On college campuses across America, Greek life has cultivated a reputation and culture of its own. But for UMKC’s newest fraternity, breaking into this world poses unique challenges.
Members of the LGBTQ+ community have long existed within the margins of society, and Greek culture on college campuses is certainly no exception to this.
A Greek organization at UMKC founded by gay men and open to all men, Delta Lambda Phi fraternity, received its official charter last November.
Chapter President Jared McClellan says the fraternity is beyond thrilled.
“Having a charter means Delta Lambda Phi is just starting on this campus and will grow to become an organization that helps make UMKC, and even Kansas City, a better place,” said McClellan.
The fraternity is relatively new to UMKC, having only been established three years ago. According to McClellan, chapter members have spent the last three years proving to the national organization that they can run relatively self-sufficiently and make a difference in their community.
For Delta Lambda Phi, the organization offers an oasis of acceptance in an environment notorious for various forms of discrimination. Fraternities across America have had no shortage of controversies surrounding incidents of homophobia, racism, sexual assault, hazing, alcohol and drug abuse and more. Delta Lambda Phi tries to shed that image and focus its attention on the conventions of service and brotherhood, according to McClellan.
Although they are currently small in number (with only eight members), they are optimistic for their future and the impact they can make within the community.
Delta Lambda Phi focuses heavily on philanthropy and activism that involves the LGBTQ+ community and the UMKC campus.
“We like to focus our efforts to on-campus causes, such as the RooPantry, as well as relabeling the restrooms,” said McClellan. “We have volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House. As a national organization, we are proud supporters of the Trevor Project, a helpline for at-risk LGBTQ+ youth.”
The members of Delta Lambda Phi reject the popular idea of what it means to be a “frat guy,” a term that, to some, may conjure an image of beer funneling, noise complaints and many other forms of adolescent debauchery.
“I think our fraternity shows that Greek life is a focus on bettering yourself academically and socially while also bettering the community you are in through philanthropic and service activities,” said McClellan.
Many LGBTQ+ men have traditionally shied away from Greek life, which has a reputation for being homophobic and heteronormative. However, according to McClellan, the main difference between Delta Lambda Phi and other Greek organizations is that Delta Lambda Phi is very LGBTQ+ inclusive.
While many Greek organizations are making strides to be more inclusive of LGBTQ+ members, according to McClellan, Delta Lambda Phi is unique in that they specifically include transgender men in their fraternity.
Traditionally on college campuses, Greek organizations have relationships with one another as a way of promoting the social aspect of belonging to a fraternity or sorority.
The fraternity is a part of the Interfraternity Council at UMKC, along with three other fraternities.
After trying to be a part of Greek life on campus, some members of Delta Lambda Phi are still having trouble feeling truly included in the heteronormative fraternity culture.
“I feel like I am a part of the community, but my organization not so much,” said McClellan. “Though, since we have chartered, I am working on building connections with other Greek organizations as president of Delta Lambda Phi.”
Now that the fraternity is officially chartered, it seems Delta Lambda Phi is here to stay at UMKC, growing as an on-campus entity striving to make UMKC and the world a more diverse and accepting place.
“I hope to see Delta Lambda Phi thrive,” McClellan said. “I am so excited to see a predominantly LGBTQ+ organization be a major player in Greek life and help get rid of all the negative stereotypes of being in a fraternity, as well as being LGBTQ+.”
For more information regarding UMKC’s Delta Lambda Phi fraternity, visit their Facebook page @UMKCDLP. For more information regarding other LGBTQ+ organizations, events and services visit UMKC’s RooGroups or contact UMKC’s Division of Diversity and Inclusion.