Gay Fraternity Launches At IU

Sigma Phi Beta Expands To Bloomington Campus

Indiana University, home to one of the oldest and largest college fraternity systems in the country, is now also home to the first openly gay fraternity on its campus.

Sigma Phi Beta held its first initiation on campus Saturday, marking a milestone for the university and the organization, 6News' Rick Hightower reported.

The fraternity's national chapter began in 2005 at its home base at Arizona State University. IU is its first expansion. Fourteen students were initiated.

The organization touts a vision to create a "uniquely diverse safe space for gay men within the traditional Greek system."

"The reaction has been way more positive than I thought it would be, because, you know, it's Midwest America," said Alex Eakle, a member of the fraternity. "I thought we'd have a lot more resistance, but everyone has been really positive about it."

The fraternity's national president, Nathan Arrowsmith, came to Bloomington to officially open the colony, as it's called, as the group pursues chapter status in IU's Greek system.

Arrowsmith said the organization provides belonging for young gay men who have been bullied in both high school and college settings.

"I think Sigma Phi Beta is so crucial for young gay and allied men, because it offers them a space where they can just really be themselves and be accepted and not have to worry about what people think of them," Arrowsmith said.

Member Jeremy O'Neal said he's had low moments in his life attributed to his lifestyle. He believes the organization will aid students who have considered suicide.

"I feel like with this, it will create that safe space we need for people to be equal and not be judged by any means," he said.

Representatives of other fraternities and sororities said they think the campus Greek community will be accepting of Sigma Phi Beta.

"I hope they're not met with resistance. I think it's awesome that we're being that open at Indiana University, especially with the Greek community, to people no matter what their sexual orientation is," said student Keetin Marchi.

"I'm sure there's going to be some resistance, but I hope not much," said student Robert Hult. "Personally, I think it will be a good thing to have."