Olympic rower Katarzyna Zillmann has opened up about being queer after winning a silver medal for Poland on Wednesday (28 July).
Zillmann won silver with her team in the quadruple sculls and, speaking to reporters afterwards, thanked her girlfriend, according to Advocate.
The Olympian explained that she has been open about being in a same-sex relationship, even speaking to the media about it previously, but it had never been reported.
“The conversations with you after the medal race were not groundbreaking for me,” she told Sportowe Fakty.
“I’ve already talked about it in interviews before, but for some reason, it wasn’t published.”
Now that the public knows she is queer, however, she wants to use her platform as an Olympic medallist to advocate for the LGBT+ community.
She continued: “I know that in this way I will help others.
“It was enough that I showed up in a T-shirt with the words ‘Sport against homophobia’ and I got a few messages from young girls practicing rowing.
Beautiful day! #pol Poland got its first medal at the #Olympics – silver for our girls in #Rowing also one of them Katarzyna Zillmann greeted her girlfriend ❤️❤️🏳️🌈 #loveislove which made TVP a bit dizzy haha such an icon! 😍 pic.twitter.com/vmJGVoJRK1
— Łukasz🪐 (@eurovibez) July 28, 2021
“One of them opened up to me, described her difficult home situation to me, and confessed that I helped her a lot with my attitude.
“One such message is enough to completely forget about thousands of hate comments and disgusted faces.”
Katarzyna Zillmann is from Poland, where there has been an increase in government-sponsoring homophobia in recent years
Katarzyna Zillmann’s openness is even more significant as she is from Poland, which has seen an increase in homophobia at the hands of its government in recent years.
In an incident widely described as the “Polish Stonewall”, last year protesters were violently detained by police after rallying to support Margot Szutowicz, arrested after allegedly damaging a van covered in homophobic graffiti.
Later, reports of protesters being beaten and sexually assaulted in custody began to come to light in local media.
Infamously, more than 100 regions in Poland have declared themselves “LGBT-free zones”.
This month, the homophobic trend resulted in an announcement by the European Union that it would be launching legal action against the country.