| 03.19.2018

Greek Speak: Coming out Greek – Correcting common misconceptions about tolerance in the Greek system


Coming out is never easy.

In fact, most people would rather not come out at all. I know because I never wanted to come out as gay. Everyone”s coming out experience can be different – some people even have coming out experiences multiple times.

Alexander Milles

Coming out can be painful or painless, quick as a text or as long as a lifetime. From telling friends to individual family members, coming out can seem like a daunting task.

Many choose to stay in the closet while they”re in high school – I definitely did. In college, staying in the closet can be a whole different story. When that person is Greek and trying to create everlasting relationships in their brotherhood or sisterhood, their situation is often even more complicated.

Regardless of current progress, such as same-sex marriage legalization in the United States, the reality is that in today”s world people who have different sexual orientations still face a lot of discrimination. It can be tempting for someone to hide their sexuality when it goes against the norm, but it just becomes another added stress.

Often people have the impression that homosexuality is something that is secretly not tolerated in Greek life. This has led to individuals staying closeted because they fear rejection from people within their own organization. Some just choose not to try the Greek experience, even if they think they may enjoy it.

With membership sizes ranging from 30 to 100 members, every single house has a high chance of having at least one member who isn”t heterosexual. As someone who identifies as both gay and Greek, I can personally attest that there have been many individuals in the LGBT community who are in the University of Idaho”s Greek system. No matter the house, people can always find open minded individuals in our Greek system.

The truth, as many Greek members know, is that there will always be members in a house who have different values or opinions, but there is no reason to be afraid of that. Learning to accept people for their differences and working to find a common ground is key for both Greek life and the real world.

Some Greek members will not bat an eye if their brother or sister decides to come out. Others are still learning to accept it.

The point is that the decision to come out is up to the individual and may not seem important or necessary, but it can pave the way for more members to feel comfortable and to be open with themselves and with their house members.

For members of the Greek system, creating an open environment where everyone is accepted is simple – just treat everyone the same. Allowing members to feel comfortable being themselves helps to foster the true brotherhood or sisterhood everyone looks for in a Greek organization.

Being Greek means finding a house that helps them find out more about themselves than they ever knew before. That is what makes each Greek organization not just a house, but a home as well.  

Alexander Milles can be reached at arg-opinion@uidaho.edu

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