UW organization is connecting Greek life and the LGBTQ community

SEATTLE — On the University of Washington campus, an organization is working to bridge the gap between Greek life and the LGBTQ community.

Greek Pride is now connecting queer students within the university’s Greek community.

At the university, there is a long history of Greek life.

Incoming freshmen are introduced to the longstanding traditions of joining a fraternity or sorority. But for some, finding their safe space within that community can be difficult. That is when the student-run ogranization Greek Pride steps in to give students a place to find comfort among fellow queer members.

Junior Sean Haney went from attending his first meeting as a freshman to becoming president of the organization two years later. It is an achievement he is proud of. One of his most notable accomplishments was strengthening the relationship between interfraternity and panhellenic councils providing Greek Pride resources.

“They provide us with our funding. We’re also involved in their new member orientation and projects. It’s been really successful introducing the idea of Greek Pride to every incoming new member and ensuring that everyone that comes into the Greek system knows that this community exists,” Haney said.

Haney said that sometimes, there could be a negative connotation of gay people among fraternities and sororities and vice versa, but Greek Pride is there to build a bridge between them.

“There is also a negative image of fraternity and sorority members within the gay community. A lot of the time when I’m going out let’s say in Capitol Hill, a queer space, like I’ll tell people I’m in a fraternity and they’ll laugh at me, so there definitely is a stereotype that exists that these two communities need to be mutually exclusive, and Greek Pride is here to show that they don’t,” said Haney.

He also said that Greek Pride is working to change the culture of the Greek system and its traditions to better accommodate queer and nonbinary people. That starts with bringing awareness to old traditions like serenades.

“The idea exists that you’re introducing young men to young women and facilitating future relationships. There’s no effort to introduce fraternity men with other fraternity men, if they’re gay or the same thing with sorority women and sorority women. So that’s the hole that Greek Pride fills. We can facilitate those connections when you’ve got all these traditions around you that are not sort of created to help people,” said Haney.

Greek Pride coordinates with larger queer groups within the university and volunteers with city food banks and shelters.

Haney also wants members and people who are thinking of joining to know they are in a safe space that caters to them and welcomes students from all walks of life.