OutPower

Valuing Our Pathways – Angel Strong

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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As with every other week, constituent calls were a priority for me as an intern. It gives voters a chance to air their grievances, ask for aid, and present appreciation for the congressperson. With the State of the Union address imminent, constituents were calling in hoards with concerns about energy independence and what may happen to Afghan and Ukrainians among other issues. Some pleased, others not, but no matter their opinions, they were generally calling based on one thing: values.

The way I see it, at a time of so much uncertainty—which between the war in Ukraine and the inflation crisis has been the only constant—so many people are looking to those of us on the Hill to make the correct decisions all the time. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of trust that takes, especially when you’re their first point-of-contact. As I’ve contemplated over this, I have come to two distinct realizations.

The first is that I enjoy being someone people can put trust into, even just as a voice on the other end of the line. My job is vital; they’re trusting me to pass along their message. It makes what would seem like a menial, sometimes emotionally exhausting task, of the utmost importance. Democracy doesn’t function if not everyone’s voices are heard, and I enjoy being able to say I help make that happen.

The other realization I’ve come to is that as someone who aspires to work in the State Department one day, the values I’m hearing expressed over the phone every day are the same ones I will be hearing for a lifetime. As Presidents and their administrations change and shift, so too will their values. It is the job of foreign service officers to act on the values of the administration—the will of the people. It is a special real-life foreshadowing in many ways.

Because of this realization early in the week, I found a special solace in the Victory programming from this Friday, as we began discussing LGBTQ history. We were lucky enough to hear directly from a member of The Rainbow History Project and deep dive into LGBTQ history here in Washington, DC, which was full of intervals of disheartening acts and inspiring reactions.

I have always been passionate about the stories of my community, understanding that each milestone we’ve had has come to a range of individuals within our community. It really made me think about modern-day activism; at a time where everyone has a platform on social media, do we still really have the singular faces that we see in our past? While people like Marsha “Pay it No Mind” Johnson, Harvey Milk, and Sylvia Rivera were certainly faces of the movement’s past, nowadays there’s a collective consciousness model. Many in the community join their voices together from the start on social media rather than rally around the voice of one. It is an interesting dichotomy and one that holds a lot of motivation for each of us as individuals to rise to opportunities like this.

Getting a voice in the political sphere is a difficult choice for LGBTQ individuals but it is one that guarantees a place for our community and our rights for the future in America.