Joining Forces: Greek Life and the LGBTQ Community
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Student Life

Joining Forces: Greek Life and the LGBTQ Community

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Joining Forces: Greek Life and the LGBTQ Community

Why did you go Greek? Think about it. Chances are you joined, like the many before you, for the strong brotherhood or sisterhood, the home away from home, or the indisputable values that Greek life instills upon us. The diversity in Greek life is united by our reasons to join, and one of the demographics included in this diverse culture is the LGBTQ community.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with this acronym, the LGBTQ community is composed of people who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. You may or may not know someone in an IFC or National Panhellenic chapter who identifies as LGBTQ, but the Greek Allies feel that this is a topic worth being educated about because there are members of the LGBTQ community in our Greek community, whether these members are open with their identities or not.

Lowell Kane, the director at the LGBTQ Center at Purdue, hopes that the Greek Allies will “[bring] a social justice model to Greek life”—a model that exemplifies safety, education, support, and the true sense of community.  The LGBTQ Center has been working on creating a safe and welcoming environment at Purdue through holding speakers, the SafeZone training workshop, and branching organizations on campus. Over the past couple of decades, the LGBTQ community has been becoming more involved with the IFC and National Panhellenic chapters, rather than just joining Gamma Rho Lambda or Delta Lambda Phi. In accordance with this trend, Kane states that “sororities, fraternities, and cooperatives should be inclusive and strive to be more inclusive and diverse.” This is attainable, especially with the help of student run organizations like the Greek Allies.  

The Greek Allies, created by members of IFC chapters and advised by Chris DeEulis, are looking to bring these efforts into the Greek community here at Purdue. Matt Sampson, the President of the Greek Allies and a brother of Zeta Beta Tau, discussed the goals of Greek Allies with me. To members of the LGBTQ community, the “sense of family…is incredibly appealing.” All humans, no matter how they identify, look for a feeling of acceptance and support. The Greek Allies aspire to get this point across to all Greek councils in the coming year. They hope to “[train] chapters to understand how to be an ally to the LGBTQ community” through roughly one hour training sessions that are being created with the help of Jessica Pettitt.  

Jessica Pettitt, who is openly a lesbian and former member of a Panhellenic chapter during her time in college, will be coming to speak to Purdue’s public between November 12th and 13th. The Greek Allies are confident that their collaboration with Pettitt will ensure that chapters on campus get a sufficient and effective training if they would like it.  What’s the training about, you ask? Sampson says that it will help chapters “understand how to be an ally to the LGBTQ community,” specifically in the instance of a brother or sister unveiling their identity to their chapter. When a brother or sister is able to be an ally to a fellow brother or sister, the true meaning of brotherhood or sisterhood can be reinforced.  

It’s important to remember that you do not need to identify as LGBTQ in order to be involved with the Greek Allies, or to be an ally in general. Like Kane said, it’s not about what you personally believe in—it’s more about believing that each member of our community deserves to feel safe with expressing themselves. This is especially true in a community that is built upon the pillars that we are built upon. Want to be a part of this? You can attend the Greek Allies call out, which will be held on September 25th at 7:30PM on the second floor of the Krach Leadership Center. They “want a wide variety [of chapters]” represented within the Greek Allies and hope to have much of the Greek community present at the call out. Having a variety of chapters involved will allow for more support of our LGBTQ members in Greek life and beyond.   

More information about the Greek Allies can be found at  www.facebook.com/purduegreekallies. You may also email purduegreekalliance@gmail.com if you have any questions, topics to discuss, or if you would like additional resources on how to be an ally or open about your identity. If you are interested in joining other LGBTQ organizations, the Rainbow Call Out, featuring sixty-two tables, took place on September 2nd at 6:30PM in the Purdue Memorial Union South Ballroom. Pettitt’s social justice keynote address, If Not Us, Then Who? Let’s Rise, will be at 6:30PM in Fowler Hall on the 13th.    

We all know the cliché: “No matter the letters, we’re all Greek together.” No matter the religion, nationality, major, ethnicity, sexuality, or any other factor, we all share our values. That’s reason enough to support efforts to make Greek life inclusive to all. Because hey, what sorority woman wouldn’t want Ellen DeGeneres as her sister?

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