The "Complications of being gay" and fraternities

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 27, 2009 2:31 PM GMT
    This year when I got to school I wasn't sure if I would be joining a fraternity or not. I ended up deciding to go to the rush events and I ended up getting pretty close to a lot of the guys in one particular fraternity (nameless for now). I went to a lot of the events and hung out with the guys at the house, and got invited to something that it seems they were only inviting other members sure to get a bid (an invite to the fraternity). I seemed to have similar personalities with a lot of the members, this fraternity is mostly jocks/school athletes.

    I am just recently out (less then two weeks to my parents), and I felt it was important to let them know that I was gay, more so for the fact that I didn't want them to think I was hiding it. So I had a discussion with two members that I considered pretty good friends in the fraternity, and told them I was gay. (Im not worried about people knowing now that my parents know). They said that they had never had an openly gay person rush, atleast since they had both been there. They said that if I were to get a bid they would have to discuss that with the house.

    So yesterday (bid day is today) one of the members I talked to about being gay asked me to come talk to him. As they had said earlier, if I were to be considered getting a bid they would tell the house that I was gay. He said at the bid meeting, the house had decided not to give me a bid. In his words, "Its not that your gay, it's the complications that would arise from having a gay guy in the fraternity". He sited reasons like this: the house would no longer feel comfortable making gay jokes, that since they have open showers people would feel uncomfortable, and that they were worried the pledge class would not be united because I am gay. They essentially said, other then the fact that I am gay I would fit in there perfectly.

    Is it wrong to think this is discrimination? I even looked up the bylaws and constitution to this fraternity online and found something saying that they were not allowed to discriminate based on sexual orientation. Im not that upset that I got rejected, its just why I got rejected that frustrates me.
    I no longer want in to the fraternity obviously (even though he was trying to get me to consider joining next year haha) and part of me just wants to drop it, but I feel like this just isn't right.

    I know I could start some trouble with the head of student affairs, the Inter Fraternity Council or even the National Fraternity organization for this particular fraternity, and the IFC is very strict at this school. Is it worth it? Advice? Thoughts? If anything I said was unclear I'll clarify.
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    Oct 27, 2009 2:46 PM GMT

    Well tc, if you went ahead with the IFC we think all that would happen would be that the house would be forced to accept gays. With that in mind, would it be good for any gays to join a house where resentment permeates the atmosphere?

    Got a chuckle from this part, "I no longer want in to the fraternity obviously (even though he was trying to get me to consider joining next year haha) and part of me just wants to drop it, but I feel like this just isn't right"

    ...so....he thinks next year you'll be straight; convert somehow? Lol, we'd walk away from this and not look back.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 27, 2009 2:53 PM GMT
    It is discrimination. But the point is you were open and honest and courageous. It didn't turn out the way you wanted but at least you had the balls to TRY, which is a lot more than what other gay guys would have done.

    Stand tall. Excel in other things. Don't make their ignorant decision make you feel bad about yourself.

    Personally, I'm way proud of you.
  • swimmerdude52...

    Posts: 119

    Oct 27, 2009 3:21 PM GMT
    Please dont start shit with their nationals and IFC...that can snowball very quickly and result in very harsh punishments for them. Everything from a chapter review(only 12 members will be left) all the way to suspension or even expulsion. Being gay and being in a fraternity is actually pretty hard, at least for me. You would most likely be better utilizing your time if you got involved in the student activities. College has alot of other places you can devote your time to. Join an organization and make the best of that.
  • klinci3

    Posts: 60

    Oct 27, 2009 3:26 PM GMT
    I think thats unfortunate but thats not a fraternity thing thats just the house you got close to. I rushed openly gay and pledged the same way and people still make gay jokes around me but they've also learned that there are certain things they can and can't say which I think has been positive for them as well.

    I would say if you really wanna be greek look into some more open minded houses because they are out there.
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Oct 27, 2009 3:31 PM GMT
    Well I certainly was sorry to hear that in this day and age you are experiencing discrimination and thats what it is, plain and simple.

    I absolutely agree that you should be proud of yourself. You had guts and took the initiative. I think the fact you were told, "they would be uncomfortable making gay jokes" was really pathetic.

    As far as your future and what avenue to take, I would have to consider it if it were me. In some ways, I agree that moving forward in some other organization in a positive way would be to your benefit...... but the fact this organization is blatenly discriminating against you (and in violation of their bylaws) bothers me. They ought to be called on the carpet. Just not sure if you want to do this and have a houseful of enemies. Your college experience should be a good one, you can excel in other areas no doubt.

    Whatever you decide, just know you have our respect for being open and candid the way you did. You'll be an asset in whatever organization you end up supporting.
  • hartfan

    Posts: 1037

    Oct 27, 2009 4:02 PM GMT
    You're a brave and standup guy for being open and honest. Thumbs down to them for treating you like that. I'm sorry for you about the outcome. It is their loss not to have you as a pledge.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 27, 2009 4:08 PM GMT
    You should tell them that you wouldn't accept their bid anyway, as you wouldn't be able to make straight jokes around them, and make them feel less than manly in the showers.

    5 will get you 10 that by year's end, a handful of them will experiement with their "brothers".icon_lol.gif

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 27, 2009 4:09 PM GMT
    First of all I am proud that you had the balls to tell them you are gay.

    Part of me wants you to take it to the highest ranking organization, not just for you but for people that come after you. The other side of me says, learn from this lesson, keep your fucking mouth shut next time, get into the organization and make REAL change from within. It is difficult to make change when youre trying to scratch your way thru the door.

    That all being said, WTF do I know, Im a closeted bisexual man.

    Best of luck.
  • Timbales

    Posts: 13993

    Oct 27, 2009 4:09 PM GMT
    Before you make a decision about if you want to pursue the issue with the national board, consider the ramifications to your personal and academic life.
  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9190

    Oct 27, 2009 4:16 PM GMT
    First of all, it is discrimination.

    After that, it's about what you're going to do about it. My suggestion is that you first write the local fraternity and explain to them how you feel and how they're wrong with their stereotypes. Then, if you don't hear from them, you could write to their higher headquarters. However, if nothing is recorded, they will likely deny your claims. Educate first, fight (legal sense) if education fails.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 27, 2009 4:18 PM GMT
    If you want to burn bridges and not get involved in a fraternity, then go to IFC or their nationals. If you do want to be in a fraternity, recruitment is never just once a year. Find a different more accepting chapter. If they don't want a gay guy in chapter it's their loss and not the right brotherhood for you. Being gay in a fraternity should not be hard, it shouldn't change the chapter. I'm openly gay, and i'm not the first either. And our most recent pledge class has 3 openly gay guys in it. Remember, if you report them it will be harder to find a suitable house. See what is out there, and if you think it was a isolated incident report them. IFC and their nationals should know.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 27, 2009 5:00 PM GMT
    I work in human rights and this is clearly a case of discrimination.

    I would not hesitate to file a complaint with whatever board or authority is responsible for overseeing the activities of fraternities. I would also notify university authorities. First however, I would attempt a heartfelt discussion with the members, letting them know how this has affected you, why society condemns discrimination, what it really means to be gay, and last but not least, the very real benefits of having a diverse membership. Help them realize the importance of "doing the right thing" and how embracing fairness and tolerance only make us better human beings. Of course, I would also inform them of my intention to appeal the decision not to bid should no genuine awareness, remorse or understanding be expressed. Gradual approaches usually work best but it is important to be firm in one's commitment.

    The point is not to humiliate or punish these boys, but rather to alert them to the fact that they are now adults, that their responsibilities extend beyond organizing beer games and that discrimination has very real consequences for very real people. And while you handled it well and its impact on you was not overly adverse, it nonetheless diminished you.

    Evidently, there is also something to be said about fighting for a cause in the interest of those less fortunate. The suffering brought about by discrimination has been significant for many and will continue to be lest we choose not to remain silent anymore.

    Obviously, your moral sensibility was offended, not to mention your sense of self. And what are values if they are never acted upon?

    I say be true to yourself and what you believe in. Take a stand, make a difference, whichever way is most appropriate.

    And ya, you've done good so far and rate highly in my book for being a person of integrity.
  • jarhead5536

    Posts: 1348

    Oct 27, 2009 5:17 PM GMT
    I didn't come out when I was pledging, only a couple of years later when I had moved out of the house (I specifically waited for that because of the showers), and it was never really an issue because they already knew me and trusted me. Actually, I personally did become an issue for pledges - about halfway through their pledgeship when it was revealed to them that there was a gay brother (not identified to them) and if that was a problem then they could just walk out right now. Some did, some didn't...
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    Oct 27, 2009 5:26 PM GMT
    Sorry to hear the group you liked best wasn't comfortable enough to accept you. It's hard to see how things would be like if you told them after you got in--it may have gotten bad, or they may have matured and gotten over it.

    You mentioned one of the guys said one of the reasons was "the house would no longer feel comfortable making gay jokes". But you didn't mention if you saw/heard any of that attitude while pledging. Did they make those jokes?
  • jarhead5536

    Posts: 1348

    Oct 27, 2009 5:43 PM GMT
    1969er saidSorry to hear the group you liked best wasn't comfortable enough to accept you. It's hard to see how things would be like if you told them after you got in--it may have gotten bad, or they may have matured and gotten over it.

    You mentioned one of the guys said one of the reasons was "the house would no longer feel comfortable making gay jokes". But you didn't mention if you saw/heard any of that attitude while pledging. Did they make those jokes?


    "The house would no longer feel comfortable making gay jokes." US military, anyone? DADT was all about allowing homophobic straight guys to go on being that way...
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 27, 2009 7:31 PM GMT
    TC, I had a silmilar conversation at the Sigma Chi house of Denison University. They invited me on bid day. Then a guy walked me around showing me the group photos hanging on the wall. Him:"Do you see any blacks?" Me: "no" Him: "Because there aren't any. And there never will be any."

    I reported it and wrote an op-ed article for the student newspaper. Big stink on campus.

    Denison University does not have frats today.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 27, 2009 7:44 PM GMT
    I'm quite shocked that they were so open about their discriminatory behaviour.

    It's up to you whether you want to complain about this, maybe you'll pave the way for this sort of bigotry to be destroyed.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 27, 2009 7:47 PM GMT
    It's a private club and they can pick and choose their members. Let their decision speak to their depth, or lack thereof, of character. Now that you know their true colors, perhaps you shouldn't consider it a loss.

    All private clubs are discriminatory. That's what makes them private.

    You DO NOT have a discrimination case, because the club can discriminate if you're too fat, too thin, too geeky, too dumb, too short, too tall, the wrong sex, and so on. It's all about whether they like you, you bring something they want, and whether, or not, they want you in their private club. You were rejected. On to bigger issues. It is not a battle you can win on other than moral grounds. You cannot win on legal grounds UNLESS the club is publicly funded and accepts all applications. I.e., it's not a battle you can win.

    Welcome to life.

    Move on with your energy in a positive direction, and know the depth of characters of those that you thought were cool, and really weren't.

    There's 7 BILLION other folks out there.

    Next item.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 27, 2009 8:01 PM GMT
    That's a real shame. I was the first person to rush, get a bid, and pledge my chapter of my fraternity and be open about my sexuality. Luckily I didn't face the same road block, a lot of the alums had issues when they found out, but the actives had become my friends and it was up to them.

    Going Greek was a great part of my college career and I made connections that are still there, so if you really have your heart set on being in a fraternity, give the other houses a try. You might find them to be more accepting.

    It's like someone else said, being gay doesn't mean you can't make gay jokes, or share a bathroom. Everyone gay and straight has limits on what they find acceptable. It was totally just an excuse to these guys. Good luck
  • captproton

    Posts: 316

    Oct 27, 2009 8:13 PM GMT
    I went to a major university that doesn't have fraternities but does have "clubs," which are largely the same thing. They are highly selective (discriminatory), and make most of their invitations to join based on income/social background.

    I was not out at school but was not asked to join any of the clubs because I went to a public high school and not a prep school. Did I suffer? No. I made a great group of friends along the way without the entanglements of a "frat" or "club."

    You were brave to be so honest. But you had to suspect it would be an issue. It's sad that they feel there's a need to tell gay jokes. And the shower thing is laughable, given that probably more than a few of the boys (if we can believe stats) are gay and likely closeted.

    If you made connections with any of those guys and feel like they are worth having as friends, then maybe you could try cultivating a friendship outside the confines of the fraternity. Otherwise, be yourself and you will eventually have a circle of friends whom you know to be fun, loyal and accepting and not clueless and cruel homophobes.
  • Anto

    Posts: 2035

    Oct 27, 2009 8:16 PM GMT
    Is it wrong to think this is discrimination?

    No, but isn't the whole process of getting into a fraternity based upon discrimination in some form or another?
  • Anto

    Posts: 2035

    Oct 27, 2009 8:18 PM GMT
    Chucky,
    Fraternities might have to comply to certain guidelines still though. I don't know their rules or how tied to colleges they are. Maybe being connected to colleges makes them susceptible to college discrimination policies - I don't know though.
  • Anto

    Posts: 2035

    Oct 27, 2009 8:27 PM GMT
    jimib saidTC, I had a silmilar conversation at the Sigma Chi house of Denison University. They invited me on bid day. Then a guy walked me around showing me the group photos hanging on the wall. Him:"Do you see any blacks?" Me: "no" Him: "Because there aren't any. And there never will be any."

    I reported it and wrote an op-ed article for the student newspaper. Big stink on campus.

    Denison University does not have frats today.


    Yeah but I don't understand that. Fraternities can choose people for a lot of different reasons - that is by nature discriminatory, but that is ok? Just not in regard to being black or gay?

    That doesn't make any sense to me. Fraternities are exclusive organizations. That's why people like them, to have that exclusive feeling if in one - it's an automatic 'brotherhood'. It's sort of like a gentleman's gang. Any personal philosophical conflicts with it are offset by community work and outreach.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 28, 2009 6:25 AM GMT
    Thanks for all the responses/advice. I have cooled down a little but all in all I am soured by the fraternity experience in general. It is unlikely I will look at other houses