It’s 2016, and the political climate in America is one of the scariest or most exciting (depending on who you ask) that we’ve seen in years. Insurgent candidate Donald Trump has taken the Republican nomination for President of the United States. Bernie Sanders, longtime Independent from Vermont, rattled the Democratic Party establishment with his revolutionary campaign, pushing the party back to the left before endorsing Hillary Clinton.

Sanders was particularly effective amongst young voters, demonstrating that this demographic may be ripe for pursuing a much more progressive agenda for the Democratic Party, if the party can convince them that it can be a vehicle for such change. One group within the party—the Young Democrats of America—aims to do just that.

Founded in 1932, the Young Democrats of America is the largest partisan, youth-led political organization in America. Their stated mission is to elect Democrats, advocate for progressive issues, and train the next generation of progressive leaders.

This year, the Tennessee Young Democrats, the youth arm of the Tennessee Democratic Party and the official state affiliate chapter of the Young Democrats of America, has launched its LGBTQ Caucus as part of an organizational expansion launched under the leadership of the Tennessee Young Democrats President London Lamar and Executive Vice President Darrell Bouldin.

The LGBT Caucus joins other “constituency caucuses”—the Black Caucus, the Women’s Caucus, the Rural Caucus, the Veterans Caucus, and the High School and Teen Caucus—which exist to facilitate their members’ participation in advocacy and outreach programs, and which are open to county chapter and at-large members of the Tennessee Young Democrats.

Aimed at serving the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning members of the Tennessee Young Democrats, the caucus’ “mission is to engage more LGBTQ young people in the TNYD, the Democratic Party and the political process. We advocate for youth mobilization within the LGBTQ Community, and LGBTQ causes within the Democratic Party and the Tennessee Young Democrats.”

In a year when so much of the political turmoil circles issues of importance to the LGBT community, from attempts to strike back against same-sex marriage to “religious freedom” laws that seek to legalize discrimination, the LGBTQ Caucus promises to offer both community and an avenue for activism for young, politically engaged members of that Democratic Party in Tennessee.

The inaugural chair of the LGBTQ Caucus is Darrell Bouldin of Rutherford County, who, in addition to serving as executive vice president of the Tennessee Young Democrats, sits on the Democratic National Committee’s LGBT Advisory Board and is president of the Rutherford County Young Democrats. The vice chair of the caucus is Blake Kitterman, president of Bradley County Young Democrats.

Both Bouldin and Kitterman were also elected to serve as delegates to the 2016 Democratic National Convention from Tennessee’s 4th Congressional District. Their selection means that the a district will be represented by two openly gay men in the male delegate slots for the first time in Tennessee’s history.

While this group is sure to be one of the Tennessee Young Democrats’ most active, one upcoming event they wish to highlight—though still in the planning stages as of this writing—is a reception to coincide with Murfreesboro Pride, which will occur on August 27, 2016.

Visit the Tennessee Young Democrats LGBTQ Caucus on Facebook and at tnyoungdemocrats.org/tnyd_lgbtq_caucus, or email lgbtq@tnyoungdemocrats.org, for more information on the group and its upcoming activities.

 

 

 

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