Tom Nehiba has been employed at the Gay Museum for over a decade, which means he knows it as well as few others. Now he’s moving in a different direction professionally, which is why we’d like to dedicate this February to Tom and his SMU darling. Thus, the following interview can be read as a cross-section of an era – let’s begin at the beginning…
Dear Tom, how nice to talk to you! Would you like to introduce yourself? Where are you from, what do you do?
I’m glad too, thank you for inviting me! Professionally, I come from the field of social work. After studying for a diploma in Frankfurt am Main, I worked here in Berlin in queer youth welfare and as an educational consultant for queer youth associations, among other things. In the past, I organized club and party nights with friends in Frankfurt under the label “UNITEDSUBSCUM”, where I also spent some time in the alternative techno club scene.
How did you become a friend of the Gay Museum?
An artist friend of mine, DL Alvarez, exhibited at “Zeichnung – 19 Künstler zu Gast im Schwulen Museum” in 2004, and that’s how I got to know the house. In 2011, I was looking for a place to retrain and I also asked for a spot at the Gay Museum. Et voilà, since then I’ve been involved in administration here.
What are your favorite tasks at the museum?
At the moment, the main focus of my work is personnel and administrative management, specifically receiving applications, onboarding and offboarding employees and interns, and supporting the payroll department. Membership administration and preparatory accounting were also my tasks for a long time. Volunteer management is especially dear to my heart. Without the dedication of the approximately 60 volunteers, there would not be the possibility – at least with the current funding structure – to open the exhibitions and the library to the extent that they do, and the archive would not be nearly as well organized. The board of directors also works on a volunteer basis. The honorary office in the house absolutely deserves respect!
What challenges did this work present you with?
A major challenge was process management after the move to Lützowstrasse. One side of that were the entire administrative structures that had to be redeveloped and the associated infrastructure. On the other hand, there was the planning of the exhibitions and the processes in the building. There were many different needs and requirements, which we gradually addressed. The process is also still ongoing, as SMU is constantly growing and changing.
Thank you for all your hard work! But now we really need to know more about your darling….
My darling is a pink glitter mug with the words Homo and Office printed on it in black.
How did you find this treasure?
The cup has been sitting on my desk since 2021. During the Corona pandemic, we unexpectedly had the opportunity to celebrate another summer party in September, outside in the courtyard. Some employees were to be honored for their anniversary and I suggested to the management to get these cups from the SchwuZ store. And in no time, I had one myself.
Well deserved. What do you associate with your cup?
For me it is a symbol, also how it can be read: Homo and pink and glitter = gay! But also: Homo sapiens as “now-human” or or anatomically modern human. And what does the modern human do? They sit in their offices.
Another level in this for me is the endless hours in the home office during the pandemic, sessions on Zoom, isolated and/or quarantined, alone with the files and records. It was not pretty!
And last but not least, the entanglement with the SchwuZ store where we were all called upon to make soli purchases to keep this great place going.
Your sweetheart in 3 words?
Raise your cup!
If you could give your sweetheart to one person, to whom would this gift go, and why?
Actually, this will happen: since I’m leaving my job in mid-February, the mug will stay with October’s sweetheart, our front desk queen Dirk. I think it will blend in nicely there with the many pink and sparkly items on his desk. When Dirk leaves the house someday, it needs to go into the archives, perhaps to the ‘Pink Items’ collection – they really do have many of those there.
Photo: Tom in the home office, photographed by Martin Oppermann