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Gay, Bisexual Fraternity Begins Rush in Boston

By Mike Hall
STAFF REPORTER

The Boston colony of Delta Lambda Phi, a national fraternity for gay, bisexual, and progressive men will conduct its first information session for its spring rush tonight at 7:00 p.m. in the Coffeehouse.

“Gay people need a supporting group of friends,” said Mark Seelig ’01, DLP’s sole MIT member. Seelig’s interest in DLP grew from his involvement with other MIT queer organizations, combined with his interest in the Greek system.

“I saw aspects of fraternity life that I thought were incredible,” Seelig said, “especially the close relationships between brothers.”

Fraternity offers support, family

DLP President Paul S. Mercurio, an earth sciences major at Boston University, started the local colony as a way to form close friendships with a variety of people. “I really wanted to connect to people,” Mercurio said, adding that he is interested in rushing men of all backgrounds and sexual orientations.

“I wasn’t going to join at first,” stated Christian P. Pintock, a music major at the New England Conservatory and DLP’s secretary and treasurer. After meeting Mercurio at Tufts University’s annual Safe Colleges Conference, Pintock started thinking about rushing DLP.

“I was meeting all these these people [at area universities] that I otherwise wouldn’t have met,” Pintock added. “It’s like a family.”

“Hands-off” policy among rules

While most queer organizations in Boston’s university community, including GAMIT, have supported the organization of DLP, some have questioned the true intentions of gay fraternal life.

Michael K. Tan, co-chairman of the Harvard-Radcliffe Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, and Supporters Alliance, is supportive of the basic idea behind DLP, but also believes that “if anything’s going to draw people, it’s going to be the meat-market factor.”

Seelig was quick to dismiss this suggestion, emphasizing that DLP has a policy against relationships between big brothers and little brothers, as well as restrictions against members of the same pledge class engaging in a relationship.

DLP’s intent, Seelig stated, is to provide “an opportunity to get to know [other gay men] outside a relationship.” Relationships between brothers, though, are not officially forbidden.

Tan also questioned the exclusiveness of an all-male fraternity in the larger queer community. “Our officers,” Tan stated, “are heavily vested in queer politics that rely on cross-gender groups.” Tan also voiced concern that, as a fraternity, DLP would attract predominately white and upper-class men.

“The goal of [DLP] is to share the experience of gay men,” Pintock stated in response, adding that females in the Boston area could petition for a chapter in Lambda Delta Lambda, the nation’s most publicized lesbian sorority. To allay concerns about DLP being viewed as an elitist organization, Pintock stated that fraternity dues - already low at $110/year for pledges and $50/year for brothers - could be waived by those needing financial support.

MIT frat community supportive

Reaction among leaders in MIT’s fraternity community to DLP has been largely positive.

“Each member of the IFC has its own unique attributes that appeal to certain rushees,” said. Interfraternity Council President-elect Damien A. Brosnan ’01. “DLP’s status as a homosexual fraternity would be no different in my opinion.”

Currently, MIT recognizes two fraternities -- Alpha Phi Alpha and Kappa Alpha Psi -- that are aimed specifically at African-Americans. Assistant Dean Neal H. Dorow, advisor to MIT’s FSILGs, stated that DLP would probably receive similar recognition from MIT as a special interest group. “If [DLP] affords those students the opportunity that a fraternity or sorority can offer,” Dorow added, “it is very positive.”

Brosnan also encouraged DLP in its spring rush, adding that he saw “no problem with DLP rushing as a special interest group.”

Founded in 1986, DLP is the first and largest national fraternity aimed at homosexual and bisexual men. In its second year locally, DLP currently has seven members throughout the Boston area, including students at MIT, Tufts, and Boston University.

DLP’s pledge program is non-hazing and involves community service projects, education in fraternity history, and fundraising.

DLP’s spring rush schedule, news and contacts are available at <http://dlp.mit.edu.> The national homepage for DLP is located at <http://www.dlp.org.>

Jordan Rubin contributed to the reporting of this story.