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.
If you do not know anything about Indiana, one thing you need to know is that we love our basketball. And as a Hoosier temporarily relocated out here in Washington, D.C., I am currently gearing up for both basketball tournament season and the last half of my time in our capital city. And boy have we officially entered the “march madness” portion of the experience. Between midterms for the classes I am taking, the legislative session ramping up, and my supervisors beginning to trust me with more tasks and responsibilities, I really feel like I am starting to get off the bench, in the game, and up to speed with the pace of Washington, D.C.
The world of politics and sports have a lot in common when it comes to their relationship with the LGBTQ+ community. Although both have the potential to provide space to advocate for and represent our community, their histories are mostly full of rough patches and tension, often due to their exclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals. And in both arenas there has been actual legislation keeping members of our community from getting a “ticket in”. There has been a plethora of tension around the country over LGBTQ+ individuals in sports and in schools, resulting in hundreds of anti-LGBTQ+ bills popping up in state legislatures – a lot of us are aware of these issues. But, as part of our programming at the LGBTQ+ Victory Institute on Fridays, we spent a whole day going through LGBTQ+ history so we could better understand the importance of where we have come from and how we fit into the larger narrative of our community and our collective struggle. Through this programming, I learned about the Lavender Scare of the 1950s, a moral panic which led to hundreds of people being fired and dismissed from Federal Government jobs on account of being gay.
Before this lesson, I genuinely did not know that there was a time in which queer people were legally barred from working in the Federal Government. I had assumed that this lack of representation was de facto rather than de jure, and learning that was not the case was a very jarring moment for me. However, soon after talking about the Lavender Scare, we talked about how far we have come since then. The Victory Congressional Internship Program not only advocates for young queer people to work on Capitol Hill, they work directly with congressional offices to place us on Capitol Hill, increasing representation and advocating for our communities in the very spaces we have been barred from in the past. This sparked such a moment of hope for me on a day when I was lamenting about how the legislature in my home state of Indiana was passing laws that target and tear down our kids and our community, banning them from the very sports we Hoosiers love to watch along with discussion of our beloved community from classrooms.
Although being an intern feels like sitting on the bench at times and I have somewhat struggled with that feeling, every very meeting, every new task learned, every errand is another point scored on my way to getting to a place where I can say I am doing what I came out here to do – be out and proud in the halls of Congress so that I can encourage others to do the same someday soon. And although I do not want my time in Washington, D.C. to be as antagonistic and competitive as a basketball game is, the fight that I feel I am preparing for when it comes to protecting and advocating for the queer community feels like it will be that way. I just hope there will be confetti and a cool (free) t-shirt at the end.