After an anti-gay encounter at a local bar where Kat Ralph and her friends often hang out, she turned to Facebook for support and launched a page as an online forum.
Ralph and about 10 friends were at Abbey Underground bar in Denton Saturday, Dec. 29, when a group of about 15 middle-aged adults started giving her and friends dirty looks, making them feel uncomfortable.
The looks went on for about an hour until one woman walked up to Ralph after she kissed her girlfriend. The woman put her hand in her mouth, gesturing as though she was going to vomit, and told Ralph she made her sick.
“She got in our faces and called us sick individuals,” she said.
Ralph’s friends approached management about intervening because they felt uncomfortable and wanted to have fun in the bar. Management refused to talk to the woman or the group she was with because it was a “he said, she said” situation, Ralph said, but they did offer to pay two of their tabs. So Ralph and her friends left.
“They [management] didn’t do anything,” she said, adding that she’d never had a bad experience there. “It was super disappointing.”
Tim Trawick, a general partner at Abbey Underground, said he wasn’t present last Saturday when the encounter occurred but had heard that there were words exchanged between two groups.
He said normally if someone requests management to intervene, someone would have spoken to the groups.
“I’m not aware of what happened and I feel bad for the young lady,” he said, adding that he would speak to the staff to better understand what happened.
The next morning, Ralph posted about the incident on her Facebook page with a picture of herself wearing a Legalize Gay T-shirt, at right. She said the response was overwhelmingly supportive.
She and two of her friends thought about creating a page calling for a boycott of the bar, but Ralph wanted to create a page that focused on businesses that don’t tolerate harassment.
They then launched “Keep Denton Queer” as an online forum for people to post about supportive businesses. Ralph said she wanted to focus on positive aspects, but said people can also post about negative experiences they’ve had.
“If they (fans of the page) don’t want to support businesses that don’t support us, I want to give them that opportunity,” she said.
The page was created Sunday and already has 328 likes. Ralph she and the other two creators of the group want to keep it an online forum for now, but have plans of possibly expanding it into a nonprofit that provides training to local businesses on how to handle incidents like the one Ralph encountered. The group is working on a logo and has had three businesses offer to sponsor them so far.
Ralph said she and her friends also want to create ally stickers for local businesses to place in their windows so members of the LGBT community know they are welcome and will be treated with respect.
“We don’t want to feel excluded or scared to go to these places. We want to feel comfortable,” she said.