Flying – Gilberto Estrada Camacho

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

If you had been sitting at my table last summer in Chemistry and told me that the next summer I’d be a congressional intern, I would have laughed in disbelief and moved on to try to figure out how many electrons are in H3PO4. Being here is in DC is a dream.. That 4-year-old little boy who immigrated from Mexico to California with nothing but the clothes on him, is now roaming the halls of power. Learning the inner workings of the Hill firsthand, while still in college, is the opportunity of a lifetime. You are literally within the building that makes the laws that affect everyone in the nation.

Since the first day I got to DC, I feel that I have grown so much personally and professionally. Personally, there was so much I didn’t know about the LGBTQ community. I always wanted to know more but never knew where to start. From learning about the origin story of the Stonewall Riots in 1969 to the untold stories of LGBTQ people in the Holocaust has given me a sense of pride knowing that people fought for equal rights before my existence so that I would have the freedom to love who I want. People lost their lives for future generations to thrive without discrimination. They were abused, publicly humiliated, and discriminated against, but they never gave up because they believed that everyone deserved equal rights.

Professionally, working on the Hill was nothing like I imagined. I thought the Hill would be strict and stuffy 24/7. Like the staffers in Representative Sean Patrick Maloney’s office would be robotically professional, I was wrong, to an extent, learning that, yes, the environment is professional but not all the time. On a daily basis you hear the staffers cracking jokes throughout the day. They actually talk to you and offer their help, even though they are always busy.

Some of the work interns do can come across like “busy work,” but this type of work allows staffers to focus on the important tasks at hand, like coordinating with other offices to co-sponsor a bill. Even though the work we are doing is often considered “unappreciated” work, I feel that the staffers do appreciate the interns, mainly because they were once interns, as well. Turns out, many interns become staffers within a year or two. It blows my mind how fast paced the Hill is, but that’s DC for you.

An important thing that I have learned is that it’s okay to take up space on the Hill, meaning that I belong here, even though not everyone looks like me. Just being on the Hill as an LGBTQ person of color, I am one of the twelve trailblazers for the next generation to come. I write this in hopes that younger generations can see me, read this, and think, “If he could do it, so can I.” That one thought within the younger generation will change America forever.

Eight Victory Congressional Interns pose for a group photo

I was so anxious and fearful to travel across the country for the Victory Congressional Internship. From starting the application process, to interviewing and receiving the acceptance email, I still had doubts if I would do well. When I doubt myself, I turn to the quote that inspires me to take chances:

“What if I fall?”

“Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?”

By coming to DC, I flew.