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.
Everyday at the LGBTQ Victory Institute is a constant reminder that “Representation is Power.” Here in the grandiose halls of Capitol Hill, my voice, even as an intern, is one of many aimed at making change. My presence changes dynamics, dialogue, and hopefully hearts. It is because of this that I am able to feel the tangible impact of my passion and presence in my office every single day. That being said, in these white marble halls, it becomes easy to lose sight of where we find our voice.
At the ripe age of 15 I found my voice knocking on doors and canvassing voters working on a local state senate campaign in my home state of Texas. From there I fell in love with the art of organizing people and connecting communities– finding what issues connected and bonded my neighbors and strangers alike. It was from this spark that I found myself working on campaign after campaign and soon found myself leading a statewide grassroots organization dedicated to fighting voter suppression and registering young people across Texas. As an activist in my community, this project was a dream to work on but with a large price to pay. Having been engaged in this field so early and at such a fast pace exposed me to the emotionally taxing effect that long hours on the trail and personal stakes take on one’s mental stamina. I was tired. I was exhausted. Beyond exhausted, really. I found myself adverse to my work and yearning for something more balanced. While it seems that a job on the Hill was the answer to my problem– the tilt toward balance was refreshing and necessary. For me, I was sold: campaign life was in my rearview. That is until the Supreme Court revealed one of their newest decisions: Dobbs v. Jackson.
On Friday, June 24, 2022, I felt the spark to take the streets once again and found myself outside the Supreme Court protesting this new attack every single day, for several hours a day, that weekend– ragtag organizing friends to go with me, strategizing safe protesting plans, and banding with others in the streets against anti-choice demonstrators seeking to provoke problems amongst our crowds. Despite the overwhelming grief that overcame me that day, I found myself back in organizing mode. I was back in my element. No matter how many times I walk away, it seems that I am always brought back. I needed to do more– I could do all the protesting I wanted but the Supreme Court was not going back on this decision anytime soon. The best course of action was legislative.
This past weekend, instead of attending the Washington Nationals game the morning of July 4th, I was walking down the streets of Rockville, Maryland knocking on doors and talking to voters. Instead of celebrating the nation’s birthday in the nation’s capital, my salute to the red white and blue was the best part of politics: getting people to the polls. Specifically, I was working with a pro-choice LGBTQ Victory Fund endorsed candidate, Joe Vogel, in his run to represent District 17 in the Maryland House of Delegates. Beyond being LGBTQ+, Joe Vogel’s story is one of many communities reflecting a nuanced patchwork of voices into his campaign and (hopeful) tenure as a delegate. While Vogel’s campaign represents one of many diverse candidates vying for office, unfortunately, our field of candidates on the whole is not reflective of our demographics as a nation. Despite being in the year 2022, the vast majority of people having the access and resources to run are straight, white, cisgendered, and male— dooming us to an even less diverse echochamber in office across the nation.
I was reminded of the need for more young voices of diverse backgrounds to enter the race so that we can create better spaces than political discourse currently exists in– making me so proud to even have a marginal impact to help him get elected in the upcoming midterms. As I found myself talking to voters, I naturally fell into a rhythm of connection. Connecting with people and talking about the issues that matter to them reignited the fire 15-year-old me discovered over 5 years ago. I was reminded that this work preceded any possible work that could be ever achieved in the legislature if he doesn’t win this election– he can’t work towards the necessary change we need. As more and more decisions and policy failures arise from an old body of power, I hang on to the hope of representation. Perhaps it is naïve, but I cannot sit complacent despite the failures of both Democrats and Republicans in the past. There is no other path than onward and forward, and I am ready to get back in the saddle. The organizer is back.