College '04: Back to School
By Richard Morgan
There's a lot about frat boys that's pretty gay already. Pledging loving submission to men who paddle, strip, and drink their way into each other's hearts'c'mon, guys. Still, there's perhaps no college where gay Greek life means more than at the University of Virginia, where alternative life used to mean wearing an orange tie with blue stripes rather than a blue tie with orange stripes. The landscape is already flush with preppy Southerners in plenty of secret societies as well as fraternities'and now one group is officially gay, out, and proud.
This year a club called Out on Rugby became a chapter of Delta Lambda Phi, a nationwide gay frat house. But it's not the first group to offer fraternal men-on-men loving. The Greek Men's Club, started in fall 2003, involves about a dozen members of varying levels of outness who belong to 'straight frat houses' and meet in a secret location that changes every two weeks. Matt Maring (Delta Upsilon), an '04 grad, started the group. 'People are finally growing up and realizing that gays aren't bad, that they don't go Greek to get ass,' he says. Despite changing attitudes, he adds, 'There are still so many secrets out there in the UVA Greek system.' He notes, 'Our group is not a gay Greek circle jerk. It's a place where people feel comfortable being themselves, finding other kids in the same situation. It's brotherhood.'
One club member who's partially out spoke anonymously because of the ROTC program. A junior in a frat that had an out president, he's out to about a third of his 30-some brothers. He doesn't hide his sexuality; he just doesn't broadcast it. 'When I came out, it felt natural. It wasn't because of pressure,' he says. 'That's the thing. I know my brothers love me. There's never pressure in a bad way. Not really.'
The guys at the University of California, Berkeley, aren't hot. Or cold. They're perfectly warm in the sunny East Bay 24/7, all year round. This means that there's always a healthy dose of men lingering around the campus shirtless, tanned, and shirtless (yeah, we said it twice, but seriously, it deserves to be said twice). 'From March to November you see a lot of guys in skimpy clothes, sleeveless shirts, and'hmm, what was I saying?' muses Sun Tang, a junior and head facilitator of Cal Q&A (queer and Asian). 'Within the gay community there's so much diversity too. Punks, goths, activists, homebodies, guys looking for relationships at the ripe age of 21 to last their whole lives. There's something for every kind of hot.'
For much more about the best colleges for gays, pick up the September issue of Out.