Pride Month story by Bill Wrightsman, Chi Psi national volunteer
I didn’t come out until I was a Greek Advisor at Berkeley.
I hadn’t really dealt with who I was in terms of my sexual orientation when I was an undergraduate at Chi Psi. Back in the 80s, I was still dating women and the Fraternity meant a tremendous amount to me.
I eventually became President of my Alpha, Vice President of the IFC, and a student leader on campus. During rush, I remember other guys going through and not getting bids because they were perceived as being gay. And it wasn’t that people were concerned about internal issues with them, but the reputation of the Fraternity suffering on campus. I think that’s changed today, as it seems like many of our Alphas are more interested in being different from standard fraternities than they are with reputations.
Anyway, I’m sad to say I consciously moved away from Chi Psi Brothers and the Fraternity as a whole after graduation, because I wasn’t comfortable trying to figure out how to be both in and out of the closet. Nobody told me I had to be in the closet, but I also wasn’t shown any messages that said it was okay to be out of the closet. Even though I was completely out in my private life, I stopped attending Annual Convention, I stopped facilitating AMR’s and PSD’s. I felt like I couldn’t be myself. The turning point was when my friend Donald (Beeson – Associate Executive Director, Σ ’82, YΔ ’86) called me one day and asked about my interest in becoming a member of Chi Psi’s Executive Council. I missed Chi Psi, especially at a national level, but I remember telling him that I couldn’t go back in the closet after 25 years to do this job. He told me, “You don’t need to do that. The vast majority of people won’t care.” So, I said yes and joined the Council for two terms and everyone was welcoming.
I’m coming up on 32 years with my husband, John, and we have two teenage daughters. I’ve taken John and the girls to Chi Psi reunions, and even back to Convention over the last several years. I think Chi Psi has done a good job sending the message that it’s a place that is welcoming to all men, as long as you meet the founding-based criteria. It doesn’t matter who you love, where you worship, what your experience has been.
Fraternities and Alphas are either going to be those organizations we can consider allies, or they’re not. If you really believe you’re an all-inclusive Alpha, then all that matters is that you’re recruiting excellent gentlemen. None of the other things matter.”
Bill Wrightsman, HΔ ’84