Tuesday, June 9, 2015

What Would YOU do?

I have mentioned several times in this blog and other places that I am a member of Phi Kappa Sigma (Skull House) fraternity.  Recently, I even discussed the book I wrote about my times there.  Ok, so what?

This year is the 125th anniversary of Skull at Penn State.  When I was an undergrad, I helped plan the 100th anniversary.  Soon after graduation, I attended that event alone, as my fiancee and I broke up just before the event.  I met many people and had (if I recall correctly) a good time.

So the 125th is coming this November.  One of the brothers I am still close to, Ty, recently messaged me asking I was going to attend.  I replied that I probably wouldn't, as I felt I wouldn't be welcome, being a woman now and all.  He said that due to my work documenting our years in the House in the scrapbook (for which I won "Officer of the Year", 1988, btw)(*pats self on back*) that we "all owe you big time."

I told him how I felt- that the idea of facing the brothers again scared the sh*t out of me.  Because it does.  Perhaps a little history is in order.

I joined Phi Kappa Sigma at Drexel University in Spring of 1985.  I stayed at Drexel until the end of spring semester 1986 when I transferred to Penn State.  I have never ever regretted that decision and I still don't.  It was one of the best decisions of my life.

So I transferred to PSU, where there was a chapter of Phi Kappa Sigma.  Where at Drexel we were a new chapter who didn't even have a house, the chapter at PSU was regarded as one of the best chapters of the fraternity.  They lived in a mansion close to campus.  The brothers were a lot of jocks and ex-jocks- rich kids- and the most popular people from their respective homes.  And here I was: a skinny kid with a major identity crisis.  To say I didn't fit in is the understatement of the century.

Skull House 1987

And they never let me forget it.

I made some great friends, sure.  But more enemies: people determined to drive me away.  They didn't understand a few things.  1) I swore an oath to be loyal and an asset to Phi Kappa Sigma.  I took that very seriously, and still do. 2)  I needed to prove to myself that I was a Man.  As you all know, that didn't work out.  3) I'm extremely stubborn, especially when I'm told I CAN'T do something.

My years at Penn State were some of the best of my life.  I wouldn't change a thing.. except maybe I should've transitioned then when I was so skinny.  But whatever.  That said, they were also some of the most traumatic of my life.  I still dream regularly of my days at the House, and few of those dreams are pleasant.

Me (In black shirt) coaching a chugging team, 1987

So it comes down to this:  Should I actually attend?  I reached out to another of my brothers who is an officer on the alumni board.  He is gay, and is very much accepted by the house.  He sent me a very positive message in reply, saying that he'd do everything possible to accommodate me.

I love Penn State.  I haven't been there in years- since I transitioned.  I really should go back.  But what benefit is there to going?  Will the active brothers benefit by having me there in the House for a short time?  Is this a door I want to kick in?

And can I afford it?

I am really torn about this.  What do you think?

My Last Visit: July 2013


  1. I would save my money and time and go to an event that I was wholeheartedly looking forward to. Why waste your life on people you weren't crazy about 20 years ago?

  2. It depends what analysis you choose to apply. If it is all about you then you may be fine not going and merely wondering what you may have missed. If your prime concern is how you will be perceived then just blow it off.

    If, on the other hand, it is about your oath to be an asset to the Fraternity then you may want to heed the invitation of your brother, Ty, and you may want to take up the suggestion of the gay board member that he would do what he can to make your return work for you and the fraternity. You obviously did a good job with the early history of the frat. Between you and the gay board member perhaps a few new pages of frat history can be written. Perhaps your attendance will help educate folks.

    One of my sons was very active as an officer in his frat at an Ivy. My wife and I went to the annual parent's weekend. His best friend, who after his college days came out as being gay, had his parents in attendance every year. My son's friend's father always presented in an androgeneous fashion, often a pink ladies (the buttons were the give away) oxford style dress shirt, khaki slacks and woman's penny loafer styles shoes, sans socks. He had long blond (dyed) hair in a page boy style with bangs. To my eyes he was somewhere on the 'T' spectrum. He was a delightful and pleasant person that seemed to get along with everyone and was accepted as any other parent.

    People change over time, just look in the mirror, and you mayu find that some of the hard nosed "Skull-heads" may have mellowed with age.

    Good luck whatever you decide.


    P.S: Some notable members of my son's frat were Ruthorford Hayes, Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt, George H.W and George W. Bush, Gerry Ford, Dan Quayle, George Steinbrenner, Tom Landry, Dick Clark and Joe Paterno.

  3. I am a fraternity girl too. I agree with the comment above, save your money for something you will definitely enjoy. It sounds as if the brothers who will be supportive of you have already shown their support. It seems like it could only go downhill from here, especially when you add the alcohol which will no doubt be plentiful at such a gathering.