SHADES, a student group that caters to people of color in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning (LGBTQ) community, held a forum on homosexuality in Greek life on Wednesday as representatives from fraternities and sororities spoke about brotherhood, pledging and acceptance.
The ‘Gay and Greek’ event featured twelve panelists from Greek organizations, including openly gay members, who spoke to attendees about the common stigmas associated with homosexuality and Greek life.
“Judge your fellows not by their rank, or wealth, but by their worth,” said Conor Marks, a member of Tau Epsilon Phi and a freshman double-majoring in finance and English. “I think that is the tenant of brotherhood.”
Members on the panel had their own definitions of brotherhood and sisterhood and attitudes towards acceptance.
“I think sisterhood is an open environment where you can be yourself around a group of women,” said Cristhy Azcona, a member of the Lambda Theta Alpha sorority and a senior majoring in biological anthropology. “When you can look over your shoulder and there’s always someone [to] fall back on.”
Delmar Dualeh, senior advisor for SHADES and a senior majoring in human development, asked the panel if they took into account their sexuality when pledging their fraternity or sorority.
Anthony Parris, a member of the co-ed fraternity Delta Epsilon Mu, said he thought that his sexual orientation would keep him from fitting in with Greek life.
“I could never be in a social [fraternity] because I feel that would put me straight back in the closet … so when I pledged Delta Epsilon Mu I wore my [rainbow] bracelet every day to make sure they knew I was gay,” said Parris, a senior double-majoring in psychology and human development. “I don’t like telling people I’m gay and I don’t feel like I have to,” he wrote in an email.
Michaela Taffe, president of SHADES and a senior majoring in accounting, put the event together to answer questions about Greek life from members of the LGBTQ community and educate students about how accepting Greek life on campus is.
“I think it’s very important for people to be educated about which frats or sororities to join and to know if they would actually be allowed to join one,” Taffe said. “I feel that, for the most part, there exists a stigma of homosexuality with Greek life that it’s more comfortable or okay for you if you’re gay to join a co-ed frat rather than a gender-exclusive social frat.”
Daniel Adeyanju, a member of the MALIK fraternity and a senior majoring in biology, said that sexual orientation never became relevant during his pledging process.
“Organizationally, there is nothing founded on sexuality, but leadership and manhood,” Adeyanju said. “I am not going to lie to you, some people are accepting, some are indifferent, and some are ignorant, like the people who say: ‘is this man attracted to me?’”
Charlotte Rendon, a member of the Chi Epsilon Sigma sorority, spoke about the different reactions to two men and two women getting intimate at a party.
“If there are two women kissing and you are like ‘oh yeah, so hot,’ hyper-sexualizing them like that is not what they want,” said Rendon, a senior majoring in the intersection of queer genders and me. “It is not even about the organizations but those people hanging around thinking they know what [the organizations] stand for and commenting on it, when it is not telling on how the organization stands on the issue at all.”
Dualeh said he hopes the conversation over LGBTQA acceptance will grow with time.
“There seems to be more and more progressive people at these [Greek] organizations every year, so, hopefully, this will expand the discussion in the years to come,” Dualeh said.
Karissa Parris, a junior majoring in English, attended the event to be part of a discussion that she said was long overdue.
“I think this is something that definitely needed to be talked about, this is something that people want to know,” Parris said. “People want to know how the Greek organizations feel about LGBT members and I wanted to be a part of it.