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.
“Hope can be limitless. Inspiration can always be found. Ideas are endless. But time, that is the one resource that none of us can afford to waste.” – Former Delaware State Senator Sarah McBride
24 hours before my first day as a “hilltern,” I was thinking about groundbreaking queer politicians across the country and what they might say to me on my first day. Luckily, I didn’t have to guess. I recently finished Sarah McBride’s autobiography Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss and the Fight for Trans Equality. As I experienced some pre-first-day jitters, her words about not wasting time resonated with me. I didn’t have time to overthink or let anxieties prevent me from being an advocate for the LGBTQ community and serving Congressman Mark Takano’s office and constituents to my fullest capability. Things happen fast on the hill and I planned to have my game face on.
When I arrived the next morning in Congressman Mark Takano’s office, I received a brief introduction to the office and then was taken on a tour of the Capitol Building with the other office interns. I knew this tour was on my first-day itinerary, but I didn’t realize how fortunate I was until our guide noted that our trip wasn’t usually open to the public. We traveled up dozens of stairs and navigated our way to a balcony a few feet below the Apotheosis of Washington, the painting on the top of the dome. My heart was beating incredibly fast and I could not stop grinning.
We then continued up one last staircase and went to the outside of the Capitol Building at the top of the dome. I was astounded. I immediately began to document and absorb every angle of DC. Looking out at the national mall, I was awestruck by the view of the people below and the sudden reminder that my work in DC would impact individuals nationwide. This tour underscored the uniqueness of my internship and the experiences that it affords me.
I have met several queer staffers in the past week and I’m confident that inspiration is as boundless as McBride describes. In my first meeting, I introduced myself to the other interns in Congressman Takano’s office. I stated my background, pronouns, and my status as a Victory Congressional Internal, revealing my queer identity. The other interns also included their pronouns; from that moment on, I’ve continuously discovered that Congressman Takano’s office is a welcoming space, proud of its LGBTQ members. Witnessing every queer staffer, politician, and intern, I’m able to better visualize myself in spaces where important decisions are made.
Outside of the office, I feel so lucky to have a brilliant cohort to share the Congressional intern experience with. On my first day, my roommate — Payton Belvin — and I got ready separately and discovered we were wearing similar outfits and practically the same blue shirt!
I have loved every moment of getting to know my fellow Victory interns. From casual after-work debriefs to conversations during spontaneous nighttime walks, my time with the 2023 Victory Congressional interns has provided me with limitless hope for the future. I am honored to be a part of such a dedicated, spirited team.
Today, the LGBTQ community is experiencing attacks nationwide. I find myself interning in Congress amidst one of the most turbulent pride months that I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. As I am writing this, Congress has yet to pass the Equality Act— a policy that would ban discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in many key areas of life. I look forward to supporting Congressman Takano’s efforts for the advancement of the LGBTQ community. Each day I come into work, I keep Sarah Mcbride’s words in mind — there is no time to waste!