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social sciences

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Fraternities and Sororities  
page: 1  2  

When straight fraternity or sorority members learn that another member is homosexual, their reactions may depend on how they find out. If gay members come out on their own they are likely to get a better response than if they are "outed" by others.

However, while members may be supportive on an individual level, out gay men and lesbians are generally careful to downplay their homosexuality and not to refer to it in the company of others outside the organization. Many believe that being publicly associated with a gay or lesbian member could hurt recruitment and damage the organization's image.

Sponsor Message.

Gay-Oriented Fraternities and Sororities

Gay-oriented fraternities, which began forming in the late 1980s, serve a need for students who are gay and want to be part of the Greek-letter society system but do not feel comfortable in traditional Greek organizations.

The isolation and lack of acceptance many gays and lesbians feel while growing up make belonging to a gay fraternity or sorority--a surrogate family and a support group in which their sexuality is accepted--attractive.

Moreover, on college campuses located in rural or isolated areas where students may have fewer social options, gay-oriented fraternities and sororities provide young men and women with perhaps their only contact with the gay, lesbian, and bisexual community.

Delta Lambda Phi, the sole national gay fraternity, is currently active in 20 college campuses across the United States and has over 1,200 active and alumni members. The core purpose of Delta Lambda Phi is to provide meaningful friendships and social interactions in an atmosphere of social, service, and recreational activities.

Delta Lambda Phi was founded through a trust established by three donors to create a social fraternity that would not discriminate based on sexual orientation. The original donors had regretted that such an alternative organization did not exist during their own college years. In 1987, the Delta Lambda Phi National Social Fraternity was inaugurated, and 24 men were initiated into the fraternity's Alpha Chapter in Washington, D. C.

Since then, Delta Lambda Phi, a fraternity for gay, bisexual, and progressive men, has become one of the country's fastest growing fraternities. The fraternity's motto is "Lambda men are making their presence known!"

The female counterpart to Delta Lambda Phi is the Lambda Delta Lambda sorority, founded in 1988. However, this lesbian-oriented sorority has not been as successful in attracting members; there are currently only two chapters in existence.

Another gay-oriented college organization is the Lambda 10 Project, a national clearinghouse for gay, lesbian, and bisexual fraternity and sorority issues. The Lambda 10 Project was developed in 1995 and works to heighten the visibility of gay, lesbian, and bisexual members of the Greek-letter system by serving as a resource center for information and educational materials related to sexual orientation and the fraternity/sorority experience. The Lambda 10 Project is headquartered at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Craig Kaczorowski

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social sciences >> Overview:  Colleges and Universities

The efforts of glbtq students, staff, and faculty over the last thirty years to make their colleges and universities more responsive to glbtq issues have noticeably improved the campus climate at many institutions in the United States, though some harassment continues.

social sciences >> Overview:  Student Organizations

In a little more than thirty years, the number of glbtq student organizations has grown from a handful found at large universities to several thousand spread throughout the country to nearly all college campuses.


Ashworth, John. "At Home in Sigma Nu." Advocate 847 (September 25, 2001): 10.

Delta Lambda Phi:

DeQuine, Jeanne. "Out of the Closet and on to Fraternity Row." Time (March 17, 2003): 8.

Gladstone, Neil. "Brotherly Love and Hate." The New York Times (January 3, 1999): 4A, 32-33, 42, 44.

Hall, Jeremiah. "Greek for Discrimination." Advocate 865 (June 11, 2002): 18.

Lambda 10 Project:

Marsh, Katherine. "Coming Out on Fraternity Row." Rolling Stone (October 26, 2000): 68-72.

Reisberg, Leo. "Seeking Acceptance on Fraternity Row." The Chronicle of Higher Education 45.6 (October 2, 1998): A45-47.

Sarkessian, Juliet. "Sapphic Sororities." Lambda Book Report 9.9 (April, 2002): 25-28.

Terwilliger, Cate. "Gay Men Have Always Been Involved in Fraternities. Now They're Making it Official. Out Men on Campus." Denver Post (January 24, 1999): H-01.

Windmeyer, Shane L., and Pamela W. Freeman, eds. Out on Fraternity Row: Personal Accounts of Being Gay in a College Fraternity. Los Angeles: Alyson Publications, 1998.

_____, eds. Secret Sisters: Stories of Being Lesbian and Bisexual in a College Sorority. Los Angeles: Alyson Publications, 2001.


    Citation Information
    Author: Kaczorowski, Craig  
    Entry Title: Fraternities and Sororities  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated February 12, 2004  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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