[When I came out in May 1971] I started picking up on the gay community around town. There were a lot more people than I ever would have dreamt possible.”
“By 73, I had decided maybe I would spend a little bit of time on this gay activist stuff. It took me about 6 months before I felt comfortable, but I took to it like a duck to water. I had always been interested in politics and I thought this is someplace I can make an impact.”
An economist, for over three decades Craig Howell has been at the heart of key gay civil rights issues in Washington, DC. No matter the issue, he always strives for fair and equal treatment for the city’s gay citizens. One of his proudest achievements is his successful campaign (1980 – 1983) for inclusion of gay victims of the Nazis in the purview of the US Holocaust Museum and Memorial.
His success is attributable not only to his grasp of the details and legal implications of policies but also to his ability to build coalitions in support of gay community initiatives.
Beginning in 1973 when he joined the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA), now the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA), Howell became active in campaigning for changes in public policy and perceptions. Within two years he was president of GAA, a position he returned to in 1999. He has served the organization in numerous capacities and offices ever since.
Howell was one of the first openly gay federal employees following the end of the Civil Service Commission’s ban, and as such was frequently quoted in the non-gay press. His career as a federal gay activist climaxed with his role in helping GLOBAL (Gays/Lesbians/Bisexuals At Labor) secure a comprehensive anti-discrimination policy for the U.S. Department of Labor before his early retirement in 1994.
Howell has long specialized in assuring vigorous enforcement of the District’s landmark D.C. Human Rights Act of 1977, which remains one of the strongest and most comprehensive anti-discrimination laws in the entire country. In particular, he spearheaded GLAA’s successful effort to reestablish the Office of Human Rights as an independent agency in 1999 and to secure a budget large enough to reduce its long-onerous case backlog to a more reasonable level.
He has brought a similar dedication and energy to the Adventuring outdoors group and Chrysalis Arts & Culture Group. Craig served as overall Adventuring coordinator for 8 years and remains as its coordinator for hiking and similar woodsy outings. At Chrysalis, he also organizes events and trips. Howell is also a nationally recognized guide to Civil War sites.
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