The Rainbow Black Greeks: Part II
Being a lesbian in a sorority sometimes means having to make decisions heterosexual members don’t have to worry about. The freedom of being out has to be balanced with the realties of how people both in and outside of the sorority view them.
“I remember prior to coming out, I worked with the Amicettes, our auxiliary group for younger girls between the ages seven and twelve,” Toya said. “I made the decision after I started coming out to stop working with the girls because I didn’t want any drama. I didn’t want parents thinking I was going to “convert” their children. I’m sure that if there were issues raised, enough of my sorors would have squashed it, but I decided to move on to work with our scholarship and public relations committee.”
Regardless of the acceptance of their straight sorority members, there is no getting around the fact that being a lesbian in a chapter is “different”. Hannah notes that having the typical college workshop on black male and female relationships can be difficult if your relationship centers on black female and black female relationships. But on a personal level, Hannah feels like she’s treated just the same as her straight sisters, particularly when talking about their personal lives.
“My line sisters love me and have my back when crazy girls I’ve dated have had issues with me. We love each other just the same.”
Toya senses differences whenever her girlfriend comes to sorority events. It can be quite awkward when all of the women at a Zeta banquet stand up to sing a hymn, and Toya’s girlfriend is the only woman to sit among the male spouses. And teaching a same sex girlfriend that she can’t just pick up Toya’s sorority shirt and wear it somewhere is something that doesn’t happen in straight Black Greek households.
“Other sorors don’t have to worry about their partners having sorority calls and sign thrown up at them when they happen to drive their cars,” Toya laughs. “But otherwise, I think that my straight sisters and I have the same challenges of trying to balance relationships and sorority life.”
Still, one of the biggest challenges any fraternity or sorority has to accomplish is figuring out how to take heterogeneous backgrounds and have them coalesce around the organization’s principles and ideals. It happens everyday with members coming from different regions, socio economic background, and racial backgrounds. That said, some straight Black Greeks either don’t feel comfortable around gays and lesbians, or feel that same sex relationships go their faith. It’s a difficult challenge for both sides to navigate.
“Who I sleep with does not determine how profoundly I believe in [and will work for] service to all mankind,” Hannah says. “If the member, or prospective member embodies the values of the organization, what does their sex life have to do with anything? There are plenty of obnoxiously promiscuous heterosexuals in any organization, and if that has little to no bearing [on their membership], why should a self-respect homosexual be treated any differently?”