Text by
Karol Radziszewski
Photography by
Kuba Ryniewicz


Homokomando is not an ordinary sports club. As the fight for human rights in Poland intensifies, a group of health-conscious homos, led by General Linus Lewandowski, flip the script on right-wing fascist symbolism to create an army of their own.

A lot is going on in Poland. Society has grown as polarised as can be on everything from Polexit to the “rainbow plague.” Protesters take to the street more often than not. Then, I heard about Homokomando.

What a name. H O M O K O M A N D O. So many questions arise: who is this group of queers? Where do they meet? What do they wear? Looking for answers, I arrange a conversation with the founder, Homogeneral Linus Lewandowski. It turns out he lives just a few streets away from my former studio in Warsaw. Ten years ago, walking through the area after dark posed a threat to health and I pass by two sushi restaurants, including one vegan, new glass buildings, a fancy café. But it was also here that Linus and his partner got badly beaten for holding hands in public. Right at their doorstep. After all, we live in a country whose president stated: ‘LGBT are not people,’ and numerous communes have declared themselves ‘LGBT-free zones.’

The apartment shared by Linus and Rafał (another homokomando) is spacious and elegant. A pair of gymnastics rings hang from the ceiling in the middle of the living room. We sit down on a comfy couch. Hibiscus tea is served. And then, I get a case of déjà vu.

In 2005, I opened the exhibition ‘Fags’, later hailed as ‘the first openly homosexual art show in this country’s history,’ and the same ultra-nationalist government as today was in power, one of whose ministers proposed a complete ban on teaching jobs for openly gay people. A pride parade marched through Warsaw, although it was banned by then mayor Lech Kaczyński (who soon became the country’s president and then his airplane crashed).

Action breeds reaction. In 2007, I formed Fag Fighters, a gang of nasty faggots raping straight Polish men, fathers and sons, hunting them down on the streets and spraying walls with slogans such as ‘Fuck heteros in the ass!’ Even as a mocumentary, this art project spurred hysterical reactions from both conservatives and liberal LGBT+ activists who saw it as ‘drastically detrimental to OUR cause.’

Last summer, Fag Fighters returned to the front lines of the resistance for an exhibition in Białystok, my hometown in Eastern Poland, and the Fidei Defensor Christianophobia Monitoring Center accused me of offending religious feelings and persecuting Christians and heterosexuals; mainly because of the slogan ‘Army of God’s boys have tight asses.’ The public prosecutor’s office also considered whether the “boys” and “tight asses” word cluster could hint at pedophilia. Love is in the air.

Fag Fighters kicked up a media fuss, but it was just a wild fantasy, whereas Homokomando is real. Initially set up two years ago as a steeplechase group, Homokomando is now mainly an activist organization. They protect marches, guard women’s strikes, help in blockades. They work across Poland. Their membership is growing: fifty members in Warsaw, twenty in Gdańsk, several in Krakow and even a few in Brussels.

Before, Linus worked as a programmer, but now he’s a full-time Homogeneral.

The leadership is composed of Homogenerals and all the other members are Homoprivates. It’s not just a boys’ club as girls are welcome too, and honorable membership in the organization was granted to Grandma Kasia, an activist of Polish Grandmas (Polskie Babcie), the organization that supports the protests by women and the LGBT+ community.

I’ve almost forgotten: our Homogeneral is not uniformed today, but sports a casual pair of shorts and a t-shirt, a disappointment because he’s widely known as “The Shirtless Guy”. The same man seen across Polish media standing on a car, shirtless, protesting the arrest of the non-binary activist Małgorzata Szutowicz (Margot) from the Stop Bullshit (Stop Bzdurom) collective.

BUTT - Homokomando_01
BUTT - Homokomando_05

Komandos in the midst of plotting their next steps to topple the homophobes in government.

What happened exactly?
‘On 7 August, 2020, I happened to be on a bike trip and didn’t have a t-shirt with me. I saw the whole brawl on Facebook with the police wanting to arrest Margot, so I went straight there. I didn’t have time to pass by my house. My photos on top of a car spread across the media. So, at our next actions I also appeared shirtless to let people know it’s the same guy.’

To clarify, 7 August, 2020, known as Rainbow Night, is considered the Polish Stonewall. On that day, the streets of Warsaw witnessed the most brutal confrontation between the police and the LGBT+ community. The police detained 48 people in an aggressive round-up; not just protesters, but also random passers-by. Most of them spent the night at police stations, many suffered violence, and police reports accused them of ‘violent assault on a person or property.’

That night, Linus was refused access to a lawyer for twenty hours, despite his pleas. He didn’t know the potential consequences, nor whether he’d be released or not. He didn’t know exactly what he was being charged with. His friends and relatives didn’t know where he was. And yet, Homokomando, at times, still relies upon the help of the police.

But how can you bear to ask the police for protection?
‘Unfortunately, you cannot do things safely without them. In March, our Homokomando division in Gdańsk was attacked by hooligans when, during a peaceful training in the park, thirty masked blokes suddenly rushed towards them to kick their asses. We may train for self-defense, but it won’t help if there are so many attackers.’

Do the Homokomando consider themselves well-behaved?
‘When someone is nice, we’re nice too, but if someone’s not nice, we’re not nice either.’

Homokomando has rightfully pissed off the right-wing through their smuggling of homopropoganda into sporting events and far-right protests. During the recent celebration of the Warsaw Uprising anniversary, the group laid a rainbow wreath. A photo became widespread of the Polish President Andrzej Duda standing a few steps away, not looking particularly pleased. Nationalists later threw the wreath into a police portable toilet.

Linus believes that this action exemplifies that those celebrations are not just for right-wingers. In Poland, the fight for freedom was for human rights and many of those freedom fights were LGBTQ+ (hard to prove, of course, which of those heroes enjoyed gay sex).

I ask about the rainbow symbol on Homokomando’s armband. The appearance of a rainbow didn’t stir such strong emotions a few years ago, whereas now, a rainbow tote bag can mean a punch in the gut. Every Polish hooligan knows what the rainbow means. For one, Linus says he doesn’t like the old gay symbol, the pink triangle, because it was imposed on homosexuals by the Nazis. The rainbow, meanwhile, expresses all human rights. As the founder of the Queer Archives Institute, I myself still see the rainbow as a form of American colonization.

What do you think?
‘I think young people look at the world globally. And the most powerful homopropaganda in Poland is spread by Netflix. It’s mainly popular culture that drives social change. I don’t see the need to look for local symbols when we have global ones.’

Do you consider yourself a patriot?
‘I cannot say I’m proud of Poland. After what happened when the Constitutional Tribunal banned abortion, the word “rape” comes to my mind when I think of Poland. What they did to women is a systemic rape committed by the state. I’m not proud but I want Poland to be better.’

As a fun fact, Linus has also appeared naked in an activist calendar, which he shows me in the bathroom. June. Full frontal. Fettered with handcuffs, but the image is a political message that tells the world, ‘You can arrest me, but you won’t stop me!’ Lately he’s held off nude photos though, as Linus plans to run in the next parliamentary election and needs to be careful.

Will you pose again naked for BUTT once you’re sworn in as an MP with immunity?
Linus laughs and says: ‘Okay.’

Originally published in BUTT 30