It was one of the happiest days of Polish Olympian Jolanta Ogar-Hill and her wife’s lives: the birth of their daughter. But when they welcomed their first child into the world last month, they were living in Spain, instead of Ogar’s native country.
The environment for LGBTQ people in Poland is dangerous.
“The government does everything they can to implement fear in the people,” said Ogar,” via the Associated Press.
Poland is becoming increasingly hostile towards LGBTQ people, due to the right-wing government’s incessant anti-gay rhetoric. This past September, the European Union threatened to pull funding from Poland after nearly 100 regions passed ridiculous ordinances declaring they were “free from LGBT ideology.”
The threat resulted in some local ordinances repealing their resolutions.
Ogar captured her first medal in her third and probably last Summer Games. She and her partner won silver for Team Poland in the women’s two-person dinghy.
Last year, Ogar said she was thinking about retiring from competition, but kept on going because she wanted to represent Poland on the international stage one more time.
There was a moment in my life that I even thought about ending my career,” she said in 2020, via Olympics.com. “But I thought that as long as my health allowed me, I would continue sailing, and I hope to compete at the Olympics in Tokyo. They will probably be my last Games. I started my adventure with sailing as a Polish woman and I want to finish it this way.”
Ogar and her wife, filmmaker Chuchie Hill, frequently post pictures together on social media. It must’ve been incredibly difficult for Ogar to leave her home country, because her family wouldn't be welcome there. Same-sex marriage isn’t recognized in Poland, and same-sex couples aren’t allowed to adopt.
Spain, meanwhile, is one of the most inclusive countries in the world for LGBTQ people. Ogar and Hill got married in 2018 in Mallorca, one of the renowned southern Spanish islands. They have a home in Mallorca as well.
“It was a statement of what I would love to be able to do in my country,” she said.
Though the couple has lost some friends, Ogar says it’s worth the freedom of living openly.
“We would be subject to living a lie and we could not have the freedom that we have in Spain,” the couple told the AP in an email.
Ogar and Hill’s story is a reminder of how tenuous LGBTQ rights remain for so many members of our community — even in Europe. May their stories lead to more pressure for change.
Follow Jolanta Ogar on Instagram.