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.
I didn’t actually understand what we were trying to do here until about half way through the program.
More specifically, I did not understand Victory’s motto of “representation is power.” I’ve spent a significant portion of this internship feeling incredibly powerless, without workplace disability accommodations and having to embark on my Trans Toilet Trek to the basement every time I needed to use the restroom. I craved a sweet return to organizing spaces, where my raw advocacy and rough honesty are honored as the strengths they are, rather than characterized as violations of Washington, D.C.’s professional culture of indirect communication and transactional relationships.
The morning of Dobbs’ expected release, as I was expressing my resistance towards attending programming when I could/should be protesting in front of the Supreme Court, fellow Victory Congressional Intern Jennifer Zhang told me, “understand this as an investment so you can do more than protest.” That line stuck with me.
I came to Capitol Hill with the intention of learning how the federal government works so I can become a more strategic labor organizer. I spent the first half of this internship trying to separate the scrappy organizer I am from the role of the suit-wearing “Hilltern”. When I allowed myself to be scrappy and suit-wearing, that’s when I finally started doing the work I felt a calling towards.
I collaborated with the Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus to identify funding sources for the gender-inclusive Capitol Hill bathroom expansion project. I wrote summaries and constituent relevancy analyses of legislation on climate justice, reproductive access, and union rights. I categorized 700+ lines of unique communication data as part of a multi-stage campaign.
I no longer feel like an excess cog in the machine, clunky and somehow simultaneously harmful and helpful. I feel like a transistor in the Government circuit, altering the flow of energy and resources. I allow my organizing background to shine in my approach to work: prioritize those most impacted, do it with others, and find a way to make it work.
I’m starting to understand the whole point of the Victory Congressional Internship: get queer young people in Congress so they can do the work they are called to do. Representation is power because it allows us to do the necessary work.
Without Victory, I would not be on Capitol Hill right now. Logistically, their material supports are incredibly generous (housing, travel, and a living wage). Just as importantly, the Victory community is deeply sustaining. I hold immense respect for the people and opportunities this summer nourished. I have become a scrappy, suit-wearing transistor, hopeful and always working towards doing more than just protesting.