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 there’s one thing I can say for certain about these past few days since landing in Washington, D.C., it is that community finds you in the most unexpected places. When in the pursuit of community, I’ve often found myself struggling to connect with people who share intersectional identities or experiences. So, when my plane touched down at DCA just a few days ago, I let out a sigh of relief – I would soon be enveloped by a community who not only understood the queer experience, but also the desire to be defiantly proud in the Nation’s Capitol.
At the end of this sigh came the grounding realization that upon deplaning, my freedom to move and exist would be in the hands of the airline staff who managed my wheelchair. Last summer, upon arriving in DC for a different federal internship, my wheelchair was totaled after it was dropped onto the tarmac – it was only replaced by the airline at the end of the summer internship program. Luckily, my chair made it out of the plane safely.
Those grounding moments, like the one I mentioned earlier, are not exclusive to any human condition – which is precisely why representation-centric programs like the Victory Institute’s mean so much to me. Every queer and trans person knows the exhaustion that often accompanies normative cis-hetero-dominated spaces; coming home to this internship cohort each evening is the refresh I can say that I certainly need after navigating a city and infrastructure rife with inaccessibility.
This theme of refreshment has extended beyond the hallways of the GWU dormitories we Victory Interns have lived in – Two distinctly heartwarming and motivating moments have found me in just the few short days I have been here:
Many queer social scenes can feel especially isolating to non-normative queers like myself – that overwhelming feeling is one you grow used to even when the spaces meant to reject normativity feel exclusive of your existence. After going out and visiting queer spaces here in DC, I found myself exhausted by the number of times I was either stepped on, or over – it is easy to start feeling like your humanity is in question to those around you in those moments. Community found me once again when another young gay and disabled person approached me. After we both made loud remarks in American Sign Language, we shared a hug; this hug was radical in the space that it took up both in that room and in the sense of genuine relatability and visibility in that moment.
Similarly impactful, my first day as an Intern with Representative Debbie Dingell’s office was full of excitement, movement, and new acronyms. When nearing the end of the day, I connected with a staffer who shares a passion for disability justice and policy with me – it was one of few times I was instantly able to connect with someone over policy issues often written off as niche and irrelevant. Again, in a space where issues that affect our very right to move, think, and exist are often disregarded in bold attempts to deny our humanity, we remain unwavering in our solidarity with one another. I imagine this theme of grounding realizations, visibility, and revitalization will remain repetitive throughout the duration of this summer internship experience – which is precisely the environment I need in this moment to keep on this path of resistance against the institutions which seek to disempower us.