Denton pastor uses Ash Wednesday to send message of LGBT equality

The Rev. Jeff Hood

The Rev. Jeff Hood is using Ash Wednesday this year as a way to reach out to Denton churches and help them become accepting of LGBT members.

Hood, who runs a small house church in Denton, said there are only three churches that welcome gays in the area. So he wrote a letter about being an accepting place and taped it to the doors of about 60 churches last night. He said he included all denominations to start a dialogue about how churches can be open and affirming to everyone in their community.

“The goal was for pastors to get to the church on Ash Wednesday and be faced with the question of equality,” he said. “With Ash Wednesday being a time of deep repentance and mourning of sins of the past, I thought that would be a good time to say this is what you did in the past and this is what is needed in the future.”

Hood, profiled recently by Religion Dispatches, moved to the area about a year ago. He said he was raised Southern Baptist and wasn’t accepting of gay people until his mentor pastor came out to him in 2007 before he passed away. Hood is now an LGBT advocate.

Hood started a Committee to Queer Denton Churches, an informal group to work with churches on being accepting of LGBT people. He is collaborating with Keep Denton Queer on this project and hopes to publish a list of churches that respond to the letter.

He gave them a week to reach out to him with their views and said he’s already heard back from several today that want to start a dialogue.

“You can’t say that you love the community and love your neighbor and keep your doors closed. There’s a need for accountability,” Hood said. “I think there’s a real need for people in Denton to know where they can go to church.”

Read his letter below.

—  Anna Waugh

WATCH: Lesbian shares story behind ‘Keep Denton Queer’ group

Kat Ralph

Kat Ralph and her friends started a Facebook group a few weeks ago to combat an anti-gay experience at a local bar.

They launched “Keep Denton Queer” to share positive and negative experiences at local businesses. Ralph said she eventually wants to create ally stickers for LGBT-friendly businesses. In the meantime, she’s already created a starter website and is working with a local printer to make T-shirts.

Ralph recently spoke about her experience that led to the group’s creation on the CW33.

Watch the video below.

—  Anna Waugh

Friends start Facebook page to support gay-friendly businesses in Denton

Kat Ralph

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.”

—  Anna Waugh