In late October 1986, the founder of Delta Lambda Phi, Vernon L. Strickland III, met three older gay gentlemen during the course of a large Washington, D.C. party. As their conversation ranged from topic to topic, the gentlemen expressed regret at the limited opportunities for social engagement that were then available to gay men. The few social groups that did exist seemed to suffer from internal division, were focused on little beyond sex, or had lax membership standards. Strickland recalled his own experiences in the Greek system, and he told the other gentlemen about the unique bonds of friendship that he forged as a result of his time in a fraternity.
Some weeks later, one of the gentlemen contacted Strickland and proposed an extraordinary venture: to create a progressive social fraternity based on the collegiate model. Strickland agreed to do the work necessary to create such a group if the other gentlemen agreed to provide funding for it. A month later, Strickland accepted the position of Trustee and laid the initial groundwork for the organization. With the arrival of the New Year, he began making arrangements to recruit the first Delta Lambda Phi pledge class. On February 20, 1987 one hundred and fifty people came to what was a very successful rush party. At a later meeting, Strickland recommended seventy-five individuals for pledgeship, of which, thirty-five were selected by the financial committee, and twenty-nine ultimately pledged.
It was a promising start, but unbeknownst to Strickland, all the work he’d put into the Fraternity was in jeopardy. The financial committee had been mysteriously absent during the rush event, and soon after that it became clear that the financial backers did not have the money to support the nascent Fraternity.
This left Strickland with a choice: he could walk away from the venture, or he could commit completely to Delta Lambda Phi, assuming all its debt and associated risks. Strickland could have taken the safer path and left, but twenty-nine enthusiastic young men had pledged themselves to an ideal, and he began to believe that something important would be lost if the organization were allowed to fall apart. Two weeks later, Strickland repaid the financial committee and assumed full responsibility for the Fraternity. The pledge program was carried out and on April 10, 1987, twenty-four men were finally initiated into full Brotherhood. The Alpha Chapter of Delta Lambda Phi in Washington, D.C. was born.
The Alpha Chapter was quickly followed by Chapters at San Diego and UCLA. Since then, Delta Lambda Phi has continued to grow. There are now twenty-eight Chapters of the Fraternity at schools all across North America, as well as several groups in the process of becoming Chapters. The Brothers of Delta Lambda Phi have become models of personal achievement, whether marching in support of civil rights, helping to rehabilitate their communities, or simply drawing strength from one another.
There is no other organization or association like Delta Lambda Phi. We welcome a man as a Brother regardless of age, race, ethnicity, social class, culture, or another bias. We ask that he commit himself to the common beliefs of the group and each member that comprises the group. In return the man receives a healthy environment that will develop everyone’s talent and capability to its full potential, and will enhance his personal and social skills in a manner that could not be accomplished individually. It is this experience of Brotherhood that has enabled Delta Lambda Phi to exist and endure for over twenty-five years.