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.
Every good rom-com contains some essential parts: the Unexpected Love Interest, the Near Break-up, the Grand Gesture, and the Happy Ending. And as much as I hate to admit it, I think I’ve had my own rom-com and fallen in love on Capitol Hill.
The beginning of this summer started with hustling three, most definitely oversized, suitcases across the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport towards my destination: the rest of my life.
As a part of the Victory Congressional Cohort of the Summer of ‘23, the intersections of identities, personalities, and lived experiences were thrust upon sixteen of us all at once. At times, I witnessed reconciling feelings of belongings within our little queer community. There were instances when I was confused at why the prioritization of certain aspects of our personal summer experiences meant that shared living spaces were made to be uncomfortable; other times left me puzzled at how boundary setting for what we devoted our energies to led to encountering closed doors at moments when community should have existed within our group.
Then again, every rom-com has to have its Near Break-up. But luckily for this story, amongst the complications and intricacies, lived experiences were also our shared experiences. There was solace to be found in how our LGBTQ+ identities held us together. We were in community with each other, and despite everything this summer had in store for us thus far, that community was simply enough.
Likewise, under the Capitol Dome, my love story remains withstanding. More than a month into the summer, I find myself fighting to stay on The Hill following the close of my time as a Victory Congressional Intern (VCI)—for maybe just a few more weeks, or maybe for a few more months, or maybe, for an entirely new fellowship cycle. Never could I have imagined just how deeply infatuated I was to become with the work, the people, the writings, and the feasible change created within the walls of the House Office Buildings that extends across the entirety of this Nation.
Now, cue the Grand Gesture.
I’ve always had to fight for a place to call home. My work as a queer activist began when I first gave voice to the validation of queer existence on my college campus. Leaving the South post-graduation meant delivering the easiest goodbye to a place I was never able to call home. And I have yet to figure out why, within the marble curbs of this city, the feelings of home seem to be finding me.
On The Hill, home to me feels like the minor revisions on a memo returned to me by my intern supervisor or like asking my Legislative Director to be one of my rest-of-my-career-long mentors (and her saying yes!), and especially feeling like all the accepted calendar invites for sit down conversations with members of my office’s staff. Feelings of home found me running around the Capitol Building with our office dog and a very dear friend from the Senate side during a much-needed intern break, or in the finagling of lunch times amongst my fellow interns and I to adhere to our “one intern in the office at all times” rule, and most definitely in the support bestowed to me by some of my office’s staff through their accompanying me at Victory Institute receptions and events. Granted to me by The Hill was the experience of my first ever baseball game, where I first realized that there was love to be had on Capitol Hill. As someone who falls in love, in the most hopelessly romantic of ways, at least seventeen times on any given day, I am a sucker for a good love story.
The penning of this story interrupts the resume revisions, LinkedIn updates, cover letter drafts, and interview prep I’ve taken on in my effort to claim my spot on The Hill upon the close of my VCI experience. We are a few weeks away from the end, but my destination remains the same: the rest of my life.
Enter the Unexpected Love Interest of this story: her.
It was a slow, accidental falling in love with her: . For the first time, no matter what was blocking us, we finally had a way out. It most definitely wasn’t because everything felt right—things had never felt right for us. I know I am not falling in love with her for all the reasons I would end up falling in love with my next love. This was a love that had to come first.
I used to be obsessed with the idea of who I could make myself be because, obviously, she was going to be the better version of me. Somewhere along the way, I lost the desire to meet that better version of myself. When you’ve been fighting so hard for other people, the moment you choose something for yourself, the gesture has to be recognized as nothing short of grand.
Even as I reminisce about the lifetimes that have filled my summer, I can’t tell you the exact moment I started falling in love with the person I could be. Not because she was bound to be better than any version of my past self. But because she, no I, am every version of myself that I’ll ever be despite all the versions I had to be. And for the first time in my life, I’ve had the space for that fact to very much be okay.
They say that love is a choice, that love tests you, and constantly questions how much you really care. For me, love hasn’t really stayed before nor given me a reason to stay. This time will be the first. I have finally chosen to love myself. Now the doubts of whether or not I’ll make it are at least muffled by my own response that says,“Oh, but what if we will?” And I try to love myself just a little bit harder whenever those doubts arise.
I’m not good with happy endings. I’ve never really seen a love story through to an ending, much less a happy one. All I know is that this love story is just beginning. More than a month into the summer, I find myself beyond euphoric at the lifetimes I get to live in twenty-four hours, surrounded by the people I am honored to call my friends. Even though we’ve only made it through three-fourths of the essential parts of a rom-com, based on the trajectory of this summer, there is so much more to come. I’m ready to embrace it all—especially if that means it’s me ending up still on Capitol Hill.