Dear Closeted Fraternity Brother,
You might very well know who I am. After all, I have met and befriended roughly fourteen guys like you on this campus (yes, I keep count!), and a few of you have even read this wonderful blog (out of curiosity, of course... what was that phrase again? "No homo," right?). I wish I could say that I write on here often, but I don't. I do not presume to understand the struggle that is LGBTQ-affiliation in an often-bigoted world. I do, however, presume to understand the awesomeness that is Greek life at Duke: I go out. I drink. And I rage. A lot. I like to dance in the cage with my sorority sisters at Shooter's, on Saturdays I like to dress up like some version of a skanky blue collar worker for Tailgate, and, most importantly, I like to go to all of your fraternity's events, whether it's SigNu Seafood, Pikes of the Caribbean, or DTD's Iced Out.
It is at events like these where, before I begin making my own poor life decisions, you drunkenly come up to me and, with a sneaky smile, tell me you heard that I "hang out with a lot of homos." I tell you that it's not nice to phrase it that way, but, yes, many of my friends are gay. You say it's okay for you to phrase it that way because you could be "a homo," too. I tell you that that is a very significant thing to admit, and that I had no idea you were questioning. A look of fear appears on your face, and you tell me you've "done sh** with guys before," but you were "just really drunk," and it probably doesn't mean anything. I ask you if you want to talk about it sometime over coffee. You get angry and tell me to "f*** off" and that, if I tell anyone what you just told me, I shouldn't bother showing up to your section parties anymore.
At first, these conversations leave me feeling hurt and confused. But, the more that they happen, the more they just feel predictably normal. I have gotten used to being both your confidante and your verbal punching bag. And while it is nice to be confided in, it is not very nice to be used as a convenient sounding board and then threatened because I was the "fag hag" in your drunken line of fire. You and I are friends, and friends do not say or do these things to each other. The only instance I can think of for a friend to logically act like this is if they are feeling angry and alone. As you know, I say and do mean things when I feel angry and alone. So, when I think of what's eating at your soul right now, I imagine that you, my friend, must be feeling very angry and alone.
I wanted to write to you to tell you that you are not at all alone. Not to toot my own horn (after our years or months or days of friendship, you surely must know how big my ego is), but I guess it suffices to say that I am the inextricable link. What you say to me about your hidden sexuality is nothing new. It has been said to me before; you have said it to me before, shrouded in all different kinds of Greek letters. And so I am what binds you to a number of other men on this campus who share your inner struggle. I am the proof that none of you are alone. And while I will always uphold my promise to keep your admissions safe within the confines of my heart, a little chip breaks off of it every time you reveal your secret - often in drunken, incomprehensible snippets - to me. You reveal your secret so often and so frequently to the point that I worry every piece of my heart will chip away, and there will be nothing left to protect what you have shared with me. I will have nothing to do but shout your secret to the world because, that way, you and everyone like you will finally realize that you are not alone.
Don't freak out, though! That was just me being dramatic. But you must understand that this could be a big problem down the road, and I worry about it every day. I worry about you every day. I worry that as time goes on, these feelings you are having will not at all go away but will instead grow and grow, and you will be so ashamed of them that you will not merely hide them from the world but you will also hide all of the other things that you are: you are an incredible Social Chair. You are really good at doing the Borat accent. You are not afraid to go free ballin'. You would rather do a naked run around Wannie than clean your dorm. You can out-chug everyone. You make every girl at every party feel at ease. You make me feel at ease. And I have a suspicious feeling that you also make your brothers feel at ease.
And so I know you find it just as irritatingly presumptuous as I do when I hear what people say: "You should just come out because then you'll realize who your real friends are," or, "Coming out will make you stronger in the long run," or "The fact that you can't come out means you have 'issues' and are insecure." But I don't think that advice will help you very much because I know your world, why you are in it, and why you want to stay in it. There is nothing like an amazing section party with Akon blasting and slutty dancing everywhere and neighbors making noise complaints. There is nothing like a bunch of guys you can shotgun ten beers in section with and then run around mooning the Campus Police. There is nothing like living with a bunch of brothers who will play pong with you at 7 am on a Saturday morning because you have to "pre-pregame" Tailgate. This is your life at Duke, and it's a damn, good life. You have every right to keep it.
You are afraid that these experiences will all go away - that they will all be stripped from your hands the moment it becomes known that you you like guys. But I wholeheartedly believe that your brothers are, in fact, your real friends. Time spent together does not lie, and these memories and friendships you have cultivated with your brothers have happened for a reason. You received a bid to join your respective fraternity because your brothers all saw in you what I see in you - what the world sees in you. They are not going to disappear and abandon you the moment they find out something new about who you are. They might not know how to respond to it, they might be weird at first, and, yes, they might be a little uncomfortable. But they are human beings with struggles of their own, and they are your brothers and your friends. They will get over their awkwardness very quickly because they will remember why they rushed you in the first place.
I know this letter will not automatically affect your resistance to come out, but I do hope it will at least make you think about things. Your brothers love you very much, and, contrary to what those GDI's might say, being in a fraternity gives you a bond that will last your whole life. The common misconception is that fraternities are merely breeding grounds for insecure, misogynist "bro's" who hide who they are for four years by partying, drinking, and partaking in legally questionable behavior. You and I both know that that isn't necessarily true. You might be insecure about being gay, but partying, drinking, and tearing down traffic signs across campus at 4am is part of who you are, and, okay, maybe it's part of why you joined a fraternity in the first place. There is nothing wrong with that. This is what makes your world at Duke so fun. Just remember that there is life after Duke, too, and coming out might make it all just a tiny bit easier. Your brothers will stand by you. I've seen it happen in KA, in DTD, in Wayne, in PiKapp, in ATO, and the list goes on... You really will be okay. I know it, know it, know it.
One part of you will not define the whole. You are too much, and you are just enough, and nothing will change that. You are loved, and you are not alone.
I love you,