Feature In the company of men

Josh Doyen is the new president of UTSA’s first gay fraternity, Alpha Lambda Tau. (Photo by Nicole Chaves)
The president of UTSA’s gay fraternity talks about changing attitudes on campus

Josh Doyen is a graduate student in political science and the president of UTSA’s chapter of Alpha Lambda Tau, a national gay fraternity based in Las Vegas. The fraternity has 15 members at UTSA, three of whom are alumni, including the chapter’s founder, Chris Forbrich. Recently, he spoke with the Current about the climate for gays and lesbians at UTSA and the fraternity’s role in changing attitudes towards the LGBT community.

Is UTSA supportive of the fraternity?

They’re very supportive. I know that the outgoing president fought really hard to get this organization on campus, and it took him about a year, maybe a little bit longer to get all the paperwork done. I just took over the presidency this semester, but I can tell you that it was like blood, sweat, and tears for him to get this organization off the ground. So, when it finally came to fruition, I think he was pleasantly surprised at how supportive UTSA was and how open the Greek community is at UTSA, and everyone in the student activities office, and the university in general.

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Do you face adversity from people in the college or around the city?

I don’t know so much around the city, but I know at the school there really isn’t a lot of adversity. There are some groups on campus that are not supportive of us. Last October we had an event called GLBT pride month at UTSA. One organization had heterosexual pride week after the GLBT pride month in opposition to us. They had a thing up in the Sombrilla, which is the gathering place at UTSA, where they had a poster saying why gay people are, you know, it was just something very homophobic. And it was just pleasantly surprising that hardly anyone was paying attention to them. There were only about two people involved in the group, whereas I think 10 years ago, you would have seen more people participating. Now people don’t even pay attention to them anymore because they realize that these people are just being driven by hate. Most people don’t even give them the time of day, which is refreshing to us because it tells us that society is changing.

How do you get involved in the community?

We have different social activities, community-service projects, and fundraisers. This semester we’re participating in the Webb party at the San Antonio Museum of Art. All proceeds go toward the San Antonio AIDS Foundation. Another big event that we always participate in is the Human Rights Campaign gala, which is in the fall. In about two weeks we’re doing a project called “RAMP,” which is the Repair and Modification Program, where we are going to build a wheelchair ramp for a 7-year-old boy who has, I believe, muscular dystrophy.

We definitely love to do social events; we probably go clubbing too much, actually. We need to think of some new things to do, but we spend a lot of time at the Bonham and we go to the Heat and the Saint every once and a while. We get together at our apartments, we have extended family members, if you will, who we always hang out with.

How did the decision on gay marriage affect ALT?

We took it pretty hard because, of course, all of our members are very in support of that. I shouldn’t make it sound general because there are — believe it or not — gay people who are not supportive of gay marriage. But most of our members are, and we understand that this is Texas, this is a very conservative state, and we also have to take into account that the majority of people who go out and vote are older people, people who are driven to vote because of their beliefs, such as religion. I believe that the vote would have been a little different if young people had gone out and voted.

But I think what’s happening right now in society that’s really important is that we, more than ever, are getting a voice. Whether it’s negative or positive, it’s a voice. The whole gay-marriage phenomenon, this issue that just captivated the news media, whether it’s negative or positive, we’re out there. Even though the gay-marriage thing did not go the way we wanted it, the fact is that it made so much noise in the media and in the public light, and that to me is a huge step forward.

What’s next for Alpha Lambda Tau?

Because we are such a new organization and we are gay-affiliated we have always felt like there has been an asterisk next to our name at UTSA. My ultimate goal is to get that asterisk dropped and to get Alpha Lambda Tau accepted as an organization that any student at UTSA would want to join: gay, straight, whatever. Just open to any student that wants to join a fraternity can come into Alpha Lambda Tau and feel at home. That would be my ultimate goal to have us accepted so widely that it wouldn’t even matter anymore.

Text and interview by Ashley Lindstrom