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.
My first day in Washington, DC did not start in a Congressional office, but the LGBTQ Victory Institute office with a chance to meet my fellow Victory Congressional Interns.
On our first day, we got to hear from Victory Institute CEO and President, Mayor Annise Parker, the former Mayor of Houston and an absolute icon of LGBTQ activism. Just by listening to her, it is easy to understand how she has compelled people into action both politically and for social change. One of the quotes that stuck with me the most was, “don’t walk around with a chip on your shoulder; it’ll become your burden, not theirs.” This was the major piece of advice she gave us concerning creating LGBTQ-inclusive spaces in environments that are homogeneous and not inclusive. I think what spoke to me most was that it brings up an important point for queer folk like myself: we deserve to be happy and we deserve to not be angry all the time. It encourages queer activists to find peace of mind in the face of adversity. She also let us know that the authenticity and candor of open LGBTQ folk in politics has been resonating with voters across the country and giving us a new perspective about our place in politics.
When I started my internship, the first stop was the office where we got our official intern badges. Even just reading the little text on the back of the ID informing me that they cannot be photographed was enough to settle it in that this was real; I am an intern for one of the most important legislative bodies in the world.
I spent a lot of time batching constituent emails, a repetitive task that made my pattern-loving brain extremely happy! Between our preliminary tasks and our ethics training, there are echoes of what the future may hold for each of our careers. I have thought about the first slide of my orientation training every night before falling asleep: the same rules that apply to my congressperson apply to me. I am held to a higher standard of ethical action simply by going into work each morning, which is a training in and of itself. These rules that govern my actions here and now will very much carry over into my career in the US government, be it four years or ten years from today. I think that is something to smile about, even if the training was extremely long.
As I continue in the Victory program and my internship, I am invigorated to see what else is in store. Next week, we visit the Smithsonian Museum of American History and I am scheduling meetings with my mentors. I have a feeling I will be getting a golden ticket to understanding how our federal departments operate and how they came to be. I can’t wait!