Brotherhood. Service. Socializing.
Those are some of the descriptors that come to mind when discussing fraternities. But what about sexuality? It’s the unspoken term that is often avoided or misused when characterizing fraternity members.
Lambda Chi Alpha, one of the twelve Interfraternity Council (IFC) fraternities at Fresno State, refuses to closet its feelings about sexuality.
Members of Lambda Chi spoke up about how gay brothers are treated in their fraternity and what steps their executive committee takes to ensure that those brothers feel included.
“It’s very hush hush in the whole Greek system. It’s just kind of the outlier,” said Christopher Rodriguez, a gay spring ‘16 fraternity member who said that gay males are the minority in Fresno State’s Greek system.
Rodriguez, a fifth-year student at Fresno State, said his outlier status doesn’t leave him feeling excluded. It’s just a mathematical reality that there are more males in the Greek system who identify as straight than gay.
“I feel like Lambda is just accepting,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said he feels so accepted that he struggles to recall a time when his brothers treated him with any sort of prejudice.
“I don’t think that I’ve really been treated differently by my brothers. I don’t think so, ’cause they know. They know that my sexuality means nothing. It just means who I’m interested in,” Rodriguez said.
In fact, Rodriguez has always been treated as an integral part of his fraternity, having held executive positions almost nonstop for the past two years since he rushed. Now, he holds the title of ritualist, a position that enables him to foster meaningful bonds among fraternity members.
At Lambda Chi Alpha, a lot of emphasis is placed on what brothers can contribute to the fraternity.
Both Rodriguez and his fraternity brother Ethan Gallardo found a sense of value in their executive positions within the fraternity.
Gallardo, one of last spring’s recruits who also identifies as gay, was nominated as historian this fall. Being nominated to run social media and create scrapbooks helps Gallardo feel like an important member of his brotherhood.
“It makes me feel really accepted,” Gallardo said.
While Gallardo feels a sense of belonging now, he chose to keep his sexual identity secret when he rushed.
“When I was rushing, I didn’t openly say that I was gay until like I was asked by a couple of the brothers, because I didn’t know how they would react at first,” Gallardo said.
But Gallardo opened up quickly, realizing his sexuality didn’t matter to the brothers.
“Of course there’s that stigma, that stereotype that like, ‘Oh, like you can’t be gay in a fraternity, in a house full of guys. But it’s like honestly the complete opposite. I have the same amount of comfort here that I’m sure other brothers do that aren’t gay,” Gallardo said.
He said the source of that comfort comes from the value his brothers assign to diversity.
Lambda Chi Alpha’s acting president Ricardo Loza identifies as straight and views his brotherhood as an emblem of diversity, calling it the ‘melting pot of all fraternities.’
“This fraternity is pretty diverse. We have members from other parts of the world, different backgrounds, different ethnicities, so I think it works well that there’s a lot of different people here. And that makes it work well together, just because we’re not all the same,” Loza said.
Members are chosen based on their individuality, not their sexuality, Loza said.
“It doesn’t matter what your sexual preference is and the way you look or whatever. It’s more about your character and the person you are,” Loza said.
While the gay fraternity member might be the outlier, he is certainly not the outcast. As a member of Lambda Chi Alpha, the only identity that matters is the one that brands him as a brother.
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