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What Being Gay in a Sorority is Actually Like

Before I got to college, I never even dreamed about being in a sorority. I had no exposure to greek life aside from stereotypical representations in films and honestly, the thought didn’t even cross my mind until my first semester at Hofstra University. I quickly found an interest in sororities as I realized the social value (because what freshman doesn’t want friends) but there was always one hesitation that I couldn’t shake off: my sexuality. 

 

I’ve known I wasn’t straight since my freshman year of high school. My journey of coming out jumped from label to label as I explored my true identity until I finally came to terms with identifying as a lesbian two years later. By the time I graduated high school, I was fully out and proud, determined to thrive after years of confusion in hiding. This is the same energy I carried right to college, ready to meet new people who I could really be myself around. From what I knew about greek life at the time, I didn’t feel that I would be able to be open about my sexuality and still be accepted. Like all baby gays, I clung to the words of YouTuber Shannon Beveridge in her “Being Gay in a Sorority” video where she shares the difficult experiences she had endured in her chapter. That was enough to dissipate any considerations early on but as I adapted to Hofstra’s culture, I decided to take the risk. 

Toni Reed Udggq3Ml Toni Reed / Unsplash

Upon hours of sorority rounds and intense rankings, I happily accepted a bid to Delta Phi Epsilon in the spring of 2019. I didn’t know what to expect out of it aside from the little I learned through recruitment, so my hesitations remained as I became a new member. I’ll admit to you now, I had a whole speech planned that I would use in the case anyone would ever say something discriminatory in a sorority setting, but thankfully, that day never came. As soon as I came out, I was embraced with warm arms and support of sisters who could relate to my sexuality journey. I never expected to feel so welcomed in such a stereotypically heteronormative environment but instead I was met with some of the most loving reactions I had ever received. This initial normalcy was exactly the push I needed to be even more confident in my identity as I continued my time at Hofstra. 

 

While I could go on and on about how much I appreciate the constant support I get being gay in my chapter, it would be naive to let go of the minor struggles I also deal with. I can’t say I’ve never heard a discriminatory word uttered in all of greek life. In fact, there have been too many times to count where I overhear something that makes my whole body shudder. Not necessarily slurs or anything to that extreme, but more comments that simply come from lack of education and the norm of heteronormativity. For example, I get the typical, “I hate boys, I wish I could just like girls” from sisters time to time. Even though I don’t consider it harmful, it still feels uneasy to have my sexuality viewed as a hatred of men and nothing else. I don’t blame people for comments like this because I know some are not as thoroughly educated as others but I do what I can to express what is right and wrong to encourage a more conscious society in greek life. 

 

If you couldn’t guess, frat boys get their own category in my lesbian struggle book. Of course, I occasionally deal with the whole being hit on by boys thing but that happens whether you’re in a sorority or not. It just becomes much more prevalent when the norm of greek life is for sorority girls to hookup with frat guys, attend each other's formals and just generally interact with each other consistently. I have no interest in this dynamic with frats, naturally, so I often find myself in situations where I awkwardly have to let someone down or try to avoid it by finding a friend nearby. The good thing about greek life is that the word spreads fast, making those awkward situations a lot less frequent. In general, I think one of the biggest struggles in relation to the sorority girl/frat boy dynamic is feeling lonely. Every social event I watch my sisters go home with guys and have fun flirting with their newest frat crush while I just watch it all happen on the sidelines. By all means, I don’t feel like this aspect has hindered my experience in a sorority at all, but there is a certain culture I miss out on because I can’t pursue anyone at social events. 

Photo by Wendy Wei from Pexels

With all of that being said. I feel really grateful for the experience I’ve had in a sorority throughout college. Aside from the small handful of uncomfortable situations I’ve experienced, I owe the amazing years I’ve had in college to being a part of my organization. The friends I’ve made are ones I know I’ll have forever. The leadership skills I’ve gained have made the person I am today, ready to take on the world and anyone that comes with it in a confident manner. On top of the constant support I get from my sisters, I also receive numerous opportunities to speak on LGBTQIA+ representation at panhellenic events that help to educate all of greek life. Within the last two years, I’ve seen so much improvement in terms of including different sexualities in the perception of normalcy as well as more resources to learn about the topic. I’ve even seen a mass increase of people in the LGBTQIA+ community joining greek life, further proving how far Hofstra has come in creating an accepting environment. 

pride parade with rainbow flags Photo by Gotta Be Worth It from Pexels

For anyone reading this who may be in the same situation I was as a worried freshman, I want to leave you with this. You know yourself better than anyone else. While for me, joining a sorority was the best decision I’ve ever made, I’ve heard first hand a range of experiences good and bad. I chose Hofstra to begin with because of the school’s generally liberal student base and that environment definitely caters to a more relaxed greek life. I can only hope that as society progresses away from the stigma of different sexualities that more conservative schools follow the pattern, but there will always be those who hate. Your experience will be different depending on your school, depending on each sorority and most importantly depending on you. My best advice is simply to trust your gut. Recognize where you are comfortable and test out the environments that feel right to you. Being in a sorority should make you the best version of yourself, not push you back into the closet. No matter what path you follow, you will find your place in the long run but always remember to never let anyone or anything make you ashamed of who you are.