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In a gray-toned Logan Hall lecture room, as strains of the Village People replaced the autumn-dusk silence of Perelman Quadrangle Monday night, nationally recognized author and activist Shane Windmeyer was just warming up.

Co-editor of the bestselling Out on Fraternity Row and Secret Sisters: Stories of Being Lesbian and Bisexual in a College Sorority, Windmeyer gave a high-energy, interactive presentation on homosexuality and fraternity life hosted jointly by Penn's InterFraternity Council and the Queer Student Alliance.

"There's nothing wrong with being straight -- both my parents were, it's perfectly normal," he said, convincing two heterosexual audience members to participate in an ice-breaking activity that would test their GPAs, or "Gay Point Averages." After answering a series of questions on the history and symbols of the gay-rights movement, both Penn students, including IFC President Conor Daly, averaged well above a 4.0.

Windmeyer then addressed a series of questions he has encountered at the over 100 colleges and universities he has toured, juxtaposing humor with homophobia and "heterosexism."

After responding to the question, "where do gays shop" with the assertion that "GAP does stand for Gay and Proud," Windmeyer had six audience members come to the front of the room and read short quotes from his books. Ranging from acceptance and mild discomfort to hangings-in-effigy and violent acts of vandalism and rage, the recollections of gay and lesbian students' experiences with Greek life gave a more somber tone to the program.

Coincidentally, Monday's presentation fell on the four-year anniversary of the brutal beating of 21-year-old University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard. Windmeyer cited Shepard's story as a reason not to "be a spectator to hate," but instead to take an active role in the struggle for gay rights.

Windmeyer applauded the efforts of "straight allies" both in his personal journey out of the closet as a fraternity member at Kansas' Emporia State University, and as vital in the national effort to break down barriers between the gay, lesbian and Greek communities.

"If I hadn't had a positive experience coming out to my fraternity brothers, I wouldn't have had the strength to come out to my parents," he said. "One person, a straight ally, made the difference for my life."

Daly, who lost GPA points for an unenthusiastic "Z-snap," said he was pleased with the program, but expressed disappointment at the relatively small audience.

"I would have liked to have seen this place filled... I wish people could have taken that step," he said. Nevertheless, Daly remains eager to combat the "feeling that there's no place for gays in the Greek system."

QSA President Steven Lauridsen echoed Daly's sentiments. "I really hope for closer relations between [the two communities] because there is a lot of overlap," he said.

Though many claim the programs at the new home of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center at 3907 Spruce Street have improved the gay-straight dynamic on campus, some temper optimism with the prospect of the long hard road ahead.

"The gay community at Penn is still a little clandestine, a little fragmented," said third-year law student and co-chairman of the Penn Law School's Lambda Association Julius Towers. "There needs to be a dialogue."

Windmeyer, working toward that very goal, has offered to speak at Penn again for a significantly reduced fee when he returns to the area in February.

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