Monocolumn: The Growth Of Polish Pride

Monocolumn: The Growth Of Polish Pride

At first glance, the idea seemed risky at best. After Madrid, Stockholm and Zürich, this year’s EuroPride, Europe’s biggest gay parade, is set to be hosted in Warsaw, Poland’s capital.

  • 16 july 2010

Monocolumn is Monocle’s daily bulletin of news and opinion. Catch up with previous editions here.

Monocolumn- The Growth Of Polish Pride

At first glance, the idea seemed risky at best. After Madrid, Stockholm and Zürich, this year’s EuroPride, Europe’s biggest gay parade, is set to be hosted in Warsaw, Poland’s capital. Slated for tomorrow, 17 July, this will be the first time the annual parade has been held in a former communist country. Given Poland’s conservative reputation, and the absence of legal recognition of gay civil unions under the Polish law, many expect the rainbow parade to be twice as powerful and colourful as usual.

While Polish organisers anticipate between 50,000 and 70,000 participants, including about 20,000 from abroad, the marchers might face trouble on their way through the city centre. Extreme-right groupings are planning a counter-march for the same day, supposedly to celebrate the 600th anniversary of a medieval battle between Poland and Germany.

But this is hardly surprising to the Polish LGBT community. Its annual Equality Parade, held in Warsaw since 2005, sees several thousand participants, and a few dozen protesters, each year. Five years ago, the parade’s organisers encountered rock-solid opposition from the city authorities. Warsaw’s then-mayor Lech Kaczynski, who later became the country’s president, banned the parade on grounds that it could lead to “disturbing public order”. The several-thousand crowd marched through the capital anyway, and since a more moderate Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz was elected Warsaw’s mayor in 2006, the Equality Parade has established itself in the city’s calendar for good.

Konrad Ozdowy of Mustache Warsaw, a cultural association that is co-organising some of the events accompanying this year’s EuroPride, argues that even though Poles are renowned for their conservatism and traditionalism, Poland’s capital is a city that runs at fast pace.

“Warsaw isn’t like Berlin or Paris but it draws the creative class from around the country. For them, the possibilities here are unlimited,” argues Ozdowy. “Many young Poles get comfortable with the atmosphere of tolerance and freedom in other parts of Europe. When they come back, they want to have it at home as well,” he argues.

As tolerance for homosexuality grows in Poland, so do has the number of celebrities coming out. Tomasz Raczek, noted film critic and former editor of Playboy magazine’s Polish edition, and the popular soap-opera actor Jacek Poniedzialek are among those who breached the taboo and admitted to being gay in interviews. Such frankness had been, until recently, unthinkable, yet not only did it not damage their lives, but on the contrary, it put their careers on a fast track, and made them favourite breakfast television personalities.

“For years, Poles have been told they’re conservative and intolerant. Politicians want us to believe that, and the media reiterate this message. But Poland has a rich tradition of tolerance. Throughout our history, we never had any witch hunts, and we showed tolerance for religious dissenters,” Raczek argued in a press interview.

“It seems obvious that EuroPride won’t change some people’s attitude overnight. However, the democratic breakthrough that Poland achieved in 1989 has paved the way for progress in other fields, and the appetite for freedom will only grow,” believes Ozdowy.

Jarosław Adamowski is a writer based in Warsaw

Monocolumn is Monocle’s daily bulletin of news and opinion. Click here to read more, or here to subscribe to the monthly magazine.

Image by Veer.

Veer has recently relaunched its site,, with a simplified, easy to use interface allowing for enhanced and simplified image search.  The site, which is a go-to source for creative and affordable stock photography, illustrations, fonts and merchandise, helps people add style to business, marketing, and personal design projects.


PSFK's Workplace Vision: How The Nurturing Of Seeds Will Come To Define The Onboarding Process

Brand Development
Advertising Today

The Best In Eye-Catching Olympics Campaigns

PSFK rounds out the Rio Games with our picks for the best advertising moments off the field

Work Today

Editorial Roundtable: The Arrival Of The People-First Workplace

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary and thinkPARALLAX enumerate the reasons why companies need an employee-embracing workforce in order to exist


Get PSFK's Latest Report: Future of Retail: Technology Primer

See All
Arts & Culture Today

Transforming Light Waves Into A New Art Form

An artist uses glass treated with layers of metallic coatings to create a unique installation called lightpaintings

Design Today

This Windbreaker Lets You Explore The Outdoors While Charging Your Phone

The apparel includes solar panels that allow the wearer to stay connected through the power of renewable energy


Johanna Bjork

Sponsored, Work & Business, Design

Asia Today

The Goal Of This Game Is To Not Get Laid Off From Your Job

A hit mobile app has you working really, really hard to not get fired as you climb the corporate ladder

Advertising Today

Movie Critic Bot Guides Viewers Through Festival Offerings

The Toronto International Film Festival has created a Facebook Messenger chatbot to help attendants curate their schedule

Food Today

Disable Your Wi-Fi For Family Dinners With This Pepper Grinder Hacking Device

Dolmio has created a gadget that shuts down internet access so you can eat without being distracted


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

PSFK Op-Ed august 23, 2016

Modern Workplace Culture: No More Fat Cats Or Kissing Ass

Samar Birwadker, CEO & Co-Founder of Good & Co, on designing shared organizational values to optimize employee happiness and success

PSFK Labs august 24, 2016

PSFK’s Workplace Vision: The Annual Review Becomes An Everyday, Collaborative Activity

Our Future of Work vision is a web-based platform through which teams can collaborate on and monitor performance reviews across all channels, ensuring a happier workplace

Entertainment Today

Nosulus Rift Delivers Horrible Smells Just For The South Park Videogame

Ubisoft has developed a unique peripheral for the upcoming title that will put players to the test

Europe Today

Netflix’s Newest Programming Is As Slow As It Gets

Norwegian network NRK is coming to the streaming platform with their successful 'Slow TV'

Media & Publishing Yesterday

CNN Launched An Entire Drone Division Of Their News Network

CNN AIR incorporates aerial footage into the corporation's ongoing news coverage

Advertising Yesterday

Uber’s Breathalyzer Cards Let You Know If You Are Sober Enough To Drive

A new campaign from the ride-sharing service raises awareness about the importance of a safe trip home

Design Yesterday

Milk Proteins Could Be The Packaging Material Of The Future

A newly discovered casein-based alternative is biodegradable, sustainable and even edible


Innovation Debrief: Boston
Business Concepts Born In 'The Hub'

Technology Yesterday

Intel’s New System Will Help Technology See And Understand The World

Joule is a tiny board for developers designed to bring powerful computer vision to cheap and easy-to-make prototypes

Design Yesterday

This LA Hotel Is Designed Specifically For Cocktail Drinkers

The Walker Inn is a new Los Angeles "Bed and Beverage" experience that offers guests an intimate setting for their night cap

Education Yesterday

Bringing Virtual Reality And Telepresence Robotics To E-Learning

This Learning Management System is embracing new technologies to reallocate teaching resources to where they should be going

No search results found.