Memphian April Blair wanted to join a historically black sorority until one of the sisters mentioned that she wouldn't want to "pledge a dyke." At the time, no one knew Blair was gay, but she knew she wouldn't be comfortable in a group that practiced discrimination.
Last July, Blair founded Alpha Chi Upsilon, a multicultural social sorority catering to lesbians and bisexuals. There are a number of lesbian sororities with a service background (Beta Phi Omega in Memphis, for one), but Alpha Chi Upsilon is purely social.
"We believe in partying with a purpose," says Blair. "When we have an event, it'll be fun, but you'll also learn something while you're doing it."
What sets the group apart is their platform of diversity. Alpha Chi Upsilon may cater to lesbians and bisexuals, but they welcome women of any sexual orientation and ethnicity, as well as transgendered people.
"We actually have a girl right now who's pregnant and engaged to be married," explains Blair. "If there's a man living his life as a woman, and he considers himself a woman, then that's cool."
The local group currently has six members, and Blair says they're in the process of accepting applications. She urges anyone interested to apply at www.alphachiupsilon.com. The group will also host a social mixer and interest meeting on Saturday, March 4th, at the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center.
The sorority recently expanded to Nashville and Houston. The Nashville group started after a couple of Memphis members relocated. In Houston, a few women read about the group online, came to Memphis to pledge, and then formed a chapter.
The group also named its first honorary member, Sophia Pasquis from MTV's Road Rules Xtreme.
"Sophia represents true diversity," says Blair. "She's biracial, and she came out while on the show. ... She was always positive, and people came to her with their problems. That's why we chose her."
"Our goal is to show that we're down to earth," says Blair. "Some sororities, not just lesbian groups, have this attitude that they're better than you. We want to show that we're just like anyone else."