Arrived in Washington in 1976.
Photo © Patsy Lynch
“You’re either a participator or a spectator in life.”
“I did my first protest when Anita Bryant came to town [January 1978]. From there [my involvement] became a snowball rolling down the hill and carrying me forward with it into too many other things.
“Gays have always been in the military and they’re always going to be there. It’s just a matter of if they’re going to be up front and honest about it or not.”
“The less that is known about a community, the more important it is to find and bring its history out into the open.”
James ‘Hawk’ Crutchfield is a community builder, one of those hard-working people and a classic example of the busy person others ask to get things done. His contributions range from providing community services at the community center to gay sports, Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) and its service organizations, social groups, youth services, gay veteran activities, neighborhood groups, and the Gay Pride Board in 1987.
When he moved to Washington in 1976, following twelve years in the Air Force including service in Vietnam, James discovered the gay Friends Radio program, Lambda Rising bookstore (then on 20th St NW), and the Blade – all of which put him in touch with the gay community and led to his ‘snowball rolling’ lifetime of involvement. One of his earliest involvements was with MCC where he was Secretary of the Prison Outreach Committee and volunteered for the Homeless Women Feeding Program (1978 – 1981.
His day job for 24 years was at the FCC. His retirement in 2001 had virtually no effect on his gay community involvements.
For over thirty years he has been a member of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, which he served for two years as an office manager. Despite his participation in protests, James has been known more (and he is widely known in the gay community) as a creator and sustainer of organizations.
James led the second gay community center as its president, ensuring the availability of meeting space and organizing its events from 1982 to 1988. He oversaw the move from 1469 Church St NW to 1638 R St NW. Under his leadership, the community center became a central meeting space and support organization for budding community organizations. He served on the community center board for seven years.
James’ concern for gay youth led him to become a founding member of SMYAL in 1984 and served on its board for two years. As a gay veteran, he served two years as president of the Capital Area Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Veterans of America and served as Secretary of an earlier local gay veterans group.
In 1987, while still president of the community center and involved with SMYAL, neighborhood groups, and the Kameny Foundation, Crutchfield took on board membership of Capital Pride and organized the Pride Art Show. Capital Pride declared him a Hero of Pride in 2004
For 15 years he has been a member of Lambda Sci-Fi. He ran an art show and handled program advertising for several GLBT Sci-Fi conventions. His interest in sports led to his involvement with the DC Sports organization and gay bowling leagues. He has just completed six years as president of the Capital Area Rainbowlers Association.
On the first Saturday in November in 2000, James had the misfortune to come down the steps of the Cyberstop (1513 17th St NW) just as Rainbow History was organizing on the patio. He was snagged, drawn into the discussion, and instantly became one of the five founding members of Rainbow History. The other four people present grabbed him because of his encyclopedic knowledge of DC’s gay history and personalities. For Rainbow History, he organized panel discussions on youth and sports topics. He has recently retired from Rainbow History after nine years on its board and service as its Treasurer.