OutPower

In the Room Where it Happens – Samantha Raucher

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

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“The Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol will be in order.” The first sentence of Rep. Bennie Thompson – the Chair of the January 6 Committee – in his opening remarks echoed across the grandiose caucus room. I sat with my fellow interns and the rest of the audience in awe as photographers snapped pictures and reporters furiously typed on their laptops. Later, I watched, enraptured, as never-before-seen footage of Democratic congressional leaders responding to the January 6 attack was shown on the screen at the front of the room. I got to witness history as the Committee voted unanimously to subpoena former President Donald Trump.

On Thursday, October 13, I had the privilege of attending Day 9 of the January 6 Committee hearings in-person. This was something I knew was a possibility but did not think I would actually be able to do during my time in Washington, D.C. I was incredibly excited to attend the hearing– so much so that I could barely sleep the night before. Even more, I felt honored to be one of only a few people who got to witness in-person such a pivotal moment in the history of our democracy, especially as I have only been interning in Congress for just over one month. 

Attending the January 6 hearing is a perfect example of the opportunities available to interns in Congress. In my experience, congressional interns are entrusted with important work and presented with unique opportunities very early on. For example, during the first couple weeks of my internship, I was able to draft constituent letters on significant current events and help with my Congressman’s busy schedule. This responsibility can be intimidating at first and many interns, especially those from marginalized communities, can feel like imposters. 

During the first week of the Victory Congressional Internship (VCI) program, we learned about and discussed imposter syndrome to prepare us for moments just like those. One of the most important takeaways from that discussion was that, while we may feel like imposters from time to time (or all the time) in our congressional internships, we are all here for a reason. Not only were we selected by the LGBTQ Victory Institute and our congressional offices, but Congress, and our country, needs us. 

I recently learned that we would need to elect over 35,000 more LGBTQ+ officials to reach the number of elected officials proportional to the number of LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. While this number may not be the most reassuring response to feelings of imposter syndrome, it serves as a reminder of the importance of our role as LGBTQ+ interns in Congress. I think back to those early conversations when I feel a bit out of place in rooms like the January 6 hearing room. While there may not be many people like us in Congress right now, we are paving the way so that future generations of LGBTQ+ interns do not feel so out of place. Each one of us brings a unique and valuable perspective to the table in every room we enter. We Victory interns are here to ensure that there are seats at every table for future generations of LGBTQ+ people.