Greek: What it’s like to be gay in a fraternity

_ FOR ONLINE

Posted by Brittany Nguyen on Thursday, Jan. 10 at 12:03 pm.

Andrew Lubash did what many students do when they come to college — he joined a fraternity. But he doesn’t exactly fit the stereotype of the typical “frat boy.”

Lubash, like an estimated 10 percent of the Fraternity and Sorority Life throughout the U.S., is gay.

With popular websites like Total Frat Move that promote “rowdy gentlemen,” people today are getting skewed views of what being “frat” entails — excessive drinking leading to excessive participation in a heterosexual college hookup culture. The more involved the man is in this activity, the more “frat” he is. In other words, a homosexual male doesn’t exactly fit these criteria.

So in a generally accepting school like the University of Oregon, especially with a Fraternity and Sorority Life system less prominent on campus in comparison to other schools around the nation, where does that put Lubash and other LGBT Greeks?

You’d actually be surprised.

“My fraternity was really good about it,” Lubash said. “They’ve never cared about my sexual orientation.”

In fact, the UO sophomore said that when he rushed last winter, there were already four other men in his fraternity who were openly gay, one in his pledge class. Because of this, he never felt alone, knowing he’d always have someone to talk to.

“But that’s the thing,” Lubash said. “I don’t think I’ve ever even needed the support, because it’s never been a problem.”

Lubash decided to rush in the middle of his freshman year after some friends pushed him to. He decided to give it a try, seeing the academic drive that a lot of the fraternity men had, proven by the fact that, on average, Fraternity and Sorority Life students have a higher overall GPA than the average GPA of the UO student body as a whole.

“Honestly, I had those really negative stereotypes about fraternities going into it,” Lubash said, speaking about the “rowdy gentlemen” stigma. “I never really thought it was a place for someone like me.”

Lubash said he quickly realized that his sexual orientation was only an issue on a personal level.

Andrew Lubash is a member of Delta Tau Delta. (Tess Freeman/Emerald)

Just like Lubash, UO junior Brian Bradley didn’t feel threatened being bisexual and in a fraternity.

“My level of comfort had nothing to do with which house I joined,” Bradley said. “I feel like our FSL community has a certain stigma about it that isn’t exactly true. It’s a lot more inclusive than people make it out to be.”

Bradley, viewing himself as more a private person, didn’t officially come out to his entire chapter, but believes that it wouldn’t have mattered if he had.

“I created relationships with people within the house before they knew,” Bradley said. “And nobody would have cared if I had come out, because I was already their friend and had already made that special connection. They would have applauded and said, ‘Awesome, you’re still our brother and thank you for trusting us for knowing that.’”

Unfortunately, although men like Lubash and Bradley feel comfortable expressing themselves in our Fraternity and Sorority Life system, the LGBT community within the system isn’t prominent enough to let everyone know that they are welcome and included into it.

In fact, in doing preliminary research for this story, I had significant trouble even finding sources to speak to, as having gay members isn’t exactly something our Fraternity Life seems to boast about at all.

“The thing is, it’s okay to be gay in a fraternity, but it’s not okay to be the person who’s gay in that fraternity,” Chicora Martin, director of the UO LGBT Education and Support Services Program, said. “Though all of them will say that they are okay with having gay men, some chapters just aren’t as personally welcoming as others.”

Sophomore Marco Reyes wanted to join Fraternity Life for reasons shared by many others — the experience of a brotherhood. Having strong LGBT pride, Reyes says he was wary from the start, basing most of his opinions of Fraternity Life from the common stereotypes depicted in movies and TV shows.

“The guys that I initially spoke to were great,” Reyes said of his rush experience. Reyes only attended one fraternity’s events. “I loved their sense of brotherhood, commitment to school and extracurriculars like the ASUO.”

Though his recruiters were friendly, Reyes immediately felt out of place, as the recruitment process centered around football and video games. He didn’t feel his self-proclaimed flamboyant personality came across positively, he said.

“I could feel an immediate change in attitude when they found out I wasn’t really into football,” Reyes said. “Like they didn’t really know what to do with me. And the fact that me not liking football just added to that stereotypical gay, unmanly personality.” Reyes continued attending all the rush events, but ultimately didn’t receive a bid. At first, he was confused and devastated, but in the end knew it was probably for the better.

Unfortunately, no matter how accepted Lubash and Bradley felt, instances like Reyes’ rush experience still exist within our Fraternity and Sorority Life community.

“The rush experience for a few of the gay men I’ve spoken to really varied from one chapter to another,” Martin said. “In general, there are some chapters who have done really good work and these men felt they could be there and see them as brothers. Unfortunately, the process is very heterosexual.”

Martin said FSL seems to be programmed as a primarily heterosexual community in general, with many of the social aspects revolving around partnering with sororities for events, among other reasons.

Think about the way fraternities are portrayed in the movies, like in “Animal House,” where the masculinity through beer competitions, gay jokes and female conquests is a sought-after quality for top-tier houses. It’s not exactly a welcoming portrayal of an environment for LGBTs to see FSL.

“Sometimes I feel uncomfortable in certain situations, where I feel like the average straight fraternity man isn’t uncomfortable,” Lubash said. “Sometimes they’ll talk about girls in not the best context.”

This context lines up with what a “rowdy gentleman” is. According to a recent Total Frat Move column, he is satirically defined as “a fabulously wealthy, raging alcoholic, womanizing, hooker killing, ultra-patriotic, tuxedoed degenerate.”

Despite this, Martin, who could easily name a dozen gay men in UO’s FSL community, believes that our school in particular has made great progress in making fraternities a much more welcoming environment for gay men but says more progress needs to be made in making that known.

“If you put gay men in a prominently heterosexual room, they are not going to come to that event and automatically feel welcome,” Martin said. “Historically fraternities have been very closed to homosexuality in general. They have to be very proactive to reach out to those men and show them that they will be respected and not discriminated against.”

Lubash argues that if fraternities weren’t welcoming to the LGBT community, gay men shouldn’t put themselves in that environment anyway.

“You should trust in people to do the right thing and if they can’t accept you for who you are, they aren’t your brothers,” Lubash said. “They should love you no matter what. Do you really want to be in an organization so known for brotherhood and feel scared? You shouldn’t even be there in the first place because that’s not what the institution is about at all.”



  • ds

    This is a good article, and possibly the first one that puts Greek life in a positive light. Still not sure why Total Frat Move still has to be glorified.

    • beetlejuice

      Because it is funny and *satire*, to be taken with a gigantic grain of salt, and if you don’t get that, you also probably need help crossing the street.

      • ds

        I am fortunate enough to realize its satire.

  • puddles

    don’t understand why gays would want to be associated with that crap culture anyway

    • Proud Duck

      How insensitive and ignorant of you.

      • Eric09

        What exactly are you getting out of a fraternity that you can’t get outside of it? You’re just buying friends maybe for future connections or whatnot. But the concept doesn’t even exist outside of the US.

        • Northern Frat-star

          You are not buying friends, you are pooling your resources to provide a better collage experience for the brotherhood. It’s egalitarian at its heart, something a liberal like yourself can appreciate. Additionally, you have a support system greater than the sum of it’s parts. Alumni support and mentorship are pillars of what we do, better than being a GDI and hoping to get ahead after graduation.

          • Eric09

            So basically you just reiterated exactly what I said, except tried to frame it more positively.

          • Khronos

            I Love being in a fraternity. I hated them for the first couple gears of college but after being in the marines and wanting to replace that brotherhood. Fraternities are what I found. And what’s great is that I’m not buying friends, I’m actually paying for experiences. Like How I gotto ttravel to Chicago for a conference, Kansas city for another, Colorado springs for a leadership academy…. all free through the fraternity dues. It Also gives me a bjdget as a previous rush chair and current educator to do more. Tfm is how some fraternities are, but the majority aren’t. Saying we buy our friends is the biggest cop out to all those who don’t take the time to figure physical what fraternities are really about.

        • http://lukesaysmoo.com Luke

          Actually, Germany has had fraternities since the 12th century. There are various divisions at British institutions as well – while not as free flowing as the US fraternity system they operate in similar fashion for alumni, mentoring, and support.

  • Bridget

    I would really like to see the numbers that came to the conclusion that greek life students have a higher GPA than other students. Maybe put a link in that shows that calculation?
    Kinda a thing that good journalism should probably include.

  • Hans Christian Anderson

    why are gays allowed in sigma pi? i thought this was a mens thing, and getting a dick put inside you most certainly not a masculine enterprise. why cant they join all just have one fraternity? like the PKA’s. at any rate, homosexual culture and fraternity life and socialism are akin to a catholic wanting to attend a Buddhist monastery. they are completely separate, and should stay that way. i mean, fraternities have mixers with sororities, not other fraternities. these two groups are opposite and should remain that way.

    • MGA

      I feel like I could summarize your comment with three words – separate but equal. And history’s taught us that’s pretty shitty, hasn’t it? I’d suggest you adjust your position to be more inclusive and accepting, or you, sir, will be on the wrong side of history as that ignoramus who said “i thought this was a mens thing, and getting a dick put inside you most certainly not a masculine enterprise”

    • Erik Brody

      As an recent alumni member of Sigma Pi, I was recruitment chairman… and the belief that a fraternity should be exclusive of someone based on their race or sexual orientation is ignorant and completely against what all fraternities stand behind which is progress, to promote the education and development of human kind. We accept men for who they are and who they want to be, and we will try our hardest to help them achieve their goals in life whatever that may be. I’m proud to not only be a member of Oregon fraternity & sorority life but proud to be associated with men who are so accepting as Sigma Pi is.

      • UWO Titan Greek

        Thanks Brody, I’m glad our consultants have an open mind!

    • UWO Titan Greek

      As a gay member of Sigma Pi, I can’t tell you how thankful I am for my brothers and their assistance through my college career. I joined Sigma Pi for the brotherhood, sense of unity, and acceptance of everyone. The FSL system I am apart of (I am not a UO student) has been accepting of all people, some chapters do have the more flamboyant type, and have found a place to call home. When I hear that people say that gays shouldn’t be in a fraternity, I ask you to reflect on the reasons you joined. If sexual orientation is a factor in your reasons, you joined for all the wrong reasons. So ask yourself why you joined.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gilmore7 Brian Jay Gilmore

    Pause for one second… There’s an assumption that because he didn’t like football, people treated him different because the kid was gay. Maybe the fact that he didn’t like football meant that he didn’t have much in common with the other brothers. There could’ve just as easily been a straight rushee who didn’t like football and wasn’t given a bid, either.

    • Eric09

      He was also flamboyant and hispanic. So along with not liking football, that’s a triple strike amongst the frat ‘bros’.

      • http://www.facebook.com/gilmore7 Brian Jay Gilmore

        First of all, you wouldn’t call your country a “cunt”, so don’t call my fraternity a “frat”. Second, so what if he’s Hispanic? So what if he’s flamboyant? There are guys in my fraternity that are of various different ethnic groups, and guys in my fraternity that are flamboyant. Those guys are just fine. They got bids to join. There are also guys in my fraternity that fit the bill of the stereotypes that you and your GDI compatriots like to push. Some of those guys are total assholes. Some of them did NOT get bids to join. I promise you that when fraternities are selecting membership bids, they don’t say “Pssh, what is that guy, Mexican or something? We’re a white-only organization!” But I’m sure with your insider perspective of Greek life, you know this just as well as I do.

        I know lots of people like you. I’m sure you like to believe you’re a tolerant guy, but yet you see no problem in stereotyping people who are in fraternities/sororities, people who own guns, the rich, etc. Have you ever considered that people who are not like you are, perhaps, normal Americans who are NOT defined by their social or socio-economic categories?

        I knew of a guy once who said you should judge a man based on the content of his character, not by the outward things that show on him… But fuck that guy, right? He was just some Alpha Phi Alpha frat boy. Probably drugged women and raped them in their sleep.

        • http://lukesaysmoo.com Luke

          Strawman at best. I know too many guys who’re John on their birth certificate or choose to be Jon rather than Jonathon.

  • Duck Alumni

    This article made it’s way to the Fraternity section of Reddit. If you would like to see the opinion of fraternity men nationwide, I suggest clicking this link: http://www.reddit.com/r/Frat/comments/16el7o/what_its_like_to_be_gay_in_a_fraternity/

  • Eric09

    Can someone explain to me why people need fraternities again? What exactly is their purpose? And if you’re gay, why would you want to be amongst a group of guys who are leery about you maybe contemplating how you would sleep with them?

  • Northern Frat-star

    Brotherhood with in the fraternity has as much to do with shared interests as anything else. Feeling out of place because you don’t like football would happen, gay or straight. Additionally, the author fails to point out that there are different flavors of fraternity, depending on region. the “rowdy gentleman” style is centered on the SEC football conference specifically, and the South in general. It is not indicative of other regions.

  • Jay20

    interesting.

  • paulwall

    if u wanna suck dick and “help” girls not hook up with guys JOIN A SORORITY!!

  • SHB

    Frat organizations are simply a part of the other directed forces of our time similar to religion, patriotic psychophants, military units, boy scout groups, the Ku Klux Klan, skinhead Nazi groups and family cultures. They are for immature young men who want to become and stay immature old men. It’s not that they don’t think for themselves; they can’t think for themselves. They sacrifice their minds to be a part of a group and never develop the internal direction of a real man. The only reason that they are so intimidated by people of varying sensual persuasions is that they fear that those people can actually think for themselves. Frats grow mindless leaders? who drag us into mindless wars and other useless activities in their desperation to link up with someone’s father who can provide them with a mindless job for the 2.5 GPA standard of frats on their ladder to the top of the food chain. Weak people need frat organizations and they get them in droves. And don’t worry about being in a shower room with others whom you have categorized, you’re not bright enough to attract flies, much less someone who can think for themselves.