In early 2015, I wrote about one particular Central State University student who asked the Black Greeks on campus at the school one simple but complicated question: “Why does it seem like you all discriminate against gay people?” the CSU student asked. Apparently he wanted the CSU Black Greeks to respond with an honest answer that frankly no one wants to talk about. The event intended to address the misconceptions of Greek life. Of course, lots of interested students, who more than likely wanted and want to join a black sorority and fraternity on campus, was in attendance that night.
Ironically, the student who asked the question is the student who eventually joined my fraternity, the Alpha Mu Chapter of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. at Central State.
But still, his inquiry is valid.
“I could not even be angry because I was so hurt.”
In late 2013, Brian Stewart, who once wanted to join the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. chapter at Morgan State University, was denied admission because he is gay. He told the Baltimore Sun at the time that the fraternity discriminated against him as a recruit because of his sexuality. “I could not even be angry because I was so hurt,” said Stewart.
(Stewart was the perfect candidate for any position in an organization, if you asked me. During his stay at the university he held a 3.2 GPA, had interned at the White House and, surprisingly received scholarships from the same fraternity that denied him access into the brotherhood to attend Morgan State, among other things. But none of that mattered. He is gay, so he couldn’t join.)
Later, the university determined that the Alpha Iota chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi did, in fact, discriminate against Stewart and faced probation.
Morgan State officials cited violations to “certain university regulations, procedures and policies” in a report. “This is a proper course of action, mainly to raise awareness that this happens,” said Stewart.
Obviously Stewart wasn’t the first person who was denied admission to a fraternity because of his sexuality, and, unfortunately, he won’t be the last.
But why don’t more Black Greeks on campus at HBCUs come out as gay exactly? Do Black Greeks really discriminate against gay people? Below are some reasons why more sorority and fraternity members don’t come out as openly gay.
Stigmas of being Black, and gay and a member of a D9 org
Many Black Greeks think if you come out as openly gay on campus there’s a mark of disgrace that comes along with it. “Being discrete, especially regarding an alternative lifestyle, or who you choose to love, is an unspoken rule within the Black Greek culture,” I wrote in my piece called “Why Gay Black Greek Members Should Speak Up for LGBTQ Community.”
Taboos and masculinity in Black Greek culture
There’s so much more of a taboo in Black fraternities—if you bring up anything gay people run out the room like it’s a virus. Many Black Greeks fear that they will be judged if they come out as openly gay.
Maybe in the future it will change, but I think right now there’s still that stigma.
Would you look at a member of a Black sorority or fraternity any differently if she, or he come out as openly gay? Let us know and leave your comment below.