What is the history of Gamma Rho Lambda?
Gamma Rho Lambda (GRL), Alpha Chapter, was founded in the Fall of 2003 by 12 original members at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. The multicultural sorority was originally established as a social support system for lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and alternative lifestyle-friendly female students. Embodying an open and diverse environment for all of its members, the sorority strove to break down barriers between the LGBTQI* community and the greater community.
Shortly afterwards, the organization opened up its membership to include becoming a social support system for multicultural cis and trans women, trans men and gender-variant students of all sexualities, as well as LGBTQI* ally female students. The need for diversity and inclusion expanded across several realms of the organization.
For more information, visit About GRL.
Does GRL have a mission statement?
Gamma Rho Lambda is an all-inclusive social sorority exemplifying the qualities of tolerance, diversity, unity, and trust, which provides a network of assistance in the areas of scholastic guidance, emotional support, and community service while ultimately developing lifelong family bonds.
Where are the chapters and colonies of Gamma Rho Lambda located?
We currently have 20 active chapters throughout the United States, and are actively looking for new colonies. For more information about our chapters and colonies as well as their contact information and websites, please visit the chapter and colony pages under our “Chapters” menu.
Are there other LBTQI* sororities? If so, how are you different, and why start your own instead of expanding an existing LBT org?
Yes, there are other LBTQI* sororities in the US. All but a few of them meet one of the following characteristics:
…Exclusive to women of a particular race.
…Exclusive to lesbian women or women of a particular sexual orientation.
…Community-based, not exclusive to college women.
…Limited to being associated with a specific council mandated by the national sorority (such as the Multicultural Greek Council or the Panhellenic Council).
…Not a social sorority.
Gamma Rho Lambda distinguishes itself because we are open to all potential members of all races. We are an organization that is tailored to meet the needs of members in the collegiate setting. Gamma Rho Lambda is also distinctive in that our mission is not service or politically focused, but instead focuses on provided social support to our members. We strive for multiculturalism, diversity and inclusion.
How did you choose the Greek letters Gamma Rho Lambda?
The Lambda symbol was adopted by New York City’s Gay Activists Alliance in the 1970’s during the Stonewall Revolution. Since then, the Lambda has spread as a symbol for the LGBTQI* equality movement. Because of its history, the Lambda was chosen to be a letter in the sorority’s Greek name. The Gamma and Rho symbols were chosen because with the Lambda symbol, they spell GRL (“girl”), which aligned with our origins as a safe space for all women before our mission expanded to include our transmasculine and gender-variant siblings.
To what degree is your membership diverse in regards to sexual orientation?
GRL’s membership is open to siblings of all sexual orientations, and our membership reflects this diversity.
What kind of social events/exchanges does the sorority do?
On the local level, each Chapter and Colony participates in the following types of activities:
…Social events with other sororities and fraternities
…Board game nights
…Volunteer work with local organizations
Nationally the organization is more business-oriented, although the friendships gained at the college level typically extend into post-college GRL life. Gamma Rho Lambda also hosts an annual convention where National, chapter and colony members get the chance to meet and socialize.
How would you (or your members) respond to those who think that LBTQI and Ally sororities are a form of self-segregation and your members would be better off joining “straight” houses and inspiring change from within as opposed to creating your own separate entity?
When GRL began with Alpha Chapter at Arizona State University, as an associate member of the ASU Panhellenic Council, the organization was integrated into the traditional Greek system and developed positive relationships with other established sororities. ASU and the ASU Panhellenic Council went above and beyond to help Alpha Chapter fit into the traditional model. GRL’s long-term national vision is to become a sorority that accepts anyone regardless of their sexual orientation or identity.
As an organization, GRL loves to hear from individual LBTQI* students who have become members of the existing sororities on campuses across the country. There are many positive stories about how these sororities have been accommodating and supportive. GRL fully supports students who feel comfortable taking that route. Each sorority on campus offers a unique environment for their members to develop, and GRL understands that, as an organization, they are not right for every student seeking Greek life – even if they consider themselves part of the LBTQI* community.
An important part of the coming out process for many LBTQI* individuals is gaining confidence in their identity and acceptance and support in their community, and many benefit from socializing with other members of the LBTQI* community as a part of this process. Straight allies have a similar experience that benefits from socializing with members of the LBTQI* community and other allies. This type of support is one of the singular opportunities that GRL provides for college students, a focus that no other national sorority claims.
GRL is not a political organization. GRL is an organization that focuses on social environments and social growth. Ultimately, some students may be better off joining another sorority, but there are many who find Gamma Rho Lambda is the best Greek organization for them. It all depends upon each individual’s specific needs and interests.
What is the interaction/dynamic between you and organizations like Sigma Phi Beta and Delta Lambda Phi (GBTQA fraternities)?
Sigma Phi Beta was instrumental in helping GRL in the initial stages of founding Alpha Chapter and served as an advisor to Alpha Chapter early in their development. Seeing Sigma Phi’s success at ASU was also a daily reminder of the fact that GRL’s goal was achievable. Since expanding to campuses with similarly-focused fraternities, GRL often partners with these fraternities for social, contribution, and other events.
What kind of struggles or instances of homophobia and transphobia have you faced or are you facing?
GRL’s individual members face homophobia and transphobia within their families, work environments, and classrooms every day. It is the goal of Gamma Rho Lambda to support their members in the face of these intolerances and also help the community better understand tolerance and diversity in all of its forms. By their mission and growth, the organization strives to be part of bridging the gap between the LGBTQIA* community and the greater community.
Is there any sort of rule against dating within the sorority?
The national and local bylaws ban dating between pledges and also between pledges and active siblings. Once the members have achieved the status of siblinghood, the organization does not have any dating policies.
What are the misconceptions people have regarding your sorority?
Some people have expressed misconceptions about the acceptance of the sorority within the local Greek system. GRL was lucky that Alpha Chapter was able to benefit from the extraordinarily supportive ASU Panhellenic Council and ASU administration. Alpha Chapter has since shifted their umbrella council group to the Multicultural Council, which is continuing to support them. Beta Chapter has also gained extensive support not only from their Multicultural Council but also from the university’s LGBTQIA organization.
Many people are also confused as to what Greek Life is. Greek Life is designed to promote a well-rounded college experience with community service, social, athletic, educational, risk management, and campus events. This nurturing and social environment is definitively what Greek Life is in place for. GRL takes advantage of the Greek Life structure and includes LBTQIA support within its own mission and values. GRL has an extremely diverse siblinghood and strives to nurture this diversity.
What benefit does a student derive by joining your sorority?
GRL members join for a variety of reasons. Life-long friendship, scholastic assistance, social events, and professional growth are just some of the benefits that come with being a member of Gamma Rho Lambda. Each member of the siblinghood has an opportunity to invest their time and efforts to gain whatever they want out of the experience.
Do chapters have any hardships becoming not only a group but a part of the Greek system on their campuses?
Developing a student organization is a challenging endeavor. Developing a Greek sorority in a collegiate setting is a bit more complicated. One big challenge the organization has faced across the board at a local level is nurturing GRL’s vision with a fraction of the people many other sororities have.
Do you accept straight women or transgender individuals into your organization?
GRL welcomes women and transgender individuals of all sexualities to join who feel the organization could benefit them.
GRL’s gender identity policy is as follows:
The opportunity to earn membership in Gamma Rho Lambda shall be open to all cisgender and transgender women as well as transgender men and all gender-variant individuals who do not identify as cisgender men. Cisgender men, i.e. men who were assigned male at birth and feel their gender is in harmony with this identification, are the only gender identity that GRL does not accept as members.
How can I support GRL even though I’m not a student?
There are always ways to contribute even if you’re not an active member of Gamma Rho Lambda. GRL has an honorary membership for people who contribute greatly to the goals and mission of the sorority. Also, positive media, articles, and news reports help greatly. If you are not a student and would like more information on how to contribute to our organization, please contact us.