Examining the powerful protest art piece Rainbow Mary [Tęczowa Madonna] by Elżbieta Podleśna, this piece considers the reasons for Polish homophobia and transphobia as expressed by recent events including the rise of the conceptual right-wing framework of ‘gender ideology’, efforts to create ‘LGBT-free’ zones, and attempts at preventing Pride Parades. It argues that Polish right-wing hatred toward LGBTQ+ people is rooted in unresolved trauma and melancholia stemming from centuries of colonisation and occupation. Through a nationalistic insistence on Polish innocence and on messianic suffering, Polish LGBTQ+ people are framed by the right-wing as a threat to Polish sovereignty and thus understood as in need of expulsion. The piece argues that Polish feminist and queer protest art, and specifically Podleśna’s Rainbow Mary, partakes in what José Esteban Muñoz names disidentification, or the remaking of mainstream symbols so that they better serve LGBTQ+ people, remaking in the process what it means to be Polish.

Image credit: Elżbieta Podleśna, Rainbow Mary

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