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The Ins and Outs of Being Gay in a Sorority

What do you think of when you think of a sorority? Maybe you think of a bunch of pretty white girls with money, lots of partying, and LOTS of high pitched screaming. Or maybe you think of this positively frightening Twitter video. When I was thinking about rushing last year, all of these stereotypes flooded my mind. I didn’t think I was cut out for the srat life. For starters, I’m not white, I don’t come from a wealthy family, and my liver is weaker than the average. And to top it all off: I’m GAY.

Being gay and being in a sorority are two descriptors that typically aren’t associated with each other. For me, making the decision to rush was tough in and of itself. I wasn’t sure how LGBT-friendly the sororities at BU were, and I was nervous about putting myself in an environment where I could be rejected. My mom was initially hesitant as well, warning me that a sorority might not be the most accepting place for who I am.

Photo Credit: Abby Gross

Nonetheless, I went through the four grueling, mind-numbing, and painful days of sorority recruitment and actually ended up in a chapter that I love. Upon joining, I realized I wasn’t alone. While it’s not well known, there is actually a small community of LGBT women in Greek life at BU. I asked these women a few questions about their experiences and quickly noticed there were many similarities among responses. It was relieving to see that other girls are experiencing similar things as I am.

For the most part, everyone was pleasantly surprised at how accepting BU sororities are regarding different sexualities. Most girls were originally worried to come out to their sisters, thinking they might treat them differently. However, after surpassing the initial fear of coming out, these individuals were met with an overwhelming amount of love and support. One girl said that she, “felt more comfortable because [she] knew they would be there for [her] no matter what.”

The encouragement I’ve personally felt from some of my sisters is one reason I enjoy being in a sorority so much. BU Greek life as a whole can be a little intimidating, but the relationships I’ve built from it have been out of kindness and acceptance.

Despite the warm welcome from fellow sisters, BU Greek life does have its pitfalls. The most notable negative aspect is the heteronormative culture associated with mixers. Mixers, or parties held between a sorority and a fraternity, can feel isolating to LGBT sorority members. Some of the girls I interviewed noted that the hookup culture and hetero-expectations of mixers can make them feel uncomfortable. Many individuals explained that they attend these parties solely to hang out with friends or avoid them altogether.

 “The purpose of mixers seems like it's for the heteros to hook up with each other. It makes me sad that we rarely mix with other sororities or groups that consist of people who don't identify as male in a similar setting so everyone can have the opportunity to kiss a cutie,” one person told me.

Another girl shared that she genuinely thinks being in Greek life prevented her from realizing she was into girls until later in college, as her entire social life revolved around interacting with boys. While the goal of Greek life isn’t to find a boo, I agree that it would be nice to have that option at these parties. I tend to shy away from mixers for these reasons as well, choosing to spend time with my sisters in different ways.

Another drawback of sorority life is the assumptions made by fellow sisters. Many LGBT sorority members expressed concern over their sisters thinking they were coming onto them or being “predatory.” A common worry was that sisters might think, “being gay means being super sexual with other girls... Like they’re scared that me being their friend means me wanting to f*ck them,” according to one person. One girl overheard a sister who, upon finding out someone was gay, said, “Wow yeah, that makes sense. She always rubbed me the wrong way.” These comments, along with the heteronormative nature of sorority life, make it more difficult for LGBT sorority members to feel comfortable being themselves.

I know what you’re thinking: Yeah, Greek life is heteronormative by nature, how are we supposed to change that? While I don’t expect party culture to change overnight, there are a couple of things sororities could do to be more inclusive of their LGBT members. One individual suggested that sororities could support LGBT events on social media, such as National Coming Out Day or Pride month. Something as small as a post on Instagram would let these members know they are seen and appreciated. Sororities could also attempt to be a little more inclusive with their language. Rather than assuming everyone is into boys, things could be phrased to include all genders. These little steps could go a long way in making sorority life more inviting to both potential members and current sisters.

With formal recruitment quickly approaching, I know that many of you are probably trying to decide whether or not the Greek scene is for you. For those of you who are not straight, this decision might be more complicated than for most. All I can say is this; while Greek life isn’t for everyone, going through recruitment may surprise you. You could end up in a community of women who welcome you with open arms. If you can disregard the deafening sounds of squealing girls and are down for the *sisterhood*, I think you should give it a shot.

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Abby Gross is a sophomore at BU studying neuroscience! Shawty likes listening to music, being outside, eating dim sum, and hanging out with neat people.
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