An internationally-renowned straight professional boxer is making headlines in Poland after he showed up to an LGBT rights event in Warsaw to support equality, NYT correspondent Slawomir Sierakowski reports:
Dariusz Michalczewski, a world-famous pugilist who goes by the nickname Tiger, recently made headlines by announcing his support for one of the country’s most prominent gay rights groups, Shoulder to Shoulder on Equality — L.G.B.T. and Friends, by appearing in a photograph with a sign reading, “I am an ally of L.G.B.T. people, because I want to live in a country where my gay friends are not discriminated against.”
Read a report from Poland here.
Michalczewski explained his decision to participate in the campaign:
"I just love people! I'm not a racist and do not judge people because of their sexual orientation. I'll give you an example. Two young men live near me. They are smiling, friendly, accommodating. We all like them. And then someone noticed that they kiss. Neighbors began to hate them…Did they change? No. They are still those same valuable people. You have to treat them differently because they are gay? This (kind of treatment) is sick! It prompted me to participate in this campaign."
Mr. Michalczewski is both a surprising advocate for gay rights and the perfect choice for the role: He is white, heterosexual, Catholic, rich, professionally successful and widely popular, and thus more likely to persuade conservatives than a liberal intellectual or politician. A typical young man from an economically depressed town that doesn’t have a single movie theater but has five churches might not get a chance to read a progressive manifesto. The opinions of a legendary boxer who grew up under similar circumstances, meanwhile, might prove thought-provoking.
And Mr. Michalczewski has guts: The popular sportsman did not limit himself to one photograph. He supports not only homosexuals’ right to enter into civil unions, but also their right to adopt children. In one TV appearance, he directly confronted right-wing politicians, by asking: “What if your daughter were a lesbian? What if your son were gay? If it were my child, I would love him very much. And I would support him in everything, because he’d be my child!”
Perhaps there is hope for LGBT rights in eastern Europe.