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FEMINIST AND LGBTQ RADIO IN POLAND

We are in 2017 and yet there is still a lack of media and public narrations which give voice to the feminist and LGBTQ community. This is the group which is the most marginalized and discriminated in Poland.

Mainstream media and internet is very conservative and often spread hate speech towards these communities. The situation changed a lot after the elections in 2015. Now the government’s policy is even more right wing and highly conservative. It has a particularly strong affect on women, the LGBTQ community and even immigrants.

But suddenly some interesting social changes have became visible. We can all see big steps of women’s solidarity. There is very special moment when women of different ages and teenage girls have joined the movement. Women have created a strong protest movement and we have observed first signs of mutual support between LGBTQ and feminist communities. Which has not been a very obvious occurrence in the past. We are in the middle of really special moment for human rights and social changes in Poland.

After 2015 most people working in public media have been fired and replaced by new crew. Now public media clearly reflect government’s policy. There is misinformation, hate speech and prejudices in the everyday day media routine. What is more, this is the time when NGOs (especially democratic, human rights and anti-discrimination NGOs) have lost their funds. On top of this, sadly the polish catholic church seems to be a supporter of this new social and political situation. They support prejudices and stay passive about hate speech and violence.

It is a fact that in Poland the word feminism is a kind of “dirty” word. Since the end of Soviet Union we face a backlash and there was no space for such movements before 1990. Most people in that time in Poland haven’t even known that there is such thing as LGBTQ and the feminist community. There was always something more important: communism, worker’s movement, political propaganda or other things. And now here we are in the middle of Europe in 2017 demonstrating on the streets against violence and discrimination towards women and LGBTQ people. At least we have high adrenaline because we never know how the demonstrations will end because of aggressive counter-demonstrations.

As an experienced activist with background studies in feminism, human rights, LGBTQ rights and journalism as a masters degree I see how content is important. First of all, the media play a crucial role in creating a vision of the world, of people, and social groups. You can educate and honestly inform the public, or you can spread prejudices and hate speech. What’s more, if you don’t see and don’t hear about women’s positive protagonists or you can’t see the word lesbian in media content – do you believe they exist? How it appeals to your daughter’s life? How it appeals to your life? How it appeals to your life if you are lesbian, teenage girl or just a woman? Does it make you feel strong, safe, encouraged to take care of your life and choose the way you want? I work also as a coach for women and teenage girls, so believe me – it doesn’t. As one of the most active activists and NGO leaders I know how important is to have voice and the right to speak without being patronized. As a lesbian I know how it is to experience double discrimination and I know how it is to be vanished even in the LGBTQ community because of patriarchy. Finally as an experienced project manager and human rights advocate I know the problems and issues we have as a community/communities won’t disappear if we’ll stay without the voice. So after 5 years of my professional work I see the point of having and giving the voice and freedom to be heard.

There are some different dedicated media platforms for LGBTQ and feminists communities around world. There are some women’s and LGBTQ history museums, but they have never been placed in former Soviet Union countries. My venture, the Feministic Online Radio Platform in Poland would be the very first one that breaks this silence. And all these topics which refer to the LGBTQ and feminists community – will get the voice and virtual archive. Live streaming programs, a podcast library, interviews, live music and talks will be the the crucial ways to support and strengthen people who are pushed out of the public narration. I believe in sisterhood. That radio will be freedom and will be sisterhood. This is the right time to talk about things that have never been voiced out loud.

Lena Bielska, Poland