Community leader and RHP co-founder James Crutchfield dies at age 77

August 8, 2023

Rainbow History Project is saddened by the July 29 death of James “Hawk” Crutchfield, a longtime Washington, D.C., LGBTQ community leader. Crutchfield had an impact on many organizations since he moved to Washington in 1976. The organizations that benefited from Crutchfield’s leadership and membership include the Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance, Gay Community Center, SMYAL, Capital Area Rainbowlers Association, Capital Area Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Veterans of America, Metropolitan Community Church, Capital Pride, and Lambda Sci-Fi.

Crutchfield was one of the four co-founders of Rainbow History Project in November 2000. Fellow co-founder and longtime Rainbow History Project chair Mark Meinke remembers that  “James and I met on the first day of Rainbow History Project, November 4, 2000, when he came down the steps from the Cyber Stop Cafe on 17th Street, and [fellow RHP co-founder] Bruce Pennington snagged him and dragged him into the founding discussion. James became an indefatigable member of our archival/historical organization. One of his first projects was building the list of people from whom we needed to get oral histories.”

“James was always a carer, a supporter of people and organizations. We also bonded over our love of diners and cats,” Meinke added. “But what I most strongly recall is his sense of humor and his intolerance of intolerance. He was one of the few who could talk me down when I was furiously angry about something. We have all lost a friend and a shining light.”

In recognition of his community leadership, Rainbow History Project named Crutchfield a Community Pioneer in 2009.

Read the Community Pioneers recognition.

Read the Washington Blade obituary.

For information about an upcoming memorial service honoring James Crutchfield, email Gerry Woods at