#803 and Blistered – Elí Alejo

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

“It takes a village to raise a child” – African Proverb

Week one of the internship is done! We deserve to pat ourselves on the back. I am taking up space in the political system that has worked to exclude me due to my radicalized and/or marginalized identity. Be proud because you made it for those who could not make it, for those who came before you and for those who will come after you. You have successfully made a home out of nothing but a community of your peers and yourself.

Before coming to DC, I never had a chosen family larger than three people. I have never felt more welcomed and held than I have with my intern cohort, who I already call family. If you, like me, have never experienced the feeling of “home” you now know that you will find it with your cohort. There’s comfort, understanding, and, most importantly, love. This family will understand the intersections of your identity, and if they don’t already, trust me, they will be more than willing to learn. Our dorms, #803, #804, and #805 are never seen as separate homes, but rather, different areas of our home, much like your living room, kitchen, etc. It never feels like we are in separate spaces – we’re always together.

Victory Institute becomes your second home. Sarah, Mario, and the rest of Victory Institute become family. You see family at Victory, with their big smiles and excitement to meet you. As a trans nonbinary Latinx queer, these opportunities are very limited, and once you walk through the doors of Victory Institute, and then later, onto the Hill, all you can do is repeat to yourself, “I did it, I made it. I made and did it for my mother, my siblings, my transcestors, and most importantly, myself.”

Mutual aid and solidarity are found in every corner, there’s light that reaches even the darkest points. This is not to say we haven’t had moments that have become difficult as we have begun to talk about race, class, gender abundance, and politics. But remember this: you will listen; be prepared to learn and grow.

Those first day anxieties or worries? Everyone shares them and chances are, you might stay up until midnight the night before orientation with your family to talk about them. Talk, talk, talk until you cannot say anymore, let it out and you will be held. In our circles, we always remind each other, “You are in a safe space,” meaning all of you is welcomed. Trust when I say all of you: your traumas, your tears, your smiles, your growth, the list can go on. I feel my growth and I am excited for who I will become after this summer, but I can already feel the sadness of knowing I will have to leave DC, not because of the city, but because of the family I have made already.

VCIs on Capitol Hill

The 5 mile walk on the second day of orientation left me blistered, but hopeful for the future. We are the faces of tomorrow. My blisters have now become a memory of the talks we had through the tunnels underneath Capitol Hill, discussing our future of making equitable change for the folx we will one day serve. It reminds me of how proud I am of everyone in my family. We made it – we defied all the obstacles to get to where we are. We’re here, we’re Queer, and we’re not leaving. Thank you, week one, for showing me love and resilience. I’m ready for the rest of summer, no matter how difficult it may be, because I have my family with me.