From invisibility to political witch-hunt: The influence of everyday marginalization on the sense of Polish and European belonging among the LGBTQ+ minority in Poland.
Abstract: Thirty years after the fall of communism and fifteen years after Poland joined the European Union, there have been more steps backwards than forwards in regards to gender and sexual equality. From the very beginning, this has been a cause of tension between Poland and the EU. The aim of this thesis is to investigate how the conflicting constructs of sexual citizenship in Poland and Europe affect the sense of belonging among the Polish gender and sexual minority (LGBTQ+). The thesis is based on in-depth biographical interviews with non-activist LGBTQ+ young adults in Kraków. Narrative analysis is used to investigate how Poland is (re)constructed as a homogenous queerphobic place that is juxtaposed with queer-friendly “rainbow Europe.” The analysis employs Michel Foucault’s concepts of biopolitics and self-regulation, as well as Sara Ahmed’s role of affect in reinforcing social hierarchies. It is discovered that the constant portrayals as the “pervert-enemy of nation” negatively influenced the interviewees’ sense of belonging to Poland, while their hope in EUrope prevailed. However, in light of the deteriorating internal situation, their doubts about whether the EU holds power to positively impact their situation were increasing. Instead, they linked their hopes with the bottom-up influence of the freedom of movement and the possibility of “running away” from Poland to EUrope. This thesis contributes an example of how the discourse of “rainbow Europe” facilitates European identification among the people who feel marginalized in their nation-states, and investigates its implications. In particular, the “shallowness” of European sense of belonging is discussed. The thesis gives discursive space to the people whose voices usually go unheard and questions where cultural tradition ends and persecution begins. It is also a reflection on the dangers of the right-wing nationalism to the human and minority rights.
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