The members of UCLA's Gamma Rho Lambda acknowledge that the terms "LGBT" and "sorority" don't necessarily go together for a lot of people. But they hope to change that.
According to Sonali Kohli of the Daily Bruin, the LGBTQQIA (lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, questioning, queer, intesexed, allied) sorority, open to anyone who identifies as female, gained chapter status at UCLA this spring. With half of its ten members graduating, it's starting to look for new recruits. But, writes Kohli, there are obstacles:
That the title "sorority" is attached to the group provides one major challenge in recruiting, said chapter president Amy Franklin, a third-year sociology student. In addition to the $140 quarterly membership fee and the high number of LGBT groups that already exist on campus, the queer community generally shies away from the Greek community because of the stereotype that the culture of Greek life is largely based on heterosexuality, Franklin said.
Given stories of hazing and members told to out themselves, it's no wonder sororities aren't necessarily seen as inclusive, safe spaces. But members say Gamma Rho Lambda is just that. Vice president Jeanette Zuniga tells Kohli,
It's really important to break the stereotype of what Greek life is [...] I was opposed to Greek life. I heard they were sexist, homophobic, and I didn't want to associate with that because I identify myself as a feminist.
However, she says, she decided to join Gamma Rho Lambda because "I needed an organization to belong to, needed somewhere to call home." This sense of family and home is something many people say they love about the Greek system, and while many schools do offer other groups for LGBT students, it's worth thinking about whether LGBT chapters could actually improve Greek life. Some fraternities and sororities do have sexist or homophobic cultures, but it's possible that integrating LGBT organizations into the Greek system might force these groups to take another look at their prejudices. Perhaps by creating, in founder Amanda Murrillo's words, "a safe haven," Gamma Rho Lambda's members are helping fight against the problems some of them saw with sororities in the first place.
Image via Daily Bruin, courtesy of Amy Franklin