WLU ’21 — Liability

In 2018, the Vigil reported that, at the time, at least four LGBTQ+ identifying students had been kicked out of frat parties due to their gender and/or sexuality. These events should indict the Greek system for its openly exclusionary dominance of social spaces and its rewarding of toxic masculinity and blatant homophobia under a system built exclusively for cishets. However, instead the emotional burden has been placed upon queer students within the W&L community as we are left unsure about our ability to participate openly in W&L social culture, lest our safety be threatened through harassment, exclusion, and the potential for violence. Because of these events, I have never felt entirely safe in a frat party setting.

But even before these events became public, I knew fraternity spaces were not ones interested in incorporating my queerness into them.

My first year at a party I overheard a conversation between a group of fraternity members complaining about the annual Equality Gala and that queer students were taking over everything and trying to force “gay stuff” down their throats. However, combine these microaggressions with the knowledge that my friends and fellow community members had been explicitly removed from Greek spaces solidified my anxiety around the W&L social scene. 

Because I am one of a limited number of students on campus who are openly gender nonconforming and I cannot “pass” for straight because of my speech and mannerisms, I have often felt unsafe at frat parties for fear that if I draw too much attention to myself, the house residents and frat members present might think I’m overstepping my bounds as a queer person, as apparently we have done with the Equality Gala and other LGBTQ+ friendly events

My identity as a femme and the queerness through which I live my life, something I take pride in normally, becomes a liability in Greek spaces that I must keep in check, lest I be quite literally removed from the premises. An awareness to this reality has manifested itself in a nervousness at frat parties, where I feel obligated to be hyper-aware of my surroundings and behaviors, avoiding men I don’t know and making sure I’m not ever away from my friends. My worst fear is that I will say or do something in front of a man or group of men at a frat party that will lead to retaliation on their part. I have learned to center the comfort of cis, straight men in social scenes. If I don’t I’m scared of what might happen.

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