Speaker explores LGBT in Greek Community

By Courtney Klemm

Greek life is supposed to consist of lifelong sisterhood and brotherhood, but homophobia is a well-known stereotype of the Greek community. In a presentation called “Out and Greek,” Shane Windmeyer, author and educator on sexual orientation issues and Greek life, will be speaking about the issues surrounding gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the Greek system tonight at 9 in Room A of the Illini Union.

“He’s pioneering something that’s never been done before,” said Kevin Hauswirth, junior in LAS and founder of Greek Allies, a support system for gays and lesbians in the Greek community. “The Greek system is very heterosexist and deals a lot with gender roles. It’s a very hard environment for people to come out.”

Illini Union Board, Greek Allies and the Panhellenic, Interfraternity and LGBT communities coordinated the event. Natalie Davis, program advisor for the Illini Union Board, said these organizations wanted to bring someone to campus to talk about a cross-section of issues. Windmeyer will speak about issues of hate, being an ally to the LGBT community and ways to talk about being a member of both the LGBT community and the Greek community, Davis said.

Windmeyer, who attended Emporia State University in Kansas, came out to his fraternity in 1992. According to his Web site, Lambda10.org, Windmeyer focuses on his personal experience to destroy stereotypes that bring about homophobia. The site also explores some of the myths about being gay to give college students a greater understanding of sexual orientation.

“(LGBT rights) is the social movement of our generation,” Hauswirth said. “It’s exploding at a government level and more people are becoming aware of these issues.”

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    Davis said she anticipates a huge turnout at the event.

    “I think we will have a packed house,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of support from the Greek community and from the LGBT community.”

    Lindsay McCray, junior in education, said she is excited to attend Windmeyer’s presentation.

    “I think it will be interesting and will be good to hear a Greek’s perspective (on being gay) and the issues he encountered,” she said. “I think it’s an important issue and one that’s not widely accepted on all college campuses, especially in the Greek system. Greeks are such a big part of our campus and with the stereotypes, people may be afraid of coming out.”

    Davis said she feels this is an important message for college students to hear.

    “This is the perfect age. People listen to the concerns they have,” she said. “A lot of college students are preparing for the real world. They are the next generation moving in to create change.”