Trent grew up in Lynn, Ind., a town of about 1,000 people, where his high school graduating class was just 27 students. He said watching this discrimination kept him from living his life to the ?fullest.
“Being an out and proud individual since I was 14, I know what it feels like to not have a support system that accepts you for who you are,” he said in an email. “But here at Indiana University, I found a group of people that knew the struggle.”
Trent is a brother of IU’s first and only queer-allied fraternity, Sigma Phi Beta, which he said has brought him closer to others who have felt the same pain from being treated differently.
Chapter President Bryant Hayes said in an email that Sigma Phi Beta began at IU in 2012 when a group of queer men wanted a fraternity where they felt they could be themselves while still being part of the greek community on ?campus.
“We offer a unique and diverse safe space for individuals who don’t feel that they fit in with other greek organizations,” he said.
Hayes said being a newer fraternity has played to their advantage, as some of the current brothers have been able to join the original brothers from 2012.
“It gives us a unique opportunity to stay in touch with our roots,” he said. “We recently had someone from our chapter’s second class sit in on a chapter and offer advice, which is something hundred-year-old fraternities will never have the opportunity to do.”
Getting involved and taking advantage of the opportunities of a growing fraternity is a core value of Sigma Phi Beta, Hayes said, especially within philanthropic activity.
“Currently, each member of our chapter holds either an executive board position or a chair position,” he said in an email. “Everyone gets a chance to take on leadership roles in various projects. We try our hardest to have a strong presence in the LGBTQ community as well as the IU and Bloomington communities. We are always planning our next philanthropy event and are planning to start doing weeks or weekends of service each month to further impact the community.”
Hayes said the fraternity’s philanthropy events such as “Drag for a Cause” are its most prominent events, as it tries to advertise as much as possible with the effort to show campus what it stands for and what it’s trying to accomplish.
Like most fraternities, Hayes said, Sigma Phi Beta’s goals for the future revolve around chapter growth while still maintaining quality.
“While we do want to gain numbers, we would prefer to attract quality members who really stand for what we believe in,” he said. “We would rather be a small, close-knit organization than a large, disconnected group.”
Trent said it’s important for the campus to take notice of Sigma Phi Beta because there are men who are searching for the same sense of belonging as he was.
“At every party, in every dorm and at the beginning of each new semester, they are out there,” he said. “The same men just like me, who don’t feel like they belong, who could use a family and who are just looking for acceptance. That’s what we provide. All they have to do is find us.”