“Why does it seem like you all discriminate against gay people,” one student blurted out yesterday evening in the Q&A segment of the on campus event entitled ‘The Misconception of Greek Life” to a row of Central State’s “Divine 9” members, who were all lined up horizontally and facing the seated audience as they prepared for target practice.
The question maybe took some by surprise, but most of the older Black Greeks who has been around for a while now—and knows the game and how to play—probably saw this coming already. You just had to wait long enough for some individual confident in himself to ask a question many of whom are silent on the matter about…
“Honestly, we don’t…” and blah blah blah, replied one of the Black Greek members in line, his legs appearing to buckle a little. Everybody knows when you begin with saying words like, “honestly,” or “we don’t haze,” nine times outta ten someone is also calling your bluff.
I knew, and really I have always known, that when it comes to African-American Greek fraternities and sororities, people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) ought to keep their sexual life private. Not because it is a crime to be ‘gay,’ or that all gay people are bound to go to hell or something, but particularly at an HBCU, that is just the way it is.
Being discrete, especially regarding an alternative lifestyle, or who you choose to love, is an unspoken rule within the Black Greek fraternity and sorority culture that extends to each of the country’s 105 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), respectfully.
Everyone knows to not make known that type of information, and certainly not to tell because, when wanting to go Greek, telling someone, anyone about your closeted lifestyle is like the equivalent to signing your own death warrant.
Even in the 21st century where a handful of states are legalizing gay marriages, and the President of the United States himself has had a change of heart, most Black Greeks simply do not wish to discuss any more on “the gay question” than required, which is not a damn thing, because, perhaps, the truth hurts.
The fact is, gay people are widely discriminated against by most, if not all, members of the Divine 9 during the selection process, when Black Greek members debate on, or sponsor individuals willing to commit to a lifetime of service to their organizations.
Later someone somehow managed to give an honest, well-thought-of outlook on the matter when answering the student’s question, liberating us all from the few lackluster responses before. But as we continued yesterday’s program and its ironic title of ‘mistaken beliefs’ on Black Greek life, I found myself thinking about who I am, and where I have come from, and the obstacles I have had to overcome just to get my three letters that I proudly represent day-to-day.
I did not ask to be put on pedestal as a “role model” to students on campus and elsewhere I may go as a member of a African-American fraternity, the youngest member of the NPHC, Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc., and like many before me I have always believed that what you do in your private life should remain just that, private.
But considering this, and as the spotlight blurred my vision while facing the audience, who continued to shoot left and right and up and down many more good (and of course, some absurd) questions, I asked myself what is the best way I can begin to speak out against this issue that will only persist if no one else is brave enough to talk about it.
“Maybe,” I said to myself, “I should have responded to his question…”