Stepping OUT – Alexandria King

  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


In the weeks before coming to Washington, D.C. I was nervous. Very nervous. And while some may cite the professionalism or anxiety-inducing chokehold LinkedIn has on this city, I can’t say it was that in particular. After all, ever since I can remember, I have always been drawn to politics– since the ripe age of 15, I have been an activist and even had the honor of serving in other congressional offices, on political campaigns, and participating in a slew of related extracurriculars. Thus, politics and stuffy suits for me, for better or for worse, are not new. And going to school in a city like Boston, I found myself at home in a walkable city with public transportation. Settling into Washington, D.C., while being uncomfortable because it is hot, muggy, and a bit awkward (yes the networking too), seemed like half the battle. Politics was second nature, being “out” was not. 

I was scared of acceptance, which considering this cohort is an entirely LGBTQ+  space, from the outside perspective, this fear seems difficult to imagine. On the inside, however, I was scared that my recent journey of coming to terms with my identity and my identity as a bi person would not be enough to fit into the group. 

It has only been one year since I first came out to my best friend in the common room of my dorm and slowly over the last year I have shared this piece of myself with my friends and loved ones. It was never a process I felt fully comfortable with. On one hand, I come from a very conservative part of Texas that condemns allies of the movement to hell much less actual queer people. To come out in that space felt like a no-go. On the other hand, spending time in progressive elitist spaces like Harvard University has often immersed me in bi-phobic rhetoric. 

I’m flooded with questions—“are you actually into girls or is this just a phase?” “If you’re bi, how do you have friends?” “Are you into REAL girls or masc girls?” They’re endless. And in one question, the legitimacy of my sexuality is dismissed. One too many times I have been made to feel like my place in the community is not permanent. I have been made to feel like I am not enough. 

So entering the LGBTQ Victory Institute on day 1 and meeting my cohort for the first time this summer, I held my breath with anticipation. After all, for someone who has just really begun their journey of “coming out”, I was extremely nervous hailing the expectation to be the new representation of LGBTQ+ leaders in none other than Representative Katherine Clark’s Office, the Assistant Speaker of the United States. To be accompanied by people who I imagined were further along their process or fully out was terrifying. I genuinely thought I was not going to fit in or keep up but I quickly came to see that my anxiety leading up to this summer was unfounded. 

Meeting the other interns and beginning the process of becoming friends with them was transformative. I was comforted by their range of diverse backgrounds, interests, and authenticity: Meg’s knack for cooking Trader Joe’s meals; Alan’s ability to crack a joke and lighten a situation; Lauren and I bonding over sorority life; Ila’s love and talent for music; Michael’s work ethic. These were no longer faces on a screen or a name attached to a picture, these were people with whom I could become friends and who would accept me. Unlike in other spaces I have been in, they simply accepted my place in the community that is our cohort. I could see that I was seen as valid. 

I have never felt that more than I did this past week. It all started at the Victory Congressional Pride reception hosted by the LGBTQ Victory Institute in the Senate Dirksen Office Building where I had the chance to connect with other queer individuals and allies all in one space. So many people were so excited to see my Victory pin and hear all about my experience in my office. Already in my first week with Representative Clark’s office, I had the opportunity to write a memo for the historic gun control hearing following the massacre in Uvalde in my home state of Texas. I loved running into my fellow interns in the hall, catching the bus home, and hearing everyone’s crazy stories. I felt more comfortable and at ease. 

I was also really touched by our discussion of queer history and hearing everyone’s experiences and stories during our Victory programming. I think the most salient thing that affected me was hearing the rest of the group concur with our fellow intern’s remarks to be introspective in our efforts to combat bi-phobia in our community. Nobody in the office knew it but it made me tear up a bit with happiness because it was at that moment that it clicked for me that everything was going to be okay. But that was just the start. Where I really felt the love was this weekend.

This weekend was my first Pride celebration being truly “out”. It was so amazing to be surrounded by other young queer people. Friday night was a blast going to a party that celebrated queer womxn and I was so happy that friends pulled me out to watch a local midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show on Saturday night. As we tackled the Pride parade and block party as a group, I felt like I was with old friends. We laughed, we danced, we walked, and took the most amazing photos. For one of the first times ever, I really felt like it was okay to be myself. With the help of the amazing Victory Congressional Internship program and my newfound friends, I felt a comfort in myself I had never ever experienced before. While everyone settled into Washington, D.C., I finally settled into myself.