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OUTreach Denton holds adult social for LGBT community

OUTreach Denton holds adult social for LGBT community

Denton VERB founder Natalie Woods talks about the benefits of OUTreach's semi-weekly LGBT adult socials at Harvest House Thursday night. Erica Wieting | Features Editor

OUTreach Denton holds adult social for LGBT community
February 20
23:34 2016

Haley Yates | Staff Writer

@Haleysocoollike

Gathered around a picnic table at Harvest House, a large group sits and mingles, winding down after a long day.

Members of the LGBT community take advantage of this late evening gathering Thursday night, engaging with others in a safe community at OUTreach Denton’s monthly adult social.

OUTreach strives to provide a safe environment for people of all ages, and they started hosting adult socials. On the third Thursday of each month, community members, volunteers and allies get together to share a drink—or just friendly company—and socialize.

The group also holds what they call a “safe place” for LGBT youth at Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship church. Once a week teens ages 13 to 17 gather to talk and participate in arts and crafts.

OUTreach co-chair Kamyon Conner said the group tried to implement a curriculum years ago to educate the youth about LGBT issues, but because of a lack of interest, it turned into the general safe space.

“You’d be surprised how excited these kids are to be able to talk about who they really are, not who they are expected to be,” Conner said.

Steering Committee member Tom McCall said even though some schools have gender and sexuality awareness groups like gay-straight alliances, many teens still seek a space where they can speak freely without judgment.

“We work together, but we don’t get to talk about life,” OUTreach youth group coordinator Kat Ralph said, referring to McCall. “I think Tom’s great, but I don’t get to ask about his life when we’re sitting in a meeting.”

Thomas DuBois, a Dallas native who moved to Denton last year, said the social was the first LGBT gathering he had attended in Denton.

“And this is the only one I find interesting,” he said bluntly.

Along with socializing, OUTreach’s mixers serve as an opportunity to discuss the LGBT community’s future in Denton.

Founder of Denton VERB Natalie Woods chatted with McCall and Conner about wanting to start a pride parade in Denton. They talked about the well-known Dallas parade and how it focused on sexuality and nudity.

“I don’t have a problem with that,” Woods said. “I salute you, but if I had a 4-year-old, I wouldn’t want them exposed to that.”

Woods’ program partners with organizations in the area to help volunteers from all backgrounds find a community they can get involved with. Woods said they drop labels at the door and will stop at nothing to help people find their niche through volunteering.

“A lot of the time people need to know they can meet with people in similar places in life to learn and grow and feel comfortable in society,” she said.

Denton has a reputation for being a college town, but Woods said there is still an older community that also needs a safe space.

“That’s why OUTreach is so important—there’s no age restriction,” she said. “We don’t care. Let us love on you.”

Featured image: Denton VERB founder Natalie Woods talks about the benefits of OUTreach’s semi-weekly LGBT adult socials at Harvest House Thursday night. Erica Wieting | Features Editor

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