A Web Portal For Lesbians Of Color
By Jeronica Byrd
Executive Director/Membership Chancellor
It all began May 15, 1851 with the formation of Alpha Delta Pi. Alpha Delta Pi holds the distinction of being the first secret society for women and the mother of today’s sorority system. Fast forward to January 15, 1908 to Minor Hall on the campus of Howard University where Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority was founded. Both Alpha Delta Pi and Alpha Kappa Alpha were both ground breakers in their era. The formation of these organizations provided collegiate women with a place to fellowship in the bonds of sisterhood and community service.
Through the years more organizations were created to cater to every need and persona but it wasn’t till the year 2000 that a sorority was developed to cater to needs of feminine lesbian women. Omicron Epsilon Pi Sorority Inc was founded February 7, 2000 in Tallahassee, Florida. Omicron Epsilon Pi stood apart for several reasons: 1.Omicron Epsilon Pi was formed as a community based organization which allowed woman who did not have a college education to belong to a sorority. 2 Omicron Epsilon Pi was created with a constitutionally bound organization Iota Lambda Pi which caters to butch/stud/dom women and last but not least Omicron Epsilon was the first documented strictly lesbian sorority out there.
In a short time more community based sororities for the LGBT community came onto the scene. Beta Phi Omega Sorority Inc, Delta Iota Lambda Sorority Inc, Alpha Omega Xi Sorority Inc, Gamma Alpha Upsilon Professional Women’s Fraternity Inc, Kappa Xi Omega Sorority Inc, Phi Nu Kappa Sorority Inc, Alpha Kappa Psi Fraternity Inc, and Sigma Nu Omega Sorority Inc are all organizations that are LGBT oriented.
Although all these organizations cater to the LGBT community and its affiliates they are all unique and offer a variety of services to the community. In an effort to inform the community of these organizations and the services offered I interviewed members of 4 of the organizations: Nichole Lanier, National President of Beta Phi Omega Sorority Inc (est. 2000), Shannon Wilson, Supreme Basilues of Phi Nu Kappa Sorority Inc (est. 2002), Maya Johnson Assistant Public Relations Chancellor of Kappa Xi Omega Sorority Inc (est. 2004), and several members of Omicron Epsilon Pi Sorority Inc. (est. 2000).
Jeronica: I would like to thank each of you for taking time to participate in this interview for Femme Noir. Each of you represent a different organization but have similar goals and focuses yet still different. In an effort to inform the LGBT community I will ask you all a series of questions and you each respond accordingly. Let’s begin.
Jeronica: How did the concept of your sorority come about?
Nichole: The concept came first from wanting a positive organization of sisterhood that personified the beauties of not only lesbianism but the celebration of diverse womanhood. We also wanted a sisterhood that magnified all of the things that we felt were important in our community as well as a healthy form of networking. Lastly we wanted a safe haven for women with the same ideals to share ideas of growth and positive expansion.
Maya: Kappa Xi Omega came into existence because there was a niche that needed to be filled within the lesbian community. Kappa Xi Omega provides services and sisterhood to the pre-professional and professional lesbian women.
Michelle: (co founder) We were looking around observing other affiliated organizations and noticed there were a
lack of groups that catered directly to lesbians. So we sat down to create something for us by us.
Shannon: We had some ladies that approached one of the founders from Kappa Psi Kappa Fraternity with questions in regards to how to start a sorority, however during that time the idea to start an unique family and that is how Phi Nu Kappa Sorority Inc and Alpha Psi Kappa Fraternity Inc
Jeronica: What is the main focus or ultimate goal of your organization?
Nichole: The main focus is to provide a positive outlook on lesbian sisterhood, aid in the things that we feel affect our community, grow and expand to the point where we can provide for those we feel need it the most. Nationally and internationally we want to be able to network not only with the internal aspects of our organization but also, with other LGBT organizations.
Maya: The main focus of Kappa Xi Omega is to create a cohesive environment of like minded lesbians in an environment of commerce and community service. The ultimate goal of Kappa Xi Omega is to open safe houses throughout the United States for LGBT teens that have been kicked out of their homes because of their sexuality. The safe houses will act as a haven for the teens so they do not have to turn to prostitution and drugs as a means for survival. While in a haven the teens will attend school as well as try and reconnect with their home lives.
Lakisha : The main goal of OEPI is to foster friendships while diligently nurturing and serving the community to produce
a positive perception of lesbian women socially and professionally.
Shannon : Ultimate goal of PNK is in 10 years 20,000 plus members and to be actively changing stereotypes between the heterosexual and homosexual people
Jeronica: With there being so many organizations out there that cater to the LGBT community do you think that all the LGBT Greeks will flourish? Why or Why not
Nichole: Of course. Why not? We will all flourish because we all have something positive to offer and with the new age of growth and acceptance there is no reason why we all can’t add a piece of our great existence to this big world. There is room for us all and all of the others to come. The main thing to remember is that we are not in competition and that if we are positive and really are about knowledge, understanding, and growth… that is how it will be.
Maya: Realistically speaking, the answer is no. In conducting business you have to know when the market is over crowded. Not all organizations that come onto the scene will have the dedication or ethics to maintain a sorority and its structure
Olayinka: I think only a select few LGBT orgs will flourish because they actually take the time out to uphold their organization
by completing community service and actively participating within the community. The reason why there are so many organizations
that fail is because people are not willing to dedicate themselves. They believe it’s easier to start something of their own than it is to
uphold the resources that are out there for them
Shannon : I don’t think all will flourish, however I do think the ones that are active in the community and get out and
promote and work within the community to change things will flourish
Jeronica: What made you decide to forgo the traditional Greek life and become a member of a LGBT oriented organization?
Nichole : As a founding member, we wanted a sisterhood that felt comfortable and did service for the things we felt really mattered in our LGBT community.
Maya: I wanted to belong to a sorority that accepted me wholly as well as taught me about life business and sisterhood. I have found that with Kappa Xi Omega.
Danielle: I felt that the organizations out there did not fit me as an individual.
Shannon: The non acceptance and the fact that you have to live your life in the closet to your soror’s, especially the
older ones, is not healthy….you should be able to live your life the way you want to.
Jeronica What services does your sorority provide to the LGBT community?
Nichole: We actively participate in Safer Lesbian Sex Awareness, Breast Cancer Awareness not only for lesbian women, but women abroad, and the March of Dimes. We have had seminars on Lesbian Safer Sex awareness and the importance of being knowledgeable about the dangers of unprotected sex among lesbian women.
Maya: Kappa Xi Omega offers programs for the entire community and some that are specific to the LGBT community. Our community wide programs are tutoring in Biology, English, Math and History, Honor Roll Celebrations; Adopt a School, Habitat for Humanity, and voter registration. The community programs that are based solely to the LGBT community are our LGBT Family Fun Day and Women of Valor program.
Felicia & Nykeria Through our national philanthropy by stopping violence against women, all members are required to
obtain domestic violence training. As lesbians we use this knowledge to help those within our own community. We also have
members who are active members of local LGBT organizations in their own city as one Soror is on the Board of Directors for the
LGBT Community Center in Tallahassee, Fl
Shannon : Each individual chapter is responsible for working with their local LGBT community centers, AIDS Walk,
March of Dimes. As a whole, we are still growing and planning what services to provide as a group.
Jeronica: What makes your organizations different from other LGBT oriented sororities?
Nichole: We are unique because we personify not only the beauty of sisterhood among lesbian women but all women.
We do not discriminate because we are aware that there are women of all walks of life that want to aid in the services that we do for
our communities and the non-judgmental aura that we posses.
Maya: Kappa Xi Omega is different in the aspect we are encompassed of strength, courage, and wisdom with a determination to succeed at all costs. Kappa Xi Omega is dedicated to the older more established lesbian woman.
Felicia : We’re more than just words on paper. We do exactly what we say while upholding the epitome of femininity.
We’re dedicated to the advancement of our community and demonstrate this on a day to day basis through our actions not just our
Shannon : Our unique make up, which consist of Kappa Psi Kappa Fraternity Inc, Phi Nu Kappa Sorority Inc,
Alpha Psi Kappa Fraternity Inc, and Kappa Sapphire makes up Tau Kappa Phi Inc. Our structure isn’t the same like other
organizations and we aren’t like other organization that has studs, femmes and boys in it, but everybody has a home.
Jeronica: What can you offer your members?
Nichole : We can offer our members a diverse sisterhood, positive expansion and growth, a chance to travel and network,
community involvement, love, and a positive outlook on lesbianism.
Maya : Kappa Xi Omega offers a resilient sisterhood, strong networking contacts, financial education and awareness,
participation in the sorority mutual fund, travel and last but not least we offer extensive community involvement.
Olayinka:As the National Assembly Delegate of OEPI, it is my duty responsibility to make sure that current, new, and prospective members have the chance to experience all that we have to offer. I make sure that I am there for all that are interested
in OEPI and I take my job seriously as I am a sister to many. I uphold loyalty, honesty, a shoulder to cry on and one of the wackiest
senses of humors that you will ever come across.
Shannon : Phi Nu Kappa can offer a lifetime of friendship, service to the community, and happiness
Jeronica: What is your organization’s view of what a sorority is supposed to be?
Nichole: A sorority is supposed to provide unity through sisterhood and growth through self-involvement, self-improvement, community involvement, and unconditional love.
Shuria: We feel that an org should have a true meaning of sisterhood. By standing by your mission and purpose you will exemplify the saying “Quality over Quantity!”
Maya: Kappa Xi Omega views a sorority as a business that operates on the infrastructure of love, diligence and respect.
The business comes first but the aspect of family is never far behind.
Shannon : Sisterhood, Service, and Leadership
Jeronica: Why do you think the turn over rate in LGBT oriented organizations is so high and how can it be combated
Nichole: Being that LGBT organizations specifically sororities are fairly new, there are some people that do not take the whole idea of a lesbian sisterhood seriously. The larger we get the more the turnover rate would be non-existent. It is just noticeable because we are new. The more the legacy grows, the more it will become a reality and not a fad.
Felicia: As young lesbian women, many people encounter Greek orgs looking for somewhere to belong. They do not do
the research or look into other orgs. One must evaluate all aspects of an org to see what they’re getting into. If they do not they may
find themselves expecting too much from an organization that does not have much to offer or be willing to contribute too little from one
that demands more than they can handle. As members of OEPI, we encourage our interests to look into all organizations and ask
questions in an effort to find one that best matches their wants and needs.
Maya: Many think of partying and fun when they think of a sorority and do not know the hard work that is involved with the
conception and maintaining of an organization. Educating interested women on what your sorority is about internally and externally will
help combat the overturns and dropouts
Shannon : The turnover rate is high due to organizations running into people who have power trips, don’t communicate
with their members and National Officers, and people not giving there 110% commitment they said they would do.
Jeronica: How can people find out more about your organization?
Nichole: National Website: www.betaphiomega.net National E-Mail Address: BetaPhiOmega@BetaPhiOmega.net
Maya: Website : www.kappaxiomega.org Email:
Felicia: You can contact Omicron Epsilon Pi Sorority, Inc by visiting our Official website at www.Oepi.Com. You can visit
our sister fraternity by visiting www.Truegentlewomen.org
Shannon: Through the website, members, fliers, and word of mouth
Jeronica: I would like to thank each of you for your time and insight on your organizations. Good luck on your endeavors externally
Diversity is the key word when describing the sororities and fraternities that cater to the LGBT community but when all is said and done change and unity is the main focus. Blazing paths into infinity and beyond.