The LGBT community gets its own political reporter through the Logo Network.
Braun is no stranger to the world to politics. He says his interest grew from having been raised in Ohio, a big swing state in every election, “There’s a quote that people say which is, ‘So goes Ohio, so goes the nation,’ and so it was the norm for me growing up that we always had every presidential candidate come through my town,” he says.
He also says that growing up his parents were really great about taking him and his sister to events for all political parties, and that exposed him to different kinds of candidates and different view-points, and he found that extremely fascinating.
Yet Braun says his interest really became more focused when he was young and still in the closet.
He was following basic news about marriage equality and LGBT advocacy in the media, but wasn’t quite where he needed to be to have a voice against the opponents.
“I saw that there were all these conversations happening about whether LGBT people should have equal rights,” he tells SDGLN. “Whether two men should be able to get married, or whether a same-sex couple – two women -- should be able to adopt. I remember thinking in my head I don’t understand why these people are able to make decisions, if passed, what I consider to be an equal right for everyone.”
He really began to see newspaper headlines and political conversations in another light.
No longer were they just printed words on a piece of paper, they were topics that needed to be investigated, with questions that needed to be answered.
His political calling finally came in 2008 when he was a freshmen in college. Anti-marriage equality ballot initiative Proposition 8 was a hot button issue in California.
Braun was not going to sit idly by and watch Prop 8 get passed, so he led a campus movement against it. He says that was his introduction to “good old-fashioned campaigning.”
“I just had this realization that, at its core politics is about discussing ideas for how to improve our country and how to improve people’s lives,” he says. “And as LGBT people who still do not have equal rights in society, I think it really behooves all of us to know what’s at stake for us and who’s representing us and to be part of those conversations.”
Braun was going to be a part of those conversations, his interest in politics had begun, and he would not only question things from the side of his own political views, he would also investigate the other side to understand how they might fit together.
Although the parties disagree on a lot of things, the young correspondent discovered an underlying force that affects each one; the power of personal narrative.
“We talked to a lot of politicians about their evolution on issues like marriage equality, transgender equality and different specific agendas impacting the community. And for a lot of them, their policies or their laws were rooted in human stories.”
Those human stories from the LGBT community are often anchored in their personal acceptance. Braun thinks that coming out might be the first step in making big changes for everyone.
“If it’s comfortable and safe to do so, coming out in a way is an act of advocacy" he says, "and an act of politics because the more people that come out, the more people who know someone who is LGBT, the more likely they are to support equality and kind of have our backs.”
Yet that is not always the case, take for instance the Republican Candidate Donald Trump who has consistently said that he will try and overturn marriage equality if he's elected. But Braun says that in his time covering the RNC he met plenty of people who don't agree with that platform.
“We met a lot of Republicans who said, 'I’m completely ashamed of my party, I do not support Donald Trump, I do not support the anti-LGBT platform, but the reason that I’m here is because I want to return to the original ideals that made me Republican in the first place.'”
Braun says he felt personally worried entering the RNC, he feared the kind of hate, violence and fervor that has been associated with Republican events recently.
He was also frightened about the anti-LGBT platform and what that stood for. But he says there are Republican LGBT people who are working hard to change some of the aspects that give them a bad reputation among the LGBT community.
"They're really trying to change their party from within, and they have a special form of inflence too because if you're an LGBT Republican and you're talking to a fellow Republican about the need for equality, you'll already have common ground by being a Republican in that you might have a certain sense of credibility or a way of influencing or creating something."
Braun says that many people on social media criticized him for being at the RNC in first place, but he says the problem might be that vilifying and ignoring the people who are actively trying to take away LGBT rights is not a way to try and change their minds.
“There are things in the anti-LGBT platform that I think are really offensive and we called those out in the [Logo] piece as well, which is important to do." He said. "I think that if you look at the Republican and the Democratic platforms, there’s not a question of which one is inclusive of the LGBT community and which one isn’t, but at the same time I do think that the work they are doing to make the party more inclusive moving forward is really important.”
He also points out that this election cycle has both the most anti-LGBT platform in history as well as the most inclusive LGBT platform in history.
“I’m hoping that the Logo coverage can be an entry point because we are exposing people to a wide variety of opinions, we’re trying to talk about it in a way that will be interesting and engaging to someone who doesn’t know the nuts-and-bolts on policy or who doesn’t know a lot of the specifics but can still find something to connect with.”
Braun says that he is happy doing political coverage for Logo and advocating for LGBT rights because it allows people in the community to delve deeper into issues that aren't always featured in other news mediums, thus giving them a common forum for discussion.
"Everyone does have a voice that matters," he said, "and whether it’s coming out and talking to one person about your story that might forever change their heart and mind on how to think about our issues, or whether it’s running for office or becoming a really vocal advocate. Everyone in our community can make their voice heard in some way, and I think politics is a great way to start with that.”
You can see all of Braun's coverage of the RNC and DNC HERE.
His exclusive conversation with former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton can be seen HERE.