Leaving My Small Town – 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.

2018 has been a whirlwind of change and adventure for this small-town Mississippian. After studying abroad in England for the past five months, I made my way back across the pond to begin my congressional internship through the LGBTQ Victory Institute. It’s difficult for me to find words to encompass what this experience has meant to me in the three weeks since I arrived in D.C. I had no idea what to expect, immersing myself in the high-pressure atmosphere of Capitol Hill and the overwhelmingly impressive cohort of 11 other outstanding and diverse humans.

Coming from south Mississippi, I have never been surrounded by so many out, queer activists of such difference in experience and agency. Living and learning with these amazing people has allowed me to explore my own ideas and identity in ways that I have felt restricted from my entire life.

Despite our incredibly different backgrounds, our group quickly created family-like bonds on and off the Hill. We have spent the past three weeks together staying up late sharing vulnerable experiences and political discourses or simply exploring the opportunities of this incredible city. The Victory Institute through this congressional program is inserting powerful and deserving queer leaders into spaces that our community has historically been barred from. We have already seen the benefits of our presence on the Hill through the input we have contributed in congressional offices and the educational conversations we have had with other interns and staff. Our country needs the voices of excluded peoples in order to truly function for us all, and Victory is making so much progress for not only the LGBTQ Community but also communities of color.

Alongside the truly impactful relationships I have developed so far, my experience interning in the House of Representatives has been equally fruitful. Congressman Takano’s office has welcomed me into their space with open arms and lots of knowledge. All of the staff is so willing to answer questions, engage in discussion, offer more work to those willing to dig deeper, and listen to lived experience in order to make more informed decisions. Going into week four of this internship, I will be engaging in more work and connecting with so many more individuals making positive change for our communities, and I am beyond grateful to Victory for making an experience like this possible for me and others.