Gamma Rho Lambda is a LGBTQ+ sorority and the first of its kind in the state of Nevada. It officially became a colony at the University of Nevada, Reno in September 2019.
A year ago, Gamma Rho Lambda President Faith Thomas and her friend found themselves talking about queer Greek life and their dreams to start an inclusive sorority on campus.
Thomas states that while the process of becoming a new colony had been stressful and daunting at times, getting the colony off the ground and onto campus has overall been a very positive experience. She said some of the biggest challenges—like fundraising and recruitment—haven’t deterred the group from pushing forward with its goal of becoming an official chapter after Spring and Fall Rush. Currently, the organization has 10 members and is hoping more students join.
Thomas states that although the sorority has received overwhelming support, she believes with recent events, including Turning Point USA’s visit to campus, prove how necessary a sorority like theirs is needed on campus.
“It was difficult to get people [recruited] because we are in a conservative city, we are in a conservative space, I mean, we just had Charlie Kirk come to campus.” Thomas explained.
GRL was founded in 2003, and although they were referred to the first multicultural lesbian sorority, they pride themselves on being open to people of all backgrounds and identities. The group also accepts graduate students of all ages.
GRL’s motto, as listed on the national sorority website, reads ‘Truth in tolerance, knowledge through diversity, bonds of unity, strength in trust’ which exemplifies the Reno colony’s attitude towards inclusivity.
The sorority wants to create a safe space where people can explore their identities, a luxury that may not have been afforded to them before college since some members openly admit they haven’t come out to friends or family yet. GRL wants to give the community the confidence to become comfortable and proud of who they are.
“We are not just another social club, we are a sibling hood,” Thomas said. “We are your support system. It’s different than being friends–it’s for life.”
The new member educator, Shay Jordan, understands how difficult and isolating it can feel to try and understand your identity without a support group, but they urge people to know that they are not alone.
“We want to have that safe space for queer students when they feel like their not understood or have been beaten down, sometimes it really gets to you after a while,” Jordan said. “We want to make sure we have that space where they can relax and they can be themselves, especially since we know some queer students on our campus aren’t out to friends or family.”
GRL is at The Center on the third floor of the Joe Crowley Student Union. For those who may feel uneasy about meeting in a public space, GRL encourages students to reach out on social media @grlunr_colony.
Michelle Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @mj_bakes.