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Volunteer of the month: Sascha Stuhldreher

1. September 2021

Sascha Maik Stuhldreher likes to be the center of attention. From the moderation of the pride parade in Erfurt to the appearance on national television to prevention work, he has done a bit of everything. Also at SMU he has already had his fingers at play in the museum’s service, at the cashier and at the café – all of that in spite of having started only this summer. The single madly in love has talked to us about the stigma of STIs, prevention talks with straight people and cuddling with friends.

SMU: Dear Sascha, would you like to shortly introduce yourself?

Sascha: I am Sascha Maik Stuhldreher and I came to you through the front desk queen Dirk. Since Corona cancelled everything for me job-wise and I was fed up with boredom at home, I thought to myself: „I’m already a member of the Schwules Museum. I could also work here as a volunteer“.

What do you do at the museum?

I have already done museum service, worked at the café and from time to time also as cashier. Maybe I’ll also do stuff for the archive or library. It’s just fun. It was quite interesting to sit at the museum in the beginning. You can observe visitors. But at some point I found myself new tasks and it’s even more fun that way.

What was your job before the pandemic?

I have worked for different events and in gastronomy. Most recently I have done a campaign for more respect and acceptance in the gay and lesbian community with the Knuddle-Award. I have also moderated events or been active behind the stage. That’s all gone because of covid.

Could you describe the Knuddel-Award?

It is a queer honorary award for more respect and diversity which is granted nationwide in different categories. It’s given to people, associations, organisations and campaigns which have honorarily engaged for more respect and diversity. It has been granted four times so far. Now corona has ruined my plans cause I actually wanted to found an association, so I can officially get money for sponsorships. It would have been a possibility to give money prize to the organisations that have won the award. I think it’s truly important to support these organisations in their work.

Where does your excitement for voluntary work come from?

Oh, I’ve been volunteering all the time since my youth – either as activist or in prevention work. Volunteer work is essential for so many parts of life. Many organisations and associations consist only of volunteers and without their work, society doesn’t work the way it does. That also applies here at the SMU or at the Ich weiß was ich tu prevention campaign for men who have sex with men from the Deutsche Aidshilfe.

When did you start to work there?

I have given workshops and done prevention work at street parties and pride parades for them since 2014. It’s a difficult topic, but we have already achieved a lot. HIV is not contagious when you practice safe sex 3.0, which means wearing a condom or if you are protected through therapy or pre-exposure prophylaxis. But we were trying to get the self-tests among the people for a cheap cost – now you can get them for 10 euros. Due to covid, everyone can now handle self-tests and you can get the rapid tests in supermarkets. It’s easier to not panic if someone receives a negative or positive test result. Instead you visit your doctor and check what it means for your life.

Do you mean that the handling of corona could also teach us something about the handling of HIV and Aids?

Yes, of course. How many heterosexual people have never got tested in their whole lives?! It’s my experience from the prevention work that it’s really important to get tested. We were trying to organize a mobile test station to test people if they have the hepatitis C virus in front of the club Berghain year ago. Unfortunately, this never happened. Sexual health is difficult to address because many people have reservations about it.

What’s the reason for the stigma?

Many people aren’t informed about sexual diversity. Particularly among straight people, they don’t care about HIV or STIs at all. How many times have I asked it they’ve been tested before and then they looked at me with big eyes and say „Nooo!“. That’s how they pass on the virus and the disease. A virus is contagious and we shouldn’t forget that. That applies to HIV as well as to Covid-19.

What are you looking forward the most after the pandemic?

I’m looking forward to hugging people. I have always said; cuddling with a friend is something else from cuddling with your partner. There is a huge difference. Maybe we can realize due to Covid, how important hugging and cuddling with a friend is. Covid also reminds us of the HIV crisis the 80s and also that it nearly has been completely forgotten. We don’t have an HIV crisis anymore in Germany, but there is one in other countries. Many of the older queers know how it was back when HIV broke out. Covid-19 reminded us how important health is for everyone. So please get vaccinated!