In a move that was not only charitable but courageous, a gay couple in Poland recently produced and distributed hundreds of free rainbow-hued facemasks.
Jakub Kwiecinski and Dawid Mycek documented their philanthropy in a YouTube video, highlighting the love and appreciation they received for the Pride-themed personal protective equipment. The positive response was heartwarming and, frankly, surprising, considering how hostile Poland has historically (and recently) been towards LGBTQ+ people and queer equality.
One-third of the nation's municipalities passed resolutions in the past years outlawing "LGBT propaganda" and declaring themselves "pro-family." Activists have called these areas, which add up to a land mass larger than the nation of Hungary, as "LGBT-free" zones.
Same-sex relationships are not recognized there and LGBTQ+ people are frequently used as scapegoats by politicians in the deeply-conservative nation, which takes many cues from nearby Russia. Two new bills currently under consideration categorize homosexuality as pedophilia.
Still Kwiecinski and Mycek show no trepidation in their video, smiling and chatting up curious pedestrians in their hometown of Gdansk, in Poland's north. Maybe some weren't familiar with the symbolism of the masks, though many people, especially young women, were in on the "propaganda." Kwiecinski and Mycek, who made the approximately 300 masks with some friends and a borrowed sewing machine, say to one older man, "It's rainbow and I know you are our ally." He responds by saying, "I am not against." Even a stern-looking security official showers the gay men with gratitude. Small victories.
Kwiecinski and Mycek close their video with a statement that sums up one of the goals of their endeavor: "We are tired, but happy, because it's cool, as it turns out, the rainbow does not offend, does not infect, but can protect people from a real threat."