Fraternities and sororities. Greek life. Thinking about this seems to make a lot of people in the LGBT community cringe. However, that is not the case for everyone, and hopefully it is becoming the case for less and less people. At my school, the last president of Interfraternity Council was openly gay. Part of his story can be found in the book BROTHERHOOD: Gay Life in College Fraternities. This book, put out by Lambda 10, which is a part of Campus Pride, is one of three Greek themed books that they have. The others are Out on Fraternity Row: Personal Accounts of Being Gay in a College Fraternity and Secret Sisters: Stories of Being Lesbian & Bisexual in a College Sorority. They are all filled with very interesting stores and can be found here.
Since a majority of my experience with Greek life comes from the work I have done with the Greek community at my school, which is what I am mainly going to talk about. Recently at my school another fraternity was added to the mix, Delta Lambda Phi (DLP) the gay, bi and progressive men’s fraternity. Since they have been on campus, some changes have been happening to the Greek community because some of the regular events have made the boys of DLP not feel included. One thing that has been changed is what they call the Standards of Excellence. This is basically some standards that they expect everyone to uphold. They recently added to it a part including being more LGBT friendly. Several of the groups have contacted me and I am currently working on a Greek specific ally training. Not only have there been changes, but the boys in DLP have been opening up the eyes of the rest of the Greek community. As a part of Greek week, one of the events that all of the groups had to participate in was a blood drive. They talked with everyone about how this is not a fair event. Also, they are supposed to attend a presentation by the Women’s Center about rape awareness and it is completely heterosexual.
My other experience with Greek life is through ABC Family’s television show Greek. One of the main characters on the show is a man by the name of Calvin. He is in a fraternity and openly gay. Coming soon, Campus Pride will have a sneak peek about some upcoming episodes of the show. The clips all involve Calvin and his interactions with his friends, and with the other brothers in his fraternity. For Calvin, like in a fraternity has been what he has wanted. It is not for everyone, regardless of your sexual orientation, but there are some great organizations out there.
As far as being transgender and involved in Greek life, two friends of mine put together a Transgender Resource Guide all about transgender issues in Greek life. It is a very useful guide and covers many very important topics. I know at my school being transgender and trying to rush a Greek organization was somewhat tricky for one of our students, but it depends on the school.