Monday, April 10, 2006
Brotherhood was an interesting book to read. It's a collection of true stories of gay men and their experiences with fraternities. Most of the stories were those where the gay men had to cover up their sexuality in order to join the fraternities. Afterwards, they would be surprised to discover that most of their brothers did not care about their homosexuality. Brothers accept brothers, no matter what.
However, that wasn't the case for the others. Some had rushed or pledged, only to be kicked out when their homosexuality was discovered. They usually went on to another fraternity that eventually accepted them. A couple of them didn't find their place until they've rushed a 3rd fraternity. Only one man wrote about his horrible experiences that ended up never joining one, leaving a bitter aversion to fraternities.
In other words, there was a variety of men, in the book, retelling their fraternity experiences. Most of these recollection were in the '80's. However, there were some in the 90's. I believe the most recent was in 1995. Fraternities were considered nothing but a heterosexual thing.
Shane Windmeyer wrote another book before Brotherhood, that was Out on Fraternity Row. In Out on Fraternity Row, you can read a gay man's experience with Kappa Gamma, a fraternity at Gallaudet University.
Shane Windmeyer and others has set up an organization, Lambda 10 Project, which is basically a national clearinghouse working with fraternities and sororities on GLBT issues.
My experience with a fraternity, Alpha Sigma Pi, was a positive one. I believe that it helped that there were already some gay brothers and alumni in the fraternity.
Before ASP, I really had no desire to join a fraternity. I remember when I first came to Gallaudet, the men who were new students orientation leaders were members of a particular fraternity. They were all stuck-up and were really more interested in talking with each other. Therefore, my impression of fraternities were low.
I went on and did my own things. I got involved in theatre (Any Number Can Die). I took up a couple of positions in Lambda Society of Gallaudet University (LSGU). I was also involved with Student Congress, which I truly enjoyed.
Gradually, I started to noticed some men approach me and have a small chat with me. I didn't know them from Adam. Then, I got invited to an informal gathering. When I arrived, these group of men come and welcomed me. I was like, o....k, what is going on? From there, I learned about ASP and who the brothers were.
It wasn't long afterwards that I was pledging for ASP. Initially, there were 12 of us in my pledge class, which 4 of us were gay. You would think that the 4 of us would have bonded together immediately. However, that wasn't the case. You see, 2 of them were ex-boyfriends. They had broken off the year before and the wound was still fresh. (It wasn't until when pledging was finished, they were able to patch things up and move on.) The 12th pledge, 4th gay, dropped out, due to a personal reason.
Even though the pledge class learned, bonded, trusted each other, Cliff and I were each other's support system. Pledging was an interesting experience and I think that's the same for everyone else.
Like I said before, ASP was truly a positive experience. I had some great memorable experiences with some of the brothers. The places we've gone to, the things we've done and the stuff we've said will be forever etched in my mind. I've never once felt threatened because of my sexuality. The men in ASP were real brothers that accepted brothers as they were.
Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the other fraternities. I've heard and met some of the former gay pledges that were kicked out or forced to drop out because of their homosexuality. I find that sad and disappointing because these former pledges will always have a downcast look on the Greek life.
Yeah, I know that ASP has been called a "gay fraternity". That's what some of the fraternities in the book were afraid of...the reputation. But you know what, go ahead and call us the gay fraternity. At least, that shows we're willing to face and accept diversity of the men on campus.