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Gay Pledges Battle Stereotypes On Campus


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Gay Pledges Battle Stereotypes On Campus

by The Associated Press

February 4, 2006 - 5:00 pm ET

(Boulder, Colorado) Delta Lambda Phi's rush week began with coffee on Monday and ended with a home-cooked lasagna dinner in the fraternity president's living room on Friday.

In between, pledges of the University of Colorado's only gay fraternity joined for a movie night, a bowling trip and an outing to a gay dance club in Denver.

CU's chapter of Delta Lambda Phi received its charter last year, and has about 15 members in the fraternity that advertises itself as being for "gay, bisexual and progressive men." Seven men participated in this semester's recruitment week, which marked the fraternity's third formal rush.

Cole Stalnaker, a CU student who is president of the fraternity, said he always had wanted to be part of the brotherhood offered by Greek life. He rushed Delta Lambda Phi after transferring to Boulder from a community college in Kansas.

"I wanted to be a part of a fraternity, but I didn't want to feel that I was going to be judged or (misunderstood)," said Stalnaker, a 23-year-old senior who is studying integrated physiology.

A few months after he graduated from high school, Stalnaker came out to his friends, some of whom he had known since first grade. They disappeared.

When Stalnaker's former high school in southern Kansas formed a gay-straight alliance last year, the Rev. Fred Phelps brought his anti-gay and anti-vulgar literature camp there to picket the school board. Phelps, whose church is in Topeka, Kan., rose to national prominence after picketing the funeral of gay murder victim Matthew Shepard in 1999.

"Back there, it's not OK to be gay," Stalnaker said. "It's very dangerous to be out. You get a lot of hate."

Stalnaker said members of the local chapter of Delta Lambda Phi give similar reasons for joining - to make new friends and become more involved in the gay community.

Fraternity members went to Aspen Gay Ski Week together last month, and are planning a spring break trip. Members also network with on-campus and local gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender groups and organize fundraisers. Last year, Delta Lambda Phi organized a drag show to raise money for the Boulder County AIDS Project.

Still, Delta Lambda Phi faces obstacles in recruiting new members and debunking myths about gay fraternity life, Stalnaker said.

Not all gay and bisexual students want to be so public about their sexuality. Also, the fraternity doesn't have long-standing history on campus like traditional Greek organizations, he said.

The fraternity is clear that it is not a network for dating or sex.

"You say the word 'gay,' and I think automatically a lot of people jump to the word 'sex,"' Stalnaker said. "It's not like that at all. It's a stereotype that's reoccurring."

Members of the fraternity are not allowed to be in relationships with one another, unless the pairings existed before pledging the fraternity.

There are about 20 chapters of Delta Lambda Phi nationwide. CU's is the only chapter in Colorado, said Jeremy Charles, national executive director of the fraternity.

Charles said gay and bisexual men often are not comfortable rushing traditional Greek houses.

©365Gay.com 2006


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