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Tystnad och Tillhörighet : berättelser om homosexualitet från 1980-talets Polen


  • Agnes Malmgren

Summary, in English

There was a silence surrounding homosexuality in the People's Republic of Poland. One can almost get the impression that same sex love, and same sex relationships, did not even exist there; that the communists had successfully removed homosexuality from society. The roots of this silence can be found in the Communist Party´s disdain for anything deemed individualist and deviant, and also in the conservatism and religiosity of the Polish society.

In my thesis I study when and how gays and lesbians found a way out of the silence that surrounded their sexuality. Gay men did so by creating subcultures, which found refuge in parks, public bathrooms and a few bars in larger Polish cities, and offered a sense of belonging for them. Lesbians, on the other hand, lacked this access to semi-public spheres, which made it even harder for them to find each other and create a space for their sexuality. The 1980s, which is the decade I focus on in my thesis, marked the advent of gay and lesbian activism in Poland. During these turbulent times - when the Communist Party held on as tightly as they could to their weakening power position, at the same time as the opposition was gaining strength - small groups of gays and lesbians entered the periphery of Polish public life. The formation of groups was a reaction to the intolerance of society and to Akcja Hiacynt, a police action initiated in 1985 by the Minister of Interior General Czes?aw Kiszczak, during which thousands of gay men were interrogated about their subcultures and the criminality that was seen as inherent to them. The groups that came into being were dominated by gay men, whose activism revolved around creating a safe haven for the gay community and spreading information about safe sex and how to handle police interactions, etc. Despite the invisibility of lesbians in these groups and in the greater society, by the end of the 1980s there were a few women who decided to gather for a weeklong meeting in Mielno, on the Polish coast. Although their meeting did not generate any kind of activism, I write about it as an example of how some women managed to combat the loneliness they experienced as a result of their societal invisibility as lesbians. My thesis shows that the meeting in Mielno - together with other meetings that took place and the groups that formed in the 1980s - was made possible by the changes that swept through Poland during this decade and by the courage and will of some gays and lesbians to take advantage in the cracks in the communist society that these changes created.

Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (one year)


  • Social Sciences


  • Gender studies
  • 1980s
  • communism
  • homosexuality
  • Poland
  • Genusvetenskap


  • Barbara Törnquist-Plewa