Panel says Greeks, LGBT still at odds
Four panelists spoke Wednesday at the Gay & Greek Panel Discussion about their experiences in the Greek community and how they felt to be âoutâ and on The Row.
The panel, part of the Queer and Ally Student Associationâs celebration of Coming Out month, is part of an effort to bring different facets of the USC community together, said Emily Allen, executive director of QuASA.
âStereotypically, the Greek community is one that has been known to be different from the gay community,â Allen said. âWe want to see where those differences are coming from and encourage communication between the different communities.â
David Salter, a USC alumnus of the class of 2006 and panelist, said he never explicitly talked about his sexuality during rush.
âI was told they were aware of it, but they let me in anyway. I always had this idea that there was a line I had to toe,â Salter said. âIt was great that I was in, but I couldnât push my luck.â
Salter said he felt he had to maintain a specific image to fit in within his fraternity.
âI would make the jokes before they could so they didnât make the jokes and I felt bad,â Salter said. âTo them it was kind of like, âOK, youâre not too gay for us.â For me, it was like I was trying very hard but I want to be myself.â
Salter said most students are not usually conscious of how often they use the terms.
âThere are a lot of genuinely good people out there who do and say things that could be genuinely damaging, and I donât really know what to do with that,â Salter said. âThere are a lot of people who say things like, âThatâs gayâ and donât think it will hurt or offend anyone.â
For panelist Mary Walsh, a senior majoring in gender studies and creative writing, being bisexual in a sorority has made the Greek community an interesting experience.
âThe whole frat culture kind of turns me off about living on The Row. Itâs very misogynistic,â Walsh said. âThat kind of culture makes it hard to not only be out on The Row, but thereâs this whole culture of, âGet the girls, get those girls.ââ
Though Walsh said she loves her sorority, she does not find girls to be more accepting.
âAs much as people like to think of girls as being more open-minded about homosexuality, how many lesbians do you see walking around campus in letters?â Walsh asked. âI have heard of a few women who are closeted in sororities, but Iâve never met them. Theyâre like Santa Claus to me.â
Max Rubin, a sophomore majoring in animation and digital arts, said his experience in a fraternity has been a very positive one.
âTheyâre so good about it that theyâre afraid to offend me,â Rubin said. âItâs always really silly questions that are mostly sexual. The challenge is getting them to be comfortable and have them say what they want around me.â
AndrĂ¨ Moss, a sophomore majoring in theatre and English, said he came to the panel because he thought it would be interesting, despite not wanting to join a fraternity.
âIf I had an interest in rushing, I wouldnât let being gay stop me. I donât have a lot of guy friends, so if I did rush, that would be the main reason I would do it,â Moss said.
Lauren Dawson, a junior majoring in international relations and neuroscience, said the discussion was positive for the audience as well.
âI was really glad that the panelists were so open about sharing their experiences. There was some self-reflection among the panelists and that was really interesting to witness,â Dawson said.
Despite discussing some difficulties of being gay and in the Greek system, all of the panelists agreed that they would rush and join the same house if they could do it again.