I remember being a brave child before going to school. But years of polish public education taught me that it’s pointless to come forth, because you can get hurt.
That the best defence tactic is to comply or to run, that I have no chances confronting someone who has power over me or is stronger than me, so why even try.
I was entering the movement during the most intense time of Stop Bzurom Collective (Stop Bullshit) activity.
I joined a queer community that became my social bubble, an escape from Poland’s reality of everyday systemic opression. The building at Wilcza 30 was a safe space for me and my community, and kind of an epicentre of liberation. Not to sound pompous here, but it was one of a few, if not the only such space in Warsaw, or even in Poland – anarchist, feminist, queer.
Queer meaning a fight, active resistance, not giving in to the state, the police, capitalism, religion, social norms. Destroying the homophobic truck in June of 2020 and the events that it initiated let me believe that not only all of that was possible, but also necessary.
The community gave me strenght that I needed, a feeling of agency and belonging.
I sank in all that and not much later I moved into Syrena.
Living there taught me a lot about fear.
I was afraid of Thursdays, which meant collective meetings that lasted long hours, where one could feel escalating conflict in the air. I was scared, when D. threatened my friends and me, when he screamed, when he used physical violence, when he and his colleagues tried to forcefully enter our yard, finally when Przychodnia „visited” our meetings in big numbers.
Was I alone, I would have quit months earlier, but I didn’t want to leave my comrades, beacuse only standing together we stood a chance. Forming of a new community collective out of supportive groups and people allowed me to live through this time. I learned how to not to be ruled by fear. And that my fear is political.
In patriarchy, as non-cis-males – queers and generally people who do not obey by the binding rules we are supposed to fear, to be scared for our lifes so that we stay silent. What I learned from school is a tool of the privileged groups to control the opressed, the tool of abusers to silence their victims.
What was happening in Syrena and ended in the escalation of violence on 5th of December was a show off of power, a demonstration of what happens to those who oppose the status quo, demand their rights and talk about their experiences and realities.
The fact, that instead of backing off in the face of threaths we resisted to the very end was kind of a break-through in the scene in Poland. That queers took the matters in their hands, that we resisted the attack for 4 hours instead of giving up. That even this much violence didn’t break us as a community.
For me personally the hardest part of this situation that went on for months was the reaction of a big part of the scene. At first, when we asked for help in resolving the conflict, but even after the escalations of violence.
„Was it choking or grabbing by the neck, cause it’s a difference?”
Telling us to take care of our shit ourselves, that you can’t take a stance beacuse you know too little… (Do you know enough now?)
Even after the attacks you tried to remain neutral, well, I mean „both sides threw bottles”, right?
The fact that we did it as self-defence, while in a bulding that was being stormed, and them storming it seems to go under some people’s radar.
In Poland, when I enter a so called anarchist space that is not explicitly calling itself queer-feminist I can expect that it is „anti”, for sure not showing allyship or intersectionality.
I didn’t realize it before, but going outside of the Syrena community I always hid my queerness „just in case”. From people associated with squats in Poland I’ve heard the most homophobic, transphobic and mysoginistic things in my life. I don’t want it to be this way. Syrena gave me hope, a vision of another world, where there would be a place for me.
The attack was, as many people pointed out, an anti-feminist, anti-queer backlash.
It shows even in the statements supporting the attackers that were issued, talking about the „Stop Bzdurom (Stop Bullshit) associaties” or queers taking over a squat.
On the 5th of December Przychodnia managed to do something that the police, developers and nationalist could’t achieve for 10 years (well done, guys).
Syrena Collective still exists.
And about the building at Wilcza 30?
Instead of grieving it, we keep on fighting.