CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A junior political science major at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte was appointed last weekend as national LGBT caucus chair for the College Democrats of America (CDA).
Asgod Barrantes, 20, will head up the national group’s LGBT student outreach and coordinate with other LGBT caucuses and organizations both within and outside the Democratic Party.
“This is my first appointment with CDA,” says Barrantes, excited to begin his work with student leaders across the country. “Whether those students are from California or New York or Florida…our efforts are basically to expand the outreach of the Democratic Party within American campuses and making sure those voices are represented and making sure the youth vote and college student interests are heard by elected officials.”
Barrantes has been involved in local and state Democratic Party initiatives since he began college. In his freshman year, he was elected president of UNC-Charlotte’s chapter of College Democrats. Last year, he coordinated a statewide Professors for Progress campaign with the College Democrats of North Carolina and was elected that group’s director of political affairs.
It’s important, he says, for youth to take an active part in the political process. When they do get involved, their voices and concerns can be heard. The Democratic Party, he says, has listened to young people.
“The Democratic Party has been there for young college students, whether it means fighting to keep interest rates for federal student loans from doubling or whether it’s making sure that young women who are entering the workforce are getting paid an equal salary as their male counterparts for the same job or whether it is a more equal America, which is something President Obama and his administration has been expanding since he took office.”
Barrantes, who is gay, is also the child of immigrants. His parents moved to the U.S. from Costa Rica. He was born in New Jersey and has grown up in Charlotte since he was 11. A first-generation, Hispanic-American college student, Barrantes chose to stay close to home for college. Yet, he knows being involved on a state and national level is important for other students and community members like him.
“It’s a really great opportunity,” Barrantes says of the national appointment. “Hispanic-Americans are not highly-represented in political organizations and it’s great to be one of those people that strives to make sure there are more Hispanic-Americans getting involved in the process.”
Barrantes hopes his new national post gives him the chance to coordinate efforts in strategic states important in the fight for equality.
“That means partnering up with different chapters at the local level and partnering with state federations and making sure we utilize the resources available through the DNC to engage college students in the conversation on LGBT equality,” he explains.
It’ll be hard work, but Barrantes says it’s just simply a part of the gig. “As Democrats,” he notes, “we’re committed to the cause of full equality because it goes to the core of what we believe as a party.”