Witold Sadowy, Polish theatre legend come out at 100


Witold Sadowy Poland

Witold Sadowy, a legend of Polish theatre as well as a movie actor and respected theatre critic and journalist recently came out as gay. He outed himself after turning 100 on 7 January this year.

Witold Sadowy lost both his father and brother in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 when the Polish Home Army unsuccessfully tried to wrest their country back from the German Nazis. Following the rout of the Nazis by Soviet forces in January 1945, he returned to Warsaw. Initially, he and his mother survived by producing and selling cigarettes. However, in May 1945, he made his theatre debut on the Warsaw stage.

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Working with many of the greats of Polish theatre, he enjoyed a distinguished career also working in film and television.

After retiring from the stage in 1989, Witold became a theatre critic. He wrote for a number of newspapers and also authored books on the theatre.

Over his lifetime, the Polish government honoured Mr Sadowy with various awards for service to the country. In 2012, he received the Order Odrodzenia Polski, Poland’s second-highest civilian distinction.

To mark his hundredth birthday, Witold published the book I Cross the Hundred. In conjunction with the release of the book, the Polish public broadcaster released a documentary titled the Hundred Years of Witold Sadowy.

The coming out of Witold Sadowy

In the documentary, Mr Sadowy discusses his long life. At the very end, he says, “For me, the most important is the truth of survival. I am proud that I was an honest man. I don’t regret anything.”

And then he drops what passes for a bombshell in his conservative and homophobic homeland.

“I didn’t get married. I was born different. I’m gay.”

Response in Poland

“OMG! This is an atomic message!!!!” said one commenter on Facebook.

Commenters in Poland expressed surprise the public broadcaster failed to censor Witold’s coming out. That certainly gives away just how bad the climate has become for LGBTIQ people in the country. Others point to his habitual wearing of a pink sweater as a defiant signalling of his sexuality prior to coming out.

“What kind of straight person would wear pink sweaters at this era in this dark country?”

Witold Sadowy’s coming out at the age of 100 follows a previous similar action by Maria Janion. The distinguished 93-year-old Polish scholar and feminist came out as a lesbian a few years ago at the age of 86.

In 2019, Polish LGBTIQ celebrities and allies teamed up for a lip-sync version of Taylor Swift’s ‘You Need to Calm Down’ as a response to increasing homophobia n the country.

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