As a former member of the Greek community during my four years at Michigan, I was very pleased to read Nicole Aber’s article in The Statement (Gay and Greek, 01/13/2010). While I look back at my college years and realize that I began to recognize then that I was gay, I did not come out until three years after I graduated. I am happy to see that the Interfraternity Council and Pan-Hellenic Council have worked to make the system more aware of LGBT issues and friendlier to the gay and lesbian community.
I would like to raise one point that I think the author failed to address. Individuals often choose to stay in the closet not because they are afraid of telling other people, but because they are still confused about who they are and are simply not ready. Some individuals realize their orientation at a certain point in their lives and quickly become comfortable with who they are. However, for others (including myself), coming out is not a light-switch moment. It can entail a thought and reflection process, and even some situational avoidance that might stretch over a period of months or even years.
I understand the concerns of individuals who feel they may act disloyal to their fraternity brothers by hiding their sexual orientation. Membership in a fraternity involves a special bond among its brothers. Yet, coming-out involves very personal and complicated issues for an individual to grapple with. No fraternity pledge should feel obligated that they must reveal their orientation to fellow brothers as a contingent for initiation. However, if the Greek system continues to raise awareness of these issues, it will only help to raise the comfort level for an individual to come out when they are prepared to do so.