Washington is awash in summer interns from all over the country. One of this year’s crop is Grainne Griffiths, a 21-year-old Tucson, Ariz., native who’s getting ready to enter her senior year at Tufts University near Boston and is doing an internship on the Hill with the Victory Fund as one of its Victory Congressional Interns.
The past few months have been her first time living in Washington, a city the young lesbian says she enjoys and would consider moving to after graduation.
Her internship has her on the Hill working in a House representative’s office Mondays through Thursdays, then on Fridays the Fund has high-profile LGBT activists as guest speakers for the eight interns in the program.
“We’ve had a chance to see some LGBT-specific policy and we were here when DOMA was announced and also back in February when they had the arguments … so we’ve really had some great exposure to a lot of amazing things,” she says. “It’s been great.”
She’s a double major at Tufts in women’s gender and sexuality studies and philosophy. She’s not sure what she wants to do career wise after graduating but says she’s increasingly realizing that parlaying her academic theory work into the “real world” could be a challenge.
Griffiths’ family — she says they’re “100 percent supportive” — is in Colorado now. She’s single and enjoys roller skating, tattoos, movies and ice cream in her free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I don’t really make a habit of coming out to other people, but I am very open to answering questions and letting people into my identities. The hardest people to tell are usually non-queer competent health care providers.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Gertrude Stein, Heather Love, Mara Keisling, Tammy Baldwin and Kyrsten Sinema, among many others.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
I just turned 21, so I don’t really have the best answer for this question. I do love late night people watching sitting outside at a sidewalk café or waiting for the Metro. I’ve learned a lot about the people who live and work in this city.
Describe your dream wedding.
While I fully support people who want to get married, the only wedding-related dream I have is being able to visit my partner in the hospital or share my work benefits without needing to be married at all.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Respecting every single person’s right to bodily autonomy, be it preserving access to abortion, promoting consent culture on my university campus or supporting and empowering people to make the choices that are right for their individual circumstances.
What historical outcome would you change?
Right now, I would probably go back and add some language to the Constitution of the United States clarifying what separation of church and state truly means. There is a lot of ideological and physical violence done in the name of religion in this country and I wish the Constitution prohibited this more explicitly.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
I would have to say Jodie Foster’s pseudo-coming out speech at the Golden Globes this year. I couldn’t really even explain why, it just had a visceral effect on me.
On what do you insist?
Candor balanced with respect and encouragement.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
I just went to a Tegan and Sara concert, and so my last status was “Tegan and Sara = pure catharsis — at Merriweather Post Pavilion.” It was a phenomenal show!
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
I don’t think my life is nearly interesting enough to merit a book.
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Nothing, except be confused as to why such a discovery was worthy of anyone’s time or money.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
As a philosophy major, I want to say that I’m not even sure that I believe in the physical world. I believe in my own experiences and the experiences of those around me.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
One of my mentors recently told me that I should never assume that my experiences and priorities are the default for other people, which I think is tremendously important. There are so many unique voices in the LGBTQ community and true progress requires valuing them all.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
A chance to meet Simone de Beauvoir.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
The idea that asexuality is a myth or an identity that people take on to camouflage some sort of fixable flaw.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
What a difficult question! It’s a tossup between the lesbian vampire film “The Hunger” and the John Waters classic “Desperate Living.”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Too many people are uneasy about lapses in conversation. I think silence is often more generative than meaningless chatter.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I would like to be an elected official someday. Nothing would mean more than being entrusted with the confidence of the people who voted for me.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
I wish I had known to focus less time and energy on what I thought I was “supposed” to be doing and more of both on what felt right. I’m still working on that one.
There are always so many simultaneously meaningful and sustaining things going on in this city. I’m not sure what else you could ask for.