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.
As I look back on my time as a Victory Congressional Intern (VCI), I realize that the experience reminds me of a sport that I adore: volleyball. What I love most about the sport is that it is nearly impossible to win by oneself. The court is simply too wide for one person to cover; with three possible and no consecutive touches, six players must work together to both defend and attack. Without such numbers and coordination, no one can win let alone play the sport without a team. This same concept can be paralleled to my experience of working with and learning from the several individuals within the Washington, D.C. LGBTQ+ community. Just as in volleyball, no one person can single-handedly take on issues affecting this community. Instead, we must continue to unify so we can play on an equal playing field with the world.
Rule number one of volleyball: always help others who do not know how to play. From the community service activities I completed, I see that our community is a strong and loyal team, always willing to help those that cannot help themselves. Assisting in a fundraiser for the LGBTQ+ youth on one weekend to making sexual health kits on another, I have been reassured that our cohort and the community at large are connected. We are connected through an untouchable and unobservable thread, in fact, that allows us to support and advance on another. Similarly, when I phone-banked with the Human Rights Campaign for a candidate from Ohio, it further reminded me of how large our community is and the impact we can collectively have on it. Giving back to my connected community is a reminder that we are all involved in a powerful and stalwart support system that leaves no person behind.
Rule number two of volleyball: know everyone’s names. This truth has been similarly reflected on my time on Capitol Hill. In learning who people are, instead of what their positions may be, I have been able to form strong connections with people inside the community and allies. This has led to lunches with staff from the office of the Speaker of The House, and coffee dates with staff from the Majority Whip’s office. More importantly, in creating genuine connections with others, I have met a group of people who have both accepted me for my authentic self and encouraged me to be the future person I want to be.
Rule number three of volleyball: learn from others. The final way this loyal and dedicated teamwork has been evident throughout my internship has been through the several opportunities the LGBTQ Victory Institute has provided . In discussing history on queer rights movements, it is evident that they needed to be a unified front to liberate each other from the depths of oppression. In providing an incredible array of speakers (from a former mayor to lobbyists to campaign managers to the LGBTQ Victory Fund & Institute staff), it is evident that queer people want to lift as they rise. Finally, in providing the truth that representation in our community is still low in public offices, it is evident that we still have more teambuilding to do.
Some might think it silly to compare the rules of volleyball to the path of representation and community-building. Nevertheless, in my experience, both reveal a pattern in a path to victory: teamwork. We must always come together to support our community that thrives on interdependence and mutual protection. Although I must admit I am not sure what lies ahead in my future endeavors, I know I will always fight to make this world a more even playing field for myself and the rest of my team. That is the volleyball way and the way to victory – always.