to do this. If it was on an impulse of the moment, or maybe some internal need to stop living in the closet. I cannot answer this question today. Back then. however, I was determined. I gave my jacket to my surprised photo-reporter and went to the boys. “Give me some dark glasses, a hat and a bandana. I'm going there with you,” I said rather calmly. They were shocked. A hat was quickly found, together with a bandana and glasses. I quickly wrote “Jestem dziennikarzem” [I'm a journalist] on some piece of paper.
There was a squabble with skinheads gathered in the square. Krzysztof Garwatowski read an announcement addressed to the state authorities and volunteers collected signatures on the letter to president Aleksander Kwaśniewski about setting up a programme that would “promote open and tolerant social attitudes”. Garwatowski told Kurier Polski daily:
The attitude of the Polish society towards gay people is so unwelcome that organising a parade would result in unpleasant incidents.
A lot has changed in the last ten years. The first official Gay Pride Parade on the 1st May 2001 started at the Sigismund Column too. According to the press’ estimates between 300 and 500 people took part
in it. There was only one rainbow flag and the speakers were placed on a family car. The whole event was organised within a few days. See also: ▶ Gay Pride Parade, ▶ Lambda-Warsaw, ▶ Unii Lubelskiej Square
Sigma students' club, 24 Krakowskie Przedmieście Street, now Index
Since April 1989, gay and lesbian activists were holding meetings on the University premises, in Students' Club Sigma, which was offered to them by Zrzeszenie Studentów Polskich [Polish Students' Association] of Warsaw University. It was a small basement in the University Small Courtyard, as Tomasz Adamski reported in Nowy Men magazine:
It was nicknamed Piwnica Artystyczna [Artists' Basement]…. There was a favourable atmosphere in the ZASP (Polish artists association) board, and so “Sigma” opened itself for gays: in two microscopic rooms, the size of which did not exceed a size of a medium restroom, a true paradise was put up: a disco and a bar. The bar was a bit more than small and the beverages on sale were not entirely legal. However, behind the bar you could see the true, authentic Fiolka Najdenowicz … .
Let us move back to Sigma where, on 28th October 1989, a nationwide meeting of organizations from Gdańsk, Warsaw and Wrocław was held, during which a decision to set up Stowarzyszenie Grup Lambda [Lambda Groups Association] was taken. Unfortunately, right after this event Sigma was taken over by NZS (Niezależne Zrzeszenie Studentów [Independent Student Union]) and a war began. One of the regulars of the bar, a woman, recalls: One day some gang armed with baseball bats burst in, bellowing, '”Get lost faggots, we won't tolerate you any more!”. On 17thJune 1995, on the university premises, for the first time in the history a Gay Pride Day took place (its slogan was “Natura jest wielobarwna” [“Nature is Multicoloured”]). The organizers were Stowarzyszenie Grup Lambda [Lambda Groups Association] and Pink Press. Unfortunately, and as it would happen in subsequent years, the demonstration was not authorized – this time the excuse was the university decree, according to which students of the university should constitute at least fifty percent of the demonstration. This decision reached the organizers during the rally; Gazeta Stołeczna wrote: The guards, citing the authorities' decision, tore off the banners and threw the participants out of the premises. Because of that, most of the events were moved to Giovanni club (currently Index, the entrance right next to the university gates). During the Gay Pride Day, Balkan Electrique band gave a concert. See also: ▶ Balkan Electrique, ▶ Lambda-Warsaw
Sikstinajn club, Pi´kna Street, now closed
Sikstinajn*) was situated near Konstytucji Square, on the ground floor of a spacious, socrealistic tenement house. Its presence was marked by a board in form of a 69 km/h speed limit sign. In its beginnings, to get inside meant to get a password, issued daily on the Internet, or by phone or a text. Let us keep in mind that those were the times of great fear of homophobic clientele and ubiquitous assurances that “the party was safe”, which meant also an absolute ban on taking photos of the guests (our guests do not wish it, and they want to have good fun – as was announced; because the wife might find out…). In any case, this kind of protection was perpetuated for a very long time.
Sikstinajn's statute excluded the organisation of wakes, weddings or namedays. However, there were a few exceptions to that rule. One of the initiatives of the then ILGCN (International Lesbian & Gay Cultural Network), who did their best to enrich the club's life, was throwing gay wedding receptions which were meant to symbolically substitute legal partnerships. Sikstinajn provided a stage, on which drag queens of the time keenly performed, and sometimes also a restaurant with tables outside. In search for the best form of the business, the club tended to change its image, evolving towards an exclusively gay place (a lively discussion was held on the internet LGBT space concerning the club's add suggesting that the place was off-limits for lesbians), offering more and more sophisticated 110. Formerly Sisktinajn club forms of entertainment, with periodic Military Parties taking the lead. At the same time the owner was assuring City Magazine: Our club is officially a gay place, but not a sexual one, we don't have such sick things like backrooms. Also, in the times when clubbing was all the rage, Sikstinajn recognized a complex system of entrance tickets and “consumer vouchers”, which encouraged visiting many establishments during one night. After its closing, the empty club was waiting for a new tenant for over a year, and the sign “69”, with an empty promise “open soon”, dangled miserably.
*) Polish phonetic transcription of ‘sixty-nine’.
Sobaƒski Antoni reporter, 1898-1941
One of the most interesting buildings along Jerozolimskie Avenue is Sobański Palace (no. 13). In 1853, a Renaissance villa was raised here according to a design by Julian Ankiewicz. Redesigned in 1876 by Leandro Marconi, the villa was converted to a mansion with a replica of Donatello’s David at the front. Currently the palace houses the Polish Business Roundtable Club and an exclusive restaurant. The palace used to be inhabited by Antoni Sobański (1898-1941) while he was staying in Warsaw. A publicist and journalist connected with artistic circles, he was one of the most interesting figures of the twenty years in the period between the wars. He published Cywil w Berlinie [A Civilian in Berlin], a collection of reportages from his stays at the increasingly brutal scene of the capital city of fascist Germany. In his reportages Sobański described, among other things, the experiences of homosexuals in Germany:
The bars which had been frequented by pederasts and lesbians – all those typical Berlin places – were now closed. All transvestites have taken shelter in SA and complain only, as they say, about walking on low heels. As for 111. Sobańskich Palace the people closest to Hitler, there are a few whose lack of instinct for “prolonging the species” is notoriously known. They suffer no harm. The objective is to sit solidly in the party and loudly shout in praise of the Führer and “das Deutschtum” (German character). Besides that, one could be in love even with a duck, as long as the duck was law-abiding.
The entire Warsaw buzzed with rumours about Sobański's relationships, one can find passages dedicated to them in many newspapers. And this is how “Tonio” was remembered by his friends after his untimely death:
A very charming man, one of those who even if they do not leave multi-volume works and cannot be linked to any particular contributions, create this cultural atmosphere in which the society lives and breathes.
In 2006, Cywil w Berlinie was published in Poland again after seventy years, and 2009 saw the appearance of an exceptionally honest biography of Sobański, not concealing the homosexual aspect. One can learn there, among other things, about the artistic life of the Warsaw of that time. Since we can find among Sobański's companions other well-known homosexuals, we can conclude that the places described in the book were, for that time, gay-friendly. They included, among others, Adria and Ziemiańska cafes.
Sokratesa Starynkiewicza Square
The former, situated at 8 Moniuszki Street, survived the war but lost in the competition with other places and currently houses Polski Zakład Ubezpieczeń [Polish Insurance Agency]. The latter, Ziemiańska at 12 Mazowiecka Street, where “on the upper” the exceptional Polish writers had their tables, did not manage to hold out to the 21st century either. Now the Paparazzi club functions in its place which, unfortunately, has not perpetuated the style of its predecessor.
Sokratesa Starynkiewicza Square This time, let us walk from the Central Railway Station in the opposite direction than usual – we will find there the Sokratesa Starynkiewicza Square. The main building we see there used to be the seat of the homophobic daily paper Rzeczpospolita. It was built for the offices of city waterworks, a fine example of technology of the 19th century. The waterworks, initiated by mayor Sokrates Starynkiewicz, are still used by inhabitants today. Up to the 1980s, the basement of the building was seat of one of the city's baths. Tickets were sold for two separate saunas. Today, all baths of that era are closed. Many amateurs of hygiene still remember:
…there was a network of public baths, all are closed today. It was so fantastic and ambiguous. It was clear 90% of all users were gay men, only few “civilians” used to come there. …On Starynkiewicza Square, under the seat of Rzeczpospolita, there was a small bath, excellent for male orgies.
Another person says: Many soldiers and police officers were coming to that bath. One could pay off the staff to go down and watch them bathing.
Today, on Starynkiewicza Square, both the bath and the headquarter of the homophobic newspaper are closed.
112. This building housed a bath
See also: ▶ Cottages, ▶ Łaźnia pod Messalką
SPATiF restaurant, 45 Ujazdowskie Avenue, presently known as U Aktorów
SPATiF (Stowarzyszenie Polskich Artystów Teatru i Filmu [Association of Polish Theatre and Movie Artists]) was across the street from the Ambasador hotel on Ujazdowskie Avenue. This classy restaurant was attended exclusively by celebrities and their friends,
the famous and those whom they have invited. One of its brightest stars was Ryszard “Rysia” Czubak, stage and film actor, a person without whom it would be impossible to discuss QueerWarsaw, the subject of countless anecdotes, gossip, comments… S/he shows up at opening nights of every important film or play, always long-haired, always wearing a necklace… Paweł Leszkowicz wrote about Czubak:
Ryszard/Rysia has always been on stage – especially in the times when such total gender ambivalence performers could find no stage in Poland, only social and political stigma. Today, in the age of religious pilgrimages, Ryszard/ Rysia is as radical and unique as in the era of Labour Day parades, ceaselessly shocking the world with the horror of feminine masculinity, the breakdown of barriers between maleness and femaleness. He could teach many a controversial artist a lot about freedom, courage and transgression. However, he is first and foremost an allegory of those who do not appreciate the constricting cages and fictions of a single gender, controlled by this very same fundamentalist masculinity. …Ryszard Czubak's existential and acting presence is a revolutionary opening of masculinity to femininity and femininity to masculinity.
What does Ryszard “Rysia” Czubak's queer Warsaw look like?
In the 1970s they started opening clubs for people like us. It's always been in the same neighbourhood for as long as I can remember. Downtown has always been Nowy Świat 113. U Aktorów restaurant, formerly SPATiF Street, Krakowskie Przedmieście Street, small dives that have retained their vibe. There was Amatorska, Bajka, Piotruś cafes… Bajka went under recently, because the owner of that building showed up and the old adage of “your streets, our houses” was again proven true. Only Piotruś and Amatorska remained the heritage museums of socrealism and retained their gay ambience. A social hierarchy was in effect on Trzech Krzyży Square. Important people writers, politicians, etc., – eroticism is a democracy – formed the top tier. Then there were the outliers who wanted in – bright young people, students. The third and final group – gutter trash who tried to weasel or buy into the life – were marginalized folk who nevertheless knew their place in the hierarchy; nobody judged them.
Bars were cruising spots, as democratic as the rest of the scene, which not infrequently had unpleasant consequences. Let's say a count would invite young men to spend the night for obvious reasons, but it didn't always end well. The count could lose his head and pick the wrong guy. There were murders you couldn't talk about or mention in the papers; the police was well aware of them, but they filed them under different headings. I've never enjoyed the unambiguous aesthetic, always preferred to watch. Look at the contemporary clubs – they're full of shriekers, flamers, always the same squeaky-voiced mugs waiting for Prince Charming on a white horse, who will never show up just like Godot. You could notice the differences in social status – you still can tell a thinker or an artist apart from common trash. People from Bródno district would show up at the bars, for example this one white-haired queen that looked just like a Pekingese – sure, it might've been a purebred, but a dog is a dog. She was a nobody, but acted like a grand dame. She held court on Nowy Świat Street, on Trzech Krzyży Square, practically lived there. Over the years she had met a number of high officials, bohemians and artsy youth, but they all knew she was a thief. Such “starlets” were only important for the nobodies. The counts and professors were above it all – they had their own spots and tables that the waiters kept unoccupied. Słonimski often came to these bars; he was a man of immense culture and wisdom, a great friend of the gays.
Every attendee contributed to the atmosphere of these places. There were police snitches, 114. Ryszard “Rysia” Czubak especially in hotel bars in Europejski, Grand and Bristol hotels; prostitutes, male and female, also infested the hotel restaurants, where they could flaunt their freedom. It was a false one – they sold their souls to Beelzebub to get it. The repressive apparatus took advantage of this. There were also salons, parties held in private apartments, organized by painters, directors, the art crowd. They usually had large flats and plenty of money, Western currencies, which could buy things otherwise unavailable, like good cigarettes or fine liquor. Getting invited to one of those parties wasn't easy unless you knew the host or were recommended by a regular. I liked SPATiF the best. They treated me so well, with exceptional warmth and kindness. I've always been witty and somehow fit in with people old enough to be my grandparents. I was treated as an equal, especially since I was
unique, a mascot in a way. That was in the incredible 1970s. People like Hanna Skarżanka and Jan Rybkowski had their regular tables in SPATiF. Nowadays that intelligentsia is almost extinct, only trace amounts have survived – folks like Głowacki or Konwicki. SPATiF also had door selection – if Holoubek brought a friend along, they would certainly let him in, but a stranger wouldn't necessarily be admitted on his own. Ściek was like an integral extension of SPATiF – it was the place to carry on with the revelries, since it was open almost till dawn. Random people would give us a lift to Trębacka Street once we walked out of SPATiF – street cleaners, trash collectors… They knew where the party would end in Ujazdowskie Avenue and made a bit of extra money driving artists around. Nowadays all bohemian haunts are dead. A place that could carry on their spirit would have to have the right location; Kulturalna [in Palace of Culture and Science] might have the potential. Unfortunately, it's different in the countryside. Warsaw, Krakow, Wrocław and Gdańsk have always been islands of culture and openness. Sopot was a fag holiday destination for Warsaw's trendy crowd. Prostitutes flocked there from the whole country for a guest performance. And let's not forget the beaches in Chałupy and Dębki… Let us recall one of the anecdotes told in Warsaw: They asked Rysiek Czubak what he would do if Lech Wałęsa walked into Âciek. He replied: “Mother of God! Hello!” (Lech Wałęsa was known for wearing a Virgin Mary pin in his lapel.) Though Lizka BrackaNowogrodzka told us:
She's the last one, but there used to be plenty of girls like her. They hung out all made up, nobody bothered them. People say communism was horrible, but it was really okay. There was Tucked-Up Sophie, hair down to her waist, face like Miss Piggy, flaming like a bonfire… Every town had its Rysia. Gloria from Poznań started crossdressing in early childhood.
Currently the former halls of SPATiF host a restaurant called “U Aktorów” [“Actors' Place”]. Contrary to its name, actors do not tend to eat there anymore, but that oldtimey vibe is still present. See also: ▶ Alhambra, ▶ Ambasador, ▶ Trzech Krzyży Square, ▶ Ściek
Squat Elba 9/11 Elblàska Street
The culture of squatting is not very popular in Poland, which is largely caused by rules concerning leases of premises and other regulations that impede all initiatives that are too non-standard for the authorities. For those of you who do not know, squatting means
occupying an empty, uninhabited, usually industrial, building and adapting it for housing needs or socio-cultural activities, useful for the neighbourhood and the whole city. Thanks to squatting, people with different visions of the world and unconventional ideas for life, who do not fit into the mainstream view on prosperity and consumer fulfilment, find a roof over their heads, and the empty buildings, which are temporarily in no-one's particular interest, no longer frighten with broken windows, but turn into well-kept, friendly, vibrant places. In Poland large squatter communities can be found, among others, in Poznań's Rozbrat, in Wrocław, Częstochowa, Białystok and Biała Podlaska. In Lublin, squat Tektura fraternizes with the local section of Kampania Przeciw Homofobii [Campaign Against Homophobia]. Squatting is an idea for life and an idea to look after the city, especially the areas forgotten by others. Lots of Polish squats have difficulties – they do not fit into the administrative “catalogue”, whereas e.g. in Great Britain the law has seen the usefulness of squats long time ago and this form of housing, work and activity became almost included in the mainstream. The similar thing is in Berlin where Tacheles squat at Oranienburgerstraße is visited by over 300 000 tourists a year and despite the growth of commerciality it preserved its anti-establishment climate.
Large squats usually distinguish themselves with social and artistic offer. So is the case with Elba 115-117. Squat Elba that closely cooperates with UFA and Lambda Warsaw. Various concerts, exhibitions, film screenings, music and art workshops are being held there regularly. Elba have been visited by many stars of alternative scene. For those who love the two wheels, Elba offers bicycle workshop. It also runs the campaign “Food not Bombs” in which all those in need regularly get meals. Unfortunately, it is not easy to get to the squat. We suggest you take the underground towards Młociny, then find the stop “Plac Wilsona” [Wilson Square] 03 and take bus line 122. You get off at “Elbląska” bus-stop and go along the street towards the thinnedout wood. It is better to go to Elba knowing its schedule beforehand, as during the day we may find the place quiet and our squatters do not like to be woken up in the morning. See also: ▶ Campaign Against Homophobia, ▶ Lambda-Warsaw, ▶ UFA
Stryjkowski Julian writer, 1905-1996
Prominent writer exploring Jewish culture. He lived at 2 Wyzwolenia Avenue and was buried on the Jewish cemetery at Okopowa Street in Warsaw. He had not written about his homosexuality until he published a short story under the title Milczenie [Silence]. In an interview with Roman Kurkiewicz and Adam Michnik published in Gazeta Wyborcza daily he said that it was a matter of dignity for him to openly tell the truth about himself. At least at the end of his he could walk with his head held high.
I told myself: You are eighty years old, make it your last book, close the door behind you, write more your own words, don't write about nothing anymore … Through all the time when I was a communist, I was downright scared. My homosexuality forced me not to get involved in disputes too often. …I had to hide from people what they do not have to hide from me. It was a dreadful ordeal … .
Julian Stryjkowski recalled also that when before the war his comrades from an illegal com- 118. The house where Julian Stryjkowski lived munist party discovered his, as you would then say, “propensity”, he was ostracized, for what kind of a communist is interested in men? And can you stay in the same prison cell with him? It is not safe. Also, a pederast is not worthy of calling himself a revolutionist and communist. However, in the communist Poland, this did not prevent Stryjkowski in his career as a writer. For many years he was a member of the editorial staff of Twórczość magazine, whose editor in chief was... the King of Polish Pederasts Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz. See also: ▶ Iwaszkiewicz Jarosław
Swimming pool 8 Inflacka Street
The complex consists of an indoor swimming pool, a jacuzzi, water cascades, and a 35-meter long slide, making it… a gay heaven. Or such is at least the impression from Internet ads. The pool is one of the most popular meeting places for men who may not necessarily have swimming in mind. An urban legend has it that many straight folks have seen a gay pass for the first time in their lives there. Although it is not the only swimming pool in Warsaw frequented by gays, its proximity to Arkadia mall lures
many of our sisters and after successful hunting on sale many of them end up there. The Inflancka swimming pool is open 7am – 8pm on weekdays and 8am – 8pm on weekends. The prices are reasonable. See also: ▶ Arkadia
Synkret club, 27 Nowy Âwiat Street, now closed
At the beginning of 21st century, a pavilion in the socialist-realist style located at the back of tenement house at 1/3 Chmielna Street (the official address is misleading, as to get there you had to enter the yard at Nowy Świat Street) housed Synkret club, open only a few months, and connected with the ILGCN (International Lesbian & Gay Cultural Network) environment, then thriving. Spacious Synkret had an ambition of club-and-gallery and at nights stars of drag queen scene performed there. The place itself was not very welcoming because of dominating tiles giving the impression of penetrating cold. Despite good intentions the club failed to match the competition of nearby “immortal” post-communist cafés spread around Trzech Krzy˝y Square and Bracka Street. At present, the popular club Powi´kszenie [Enlargement] is located there, not visited by the queer community as often as earlier, but it is still by no means a gay-friendly place.
Szymanowski Karol composer, 1882-1937
Karol Szymanowski was one of the giants of Polish pre-war culture and the biggest Polish composer after Chopin. He was born in an excellent gentry family, and brought up in the atmosphere of constant exposure to art, philosophy and literature. An intellectual and a man of the world, he quickly outgrew his Polish environment. In Warsaw Academy of Music, the period became legendary when Szymanowski was its rector, trying to reform the academy and to open it to artistic modernity. He was quickly forced to resign. This period ended with students’ strike in the rector’s defence. As a composer, despite international successes, he was not widely recognized in Poland whilst alive. His fight to realise the ideal of open, European and liberal Polishness with roots in both Hellenic culture and in Kresy diversity, was met with the lack of understanding and hostility. He was fascinated by erudition and open-mindedness. He could charm both men and women and on meeting him he was for a lot of people an element of personal spiritual formation. This picture of Szymanowski from the time of Zakopane bohemian heyday (and unfulfilled “affair” with another gay diva of the interwar era – Zofia Nałkowska) was recorded in painter Rafał Malczewski’s memoirs:
Behind the dreamy haze of green-grey eyes there was a satyr, sex demon, tied by the rope of culture, the culture that rules his whole persona, starting from the unmistakable way he shakes his hand to his achievements at work. He is a quintessence of charm even though we are speaking about a middle-aged gentleman, slightly limping, considerably smartly dressed.
And novelist Michał Choromański wrote: He is the last gentleman and grand-seigneur of our proletarian times. It was obvious for Szymanowski’s friends and siblings that he was gay, although he concealed that from his mother. He was critical of his sexual orientation and thought of sex as a bit like alcohol and tobacco: unhealthy, but necessary to support everyday life and creativity (Michał Choromański mentions Szymanowski saying that alcohol is the lever of the civilisation development). His sexual life was a series of countless adventures, fascinations and flings, described by the composer’s long-term friend, Witkacy, in a spiteful way in his novel Jedyne wyjście [The Only Way]:
For example this ultragenius Szymanowski’s Fifty Eighth Symphony ...entitled Join me, boys, all of you with its wonderful two-tonal finale: one hundred and eighty two ephebes and eighteen papal castartes with their original, non-papiermâché halberds and weapons. Their sounds are intertwined in a hypergenial and intuitive way with the orchestra.
It would seem to be an act of pure harshness if not for the words of Szymanowski himself, who said: For me composing is a physiological, sensual, almost sexual function, it is finding fulfilment, it is the need… Tendency to sexual freedom was combined in Szymanowski’s personality with passionate feelings. One of important experiences in his life was love for Boris Kochno. Szymanowski met the sixteen-year-old Russian cadet in 1919. For several months he adored the boy, wrote poems for him, introduced him into the world of music, art and literature. He told him about Ballets Russes – and soon Kochno would make a huge career in this famous group (it could be added without stretching – a “gay” group), as a personal secretary and lover of Sergei Diaghilev. Artur Rubinstein mentioned how painful it was for Szymanowski to meet those two in Paris. Undoubtedly the person that Szymanowski influenced the most was his 12-years younger cousin, Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz. Szymanowski encouraged him to write (and discouraged him to compose music). Jarosław was building his attitude to homosexuality following Karol’s example. Szymanowski’s openness about eroticism was an important part of the theory of beauty that he was realising. He explained it in his 1919 novel Efebos, which survived to our times only in drafts and in an excerpt translated into Russian for Boris Kochno (the original manuscript went up in flames in Iwaszkiewicz’s apartment during
the Warsaw Uprising). The novel tells the story of spiritual development of two characters, who are the author’s alter ego. At the same time it was an excuse to present his thoughts about art, music, literature, sensual and spiritual love, friendship and beauty. Its culmination was the character’s liberation, self-assessment, fulfilment in art and homosexual love as a sublimation of pure beauty. From Efebos it is not far to the character from Król Roger [King Roger] opera – the result of the widest cooperation of Szymanowski and young Iwaszkiewicz. The order of centuries-old culture, guaranteed by the title hero, gets shattered by the arrival of the Shepherd, mysterious God’s messenger. My God is as beautiful as me – sings the Shepherd, leading people away from the stringent religion and towards the “sunny coast” of freedom, love and beauty. The Shepherd, combining (based on Szymanowski’s own concept) attributes of Christ, Eros and Dionysus, is still one of the most ambiguous characters in the history of opera and a hazy, uncertain but tempting vision of liberation outlined in Iwaszkiewicz’s exuberant verses seems nowadays more exciting and up-to-date than ever. Szymanowski’s art was for years considered to be a local phenomenon, but is now going through a period of great recognition. His creative personality does not have an equivalent in the European culture and it is its originality that finds an enthusiastic response amongst the classical music fans, bored with a traditional repertoire. And if LBGT circles in Poland need symbols of their roots in local culture, then Szymanowski is as big a symbol as Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz. See also: ▶ Grand Theatre and Polish National Opera, ▶ Iwaszkiewicz Jarosław
Âciek [Sewer] bar, Tr´backa 3, now closed
Ściek [Sewer] bar, particularly popular among cinematographers, was right next to Krakowskie Przedmieście Street, at 3 Trębacka Street. According to city lore, it gained its name because various more or less unsavoury types floated down there after the closing time of all other bars (after midnight). For many people it was the end point of the Walk of Shame, as described by Janusz Głowacki (the author of Antigone in New York and a number of other plays):
One of the popular hangouts was the Walk of Shame from Fukier in the Old Town to SPATiF in Ujazdowskie Avenue, currently known as the Royal Route. The famous writer Ireneusz Iredyński would start in the middle, around noon, nice and proper in the Europejski Hotel, surrounded by his followers, mainly painters. He would start drinking on an empty stomach; I tried to get him to call it a hunger strike in opposition of the Communist regime. Later in the day he would transfer to SPATiF, drop by Kameralna, then end up in Ściek.
One of our interviewees recalls it like this: Some of the people you could see in Ściek made headlines. Later on they would carry on partying in private apartments – not like nowadays, when people meet outside, chat a bit, have a drink and scurry off all alone.
This made Ściek a hard place to get into – Sławek Starosta recalls having been inside maybe twice. It was even harder than getting into Utopia, the right threads were not enough. However, most of our interviewees consider “fag life” in the olden days to have been funnier and more interesting than now:
The old times favoured a better use of language and unspoken messages – you had to really make an effort to say something funny. The modern language is too direct. I was once walking down the street with this one queen and we saw a cop. The queen said: “Oooh, what a pretty policeman!”. “Go away, fag!”, said the cop, but the queen carried on: “Please arrest me, sir, you have a lovely nightstick!”. So the cop smacked her with his baton, but 119. Ściek club queen still didn't give up: “But sir, I meant the one you carry at your side!”. Then people started gathering around, upset at yet another act of police brutality… Some of us just didn't give a damn. Getting smacked with a police baton wasn't that bad – it just left a bruise.
In retrospect this does not seem funny, but back then people would try to find humour even in the least pleasant situation. This is why they remember police arrests and raids on bars as ironic events, not serious problems. In PRL-era Poles resisted the system with laughter – old comedies, jokes and books that mocked communism remain popular to the present day. See also: ▶ SPATiF
Teatr Polonia theatre, 56 Marszałkowska Street, opened in 2005
Right next to the exit from Konstytucji Square direction centre is the first in Poland – and surely the most acclaimed – private theatre. It is the embodied vision of Krystyna Janda, one of the most prominent actresses in Poland. Formally the theatre is run by a foundation created by Janda, which has acquired the venue from a former cinema by the same name. Initially, the scene gained attention due to a conflict with the building's residents who tried to hinder any renovation and extension works of the theatre and later objected to the noise of the audience during intermissions. Their attitude arose most probably from the memory of the former “Polonia” cinema, which went bankrupt in early nineties. Most Warsaw's (not so elderly) citizens remember how it “disgraced” itself by screening (hetero) porn movies every evening. It was probably the only cinema to do so in whole of Warsaw! The conflict was however resolved amicably, and in 2005 Teatr Polonia opened with a play based on Dubravka Ugrešić's Štefica Cvek u raljama života [Steffie in the Jaws of Life]. Initially only the “small stage” was used for performances. The grand stage started operating less than a year later, after refurbishment. Polonia, a well managed theatre, staged entertaining plays, yet also ambitious ones, concerning important contemporary issues. It quickly gained popularity among Warsaw residents, presumably due to the charismatic persona of the whole establishment’s mother-manager, who has wholeheartedly committed herself to her life's passion.
From the very beginning, the manager has given refuge at her theatre to “orphaned” plays form closed Le Madame, including Patty Diphu 120. Polonia Theatre sa based on Pedro Almodovar's columns or Polish Miss HIV by Maciej Kowalski. Also, in her own productions, she never avoided accents dear to the LGBT community (staging a loose adaptation of Darkroom by Rjuana Jeger for example). Janda, one of the greatest Polish actresses, also known abroad (she debuted in Wajda's films and was his muse for many years. In 1990 she was awarded “Best actress” in Cannes), uncompromisingly “promotes” tolerance in her theatres, columns and also on her blog, which was recently published as a book. In 2007 she received the “Hiacynt” award from the Equality Foundation for consistently forwarding and supporting
tolerance. She is loved by gays, especially for monodramas such as Shirley Valentine, Ucho, Gardło, Nóż [Ear, Throat, Knife by Verdana Rudan] or Boska [Divine], which, although premiered years ago, are still played sold out. Consequent seasons were brimful of box office highlights. By the end of 2009, Janda and her daughter Maria Seweryn opened another theatre in Ochota district, also in a former cinema building. Originally arranged stage – in midst of the audience – Och-Teatr hosts productions by a well known group Montownia as well as musicians of various sorts. In spite of the diversity, which also manifests itself in varied calibre and production levels of the plays, it seems that anything signed by Krystyna Janda sells out instantly and turns into gold. No wonder that, apprehensive at first, other more or less known actors also opened their own theatres in the capital. So far none of them can rival the breadth and vision of Polonia and Och-Teatr. See also: ▶ Konstytucji Square
Teleskop ECafe Internet cafe, 2 Krochmalna Street
Not so long ago, Internet access was a luxury in Poland, but along with the development of this tool more and more gay and lesbian sites appeared and you could not only check the news, but also find a partner through free ads. Apart from this, Internet forums, IRC and mail groups (e.g. the famous group Polles, many members of which are now LGBT advocates) grew in importance. Gays took fancy to internet chats, and the most famous among them still operates at czateria.interia.pl. This is the reason why a friendly chatting place was required – and this is how Teleskop ECafe on Chłodna Street was born. The tiny Internet café advertised itself in the gay press and won many regular clients very fast. Teleskop is still open, and its ads can be seen in gay clubs. However, because of the decreasing cost of Internet access, places like this attract mostly people who have just had an Internet failure at home.
The National Museum [Muzeum Narodowe] cultural institution, 3 Jerozolimskie Avenue, founded in 1862
The largest museum in Warsaw and one of the largest in Poland resides in a lumpish, modernist building, erected in 1930s, on the eve of World War II. Its rear wing, from the side of Vistula River, is occupied by Muzeum Wojska Polskiego [Polish Army Museum]. Regularly, however, the topic of the latter's transfer to another location returns – this would enable The National Museum to gain full freedom and more space for displaying its extensive collections. These include – apart from Polish and foreign
The National Museum [Muzeum Narodowe]
paintings – the art of ancient monuments (such as Egyptian, Greek and Roman), coins and handicraft. Particularly noteworthy is the gallery of paintings from Faras, which presents an extremely valuable rare bird of Nubian murals from the early-Christian period . These assemblages belong to the most precious collections of The National Museum and one of the most valuable work of art is an image of St. Anna – it is also the official symbol of the museum. The painting gallery hosts works of Boticell, Brueghel (the Elder), Cranach (the Elder), Renoir, Tintoretto, Rembrandt, Czapski, Klee, Picasso, Kandinsky and others. It is also here that the most important national and international exhibitions are displayed. At the end of 2009, this respectable, bourgeois institution came under massed fire by the media after the announcement of plans for the year 2010, including an exhibition Ars Homo Erotica – parallel to the EuroPride marching through the streets of Warsaw. The new director of the museum invited Paweł Leszkowicz, a critic, essayist and professor of contemporary art from Poznań, formerly curator of exhibitions Miłość i demokracja [Love and Democracy] (2005) and Vogue (2009), to create an art exhibition in Warsaw. Homo Ars Erotica is expected to show exhibits from the collections of the museum, as well as works by artists from Central and Eastern Europe. Leszkowicz, who is also author of the album ArtPride. Gay Art from Poland, published by our co-publisher, Abiekt.pl says:
When director Piotr Piotrowski invited me to do an exhibition, he did really care about the fact that I invite artists from countries where art is strongly set in the socio-political context as part of the ongoing revolution of conventions. There is a growing trend of queer art, critical to heteronormative models of society and culture, created by both heterosexual and homosexual artists.
Such statements caused controversy, as usual. Politicians and journalists associated with the right-wing politics and Catholic sent wave of criticism and indignation by the fact of “promoting homosexual propaganda” for public money and by such a venerable institution. Sneering suggestions have been made that the next arranged exhibition should concern necrophilia. As usual, protests, speeches and press articles in this vein (how well-known by Polish gays and lesbians) have advertised it even more. This mechanism is being understood in Poland, even by the right-wing youth militia, which at some point ceased to harass LGBT demonstrations with counterdemonstrations, blockades and brawls, assuming that in this way they only help to publicise them. The surroundings of the museum live their own – gay – life, especially during the night. Behind the museum and adjacent buildings of stock exchange, on the slopes of the Vistula River, a park by the name of Professor Stanisław Lorentz extends, named after the historian of art, distinguished among others by rebuilding the Royal Castle. On warm summer days at lunchtime the alleys are populated by brokers taking sunbaths, while at night the place pulsates with social life. This is another cruising
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
area in the capital city, although it seems that now people tend to go a bit further to the parts of the slope in the vicinity of Muzeum Ziemi [Museum of the Earth], because the area of the National Museum is too often patrolled by dog-walkers. Also the fashion of jogging in the park makes this place cease to be a cosy sanctuary, which it was in the days of our ancestors See also: ▶ Centre for Contemporary Art, ▶ Park at Książęca Street
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier monument, Józefa Piłsudskiego Square, built 1925
You will have no difficulty finding Piłsudskiego Square. It is a huge, almost empty area at the rear of Europejski Hotel. If you turn from Krakowskie Przedmieście Street at the hotel, after a few steps you will see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a remnant of a former monumental colonnade of the Saski Palace where handsome soldiers from the Polish Army Honour Guard stand guard (ceremonial change of guard at noon sharp is an attraction worth seeing). Quite a few state and church ceremonies are held in the square annually, and for many Polish people it is a special place commemorating the national history. But it is also worth mentioning due to the rumours about advances made towards the soldiers on guard. As our informants recount when a new draft period started, soldiers ending their service would leave their “successors” visiting cards for queer “fans”. That is what Cezary Krasicki wrote about this phenomenon:
They’re successful most of the time. A friend of mine had a weakness for the uniform. He plied 121. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier a soldier with vodka, treated him to a dinner and a heterosexual porn movie. …Conversations with soldiers led me to a conviction they knew pretty well what the free vodka, dinner and porn movie mean. Soldiers from the Honour Guard are simply aware some gay men are fond of them.
Another person we inquired about it added: We often attended the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It worked perfectly for them. You just got down on your knees and sucked them off. One of them kept guard because they were cautious but still a lot was going on.
The motif of a sexual fascination with Honour Guard soldiers appeared in Mariusz Treliński’s movie Egoiści [Egoists],where one of the protagonists, an affluent architect,
Toilet on Widok Street
played by Jan Frycz, came up with an idea of inviting the an Honour Guard soldier for an orgy. Another reference is in a song by Balkan Electrique, where a soldier was addressee of the following declarations: Will you believe I loved them all but you and We both know I’m afraid to sleep alone at night. The fact that the “uniform” professions: military, the Police and clergy attract gays does not need explanations. In the pre-emancipation times entering hierarchic and highly masculinised institutions, where the lack of a wife did not cause a stir but was rather welcomed or even imposed, was an encouragement for people living a closeted life. These days elite Polish Army units enjoy enormous popularity among gays and lesbians. We should also bear in mind that many homosexual people died defending our country and are symbolically interred in the Tomb. See also: ▶ Balkan Electrique, ▶ Cottages, ▶ Saski Garden
Toilet on Widok Street a cruising area near the intersection with Bracka Street
An unostentatious public toilet and still functioning cruising area on Widok Street. It has never been as popular or highly “ranked” as other cruising places named in the book; however, it has been particularly frequented by junior official white collars – middle-aged male heads of departments, reporters, and accountants with briefcases. Artists, academics, managers, or dignitaries (particularly during the communist regime) have never been keen goers to the place.
122. Cottage on Widok Street
See also: ▶ Cottages, ▶ Fantom
Tomba-Tomba straight-friendly gay club, 37 Brzozowa Street, operated 2004-2010
Tomba Tomba came into existence on the place where the Kokon club used to be, and it called itself the younger sister of the much regretted, now non-existent Le Madame. It is no coincidence, as the club was opened and ran by the same owner, Krystian Legierski (who also owns M25 club in Praga district and Sklep z Kanapkami [Sandwich Shop]). Tomba-Tomba had an attractive location in a narrow tenement building on the edge of the Old Town. Originally, it covered the whole six levels, offering a bit different
climate on each one. When alcohol was being poured in streams at jacuzzi in the basement, on the ground floor people were dancing in foam to the sounds of electro, and over the dancers' heads, at the bar on the first floor, countless conversations were being held in quieter climates. On your way at stairs, you could see one of lewd murals by Karol Radziszewski. The highest levels were buried in chill-out darkness: the third floor, full of nooks and crannies, was furnished with many comfortable seats and made a place for calming, perfect for private conversations and other private activities. A narrow entrance led to chill-out level and the last one – to darkroom – and was on the same condition as in Le Ma: no footwear, please. Obviously, the top two levels were for men only. In its heyday the club distinguished itself with an artistic-political offer. In 2006 after one of the Queer Studies conferences, there was an after party in Tomba, where Judith Butler was a “star”. The orphaned generation of Le Madame started to organize meetings, lectures, talks and perfor- 123. Usta Mariana and Tomba-Tomba clubs mances here. With time, right-bank Praga district and its M25 club turned out to be more attractive for that purpose. Tomba, just as Kokon, faced the necessity of re-searching for its own identity. Recently, and answer to that need was dividing the tenement into two spaces. From top floors a drink-bar Usta Mariana [Marian's Lips] was created and became the stage for cabaret show and more and more popular stand-ups, it also ran its own LGBT films cycle. Tomba Tomba was for some time vibrant with its own, well-known life on lower floors during weekend parties to the sound of electro, electrotechno, deephouse, clickhouse, dubhouse and the like. Eventually, it closed in March 2010. See also: ▶ 11-Listopada Street “basin”, ▶ Queer, ▶ Radziszewski Karol
Toro gay-les club, 3/5 Marszałkowska Street, opened in 2004
Toro is one of the longest functioning and largest strictly gay clubs in the capital – this mere statement makes a more sensitive eye shed a tear, sentimentally reminiscing about no longer existing other big clubs, such as Paradise. On weekends (especially on Saturdays) after midnight the inconspicuous door witnesses teeming line of frequenters, as this place – despite the opinion of being a “fire-station” – often becomes an
TR Warszawa [RozmaitoÊci Theatre]
obligatory point on clubbing map. Around 2 am, there flows in another wave of guests from different places, also those of “higher standards”, and excellent fun often lasts till the crack of dawn (winter time). The inside includes two levels: upstairs rules music, downstairs – male sex. The club does not have pretensions to being snobbish or queer. It is democratic, there is no door selection (on weekends the admission is 15 PLN). One can see both men and women here (the latter are not allowed downstairs), the range of styles and ages is wide. The elongated room upstairs was divided to long bar with sofas and tables, where small-talk and social life dominate, and a dance-floor with a stage, where drag queens regularly perform. Toro also holds concerts of Polish divas and other events, such as the première of the book Berek joined with the celebration of the 15th anniversary of the relationship of Polish celebrities: Tomasz Raczek and Mariusz Szczygielski.
When it comes to music, Toro has the weaknesses of all popular music gay 124. Toro club clubs in Poland: until midnight the decent dance-pap known from the charts prevails, as the time passes it turns into techno-hotchpotch illustrated with stroboscope lights. Around 1 am the crowded dance-floor allows for no more than a stamp with a slight lean. No wonder that one can observe migration to level -1, for men only. The inside downstairs seems more cosy: brick walls, smaller bar, tables and easy-chairs, pleasant chill from air-conditioning and soft, quieter music in the background make this place a perfect spot for relaxing after dancing or other physical excesses, together with nice conversation over drink or a glass of beer. It is also a hall (or a chill-outroom) of a further part: darkroom, advertised as the biggest in the country. On weekdays the club is not so active. It opens for frequenters for, among others, karaoke nights. See also: ▶ 3-5 Marszałkowska Street, ▶ Galeria, ▶ Paradise, ▶ Raczek Tomasz
TR Warszawa [RozmaitoÊci Theatre] TR Warszawa, (formerly - "Teatr Rozmaitości") is one of the most important sanctuaries of art in Warsaw. It currently operates under the name “TR” and, thanks to its artistic director Grzegorz Jarzyna, has opened itself to gay themed plays. It is no wonder, since Jarzyna is the artist who previously, in 1998, directed Unidentified Human
TR Warszawa [RozmaitoÊci Theatre]
Remains and the True Nature of Love by Brad Fraser – a play about which he talked to Katarzyna Bielas in the following way:
What has raised my interest in the script was David, the main character, who is a forty-year-old ex youth leader, and his inner sensibility and how he got into trouble that he saw no solution for. Homosexual scene, drugs and trance music – that's what Warsaw was to me, a newcomer from Krakow. There was another type of energy here, different discussion, one could feel the stirring of some new cultural youth-revolution. It was my first performance. While I worked on it I thought not only of tolerance but also about bringing the gay, the freak, into the icon of Warsaw – Palace of Culture and Science where Teatr Dramatyczny is situated and where the play was staged.
That was a breakthrough moment in the history of Polish theatre. Plays and shows about transgression, homosexuality and gender issues were the theatre’s flag productions. Further successes of TR can be contributed to composing an interesting and creative team. Krzysztof Warlikowski, TR's frequent director, says:
It's a very robust team, from Buddhists to homosexuals etc. They live peacefully with each other. They've learned to tolerat . They understand differences and engage in dialogue. They know the things we deal with in our plays from everyday life. That, for me, makes Rozmaitości the safest place in Poland. A place where we can make emotional bombs of plays like Cleansed by Sarah Kane – a brutal story with homosexuals, transvestites, prostitutes and degenerates as main characters. A story the team of Rozmaitości made into a universal and moving tale of the search for love, for the price of pain and even death.
125. TR Warszawa
An important event – especially for lesbians – was the 2005 premiere of Cokolwiek się zdarzy, kocham Cię [I love you, no matter what] written and directed by Przemysław Wojcieszek. One of the latter big successes of TR was the staging of the legendary seven-hour-long gay trilogy Angels in America directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski. It is no wonder, since homosexuality is one of the interpretative expositions for this director's works. An artist with breadth and international acclaim, he has queered more than one piece, including Shakespeare's Hamlet and operatic King Roger. Although the former,
Trams in Warsaw
starring Jacek Poniedziałek, was met only by critics' consternation, the latter, a staging of Szymanowski's opera in Paris, ended in the audience booing and almost a scandal. The director himself seems to care least of all, eventually people have also left the performances of the multi-awarded Cleansed outraged. Warlikowski always explored taboos and invoked national demons: intolerance, xenophobia, alienation and the crisis of spiritual values. Fascinated by antic tragedy, he always made his works very contemporary, almost documentary and personal. Working with a trusted team enabled him to elevate the stagings to be a cleansing therapy and a dialogue between people. Rozmaitości remain one of the most defiant and provocative theatres in Warsaw. It is where Michał Witkowski (author of the notorious fag novel Lubiewo) presented his Barbara Radziwiłłówna Show, where Michał Borczuch directed Portrait of Dorian Gray, where Dorota Masłowska's texts have been stage-adapted and the most awaited premiere of the 2008/2009 season was T.E.O.R.E.M.A.T based on the works of Piere Paolo Pasolini and accompanied by an exhaustive presentation of his films TR Warszawa also hosted the premiere promotional meeting of the Polish version of QueerWarsaw. See also: ▶ Nowak Maciej, ▶ Radziszewski Karol
Trams in Warsaw There is a Polish gay stereotype concerning their fondness for railway transport. A large group of gays and lesbians has a soft spot for trams and trains. This weakness requires some tolerance: many a household run by a same-sex couple provides the so called “brick” – a thick book with train times – as toilet reading, which speaks for itself.
While straight macho men go into spasms at the sight of flashy showy four-wheeled vehicles, we faint when we see new models of trams, or engines. All railway events eventually become LGBT get-togethers, the attendants of which fight tooth and nail to get a ticket for e.g. a rare excursion to an engine house in Olszynka. It should not come as a surprise then that professions such as engine drivers, tram drivers, or train guards are highly homosexualized. In 2004, Public Transport Authority in Warsaw 126. Old tram depot at Inżynierska Street was the first institution of such kind to standardize the social rights of straight and same-sex partnerships (e.g. by granting free long-term tickets for the driver's “family”) – unfortunately, the Polish law still ignores the term “partnership”.
Trzech Krzy˝y Square
It is advisable to use this means of transport while sightseeing in Warsaw, since – unlike buses – trams avoid getting stuck in traffic jams. Because of the relatively short journey time, the code word “tram” brings a tender smile to many gay faces, reminiscing the past epoch. Due to the crowd in the trams, “frotteurism” was a common practice of that time. Our interlocutor recollects: you had sex on a bus surrounded by people, I mean masturbation, and no one noticed anything. Jerzy Nasierowski, a writer and scandalist, told us: it was simply putting your hand on a dick, quick reconnaissance, catching one's eye and cutting right to the chase. Just like on a fast cruise, a lot could happen in the matter of a few stops. However, we do not recommend those methods to use now, especially if one wants to reach one's destination in one piece.
Trzech Krzy˝y Square Downtown Warsaw boasts a number of squares and plazas, which can be confusing to newcomers. Here we want to focus on the elegant, opulent Trzech Krzyży Square, whose history in the context of Warsaw's gay life and customs is certainly the richest. Ringed by fancy buildings and storefronts, it has been one of the key points of the homosexual trail for decades. The trail began in Alhambra on Jerozolimskie Avenue, or – for a long-distance version – in the bars of Krakowskie Przedmieście Street, and terminated right here, as described by Jerzy Nasierowski:
I always cheer for the gents whose gaze rubs up against wily boys in the crowded streets and snags their calculated glances… Almost sniffing out their trails around Dom Prasy [House of the Press], they track them to Trzech Krzyży Square, stepping into one cafe, then another… Then a loop back via Bracka Street… around Pawilon Chemii, the department store… Down Jerozolimskie Avenue to a third, fourth, fifth cafe… And back to Trzech Krzyży Square. They knew each other from their rounds of circling. The daytime pedestrian crowds swallowed them whole, unnoticed, but normal people would fade out in the falling dusk, stolen away by tomorrow's obligations and the lateness of the night. The rest kept walking the nearly empty streets, unmindful of their early-morning trek to school or work. …Only their gaze would hungrily chase an ambling youth, stiff with aloofness – real or calculated?, they would wonder frantically. But why else would a youth walk like this? …The police would turn up often to check the IDs of men and boys dragged out of a tin privy that could have dated back to the 19th century.
The square's faggy history earned it a particular nickname – Wassermann Square. Our oldest readers might remember the syphilis test invented by August von Wassermann and abandoned in 1976. The good doctor could not have expected that “pederasts” would name their big-city cruising spots after him.
Trzech Krzy˝y Square
Social and erotic life was particularly rampant on the northern wall of the square. That part of the square remains the “in” spot thanks to the eternally trendy bars: Szpilka, Szpulka and Szparka, where you can work on your laptop while sipping an overpriced latte and keeping watch on the crowd. Keeping watch is indeed well worth it – those cafes are frequented by stage and TV stars. For a long while Szpilka has been the only place downtown to offer decent food in the middle of the night and at dawn, earning the respect of locals and visitors alike. Trzech Krzyży Square was once home to all brands and flavours of faggotry, though they used to be less subtle in the ways of spending their free time. As late as 1998 one of its young regulars told Ewa Celanowicz, a Życie Warszawy journalist, about his cruising practices:
127. Szparka cafe
128. Żurawia Street
Finding a lover is so easy. I just go out for a walk near Trzech Krzyży Square. Thousands of people might pass by, but I can tell at a glance whether or not someone is one of us. I don't know how I do it. Then it's straight down the fast track. The park is close by for the warmer months, in winter we can crash at someone's crib. There's no time for flowers, pleasantries or heartfelt proclamations, there's just the sinful sex, for which you subconsciously blame your partner as the living proof of your perversity. We part without talking. Love? Everything is turned upside down…
Nowadays our gaydars do not have to be so finely tuned to figure out who is one of us, but cruising used to be somewhat harder in the era of Stalinist uniformity and in later years. Jerzy Giza wrote in 1963:
A certain city crowd has taken to wearing a red flower in the buttonhole over the summer months. Others carry large, jangling bundles of keys, and yet another group softly whistles a popular tune.
The gay infrastructure extended past the square proper: walking down towards Powiśle district we find ourselves in the park behind the National Museum. The opposite route up Żurawia Street will take us to yet another cruising spot – on the odd-numbered side of the street, along the Ministry of Economics building, bordered by a convenient low wall where one can sit comfortably waiting for company.
Trzech Krzy˝y Square
The heart of the faggot square was formed by the now defunct, classic Socialist eateries: Antyczna, Santos and Lajkonik. (The 1990s homo mags openly stated that older gays frequent those bars.) Their charm is preserved in similar cafes like Amatorska on the main drag of Nowy Świat Street, which attracts a crowd not unlike the Lajkonik regulars. Lajkonik attracted not just the gays (though that word was entirely unknown at the time), but also renowned artists and fashion designers; its walls blossomed with paintings and signatures of Warsaw's best artists dating back to the 1950s. If this were Paris, a place so important to the visual arts scene probably would not have gone under. Antyczna is yet another “A”-name cafe, preserved in the memories of our interviewees chiefly because of its huge, possibly antebellum coffee machine with bristling pipes and dials, and – of course – its ambience:
129. Grzybek in 1990s
130. Place after Grzybek
Trzech Krzy˝y Square
A very cool cafe, it's been a part of my life since forever. Girlfriends sat there chirping who they ended up with, talked with, slept with… The waitresses were very tolerant. There were several cafes like this, folks felt right at home there.
But another of our interlocutors said I didn't like the ambience – you can't sit here, it's HER table; and not here either, SHE has a claim on this place. I preferred to stay out of this scene.
We asked many people about lesbian presence in those cafes – apparently some lesbians would sometimes walk into Lajkonik, Alhambra or Na Trakcie, but that was a very rare occurrence. It seems that back then, the women did not create “their” places, or could not (preferred not to?) participate in the cafe culture of the homo-trail. Or maybe we are wrong and the lack of recorded lesbian presence proves once again their exclusion from the gay life. Let us hope we can write more about women's participation in the QueerWarsaw space in future revisions of our book. Trzech Krzyży Square had even more to offer in the olden days – the triangle formed by lanes of traffic held the famous (19th C?) Grzybek [Mushroom], an old-fashioned public toilet. Its legendary metal structure only theoretically served the purpose of voiding – the cosy labyrinth was chiefly used for casual sex, mutual masturbation and other sexual functions. According to one of the most whimsical legends about Grzybek, this is where queens sucked off the heroes of the Warsaw Uprising. This cruising spot, possibly the most famous one in Poland, was nevertheless infamous for its terrifyingly unhygienic conditions and frequent police raids. However, the hordes of people that flocked there for a bit of hard-earned relief did not mind those drawbacks. Some of its regulars were after pleasure, others – after money:
The homosexual aristocracy throws various orgies and group holidays. It supports a passel of gigolos, punks and hoppers. How can they afford it? Last year I decided to experience life in Warsaw; on Trzech Krzyży Square two young thugs put a knife to my back and took my money and travelling bag. The high life is not for me. There are slot machines near the public privy; when a player runs out of money and can't buy any more tokens, he zips off to the park and gives a faggot a bit of joy in the bushes, then returns to his machines with some cash. The time will come when he starts cursing his wasted life just like me…
The gay and lesbian reality changed over time – 18 years later Grzybek was described as a sad, miserable place frequented by older gays who grew up in the PRL era and had a hard time fitting in this new reality. Most people remember it as a repulsive place, whose only asset was accessibility:
I spent most of the time in Antyczna on Trzech Krzyży Square. Grzybek was a hideous place, you had to be really desperate to go there. I can see that older or
Trzech Krzy˝y Square
less attractive guys would hang out in that can, but if you're 18 and not the ugliest thing around, you tend to avoid it. [The police] snagged me there once in 1976 and held me for 4 hours, then another time for 8. If they booked you at 5pm, they'd let you out at 2am. I stopped going there afterwards. Grzybek finally gave up 2005, making room for strips of grass and the seasonal beer gardens of tony, pleasantly fresh bars. Legend has it that after Grzybek was so traitorously dismantled in the middle of the night, graveyard candles appeared in the empty spot. There is a similar story about the Grzybowski Square privy. However, the other nearby cruising spots have remained. The “Ruch” news agent near the post office (13 Trzech Krzyży Square) was an important supporting feature of the cruising infrastructure – ever since the 1990s it has been offering a full range of gay magazines, sold with a smile. When first LGBT magazines started appearing after 1989, not all news agents opted to carry them, so knowing where to buy them was invaluable. Some “Ruch” kiosks – like the one at Chopina Street. – were even said to be gay-friendly. The opposite side of the square, dominated by the Sheraton hotel, was the TV home of Magda M., the protagonist of one of the most popular shows in the TVN network (2005-2007). The most loyal of her friends was a gay man called Sebastian, the first recurring homosexual character in Polish soap operas presented in a fa- 131. Ruch kiosk vourable light. This might have been caused by the utter lack of controversy around him – despite his good looks he was extremely asexual, barely had any personal life, and usually served as a convenient shoulder to cry on for the protagonist. Despite that, a large subset of city gays loved the series and would sometimes gather under the balcony of their televised heroine. Eventually, in 2007, the Fundacja Równości presented TVN with the Hiacynt Award for promoting tolerance (in part through the existence of this character). Interestingly enough, in the early 1990s the same building hosted Cafe Ewa, a popular homo hangout in the underground showroom of Moda Polska, the main national fashion house in communist times. The cafe did not survive for long, though, and was in turn replaced by Red Club. Down past the hotel you will find the building of the former municipal swimming pool, occupied by yet another club – Centralny Basen Artystyczny. Concerts, shows and performances are held in the old pool, as well as movie retrospectives, poetry slams and other cultural events. The Polish branch of YMCA, of the Village People fame, used to exist not far from there. See also: ▶ Broadway, ▶ Cottages, ▶ Między Nami, ▶ SPATiF
UFA What is UFA? Is it a female equivalent of UFO? UFA debuted in 2007 as a child of Centra Foundation animated by the feministic-queer collective and was located at 82 Solidarności Avenue. UFA is a mix between a cultural centre, a gallery, and a raging non-governmental organization. It offers lectures, discussions, workshops, everything that collectively comprises the criterion of “place”. Genderqueer reigns in UFA – an explosive mixture of sexual and gender identity. UFA offers to the whole gang of freaks a wide variety of attractions: screen printing workshop, unpretentious painting with anything you can, schooling, support programs, and anything we can imagine. Initially, UFA was a subtenant of Fundacja RównoÊci [Equality Foundation] (organizer of
EuroPride 2010), and at the beginning of 2009 chose to get located in an antinuclear shelter, previously a tights’ storehouse. In addition to the rooms on the ground floor (with an intriguing alcove), it has its main space in the cellar, which in the event of World War III was to pre 132. Former UFA seat serve the cream of the Warsaw working class – an extensive cellar, with walls so thick that they allow loud and rude night carousing. The last room is equipped with a stage, but – as a place for alternativeness and uniqueness – it is not an arena for drag queen shows, but other cultural and social initiatives. UFA's antinuclear shelter is not the only establishment of its kind in the area. Each of the the blocks of flats of Mirów and Muranów districts built in 1950s is equipped with “protective” nooks and crannies. Buildings closer to Dzielna Street create a veritable bastion of cleverly placed sniper-rifle-shooting-range – that part of the city could be turned by the Polish People's Army (of the old system) into a veritable fortress against the invasion of the capitalist from the West. See also: ▶ Barbie Girls, ▶ Campaign Against Homophobia, ▶ Feminoteka Foundation, ▶ Lambda-Warsaw, ▶ Political Critique, ▶ Squat Elba
Unii Lubelskiej Square Here ends the city centre and starts another city district: Mokotów. The shabby ruins we can see on the right are all that remained from Supersam, the first Polish supermarket and a fine example of modernistic architecture. Unfortunately, the ground and the building were bought by a real estate company which decided to demolish
the store. Other interesting buildings in the vicinity are the Bromke and Łaski tenement houses from the beginning of the 20th century. They belong to the scarce examples of what used to be Warsaw before 1939. Those buildings that were rebuilt after the war changed very often their shape and splendour and are hard to recognize on old pictures. The square is also famous for its metal poster pillar from 1894 – the oldest in town. Local authorities wanted to move it to Krakowskie Przedmieście Street, but neighbours were successful in defending this historic urban furniture to stay there. For us, the place is important as it was here that on 1st December 1991 Stowarzyszenie Grup Lambda [Lambda Groups Association] organized the first commemoration of
the World AIDS Day. Activist were distributing condoms and leaflets. It seems it was the first example of an action openly targeting the AIDS and sexuality issues in public. Years later, the commemoration of the World AIDS Day moved to the Old Town and the Zamkowy Square.
See also: ▶ Gombrowicz Wiktor, ▶ Lambda-Warsaw, ▶ Sigismund Column
Utopia gay club, 1 Jasna Street, opened 2001
Some say this is a place where a proper, world class club scene started in Poland. Utopia escapes being labelled exclusively as a gay club, it is more of a place for the elites - and one of trendiest Warsaw venues. It attracts hoards of metrosexual straights, including important people in Polish media, fashion, music and politics. The club is located in the basements of the beautiful “Pod Orłami” tenement house, built in 1912-1917 and designed by Jan Heurich Jr. The building, which formerly belonged to Bank Towarzystw Spółdzielczych [Bank of Co-Operative Societies], was destroyed during the Warsaw Uprising, and then rebuilt in a slightly modified form in the 1950s. Rainbow flags have been flying above (now a bit on the side) for decades. Not because of the gay club, but because Polish co-operative movement has chosen rainbow as its symbol. It is still being used today, by the now privatised company. One of the club regulars, the trangendered Jej Perfekcyjność [Her Perfection], has produced a sociological dissertation about the club, giving the following description:
It is an “exclusive” and “elitist” club – to which not everyone is admitted. …Its exceptional character has its source, in my opinion, in its myth building …of wonderful times at gay discos. Because since 1960s, in countries like the United States, the Netherlands or Canada, a picture of uninhibited fun, that is to characterise gay clubs, is being created. Ripped from its exceptional packaging, its sweet pinkness, it turns out to be simply another place to have fun. A place like many in the capital city. It could be argued whether the music played there, and visiting DJs, define the clubs quality. Or does the myth of wonderful gay club
attracts those best musicians? And makes it impossible to say they that a performance was weak, “because this is Utopia”. In its commitment to assuring proper atmosphere, apart from the level of performances, Utopia became famous for its mysterious door-policy. Club's main bouncer, Daniel, is known around the country, and has been described by press: This nice, although sometimes mean, chap lets customers in according to a very specific key – his own whim. He denies entrance with improbable charm – in his wonderfully camp voice, shrugs and says calmly: “I am very sorry, this is a private party.” (GO Magazine). In a review on one of the websites (topdj.pl) the WOWs on interior and music are accompanied by such remarks:
Inside it's all smiles, very polite, and very pleasant, but only after several basic conditions are met: 1) you are let in, 2) you aren't there for the first time, 3) you are more handsome than bartenders, 4) the outfit you're wearing is worth more than 3000 zloty. Grzegorz Okrent is the club's owner. One of the first gay rights activists in Poland, he was, at the beginning of the 1990s, the president of Stowarzyszenie Grup Lambda [Lambda Groups Association]. Today he can be seen more often doing Oprah hugs with celebrities than on gay rights rallies. Or to be more precise – the celebrities visiting Utopia's VIP-room, decorated by the famous Polish designers Maciej Zień and Monika Goszcz, from which “The Queen” and her guests rarely go out to greet “the queers”.
People who have partied at the club include the R.E.M. band members, model Eva Herzigova 133. Utopia club or famous director Gus van Sant. Regulars of the club are Polish faces from glossy magazines: designers, stylists, singers, and all kinds of TV-celebrities. On stage you can see the starts of music world such as Kiko Navarro, Funxtar Deluxe, Tim Deluxe, David Guetta or Ultra Nate. Other events like record launches or promotions, taking place there, are closely monitored by magazines and local versions of Perez Hilton. The recipe for Utopia seems to be: the feeling of exclusivity, kitsch decor and camp pretence. And although Utopia-snobbism causes spasms of laughter among the less snobbish part of the gay community, some “girlfriends” would only party there and nowhere else. New places are appearing that imitate Utopia's glamour style. It is not a co-incidence that the Galeria club has been refurbished to resemble that look. Apart from the newly opened club The Queer in the Old Town, there is also the Candy Andy Party, organised
once a month, in various clubs around the capital. Date and place are announced on Facebook. Three editions of this event took place at The Nine near Zachęta art gallery. These and similar events are partly directed at the guests of Utopia, and treated by some as a “before-party”. Once, even special taxis were officially provided, to conveniently transport clubbers to Utopia at 2-3am, where proper fun time is just beginning and will last until the morning. See also: ▶ Hortex, ▶ Koźla Pub, ▶ Między Nami
Victoria Hotel Królewska Street 11
The hotel is situated on the southern side of Piłsudskiego Square. Built in 1974-76 at the site of the 19th century Kronenberga Palace (as it often happened in Poland, despite the building surviving the war, the authorities found a more “suitable” solution). Victoria was one of the most prominent buildings in the communist Poland. A meeting place of dignitaries, a lodging for foreign delegations and a meeting point for gays at night. As many recall, the hotel lured local prostitutes in prospect of getting acquainted with foreign currencies, constantly short in those days. The procedure usually started in Czarny Kot [Black Cat] club and ended up in the hotel suites or a nearby park. The hotel has recently been refurbished and regained some of its former splendour, but let us face it – it is still barely possible to call it beautiful. However, one can still find traces of the original buildings around Piłsudskiego Square, like Zachęta gallery (highly recommended) or the buildings overlooking Krakowskie Przedmieście Street that remind us that old time Warsaw had narrow streets and its present day outlook is the consequence of the last warfare and the post-war wild-time reconstruction.
Volcano club,3 Zgoda Street, now closed
A club started at the beginning of 2003. This is how Gejowo.pl described it: Zgoda Street cuts through Chmielna Street right in the middle, so it is the very centre of the city. An inconspicuous entrance with an entry phone (next to Jajo pub) does not suggest that you have just arrived at one of the most diverse gay places in the city, but right after you go in, a genuine club materializes in front of your eyes. A very handsome staff greets us and invites further into the depths of Volcano. We are enchanted by the corridor of lights, the disco and the stylish bar which draws attention and surprised with somehow non-Warsaw prices (large beer – 5 PLN). The skilfulness of the interior designer responsible for Volcano’s décor is to be marvelled at also in the dancing room. Another attractions include
a cinema room, an erotic shop and (a novelty) a Gay Cyber Café … . However, the greatest asset of the club are original and very spacious darkrooms (as it would appear, one of the biggest in the country). Volcano, despite good advertising in the LGBT media and great diversification of attractions (like e.g. organizing Lesbian Parties), was closed in November 2003. The alleged reason was the lack of license to sell alcohol traded from “under the counter”, which was promptly reported to the proper authorities.
Waldorff Jerzy music critic, 1910-1999
Distinguished music critic, writer, publicist and community activist, instigator of the campaign to restore the monuments of the Powàzki Cemetery, known as “the last baron of the PRL”. An iconic figure in Polish LGBTQ movement. Waldorff lived on the corner of Przyjaciół Avenue and Koszykowa Street with his long-term partner, Mieczysław Jankowski (1917-2005), Great Theatre dancer and teacher at the State Ballet School. Their dachshund, Puzon, also lived with them. Waldorff kept his relationship under cover. He would introduce his partner as his first cousin. “Miecio” was taking care of Waldorff and keeping the house. Waldorff’s homosexuality was a commonly known fact, although never publicly expressed before his death. Mariusz Urbanek in the book Waldorff. Ostatni Baron Peerelu [Waldorff. The Last Baron of the PRL] did a lot for Waldorff’s outing:
At first she [Waldorff ’s mother] was despairing that Jerzy was not going to marry Krysia. But when he told her how things were, Mum said: “The things are what they are”, Mieczysław Jankowski told Kurski. She agreed for the son to bring his friend home. It was 1st May 1939. When Jankowski entered the hall of the Warsaw apartment at Piusa Street, she was waiting. She broke the ice straightaway: “I welcome my second son”. “She was a woman of distinction”, Mieczysław Jankowski said. “She really did treat me like a second son, always with the greatest fondness. The rest of the family found out about everything during a formal dinner that Waldorff ’s mother threw”.
After Miecio’s death both gentlemen were put to rest in the same grave. Waldorff’s biography describes its hero’s dilemmas, when he was trying to provide his partner with financial security and assure Miecio’s rights to their shared assets after Waldorff’s death. That is why Waldorff’s example is often recalled by the gaylesbian movement as an argument that same-gender relationships should be legalized. There is an issue of Miecio’s plaque on their shared grave:
Warsaw Gay Movement [Warszawski Ruch Homoseksualny, WRH]
In the end… the urn with Mieczysław Jankowski’s ashes was put to rest in Waldorff ’s grave. The priest taking care of Powązki just wanted to know if the family did not mind… The tin plaque with the name of Mieczysław Jankowski stayed there for several months. And then it disappeared.
And it is still gone. It so happens in our “country famous for tolerance which did not see any stakes” – as Poland is often referred to – that even the most distinguished individuals cannot be themselves, even after they had passed away. Jerzy Waldorff is a symbol of Powązki Cemetery, the most reputable cemetery in Poland, where the most distinguished ones have been buried since the 19th century: writers, artists, politicians. Every year on 1st November, All Souls’ Day, well known actors raise money for the restoration of the tombs under the watchful eyes of television cameras. It has become a tradition in Poland. Jerzy Waldorff still collects the biggest amount of money. A collection box had been placed next to his grave.
134. Tombstone of Jerzy Waldorff and Mieczysław Jankowski
His grave is also where lots of gays peregrinate. Many of them come to Powązki on 1 November especially to light a candle for him. See also: ▶ Grand Theatre and Polish National Opera, ▶ Powązki
Warsaw Gay Movement [Warszawski Ruch Homoseksualny, WRH] organisation, operated in 1980s
If you think there were no gay rights activists in Poland in 1980s – you are very wrong. Waldemar Zboralski, a legend of the Polish “movement” agreed to share some of his recollections of this time. Waldemar regularly publishes for gay magazines. Since 2007 he has been living with his partner in the United Kindgom, where they registered their civil union.
I arrived in Warsaw in 1986. I lived here for two years – from January 1986 to April 1988. In those days, in order to launch an organisation you had to go out and find activist-type people. And if you wanted to meet the right people, you shouldn't look for them in parks, but in bars. That's how I got in touch with
Warsaw Gay Movement [Warszawski Ruch Homoseksualny, WRH]
Warsaw Polytechnic and Warsaw University students. The group started to form around these circles. Plus there were a few journalists, and academics. I was 26, and I was trying to reach out to people and encourage them to join the movement. One of the places where I was looking, was, for instance, the Na Trakcie bar. That was at the Royal Route, near the Sigismund Column. This place was a sort of a bar – a cafe – with two rooms. The room on the left was occupied by gay men, and the room on the right by everyone else. Whenever someone arrived there for the first time, wasn't oriented in this arrangement, and went to the left, they immediately came across those very very camp boys with their highpitched voices. And so they quickly backed out to the room to the right. This bar was somewhere between Miodowa Street and the Sigismund Column. The space was really tiny, a bar for just five or six stools. I've also made some attempts to meet people at Ambasador. The building was a hotel in those days, and its function room was a restaurant, a rather highbrow one – with prices to reflect that. It was occupied by gay men – mainly on Friday and Saturday nights. But I didn't manage to find many people interested in activism there. People were somehow “aware” of this place, they arranged to meet one another by phone. You could tell that there were more gays on certain days. When a group of gay people got to know one another at the Ambasador, they'd go to someone's house later in the night. There was also this small cafe at the Trzech Krzyży Square, called Lajkonik, at the corner near the church, and Amatorska cafe, a bit further down. I know Amatorska was a popular place, too. As was Alhambra, but the latter rather among those less well-off. So then I just quit seeking in clubs and focused on students. We began to have socials, first at people's homes. Then, when the group was growing – in a community centre on the Orlik housing estate in Praga district. The boy who got this arranged for us, he's no longer alive today. In 1987, in autumn, a gay discotheque was organised there. I remember that even the Ambassador of Brazil turned up. Many, many people! After that, we tried to structure our activism, to find a place for our new movement. We considered the premises of the Polish Socialist Youth Union (ZSMP) on Smolna Street. We sought contacts there, but the doors were always closed for us. My favourite place, when we didn't meet in large groups, was Amatorska. It was such an ordinary, calm place, with stable clientele, not too camp, and not too expensive. The idea for the movement came about sometime at the beginning of the 80s. ILGA (International Lesbian and Gay Association) decided then to channel the movement in Eastern Europe. And these were still the times of the Iron Curtain! Vienna was chosen as the centre for this task – and an organisation there called Homosexuelle Initiative Wien [HOSI Wien]. They were to take care of the gays in Eastern Europe. In practice it worked like this: many people from Poland, and other countries, were sending letters to gay newspapers in France, Germany. I was sending such letters too, to newspapers, to organisations. All
Warsaw Gay Movement [Warszawski Ruch Homoseksualny, WRH]
our letters were then sent to Vienna. At the beginning of 1984 Vienna established that there was a group in Poland numerous enough to undertake activism. Letters kept coming for many years. People were writing all sorts of things, some asked for pornography, some were looking for friends. But there were some who wanted to take action, take part in a gay movement of some sort. At this time the movement hasn't yet worked out any specific aims. The general idea was to get to know one another, not only sexually, but also to find friends, just to meet people. And these people in Vienna have established a list of people whom it would be worth to contact. And in this very year, 1984, the list was sent to us in Poland. To many different people. And everyone got a list of addresses of other gays in their region. With a suggestion that if they want to do something for the world of gay people in Poland they should contact one another, and start doing something, take some action, form an association. These letters were signed by Marek Jaworski, and it was Andrzej Selerowicz's alias. He was a translator, social activist, he translated many works including The City And The Pillar by Gore Vidal. He was active in Vienna and took care of this task. People from Wrocław answered him first. They got together and founded a group called ETAP. Vienna published their bulletin of the same name and gave them advice on the course of action. I started to attend their meetings. Because the exchange of information in Poland was under observation, secret services were spying on us. “Hyacinth” action was a result of that. This very intensive exchange of letters, and the attempts to legalise organisations, were the prime cause for the “Hiacynt” action. This was an attempt to form a national organisation that was not inHyacinthcontrol of the government. And all financed from abroad – ETAP had its bulletin, which I mentioned, published abroad and smuggled into the country. In 1985 I already had “Hyacinth” action to deal with. Then I felt I should move out, and leave my home town. Andrzej Selerowicz advised me to move to Warsaw. There were some earlier attempts to form something in Warsaw. I moved there in 1986, and I received the Warsaw contacts – Sławek Starosta, Krzysiek Garwatowski. That's how the Warsaw Gay Movement began. First activists were meeting in a basement room at Piaseczyńska Street. That was the headquarters of the youth branch of the PRON (Patriotyczny Ruch Odrodzenia Narodowego [Patriotic Movement of National Rebirth]). Others also recall this spot; Paweł Fijałkowski wrote at homiki.pl portal: I had no doubts we were being watched. Boczkowski in his book Homoseksualizm [Homosexuality] quotes an un-named person who took part in those meetings:
It was a fashion, those days, to engage yourself in underground business. Indeed underground in this case, as meetings took place at this communist organisation called PRON. Authorities were giving their silent consent, someone
Warsaw Gay Movement [Warszawski Ruch Homoseksualny, WRH]
must have known about what was going on. I think meetings were on purpose in the PRON-Youth club, so that someone was able to monitor what we were up to. I don't know what were the connections there. Professor Mikołaj Kozakiewicz is said to also have attended the meetings, one of very few allies that we had back then. Jerzy Nasierowski, writer, showed up once (and wanted to write a play about the WGM). In an interview for Uroda women's magazine he said: Some guy from prosecution office was printing minutes from the meeting. A parody of the so called “movement”. Fijałkowski explains: these were circumstances that could raise moral objections, but we couldn't do anything about it. Anyway, most of us thought that it was still worth to try to do something. An idea for action on a larger scale was born during these meetings. On 1st March 1987 the first working meeting of all active Polish LGBT groups took place at the House of Litertaure at 87-89 Krakowskie Przedmieście Street. Next one was organised on 16th and 17th April at Piaseczyńska Street. It should be noted that the gay and lesbian group was officially operating there as “section for communities, socialisation and resocialisation”. Next big step was made on a meeting on 20th June 1987, when three Warsaw groups: “Gej”, “Warneńczyk” and “Efebos” merged. There was also a lesbian section named after Maria Dąbrowska, a novelist. In July 1987 a meeting of gay-Esperanto speakers, preparing for participation in the World Esperanto Congress, took place. If planning a walk on the Praga side of Warsaw, pop to the neighbourhood of Gocław. In this district, on 19th December 1987, the first half-official gay discotheque in Warsaw took place. People were mixing warm soda with vodka under the table. Chairman Z[boralski] gave a speech – like Wałęsa at the shipyard. For the first time in my life I was proud to be a fag – recalls one of the participants. In March 1988, Waldemar Zboralski and a group of 15 people, including Sławek Starosta and Krzysztof Garwatowski, filed a formal application to register the Warsaw Gay Movement based on the Associations Act. However, due to an intervention from General Kiszczak, Minister of Home Affairs, the decision was negative. Registration was said to be against the rule of “public morality”. Participants of the registration process point to the role of Catholic Church hierarchy in this decision. In those days around 100 people were engaged in the Movement. It distributed an underground magazine Efebos, printed secretly inter alia in the Main Office of Prosecution, by one of the guys who worked there. Some well-known people supported the Movement. Among them were Professor Mikołaj Kozakiewicz (who later became Speaker of the first, partly democratically elected parliament), Daniel Passent (diplomat and editor), Artur Sandauer (professor of literature, literary critic), Szymon Kobyliński (cartoonist, comedian and historian) and Jerzy Kawalerowicz (film director). The idea of the movement was propagated by mainstream media, for instance in Rozmowy intymne [Intimate chat], a tv show that advised on various aspects of sexuality. Although it all sounded very promising, there was noone to support WRH financially. As Sławek Starosta tells us:
Warsaw University of Technology [Politechnika Warszawska]
I walked around, persuaded, but it was no use. Many girlfriends were loaded, but they didn't help out. And so everything fell apart. The gay community was letting us know that bars were enough for them.
Together with the official decline to register the organisation, the movement died out. The first association that eventually got itself registered was Stowarzyszenie Grup Lambda [Lambda Groups Association]. See also: ▶ Nasierowski Jerzy, ▶ Operation Hyacinth, ▶ People's Republic of Poland, ▶ Press, ▶ UFA
Warsaw University of Technology [Politechnika Warszawska] The main building of Politechnika Warszawska [Warsaw University of Technology] is located at Politechniki Square. Like any other institution attended primarily by men, it certainly has its share of cruising areas. According to our sources, the hottest spots on its campus are the toilets in Chemistry and Physics departments. Of all Polish tertiary schools, the Warsaw University of Technology boasts some of the best-organized LGBT student communities, including the thriving PWGay group. “Politechnika Warszawska w Kolorach Tęczy” [“The Rainbow WUT”] serves as an online and offline meeting point for queers who spend their days studying transistors and circuits. In 2006 the WUT gay community had to battle the school's Solidarność (a trade union) representatives, who took offense to the initiative having been described in the school paper.
WC-Club club, 4 Białostocka Street, Praga Północ district, now closed
For many years, Warsaw had no luck with regard to venues for women. We can find traces of old les clubbing in the vicinity of Foksal Street, where girls used to meet in Iwan Groêny or in Masoneria clubs. But it was only WC (Wolny Czas [Free Time]) in Praga district that exposed the hunger for lesbian clubs in the capital and was then the only club just for women. The entrance to the club led through an Internet cafe – it is fair to say that WC was practically hidden in the cafe's back-end. Its grand opening gathered more than 200 women who could hardly fit inside the narrow space. Since then the club regularly hosted
135. Formerly WC-Club
Whore Pits [Kurwie Doły]
sittings, parties, film screenings and themed nights. Unfortunately, WC lasted only for a few months and closed its gates in January 2006. Its fall was sadly noted by Gazeta Wyborcza daily, which acknowledged the demand for female/lesbian clubs. Although Praga district was already then becoming the trendiest Warsaw area, drawing the social and artistic life to the right bank of the Vistula river, the exceptionality of WC lost against its not always friendly surroundings. Moreover, the location of the club in the back of another institution, a free-access Internet cafe, was not the luckiest solution. Currently, WC is thought to have been the first real lesbian club. It is all the more unfortunate that it no longer exists. The troubles of lesbian clubs has been the subject for Elżbieta Turlej on a web portal kobiety-kobietom.com:
“Lezzies do not pay off,” says the owner of a gay club (who wants to remain anonymous). “Why? They have less money, they do not spend as much as men. They order one beer for the entire evening, having eaten earlier at home. Which was the reason for the only Warsaw club for women, WC, to go bankrupt. Personally, I don't like the “sisters”. They often act aggressively, start fights. Sometimes it is better not to let them in.” …The bouncers at Utopia club which is considered to be gay-friendly are agreeable towards anyone, except for lesbians. Of course they can enter “dressed up” as women, in skirts, on high heels, and in make-up. But the “butch” look closes the door in their faces. “The stereotype perpetuated within homosexual circles is that of a nasty dyke who comes to parties and drinks the beers left over by gays, is vulgar and sexually unsatisfied,” says Robert Biedroń. “Unfortunately, gays can sometimes be as intolerant as the rest of the society. For many of them lesphobia is a way to release the stress of their own problems connected with the lack of acceptance. To feel better, they need to find someone inferior to them…”.
Unfortunately not much has changed – even the hit of the recent seasons, women-only club FreeDum, has not managed to hold out. See also: ▶ Bastylia, ▶ Freedum, ▶ Women's Club “Teddy Bear Clinic”
Whore Pits [Kurwie Doły] cruising area
If while gazing out from De Gaulle Roundabout at the other bank of the river you can see big cranes or girders, then it means it is still 2010. Now they are building here the National Stadium, which is going to host the European Championships in chasing the ball. But no longer than a few years ago the passers-by would get spooked by the ruins of the old Stadion Dziesięciolecia [10th-Anniversary Stadium] where
incomers from all over the world ran their untaxed trade. It was truly an exceptional place, one where you could purchase pirated movies and perfume, as well as a machine gun. All that now has been left of the old stadium is a socrealistic sculpture Sztafeta [Relay], placed next to Waszyngtona Avenue. Unfortunately, the tearing down of the past also brought about the fall of legendary bars where some of the citizens tasted for the first time in their lives the Vietnamese or Chinese cuisine. However, why do we even mention this place? As usual, the reason is original – during the PRL period next to the stadium, by the river, a row of latrines spread, around which true “tooting” flourished. One of the most popular places for “outdoor performances” was the space between the Poniatowskiego Bridge and the no longer existing Syreny Brigde – the area called “Kurwie Doły” [“Whore Pits”] in homosexual circles. This is where most of the robberies took place, or even murders on homosexual people who would come here for “outdoor performances”. The regulars of the place remember the cottage as horrible and reeking of chlorine, but boy, were things happening there. Nowadays nothing is happening, because Warsaw has turned away from Vistula River – no other capital in Europe has forgotten about its river as much as ours. One can of course take strolls along the banks, but it is nothing particularly pleasant – there are heaps of rubbish and noise coming from the Wisłostrada route; an obstacle course marked with leftovers of the old splendour. This is supposedly to change, but the citizens have been hearing such promises for years now. See also: ▶ Cottages
Wild Club sex club, Chłodna Street39/3
At Chłodna Street, at the famous settlement Za Żelazną Bramą [Behind the Iron Gate], the most fetishist gay place in Warsaw is located. The club of an evocative name Wild moved here from Próżna Street, where it gained considerable status of a legend because of some spicy events that happened behind the closed doors, and which reportedly attracted large numbers, even female friends from suburban locations. Wild Club is the second sex club in Warsaw, after Fantom. Currently, the -1 level, which is dominated by male-male sex, is equal in size to the upper floor with a spacious bar and many sofas, where gentlemen sit before they dare to cross the curtain concealing the stairs to the underground of the Garden of Eden. Originally Wild was, shall we say, a “regular” sex club, but in response to customer demand it has undergone a gradual specialization – in this example it can be seen that the law of free market does not bypass the LGBT places. Today the club is recommended for all kinds of lovers of all kinds of fetishes – SM, bondage, discipline, spanking, FF, punk, jeans, leather, army, sports, rubber, sneakers, etc. In the twilight zone you will
Women's Club “Teddy Bear Clinic” [Klub Kobiet “Klinika Pluszowych Niedêwiadków”]
find everything you need for a true fetishist happiness – like darkrooms with sling and chains, shackles and a porn cinema. The club operates 6 days a week (except Monday) and every day it organises an event under a different theme slogan. The most popular are: Wild Fetish Party, Underwear & Wild Naked Party and FUCKNight. Customers are in their thirties and after, but it is not the rule; regular club members were surprised more than once by an interesting acquisition, a newbie arriving at Chłodna the first time and having great fun, while it seemed that behind the unassuming boy cherub's face and blond curls there is nothing to look for… As the naked party is firmly in the schedule of events, and at the same time nudeness is considered a fetish, Wild is the perfect place for those of you who do not like to spend long hours looking through the closet before leaving home. The problem with the selection of outfits is gone. See also: ▶ C-13 Club, ▶ Fantom, ▶ Heaven
Women's Club “Teddy Bear Clinic” [Klub Kobiet “Klinika Pluszowych Niedêwiadków”] 99 Racławicka Street (at the so-called “Forty”), now Klub Klinika [Clinic Club]
One of the first lesbian clubs in Warsaw. Opened on the 25th October 2002, it lasted as a lesbian venue for less than a year. The history of the place was presented in an interesting manner by Monika Brzyw in City Magazine:
The club is run by Tatiana, a Russian who has been living in Poland for 12 years. “During my studies I fell in love and came here. Afterwards I tried to flee twice, but it never worked out. In Germany I saw lesbians who were happy and content. I decided to go back and start a club for girls”. Tatiana found a place upon the forts in a newspaper ad. Somebody was looking for a renter for venues which had before housed cotton swabs manufacture. “When I entered the place it looked terribly, all covered in thick layers of old paint and dirt that had to scraped off. But surprises awaited us underneath – a beautiful, wooden window sill, brass threads. I restored the club virtually by myself, with a help of a friend. Today Klinika lures its guests with a stylish bar section, cosy armchairs and unfolded couches. A few years ago Tatiana became tired with the solely female company and limited women's evenings to just one per week – the Friday Porcelain Party. On the rest of the nights both men and women come here, the acquaintances and residents of the nearby houses and estates. However, not everyone is allowed inside. Racławicka Street has one of the stickiest door selections in town. Pleasant men who guard the entrance inside the forts run detailed investigations. One needs to know where they go and why, and during the bigger events – it pays off to know the password. “Plus, one has to be very nice,” Tatiana adds.
If you still want to venture inside the “Forts”, we recommend that you beforehand check on the club's website (www.klinika.art.pl) how to reach the place, as it is particularly well hidden. See also: ▶ Bastylia, ▶ Freedum, ▶ WC-Club
Wyszyƒski Memorial Krakowskie Przedmieście Street, built 1987
Right in front of St. Joseph's church, commonly referred to as the Wizytki Church (Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary), stands (with its back to the church) the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński Memorial unveiled in 1987. During the second Equality Parade in 2002 on this very spot Szymon Niemiec, at that time one of the most prominent LGBT activists, read an appeal to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in which he called out for the end of discrimination towards sexual minorities:
We the citizens of the Republic of Poland being members of the largest minority – counting more than 3 million people – turn to the Catholic Church authorities with a strong appeal: Non possumus! We shall not allow this! We do not allow for the clergy to profess that homosexuality is an illness or deviation. We do not allow for the Catholic Church to call for hatred towards homosexual people and those close to them. …We do not allow for the exemption from punishment of the clergy and hierarchy of the Church to be an example to the youth … . We demand a stop to all discriminatory practices employed by the Church in daily practice.
The clergy did not react to the appeal. Or at least not as we intended: ever since then the Catholic hierarchy has been pointing out “the dangers 136. Wizytki Church and Wyszyński of homosexual propaganda”, sometimes forgetMemorial ting the official stand of the Church expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. One of the most infamous expressions of the clergy about homosexuality was a text by father Dariusz Oko printed in Gazeta Wyborcza daily (03.06.2005) entitled Dziesięć argumentów przeciw [Ten arguments against]:
Gays and lesbians have their clubs, organisations, magazines, influences and lobbies. What is threatened by them are families, marriages, children and
youth. Homosexuals do not urgently need legal privileges but spiritual salvation and good therapists. Let us note that the memorial was also a rally point of our nationalist opposition: the organisations Młodzież Wszechpolska [All-Polish Youth] and Obóz NarodowoRadykalny [National Radical Camp, ONR]. Although it makes us happy to see that the groups of radical right youth dwindle in numbers year after year, we must admit that without their presence, Parades of Manifas would never be the same. See also: ▶ Gay Pride Parade, ▶ Manifa
Zawieyski Jerzy writer, member of Parliament, 1902-1969
A tragic figure. Zawieyski committed suicide by jumping from the fourth floor window of the hospital at 18 Emilii Plater Street, right above a road junction. It happened on 18th June 1969. He was a novelist, playwright, author of sketches and publicist linked with the Catholic monthly Znak, although he is now most famous for being a Member of Parliament in the times of Polish People’s Republic (PRL). It was not a state secret that he was in a long-term relationship with Stanisław Trębaczkiewicz, a psychologist and lecturer at the Catholic University in Lublin. They lived in Polna Street, where they were often visited by neighbourly icons of Polish literature, two lesbian writers Maria Dàbrowska and Anna Kowalska. Here is how Dąbrowska describes those visits in her Dzienniki [Diaries]:
He lives with a “friend” (I found out only a few years ago that he too is homosexual). A gentleman also advanced in years. A very likeable man. A school psychologist. I don’t even know what his surname is. I only know his first name, Staś …The atmosphere of this “male household” is rather pleasant, …rather joyful.
Zawieyski published his own diary, which was a small circulation edition called W alei bezpożytecznych rozmyślań. Kartki z dziennika [In the Alley of Useless Thoughts. The Diary pages] (unpublished in English). In the diary we read that Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński visited the couple in Konstancin. Wyszyński was the highest Polish Church dignitary and was also known as the Millenium Primate, adored by the faithful in Poland. Zawieyski wrote that the visit was a wonderful experience for both him and Staś! Zawieyski, we know that from different accounts, was slightly vain and loved his “official” position. However, he showed what kind of man he was in March 1968, when he interrupted the parliamentary session in Sejm and raised the issue of brutality of the police forces and repressions used against protesting students. The shy question was met with Prime Minister Cyrankiewicz’s hour-long speech. The Prime Minister
was aiming to prove Zawieyski was immoral and that he had succumbed to the propaganda of the enemy. Zawieyski had to give up his function as an MP and was stripped of all his privileges. Well, perhaps not all of them. He was at least admitted into the government hospital after he had suffered a stroke. His life ended in unclear circumstances in the same government hospital. This is how Włodzimierz Kalicki describes the writer’s suicide:
He wrote in his diary: “I have lived for too long. And I am deadly scared of going on living”. Struggling with constantly appearing insults, tormented by worries, not able to get out of politics once and for all, the writer was fading away day by day. It was painful for Zawieyski that his colleagues from “Znak” did not stick up for him when they were informed by Kliszko that the party did not agree to him being an MP in the next term. Ten days after the party’s veto he had a stroke. Zawieyski comes to the window. It is low, unprotected. He reaches for the handle. Even he, so weak and helpless, manages to open it. With a superhuman effort he slides out on to the long balcony surrounding part of the fourth floor. He walks several metres to the corner, turns around and stops in front of the low railing made of metal rods. This is not his first visit here. A few days ago, during Mrs Bochyńska’s visit, the now mute writer was trying to open his balcony door. Then he crawled all the way to the corner and around, and pointed to the little kiosk with cigarettes down there, on the corner of Hoża Street and Emilii Plater Street. He was communicating his need for cigarettes. Now he 137. Former government hospital stops at the same spot. The puny body falls down to the ground. It breaks the tree branches. A caretaker runs out of the gate at 59 Hoża Street. The body lies by the curb, covered with green twigs. The authorities don’t bother letting the deceased’s relatives and friends know. It is late morning when a Catholic activist Jan Frankowski comes to his prearranged meeting with the Minister of Justice. The phone rings. Frankowski is all ears. He realizes that somebody is informing the Minister about Zawieyski’s death. Stefan Kisielewski writes in his diary this evening: “Has he jumped on purpose or fallen out in a daze? We will never know. …Such a horrible end to a man whom we all loved so much. And what a scandalous lack of care for the semiconscious patient in this supposedly exemplary hospital. I don’t even want to think about it!”.
Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute [Instytut Teatralny Zbigniewa Raszewskiego]
We discuss here his “suicide”, although there are several other hypotheses as to how Zawieyski had died. One of them is the theory described by Dariusz Baliszewski in his article Upadek z wysokości [A fall from the heights], where he quotes doctor Tadeusz Charewicz, who was on duty in the clinic on that day. Charewicz says that Zawieyski was not able to move his limbs. In 2008, on the anniversary of “March 1968”, Zawieyski’s speech was shown on television. With all the drama and tragedy involved, it was difficult not to smile – Zawieyski’s speech in Parliament was delivered in such a grotesquely sissy manner… See also: ▶ Dąbrowska Maria, ▶ Parliament.
Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute [Instytut Teatralny Zbigniewa Raszewskiego] cultural institution, 1 Jazdów Street, established in 2003, functioning till today
The biggest Polish archive providing documentation on theatre. The Institute owns, among others, 60 000 files of individual artists, 80 000 programmes, 1 million photographs and negatives, 40 000 posters, records of stage scenery projects and other kinds of documentation. The Institute runs under its auspices a vertical portal e-teatr (e-theatre), which is the essential source of information about Polish stages and an archive of source texts from both the national and local press. Located in a rather small building close to Pałac Ujazdowski [the Ujazdowski Palace], the Institute has been a scene of lectures, exhibitions, festivals and educational projects. It is here that professor Maria Janion’s foundation Gender Center has found its shelter, as well as the project Inna Scena [A Different Scene], 138. Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute which engages in a discourse about the history and the future of theatre in the context of gender and sexuality as looked at from the perspective of gender studies and queer theory. The Institute has been run for many years by a vivid figure, Maciej Nowak. See also: ▶ Centre for Contemporary Art, ▶ Nowak Maciej
Złote Tarasy [Golden Terraces] shopping mall, 1 Złota Street, opened in 2007
It would be hard to call Warsaw Central Station an embodiment of modernity, but in the 21st century it was upgraded thanks to an enthralling extension covered by an
Złote Tarasy [Golden Terraces]
impressive canopy of glass domes. Złote Tarasy [Golden Terraces], situated right next to the station, is one of the most frequented commercial complexes in the city centre, loved by many for its glamour and fancy architecture, loathed by others for being a sophisticated, yet unfriendly meeting place and an orientation point, and – a bit spitefully – a waiting room of the neighbouring train stations (people strolling with their luggage are a common sight here). The state-of-the-art construction of the late 2000s, a high-class-aspiring shopping mall, is also the usual destination for tourist trips and offers a quick glimpse and the latest metrosexual trends, which are often presented better by the visitors than the mannequins in the shop windows. The centre houses approximately 200 shops of well-known brands, foreign (Mexx, Sisley, Nike, Benetton, Esprit, Diesel, Bugatti, Zara, Bershka, H&M), as well as local (House, Vistula), shoe shops, beauty salons, grocery, music and electronics stores and empik, where you can buy books, CDs, gifts and tickets for cultural events. The highest level is packed with fast food restaurants (e.g. McDonalds, and one of the sparse in Warsaw Burger Kings), but you will see also a classy fitness club and a multiplex, with an entrance vividly suggestive of a vagina: the pink gates are truly “vaginal” in shape. The lowest level is taken by reputable restaurants – Hard Rock Café and Jazz Club Akwarium. Typically for a respected shopping mall, Złote Tarasy provides a cruising area – gay websites are full of ads like: mutual masturbation in the toilet next to [insert a name of an expensive designer label]. However, we kindly inform public space “handjob” enthusiasts that such practices are more of wishful thinking of horny Internet users and they are rarely put into practice. The question if gays and lesbians have really taken liking to Złote Tarasy remains unanswered, especially when you take into consideration the hordes of assorted fairies and bulldykes, besieging shops of the same brands during sales on the so-called Eastern Wall (Marszałkowska Street, on the other side of Pałac Kultury). The glass roof – impressive, yet leaking during heavy showers – is not enticing enough, and the complicated system of lanes and corridors strips Theresa (the mall’s nickname) off a classic catwalk impression (which is an unquestionable asset of another shopping mall – Arkadia). The appeal of the centre was diminished even more when the gay-friendly TV channel TVN decided to give up shooting their Sunday programmes Studio Złote Tarasy on the first floor of the mall. See also: ▶ Arkadia, ▶ Rotunda PKO BP
t this point QueerWarsaw ends - the first LGBTQ guide to the Polish capital. The first English-language edition includes 140 entries that describe places and people of Warsaw, historically, culturally or socially important for gay and lesbian community. In the supplement, we also present longer essays on the genesis and beginnings, the present and prospects for Polish LGBTQ movement. One may think that this is a book which was mostly written and is being written by the city: the intention of its authors was only to create a simple leaflet with a walking tour in which we wanted to familiarize the readers with the non-heteronormative spaces of Warsaw. After starting to collect the materials, it soon became apparent that their quantity and volume far exceeds the framework of a leaflet or even a brochure, and it is more than enough to create a serious publication. The authors conducted dozens of interviews, went through the resources of newspaper archives and libraries (big thanks to the huge collections of Lambda Warsaw archive), discovered forgotten places and histories. The text grew rapidly and still continues to grow, lives its own life. After the book premiere, another witnesses of events have come forward, new stories from the past have flooded. The city which we show is alive and continues to change. Some dwellings, which we described yet in the present time, ceased or ceases to function, their place is taken by new spaces which are gay and lesbian friendly. Tomba-Tomba and Usta Mariana suddenly disappeared. We felt right at home in a newly opened restaurant, Tel Aviv (11 PoznaĹ„ska Street), NaleĹ›nikarnia at Chmielna Street, a new tavern at ChĹ‚odna Street, or in 5-10-15 artistic and cultural center. Since April 2010, Glam Club has been trying to begin its activity, officially opened at the end of May. Warsaw, also the queer one, changes all the time. If you arrive here on Europride or later, you may already come to another city, changed by the people who want and are trying - with varying success - to break stereotypes and fight for public space for LGBTQ people. Polish version of the book is arranged in four ready walking routes, during which we were telling familiar tales about historical and contemporary times. In the Englishlanguage edition we decided to translate its content in the form of a lexicon, simplified and more systematized on the one hand, on the other - enriched by the content which would familiarize foreigners who are not necessarily accustomed to the Polish realities EN
with the described phenomena. This arrangement of the material allows one to choose the places to visit with regard to interests and also the time available. Those who like to do sightseeing as suggested in guides are not left out in the cold: at the end of the book there is a map with four original routes which are marked in interesting places with the numbers of terms that refer to them. To complement the modern image of the Polish capital in the eyes of gays and lesbians, the authors of QueerWarsaw turned to its known gay residents with the question how do they like living in Warsaw and whether they consider it as a city which is homofriendly.
Robert Biedroń, social activist: Today Warsaw is not friendly to anything that is different, standing out from the social or cultural “norm”. There are certainly islands of “Otherness”, but each of them is alone, does not constitute a whole atoll of islands of diversity. Warsaw’s “Otherness” does not penetrate every day, as it is in the case in multicultural Berlin, Prague and Moscow. The capitals of the today world throb, blaze, steam, smell and stink with the diversity. Warsaw had “other” climate before World War II. Ziemiańska café where art bohemians met, Jewish quarters, the Russian and the Prussian minority. Warsaw lived, provoked, breathed. In today’s Warsaw everything is “done secretly at home” - gay men have their own clubs which do not flaunt with otherness, Lesbians have their parties (because they are not let into many clubs), Jews have their own conspiratorial world, Kazakhs have their hidden location. However, there is no permeating of these cultures, no common connector. Not many people flaunt today.
Sylwia Chutnik, writer I do not think that it is friendly anywhere in Poland. Warsaw has this advantage that it is a sizeable city and thanks to it you can safely cocoon somewhere among trusted people and survive. Metropolises are by nature more open to all existence next to the norm because even if we see a couple of guys holding hands on the sidewalk, they disappear in a tram or somewhere in the crowd of people before we even turn around. On the other hand, each city means a battle: for own space, own rights, own “piece of the floor”. The same applies to communities of sexual minorities - not only you need to argue about the use of the due right to demonstrate (the banning of Pride Parades) or the location of meetings (unforgettable Madame Le), but also about the right to live with a boy- or a girlfriend in one apartment and not having to listen to comments from neighbors every now and then. This “fight” can be won.
Jacek Kochanowski, sociologist I regret to say that Warsaw is not the city that is best equipped with the places for gay / les / trans. In this respect, I prefer Łódź with my favourite sauna Ganymede, cult Narraganset or the new, exclusive Blue Queen. In Warsaw I visit almost exclusively Lodi Dodi (mainly during the week, because I do not like crowds), where there is always smiling Tomek waiting for me- the bartender with good heart; I also visit the sauna in Fantom, the oldest and cult Warsaw club. I like staying in the places “with soul” where you can just sit and talk. Hence all those snob-clubs are totally not for me. It seems to me that - quite contrary to the popular opinion - gay clubs are and will continue to be needed, because as long as the world around us is the heteronormative world, we will need places where we can be “at home” even if it smells like “ghetto”. They do not need to be and should not be places “closed” in any way, with the selection and other police. Open, yet ours - the places where you can come and complain that another picked up guy is married or a priest. Places (gently) homonormative.
Krzysztof Kliszczyński, social activist: Is Warsaw homofriendly? I was wondering about this question for just a moment. For me, the answer is obvious: yes! I go out with my boyfriend, we kiss goodbye by the block of flats. The neighbor smiles and nods saying “good morning”. Pride Parade goes down Marszałkowska Street, tram passengers smile at us. The Parade turns into Piękna Street and there is an old lady on the balcony pointing at her crutches. She cannot go with us, but she waves at us. Our volunteer, from Silesia, goes to one of the City Halls of Warsaw, and sends me a text message: Cool office. There are posters of Lambda and KPH, and ladies clerks are not wearing uniforms. Warsaw is friendly. Not only for gays and lesbians. For all “others”. Warsaw - looking for its metropolitan identity – crawls in “diversity”, but it already knows that this is the way to go. Even if some of its residents still do not know that.
Maciej Nowak, journalist, theatrical and culinary critic: Gay Warsaw begins at the threshold of my apartment. I live in a block of flats in Szczęśliwice, where my grandparents moved in 1950 and where my mother and uncle grew up. I myself went back there in the mid 1980s, and since my professional life for a long time consisted of continuous wandering between Warsaw and Gdańsk, I had the impression that I am not specifically recognized in Szczęśliwice. Several years ago I was invited to take part in the campaign promoting voluntary blood donation. And then half an hour before the appointed meeting I got a phone, saying that I did not have to come. - We do not accept gay blood - I heard. I described this case in “Gazeta Wyborcza”, which caused a lot of emotion. A few EN
days later, a neighbor with whom I only exchanged restrained â€œgood morningâ€? so far accosted me: - Mr. Maciek, what was with the blood? I froze. Now he will call me a bugger. - Have they gone mad? - he continued expressing his astonishment with stupid Polish practice of blood donation. And it was one of these moments of the wonderment about the world which is worth living for. The guy across the street, one of those who show intolerant attitudes in the public sentiment polls, now shows the full empathy for someone whom he knows superficially, even if for a long time. And the whole context shows that he cannot be unaware of the fact that he supports the homosexual neighbor in this way. That is why I am talking about the threshold of my home, as a gateway to gay Warsaw, in which, contrary to appearances, gays live well. Or at least better than in any other place in our country. As you can see it is difficult to give a clear answer to the question of how gays and lesbians live in Warsaw with all its faces: historical, literary, theatrical, entertaining, local, commercial, club. Because the city has as many faces as people who still write their own history of homocapital. We hope that QueerWarsaw will never turn out to be only reminding, para encyclopedic register of topography and events, largely past or ancient. We show new phenomena, initiatives, people who want to charm the reality. There are more and more of them and they have more and more opportunities, enthusiasm, and less and less burdens imposed on them by not so rosy past. Until recently, nobody even thought of writing such a book as QueerWarsaw. So who knows what will happen next, and what kind of city will emerge from the pages of the next editions of our book.
а этом мы заканчиваем «QueerWarsaw» -первый путеводитель LGBTQ по польской столице. Первое англоязычное издание включает в себя 140 определений, описывающих варшавские места и людей, исторически, культурно или же социально важных для геев и лесбиянок. Кроме того, мы дополнительно включили также более длинные эссе о происхождении и началах, настоящем и перспективах польского движения LGTBQ. Можно было бы утверждать,что это книга,которую по большей части написал и пишет дальше сам город: по авторскому замыслу, появиться должна была лишь скромная листовка с прогулочным тропом, на котором мы хотели разместить негетеронормативные места Варшавы. Вскоре после приступления к сборке материалов, стало очевидно, что их объем и количество выходят далеко за рамки листовки или брошюры, и этого с лихвой хватит для более серьезной публикации. Авторы книги провели десятки интервью, подняли архивы газет и библиотек (большое спасибо огромной коллекции «Lambda Warszawa»), обнаружили забытые места и истории. Текст быстро разрастался и продолжает расти, жить своей собственной жизнью. После презентации книги появились очередные очевидцы этих событий, всплывали на поверхность новые истории из прошлого. Город, который мы представляем, живет и постоянно меняется. Часть заведений, о которых мы писали еще в настоящем времени, перестала или перестает функционировать, зато на их месте создаются новые пространства, дружественные геям и лесбиянкам. Исчезли «Tomba – Tomba» и «Usta Mariana». Но мы почувствовали себя, как дома в недавно открывшемся ресторане «Tel Aviv» (улица Познаньска, 11), блинной на ул. Хмельной, в новом трактире на ул. Хлодной или же в центре культуры и искусства «5-10-5». С апреля 2010 года пробы деятельности предпринимал клуб «Glam», который официально открывается в конце мая. Варшава, также та для сексуальных меньшинств, изменяется постоянно. Если вы сюда приедете на Европрайд или позже, вы, возможно, попадете уже в другой город, измененный благодаря людям, которые хотят и пробуют – с переменным успехом – ломать стереотипы и бороться за общественное пространство для представителей LGTBQ. Польский вариант книги был разделен на четыре готовые прогулочные трассы, во время которых мы по-свойски беседовали об исторических временах и о современности. В англоязычном издании мы решили переложить ее в форму RU
лексики, с одной стороны, упрощенной и более структурированной, а с другой стороны, обогащенной содержаниями, приближающими описываемые явления иностранцам, не обязательно разбирающимся в польских реалиях. Такая структура материала позволяет свободно выбирать посещаемые места с позиции как и интересов, так и доступного времени. Однако, не оставляем самим себе тех, кто любит посещать заведения в соответствии с предложениями путеводителей: в конце книги помещена карта с четырьмя оригинальными маршрутами, обозначенными в интересных местах номерами ссылок, которые к ним относятся. Чтобы дополнить образ современной польской столицы в глазах геев и лесбиянок, авторы «QueerWarsaw» обратились к ее известным гомосексуальным жителям с вопросом, как им в Варшаве живется и считают ли они этот город дружественным сексуальным меньшинствам. Вот, как они ответили:
Роберт Бедронь, общественный деятель: Сегодняшняя Варшава не настроена дружески ко всему, что не вписывается в рамки, отличается от общественной или культурной «нормы». Существуют, безусловно, островки «инаковости», но все они разделены, не представляют собой атолла островков разнообразия. Варшавская «инаковость» не проявляется каждодневно, как в случае поликультурного Берлина, Праги или Москвы. Столицы мира сегодня кишат, пыхтят, испаряются, воняют и пахнут разнообразием. Варшавская атмосфера до Второй мировой войны была «иная». Кафе «Ziemiańska», где встречалась богема, еврейские кварталы, русские и прусские меньшинства. Варшава жила, провоцировала, дышала. В сегодняшней Варшаве все делается в домашних условиях, «под шумок» -геи имеют свои нещеголяющие непохожестью клубы, у лесбиянок есть частные вечеринки (потому что во многие клубы их не впустят), у евреев есть свой законспирированный мир, у казахов-потайные места. Тем не менее, ощущается нехватка взаимного проникновения этих культур, общности. Мало кто сегодня этим щеголяет.
Сильвия Хутник, писатель: Я не думаю, что где-нибудь в Польше было бы доброжелательно. Варшава имеет то преимущество, что является огромным городом и благодаря этому можно относительно безопасно спрятаться где-то среди доверенных лиц и пережить. Метрополии естественным образом являются более открытыми для всяческого сосуществования рядом со стандартным, потому что если даже на тротуаре прошмыгнет пара
парней, держащихся за руки, то прежде, чем мы обернемся, они исчезнут в трамвае или где-нибудь в толпе. С другой стороны, каждый город – это поле битвы: о свое пространство, о свои права, наш «кусок пола». Ничем не отличается ситуация в общине сексуальных меньшинств здесь ты не только обязан спорить с должным осуществлением права на демонстрации (запрещение маршей «Гей-парад») или о места встреч (незабываемое « Le Madame»), но и о то, чтобы жить с парнем или девушкой под одной крышей и не выслушивать каждую минуту комментариев от соседей. В такой «борьбе» можно победить.
Яцек Кохановски, социолог: С сожалением признаю, что Варшава не является городом, отлично оснащенным в места гей/лес/транс. В этом отношении намного больше предпочитаю Лодзь с моей любимой сауной «Ganimedes», с культовым «Narragenset», или же новым эксклюзивным «Blue Queen». В Варшаве я бываю почти исключительно в «Lodi Dodi» (в основном среди рабочей недели, потому что я не люблю толпы), где всегда ждет меня с улыбкой Том- бармен с голубиным сердцем ; посещаю также сауну в «Fantom»- самом старшем и культовом варшавском клубе. Мне нравится пребывать в местах «с душой», где можно нормально посидеть и поговорить. Поэтому всяческие сноб-клубы абсолютно не для меня. Мне кажется, что несмотря на весьма расхожее мнение, гей-клубы являются и будут далее востребованы, потому что до тех пор,пока мир вокруг нас будет гетеронормативным, мы будем нуждаться в местах, где сможем быть «у себя», даже если это и пахнет «гетто». Это не должны и не обязаны быть места в какой-либо способ «закрытые», с селекционированием и другой полицией. Открытые, но все же наши места, где можно прийти и посетовать на то,что очередной парень,на которого имелись планы, оказался женатиком с детьми или вообще ксендзом. Места (деликатно) гомонормативные.
Кшиштоф Клишчиньски, общественный деятель: Наставлена ли Варшава дружески по отнощению к сексуальным меньшинствам? Над этим вопросом я размышлял только минуту. Для меня ответ очевиден- да! Я выхожу со своим парнем из подъезда, целуемся перед домом на прощание. Сосед улыбается и кивает на «добрый день». Парад Равенства идет по улице Маршалковской, а пассажиры трамвая нам улыбаются. Поворачиваем в Параде на улицу Пенькну,а на балконе стоит пофилая женщина и RU
показывает на свои костыли- не может идти вместе с нами, зато машет нам. Наша волонтер, жительница Силезии, идет к одному из отделений Правительства Варшавы, после чего присылает мне sms: классное это правительство. Висят плакаты «Lambdy» и «KPH», а дамы-чиновники не в служебной форме. Варшава является дружественной. Не только для геев и лесбиянок, а для всех «иных». Сама- в поиске своего метрополитарного «я»- еще только ползает в «разнообразии», но уже знает, что это ее путь. Даже если некоторые ее жители об этом не знают.
Мачей Новак, журналист,театральный и литературный критик: Геевская Варшава начинается на пороге моей квартиры. Я живу в доме на Щенсливицах, где в 1950 году поселились мои бабушка с дедушкой и где росли мама и дядя. Я сам вернулся туда в середине 80-х, а исходя из того, что моя рабочая жизнь в течение долгого времени заключалась в постоянных разъездах между Варшавой и Гданьском, у меня сложилось впечатление, что на Щенсливицах меня особо никто не знает. Несколько лет тому назад я был приглашен на акцию содействия добровольному донорству крови. И за полчаса до назначенной встречи, мне звонят, чтобы я не приходил – Мы не принимаем крови от гомосексуалистовсказали мне. Этот случай я описал в «Gazeta Wyborcza», что вызвало бурю эмоций. Несколько дней спустя побеспокоил меня сосед, с которым мы раньше только сдержанно обменивались приветствиями:- Господин Новак, а что было насчет этой крови? Я замер. Ну да, сейчас начнутся упреки в сторону «голубых».- Они что, с ума посходили?- продолжал он, возмущенный дурными практиками польского донорства крови. И это был один из тех моментов восхищения миром, ради которых стоит жить. Потому что вот он парень с напротив, один из тех, которые в опросах общественного мнения являются носителями нетолерантности, оказывает полное сочувствие кому-то, кого знает только поверхностно, хотя и давно. И исходя из контекста, он не может не знать, что поддерживает таким образом гомосексуального соседа. Поэтому я говорю о своей квартире, как о воротах для геев в Варшаве, в которой несмотря на стереотипы, геям живется хорошо. А по-крайней мере,лучше,чем в каком-либо другом месте нашей страны.
Бартош Журавецки, кинокритик: Начнем с того, что Варшава вообще не является дружественно настроенным городом по отношению к любым гомо сапиенс. Здесь люди ворчат друг на друга и смотрят волком, средства коммуникации работают плохо,идя по тротуару надо перепрыгивать через припаркованные
повсюду автомобили, и так далее. В принципе, таковой является целая Польша- Варшава представляет собой квинтэссенцию всего самого плохого,что есть в стране. Почему же тогда этот город должен быть дружественным именно для сексуальных меньшинств? Действительно, из всех польских городов, в Варшаве больше всего геевско-лесбийского колорита, но и намного чаще,чем с «манифестами гомосексуальности» приходилось мне сталкиваться с проявлениями гомофобии. Никто не стесняется, чтобы громко выражать свою ненависть к голубым, а повисшая в воздухе атмосфера агрессии эффективно препятствует проявлению гомофильных жестов. К сожалению, «индустрия» своими действиями только консервирует это состояние. Открываю путеводитель по гей-клубах и пропадает у меня охота хождения куда-либо. Не обращаю уже внимания на то, что все они разбросаны по целому городу, большинство далеко от центра. Но и там меня могут не впустить,потому что есть селекция, из каждого меня могут выкинуть, если я им не понравлюсь, а в очередном облапает меня толстый охранник и заберет бутылочку с водой (ибо нельзя вносить в клуб «чужих» напитков). Это все является проявлением провинциальных комплексов и пресного хамства. Вместо того, чтобы потихоньку получить общественное пространство, владельцы предпочитают закрываться в бункерах, вместо того, чтобы интегрировать среду и противостоять дискриминации, селекционируют людей на «лучших» и «худших» в соответствии с критерием кошелька, одежды, возраста, внешности, и так далее. Пусть даже эти псевдоснобистские клубы существуют, но ощущается нехватка альтернативы- то есть обычных, неприхотливых мест, где можно посидеть, поговорить на политические или же эротические темы, без выпендрежа и толпы, которая нас атакует со всех сторон. Пока мы, представители LGBT, сами не позаботимся о том, чтобы жить-работать, разговаривать, развлекаться – в дружественном окружении, пока мы будем дискриминировать друг друга, относиться с подозрением и презрением, до тех пор нет смысла даже мечтать о том, чтобы Варшава стала городом, дружественным сексуальным меньшинствам. Как видно, одновременно дальше тяжело дать ясный ответ на вопрос, как нам, геям и лесбиянкам живется в Варшаве, со всеми ее обличиями: историческим, литературным, театральным, развлекательным, местным, коммерческим, клубным. Потому что город имеет столько обличий, сколько жителей, которые все время пишут свою историю гомостолицы. Мы надеемся, что «QueerWarsaw» не оказалась только памятным, параэнциклопедическим реестром топографии и RU
событий,по большей части прошлых или древних. Мы показываем новые явления, инициативы, людей, которым хочется околдовать действительность. Их все больше и у них все больше возможностей, энергии, и все меньше тяготящего балласта мало-розового прошлого. Еще не так давно никто даже не задумывался написать такую книгу, как «QueerWarsaw». Так кто же знает,что будет дальше, и какой город появится на страницах последующих изданий нашей книги.
n dieser Stelle geht QueerWarsaw, der erste Reiseführer durch die polnische Hauptstadt, zu Ende. Die erste englischsprachige Ausgabe umfasst 140 Stichwörter, die wichtige Plätze in Warschau sowie Leute beschreiben, die für schwul-lesbische Bewegung von geschichtlicher, kultureller bzw. sozialer Bedeutung sind. Im Anhang sind längere Essays über Entstehungsgeschichte und Anfänge, Gegenwart und Perspektiven der polnischen LGBTQ-Bewegung zu finden. Man könnte den Eindruck bekommen, dass das vorliegende Buch von der Hauptstadt selbst geschrieben wurde oder nach wie vor von ihr geschrieben wird. Die Autoren planten nur einen bescheidenen Flyer mit einer Spaziergangsroute herauszugeben, um den Empfängern nur einige wenige nicht-heteronormative Plätze Warschaus näher zu bringen. Beim Sammeln der Materialien stellte es sich jedoch heraus, dass deren Menge und Umfang die Größe eines gewöhnlichen Flyers erheblich überschreiten und daraus ein ernstes Werk sogar entstehen kann. Die Autoren machten zahlreiche Interviews, durchleuchteten Presse- und Bibliothekenarchive (unser besonderer Dank geht nun an das große Lambda-Verein-Archiv in Warschau), entdeckten aufs Neue die längst vergessenen Plätze und Geschichten. Der Text wurde immer länger und da er immer noch erweitert wird, kann man wohl sagen, dass er sein eigenes Leben lebt. Nach der Buchpremiere meldeten sich die nächsten Zeugen und es wurden neue Geschichten aus der vergangenen Zeit erzählt. Die Stadt, die wir nun vorstellen, lebt und unterliegt ständigen Veränderungen. Mehrere Plätze und Orte, von denen wir noch im Präsens schrieben, gibt es nicht mehr oder werden in Kürze aufhören zu funktionieren. An ihrer Stelle entstehen schon die neuen, schwulen- und lesbenfreundlichen Plätze. Ganz unerwartet verschwanden „Tomba-Tomba“- und „Usta Mariana“-Clubs. Wie zu Hause fühlen wir uns jedoch in dem gerade eröffneten Restaurant „Tel Aviv“ (Poznańska Str. 11), einem Pfannkuchenlokal in der Chmielna Straße, einer neuen Kneipe in der Chłodna Straße, oder im Zentrum für Kunst und Kultur „5-10-15“. Seit April 2010 plante man den „Glam“-Club zu eröffnen, er wird aber offiziell erst Ende Mai aufgemacht. Warschau, als Queer-Hauptstadt, unterliegt ständigen Veränderungen. Sollten Sie hierher zu Europride oder noch später kommen, finden Sie vielleicht schon eine andere Stadt, geändert durch Leute, die etwas erreichen wollen und versuchen – mehr oder weniger erfolgreich – Vorurteile abzubauen und um öffentliche Plätze für LGBTQPersonen zu kämpfen. DE
Polnische Ausgabe des Buches wurde in vier Spaziergangsrouten gegliedert, wo wir uns über vergangene und gegenwärtige Zeiten vertraut unterhalten. In der englischen Ausgabe beschlossen wir, seinen Inhalt in einer Lexikonform herauszugeben, die einerseits vereinfacht und besser systematisiert, andererseits um Erläuterung der beschriebenen Erscheinungen für die ausländischen Gäste, die nicht unbedingt mit den polnischen Realität vertraut sind, bereichert wurde. Ein solcher Aufbau erlaubt die zu besuchenden Plätze seinen Interessen sowie der zur Verfügung stehenden Zeit gut anzupassen. Wir wollen jedoch diejenigen nicht außer Acht lassen, die sich beim Besichtigen lieber nach den im Reiseführer stehenden Inhalten richten: am Ende des Buches befindet sich eine Karte mit vier originellen Reiserouten, wo sehenswerte Plätze mit den ihnen entsprechenden Stichwörtern versehen wurden. Um das gegenwärtige Bild der polnischen Hauptstadt in den Augen von Schwulen und Lesben zu vervollständigen, wandte sich QueerWarsaw an die bekannten, homosexuellen EinwohnerInnen mit der Frage, wie es sich in Warschau lebt und ob sie diese Stadt für homofriendly halten. Hier einige Antworten:
Robert Biedroń, Sozialaktivist: Das heutige Warschau ist nicht freundlich zu allem, was anders ist und was von der so genannten sozialen und kulturellen „Normen“ abweicht. Da findet man natürlich kleine „Andersartigkeitsinseln“, aber jede ist einsam und wird nicht als Ganzes gemeint. Diese Warschauer „Andersartigkeit“ verflicht sich nicht im Alltag, was beispielsweise in den multikulturellen Städten wie Berlin, Prag oder Moskau der Fall ist. Diese Hauptstädte sind weltweit belebt, ihr Leben explodiert nach außen, sie dampfen, stinken und duften nach dieser Andersartigkeit. Warschau hatte vor dem II. Weltkrieg auch sein „anderes“ Klima: das „Ziemiańska“- Cafe, wo sich die künstlerische Boheme versammelt hatte, die Judenviertel sowie russische und preußische Minderheiten. Warschau lebte, provozierte und atmete in tiefen Zügen. Im heutigen Warschau wird alles zu Hause, „im Versteck“ gemacht – Schwule besuchen ihre nicht auffallenden Clubs, Lesben treffen sich auf Partys (weil sie in viele andere Clubs nicht hereingelassen werden), Juden leben in ihrer eigenen Untergrundwelt und Kasachen kommen auch nicht aus ihrem Versteck. All diese Kulturen jedoch durchdringen einander nicht, es gibt keinen gemeinsamen Nenner. Kaum jemand trägt seine Andersartigkeit zur Schau.
Sylwia Chutnik, Schriftstellerin: Meiner Ansicht nach findet man in Polen keine lebensfreundlichen Plätze. Warschau hat diesen Vorteil, dass es eine große Stadt ist, was jedem ermöglicht, sich unter den vertrauten Menschen problemlos zu verstecken und auf diese Weise sein Leben zu führen. Die Metropolen sind von Natur aus viel offener für alle
nicht-normativen Verhaltensweisen, denn, selbst wenn uns plötzlich ein verliebtes Schwulenpärchen, das sich an der Hand hält, auf dem Gehweg auftaucht, es wird genauso schnell aus den Augen verschwinden, irgendwo in der Straßenbahn oder in Menschenmenge. Andererseits ist eine solche Stadt immer eine Art Kampfplatz: um seinen Lebensraum, seine Rechte, letztendlich um „sein Stück Boden“. Nicht anders sieht es mit den sexuellen Minderheitsgruppen – hier wird man gezwungen, nicht nur um die uns zustehenden Rechte, oder um sein Recht auf Demonstrationen (Verbote der Gleichheitsparaden) bzw. Treffpunkte (unvergessliche „Le Madame“- Club) zu kämpfen, sondern auch um das Recht, die Wohnung mit seinem Freund / seiner Freundin zu teilen und dabei jederzeit keinen Sticheleien seitens der Nachbarn ausgesetzt zu werden. Solch ein „Kampf “ kann wirklich gewonnen werden.
Jacek Kochanowski, Soziologe: Zu meinem großen Bedauern muss ich feststellen, dass Warschau kein richtiges Zentrum für Schwule/Lesben/Transsexuelle ist. In dieser Hinsicht bevorzuge ich Łódź viel mehr, mit meiner beliebten „Ganimedes“- Sauna, dem „Narraganset“Kultclub oder einem neuen exklusiven „Blue Queen“- Club. In Warschau besuche ich ausschließlich den„Lodi Dodi“- Club (aber nur unter der Woche, weil mich Menschenmengen einfach abschrecken), wo mich der immer fröhliche Tomek, ein weichherziger Barkeeper, immer herzlich begrüßt; Ab und zu komme ich bei der „Fantom“- Sauna vorbei, dem ältesten Kultclub Warschaus. Ich mag Plätze mit „Seele“, wo man sich einfach hinsetzen und plaudern kann. Daher gefallen mir all diese snobistischen Clubs einfach nicht. Mir scheint, dass – entgegen der allgemein gültigen Meinung – die LGTB-Clubs nach wie vor notwendig sind, denn, solange die uns umgebene Welt für heteronormativ gehalten wird, so lange werden wir solche Plätze benötigen, um uns „bei sich“ zu Hause zu fühlen, selbst wenn es einem Ghetto ähnelt. Es müssen und sollen keine geschlossene Plätze sein, wo selektiv betrachtet und auf Ordnung besonders geachtet wird. Die Clubs sollten offen bleiben, aber jedoch mit uns identifiziert werden – es sollten solche Plätze sein, bei denen man einfach vorbeikommen und sich beschweren kann, dass der gerade angemachte Kerl sich als Ehemann mit Kind oder als Priester erwiesen hat. Wir wünschen (sanft gesagt) homonormative Plätze.
Krzysztof Kliszczyński, Sozialaktivist: Ist Warschau homofriendly? Darüber habe ich nur ganz kurz nachgedacht. Die Antwort scheint klar zu sein: ja, natürlich! Ich verlasse mit meinem Freund mein Zuhause und vor dem Wohnblock küssen wir uns zum Abschied. Mein Nachbar lächelt nur, nickt mit dem Kopf, als möchte er „Guten Tag“ sagen. Die Gleichheitsparade zieht die Marszałkowska Straße entlang und die Fahrgäste in der Straßenbahn lächeln uns zu. Dann nehmen wir die Piękna Str. und auf DE
einem Balkon erkennen wir eine ältere Dame, die auf ihre Krücken hinweist. Sie kann uns nicht folgen, aber sie winkt uns zu. Unsere Volontärin, die aus Schlesien kommt, muss eines der Büros im Warschauer Stadtamt aufsuchen und gleich schickt sie mir eine SMS: ein tolles Amt ist das. Da hängen Poster des LambdaVereins und der Kampagne gegen Homophobie, und die Beamtinnen dort sitzen nicht in ihren Uniformen. Warschau ist freundlich, nicht nur zu Schwulen und Lesben, zu allen „andersartigen“. Die Hauptstadt selbst – bei der Suche nach ihrer großstädtischen Identität – steckt bei dieser „Andersartigkeit“ immer noch in den Kinderschuhen, aber sie weiß schon, dass es ein richtiger Weg ist, selbst wenn manche Einwohner sich dessen noch nicht ganz bewusst sind.
Maciej Nowak, Journalist, Theater- und Kochkritiker: Das schwule Warschau fängt an der Schwelle meiner Wohnung an. Ich wohne in einem Wohnblock im Śzczęśliwice-Bezirk, wohin meine Großeltern 1950 ausgezogen und wo meine Mutter und mein Onkel aufgewachsen sind. Ich selbst bin Mitte der 80er Jahre hierher zurückgekommen und da mein Berufsleben eine längere Zeit auf Pendeln zwischen Warschau und Danzig beruhte, hatte ich das Gefühl, dass ich in diesem Bezirk nicht besonders erkannt werde. Vor einigen Jahren wurde ich zur Aktion eingeladen, die für Blutspenden werben sollte. Eine halbe Stunde vor dem verabredeten Termin, bekam ich den Anruf, dass ich nicht kommen soll – von den Homosexuellen brauchen wir kein Blut – habe ich gehört. All das habe ich in „Gazeta Wyborcza“ beschrieben, was viel Aufregung nach sich zog. Ein paar Tage später sprach mich plötzlich mein Nachbar an, mit dem ich bisher nur zurückhaltend „Guten Tag“ erwiderte: - Herr Maciek, was war mit diesem Blut los? Ich wurde starr vor Schreck. Ich dachte mir sofort, na ja, er wird mir gleich mein Schwulsein vorwerfen. – Sind sie verrückt geworden? – setzte er fort und brachte sein Erstaunen über blödes Verhalten der polnischen Blutspendestation zum Ausdruck. Und das war einer der Momente, wo man sich über die heutige Welt tatsächlich wundern muss, aber was mich vom Sinn des Lebens überzeugte. Ein Mann, der mir gegenüber wohnt, einer von denjenigen, die bei Meinungsumfragen normalerweise intolerante Haltung zeigen, konnte sich in die Situation einer völlig fremden Person, die er zwar lange, aber nur ganz flüchtig kennt, schön einfühlen. Er muss sich dessen bewusst sein, dass er mit seinem Verhalten einen homosexuellen Nachbarn unterstützt. Deswegen sage ich nur von der Schwelle meiner Wohnung, als von einem Tor in das schwule Warschau, wo die Homosexuellen wider Erwarten es gut haben, zumindest viel besser, als an einem anderen Ort unseres Landes. Es ist äußerst schwer, eine eindeutige Antwort auf die Frage zu geben, wie das heutige Leben in Warschau, mit all seinen Gesichtern: Geschichte, Literatur, Theater, Unterhaltung, Lokalen, Handel und Clubs, wirklich aussieht. Diese Stadt hat so viele DE
Gesichter, wie viele Einwohner, welche die ganze Zeit Geschichte einer Homohauptstadt schreiben. Wir hoffen, dass QueerWarsaw nicht nur zu einem Erinnerungs- und quasi-enzyklopädischen Register der Topographie und Geschehnisse aus der uralten, vergangenen Zeit sein wird. Wir möchten neue Erscheinungen und Initiativen sowie Menschen, die ihre Wirklichkeit zaubern, vorstellen. Sie werden immer zahlreicher vertreten, haben immer mehr Möglichkeiten, sind voller Eifer und haben dabei immer weniger drückende Last aus einer pessimistischen Vergangenheit. Noch nicht lange her dachte man nicht einmal an Entstehung eines solchen Werkes wie QueerWarsaw. Wer weiß, was das Leben mit sich bringt und was für eine Stadt nach der Lektüre der nachfolgenden Auflagen dieses Buches auftauchen wird.
oici QueerWarsaw ! En plus de 140 notes, le guide vous donne l’occasion de parcourir l'histoire frappante de la ville de Varsovie et de ses habitants. Qui sommes nous, gay, lesbiennes, trans, bi de Varsovie ? Eh bien ! Quelle histoire ! Vous connaissez aussi les origines et le jour d'aujourd’hui du mouvement LGBT en Pologne. Mais revenons aux tout débuts ! D’où vient ce livre ? A ses origines,il était imaginé que comme un prospectus accompagnant une promenade dans Varsovie gay et lesbienne pour commémorer les cinq and du magazine online homiki.pl. Lorsque nous avons initié les travaux, nous nous sommes aperçus que la quantité du texte dépasse largement ce que nous espérions : la perspective d’un ouvrage plus important s’ouvrait. Des dizaines d’interview et des recherches infinies dans les bibliothèques nous ont permis de redécouvrir une histoire oubliée, celle d’une Varsovie non-hétéro dans un XXème siècle riche en événements. Un grand merci ici à la bibliothèque de l’association Lambda, sans elle l’aventure QueerWarsaw ne serait pas possible. Le texte, au fil de nouvelles « découvertes «, ne cessait de grossir ! Même maintenant, en préparant la version internationale, chaque jour nous apprenons l’apparition de nouveaux endroits homofriendly. Par exemple, il ya quelques jours, nos avons découvert le restaurant Tel Aviv (Poznańska 11). Quelle ambiance! Bientôt, nous attendons l'ouverture d'un nouveau club. Des amis nous apprennent qu'une nouvelle crêperie s'ouvre rue Chłodna. Queer Warsaw est en pleine épanouissement ! Si vous ne visitez pas Varsovie maintenant mais vous venez ici un jour, peut être c’est une tout autre ville que vous aurez à voir ! Et c’est grâce à tous ceux qui, contre les stéréotypes, font vivre l’espace public de la capitale polonaise. La version originale du livre, en polonais, se compose de quatre trajets de « visite guidée «. Dans la version internationale, nous avons préféré la forme de notes alphabétiques, de manière que chaque visiteur puisse choisir tout ce qui peut être intéressant pour lui. Mais nous n’oublions pas ceux qui apprécient les balades avec un guide dans la main ! A la fin de l’ouvrage, nous proposons quatre trajets avec des cartes avec indication des notes du texte. Pour des raisons pratiques la majorité du texte est en anglais, mais nous n’oublions pas nos amis germano- et francophones. Nous ne voulons pas que ce livre devienne une quasi-encyclopédie, un registre de topographies disparues. C’est pourquoi nous expliquons un grand nombre phénomènes nouveaux et nous présentons les nouveaux personnages qui enchantent la réalité de FR
notre ville. C'est cette phénoménale dynamique qui crée l’image de Varsovie d’aujourd'hui. Il est cependant vrai qu’il nous est très difficile de répondre en une phrase à la simple question: c'est qui la vie des gays et lesbiennes à Varsovie? Tant de facettes! De l’histoire, une grande page littéraire, du théâtre, du divertissement, des clubs, du commerce… Sans oublier les passages difficiles, le souvenir encore récent quand la vie politique de notre essoufflait d’homophobie. Nous espérons que tout ceci fait déjà partie du passe, mais, ne l’oublions pas, une majorité des revendications du mouvement LGBT restent encore a achever, comme une loi contre les discriminations ou l’accès à un PACS et, pourquoi pas, au mariage. L’histoire de l’homo-Varsovie reste un grand livre ouvert, nous l’écrivons chaque jour. Qui sait quelle ville verrons-nous dans une future édition du guide ? L’édition internationale a été pendue possible grâce au soutien de la mairie de Varsovie. Un grand merci!
är avslutas QueerWarsaw – den första hbt-resehandboken över den polska huvudstaden. Den första utgåvan på engelska innehåller 140 uppslagsord som beskriver platser och människor i Warszawa som är viktiga för hbtmiljön ur historisk, kulturell och social synpunkt. Som komplettering presenterar vi även några längre essäer om den polska hbt-rörelsens uppkomst och början samt dess nutid och utsikter. Man skulle kunna tro att det är en bok som till största del skrivits och skrivs av staden själv: till en början tänkte författarna enbart skapa en enkel folder med en promenadrutt genom vilken de ville göra läsare förtrogna med Warszawas icke-heteronormativa ställen. När de började samla material visade det sig att materialets mängd och volym betydligt överskrider ramarna för en folder och rent av en broschyr och att det med råge räcker för en mer seriös publikation. Bokens författare gjorde tiotals intervjuer, lusläste materialet i pressarkiv och bibliotek (stort tack till Lambdas arkiv i Warszawa för de enorma samlingarna), återupptäckte bortglömda platser och historier. Texten växte och växte och växer fortfarande som om den levde sitt eget liv. Efter att boken släppts dök nya vittnen till intressanta händelser upp och man fick höra nya berättelser från det förflutna. Den stad vi presenterar lever och förändras hela tiden. En del av de omskrivna objekten har upphört eller håller på att upphöra och i deras ställe tillkommer nya som är hbt-vänliga. Tomba-Tomba och Usta Mariana (Marians läppar) försvann plötsligt, men vi började snabbt känna oss som hemma på den nyöppnade restaurangen Tel Aviv (Poznańska-gata 11), pankaksbistron på Chmielna-gatan, den nya krogen på Chłodnagatan och konstnärs- och kulturcentret 5-10-15. Med början i april 2010 gjorde ägarna försök att öppna klubben Glam vilket äntligen lyckades i slutet av maj. Warszawa, även queer-Warszawa, förändras hela tiden. Kommer ni hit för att besöka Europride eller senare kan det hända att ni får se en helt annan stad, förändrad tack vare människor som vill och försöker - med mindre eller större framgång – bryta ner stereotyper och kämpa för ett offentligt rum för hbt-personer. Bokens polska version är upplagd som fyra färdiga promenadrutter kring vilka vi byggde en trivsam historia om förr och nu. I den engelskspråkiga utgåvan bestämde vi oss för att presentera innehållet i form av en uppslagsbok – på detta sätt är innehållet å ena sidan förenklat och mer systematiserat, och å andra sidan – berikat med SWE
information som gör utländska läsare – som ju inte nödvändigtvis känner till den polska verkligheten – mer förtrogna med de beskrivna företeelserna. Detta upplägg gör att läsaren fritt kan välja platser som denne vill besöka efter egna intressen och den tid som finns att disponera. Vi lämnar dock inte de som föredrar att besöka staden enligt resehandböckers förslag i sticket: i slutet av boken finns en karta med fyra originella promenadrutter där de intressanta ställena är markerade med ett nummer som hänvisar till detta uppslagsord. För att komplettera den aktuella bilden av den polska huvudstaden sedd ur hbt-ögon vände sig QueerWarsaws författare till Warszawas kända, homosexuella invånare med frågan hur de mår i Warszawa och om de anser staden vara homofriendly. Här följer svaren som vi fått:
Robert Biedroń, socialt verksam person: Dagens Warszawa är inte vänligt inställt till något som är annorlunda, som avviker från den sociala och kulturella ”normen”. Självklart finns det ”alteritets”-öar men var och en av dessa öar är ensam och utgör inte någon enhetlig atoll innehållande flera mångfaldsöar. Warszawas ”alteritet” blandas inte dagligen med ”normen” såsom sker i det mångkulturella Berlin, Prag eller Moskva. Den nutida världens huvudstäder pulserar, dunstar, stinker och doftar av mångfald. Warszawa hade ett ”annorlunda” klimat före det andra världskriget. Kafét ”Ziemiańska”, där de konstnärliga bohemerna träffades, de judiska distrikten, den ryska och den preussiska minoriteten... Warszawa levde, provocerade, andades. I dagens Warszawa görs allt ”hemma i smyg” – gays har sina klubbar som inte ståtar med sin annorlunda stil, de lesbiska har sina hippor (därför att de inte släpps in på många klubbar), judar har sin värld som de döljer för allmänheten, kazakerna – sin hemliga plats. Dessa kulturer blandas inte med varandra, de saknar en gemensam förbindelselänk. Knappast någon ståtar med att vara annorlunda idag.
Sylwia Chutnik, författare: Jag tror inte att det är vänligt någonstans i Polen. Warszawa har den fördelen att det är en stor stad, vilket gör att man till en viss grad tryggt kan gräva ner sig någonstans bland de välvilliga och överleva. Metropoler är av naturen mer öppna för alla former av tillvaro utanför normen – om det någonstans på gatan skymtar ett par killar som håller varandra i hand, innan man hinner titta närmare på dem försvinner de i en spårvagn eller någonstans i folkmassan. Å andra sidan är varje stad ett slagfält: folk kämpar för ett rum för sig själv, för sina rätter, för sin ”del av golvet”. Likadant är det med sexuella minoriteters miljöer – här tvingas man munhuggas inte bara om att använda den tillbörliga rätten att demonstrera
(förbud mot jämställdhetsparader) eller om en plats där man kan träffas (den djupt saknade Le Madame [en känd klubb i Warszawa där många informella grupper brukade träffas och som tvingades lägga ner efter att staden höjt hyran orimligt, ö.a.]), utan även om att få bo med sin tjej eller kille i en lägenhet och inte behöva höra elakheter från grannar. En sådan ”kamp” kan vinnas.
Jacek Kochanowski, sociolog: Jag måste tyvärr konstatera att Warszawa inte är den bäst rustade staden när det gäller hbt-platser. I detta avseende föredrar jag Łódź med min omtyckta bastu Ganimedes, med den ”kultförklarade” musikklubben Narraganset eller den nya, exklusiva Blue Queen. I Warszawa vistas jag nästan enbart på Lodi Dodi (främst under veckan, eftersom jag inte tycker om folkträngsel), där alltid den leende, godhjärtade Tomek, bartendern, väntar; jag besöker även bastun i Fantom, den äldsta och även ”kultförklarade” klubben i Warszawa. Jag tycker om att vistas på ställen ”med själ”, där man kan helt enkelt sitta och prata en stund. Därför är alla dessa snobb-klubbar inget för mig. Det känns som att – i motsats till den ganska allmänna uppfattningen – hbt-klubbar behövs och fortfarande kommer att behövas, för så länge världen runt omkring är heteronormativ kommer vi att behöva platser där vi kan känna oss ”hemma”, även om de påminner om ett ”getto”. Dessa platser behöver inte och bör inte vara “stängda” på något sätt, med galler och polisliknande vakter. De ska vara öppna men ändå våra platser dit man kan komma och lätta sitt hjärta när ännu en uppraggad kille visat sig vara en familjefar eller präst. Platser som är (milt) homonormativa.
Krzysztof Kliszczyński, socialt verksam person: Är Warszawa homofriendly? För att besvara denna fråga behövde jag bara fundera en kort stund. För mig är svaret självklart: ja! Jag går hemifrån tillsammans med min kille, vid huset kysser vi varandra adjö. Grannen ler och nickar med huvudet ”god dag”. Jämställdhetsparaden går på Marszałkowskagatan och passagerare i den passerande spårvagnen ler mot oss. Vi svänger in på Piękna-gatan och där på balkongen står en äldre kvinna och pekar på sina kryckor. Hon kan inte gå tillsammans med oss men vinkar mot oss. Vår volontär som kommer från Schlesien besöker en av huvudstadens myndigheter och skickar ett sms till oss efteråt: Det var en kul myndighet – på väggarna hänger affischer från Lambda [organisation som kämpar för hbt-rätter, ö.a.] och KPH [Kampanjen mot homofobi, ö.a.] och tjänstemännen har inte uniformer på sig. Warszawa är friendly. Inte bara för gay och lesbiska. För alla de ”avvikande”. Staden själv – på väg att hitta sin metropolitiska identitet – tar sina första stapplande steg mot ”mångfalden” men vet redan att det är dess väg. Även om en del av invånarna inte vet det ännu. SWE
Maciej Nowak, journalist, teater- och krogrecensent: Gay-Warszawa börjar i dörren till min lägenhet. Jag bor i ett höghus i Szczęśliwice (bostadsområde i Warszawa, ö.a.] dit mina morföräldrar flyttade 1950 och där min mamma och min morbror växte upp. Själv kom jag tillbaka hit i mitten av 1980-talet och eftersom mitt yrkesliv under en lång tid bestod av ett ständigt pendlande mellan Warszawa och Gdańsk hade jag en känsla av att inte vara särskilt igenkänd i Szczęśliwice. För några år sedan fick jag en inbjudan att vara med i en kampanj för frivillig blodgivning. En halvtimme före det avtalade mötet fick jag ett telefonsamtal där någon sa att det blir bättre om jag inte kommer. – ”Vi tar inte emot blod från homosexuella”, fick jag höra. Jag beskrev denna händelse i dagstidningen ”Gazeta Wyborcza”, vilket framkallade ganska livliga diskussioner. Några dagar senare tilltalades jag av en granne med vilken jag hittills endast utbytt ett återhållsamt ”god dag”: – “Maciek, hur var det med den där blodgivningen?” Jag stelnade till. Nu börjar han säkert överösa mig med fikus-liknande ord. – ”Har de blivit sjuka i huvudet?” fortsatte grannen och utryckte sin förvåning över den polska blodgivnarganisationens korkade agerande. Och detta var en av dessa stunder då man blir överraskad av världen – överraskningar som det är värt att leva för. För här är en man från lägenheten intill, en av dem som i opinionsundersökningar brukar identifiera sig med intoleranta inställningar, som visar sin fullständiga empati för någon som han känner till endast flyktigt, fast sedan länge. Och av det sammanhanget framgår det att det inte är möjligt att han inte vet att han på detta sätt stöttar en homosexuell granne. Det är därför jag pratar om dörren till min lägenhet som en port till det gayvänliga Warszawa där mot all förväntan har homosexuella ett bra liv. Åtminstone bättre än på alla andra platser i vårt land.
Ja, som ni kan se är det svårt att ge ett entydigt svar på frågan hur homosexuella har det i Warszawa när det gäller stadens alla avseenden – litteratur, teater, underhållning, handel, klubbar. För denna stad har lika många ansikten som invånare och skriver ständigt på sin version av homohuvudstadens historia. Vi hoppas att QueerWarsaw inte uppfattas endast som ett register över platser och händelser, till stor del från det förflutna. Vi visar nya företeelser, initiativ, människor med vilka man vill förtrolla verkligheten. De blir allt fler och de har allt större möjligheter och entusiasm och allt mindre av den belastande bördan från det icke så färgglada förflutna. Fram till alldeles nyligen skulle ingen funderat på att skriva en bok som QueerWarsaw. Så vem vet vad som händer härnäst och vilken stad som kommer att framträda i den här bokens kommande utgåvor.
i tie finiĝas QueerWarsaw – la unua LGBTQ-gvidlibro tra la pola ĉefurbo. La unua anglalingva eldono inkluzivas 140 erojn priskribantajn varsoviajn lokojn kaj homojn, historie, kulture aŭ socie gravajn por geja kaj lesba komunumo. En aldonaĵo oni aperigas pli longajn eseojn pri genezo kaj komenca periodo, nuna stato kaj perspektivoj de la pola LGBTQ-movado. Eblus konstati, ke la libro estis kaj estas verkata de la urbo mem: intenco de aŭtoroj estis krei nur modestan flugfolion por prezenti neheteronormajn spacojn en Varsovio. Intertempe, dum kolektado de materialoj, evidentiĝis ke ilia amasiĝo superas enhaveblojn de flugfolio, same kiel de broŝuro kaj facile sufiĉas por krei pli seriozan eldonaĵon. La aŭtoroj faris dekojn da intervjuoj, traserĉis ĵurnalajn kaj bibliotekajn arkivojn (grandan dankon al enormaj kolektoj de Lambda Varsovio), malkovris forgesitajn lokojn kaj historiojn. La teksto malkviete kreskis kaj daŭre kreskas, havante propran vivon. Post la lanĉo de la libro venis aliaj atestantoj kaj oni ricevis novajn rakontojn pri pasinteco. La urbo, kiun ni prezentas vivas kaj daŭre ŝanĝiĝas. Parte lokoj priskribitaj kiel ekzistantaj ĉesas aŭ ĉesis funkcii, en iliaj lokoj aperas novaj, amikaj al gejoj kaj lesboj. Malaperis Tomba-Tomba kaj Usta Mariana (esp. Buŝo de Marian). Anstataŭe ni eksentis hejmecan etoson en la novmalfermita restoracio Tel Aviv (str. Poznańska 11), en krespejo ĉe Chmielna, nova knajpo ĉe Chłodna aŭ en la arta-kultura centro 5-10-15. Ekde aprilo 2010 estis preparata klubejo Glam, oficiale malfermita fine de majo. Varsovio, ankaŭ tiu kvira, ŝanĝiĝas senĉese. Se vi venos ĉi tien por Europride aŭ poste, vi eble atingos alian urbon, ŝanĝitan danke al homoj, kiuj volas kaj provas – kun etaj aŭ pli grandaj sukcesoj – rompi antaŭjuĝojn kaj batali por spaco por LGBTQ-anoj. Pola eldono de la libro estis komponita surbaze de kvar itineroj, en kiuj ni enplektis rakonton pri historio kaj nuno. Anglalingvan eldonon ni decidis krei kiel leksikonon, simpligante kaj ordigante sed aliflanke riĉigante ĝin je enhavo por alproksimigi aferojn al eksterlandanoj ne ĉiam lertaj pri polaj realoj. Tia formo permesas elekti vizitotajn lokojn laŭ la propra interesiĝo kaj disponebla tempo. Ni ne forgesis pri tiuj, kiuj ŝatas vizitadi laŭ proponataj itineroj: en la fino ni ebligis mapon kun kvar originalaj itineroj kaj indikoj pri interesaj lokoj survoje. EPO
Por doni plenan bildon de la nuntempa pola ĉefurbo al gejoj kaj lesboj, aŭtoroj de QueerWarsaw turnis sin al konataj samseksemaj geloĝantoj kun la demando, kiel ili fartas en Varsovio kaj ĉu ili konsideras ĝin kiel homofriendly. Jen kiajn respondojn ili donis:
Robert Biedroń, socia aktivulo: Hodiaŭa Varsovio ne estas amika al ĉio ĉi, kio estas alia, alivarianta de la socia kaj kultura „normo”. Kompreneble ekzistas insuloj de „Alieco”, sed ĉiuj el ili estas solaj, ili ne kreas atolon de tiaj diversecaj insuloj. Varsovia „Alieco” ne traigas sin, kiel en multkultura Berlino, Prago, Moskvo. Ĉefurboj de la hodiaŭa mondo pulsbatas, eksplodas, vaporas, fetoras kaj odoras de diverseco. Varsovio havis „alian” klimaton antaŭ la dua mondmilito. Kafejo „Ziemiańska”, kie renkontiĝadis artaj medioj, judaj distriktoj, minoritatoj rusa, prusa. Varsovio vivis, provokis, spiris. En la hodiaŭa Varsovio ĉio estas farata hejme kaj kaŝe – gejoj havas siajn neafiŝiĝantajn per alieco klubojn, lesboj hejmaranĝojn (ĉar en multaj klubejoj ili ne estas akceptataj), Judoj sian konspiritan mondon, Kazaĥoj sian kaŝitan lokon. Mankas tamen traigado de tiuj kulturoj, komuna ligilo. Nur malmultaj nun sin afiŝiĝas.
Sylwia Chutnik, verkistino: Mi ne supozas, ke ie ajn en Pollando estas nun amike. Varsovio havas tian avantaĝon, ke ĝi estas sufiĉe granda urbo kaj danke al tio eblas relative sekure kaŝiĝi ie inter fidataj personoj kaj travivi. Urbegoj en sia naturo estas pli vaste malfermaj por ajna ekzisto apud normo, ĉar eĉ se sur trotuaro aperetos knabparo tenanta siajn manojn, ni apenaŭ rimarkos, antaŭ ol ili malaperos en tramo aŭ ie en amaso. Aliflanke ĉiu urbo estas batalkampo: por propra spaco, por propraj rajtoj, nia „plankopeco”. En medioj de seksaj minoritatoj ne estas alie – tie vi ne nur devas elkvereli la rajton por demonstracii (malpremesado de Egalecaj Paradoj) aŭ kunvenlokojn (bedaŭreginda Le Madame), sed ankaŭ rajton loĝi kun via koramiko aŭ koramikino en unu loĝejo kaj ne aŭdi konstante pikvortojn de najbaroj. Tian „batalon” eblas venki.
Jacek Kochanowski, sociologo: Kun bedaŭro mi opinias, ke Varsovio ne estas la plej bone ekipita je gejaj/lesbaj/transseksemulaj lokoj. Tiuflanke mi multe pli preferas Lodzon, kun mia plej ŝatata saŭno Ganimedes, kun kulta Narraganset kaj nova ekskluziva Blue Queen. En Varsovio mi aperas preskaŭ nur en Lodi Dodi (ĉefe dum semajno ĉar mi na ŝatas amasiĝojn), kie ĉiam atendas min gaja Tomek, profundkora barservisto; foje mi vizitas saŭnon en Fantom, la plej malnova kaj ankaŭ kulta varsovia klubejo. Mi ŝatas pasigi tempon en lokoj „kun spirito”, kie eblas simple sidadi kaj babili. Tial ĉiuj tiaj snobaj kluboj entute ne taŭgas por mi. Ŝajnas al mi, ke
- malgraŭ sufiĉe popularaj opinioj – LGBT-kluboj estas kaj daŭre estos necesaj ĝis kiam la mondo ĉirkaŭ ni restos heteronormecaj, ĝis tiam ni bezonos lokojn, kie ni povas esti „ĉe si mem”, eĉ se tio odoretas je „getto”. Tio ne devas esti lokoj iel ajn „fermitaj”, kun selektado kaj kun aliaj policistoj. Malfermitaj, sed tamen niaj – lokoj, kie eblas veni kaj plendadi, ke laŭvica konkerita viro evidentiĝis esti kuninfana edzo aŭ pastro. Lokoj (milde) homonormecaj.
Krzysztof Kliszczyński, socia aktivulo: ĉu Varsovio estas homofriendly? Mi pripensis la demandon nur en momento. Por mi respondo estas komprenebla: jes! Mi foriras kun mia koramiko el domo, ekstere ni adiaŭkisas. Najbaro ridetas kaj kapgestas por „bona tago”. Egaleca Parado marŝas laŭ Marszałkowska, kaj de la tramo pasaĝeroj ridetas al ni. Parado turniĝas al la strato Piękna, kaj sur balkono maljuna virino montras siajn bastonojn. ŝi ne povas iri kun ni, sed salutas nin svingane la manon. Nia volontulino, Silezidevena, iras al unu el oficejoj de Urbestraro en Varsovio, poste ŝi sendas sms-mesaĝon: Mojosa tiu oficejo. Pendas afiŝoj de Lambda kaj KPH, kaj oficistinoj ne vestitaj en uniformoj. Varsovio estas friendly. Ne nur por gejoj kaj lesboj. Por ĉiuj „aliaj”. Varsovio mem – serĉante sian urban identecon – nur kankretas en „diverseco”, sed ĝi jam scias, ke tia estos ĝia vojo. Eĉ se kelkaj ĝiaj loĝantoj ankoraŭ tion ne scias.
Maciej Nowak, ĵurnalisto, teatra kaj kulinara kritikisto: Geja Varsovio komenciĝas en sojlo de mia loĝejo. Mi loĝas en loĝejaro en Szczęśliwce, kie en la jaro 1950 enloĝiĝis miaj geavoj kaj kie prizorgis min patrino kaj onklo. Mi mem revenis ĉi tien meze de la 80-aj jaroj, kaj ĉar mia kariero longe baziĝis sur konstanta vagado inter Varsovio kaj Gdansko, mi ekhavis impreson, ke en Szczęśliwce mi ne estas aparte rekonata. Antaŭ kelkaj jaroj mi estis invitita al iniciato de honora sangodonado. Kaj jene duonhore antaŭ la interkonsentita renkontiĝo mi ricevas vokon, ke mi ne venu. - De samseksemuloj sangon ni ne akceptas – mi aŭdis. La aferon mi priskribis en „Gazeto Wyborcza”, kio vekis multajn emociojn. Kelkajn tagojn poste, kaptas min mia najbaro, kun kiu mi antaŭe nur modeste interŝanĝadis „bonajn tagojn”: - Sinjoro Maciek, kio estis pri tiu sango? Mi paraliziĝis. Nu jes, nun komenciĝos kontraŭgejaĉaj atencoj. - Ĉu ili freneziĝis? - daŭrigis esprimante surpriziĝon pri stultaj agoj de polaj sangokolektaj instancoj. Kaj tio estis unu el tiuj momentoj de miriĝo pri mondo, por kiu valoras vivi. ĉar jen la ulo de antaŭa loĝejo, unu el tiuj, kiujn en sociaj esploroj oni priskribas kiel netoleremajn, kunsentas tute empatie kun iu, kiun li konas apenaŭ sed de longe. Kaj el la kunteksto oni divenas, ke li ne povas ne scii, ke li subtenas tiumaniere samsekseman najbaron. Tial mi parolas pri sojlo de mia loĝejo, kiel pri pordego al geja Varsovio, en kiu malgraŭ ŝajnoj gejoj vivas bone. Almenaŭ pli bone ol en iu ajn alia loko en nia lando. EPO
Bartosz Żurawiecki, filmokritikisto: Ni komencu per tio, ke Varsovio entute ne estas urbo friendly por iu ajn homo sapiens. Homoj ĉi tie murmuras unu al la alia kaj luprigradas, urba transporto funkcias malbone, promenante sur trotuaro oni devas salti super la parkitajn aŭtomobilojn, ks. ktp. Tuta Pollando estas tia – Varsovio estas kvintesenco de ĉio plej malbona en tiu lando. Kial do ĝi povus esti friendly ĝuste por seksaj minoritatoj? Efektive, de ĉiuj polaj urboj en Varsovio estas plej multe da geja-lesba koloreco, sed multe pli ofte ol „samseksemaj manifestacioj” okazis al mi renkontoj kun homofobeco. Neniu hontas laŭte esprimi sian malamon al „pedaloj”, kaj sentebla en aero atmosfero de agresemo kaŭzas la homofilaj gestoj. Bedaŭrinde la „branĉo” per siaj agoj konservas tiun staton. Mi malfermas la informilon pri gejaj lokoj kaj mi ekmalŝatas iri ien ajn. Mi preterlasu fakton, ke ili ĉiuj estas disĵetitaj tra la urbo, ĉefe fore de la urbocentro. Sed en unu ili povas min ne akcepti pro door selection, en alia oni povas min forĵeti se mi ne plaĉos, en alia tuŝaĉos min stulteta gardisto kaj forprenos boteleton kun akvo (ĉar estas malpermesite alporti „fremdajn” trinkaĵojn). Ĉio ĉi estas esprimo de fivilaĝanecaj kompleksoj kaj evidenta porkeco. Anstataŭ malrapide konkeri publikan spacon, posedantoj de la branĉaj lokoj preferas fermiĝi en fortikaĵoj, anstataŭ integrigi la medion kaj kontraŭstari al la diskriminaciado ili elektadas homojn „pli bonajn” kaj „malpli bonajn” laŭ la financaj, vestaj, aspektaj, aĝaj, etc. kriterioj. Tiuj semisnobaj klubejoj plu funkciu. Sed mankas alternativo – simplaj, modestaj lokoj, kie eblas sidiĝi, babili pri politikaj aŭ erotikaj aferoj, sen fanfaronado, kaj sen ĉiea bruo. Ĝis kiam ni, LGBT-anoj, mem ne zorgos por vivi – labori, interparoli, amuziĝi – en amika ĉirkŭaĵo, ĝis kiam ni diskriminacios unu la alian, traktos suspektinde kun malestimo, ĝis tiam ne indas eĉ revi, ke Varsovio iĝos urbo homofriendly.
Videble malfacilas unusignife respondi la demandon, kiel gejoj kaj lesboj fartas en Varsovio, kun ĉiuj ĝiaj vizaĝoj: historia, literatura, teatra, distra, loka, komerca kaj klubeja. Ĉar urbo havas tiom da vizaĝoj, kiom da loĝantoj, kiuj daŭre verkas la historion de la samseksa ĉefurbo. Ni esperas, ke QueerWarsaw ne ŝajnas al vi nur la memoreca, paraenciklopedia registro de topografio kaj eventoj, grandparte pasintaj aŭ foregaj. Ni montras novajn fenomenojn, iniciatoj, homojn kiuj volas sorĉi la realecon. Ili iĝas pli multaj kaj havas pli da ebloj, entuziasmo, kaj malpli da peza balasto de nerozkolora pasinteco. Antaŭ nelonge neniu eĉ pensis pri verkado de libro kiel QueerWarsaw. Kiu do scias kio okazos poste kaj kiel aspektos la urbo en la paĝoj de sekvaj eldonoj de nia libro.