A 17th-century portrait was returned to Poland’s National Museum nearly eight decades after it was seized by Nazis. This recovery was in part thanks to the cooperation of the gay couple who purchased the painting, unaware of its origins.
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Back in 2016, the Department of Homeland Security showed up at their door, explaining the situation to them. Saddened, they allowed the officers to take the artwork, Portrait of a Lady by Flemish artist Melchior Geldorp.
The portrait is now back at the National Museum in Warsaw. Its return was welcomed in a ceremony last September, attended by Poland’s culture minister, the American ambassador, and the couple themselves.
LGBTI rights in Poland
Now, the couple, Craig Gilmore and David Crocker, are working to advance LGBTI rights in Poland. The Times of Israel reports that the couple was recently back in Poland, using the connections they made with their goodwill gesture to reach out to the local LGBTI community. They are offering the community financial donations and messages of solidarity.
LGBTI people in Poland face a great deal of discrimination. Last month, the chair of Poland’s ruling conservative party deemed LGBTI rights a ‘threat to the nation.’
In early April, Gilmore, who is an opera singer, proposed to Crocker, an artist, at a park in Warsaw. He said yes. All this was filmed. Both men are 55, and have discussed marriage during their 20-plus years together. However, Gilmore said it ‘felt right’ to propose in Poland, where neither same-sex marriage nor civil unions are legal.
Gilmore said they hoped the gesture will ‘invite the Polish LGBTQ community to join in our joy. David and I are confident that very soon they will prevail in their struggles.’
Poland’s LGBTI community appreciated this message of solidarity but still saw its limits.
‘It was a nice and brave gesture to do it in Warsaw, the capital of one of the few remaining EU countries not to recognize any form of partnership between people of the same sex. But the problems are too massive and profound to be changed symbolically,’ Vyacheslav Melnyk, director of Campaign Against Homophobia, told the Times of Israel.