Love and Hate

People are people, lives are lives, and your choices are your own. Live and let live, right? This past weekend in Kraków saw the yearly tolerance march progress through the streets of the city and around the main square of said fair city. Living in Bochnia, I have become oblivious to the goings on of this former Polish capital as there is always something going on, and I just can’t keep up all the time. Anyway, it was under this pretext that my family and I happened upon these events whilst out for completely unrelated reasons. After a bit of shopping, meandering and some lunch (we went for Chinese … a much needed variety since Bochnia cuisine consists of only three choices: pizza, kebab or Polish dishes), my daughter and I opted for a massive bowl of ice cream on the main square whilst my wife was taking in a photo exhibition nearby. Just as the frozen, sugary goodness began its work on my kid’s bloodstream, a dark, angry chanting coming from round the corner disturbed our chilling of the intestines and made the necks of all those surrounding us crane to see what the hullabaloo was about. To the chorus of such intelligent words as “chłopak, dziewczyna … normalna rodzina” (man, woman … normal family), a clan of 50 or so mostly black-clad and mostly skin-headed individuals made their way past out outdoor café holding aloft picket signs depicting male stick figures (complete with stick penises) sodomising one another within the ubiquitous crossed out red circle. My daughter, thankfully not asking me about the crude signs, did at this moment decide to question me as to why these individuals were shouting. “Well,” I began, “there are people in the world that are called homosexuals. This means that instead of a man and woman loving each other, a man loves a man or a woman loves a woman. And these people with the signs yelling do not like those kind of people and think that being homosexual or gay is very bad.” Yes, I know that is a VERY simplistic and incomplete way of describing homosexuality, but I was speaking to a 4.5 year old, so cut me some slack. To this, my lovely little girl replied, with almost a tear in her eye, “But I love mommy, and we are both girls!” Trying to hold back my laughter, and trying to think of a better explanation, I continued, “No, not like that. I mean, think of it like this: Mommy and daddy are married to each other, but sometimes a man wants to marry another man, or a woman wants to marry another woman. This is what these people don’t like.” At this point, I tried to insert my own broader views of the world to make my daughter a more understanding individual. “But people are people. If a man wants to love a man or a woman a woman, what’s wrong with that? Love is good, right? If you want to grow up and marry a man … fine. Who knows? Maybe you will want to grow up and marry a woman. That’s fine, too.” My little girl then went on to explain how one girl in her preschool class wanted to grow up and marry another girl in her class. “Well, if that’s what she wants, then what’s wrong with that?” Satisfied with my fumbled explanation, she turned back to her ice cream just as my wife came to join us. A few minutes later, the anti-homosexual protesters returned (sadly with a few more people in tow after drumming up support whist perusing the square) chanting yet more words of wisdom (“This is Poland, not Holland” – to which my wife commented that she was happy someone told us what country we happened to be in at that moment, otherwise we may have forgotten where we were). They moved on, and so did we. I was still not in the know as to why these protesters were on the move, but then all became clear after turning off from the market square and running smack into a plethora of riot police. Further down from the shielded blokes in helmets and padding, another police escort was leading (and guarding) the reverie that was the tolerance march. At a complete contrast to the black-clad ruffians, this brightly garmented and cheerfully dressed crowd were full of smiles, lacking perverse signs and banging on drums, tooting whistles and singing! I took leave of my family for a moment to grab some snaps, but when I returned, I saw my daughter’s smiling face as she bounced along with the music and stared at the rainbow flags. I just had to ask … “So, kiddo … what do you think? Who do you like better … the people in black shouting on the square or the folks here singing and dancing?” “I like the happy people better!”, she said with a grin. I couldn’t have said it better myself.