20biteen – Kylie Murdock

OUT ON THE HILL is the official blog of the Victory Congressional Interns. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of LGBTQ Victory Institute. Learn more about the internship at victoryinstitute.org/vci

Happy Pride! If you, like me, are queer and in DC, you were likely at DC Pride this past weekend. This pride, however, was extra special for me because it happened to coincide with my 21st birthday. I was nervous at first about celebrating my 21st in Washington, DC this summer, where I would know absolutely nobody. My birthday would only be two weeks into this program, how close could I possibly get to these people in such a short time? I was pleasantly surprised.

By day three of being in DC, we were already closer than I could have hoped. We would stay up all night, cramped in the small living room of one of our dorm rooms, talking about politics, our lives, and everything in between. There wasn’t a day when we didn’t hang out for hours. Growing up in a conservative family and town, I was closeted until the age of 20. I was surrounded by straight people and straightness. Even going to school at UC Berkeley, I was never really surrounded by a bunch of queer and trans people. But now, I was living with eleven other queer people, and I was excited.

A group of young people pose at the DC Pride parade

The day of the pride parade (and my birthday) came. I put on my gay shirt, my fishnets, my shorts, and my baseball cap. My roommate Elí gave me rainbow eyeshadow and doused my face in glitter. We headed out to the Nordic Pre-Pride Parade party for free food, because we’re college students. After the party, we walked over to Dupont Circle to get ready to march in the parade. I went to DC pride last year, but I stood on the side and watched with my straight friends. Now I was with my gay friends, and we were going to march in the parade with the LGBT Congressional Staff Association. It must’ve been two hours of sitting around before we actually got to start marching. But once we did, I knew it was all worth it. Seeing all the people who had come to watch the parade, seeing them wave their flags and cheer us on, it was powerful. My heart swelled with love and pride as I waved and threw out beads. It was a magical way to celebrate my birthday and pride.

So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the connections I’ve formed with the others in the program, and I’m so excited to continue to grow those relationships during these next six weeks. I already rue the day I have to say goodbye to them. But I know we’ll stay connected until we see each other in November at the 2019 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference, and then continue to stay connected throughout our lives. Who knows, maybe we’ll be working with (or for) each other someday.