Here and Queer! – Alicia Cantrell

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

Hi and Happy Pride, y’all! This past week has been a complete whirlwind. I can’t believe I’ve already completed my first full week working on “the Hill” (as I now know it is called in DC). Time is moving so fast, and I want to savor every moment I have here in DC. I’m already feeling emotional about the end of this program. I have only known my cohort for about two weeks now, and I already feel so close with them. I honestly feel like they are a second family to me; I feel so safe and at home with them. I am so grateful to Victory Institute for not only selecting me as an intern for this program, but for also providing me with a group of people I can call family.A Victory Congressional Intern poses with Representative Sharice Davids

My first full week in a congressional office was hectic. The intern coordinator had to take an unexpected leave of absence, so I didn’t receive the normal intern training. I had to learn by doing, which proved to be challenging in some aspects, but I remained flexible and asked lots of questions (maybe too many at times) to be sure I was completing tasks properly. It was tough, but I stayed positive and was eventually commended by one of the staff members for my ability to learn so quickly. It was nice to be validated, and it gave me more confidence to believe that I do, in fact, belong here.

This weekend was DC’s Pride, and let me tell ya, I have been so excited for this event since finding out I was chosen as a Victory Congressional Intern. I have never been able to attend a Pride before, so this year’s Pride was my very first. Friday, we got to kick off Pride weekend with the first Dyke March in DC in 12 years! I loved getting to march and be a part of something more grassroots led, rather than corporate-led like with the larger Pride parade. I loved getting to be surrounded by so many other queer women.

A young woman holds a sign that says "Queers have heartbeats, too" in all capital letters. Then, not only did I get to attend the Pride parade, I actually got to march in the parade with the LGBT Congressional Staff Association! Walking in the parade was such a surreal experience that I never thought I would ever get to take part in. It was amazing to be surrounded by my community. Walking in the parade allowed me to see so much joy from a community that normally does not have the space to be themselves as freely as they can at Pride. Having people cheer us on and celebrate one another as we marched really made me feel like I belong in this community. I’ve never felt so much love and joy in one space until I attended Pride.