My sexuality has
never been an issue for my fraternity brothers at the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Before joining
Phi Sigma Kappa, I made it clear that I would not hide
it, and they accepted me as a brother anyway. But
other fraternities are not as accepting. A close
friend of mine was assaulted by his "brothers"
when they found out he is gay.
So I decided I had to do something to combat
Greek homophobia on campus. I founded Greek Allies as
a means to build a bridge between two communities that
have traditionally been linked only in secret. Any gay
fraternity brother who was "straight until
graduation" would probably agree this was a
long time in coming. I received the support of Dan
Bureau, the assistant dean of students and coordinator of
Greek affairs at Illinois, and at the beginning of the
school year we started to spread the word.
I facilitated our first educational workshop,
which was a milestone in our efforts to raise
awareness in the Greek community. Our success was most
evident on the national Day of Silence a few months later.
More than 210 representatives from 33 Greek chapters
on campus spent an hour and a half at a special
"Out and Greek" presentation. After the event,
Rick Nowak, vice president of membership development
for the Interfraternity Council, said, "Many of
the attendees were chapter presidents, and they will
be able to relay [to their fraternities] the importance of
treating LGBT members like any other brother or sister."
Now, as the school year comes to an end and I
move on to spend my senior year studying at the
Chinese University of Hong Kong, I am confident that
Greek Allies will continue. I hope that the positive
experience I have had as an out gay fraternity brother
will become less the exception and more the norm.