OutPower

Spurred By the Supreme Court: Finding a Call to Action – Kaelynn Crawford

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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At the start of my internship, I found myself anxious and unnerved. These past 4 weeks in both Senator Tammy Baldwin’s Office and the LGBTQ Victory Institute have allowed me to find my voice of confidence and belonging. Moreover, it has presented challenges that I have never faced before.

Growing up, I lived most of my life in Oregon and Idaho. My small rural community felt like home as riding dirt bikes, camping, and surfing were some of my favorite activities. I have always admired Washington, D.C. for its historical significance and breathtaking architecture. Nevertheless, living in a city has felt restricting and suffocating. I feel as if there are people everywhere without any room to breathe. I will admit, the first couple of weeks were hard. Yet, I feel myself becoming more comfortable each day, while simultaneously recognizing that I am a part of history at this very moment, an uneasy feat for any person.

Having the ability to walk down to the National Archives and see the Declaration of Independence or walk through the National Mall and admire the brave names of those who died in Vietnam has seemed surreal. Despite these beautiful commemorations to those who have shaped America, I have felt particularly disheartened working for such a large government entity that condones and stands by as 33 million Americans lose their reproductive health care rights.

Having the ability to work next door to the Supreme Court used to be a point of pride for me. On my walk to work each morning, I no longer see tourists standing in awe of the beautiful marble building. What I now see are black gates with blinding flood lights behind them. Perched on top of the historically significant building are men in blacked-out outfits with binoculars, ready to spot the next uncivil protestor. Across the street are men, women, and children marching to the chat of “freedom and equality for all”. Directly adjacent to them are protestors holding signs condemning all those who dare seek reproductive healthcare. Day after day, overwhelming decisions continue to roll out. Police officers are no longer able to be sued in civil court for not reciting Miranda rights, access to reproductive health care is overturned, and the scope of what the Environmental Protection Agency is allowed to do has been limited. My head is spinning and I cannot keep up.

At times I feel that my power is limited and I am helpless. When I feel myself slipping into cynicism, I remember those whose shoulders I stand on to be where I am today. Individuals such as Martin Luther King Jr., Harvey Milk, Sylvia Rivera, or Christine Jorgenson. These individuals faced adversity far beyond my own. Imprisonment, homelessness, assault, and much more for their pursuit of justice and equality.

I cannot help but wince at the thought of abandoning the United States as a home of democracy and representation. While threatening and unfortunate decisions may be coming out, this is only indicative of the work that is still left undone. Work that the LGBTQ Victory Institute and various organizations seek to uphold. Let us allow this moment to be galvanizing and intimate so that we too can seek to uphold the changes that were set into place by those whom we stand on the shoulders of.

I no longer consider myself a small-town girl with a small worldview. I feel that my unease of city life, paired with my new surroundings, has pushed me outside of my comfort zone. I now feel more confident than ever, ready to take on whatever is hurled at me next. In some kind of way, I have found the Supreme Court decisions to be reuniting in a country with such dangerous polarization. It has also revealed to me how important organizations such as the LGBTQ Victory Institute are for representation and inclusiveness. The United States and those who reside within it are worth fighting for, and that is exactly what I plan to do moving forward.