This past fall, a guy named George Dumont rushed Beta Theta Pi at the University of Central Florida, received a bid, and planned to become a brother at the end of his pledge process. Unfortunately, five days before his initiation, Dumont was blackballed. Now, almost a year later, he has come out with a video explaining that his membership was terminated because he was openly gay, citing a text exchange he reportedly had with a member of Beta.
He claims he reported the fraternity’s decision to Clay Coleman, UCF’s director of Greek affairs, but not much came from it. Now, he refuses to be silenced. He released the following video to spread awareness.
I’ll admit that at first, I was on this guy’s side–there’s nothing I can’t tolerate more than intolerance. I was able to get in touch with Nat Jones, Beta’s president. While he was unable to answer most of my questions or respond to the alleged text message Dumont received, he did provide me with his fraternity’s official statement. I expected nothing more than the typical “we do not discriminate” statement that public figures and organizations normally give during sticky situations such as these, but there was something that piqued my interest in Beta’s statement.
The men of Beta Theta Pi are certainly disappointed by the recent video statement indicating our chapter is intolerant based upon one’s sexual orientation. Consistent with how our Fraternity passed legislation in 2006 codifying that sexual orientation cannot be used as a basis for determining one’s membership, a gay student who also belonged to our pledge class last fall was initiated as a full member in November and is now enjoying the full rights and responsibilities of Beta membership. Our brothers have gay relatives and gay friends, and we have long prided ourselves on being an inclusive fraternity that values diversity in all forms – no matter the race, religion, creed, nationality, age, socio-economic background, disability or sexual orientation. Of course, it is naturally difficult for all involved any time an individual is released from membership – whether it be during the pledging process or as a fully initiated member – but our hope is that everyone can move forward positively and in support of each other’s goals and aspirations in the months and years to come.
There it is.
“A gay student who also belonged to our pledge class last fall was initiated as a full member in November and is now enjoying the full rights and responsibilities of Beta membership.”
There was another gay student in Dumont’s pledge class, and like the rest of their pledge brothers, the other gay student completed the remainder of the pledge program, continued on to initiation, and became a brother. Why would a fraternity discriminate between two gay guys? Why would one man set off their gaydar to the point of “discomfort,” when another didn’t? Chances are, he wouldn’t.
USA Today reports that the entire question of Dumont’s membership came into play when the fraternity did not receive his final pledge payment, which Dumont explains had gotten lost in the mail. After his meeting with the Kai Committee (standards board) the fraternity came to the decision to terminate Dumont’s membership. His big brother and the pledge educator assured him, though, “This has nothing to do with you, you’ve done nothing wrong, it’s not a reflection on you.”
There are a lot of missing pieces to the puzzle. It’s possible that the fraternity is trying to save face. I’m sure that is what many people will be inclined to believe, because we look at the LGBT community as victims (and at times, they really are). We like to believe that people don’t use a difficult situation to their advantage. We like to believe that people aren’t unnecessarily blaming others. We like to believe it when people say, “I did nothing wrong. The problem is you for being unable to accept me.” But if you’re perfectly comfortable believing an entire institution would be so horrible as to discriminate, you also need to be willing to believe an individual could be so horrible as to wrongly accuse them of it.