LGBT on the HBCU Yard: The Rise of an LGBT Greek Organization

To a certain extent, yes, the African American community is making strides in and outside their community. Every month, every year, we seem to always overcome some obstacle and set a new record for our people. While we are always proud of our achievements, still, portions of our community are still behind. Women of darker complexions, children and families in low-income areas, and of course, members of the LGBT community are just a few of the examples of the areas we still need help in. 

For years the discussion amongst the black community is whether or not queer people of color belong and where do they fit in. “Can they even fit is?”, is often the question asked. The question appears more often when queer people of color come into the discussion of Black Greek Letter Organizations and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Many interviews, scholar articles, and news reports have discussed the issues and topics around being gay at an HBCU or in a Black Greek Letter Organization; as time went on and as we got further into the 2000’s, the once taboo topic started to unravel and is beginning to see the light of day. Towards the end of the 2000’s and at the beginning of the 2010’s, we started to see a shift the views of gays being at an HBCU, even saw some organizations emerge. 

Some have heard and others may have joked about it but yes, there are fraternities and sororities dedicated to the LGBT community. They’re usually off campus and nowhere in sight of your school (some of them have also been chastised and harassed, as I wrote about in a previous article), but in recent years, LGBT Greek organizations have been more visible to the black community and to the public. Recently, an LGBT organization was not only out and proud, but they made a new mark in a traditional setting.

The Eta Alpha chapter of Sigma Omega Phi Fraternity is the first African American gay Greek fraternity to successfully colonize on not only a college campus but an HBCU. Calling Texas Southern University as their home, the Eta Alpha Chapter had their first pledges and first probate in Sawyer Hall on April 19th. Sigma Omega Phi Fraternity Inc., is a national collegiate community service fraternity for lesbian women that consider themselves to be masculine-identified, dominant, aggressive, or stud. Members strive to exhibit excellence and encourage it in others including the community at large. It is SOP's goal to give dominant lesbian woMEN greater ability to express themselves, work for their communities and enjoy the Greek fraternity experience free of prejudice or injustice. SOP is the first LGBT black Greek-lettered organization to found a military chapter, MU Chapter, to meet the specific needs of active military members. And, SOP was the first-ever Greek- lettered organization to be awarded the Grand Marshall title for Atlanta Pride. 

This is a bold statement and a historic move for the LGBT community. Considering in recent events members of the Divine 9 have harassed members of LGBT Greek organizations, will this bring forth the discussion of homophobia in Greek life? Will Black and Gay Greek Letter Organizations come together and try to understand and support each other? Only time will tell.

Congratulations to the newest members of Sigma Omega Phi and we will be reporting on this story the more it develops.