In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife … How do you measure a year in the life? (RENT)
As I come to a close of my year as an Atlas Corps fellow and I take a walk down memory lane I cannot help but to feel mesmerized by an amazing year in Washington DC. If the main purpose of Atlas Corps is to push civil society’s present and future leaders to thrive, then my hat goes to Scott Beale because this program manages to do just that. This year I got to hear from personal role models like Chad Griffin, Aisha C. Moodie-Mills, Jessica Stern, and political influencers such as Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton. I listened intently of their stories of overcoming adversity, making sacrifices to follow their passion, their service for others, and reaching what seemed unreachable before.
If the mission of Atlas Corps is to empower a bunch of change makers to do good in their home countries and communities, this program goes beyond that. Atlas Corps engages you in a global family where inspiration comes from the example of your peers, your fellow fellows and the people you get to bond with throughout your year-long experience, work colleagues, supervisors, friends. I cannot be more grateful for all the people I’ve met and who have had a great impact on my character.
When I think about what is it that I take away from the experience and what has it meant to my personal life, I think about what an amazing year 2015 has been for LGBT Rights.Thanks to Atlas Corps and the Human Rights Campaign in February I attended my first queer conference in Denver where I made connections that I hope to hold dearly as friends for the years to come, in June I became witness of a landmark ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States that brought marriage equality to the nation, I attended my first American Pride parade and walked down the streets as people cheered on, I saw the white house light up in a rainbow, I attended a mass by the revolutionary Pope Francis, I held the hand of a man for the first time in public. Serving at HRC and living in Washington DC forced me to see myself and discover different layers of my identity to face my dreams, fears, questions and passions.
While going back home is hard and leaving behind the life I’ve just started to live in DC seems difficult and unfair, all of these experiences can only fuel my desire to keep on raising, speaking up and working against injustice, violence, prejudice and oppression faced by LGBTI persons everywhere, especially in El Salvador. Hillary Clinton once said “”Shouldn’t we all feel the same way? Shouldn’t it be obvious that discrimination is not a human value? The challenge I take on going back home it’s not easy, but quite honestly it cannot be another way. I was born this way, an activist, those who are like me will understand, we cannot just sit by the sidelines, we cannot just rest, we cannot give up. I hope to live to see equality reach my home country, my own people, my friends, those faceless folks I will never meet and the memory of those who are no longer with us and while it’s not a guarantee I can no longer see it as a dream but as a possible reality.
Conferences, happy hour drinks, tears, blogs, elevator rides, low stipends, handshakes, friends, lovers? how do you measure a year? Thank you Atlas Corps for giving me so much to chose from, for so many smiles, so many new friends and so many memories.