Fearless Friday: Friend or FOE

Friend or FOE, a recent addition to our campus offers queer students and their allies an opportunity to connect more socially and establish a mutual understanding of their experiences on campus. The group defines itself as having a less activist approach, rather, their main focus is to create a medium for students who feel that while their sexual orientation is important it is not necessarily something they want to be defined by.

The club helps connect students and their allies to meet with others who share these sentiments to discuss their experiences and interact socially.

Martha Hagerty, one of the founding members of the club, explains that a few students who identified as queer expressed not feeling as if they had the resources available to them on campus. After hearing about the struggles and challenges students faced in accepting their identities and coming out, she met with Erin Duran, Director of LGBTQA Advocacy & Education, to discuss this and the possibilities of creating a space on campus for these students and others who might be facing the same experiences.

Friend or FOE, initially called the Happiness Society, was established in the fall of 2013 and has slowly been gaining momentum and recognition on campus over the last year.

In addition to creating a comfortable environment for their members, the club also emphasizes the role of allies who they believe is an integral part, as is evident by the name of the club. These allies have proven to be very supportive by attending meetings and events with their friends. This helps them learn more about the experiences of their queer friends and students in general, and offers them insight and various perspectives about some of the issues students face on campus.

Members of Friend or FOE come from a variety of backgrounds. They range from students who feel very confident in their identities while some are still learning and navigating the process of coming to terms with their identity. Some members have expressed a more positive experiences coming out, and others have not. Regardless of their challenges, Friend or FOE has allowed these students to find a community where they can share and express their identities in a more social context.

They commend organizations like Allies for setting the pace and making it possible for other organizations and clubs like themselves to establish a presence on campus. “Allies is fantastic, and they have had made great strides in bringing about changes on our campus,” Martha, also a member of ALLies says. However, she adds that she thinks there is enough room for more than one club on campus that caters to LGBTQ students and their allies. She explains that even within the queer community their exists so many differences and interests, and so a group like Friend or FOE offers a different alternative to what is already available.

The club hosts a number of events for their members. Their first event was a viewing of Orange is the New Black and dinner in Glatfelter lodge. They also have weekly meetings and monthly brunches. Beers and Queers, their most popular event allows students and faculty members to go out for drinks and share their experiences. This event is very successful and it allows their member to connect with faculty members who have similar experiences and learn from each other.

In addition to their weekly meetings and monthly events, the club is planning on providing more opportunities to have discussion based events and are looking at the possibilities of attending speaking events or conferences in cities nearby. They also plan on having more events and activities that continues to incorporate their straight allies and help educate and raise their awareness and understandings so they can better help support their friends

One of the main challenge for the club is maintaining the privacy of their members while getting other students and the campus community involved. They work very hard to be inclusive to all, however the privacy of their members is a very key component of the club and its success and also one of the many reasons students are attracted to the club. Finding this balance, is a challenge they are slowly learning as they progress. The club also hopes to keep up the momentum and is looking at the possibility of becoming senate recognized in the future.

Friend of FOE meets weekly, and they encourage any students involved to contact Martha Hagerty (hagema06@gettysburg.edu) or Erin Duran (eduran@gettysburg.edu) for more information.

Martha expresses that the hope is for all students to “find what they are looking for and sit down with people who just get it.

*The club would also like to recognize Sarah Connelly ’15 for designing their logo.