Paul Tran has been active in the North Texas political arena for many years. A native of Dallas, he founded the Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats, and he is involved with and holds positions in both the University Democrats and the Texas Young Democrats. Tran is an avid supporter of LGBT youth and was recently appointed to the board of Equality Texas.

What is Equality Texas?
Equality Texas is the statewide organization that advocates and lobbies for the elimination of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. We work on nondiscrimination, safe schools, relationship recognition and family and child welfare through legislative initiatives in odd-numbered years and regulatory/administrative initiatives in even-numbered years.

What do you hope to achieve as a board member of the organization?
The past election did much to increase youth involvement and small donor turnout. The Proposition 8 protests excited many of us, so I want to help Equality Texas tap into this enthusiasm to further support for pro-equality legislation. By involving young people in the advocacy process, I want to work to establish an educated youth base for the next several legislative cycles.

You are working on a PH.D. in political science. How did you become interested in politics?
When I was a lot younger, I could have cared less about politics. When I went to college, I wanted to help others and involved myself with the student government. I saw the impact I made, and it spurred me on to try and do more.

What tips do you have for people who want to become involved in a grassroots movement?
First of all, find out how to become involved and realize that your voice can be heard and respected. Second, remain committed and engage other people to help in activism. Being educated about the issues and having a plan also means you have credibility. What you get out of it will equal that which you put into it.

At The University of Dallas, you led a group which fought for students’ rights. What advice can you give people who want to become involved in the political process?
We acted as concerned citizens working toward common goals, which is what I hope many Dallasites come do at the Equality Texas Lobby Day on March 2. We’re doing a training on Sunday, March 1. As LGBT people, we didn’t grow up learning about our movement around the dinner table. so we have to search out our history. This means we need to search online, join mailing lists and stay updated on current events. Don’t be afraid to go to political meetings.

Soundout is a weekly column featuring people whose jobs and interests have an impact on the daily lives of members of the LGBT community. It features those who often go unnoticed by the press and community. If you’d like to recommend someone to cover in this column,

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 2, 2009.
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