Goodbye: It’s Hard, but It’s Necessary – Jack Hoda

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

At any given moment of my childhood, you could find me with my face stuck in a Winnie the Pooh book or eyes glued to the television as one of the movies played. These stories taught me about adventure, friendship, kindness, and vulnerability. They also gave me a quote that I can’t stop thinking about this week – “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

It may be a surprise that I was not looking forward to my Victory internship this summer. I was homesick after a semester abroad, anxious about living and working with some outstanding peers, and terrified of what awaited me on the Hill. As this experience approaches its end, I look back on my original expectations for this program with amusement. I have been challenged in so many ways by this program and the people in it to grow, explore, and reevaluate. I learned about communities I have never had the opportunity to interact with. I learned the importance and the burden of grassroots organizing, and I learned more of the extent and implications of the privilege that I hold.

Each of my fellow cohort members has affirmed, uplifted, and challenged me in ways that have pushed me to be better and work harder. They have supported me when I had no one else and celebrated with me in my victories. The Victory staff has moved mountains to support, connect, and amplify us, and my congressional office has given me opportunity after opportunity to get my hands on real work.

In mere days, I will be back in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, a completely different world than D.C. It’s a running joke in our cohort that my tagline has become something along the lines of, “Hi, I’m Jack from Mississippi. I go to The University of Southern Mississippi, and I am passionate about Mississippi.” I tell anyone who asks that as terrible as our state can be, there’s so much beauty that the world doesn’t get to see. We have some of the country’s most discriminatory policies, but we also have some of the most compassionate people in the country fighting against it. We have some of the country’s worst economic and educational policies, but we also have teachers, students, and small business owners all over the state fighting for success and growth. And we have one of the most dangerous environments for LGBTQ+ people, but we also have brave individuals choosing to stay because Mississippi is their home. Going back for me is hard and sad because I will miss these people and this space. I will miss the safety and comfort that has existed this summer to explore gender identity and expression, queerness, and political ideology, but I am going home with a mission.

Mississippi is my home, and I will work even harder to see it be a better place. The citizens of Mississippi deserve a government that values them regardless of their identity, and the students at my university deserve a community that uplifts and supports them in the same way. These are the ideals I will fight for when I return, and thanks to Victory, I have the tools, skills, resources, and connections to fight harder than ever before. Saying goodbye is hard, but it’s also necessary.

Call your representatives. Volunteer on a campaign. Get Out the Vote. Join the movement.

See y’all in December.