National Lesbian Sorority:
Alpha Chi Upsilon is the first multi-cultural social sorority that caters to the lesbian and bisexual community. Their goal is to provide a united sisterhood of positive and intelligent women from all different aspects of life. The National Chapter is in Memphis, TN and two other chapters are in Houston, TX in Nashville, TN.
I had the opportunity to talk to April Blair, the President and Founder of Alpha Chi Upsilon Sorority
Why a lesbian sorority?:
The reason we started a lesbian sorority is to give lesbian and bisexuals a sisterhood with other women. Most sororities are formed to help bond women with similar goals or purposes such as African America, academic, honorary and artistic. Many lesbians who join historical sororities sometimes feel that they truly don't belong. They aren't surrounded around women who can truly understand what it means to be a lesbian. Also many organizations do not openly accept the LGBT community.
When I was interested in a historically black sorority before I came out the closet, I was told by many members (who did not know I was a lesbian) that they would never accept a lesbian in their organization, this is even worse for women who identify as butch/stud, they are many times completely overlooked because of their outer appearance. So a lesbian sorority gives women a chance to be a part of a sisterhood where they can truly be themselves and be completely accepted.
How many members do you have nationwide?:
At the moment we have 11 members nationwide. We have three chapters, Memphis, TN, Houston TX, and Nashville TN. We are currently expanding and looking for positive and motivated women to head chapters in cities all over.
What kinds of things to you do in your sorority?:
We are a social sorority, therefore the majority of our events are of a social background. We have monthly mixers, where women can come together for discussions. We also have fundraisers for AIDS awareness, safe sex awareness, and for local foundations such as the Memphis G & L Community Center. At the moment we are in the process of looking for funding for our project TIGER PAW which is designed to help young lesbians through career prep, college prep and social and business skills.
Have you had any negative repercussions at your college?:
We are a non collegiate Sorority, therefore you do not have to be in school to pledge. We allow women who were denied the pledging process in school the chance to be apart of a Greek sisterhood. We do plan on becoming a part of college campuses, so far at one local campus the response was that students think it will not work on campus or that it will be ignored, but many do applaud our efforts.
Besides being for lesbians, what else is unique about your sorority?:
We are a multi-culturial organization, we have a very strict non discrimination policy. Being lesbian is just a part of us, we are very focused on bringing unity and diversity into the community. By bringing women who may not usually socialize together to learn from eachother, we are bridging gaps that are not only formed in the LGBT community but in the world. If people would just take the time to talk to someone who is different from them, they could learn something new.
One of my best friends fell in love with her sorority sister. It's where they both came out. Is this happening in your sorority?
That is a situation that probably could occur. We have rules designed to cut down on sisters dating. Of course we will not stand in the way of true love, but we tell all sorority members that we prefer that their not be dating within the sorority. We make sure that any couples that join the organization understand that regardless of what happens in their personal lives that it is not to effect sorority business. They must maintain a professional and sisterly level when dealing with sorority issues. We also have rules that state proper sisterly conduct. We understand that like with family, you may not get along with everyone, but you will respect each sister and show proper sisterly conduct in public.
Many people have fantasies about lesbian sororities and will immediately jump to conclusions about what goes on in the sorority house. What really happens in the sorority house?
I am sure that they do. Unfortunately Lesbian and especially bisexual women have many negative stereotypes placed upon them. We are looking to break those stereotypes by showing positive women of all backgrounds and cultures who are lesbian women and are positive. We want to show the world and the straight community that we are here and we are professional and positive women.