Howard Group Discusses Being Gay and Greek PDF Print E-mail
By Kristen Briscoe -- Black College Wire   

More than 100 students and faculty packed into Room 136 of Douglass Hall to listen to a panel discussion about being gay while in a Greek sorority or fraternity.
The event was hosted by CASCADE, which is the first gay/straight alliance on the campus of an HBCU. Theara Coleman, a sophomore English major and chair of the event, said, "The purpose of this discussion is to break down preconceived notions of Greek organizations."

The Hilltop
Students and faculty joined the discussion
The discussion consisted of six Howard students and alumni, all of whom are openly gay and part of a Greek sorority or fraternity. The panelists were asked questions dealing with their experiences in these organizations.
Valerie Jones, an alumna, said, "When I told my sorority sisters that I was gay, they were supportive and I wasn't harassed."
"It's because of the leader that I am, that I was brought into the organization, not my sexuality," Jones said.
Charity Jackson, a senior Spanish major said, "My sorority sisters were really accepting, and I didn't experience any negativity. Some already knew, and I felt like it was my job to tell them, because they are my sisters."
Teron Stocks, a senior human development major, said, "I wanted to join a Greek organization because I wanted to have more relationships with heterosexual males. And being that my organization is co-ed, I've learned a lot from both the men and the women."
One of the more controversial questions asked to the panel was how they balance being a part of a Greek organization, while remaining true to their own identity.
"I don't fit into anyone's mold, but it's not about me, it's about the organization that I serve," Jones said. "You have to hold yourself accountable to your organization."
"What I do behind closed doors doesn't affect my ability to participate in my organization," Stocks said. "I shouldn't have to feel like an alien because I'm gay."
Kenyatta Hobson, community director at Meridian Hill Hall, said, "We must educate ourselves on the signals we are sending. There is a time and place for everything."
Although the discussion began to get heated, Coleman had to bring the event to an end around 9 p.m. Portia Herndon, a freshman computer engineering major, is not a member of CASCADE yet, but comes to the meeting regularly.
"I've been coming to CASCADE because it is a time and place to vent with, and meet, other people that are like you," Herndon said.
"CASCADE is a coalition of students celebrating and promoting the tolerance of diversity," Joseph Reaves, a junior political science major, said. "Our organization just celebrated our ten-year anniversary."
CASCADE holds weekly meetings on Friday in Blackburn, where it serves as a safe place for people to come out and discuss their sexuality.
Dominic Ripoli, a senior legal communication major and CASCADE parliamentarian, said CASCADE works closely with the Human Rights Committee and engages in phone banking to help legislation get passed, so workplaces will not discriminate against a
person for being gay.
Ripoli said CASCADE was invited to attend the National Black Justice Coalition and the Congressional Black Caucus two weeks ago.
"It's important to have organizations like CASCADE on campus," Galen Williams, a sophomore musical theatre major and CASCADE member, said. "It's hard enough as it is to be gay, but it's nice to have an organization at Howard where you have people to support your sexuality."

Kristen Briscoe writes for The Hilltop, the Howard University student newspaper, which originally published this article.

Posted Oct. 16, 2010
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