Monday, 16 August 2010

Europride Warsaw

Hello, haven’t seen much on europride which was in Warsaw this year. Our local gay press said that they didn’t know it was happening! It happened every year and this year it was being run by an inexperienced team with no funding from their government we have just returned and it was amazing! A Brighton resident, Claire ‘Bat’ Denyon received an award at the gala evening that featured Stockholm’s gay men’s choir and the London gay men’s choir. She has recently been featured in the Observers list of influential lesbians in the UK.

The march itself set off in temperatures of 35 and was eventually rerouted and shortened, partly because of the heat but also because of the counter demonstrations – 5 of them. These were a mixture of fundamentalist Catholics and right wing fascists. There was a smoke bomb in front of us and some stone throwing – one of the gay men’s choir of London was hurt. The police, although grim faced and reluctant to be snapped, were very protective and were numerous and visually on full alert for any trouble.

That evening we explored what the delights of our silver club card would bring us and found an amazing collection of bars, each one the size of a small living room and all in shacks just off one of the main shopping streets. There was no big central evening do that we could find and the lack of air con put us off the drag act on ‘Pride House’ one of the main gathering areas but we had a great time.

Having a Polish speaker in our gang of 3 was invaluable and we were able to go to a lot of places that tourists would have shied away from. We also met lots of Polish lesbians and my partner; Maria Jastrzebska did a poetry reading in a library in Warsaw on the Monday after pride. It was well supported and a very interesting gathering who asked searching questions in the Q and A session after the reading.

It was a shame that the event was not better attended, maybe people were worried about the dubious track record of Poland with LGBT issues and it cannot be denied that it is not the easiest place to be gay. However we had am amazing time and really felt like it was important to be there and to have a presence. Hopefully future prides will be enlivened by this year and the Warsaw businesses will see the benefits of the pink pound even if they are not completely championing diversity.

I would urge you to include this report in your magazine along with the numerous pictures and account of Manchester and Brighton prides etc. I live in Brighton and I love the fiesta that is Brighton Pride with its emphasis on families and inclusion. However I really felt that I was making a difference this year by being at Warsaw europride as they are beginning the long journey towards any kind of social or political acceptance and they really need the support of the established gay communities and Prides in the UK.

Deborah Price

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