OutPower

Representation, Change, and Hope for the Future – Edwin Madrid

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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Just over a week ago, I packed my life into two checked bags and two carry-ons to move from the west coast to the east coast. When I told my family about the program, they were thrilled. When I told my mom, she was ecstatic. When I told my grandparent who immigrated from Central America, they told me “Tenemos envidia de ti,” which translates to “We are envious of you”. They were envious of me because they did not have the same opportunities as I do now.

They saw me building up towards my future, preparing myself for what would come next, taking the steps necessary to advance in this world that does not like people like me for who I am: a gay man and a person with a Hispanic and Latino background.

While staring out into the clouds across from the plane, I thought of what representation is and how this experience would not only be valuable to my gay identity but for my ethnic identity as well. When talking with my roommates about their experiences, it further highlighted why representation is needed. Hearing more about how policies rooted in transphobia, homophobia, and prejudice affect the LGBTQ+ community, I began to wonder why these people elected to office, which claim to want to create change for the better, would create policy that was designed to reject our existence and cast us into the gutter. Why would these transphobic organizations be okay with pulling funding from hospitals to stop people from receiving gender affirming care? Why are these politicians okay with killing us by taking away our ability to access PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) medications? Why are our elected officials trying to take away our right to marriage again? It was at this moment that the realization of why I was here finally set in.

The eight of us in the Victory Congressional Internship (VCI) cohort were selected from across the country for different reasons, but I am certain that we all applied to this program because we want to see advancement that includes us. We want to help create change for other queer people that do not feel seen. We want to make others in our community feel safe and certain that there is still hope in democracy.

All of us in the VCI cohort have different career paths, come from different backgrounds, identify differently, and have had different queer experiences. We applied to this program because we wanted to be more represented in the political sphere. This program is made for queer people and by queer people. If we wanted to simply intern on Capitol Hill, we could have done so by applying through our representatives’ offices or through another program, but we didn’t. We are going through this program as queer people to gain connects while working on the Hill, but we are also in this program to learn how to become better leaders for other queer people wanting to go into politics and wanting to make a difference just like we want to. We are the future that will pave the path for other queer people in the political field.

 Without representation, we would think we couldn’t open any doors. With no representation, there would not be any change; people from different and marginalized backgrounds would continue to be disadvantaged and oppressed. We need to break this pattern of oppression and strive to be the ones creating the change rather than helping guide these advancements. When we as queer people run for office, it sends a message to others that they should have the courage as well to put themselves out there and create action. It sends the message that we are here, have been here, and continue to exist throughout time. In the words of Harvey Milk, “It’s not my victory — it’s yours and yours and yours. If a gay can win, it means there is hope that the system can work”.

We are the new generation of queer people in politics, and we are here to stay and continue to fight for our rights and the rights of others. We will not be silenced, and we will not be put back into the closet.