Polish Queer women of the 19th and early 20th century - voices silenced (by themselves?)
I’ve been reading up on queer history in Poland and I have some thoughts about it that I want to share. Being a bisexual woman myself, I want to know what it used to be like for people like me and why is the current situation so shitty compared to Western Europe in particular?
First of all, homosexuality was decriminalised in Poland as early as 1932, which was not common in Europe and probably most of the world at the time. The fact that there were no penal consequences for homosexual behaviour perhaps sheds light on the legal situation of queer folk in Poland and social attitudes towards homosexuality. I mean, I suppose it worked along the lines of “I won’t go to jail for this so it’s kinda ok, it could be way worse”. But this only led, most probably, to social invisibility, even more jarring than now (now the LGBTQIAP+ community in Poland has a lot going on in terms of fight for civil rights! it’s still kinda shitty, though). No one knows what would have happened, had there not been a communist People’s Republic of Poland after 1945. Would there have emerged a gay liberation movement? The interwar period certainly had its flaws but it definitely wasn’t the police state that Poland became after WWII.
Anyways, I could probably go on and on about it but in such case I should back up my thoughts with some sources and more research, for which I don’t really have time.
However, I wanted to share something else as well. Lesbians in communist Poland were pretty invisible (see: Krzysztof Tomasik’s “GEJEREL: Mniejszości seksualne PRL-u” and chapter 7: “Czy istniały lesbijki?”, which translates into “Did lesbians exist?” - doesn’t that sum the whole thing up?) but homosexual (and probably also bisexual) women in the pre-war (both WWI and WWII) era were almost untraceable as they expertly blotted out any traces of their otherness which would have been subject to slander and libel at the time. I’ve been reading about Maria Konopnicka and Maria Rodziewiczówna and what I read about those two writers (Kopnicka lived in the second half of the 19th century, Rodziewiczówna was born in that time and is considered a writer of the interwar period) stands in stark contrast to what I’ve been taught at school.
You see, in Poland we seem to have a long tradition of making famous writers (artists, musicians, etc.) into bronze sculptures rather than remembering them as actual people. Chroniclers and biographers of the communist era would be partly to blame for inconsistencies and omissions in biographies as would be general social attitudes as well. However, those writers themselves made no attempt to chronicle their non-heteronormativity in any way (or at least nothing direct) as a method to avoid social stigma from their contemporaries. So apart from photographs and descriptions of them provided by third parties there is not much to go by and we can only speculate about alleged, unfortunately, lesbianism of such national icons as Konopnicka and Rodziewiczówna.
Konopnicka was a very prolific writer and also celebrated by her contemporaries. Her poem “Rota” was a candidate for the national anthem after Poland became independent in 1918! This was huge! Rodziewiczówna was also a very prolific writer, probably her most well-known work nowadays is “The Summer of the Forest People”. She shared her life exclusively with women and she never married a man. This is what she looked like in 1911 (!):
And while Konopnicka dressed typically for her time (google her if you want), look at Maria Dulębianka, with whom Konopnicka shared most of her life (and with whom she was also buried in one grave for a short time!):
Not a very typical look for her time (2nd part of the 19th century). Dulębianka is also considered a precursor of feminism in Poland.
So, what I’m trying to say here is that these women were extremely good at hiding their true identities. I think this quote sums it up pretty well:
When asking about the relationship between Konopnicka and Dulębianka, it is to be considered whether homosexual women living in Polish territories were able to articulate their preferences and create a lesbian identity. Additionally, Konopnicka rather obsessively concealed or even misrepresented whole aspects of her life. Hiding her feelings and desires must have been her everyday reality, as she revealed: “Even to the people closest to me I write in such a way that a police officer could read this if he so desired.” Besides - even if Dulębianka and Konopnicka were not in an erotic relationship, what would this mean? It does not change the fact that it was a woman that the author of Imagina (one of Konopnicka’s books) chose as her life partner and it can be called a relationship if the people involved live and travel together. A relationship which lasted longer than the life Konopnicka shared with Jarosław, whom she officially married.
Pytając o relację Konopnickiej i Dulębianki, trzeba się zastanowić, czy w ogóle homoseksualne kobiety żyjące wówczas na polskich ziemiach były w stanie urefleksyjnić swoje preferencje i wytworzyć lesbijską tożsamość. Do tego u Konopnickiej można zauważyć raczej obsesyjne przemilczanie, a nawet zakłamywanie całych aspektów swojej egzystencji. Ukrywanie uczuć i pragnień musiało być jej dniem powszednim, skoro zwierzała się: “Ja nawet do najbliższych piszę tak, aby to mógł czytać p. żandarm, jeśli mu przyjdzie ochota”. Zresztą - nawet jeśli Dulębianki i Konopnickiej nie łączyła relacja erotyczna, to co miałoby z tego wynikać? Nie zmienia to faktu, że właśnie kobietę wybrała autorka Imaginy na towarzyszkę życia, a można chyba mówić o związku w przypadku osób, które razem mieszkają i podróżują. Związku, który trwał dłużej niż życie z oficjalnie poślubionym Jarosławem.
Tomasik, Krzysztof. 2014. Homobiografie. Wydawnictwo Krytyki Politycznej. ISBN 978-836-468-232-2.
So it is very sad that this is the only way we can attempt at uncovering the truth. It is incredibly tragic that these women erased their own identities, which means we can’t give them voice now and can only make guesses here and there. But I think that’s something at least. Anyway, I wanted to share these thoughts with you guys, this is by no means a scientific article or anything, just a bunch of thoughts put together.
…. I love Hamilton, you guys already know that so I don’t really have anything else to add to this besides: I’M SO TRASH AND SHAMELESS WHYYY but I can’t stop laughting kkkkkkkkkkkkkkk looks to her smile kkkkkkkkkkkkkk
Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess singing Poison & Wine by The Civil Wars [x] (requested by anon)
You only know what I want you to
I know everything you don't want me to
Oh your mouth is poison, your mouth is wine
You think your dreams are the same as mine
Oh I don't love you but I always will
Oh I don't love you but I always will
Oh I don't love you but I always will
I always will
I wish you'd hold me when I turn my back
The less I give the more I get back
Oh your hands can heal, your hands can bruise
I don't have a choice but I'd still choose you
hello everyone!!!!! im super super excited to have reached 3k followers!!! (๑•́ω•̀๑) ive had this blog for almost exactly 5 years now, but its rly been picking up steam lately and im so happy that ive met so many new people!! since i reached a milestone, ive decided to do my first follow forever! :’) thank you so much to everyone who’s followed me or talked to me, i love you all and i hope my blog can make you all as happy as it’s made me! ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡
:: super special thank you to @ao-kun, my very best friend and very first follower!!! i love you, girl ♡
(under the cut bc this turned out insanely long omfg) (so sorry mobile users)
au meme → 2min: in highschool requested by anonymous
This is the story of the star athlete and the lonesome wallflower; two souls who’s paths were never destined to cross.
Two souls who were so different, yet so alike. Though they lived in different worlds they wanted nothing but an escape, a break from the troubles and stress that high school offered them. Who knew they’d find what they wanted most in each other? Who knew they’d rewrite destiny and create their own paths?
SwimmingGod: So when did you figure it out babe? TheAmazingGrace: What do you mean, babe? SwimmingGod: WDJLKFLSDKJFLKDSJFKDS SwimmingGod: I LEGIT GET SO HAPPY WHEN YOU CALL ME BABE SwimmingGod: AAHHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHAH SwimmingGod: Like you used to hate it but now LOOK AT YOU TheAmazingGrace: I know, right? TheAmazingGrace: I figured you liked it, so why the hell not? TheAmazingGrace: Oh my gods. TheAmazingGrace: I actually just saw you giggling and blushing in your seat looking at your phone, man. TheAmazingGrace: It really DOES make you happy. SwimmingGod: THE HELL SwimmingGod: STOP STEALING GLANCES AT ME FROM ACROSS THE ROOM PROFESSOR D IS GOING TO CATCH US SwimmingGod: I CAN SEE YOU SMILING AT ME JASON
In which Jason confesses to Percy, Nico finally meets Jason for their Tour Date and there might have been some sweaty hands involved. 8D
There are three ways to corrupt a hero: three ways to tarnish a saviour. For Cruella, Ursula and Maleficent to obtain their happy endings, they must find someone whose soul can be moulded. Someone whose heart is brimming with blackness. Someone who’s ready to walk on the dark side.
52 years ago today, W. Axl Rose was born. (6th February, 1962.)
He is the most important person in my life, he’s indescribably beautiful - inside and out - and he always has been, he still is & he always will be. He is the strongest and bravest man I know of, and I’m so damn proud of him. He has been through so much in his 52 years - more than most people do in a lifetime. He has been to hell and back, and he has pulled through and came out stronger each and every time.
I know that he has no idea I exist and he probably never will, but no one on earth has ever had the impact on me that he has. To me, he’s not just another celebrity. He’s not just the frontman of my favorite band, my favourite musician, my favourite songwriter or my favourite singer… Most importantly, he’s my favourite person, and I love everything about him, from his head to his feet - and everything in between.
Most people have a completely warped and negative view on him, but he’s genuinely the complete opposite. A lot of people see him as this intimidating guy, when in reality he’s the sweetest guy around. As tough as he is on the outside, he’s even sweeter on the inside. He’s not just incredibly physically beautiful, he’s just as beautiful on the inside too. In my eyes, he is genuinely perfect, I wouldn’t change a thing about him for the world.
I love him beyond description, and nobody comes close in comparison. The only thing I want in life is for him to be happy, and I hope he gets everything he truly deserves in life. He means more to me than anything else, and my life wouldn’t be the same if he was never a part of it.
I hope he has an absolutely wonderful day today, too.
-I could write a whole lot more, but I don’t want to end up writing a book and boring you all.-
I love you so much, Axl! Happy birthday!!ღ
(For the GIF of photos from his childhood and teenage* years, I did not use any of the photos Erin Everly sold/is selling on auction, as I believe I had no right to do so. I left those out, along with three others as I believed they were also too personal to share.)