Bethany Gallagher, a freshman at Florida Atlantic University, came out right before she graduated high school. Because of the timing, she went through all four years without joining an LGBT club or organization.
But that changed when she arrived at FAU when its first LGBT-centered and gender-neutral Greek life organization, Lambda Alpha Lambda (LAL), was created.
“After coming to college, I can really embrace this and present myself how I want to be and how I want to identify myself,” Gallagher said. “... I wasn’t out to my family and didn’t have an outlet to meet like-minded people and be able to talk about certain things.”
Founder and President Gabby Miernik started the organization last August for students like Gallagher, now the director of finance, who were looking for an accepting club on campus.
“There’s a variety of [LGBT-focused Greek organizations] out there, but some are just for gay men, some for lesbian women, some for transgender and non-binary people,” Miernik said. “But I felt like starting out here at FAU, I had to create one that was inclusive to all.”
Because of the organization’s inclusivity to more than one gender, they’re called a “diaternity” rather than a fraternity or a sorority.
Some of the few things they have in common with traditional Greek organizations are their community service and philanthropy. Since their community service is LGBT-based, they’ve volunteered for Human Rights Campaign, Equality Florida, Poverello, and more.
Last semester, they also raised roughly $500 for The Trevor Project. This year’s philanthropy project will be fundraising for the National Center for Transgender Equality.
Vice President Savannah Havens’ favorite part of the diaternity is everybody’s passion for volunteering.
“We’re so tight-knit and one of the main things that bind us together is that we all want to be active in our community,” Havens said. “[LAL] gives me an outlet to be active in the community, to be part of something bigger than myself.
There’s only about ten members, which is miniscule compared to other FAU fraternities and sororities’ participation in the dozens, but Miernik said this helps meet the needs of each member and creates a more intimate “family.”
By giving more people access to Greek life, Gallagher said this leads to more diversity — which is a good thing.
“I feel like sororities and fraternities are like carbon copies of the same person,” she said. “For some of us, the only similar thing about us is that we all identify as LGBTQ.”
Another thing the diaternity is proud of is its all-female executive board, or leadership team, which they agreed gives women more representation.
“We’re making campus a better place,” Miernik said, “and giving everybody a spot.”