So I’m sat on a Ryanair flight to Stanstead on the way back from Warsaw. Cramp conditions aside, I’ve had the privilege and pleasure to have been invited to be a guest and member of the jury at The Mr Leather Poland competition. Arriving Friday and being met at the airport by the lovely Janos and Henk (and of course their cute dog Nero), I joined Mr Leather Europe – Joe King, Mr Leather Amsterdam – Raymond and Mr Bavarian Leather – Werner to support a country that hasn’t been known for its great treatment of its LGBT community. Having Polish lodgers, they offer constant reminders to me about the harsh treatment that LGBT people in Poland. In fact before I left to travel, one of them apologised for their countries attitude and asked me to be careful when out and about. Being an LGBT activist as well as a title holder, it was important to me to understand the challenges faced by our leather brothers and to see what I and the other European title holders can do to help change attitudes and fight discrimination and break barriers in Eastern Europe.
Thanks to education, attitudes have started to change but we have a long way to go. Homosexuality was never illegal under Polish law and cities such as Warsaw and Krakow are testament to the change in attitudes. Despite campaigns for equal marriage, some-sex marriage is not recognised in Poland with the major opposition coming from the Roman Catholic Church which influences politically. A google search provides more information than I am able to provide in this blog post.
We were invited to be part of the jury for the Mr Leather Poland contest and I can confirm that the gorgeous Lukasz Sankowski came first in the competition. I wish him luck in his title year and look forward to meeting him at future events. I know he will do his country proud.
Despite warnings from my lodgers, we faced no hassles walking round Warsaw in full leather. In fact, everyone was perfectly charming even the lady who asked me to take a photo of her with the other title holders. It’s the beginning of Brexit Syndrome. lol One of the group took the picture so I could join my colleagues but I bet she cuts me out the photo! Lol
As I reflect, I realise this is why I go to events such as Pride. Not just to celebrate the freedoms we have here in the UK but to show solidarity and raise awareness of worldwide communities who are unable to share the same freedoms. Until we are all equal, until hate crime is eradicated, until young people stop committing suicide, there will always be pride festivals and people like to march in them.