Goodbye, DC! – Donna Gary

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 would never have applied to an internship program on Capitol Hill had I not been encouraged by Victory Institute & Fund to apply as someone who was not studying political science. This program surrounded me with people who understood the value I bring to every space when I bring my entire self. As a poet, researcher, and an outspoken individual of multiple marginalized identities I often worried my lived experiences would be tokenized, exploited and misunderstood in our nations’ capital. My time on the Hill has taught me just how powerful I truly am, and just how much more people like me are need in policy, and legislation. I still have little interest in running for office (I know bummer), but I do feel much more comfortable asserting the views that I have always had as an organizer, advocate and co-conspirator.

I know just how difficult it is for the teams of folks working on legislation to see every nuanced angle of a situation or to know how legislation will pan out for the most marginalized populations.This is why representation, genuine diversity, racial equity and accessibility is so important. I also know the care and intention I bring to every word is deeply appreciated at every briefing I disrupt with tough thoughtful questions. I bring the people who cannot be here with me everywhere I go. I make this place better when I am honest and unapologetic, while also recognizing the knowledge others can offer me. Below is a list of first time experiences that I never would have enjoyed without the full monetary, emotional and mental support of this program;

  • Lived in D.C.
  • Went to the National Portrait Museum immediately!
  • Dressed up every single day to sweat in a suit.
  • Walked up a broken escalator at least three times a week.
  • Completed co-sponsorship appeals on legislation, and impact.
  • Attended briefings and asked vulnerable hard hitting questions about the impact on sex workers, people with disabilities, LGBTQ folks and homeless youth.
  • Wrote, researched and fact checked memorandums and reports.
  • Listened to hearing live and actually knew what was happening.
  • Attended a baseball game with front row seats (Congressional Baseball Game of 2018).
  • Slept in a hammock.
  • Cold emailed librarians, editors, encyclopedia contributors, one Deputy Chairman and so many people I had met once for “follow up and thank you,” coffees.
  • Slept like a baby almost every night.
  • Turned 21.
  • Wore green lipstick.
  • Wore teal lipstick.
  • Volunteered at a club (DC Latinx Pride).
  • Worked with about fifteen people on editing writing samples, applications, and resumes and improving my grammar (it takes a village y’all!).
  • Introduced myself to a stranger on average once a day.
  • Spent my lunch at a library.
  • Started my first research project.
  • Planned my first event in a public space.
  • Applied to two grants and got both!?
  • Ate cake a midnight three weeks in a row (happy belated birthday cohort members Vanessa, Sydney and Elias!).

I have taken more risks this summer than I ever have before.

Thank you to the community of people based in DC who do not live or work on the Hill, but welcomed me nonetheless. You are the heart of this city and I hope you will have me back sometime soon.