Gay Brotherhood: Antithesis of the 'Animal House' Drunken Excesses

"The heart of our mission is to foster brotherhood through service, recreation and academic activities," Maggiacomo said.

As Greek Membership Drops, a New Presence

A gay fraternity might be viewed as an oxymoron, in light of criticism that has been lobbed at the Greek system in the last few decades. National membership has been on the decline, and fraternities have been accused of everything from excessive drinking to racism and homophobia.

Last year at the University of Vermont, the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity was suspended for allegedly serving drinks to underage students and making prospective members wear cowboy outfits while they were taunted with homophobic language during a party that had a theme on the gay-based movie "Brokeback Mountain."

Criminal charges against the fraternity are still pending, but the university took swift action against the students, hitting them with monetary fines and educational requirements, according to UVM spokesman Enrique Corredera.

Only about 10 percent of the student body participates in Greek life, he said.

"The University has no tolerance for behavior that creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment based on someone's perceived or real identity," said an official statement released in December 2006.

Maggiacomo regards the UVM incident as an aberration.

"This is typical of a fraternity that makes bad choices," he said. "We've heard all the horror stories, and I think that is why most people are under the assumption that all fraternities binge drink, wear stupid costumes and jump out of windows."

Can a Fraternity Change People's Perceptions?

As for homophobia, "a gay fraternity does not have the power to efface it completely from campus communities, but Delta Lambda Phi's presence has certainly changed opinions and misconceptions about gay college men," Maggiacomo said.

Nationally, Delta Lambda Phi has seen "amazing growth," he said, and only accepts five requests for a colony per semester. The fraternity even has a chapter at Southern Methodist University in Texas, where fraternity and football are king.

National spokesman Hubach confirms that this year 75 groups have shown an interest in joining the fraternity, but many colleges have waiting lists because they are "cracking down" on Greek life. The University of Southern California, for example, is not accepting new fraternities until 2010, he said.

Hubach got involved after being "blackballed" by a conventional fraternity at Southern Methodist University several years ago when he began dating a brother. He liked the goals of Lambda to serve and lead in multicultural communities.

"A lot of gentlemen rushed and got turned off when they didn't fit in," he said. "Our fraternity fits a different mold. It has brotherhood and helps others. We don't just throw parties."

Delta Lambda Phi is not a gay activist group or a sex club, although its "ideal" members are "sophisticated and politically minded," said Maggiacomo.

Still, he says, "we are gay men and knowing what decisions are taking place in Congress and how it affects our lives, we would not be doing our jobs if we didn't discuss what is happening in the news."

NYU Inter-Greek Council President Heather Kortholl told the New York Post that forming a gay fraternity was "a natural step" at a diverse city college like NYU.

But, Maggiacomo said, "There are challenges at other universities where the fraternity culture is huge, but the acceptance of gays is not so high."

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