OutPower

Coming Out? In This Economy? – Edwin Madrid

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

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With the program a little over its midpoint, I begin to look to the future; much like Gatsby looks across the bay into the misty green light. This internship program is nothing like other programs or internship opportunities that I have been a part of. Being someone who goes to a school that is a predominately white institution, it is hard to find a sense of community when the pool of Hispanic students is small, and the pool of queer students is smaller. Being on Capitol Hill for just a few weeks, I have already felt a sense of community here when talking with other staffers in the LGBTQ+ caucuses on the House and Senate side, spending time with the other interns in my program, and talking with other Hispanic people on Capitol Hill. As much as I want to get back to California just in time for tamale season, I wish I had the same sense of community back at my school and back in my hometown. However, there are others that are in more difficult situations than I am.

This past Tuesday was National Coming Out Day, a day that some celebrate but others in the community may not fully embrace because they are not fully out yet or for different reasons. Coming out for me is something that feels unnecessary and traumatic. Why do I have to declare my sexuality to people? Why are straight relationships the default? These are some of the questions that non-straight people have thought of when confronted with the idea of coming out. Being from California, coming out should be easy but there is still uncertainty about coming out. You do not know how people will react, where you will go if you get kicked out of your house, if you will face work place discrimination, if your family will look at you the same, and much more. For me, I have only come out a handful of times and decided to simply stop coming out after a certain point. When applying to this program, I debated even accepting this internship because it meant that it would be even easier to find out that I was gay. I am just one person with my own experiences, some might agree with me and others might think coming out is something that is needed. Coming out to me is not something that you need to do, but something that they want you to do.

However, I think that there is power in coming out. It takes a lot to be that vulnerable and transparent. I do think coming out establishes our identities of sexuality and  gender, serves as a mark to indicate that we are here on this earth doing what others can do and breaking barriers as time goes by. Without the process of coming out, it would be like we were never here, there would be no record of our existence.  Additionally, coming out allows us to build communities, like the Victory Congressional Internship program, where you can share experiences with others and confide in people that understand what you have gone through on some level. 

In a way, coming out can be a first step towards a new life, both metaphorically and literally. The weight on your shoulders drops, you can breathe again, and you envision what can now be for your new life. In some ways it feels like some of coming out scene in queer movies, but in other ways it doesn’t. The coming out process is different for everyone and takes time. It is not a required step that you need to check off on a list, it is an optional step that can be done if you feel it suits you on your journey. Whether or not you celebrated National Coming Out Day, I hope you find solace in knowing that you are not alone and that there are others out there in the world just like you.