Thursday, October 20, 2011

Being Gay and Greek - Part 1

In college, I had a friend come out to me.  He had shared that he was gay with his fraternity the week before and wanted me to know. We were walking across the parking lot next to Zura Hall when he told me.  It was a regular evening, probably following some student leadership meeting.  What I remember most was how he ended his prepared statement.  It ended with, "So... " It instantly hit me that he was asking if we were still going to be friends. I hugged him, thanked him for sharing with me, and assured him that we were still going to be best pals.

A few years ago I received an email from an alumnus just catching up. In the midst of it, he shared about his partner and how he had found a real sense of who he was. He was kind enough to let me ask...  "Was sexual orientation something that you were questioning during your time at USD?" His response gave me a lot to think about.  He shared that he had chosen to keep busy (4.0, president of his chapter, IFC Exec officer) rather than think about who he was and who he wanted to be. He also shared that having someone really ask how he was doing may have helped him to start thinking about his identity earlier.

More than a decade ago, one of our students wrote a chapter in the book, Out On Fraternity Row. In his chapter, he shares, "Many of the events that happen are geared for straight couples, thus it would seem out of place at something like a date dash to have two guys there together.  Why does that have to be?"

So, I find us at a place of discussion and conversation. We have a need in our community for us to tell members that they're OK just as they are - not with some mask that they wear. This is true in many facets of our experience, but especially for sexual orientation/identity. So, how do we create that reality?  How do we make ours an environment where women and men are respected, welcomed and embraced?

It is this, and yet it is so much more. Do our sisters and brothers know that we've got their back?  That we would stop anyone who tried to hurt them - either physically or emotionally? Do they feel comfortable bringing their partner to a social event? As I have informally surveyed people, the response has been a confident, "yes".  The confused face comes when I then ask, "Well, do they actually bring them?" Then, the realization hits.  "No, they don't."


I invite you to engage in this conversation: with me (; via comments below; with each other.

...To Be Continued...


  1. I'm curious to know if this particular blog post made any kind of impact on your Greek community...

  2. I have been engaged (and have engaged) in several conversations with student leaders - probably about 10 in the last week. A couple of groups are considering education sessions for chapter meeting. I think it's too soon to tell, but I am hopeful in the conversation that started.