3/5/2020 1 Comment
In early January of the new decade, two ambitious students embarked on a journey that would hopefully change this campus forever. We, Tyler Kramer (2022) and Conner Chinavare (2023), decided that they would start the University of Michigan’s first gay fraternity. We both wanted a place in Greek life where we (and others like us) felt welcome and safe, and we believed this to be the best way. Although the group is still in its beginning interest group phase, we hope to achieve the title of Provisional Chapter by April 2020.
By no means does the formation of a gay fraternity on this campus hold malicious intent towards those groups who already have a place on this campus. However, we recognized that there are not many LGBT+ organizations on campus, let alone any in Greek life. In order to give like individuals space to have a social impact and gain the support necessary to express their individuality, this fraternity must be established.
According to a study titled the “Lambda 10 Project,” 10 percent of closeted undergraduates joined a fraternity in order to pass as heterosexual and avoid systemic prejudice. This single statistic reveals that Greek life on most campuses across the nation is a place where heteronormative standards are an unspoken baseline for members. Although many universities (like Michigan) have standards for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, this doesn’t make individuals feel truly welcome or protected. Just because being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community is not expressly forbidden, that still doesn’t mean they feel comfortable and safe from the ridicule of the majority/dominant group.
In past years, Greek life at the University of Michigan has made an attempt to better include members of the LGBT+ community in their organizations. In 2005, the “Statement for Human Dignity” was signed by all of the major organizations in the Greek life community which provided protections against discrimination for LGBT individuals. Despite its newfound anti-discrimination policy, in October of 2016, Emily Kaufman, a transgender LSA student entering her senior year, left the sorority rush after she experienced what she perceived as exclusion from the sororities (Avi Sholkoff ).
Once the fraternity is established, a new age of Greek life can develop. A more open, welcoming community will be attainable by all. All LGBT+ individuals who have always wanted a home in a fraternity can now be a part of one. “The transparency of a fraternity that is dedicated to the empowerment of the LGBTQ community can give rise to the acceptance of the community, and motivate others to rally behind it,” says freshman Evan Hall. Many individuals on campus are already really interested in the project and are assisting the two founders in building the fraternity from the ground up.
Since the project is still in its beginning phases, the group is still looking for individuals to become a part of the movement. Tyler Kramer said, “It is never too late to get involved; come find your brotherhood.”