What kind of love do we like most? – any real one. What do we dislike? – social and legislative standards that distort, infantilize, and patronize, harm, discriminate, marginalize. They pretend that there is a perfect sexual orientation and that sexuality can take away or grant your rights. According to the newest ILGA Europe Index, Poland is the most homophobic country of the European Union. This index is not an opinion poll, but an analysis of the country's legislature and its practice.
Only 6 countries of the European Union don't allow same-sex marriage. Poland is one of them. What does it mean that same-sex couples aren't granted the possibility of entering a civil union? Partners are estranged in the eyes of the law, they can't inherit, provide insurance for one other, do taxes together, deny testifying in court against their spouse, decide about treating an unconscious partner, or burry them.
Rainbow is obviously the symbol of this collection. 'If I had to draw a flag for the planet Earth, it would certainly be a rainbow,' says Klara. The creator of the original flag, an activist Gilbert Baker, didn't patent his project on purpose, so that as many people as possible could recreate it their way, without any limitations. The original version consists of 8 stripes, every color representing something else: pink is for sexuality, red – life, orange – healing, yellow – sunlight, green – nature, turquoise – art, indigo – serenity, violet – spirit.
Slightly arched letters designed by Paweł Palikot that make up the word RISK, imitate the arch of a natural rainbow. The rainbow motif appears both on Banana skirts – flared skirts inspired by the '70s, on flirty sundresses, as well as on the back of our comfortable grey sweatshirts in the form of embroidery. When designing clothes with the rainbow pattern, we had a simple goal – for everyone to be able to manifest their support for the LGBT community on the streets, at work, anywhere and anytime.
June is Pride Month. Parades and events take place, the rainbow is everywhere. We were supposed to premiere our collection with a huge party on a Love Ship. We planned to ride our own platform on the Warsaw Pride parade, walk the colorful streets. When it came to planning the photo shoot it turned out that not only is it forbidden to form public gatherings, but also we are locked down in our houses because of the pandemic, and that outside of your own home you can't even hold hands, not to mention hugging or kissing. In our creative division meeting, someone said casually: 'Oh, now everyone can see for themselves how it feels to be an LGBT person in Poland.' It was clear right away that the photo shoot will take place on the streets of Warsaw.
The following couples took part in our affectionate urban photo shoot: a 19th century historian and cultural studies major, Daniel Sunderland, and his husband, Piotr Sunderland, a biochemist, and an expert in senescence; a fashion editor and stylist, Dominika Zasłona-Dukielska with her husband, a clinical research specialist and urban guerilla gardening activist, Adam Dukielski and their daughter Nina; an Artes Liberales student at Warsaw University and AKS Zły footballer Karolina Górska-Tran with her wife Eliza Górska-Tran, a teacher and an active member of AKS Zły; Anna Rosińska, a journalist, with her husband Piotr Rosiński, a publisher; partners from the dancefloor of the Intergenerational Dancing – Nina Starkel and Eryk Mroczek; a hippie mum who prefers freelance jobs, Agnieszka Radzio, and her husband Rafał Radzio, a premium car sales advisor; Malka Kafka and Laura Monti, the owners of a chain of vegan restaurants called Tel Aviv Urban Food and Papuvege, with their dog Malka; and friends, Rita Müller – a cultural studies major, an artist Ada Rączka, and a musician Natan Kryszk. Antoni Mroziński is the author of the photographs.#riskforlove #loveislove #lgbtsupporters #latomiłości
They say that after a storm there always comes a rainbow. According to an OKO.press poll that ended in August 2019, 60% of Poles are in favor of civil unions for LGBT couples. The support for marriage equality is rising as well. We want those friendly statistics to grow higher and higher. Love will triumph! And we are dreaming of making wedding dresses and suits for the first legal LGBT marriage. In June and July 10zl from every sold item from RISK FOR LOVE collection goes to an action 'I support relationships' organized by Kampania Przeciw Homofobii (eng. Campaign Against Homophobia) that promotes marriage equality and civil unions.
19th century historian and cultural studies major
biochemist and expert in senescence
Daniel and Piotr met ten years ago. One of them was looking for an apartment, the other for a roommate, so they moved in together, basically not knowing each other. A few years later, a mutual friend that introduced them became the best man at their wedding in London. It was a special but rainy day, in a small group of closest friends and in one of their favorite cities – a multiethnic cultural melting pot, where everyone can be whoever they want and no one is surprised or appalled by it. Where you can be the husband of your husband and the wife of your wife not only in a symbolic way. It looks different in Poland. 'Even though I share my life and my name with Piotr, in the eyes of the law I'm a stranger to him. If I'm his husband, then only with an asterisk and only in parenthesis,' says Daniel. For him, the most important matter for the LGBTQIA community is marriage equality, no asterisks, no parenthesis, and no loopholes included. Although they don't hope for anything to change in this matter soon, they appreciate the efforts of all those who are trying to stop the changes for worse. 'One of our friends, who works in a corporate company said that every year they organize a rainbow week with flags, and even though it's only a small image thing, this week is really good for his mental health. I think it's similar with brands and public personalities supporting LGBT people. Maybe it's just a small stone, but a one that may change the course of an avalanche?'
For their London wedding Daniel wore a golden jacket, and Piotr a checked suit. In our photo shoot, they both appeared in grey sweatshirts with the rainbow RISK embroidery on the back. In their favorite neighborhood that they know like the palm of their own hand, they didn't feel that this piece of clothing is a manifesto, but 'if I were to go to one of the LGBT-free zones in Poland, I would wear nothing but this sweatshirt!' says Piotr.
The summer of 1996, the 11th International Poster Biennale in Warsaw, the first encounter of Anna and Piotr. There was a spark. After years of living together they moved in close to the Poster Museum in Warsaw and they decided to be photographed for the Risk for Love collection shoot in front of it. And it still really sparks between them. Piotr is drawn to Ania by her sense of humor and optimism... and slightly Asian eyes. Anna sees strong arms and a strong sense of morality in Piotr. 'Piotr is a man of ideals, and it's always attracted me'. Their ideals are the same: 'affection expressed through touch is the simplest and the most natural form of personal freedom. And it should be a basic right of every person, regardless of their sexuality.'
Why equality and liberty are so important to them? 'We have a lot of non-heteronormative friends and we consider it deeply unfair that they can't enjoy all the rights we have free access to, just because their sexuality differs from the statistic majority's,' says Anna and adds: 'I just hope that single-sex marriage will soon be legalized in Poland, just like in other European countries. Even in catholic Ireland!'
To make it happen, commitment from all people with open hearts and minds is required, from little gestures of individuals to strong and honest support of businesses and institutions. 'Constant dropping wears away a stone – even the smallest action brings us closer to a change in perception of the society as a whole.'
For them, the rainbow flag is a symbol of diversity and optimism. 'It's hard to come by something more positive and natural,' says Piotr. Anna felt this natural and positive in the blue dress from our rainbow collection, Risk for Love. They both would like everyone to feel this natural and positive anytime and anywhere.
Artes Liberales student at Warsaw University and AKS Zły footballist
teacher and active member of AKS Zły
The ball is round, there are two goalposts (as one of the most famous Polish sports narrators, Kazimierz Górski, used to say), and love wins. At least that's how it was with Eliza and Karolina, who met in the Warsaw University football team, near to the iconic Skra stadium, where they both posed for the Risk photo shoot. They are together in sport and in life. Both connected to AKS Zły sports club – as an active member, and Karolina as a player. In March last year, they said 'I do' in Edinburgh, and now they are wife and wife, to be precise, in Great Britain and most countries of Europe, but still not in Poland. For now they dream about things that are obvious for heterosexual couples: 'the possibility to legally register our union, to get married that would be legally binding, the right to inherit, access to medical information. And if one of us gave birth, a law that would say that the other social, not biological, mother is a legal guardian of the child,' Karolina lists. 'Presently, we don't even dare to dream about the right for non-heteronormative couples to adopt. But maybe someday...' For now, to their mind, a feeling that a public display of affection without having to check if anyone is looking, and if they are, having to check how this person will react, would be a good start. 'After all, it's a really basic thing to be able to always be yourself without fear; it's our fundamental right to freedom and love' says Eliza.
On a daily basis, they don't choose clothes that are a manifesto, because they live openly anyway. The Risk rainbow collection stole their hearts mostly because of the comfort, the colors, and 'a clear call pro-equality statement. Browsing through the campaign photo shoot, the clothes on the website or in the store, someone unaware of our problems may discover that there are people who need support in order to live their lives with full the package of rights,' Eliza wonders. Karolina adds: 'I'm happy when it becomes trendy to be politically engaged, to fight for the rights of minorities, and to build responsibility – even by simply broaching the subject. I hope that thanks to this tolerance will be fashionable and mainstream, and exclusion will become passé.'
fashion editor and stylist
clinical research specialist and urban guerilla gardening activist
Those who had the experience of dancing in the bitterly missed club district in Powiśle,Warsaw, know that you don't forget nights like that. Dominika and Adam, who met at Diuna club in 2005, surely remember them. Adam was DJ Kura back then, and he played '80s and '90s music. Dominika was on the dancefloor, celebrating her birthday. They still dance together, but now as a married couple with their 12-years-old daughter Nina, a fan of ballet, just like her mother.
There is no better or worse music. 'I listen to everything, from reggae to techno, from Chopin to Dalida,' says Adam. They don't put music in boxes, and people neither. Everyone is different, has different needs and longings. It's important that everyone can express themselves always and everywhere, without any restraints. 'For me constant touching, hugging and kissing my husband and child is the norm. Maybe Adam isn't as affectionate as me, but we both believe that everyone should be able to manifest their feelings whenever and wherever they want,' Dominika says. LGBT rights are important to both of them, for one simple reason, 'it's basic human rights we're talking about. I'm an optimist and I believe that things will get better. The more we talk about it in public space, the better for the case.'
What do they associate the rainbow flag with? 'With equal rights and the strive towards it, because the fight is still on,' Dominika continues. On the other hand, for them a rainbow is a symbol of uninhibited joy, just like for their daughter Nina, who 'simply fell in love with the new rainbow version of the RISK logo.' Dominika felt like this with the rainbow-striped dress, even though she always used to choose more tame colors before. The magic of the rainbow worked. Hope it works with other things as well.
Malka Kafka i Laura Monti,
owners of a chain of vegan restaurants called Tel Aviv Urban Food and Papuvege
Malka and Laura's ordinary evening? After a whole day of feeding others they eat beet green soup made by Malka's mum and take Monti, the adopted she-dog for a walk, they laugh or sometimes fight. Like millions of other couples. But in Poland, not all couples have the same rights. 'It's hard for them to make peace with the circumstances in which a person you are with is a stranger to you in the eyes of law,' says Laura, and Malka adds: 'Legalizing civil unions for same-sex couples and marriage equality is one thing, because you can regulate it with the civil legal agreement, but there is one more thing: having a child. Through adoption or in-vitro procedures. Two years ago, a Polish court denied a lesbian couple transcribing the British birth certificate of their child into Polish. So legally you can't have two mums.'
Their own families really support them. Laura had a coming out for her parents when she was 18, and Malka's mum was surprised to hear that she was with Laura at first ('How come? You've always had boyfriends...'), but later she only asked if Malka is happy in this relationship. 'I said yes, and that was enough for my mum,' Malka reminisces. They live openly. Malka never really cared for public opinion, she always says what she thinks, and lives however she wants to. Laura has a rainbow flag pinned to the lapel of her jacket. For Malka the rainbow flag is a call to action: 'Let's show the world how many non-heteronormative people are among us.' 'If I lived in a country where non-heteronormativity was normative, I wouldn't need a special declaration. That's why we need Pride Parades. That's what suffragette parades and civil rights movement protests in the US were for.
Parades are important, but everyday grassroots work counts as well. 'I realize that making a kiss of two girls on the street something normal for people is a long process,' Malka says. 'And it's what we see every day that is normal to us. (…) If you see gay and lesbian couples in normal everyday situations in more and more movies, series, or photo shoots, like the one Risk did, there is a chance that this image will become imprinted,' said Malka.
hippie mum who prefers freelance jobs
premium car sales advisor
Every love story starts differently and has a different scenario. Agnieszka and Rafał met on the internet. They spoke for long, about everything that made them interested, inspired, happy or sad. Then there was a spontaneous family walk, and only after that a real date. Today they form a happy patchwork family. There is always something going on, or something to talk about. Rafał loves Agnieszka's creativity and joy of life, and Agnieszka is drawn to Rafał's contagious energy, tenderness, and empathy. 'We have a similar outlook on many things,' Agnieszka says.
'For both of us, personal freedom and the right to be yourself are extremely important.' It doesn't matter whether you love a man or a woman, because 'what's important is that you have love in your heart. I don't know where it comes from, but as a society we have really closed hearts, and our heads are focused on our own issues. We lost empathy for other people and their problems along the way.' They see an opportunity for a change in that approach, also in concern of LGBT rights, in the proper education of the next generations. 'The power is in teaching children tolerance, acceptance for otherness, and respect for equality. We believe in those ideals, so it's natural for us to pass on these values to our children.' They want their children to associate the rainbow flag with joy and freedom, just like it does for them. And for everyone to feel 'happy, colorful and free', like they did in the Risk photo shoot.
Nina Starkel i Eryk Mroczek,
partners from the dancefloor of the Intergenerational Dancing
Nina and Eryk are partners from the dancefloor. And what partners at that! When they dance together, you can't take your eyes off them. Eryk believes he has no ear for music, but according to Nina 'he leads amazingly, and he has a sense of beat, so we dance like that's all we've been doing our whole lives.' They met on one of the speed dating events for seniors, organized by the Intergenerational Dancing. As quickly, they became friends and an inseparable duo on all Warsaw dances.
When you call Eric, you can hear 'Chandelier' by Sia in the background. During the Risk photo shoot they were dancing to popular hits of the '50s and the '60s. Eryk usually wears dark lenses, like Jack Nicholson, but for the photo shoot he came in yellow ones, more Bono style. Nina says that she was probably born on stage. She can still dance on the table if there is little room on the dancefloor. She's an orchestra managers' favorite. 'Where is that lady who can twist?' they ask. Legends about Eryk. Supposedly he won million zlotys at lotto once, but he soon partied it all away. He easily blends in, and he's on a first-name basis with everyone, no matter young or old. 'On parties, I always stay until the end,' says Eryk.
Dances are their way of finding the joy of life. 'Thanks to this, despite the time passing, you don't feel like you're drowning, you stay afloat, and in a good way. I had a terrific wife – we met when she was a student. We'd spent our whole lives together. For 10 years now, I've been alone. You need to do something nice with your time,' Eryk confesses. Nina forgets all her sorrows when she's dancing, and she knows others need it too. She used to go to integration trips and dance with a man with a prosthetic leg, or a young man in a wheelchair. It gave everyone a lot of happiness. Everyone can dance in their own way.
Nina also believes that everyone can love in their own way. 'This is a basic human right. There is a saying that even God doesn't look underneath the covers, so why should I make judgments?' For Eryk 'everyone should love like they feel it. Love is life. Something natural.' What does the rainbow flag mean to him? 'For me it's something beautiful. I don't know a thing about colors, but I like them all equally.'
At the photo shoot, Eryk was dancing in a rainbow bowtie and an elegant suit, and Nina – in the red dress from the new Risk for Love collection. 'On the sight of it I peeped with joy, because it's my color. It was an amazing dress to dance in, it's so soft to the touch and it just floats, you don't even feel it on your body.' They both plan on dancing, having fun and engaging in new interesting projects as much as they can, because, as Eryk says 'it's never too late for a passionate life.'
Friends:Rita Müller – a cultural studies major,
an artist Ada Rączka and a musician Natan Kryszk
We could write a lot about who played truant in highschool to go to the cinema, who became friends over french fries, and who met whom on the exams to the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. However, for Ada, Rita and Natan it doesn't matter what connected, and still connects, them. What matters is that they like spending time together, so they decided to show their support for LGBTQ people together.
Why is this topic important to them? 'In the beginning, mostly because of my non-heteronormative friends, who experienced discrimination,' says Rita. 'Now, that I myself am in a relationship with a girl, I'm also speaking for myself.' Natan adds: 'Because I grew up surrounded by LGBTQ people and thet are rolemodels for me.' And Ada sums up shortly: 'Because every person's rights matter.'
All three agree on which matters are most important when it comes to LGBTQ rights. 'Including homophobia and transphobia in the article on hatespeech in the Polish penal code (art. 256). Marriage for every couple. Adoption for individuals and all couples. More visibility for non-heteronormative people in public spheres, like politics, media, and art. Facilitation of introducing all the required changes in documents for trans people after transition. Now, in order to do it trans people have to sue their parents for assigning them the wrong gender at birth. Sex education and anti-discrimination workshops at school,' they list. And it's still only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to equality and diversity in Poland.
What does the rainbow flag, the symbol of pride and fight for the rights of the LGBTQ community, mean to them? 'Sometimes it's just a nice sign close to our heart, and sometimes it's a powerdul symbol that connects redically open people, places, organizations, and gives the sense of security.' In the Risk rainbow photo shoot, the picture where they all wear the same skirt is their favorite, because they don't like the division into male and female clothes, they prefer to treat them fluidly and interchangeably. Manifesting yourself through clothes? Sure, but for Rita, Natan and Ada they define neither someones sexuality, nor their worldview.
The three of them took part in the Risk for Love photo shoot, because they believe that a romantic relationship as a dominant and desirable social form, and the reality is much more complicated than that. Their attitude towards brands showing support for LGBTQ people is ambivalent as well. Cause 'there is always a risk that such activity is in fact pinkwashing.' On the other hand, they are always happy to hear about 'new allies influencing public discourse. Advertising and marketing have a strong impact on society, so brands and famous people's activity can contribute to the normalization of LGBTQ existence in the public space,' the three friends conclude. And we agree.
The photo session was created in Warsaw
photographer: Antoni Mroziński
in the pictures: Daniel Sunderland, Piotr Sunderland, Ania Rosińska, Piotr Rosiński, Karolina Górska-Tran, Eliza Górska-Tran, Dominika Zasłona-Dukielska, Ada Dukielski, Malka Kafka, Laura Monti, Agnieszka Radzio, Rafał Radzio, Nina Starkel, Eryk Mroczek, Rita Müller, Ada Rączka, Natan Kryszk
stylist: Klara Kowtun
producer: Katarzyna Świątoniowska