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Interview mit Mariusz Kurc

What event would you consider to be the first form of LGBTIQ* activism in your life? Do you remember the moment when you decided to act for our community?

I remember. It was the year 2005 and I had a boyfriend back then. My phone rang and I was offered a vacation in a hotel in Spain on the condition that I would have to come to a pot show. The lady said that this holiday is for me and my wife or a girlfriend. I did something that I hadn't done too often before, i.e. I came out to her. I asked: What if I have a boyfriend? Can I go on this vacation with him? The lady panicked, she said she needed to consult someone. She came back a few minutes later and said it was not possible.

When I finished talking to her, I thought that I had to tell some activists about it. I contacted the Campaign Against Homophobia [KPH] and Robert Biedroń [an openly gay politician, currently MEP] wrote me back. He immediately stated that there had been discrimination in access to goods and services in my case. 

In the fall of the same year, I read on the that KPH was looking for volunteers to launch a magazine on what was then called gay & lesbian issues. This is how Replika was created [the only printed LGBTIQ* magazine in Poland]. I was the only person who came from that announcement. At the first meeting, I said that I wanted to do interviews with gays and lesbians who came out. At that time, there was no mention of trans people in Poland.

The radio show you are co-hosting is called "Better late than never". Do you have moments of doubt? What drives you to continue to act in such moments?

I have doubts now and then, but the main driving force is the feeling of being pissed. Not for a moment, but a general, constant feeling of being pissed. It’s my disagreement that the world cannot be the way it is. For the first part of my life, it seemed to me that there was something wrong with me because I was convinced that homosexuality was something abnormal, as people around me said scornfully at the time, that it was something gross that could be mocked at best, definitely not accepted. I inhaled this homophobia from the air around me and took it as my own. Almost like all of us back then. At one point I realized that I am not a sick person, but the world around me is wrong. I made it up in my head that I was right and not the rest. This is really very difficult as it confronts the individual's view against the collective.

Many people in Poland believe that being gay or lesbian is their personal matter. We are not aware enough that coming out is a political issue. We have a lot of LGBTIQ* people in Poland who vote for people who are silent about our issues or who have openly homophobic programs. We do not understand that we have to fight for ourselves and vote for those who want equality for us. For me it is obvious, but unfortunately for many LGBTIQ* people in Poland, it is still not. Lots of people in Poland will come out to their mom and dad, to a group of friends, and then sit quietly and they do not want anything more. In conversations, they complain that it is so good for queers in France or Spain. They do not realize that our community must come to equal solutions in our country itself.

LGBTIQ* rights, as well as content in education, have been very politicized in Poland. What do you think must happen so we will finally move on?

I am very glad that these issues are politicized. When they were not politicized 15 years ago, this was not a topic in the public sphere. Again, in every country where marriage equality was introduced, this topic fell off the political agenda. Just like 100 years ago, for example, the right for women to vote in elections was on the agenda - it was a political matter. Today, the fact that women take part in elections is fortunately normal for everyone. I am convinced that someday it will be the same with marriage equality. In Poland, we went from the stage of indifference, denial, and ridicule to the fact that it is a political topic so far. At this point, the conservatives genuinely hate us. The next stage will be - I hope - to introduce marriage equality. I have no idea how long it will take. I don't expect this to happen next year. It can happen in 5 years or it can happen in 10 years.

In October 2020, a lot of people took to the streets. In Koluszki, a small town where I come from, the Women's Strike was the first street protest in many years. But what impact have these demonstrations had on the political situation? If you look at the polls, it's not that great. As if people's views and their political choices were two separate things. For example, I observe an attitude among many people: "I do not go to the Church, the Church annoys me, but I cannot imagine Poland without the Church - therefore I will not vote for anti-clericals, but for those who say that the Church must be respected."

There are events in our country in which the entire society lives for several weeks. What happened in August 2020 in your opinion that the name Margot [a non-binary anarchistic activist who was arrested last year for her activism] did not come off from the mouth of literally all people? I have the impression that if you were to ask a random person on the street now who Margot is, most people would be able to answer that question.

Two things come together here. As an activist with 16 years of experience, I remember how we could not get politicians to take care of our affairs. We fought for it and a while we failed. Today it is different - the Margot case proves that LGBTIQ* issues are at the center of Polish politics. Margot is also proof that you have to do something really strong to get attention, polite dialogue is not enough. You have to literally cut that homophobic truck up and get arrested. [Margot cut a tire with a knife in a truck covered with homophobic banners that equated homosexuality with pedophilia through a megaphone and got arrested on what was called “a Rainbow Night” or “a Polish Stonewall” - on the 7th of August 2020]

Is it that the school "fagot" dared to give up? The roles of the beaten and the beater turned around and we are out of the victim role that we've been stuck in for years?

Definitely. Her phenomenon is that she was fearless, not intimidated. She was ready to go to jail. Our community in the mass is mainly for dialogue, for educating people - that sounds nice, but let's look at how much of this slow dialogue and education over the past years, or even decades, has come to us.

During the rule of PiS, the number of equality marches grew at an express pace from year to year in Poland. For a few years now, marches have been in every voivodeship. Did the oppression from our conservative governments mobilize the LGBTIQ* community? Did they at least show us what we don’t want?

Here I have an optimistic thesis. In my opinion, homophobia, which has spread even more widely in Poland in recent years, has done so because our community has started to become very visible. The Polish LGBTQ+ community has made some huge steps forward in recent years. This is evidenced by the growing number of equality marches. In 2017, there were 7 of them, in 2018, there were 15, and in 2019 - 31! When PIS [the ruling party] came to power, homophobia did not increase immediately in 2015. The first LGBT-free zone was established in March 2019, which is very symptomatic. It happened a month after the Mayor of Warsaw signed the LGBT Charter in February 2019 [a document promising real actions for LGBTQ+ people in the capital]. It was a very visible, first success for our community in a long time. This gesture itself turned out to be very important. Our opponents fell into hysteria and unleashed a homophobic war. This is their reaction to our emancipation, a reaction disproportionately greater than our progress. But they won't destroy us. We will survive.

In 2005, Poland was close to legalizing civil partnerships. MPs, including Leftists, withdrew the previously passed law citing the commemoration of John Paul II [who died that year] and his values. Tradition and conservative values for many years were considered universal in Poland. Is this whip that is “traditional and conservative values” getting weaker every year? Do the Women's Strike, the protests in defense of Margot, which are uncompromising and formulate vulgar demands for access to rights, show that enough is enough and we will not be silenced?

In September 2020, Margot said: "Poland, You dick" and even got a reprimand from our community, and two months later the slogan of the Women's Strike "Get the fuck out" was ok. Our community is over-sensitive to what other people will think about us. Robert Biedroń's career is a litmus test here. When Robert was an activist, president of KPH [Campaign Against Homophobia], he was not particularly cherished by our community. People thought that he demanded too much, that he shouted too much, that he was too effeminate, and yet not all of us are effeminate and he shouldn't represent all of us. However, when he became an MP and began to receive praise from the mainstream, he suddenly became our hero. When the mainstream recently started hating him again, the community turned away from him again and in the presidential election, he only obtained 2.2% votes! Even the LGBTQ+ community did not vote for him, despite the fact that he was the only candidate with equal rights on his agenda. People voted against their interests. We, as a minority, keep our eyes on the majority and wonder what they will think about us.

Until recently, "Replika", of which you are the editor-in-chief, was only on mail-order sales. For several months now, you can finally see this only LGBTIQ* magazine in bookstores and press salons in Poland. When did you start seeing the increased sales that allowed you to move to sales in stores?

Increased sales of "Replika" is also a sign of our progressive emancipation. The fact that “Replika” stands on the press shelf next to right-wing magazines is a sign of our community's presence in the public sphere. Parallel to the increase in marches, the number of our subscribers grew. In the three years from 2018 to 2021, we saw a 300% increase in sales! Thanks to this, we were able to increase the circulation and start selling it in the stationary. Eventually, we really started to develop.

I love "Replika" for the fact that in one issue you can find an interview with a gay doctor, a transgender woman with a disability, and a gay couple who produce honey in the countryside. Do you understand the struggle for equality very broadly as joining people through a common mission above the hierarchies in our society?

We try very hard. We have that vision and mission, but we have to confront reality at times. 

I often hear the accusation that "Replika" is not perfectly equal. This objection stems from the fact that some groups in our society are more visible and some are less visible. Generally speaking, it is more difficult to persuade gay people living in the countryside to be interviewed than those living in a big city. The group of bisexual men is the least visible group among all LGBTQ+ letters - and this is also seen in "Replika". Transgender men used to be a hardly visible group, today they more and more come out and this is also visible in our pages. Gays in general are easier to persuade than lesbians. Non-heterosexual women in Poland are still underrepresented. Our visibility is absolutely crucial to equality, coming-outs are essential. From ordinary people to celebrities and politicians. I believe that walking down the street and holding hands with your boyfriend - makes you an activist. Coming out to your aunt or grandmother - also makes you an activist. Maybe your aunt will hesitate later and will not vote for a politician who says: "Poland without LGBT is the most beautiful" because it will interfere with the fact that she has a nephew who is gay.

When I grew up in the 1980s and I had an interest in pop music, Elton John was in the closet, George Michael was in the closet, practically everyone was in the closet. If they had been out when I was 12-13 years old, I think my adolescence would have been different. I would stop being ashamed of my sexual orientation sooner.

What do you consider to be unique about Polish LGBTIQ* culture and what would you like to recommend to the followers of ENOUGH is ENOUGH! ?

I will say something I do myself. When I show my friends abroad the nude calendars that we make with "Replika", they are shocked that these are "ordinary" people, not rented models. When I add that, for example, one of our models is a head of hospital ward, they say that we should sell these calendars abroad. My colleague, an activist from Portugal, said that he could not imagine a gay chief physician in his country has the courage to appear naked on the calendar. Or a transgender boy. On one hand, I complain that so many of us are sitting in the closet - and on the other hand, we have a lot of brave LGBTQ+ people in Poland. Likewise, we should have been proud of the Spring Party in Poland - because how many parties are there in the world founded by a politician who is openly gay? We also had the transgender MP Anna Grodzka, one of probably only nine transgender MPs in the world. We have such people in Poland, such events that we can be proud of, and I have the impression that we do not appreciate them.

Do you send your calendars abroad?

Yes, we ship, one even went to New Zealand!

[the calendars are available here: Lesbian calendar: Gay calendar:]

What message would you like to underline for foreign audiences? What is the situation in our community and how can people help us?

The Polish president says that "LGBT people are not people", a judge of the Constitutional Court publicly outed a 10-year-old transgender child, 1/3 of Poland is "an LGBT-free zone, the minister of education says that LGBT" are not normal people ". Such statements take place in the 21st century in a country belonging to the European Union - and the Union itself does almost nothing about it, despite the fact that the resolutions of local governments on "zones ..." are in clear contradiction to the fundamental values ​​of the EU...



Mariusz Kurc - editor-in-chief of "Replika", the only printed LGBTIQ* magazine in Poland

Interview by: Kuba Urbaniak is a helping hand for the campaign “I’m not an Ideology”. Trained as an architect and intermedia artist, he worked and studied in Poland, Iceland, and Vienna. Based in Poznań PL. Currently developing his skills and interest in social campaigns with ENOUGH is ENOUGH! 


Enough is Enough Team