Delta Tau Delta supports gay brother, respects sexuality

Nicole Gennarelli

On the way to their fraternity house, a brother and a pledge went to Taco Bell for a quick meal. However, what started out as a routine fast food run became an exhibition for secrets. As the worker handed them their food through the drive-thru window, the pledge nonchalantly told the brother, “By the way, I’m gay.”

While pledging the Delta Tau Delta fraternity in Fall 2009, Logan Gerken came out to his good friend Kevin Papp before he formally told anyone else. It was hard for Papp to see Gerken hiding a part of himself from other brothers in the fraternity.

Papp said that the Greek community is like a giant family. In every fraternity or sorority, there is always an instant friendship between members.

“I think our entire community is very supportive,” Papp said. “Many people don’t know the depth of members in our community. We have more than 1,000 members, and that’s a lot of people to identify with one label.”

However, this confidential information soon became public. In March 2010, a breakup caused Gerken’s ex-boyfriend to Facebook message his mother to tell her that her son was gay.

“I come from a religious and conservative family,” Gerken said. “My mom didn’t want to talk for a few weeks so she could gather her thoughts about the situation.”

That combined with the breakup and the unwelcome outing, Gerken fell into a rut of depression. Naturally, Gerken’s fraternity brothers began to notice something was wrong.

“My brothers were asking me what was going on and wanted me to talk to them,” Gerken said. “When I told them I was gay, they were completely OK and didn’t have a problem with it.”

Gerken said he did not hear one negative comment when he came out to his fraternity brothers.

“I’ll admit I wasn’t sure how people would react at first, because he had never told anyone prior to this,” Papp said. “It was amazing to see when he finally did come out one by one to people, how they all came together to support him.”

By telling them he was gay, it allowed for closer bonds to be formed within the fraternity.

“They were like, ‘We appreciate you telling us because now we can understand you for you,’” Gerken said.

Gerken’s sexuality is a very open topic amongst his fraternity brothers. If they don’t understand something, they ask questions.

“It’s really good because a lot of times gay people are stereotyped,” Gerken said. “They now see that there are more sides to every issue, and I’m just an ordinary, everyday person.”

The fraternity’s chapter is very close, Gerken said. His brothers will support him on anything.

“If someone would ever say anything to me in a derogatory manner — which has happened before — brothers would step up and say something,” he said. “I’m friends with people from almost every chapter, and not one of them has treated me any differently. They are all very open-minded, and I don’t think that sexual orientation matters to much of Greek life.”

The fraternity has yet to have any date parties this semester, but all the fraternity brothers are accepting of Gerken bringing a man as a date.

“The brothers told me to bring who I want,” he said. “They told me that I can’t tell them who to bring, so they can’t tell me who to bring either.”

Gerken did not join Delta Lambda Phi, Kent State’s social fraternity for gay, bisexual and progressive men, because by joining he would have outed himself to many people.

“I wasn’t planning on coming out for a long time, until I had a partner,” he said. “But now that I am, I don’t regret it at all.”

If Gerken could give any advice to people struggling to come out to family and friends, it would be do it on their own terms.

“You don’t have to tell the world all at once,” he said. “When you’re comfortable telling someone, tell them. It’s not something you should rush into; you shouldn’t feel pressured to do it.”

Contact Nicole Gennarelli at [email protected].