Fearless: Martha Hagerty
In celebration of ALLies week on campus and in support of all those coming out nationwide today, we feature the fearless Martha Hagerty ’15, a remarkable young woman helping to create new Safe Zone policies for the LGBTQ community on campus, raise awareness about LGBTQ problems, pride, and resources, and challenge her peers to move past passive tolerance and into informed action.
Martha became involved with the ALLies club her first semester on campus freshman year and now serves as the group’s treasurer. Also involved in Residence Life as an RA for Stine and as a sister in Alpha Delta Pi, Martha has found innovative ways of linking those organizations to the issues she’s so passionate about in the Allies and LGBTQ communities. “These are really important issues to me,” says Martha, “and over the past couple of years, I’ve wanted for more students to be more and more aware of the alternate resources available to them on campus.
That drive to raise awareness culminated in an LGBTQ panel event Martha organized for Alpha Delta Pi last spring as a way to educate her sisters about the problems the LGBTQ community and how they can be allies in the process. Martha spoke on behalf of the L, had another sorority sister speak as an ally, and invited several other students to participate in the event by telling their stories of coming out, how it’s been a positive experience, and how there’s still room for improvement.
“Doing that event allowed me to be more out and open about myself, and more comfortable with my sexuality,” says Martha. “The panel even helped some of the other girls come to terms with their own sexualities. My sisters were just so engaged and thankful that we did it. I mean, having a panel of students speaking out to other students, especially when two of them are your sorority sisters, makes all the difference.”
Martha says the event was so successfully and enthusiastically received that other sororities on campus have also voiced their interest in becoming involved with the LGBTQ panel event. Martha hopes to eventually make it PanHellenic in scope so as to reach, educate, and encourage as many members of the Greek community as possible.
“Actually,” says Martha, “when I first went into the sorority, I was nervous about the degree of acceptance there’d be. I thought people would find out about it slowly over time and I would just keep it hidden for as long as I could. But then people started finding out about it and were all so genuinely excited, curious, and wanting to learn more. Eventually I started seeing someone and was able to take her to the ADPi formal. I didn’t necessarily have bad expectations about it, but I was just so surprised to see how curious and accepting people were.”
For students on campus who are afraid or just aren’t necessarily exposed to a lot of diversity from their hometowns, Martha encourages them to not be afraid to be curious and ask questions. “There’s often a lot of fear of offending people. There’s a lot of tension that exists. But my word of advice is to be more curious. Don’t be afraid to use the resources we have to learn more or to speak out.”
After discovering that the college’s Safe Zone policies hadn’t been updated in ten years, Martha also became involved in revamping the policies and introducing new resources for campus community members to learn, grow, and find acceptance. Martha hopes that the new policies and initiatives will encourage the development of more resources for people on a social level, making the group even less intimidating and better able to reach those who need help, friends, or a place to learn. “Sometimes it’s a big step to attend one of the meetings for people, so anything we can do to ease people in and show them that they’re accepted, the more successful our mission will be.”
Martha has already made an incredible impact on the campus community fighting for and raising awareness of the state of the LGBTQ community at Gettysburg and in society. However, while being a part of the Allies club on campus, working with Erin Duran (the LGBTQ advisor on campus), creating events and revamping old policies, Martha manages to find a balance between her identity and her cause.
“I don’t want my sexuality to define me,” she says. “I enjoy my participation on campus in other things like Residence Life and Alpha Delta Pi, and when I get the opportunities to bridge the gap and introduce people to LGBTQ experiences that they might not be comfortable with, it’s always a great opportunity.”