Five questions for Martin Herrmann, the Queer-Representative of the TUM's AStA. He is 23 years old and a student of Computer Science in his ninth semester.
What does "queer" mean?
Herrmann: The original meaning was something like "unusual" or "weird" – but it has changed slightly over time. Now, I would say that it covers anything that does not really match the societal "standards" of sexual orientation or gender identity. Many homosexual, bisexual and transgender people refer to themselves as "queer".
What does the TUM's Student Queer-Representative do?
Herrmann: I'm a contact person for TUM students who have questions, who need advice or simply want to make new contacts. Many have just moved to Munich to take up their studies, so they do not know anyone yet. Also, anyone who has a problem can contact me, for example concerning cases of being harassed or discriminated against.
On occasion of the World AIDS Day, you had several information booths on the campus.
Herrmann: We are trying to educate. On occasion of the World AIDS Day, we provided information for the students and sold teddy bears for Munich's AIDS fund. Together with the Queer-Department of the LMU, we organized a lecture held by psychologist Dr. Stefan Zippel. We are also organizing the big QSP (Queere Semester Party) in summer term together with the LMU and the HM – and we will take part in the Christopher Street Day parade with our own car. Anyone who wants to participate is welcome.
Are you able to help young people who are in real trouble?
Herrmann: Searching for one's identity is often accompanied by internal conflicts or stress – which can be a long and difficult process. Professional counselling can help a lot. That's why I refer advice seekers to psychosocial counselling or to other specialized institutions such as the SUB Counselling Centre or LeTRa.
Why does the TUM's AStA have its own Queer-Representative?
Herrmann: Internally, our goal is to establish a point of contact. Externally, we are trying to emphasize the diversity at TUM. There are people who are not heterosexual who belong to our university, just as in every other area of society. The recent outing of ex-soccer star Thomas Hitzlsperger caused a great hubbub, although all of this should be totally normal. There are gays and lesbians everywhere, they are simply part of society.
(Interview: Verena Meinecke)