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

NYU's Campus Embraces Lambda

According to the North-America Interfraternity Conference, 350,000 undergraduates join fraternities and sororities in 5,500 chapters on 800 campuses around the country.

At some Southern schools, membership reaches 70 percent, but at NYU, only about 4 percent of the student body pledges Greek, according to Marybeth Johnson, coordinator for fraternities and sororities.

"For years, there have been concerns nationally about membership in fraternities declining," Johnson said. "We hear comments that NYU is not a likely place for Greek life, and I would say it's the complete opposite. You come to a huge university in a city that is incomprehensible to them, and they are looking for some way to make it smaller. The fraternity becomes a home for them."

Delta Lambda Phi has already made its mark on the NYU campus, Johnson said, and other fraternities have "embraced them with open arms."

"They have helped change perspectives on what it means to be in a sorority or fraternity and what it means to Greek," Johnson said. "They aspire to the same leadership, scholarship and service. They have been a joy to work with, and they will do really great things for this university."

At Dartmouth College -- where "Animal House" draws an "Oh my God" response from deans who know the inevitable comparisons to Dean Wormer's Faber College are inescapable -- an inclusive view of fraternities is also afoot.

There, about 60 percent of the students join fraternities and sororities, and the number is rising.

"We have made huge progress," said Deborah Carney, the school's coordinator of fraternities and sororities. "You hear about the old stereotypes, but the demons [of] alcohol, hazing, homophobia and racism happened in all colleges and are not just centered on the Greek letter organizations."

In the last two years, three Dartmouth sororities have had presidents who were "out lesbians," and the national Lambda 10 Project, unrelated to Delta Lambda Phi, is helping the entire community make Dartmouth a self-described "welcoming community" for students of all sexual orientations.

Still, NYU's new gay fraternity hopes to provide more than acceptance with a strong "support system" for its members, who are at "all levels of discretion with family and friends," said Maggiacomo, meaning not all of them have gone public with their sexual identities.

"Some are coming out, and others have never thrust themselves out of the closet. Yet we share the same experiences," Maggiacomo said.

Over spring break this year, the 11 NYU Delta Lambda Phi members traveled to Puerto Rico together and found their vacation a bonding experience that might not have happened had the students been part of a conventional fraternity.

"We had some unbelievable conversations," said Maggiacomo. "We talked about our future and what are our lives would be like as gay dads in New York. This fraternity is really different, and I get all sentimental and emotional about it. They give me assurances that when I am of age and have kids and have someone I love, I will have a group of friends who have gone through the same situation I have, and I can call them brothers."

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