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.
I first came to Washington, D.C. in 2017 on an eighth grade school trip. With three buses of kids, the experience was far different from the one I am experiencing now. One week of rushing to every monument and eating at any restaurant where we stopped, my introduction to Washington, D.C. was one of hectic and constant movement. Even then I knew I would return.
Despite imagining a far different career path for myself at the time, so blind to my ineptitude for chemistry, I could easily picture myself as a radiologist living within this bustling new city. So different from my home of Cincinnati and so much more interesting, even in the ways the two cities mirrored each other. I found myself captivated with the city, with the architecture and the spirit – the undeniable liveliness of the daily bustle. At home there was a sense of rush and emergency, sure, but it was strictly within working hours, whereas Washington, D.C. felt like a never-ending breath of adrenaline. I never pictured I would be able to return so soon, never thought I would be amongst the well-dressed, fast-paced, phone wielding workers who seem to surround you anywhere you go.
There were a lot of things I could not have predicted at the time. At 13 years old, fresh out of one of my first political campaigns, I still had not accepted myself fully at the time. There were very few kids in my grade who were openly “out”, and everyday I witnessed the backhanded compliments and subtle intolerance they faced from the adult world, not even to speak of the comments of certain peers. When I did grow to accept myself and come out, it was in a more accepting environment. High school was bigger and with problems as big as dating, no one seemed to have as much attention for passive aggressive comments. My path to finding my identity was built on the struggles of those before me, our school district mirroring the historic progress of the LGBTQ+ community. I owe so much to those who discovered themselves before me and were brave enough to unapologetically be themselves and provide the representation I did not yet know I needed.
Now, I work to provide that same open and unapologetic representation for others. This position the LGBTQ+ Victory Institute has provided gives me open, endless possibilities for my future and guidance as to how to best help give back to my community. The environment on Capitol Hill is so much more open than I had ever hoped. Where, at home, it was only just becoming the practice to ask for others’ pronouns, in Washington, D.C. people introduced themselves with them. In the few days I have been here, I can already see the progress made by those who fought on my behalf before me and every time I speak with the other Victory interns, I am so proud to have joined the fight for the rights of future generations. I have no doubt that my time on Capitol Hill will better prepare me to be the change I want to see in the future. It is the biggest achievement of my life to be able to interact with others similarly driven. I now work to make the connections I can with those who fought for that 13 year old from Ohio in a matching blue shirt with a hundred other kids and no representation, who was so enamored by the city.