Queer Eye star Antoni Porowski has joined a “powerhouse” activist group fighting back against homophobia in Poland, the country of his parents’ birth.
He shared the news on Instagram on Wednesday (2 June), saying he felt he had “a responsibility to protect” his fellow Polish queers.
“On this commencement of Pride Month, I’m honoured and excited to announce that I am joining a powerhouse group of badass, selfless advocates in launching the Equaversity Foundation,” he said.
“Poland’s right-wing forces of the Catholic Church and state have left their own LGBTQIA+ citizens in a position where they have to chose whether to leave their homeland or defend themselves. As a descendant of Polish emigrants and fluid person, I have a responsibility to protect my queer Polish fellows.
“Today’s Poland is not representative of what it should be: A safe space for ALL people, irrespective of sexual preference or gender,” he continued. “This Pride Month and going forward, join me in supporting, however that looks like for you.”
He encouraged his 4.4 million followers to donate, educate and “repost the hell out of this so that Poland’s LGBTQIA+ know they are not alone and that the world is watching”.
Poland’s dizzying spiral into homophobia is led by country’s far-right president Andrzej Duda and amplified by the governing Law and Justice party, which has repeatedly positioned LGBT+ people as a corrosive threat to so-called traditional values.
Porowski has previously spoken out against the crisis, expressing his frustration to see people “fighting against their own”.
The Queer Eye star admitted that he hasn’t always been proud of his heritage, but felt he had a responsibility to stand for Poland’s LGBT+ community after hearing about rocks being thrown at a Polish Pride march in 2019.
“When you hear personal stories like that, it makes it a lot more difficult for me personally to turn a blind eye, and that’s where you feel like you have to do something,” he said.
Along with Porowski, the Equaversity board members include Nobel-winning Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk, film director Agnieszka Holland, and the fashion model Anja Rubik.
In an online conference on Tuesday the founders described Equaversity as a way to push back against a rising tide of anti-LGBT discrimination they view as part of a wider assault on democratic values in Poland.
Holland highlighted the shocking finding that 70 per cent of LGBT+ youth in Poland have suicidal thoughts. “We just have to fight for their lives,” she urged.
The funds collected by Equaversity will be passed on in the form of grants to other non-profit organisations or initiatives from all over Poland, including Warsaw Lambda, Trans-Fusion Foundation and Campaign against Homophobia.
“We can’t count on aid from within the country,” Rubik said.