A different kind of frat
by Jake Brennan, BA’97
When you hear “fraternity,” “gay” isn’t generally the next word that comes to mind. To provide an alternative to what could charitably be called the heteronormative tradition of the Greek college system, Delta Lambda Phi Social Fraternity opened its first chapter for “progressive men” (gay or gay-friendly) at Washington University in 1987. Twenty-five years and 28 chapters later, McGill is the newest addition to the DLP universe, and Canada’s first official gay fraternity.
Sam Reisler, BA’11, contacted DLP in 2009, hoping to create a gay social environment at McGill free of gender politics. Says Michael D’Alimonte, the current president who guided McGill’s colony to full chapter status in February, “Honestly, I don’t think of myself as a political person at all, which is why I really like DLP – I don’t have to take a certain stance and be radical.” Instead, members simply socialize and guide each other through gay-unique situations, like coming out to one’s family. They also fundraise for Alterheroes.com, a Montreal-based queer social network that provides similar support online.
Not only are members not busy chasing skirts, then, but in a setting that could easily redefine “fraternizing,” DLP brothers maintain a strict hands-off policy toward recruits. “There’s plenty of fish in the sea. You don’t need the fraternity to meet someone” is the guiding philosophy during tryouts, says D’Alimonte, who is proud to combat “the meat-market stereotype that straight people have of gay culture.” Still, he admits, romances between brothers do inevitably spring up. “When you hang out so much and share similar interests, it’s bound to happen.” Chalk it up to DLP’s unspoken mission to help reclaim the original meaning of “gay”: happy.