Recently, I read a front page article for The Temple News titled “A more ‘progressive’ fraternity.” The story detailed Joshua Decker’s attempts to rush Greek life, and how his encounters with homophobia within certain fraternities led him to begin the founding process on his own. He felt the need to start his own fraternity because the others saw him as too “visibly gay” for their brotherhood. I sympathize greatly with Joshua – everybody should feel comfortable to be themselves in all situations. It is terrible that he felt so judge for simply being himself.
However, I want Joshua and all the readers of The Temple News to know that his experiences are not representative of Greek Life on Main Campus. First, it is important to note that almost all of the fraternities must sign agreements with their national headquarters to not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation or any other protected class during their recruitment periods. We reviewed this policy at our National Convention in August, and signed an agreement with national headquarters before we were able to begin recruitment.
This is not just an empty policy – almost all of the fraternities at Temple have gay brothers. One of our brothers is gay, and I can honestly say that when it came time to discuss his candidacy when he came out for recruitment, his sexual orientation was not mentioned once. All that we cared about was that he was a good man and that he embodied the ideals of the fraternity. He did, so we all voted to give him a bid. That is all any fraternity cares about: finding quality men to join them in their endeavors.
In fact, as recently as 2012, the Interfraternity Council, which governs the social fraternities on campus, elected a gay man as its president. If all of the fraternities can agree that a gay man should represent them to the University, that he best represents what they all stand for, then they certainly could not also be homophobic.
Unfortunately, as the saying goes, it only takes one bad apple to ruin the bunch. If anybody feels discriminated at one of our recruitment events, it is easy to paint all of us with a giant brush as homophobes. That is what makes it so difficult for fraternities today to maintain a good public image – one bad story becomes the narrative for the entire system.
So I hope that any fraternity brother reading this, no matter his letters, will recognize how important it is that we all treat each other as equals. If even one among us holds homophobic views, it is one too many and we must teach each other to not discriminate and to be tolerant.
I also hope that if Joshua is reading this, that he understands that most of the fraternities on campus do not discriminate, and that I am truly sorry that he had such a bad experience. I wish him the best of luck in founding his own fraternity, and I hope that we will see him and his brothers around campus and getting involved in the community soon.
Justin Diaz is a senior media studies and production major and the president of Sigma Alpha Mu.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.