H. Drew Blackburn
Senior Staff Writer
Katherine Ralph and her group of friends – mostly lesbians – walk into a bar. They have a few drinks while some patrons send harassment their way. This isn’t a new take on the age-old “a person walks into a bar” joke, but rather a story about how Keep Denton Queer, an organization that hopes to make Denton more queer-friendly, began.
Ralph, one of the founders of Keep Denton Queer, said on Dec. 29 at Abbey Underground, a group of older customers stuck their fingers down their throats as if they were making themselves vomit, gesticulating the universal sign of disgust after Ralph and her then-girlfriend kissed. The other patrons proceeded to call them names – the usual antics against homosexuals, she said.
“When we approached management, they didn’t really do anything,” Ralph said. “They wouldn’t even tell them to cut it out.”
Jeremy Brand, an Abbey Underground employee, said that it is difficult to mitigate such situations because it can be difficult to witness. Brand said that Abbey Underground does not discriminate against any persons.
“That’s our worst nightmare,” Brand said. “If we witness any sort of situation, they have to go.”
Ralph said that after the dispute some of the girls had their tabs covered by the bar, but she was still incensed and posted a Facebook status about her encounter.
Dayna Sims and Joshua Mahn, two UNT alumni, saw the Facebook post and decided they wanted to do something about it.
“My initial reaction was to boycott and you know, hit them in the pocketbook, because that’s where it counts,” Mahn said. “Then something clicked. We could do something pretty darn good with this.”
The trio of advocates – Ralph, Sims and Mahn – is happy about the growth in awareness in the past three weeks.
“It started out as something negative. We were all kind of angry,” Sims said. “It’s been evolving since these three weeks have passed.”
Currently the “Keep Denton Queer” Facebook page has over 750 “likes.”
History senior Daphne Glasgow said she found out about Keep Denton Queer when it popped up on her NewsFeed.
“I got excited that something like this was happening in the community,” Glasgow said.
The group is looking to generate a list of businesses that are queer friendly. Those businesses will have a Keep Denton Queer sticker displayed on their door.
Right now, two businesses have pledged support — Wine Squared and Banter Bistro, Ralph’s places of employment.
Travis Barton, an Abbey Underground employee, said the group Ralph was with still visits the bar.
“They came in the next day, so they couldn’t be too upset,” Barton said.
Barton’s assumptions may ring true, but Ralph is sticking to her guns.
“We go there every Saturday pretty much,” Ralph said. “Well, not anymore. I don’t. They go back.”