Hit or Miss

We’re all good brothers…

Last night I was inducted as the High Pi of Truman’s Lambda Chi chapter. It may only be a temporary 6-month appointment to help lower their insurance rates (while they search for an alum of their chapter to serve as advisor), but I’m still honored.

They told me beforehand that, following my induction, I’d have to read from the open ritual book and induct the other new officers. But the short paragraph I expected turned out to be 15 pages of text. And since it’s been 6 or 7 years since the last time I went through the initiation ceremony, I majorly screwed up the pronunciation of our open latin and greek mottos. Very embarrassing.

I’ve worked with these men as their faculty/staff advisor for a year and a half now, but I’m still ambivalent about the role I play. My being gay is no secret on campus, but it’s not a subject that seems open for discussion with them. So, I spend my time with them trying to play it as butch as possible and lowering my speaking voice. I don’t feel like I’ve allowed them to get to know me, nor have I gotten to know them.

But more importantly, I continue to wrestle with a kind of guilt over spending my free time working with a group of mostly white, mostly heterosexual men. As a student affairs professional, shouldn’t I focus on helping the disenfranchised? Shouldn’t I be working more with the gay community, or the Multicultural Affairs Center, or the International Students Office?

The Greek system here at Truman isn’t very popular among the faculty and staff, and chapters often have difficulty finding advisors. So in a way, I do feel like I’m working with a disenfranchised group (since white men often seem to get the short end of the stick in today’s increasingly PC society). And if I can in any small way prompt them to think about multicultural issues, I would consider the time I spend working with them a success.

4 responses so far (Respond)

Gravatar

I would look at it this way: maybe by being there you’ll help them become a little less homophobic.

david | 2 Feb 2002
Gravatar

Ditto what David said. Maybe you should be *less* butch. It’s an opportunity to culturejam! 😀

Jason | 4 Feb 2002
Gravatar

Think of it an an opportunity to educate your brothers about preconceived notions – yours and theirs. If you can help them understand that a gay man can be their brother too – even a brother in a leadership role – then you *are* helping the gay community. Imagine a day, maybe years into the future, where that chapter has a very public gay-awareness event – not because anyone in the chapter is gay, but because everyone in the chapter is human. Don’t miss your opporunity to really do something great.

Mike | 7 Feb 2002
Gravatar

Matt, I’ve been an advisor, corp board member, or something for the Pi Kapps at IU for over 10 years. I would suggest you simply be yourself. The most powerful anti-homophobia education, I believe, isn’t some program or panel discussion, but rather their simply interacting on a normal basis day-to-day with someone who’s gay. Isn’t that ultimately what we’re after?

A few years ago, I was over at the house watching TV news with a group of them and someone yelled “fag” at something on the screen (in that mindless all-purpose-insult way). I admit I was sort of stewing afterward, wondering if it was my responsibility to do or say something. I went back to my office and no more than an hour later got an email note of apology from the same guy, saying he realized he needed to be more sensitive about how his words could hurt others. I don’t know if he realized it himself or if someone admonished him after I left(“you moron, don’t you know Sanders is gay!”), but I love this story because I think it illustrates that fraternity guys can “get it.” I’ve always enjoyed the fact that I’m openly gay, even an activist, yet can help play a useful role in the Greek system.

So I don’t think you need to make a big deal about it. Just be yourself.

Steve | 13 Feb 2002