“Out of the night that covers me…”
AHT AHT! No, I’m not about to give you an insight into my process nor any “how to‘s” regarding your desire to be a part of the chosen few, but I did bring you here this month to address a long-standing and ongoing issue within the black NPHC Greek community - same-sex dating: 1) across chapters within the same organization, 2) across lines within the same chapter, and 3) with someone most would eagerly jump at the opportunity to label as a GDI (a goddamn individual).
LGBTQ+ relationships get the most heat from the world around us just because people can’t seem to wrap their minds around our existence; however, within the black community it’s mostly based on our southern upbringings in the church. Ironically enough, our Greek organizations are all based on Christian principles, so imagine the double whammy for people like me. Some would view us as “wanting our cake and eating it too” since we consistently get to be around our preferred sex, others would categorize us within their “we can’t keep anything to ourselves anymore“ views, and a handfull would label our lifestyles (especially old heads) as blasphemy while the remaining see us as we are – normal people who are able to equally shed blood, sweat and tears for the same opportunity to push the missions of our organizations forward instead of just simply being T-shirt wearers and keychain toters. (SN: Delta Sigma Theta is a non-hazing sorority!)
Same Organization, Different Chapters
Different chapters present nearly an out-of-sight, out-of-mind scenario. Sure, your line sisters (LSs) and line brothers (LBs) have met your significant other and may know them well if they’re constantly around and in the mix; hell, they might‘ve already been good friends before you started dating. However, when it comes to chapter meetings, gatherings and/or functions, they’re not around. The most you have to address is being out to your line - which, in most cases, they already know. So, to a certain extent, you still can keep the two comfortably separate. Luckily, for Kissia (Pledged Eta Chapter, DST) & Raven (Pledged Sigma Chapter, DST), they’ve never had to physically face any backlash, as Raven expressed, “If we meet sorors out, we’ll tell them we’re together and that we’re both Deltas. They’re usually hype about it.” Although both admitted to being private people who have never taken a picture together connecting their pyramids which might attest to their lack of push back, their main concern has been what’s to come as they continue to plan a future together. At every accomplishment and life milestone, Deltas form a circle around the one(s) who is/are to be celebrated and sing the sweetheart song, yet when discussing their ideal wedding, neither are sure about the controversy that may surround their decision to implement, nor even how to implement, the tradition, as Kissia pondered, “Would it be wrong to sing the sweetheart song at our wedding? Like, I’m not sure if one big circle or two separate ones would be better. Are there rules to this?” To be honest, that idea had never crossed my mind before our conversation, but shortly thereafter I also thought, “Why does it even matter?” We earned the right just like every other heterosexual female in our organization to celebrate our membership and Oo-oop right alongside it both loudly and proudly, so why should we have to negotiate to fit into what others may feel is “appropriate”? Regardless if you’re gay, straight, bi, Greek, or indifferent, your wedding is your wedding. To hell with everyone else who probably shouldn’t even be on your guest list and the money they are not contributing to it to even have a say so at all.
Same Organization, Same Chapter
Now, when your significant other is at every chapter function, picnic, or homecoming tailgate with you hand-in-hand and one of you is the other person’s prophyte because y’all are from the same home chapter, it is unfortunately easy to assume that you’re involuntarily walking into judge-y territory introduced by, “Well, how that work?”, sentiments. Bianca and Falyn’s relationship (Both pledged Sigma Chapter, DST) was originally met with an array of responses, including those from family members, and they can attribute it to their mostly unapologetic nature. “I think initially there were some eyebrows raised because we were so bold about it that people didn’t really know how to receive it,” said Bianca. Although mostly accepted, they are still a part of a very rich chapter full of traditions and legacy, so the idea of their relationship brought on some fears of what it would look like for the chapter as a whole and how to protect the chapter in a world full of “Greekshenanigans.” Their pictures have been shared on Black Greek Letter Organization (BGLOs) Instagram pages numerous times, and Falyn admitted to also having to face adversity from Greeks outside of their chapter within comments, “People were mostly happy to see the representation, but there were also random comments here and there from people who had nasty things to say.” However, they never entertained it, so the negative nancy’s were only left with two choices: accept it or don’t - the same attitude, I believe, should be exuded in any same-sex Greek relationship. The durability of any relationship and the strength of any bond is not based on the good experiences but how it withstands throughout the storms and the naysayers. Bianca and Falyn’s love has proven to be strong enough to prevail against sticks and stones as they officially became Mrs. and Mrs. Taylor in 2018 and once their bond proved to be untouchable, those that once opposed their relationship began to change their views as Bianca stated, “Once everyone saw the love we have for each other and that we got married, a lot of prophytes began to support us more and things were normal.” Yet, what’s most important about their love story is that it proves everything doesn’t circle around a person being Greek. Those closest to the Taylor’s were never surprised by their evolving relationship and they, themselves, never thought twice about being in the same chapter because they were already good friends two years before either of them pledged. Some people see Greek and nothing more, yet fail to realize that we’re people that just happen to be Greek who not only had a life before we got our letters but will continue to have one afterward. Moreover, #LoveIsLove and it will ALWAYS win!
Greek & Dating an Involuntarily Labeled GDI
Whew! This topic alone has a whole real meaning to me, but we’ll get back to me later. First, let me start with a quick rundown on some vocab - GDI, or goddamn individual, is a label given to non-Greek individuals who have either clearly stated interest in being a part of an organization or those who are assumed to eventually do so. (Who made us mind readers? I don’t know!)
Now, let’s continue. Most Greeks would rather date someone that is not Greek to avoid all that comes with it - especially their “neo-fever” phase, but that doesn’t exclude the negativity they may still receive as a result of dating one. At the time Jeremiah pledged (Kappa Alpha Psi, Lambda Phi Chapter) he was struggling with accepting his sexuality - “Everybody knows the negative gay perception of Kappas...would I be contributing to that?” He continued to keep his orientation to himself for 2 years despite the rumors that began to circulate around school, but eventually, after graduating, instead of having a grand “coming out” moment, he just naturally started showing who he truly was through his mannerisms and on his social media platforms. “Who is that guy he keeps posting?” Well, that guy is Melvin, his boyfriend! Although accepted by many outside of the Greek world, the turmoil for Jeremiah started after he went live in IG to discuss a topic that dealt with him being a gay male. The video made it’s the way to a chapter Group-Me that he wasn’t in at the time and it appeared to call attention to the fact that they had a gay brother in the chapter and, as expected, some older prophytes called him immediately while others got fly at the mouth behind his back. In the situation regarding his LBs, he got much more of a welcoming response as, out of 7, he only bumped heads with one - a brother who later apologized after witnessing his struggle with the hell and pressures executed by others. “Seeing you hurt was hurting me.” Despite the push back, his LBs along with some of his older prophytes have had his back as conversations continued to arise, “He a grown man. What does this grown man's life have to do with yours?” Eventually, Jeremiah knew it was time for Melvin to meet his LBs and when they did, he was happy to see that they treated him like any regular man. They quizzed him to ensure he was worthy enough of Jeremiah’s attention, but what has truly surprised him are the times they’ve checked him to ensure he continues to do right by Melvin. Moreover, Jeremiah admitted he has seen a difference in how other gay Greeks are received and/or approached compared to him and blames it not only on his 6’3 muscular physique but the respect he earned as the Nupe that stayed on campus by himself to ensure the chapter remained alive. When asked what advice he’d give to someone who is unsure how to navigate being out and proud of their sexuality while also seeking to be Greek, he stated, “Never compromise yourself. Although it may seem like it at the time, it ain’t worth it. If you aren’t comfortable with who you are before you go Greek, you won’t be comfortable afterward. The school you’re at may not accept your existence, but there are many more chapters that will.”
…& here we are - but first, let me reintroduce myself. I am Rena, the #18 of the Spring 14 line of the Eta Chapter (of Delta Sigma Theta, of course!) otherwise known as “Optical Illusion” & I am just that - what you see in no way compares to what you get. Visually, I am undoubtedly a masculine-appearing stud who you instantly notice is only attracted to women, so when it comes to a black societally labeled “feminine” sorority, I’m a wild card. Yet, I can also be seen as a golden ticket and that’s exactly what many thought my fiancé viewed me as, too. When Kia and I started dating, I had already graduated from Fort Valley, but she was still there, receiving both sly looks and off-the-wall remarks. At that time, I had crossed with the most recent line and with everyone anticipating and wanting to be a part of the next “They’re Coming” posts, many fakely approached her with hugs and kisses only with the result of being questioned about me and my line as if all our relationship stood on was my life as a Delta. To be quite frank, she recalls several moments where females at the school would only speak to her when I was around. Hell, people still disrespect her to this day. When she drives my car, many of my older sorors have attempted to charge her up based solely on the Delta plate that’s in the front of my car, and many older men in fraternities have done the same specifically stating that she “shouldn’t be driving that car if you don’t know how to represent it well.” Let’s get this straight! You got to be out your rabbit ass mind if you think I’m going to unscrew the front plate off of my car every time her car goes down and she needs to use mine to get to work, doesn’t have gas in her car so she uses mine to go up the street to the store, or even pulls the typical, “I’d rather just take your car and run your gas out instead of mine.” Honestly speaking, there have also been times where we’ve gotten out of my car together and people automatically assume she’s the Delta since she’s the more girly one. Expected, right? Damn stereotypes!
I wish I could tell you that this topic should have never be one up for a debate and I also wish I could tell you that it’s not hard easily being identified as LGBTQ+ and becoming/being a member of a BGLO, but I can’t. However, I can tell you that if you aren’t a part of the solution, you will forever be a part of the problem. Yes, you may be totally fine with your LS, LB, neo, and/or prophyte being LGBTQ+ and dating the same-sex even if its within the same or another organization/chapter, but you are no better than someone who isn’t if you allow others to ridicule someone of a similar lifestyle. Simply put, this mindless discussion won’t cease until we make it!