[Ed. Note — Please see our special note on gender-neutral pronoun usage.]

Amazed. That’s how Loan Tran described hir emotion when ze received the invitation. On June 22, Tran had the special honor of attending President Barack Obama’s LGBT Pride Month reception at the White House. Ze was there among a few hundred other LGBT youth activists and state and local LGBT organization leaders, including Equality North Carolina’s Ian Palmquist.

Charlottean Loan Tran, left, with Rep. Jared Polis and Atlanta student counselor Maru Gonzalez at the White House Pride reception on June 22.

A rising sophomore at Charlotte’s Phillip O. Berry High School, Tran has been involved with both local and national LGBT organizations. Ze serves as a youth member on Time Out Youth’s board of directors and has worked for half a year on the National Student Leadership Team of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a national education and advocacy organization working to make K-12 schools safe for all students regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

In fact, Tran’s White House invitation came specifically because of hir work with the national group, which placed hir name in a long list of potential White House reception attendees, which they provided to White House staffers.

Reflecting on the experience with qnotes, Tran said it was special.

“It was amazing actually, because I’ve always dreamed about attending the White House for something excellent like that, but I didn’t expect it to be so soon because I’m just a sophomore in high school,” ze said.

During the event, Tran met and spoke with Colorado Rep. Jared Polis, one of three openly gay or lesbian members of Congress. Ze also met Chely Wright, a Country singer who recently came out as lesbian. And, of course, ze met and spoke with the president.

“We exchanged a few words,” Tran said. “He asked me how I was, and I said, ‘Fine, thank you,’ and we got to shake hands.”

Despite criticism from some corners of the LGBT world, Tran believes Obama is committed to equality.

“Actually being there you could tell he was genuine about his commitment,” Tran said. “He is aware of the things that have been going on in the community, and he made a lot of references to LGBT youth and youth leaders. I felt that it was more of a confirmation of his commitment, even if he hasn’t done as much as has been expected from our community.” : :

more: Read more about Tran and hir thoughts on LGBT/queer youth in our story, “Youth of today. Leaders of tomorrow.”

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.