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Published: Saturday, 10/16/2004

Fraternities for gay men envisioned at UT, BGSU

BY KIM BATES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A new university fraternity could be established in local Greek Villages soon - one that's geared toward gay men.

Efforts are under way at the University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University to form local chapters of national gay fraternities, which, if established, would mark the first at each campus.

At BGSU, flyers posted around campus seek men interested in forming a chapter of the Delta Lambda Phi National Social Fraternity. At UT, students posted flyers and used chalk on pavement to announce a meeting on the issue.

"Gay? Go Greek," was recently scrawled outside the UT Student Union, with a meeting date and location listed as well.

Ron Binder, director of Greek affairs at BGSU, said the university supports a student-led effort to form the fraternity. He said it's reflective of a national movement across college campuses, one that's prompted by students becoming more aware of various sexual orientations.

"I see this as kind of the wave that's working across the country as students want more choice," Mr. Binder said. "I see [the fraternities] happening at both Bowling Green and UT."

Nicky Damania, a graduate student who serves as an adviser to the BGSU Vision group - which is geared to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students - said he's hopeful there will be enough men to create the fraternity.

He said four students have expressed interest so far, but eight are needed. Mr. Damania said the group would start on its own and not immediately seek to become a university-recognized fraternity.

The fraternity would provide a social and public service outlet for students while also serving as a support base for gay men, he said.

"The support is the main thing for a lot of guys, especially being in such a small community," he said.

BGSU would like to affiliate with the Delta Lambda Phi fraternity, which already has chapters in Ohio at Kent State University, Ohio University, Ohio State University, and one in Cincinnati. None is established at any Michigan schools, according to the group's Web site.

The fraternity is geared toward gay, bisexual, and progressive men, which means straight men could join, Mr. Damania said.

Delta Lambda Phi said it has 30 chapters and colonies across the nation.

At UT, officials and students declined to name the fraternity they hope to affiliate with, citing concerns that they could violate requirements of affiliating with the national group.

But their work is being lauded by campus leaders.

"We would support this effort," said Patience Bartunek, coordinator for Greek Life and assistant director for student judicial affairs.

Ms. Bartunek said she was aware of the students' preliminary efforts but said they haven't approached her to discuss the possibility of making the fraternity a campus group.

Contact Kim Bates at:

kimbates@theblade.com

or 419-724-6074.



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