OutPower

Mesmerized – Noura Lamb

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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I find Washington, D.C. to be different: different climate, different air, different food chain.

At Vassar College and with my family, I consider myself to be politically involved. We discuss different “political” issues, we protest, we vote, and we donate to causes we believe in. I may not have listened to NPR every day, but I tried to deepen my understanding and continue learning with material like conversations, lectures, and assigned articles.

But to me, it seems that in Washington, D.C., on Capitol Hill in particular, when news breaks, legislation passes, or decisions are released, you can feel it and it is hard not to be on top of it. The first time I more seriously noticed this, however, was in the case of the reversal of Roe v. Wade. In my congressional office, I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to write pieces like cosponsor requests or briefs on Supreme Court cases which help increase my knowledge exponentially. Yet in this case, it added a level of intensity to the release of the Dobbs v. Jackson decision. Before I arrived on Capitol Hill, I had very little knowledge surrounding Supreme Court decisions. By that week, I could say what days decisions would be released and at what time and I even remember partly joking with my roommate on Friday, June 24, 2022, also my 21st birthday, that the Dobbs decision would be released. It meant that at 10 a.m. on that day at the LGBTQ Victory Institute office with the cohort of interns, we all watched our phones just waiting to see if it would be released. My heart hurt with disbelief that Roe v. Wade had actually been overturned. It was more than that. I felt like I could see it in the air.

However, Washington, D.C. also provides a thrill and adrenaline that offers a pressure I hold with my chest and shoulders. The spin of the city – that excitement and urgency – almost covers the other worlds outside it. I almost forget about the world outside of the trained impulse to network in most interactions or outside of the desire to have the news as soon as it’s released. If Washington, D.C. is spinning, I find it hard not to start spinning myself.

At the end of each day, nonetheless, I start to quite literally feel the pressure my body is holding in my shoulders as if the full day of trying to absorb knowledge becomes a little too much for me. As the spin starts to lift me off the ground, I have to remind myself of my foundation, what brings me joy, and my identity. Walking in the tunnel from the U.S. Capitol back to the House of Representatives office buildings, most people are cisgender, white, straight, and men. It is a space in which there are strict implied standards for dress and behavior. It seems that other identities, in particular intersectional ones, are pushed to the side or urged to assimilate. I think that aspect counts as part of the spin, the part I cannot let myself be swept into.

I am still trying to choose which parts of the spin I get to feel and looking for some semblance of balance. So far I have found more balance when I dive deeper into conversation one on one or when I cook with friends – the things that give me back energy and hope. I am not sure I’ll ever find a perfect balance in Washington, D.C., but for me, I think that’s part of the city itself.