Special

Frats adopt 'gay philosophy' to better embrace Greek roots

Democracy. Geometry. Homosexuality. The Greeks have given us many things. But while we can vote for the best queen at a Pythagorean drag show, not all that glitters is Greek. While the Aegean ripples, azure and ancient, and the yogurt fountains of Athens yield their sour bounty still, there is yet a stain on the Hellenic tradition. I am of course referring to fraternities. Hotbeds of hazing, exclusion, and sexual harassment, frats have fallen from grace faster than Hephaestus down Olympus. Knowing this, campus frat Beta Theta Pi looks to their Greek forebears for wisdom. Will these bros climb the holy mountain, or remain cast down in Tartarus?

Beta President Nathaniel Richards cites a toga party as the initial source of his inspiration. “It just felt so superficial, ya know? Like, there are Greek letters on the building and the only Greek thing I’d done that whole day was eat Chobani and wear a curtain. I thought, what’s the Greek-est thing I could do right this second? So I grabbed a copy of the Republic off the shelf and made out with my bro Kyle.” For Nathaniel, this moment of pensive passion seemed a trifle at first. Locking lips with another student at a frat party is industry standard at this point. But Nathaniel, Kyle, and soon their entire house felt something change. Like the Augean stable, that kiss cleaned the filth of toxic masculinity that had caked their Platonic cave. Now came the Herculean task of making sure it didn’t accumulate again.

“We all agreed, the best thing for us to do was to embrace our Greek roots. So we thought, what’s more ancient-Greek than philosophical homoeroticism?” Nathaniel says, flipping through pages of Socratic dialogue and drinking a kale smoothie. “Obviously there was some pushback. Obviously not everyone in the frat was instantly gay, although a lot more people were closeted than I knew. What we really want to do was open our minds and bodies to new possibilities.” Beta has treated its new shift as one focused on self-reflection through both intellectual and sexual avenues.

“Sure, I read 'Meditations' like a good little bro when I first got to college, but have you cuddled next to your boyfriend while you both recite Diogenes?” asks chemistry junior and solipsistic twink Kevin Lee.

“I would say that before the Odyssey, I was just barely questioning. Now I finally feel comfortable exploring my sexuality in a space I previously didn’t,” says C.S. sophomore and epistemological power bottom Eddy Rodrigues. When asked what he meant by the “Odyssey,” Rodrigues explained that was what they called the great shift in the frat’s culture. “We’re all just a bunch of hot guys trying to find ourselves.”

Beta will keep the same frat rhythms, but with gay, Grecian twists. Kegs of olive oil will share room with Yuengling. Recruitment events will include visits to the Carnegie Art Museum and local bar Blue Moon. Parties will still be held, but on the lawn with lyres and sweet wine, rather than in basements with Soundcloud and spiked punch.

This “Odyssey” that Beta is undergoing has been an inspiration. Membership has increased, and other frats have begun following suit. What’s more, even sororities have begun to rethink their culture through the lens of Mediterranean queerness. “Last I heard, some gals from Phi Mu started taking growth hormones and shooting arrows at Title IX offenders,” Richards recounts smilingly, lazily tossing a grape into his supple mouth.

Every organization has its problems, and the answer is not always as simple as reading Aristotle and spooning your friends. Queer and yogurt culture are not magic bullets against toxicity any more than a gay kombucha can make your aunt less racist. But Beta Theta Pi has shown that sometimes moving forward means looking backward.