Penn. State Not on Gay Fraternity Bandwagon

The University of Pennsylvania is in the process of instating one and the University of Virginia hopes to have one by the end of this year.

Colleges across the nation are seeing the addition of gay fraternities on their campuses, but Pennsylvania State University is not yet part of the trend.

The university did have a chapter of Delta Lambda Phi, a nationally known gay fraternity, but it has since become inactive, said Allison Subasic, director of Penn State’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Allies Student Resource Center.

“Student groups vary year to year,” she said. “Perhaps some of the students who started the fraternity graduated, causing membership to go down.”

Subasic said she would like to see a gay fraternity on campus.

“They are a way for people to create new friendships and bonds,” Subasic said. “They create a community and usually have a service orientation that is a positive way to avoid some of the homophobia that may be present in fraternities.”

Penn State does have Lambda Delta Omega sorority, which is set up to promote the sisterhood of lesbian, transgender and bisexual women and their allies.

Erica D’Eramo, a senior who is the secretary of the sorority, said the group is a social rather than a political organization. It is a safe atmosphere for women to come together and is not necessarily dependent upon men, she said.

D’Eramo said it is hard recruiting students because of homophobia in the community.

“It would be possible, but it takes a lot of work and it takes a lot of time that you need to spend on academics,” she said. “Some people just don’t want to dedicate their whole life to setting up a fraternity.”

Many openly gay males are also looking for an outlet to express themselves other than some of the current options.

“I find the need to just go and hangout and do others things with gay men other than some support groups we have,” says Penn. State senior, Andrew Miller. “A gay fraternity is right up my alley.”

D’Eramo said to become a part of a gay sorority or fraternity, members must be “out” in both an academic and social standpoint. Many students aren’t comfortable doing this.

But Subasic said the organizations welcome all students.

“People may make assumptions about them, but some people make assumptions about greeks in general,” Subasic said. “You don’t have to be ‘out’ to be in it.”

She said many students would not be aware the fraternity or sorority was centered on gay issues.

Steve DiOrio, president of the Interfraternity Council, said he hasn’t been approached about having a gay fraternity on campus but may consider the addition if students showed interest.

However, DiOrio said the decision is ultimately up to the 52 chapter presidents on campus. Those people would vote and the new fraternity would need a two-thirds majority to become a part of the IFC.

“Anytime we have people that want to be part of a brotherhood, that is a positive effect on a community,” DiOrio said. “As long as they are striving for the same things the IFC works towards, it would be positive.”