‘Gays and Greeks’ discussion part of Pride Week kickoff

Robyn Repya

Wearing matching T-shirts, members of the Delta Lambda Phi fraternity participated in a panel discussion Saturday on being gay in the greek community.

The gay and lesbian community on campus kicked off its spring Pride Week on Friday, which coincided with DLP’s regional conference and celebration.

Approximately forty students attended the discussion titled “Gays and Greeks,” consisting of mostly DLP members.

Nick Dehnert, a College of Liberal Arts senior, spoke on the panel to DLP members about being gay in the greek community.

“It was no different than getting involved in anything else in my life,” he said. “The world is not structured around my sexuality.”

Dehnert, Sigma Phi Epsilon member, joined a fraternity made up of primarily heterosexual students.

He said fraternities are not tradition-based but value-based.

Jeremy Charles, a panelist and DLP member at Ohio University, came to the Twin Cities for the DLP regional conference.

He said the Ohio campus community has been supportive of the gay fraternity.

Charles said by speaking to people about issues surrounding gays in the greek community, people will be exposed to another base of knowledge on the subject.

He said talking about it is important because fraternities are changing from the traditional fraternity stereotype based on white,
Anglo-Saxon heterosexual men.

Dehnert said joining an organization separate from the gay community has enabled him to educate people who wouldn’t otherwise have much exposure to gay issues.

Dehnert said he has enjoyed his experience and said many of his brothers show interest in his life.

“Sometimes you can see that it’s forced, but they’re making an effort,” he said.

Like Dehnert, however, many panelists said they felt a lack of support from the gay community upon becoming greek.

Dehnert said a feeling of acceptance is often difficult to gauge for many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

“Is the gay community isolated because they choose to be or because they’re forced to be?” he said.

However, he said he feels the choices for gay and lesbian people have improved significantly over the years.

Michelle Farley, a math and engineering senior, said although society is more accepting of gay issues, there is a lack of focus on lesbians.

She said there are only two lesbian sororities in the country, and both chapters of Lambda Delta Omega are in California.

“I would really like to see one here,” she said.

Farley said the potential roadblock for lesbian sororities is that many women are more homophobic than men and aren’t as willing to co-exist as roommates with a gay member of the same sex.

Dehnert said a possible explanation for the lack of support for lesbian sororities or the acceptance of lesbianism is that much of popular culture is focused on gay men.

Brian Wiedenmeier, an English junior and co-chairman of the Queer Student Cultural Center, said activities during Pride Week, such as the “Gays and Greeks” discussion, are good tools to raise awareness of GLBT issues.

He said QSCC has been busy working with other student organizations to plan activities for Pride Week, which are listed on the QSCC Web site.

Wiedenmeier said Monday’s pride rally in the West Bank Plaza will be a way for GLBT students to be more visible and unified on campus.

“It’s a really powerful thing to see other GLBT students out in public doing things,” he said.

Robyn Repya welcomes comments at [email protected]