Capital Pride Heroes

Celebrating the heros of DC's GLBT community

Each year, the Capital Pride Planning Committee selects a number of individuals to honor as “Capital Pride Heroes.” These honorees have gone above and beyond the call of duty in their efforts to bring full equality to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender communities. This year, eight individuals have been chosen in recognition of their outstanding efforts. These Heroes will be recognized in the Capital Pride Parade on Saturday, June 12th, 2004.

James R. Crutchfield — Mr. Crutchfield arrived in Washington in 1976 after serving twelve years in the United States military. He worked at the FCC for twenty-four years before retiring. He has been an active volunteer, leader and activist with various GLBT organizations including the Gay Community Center, GLAA, gay bowling groups, Lambda Sci-Fi, SMYAL, Gay Pride and the Rainbow History Project. He has helped strengthen our community through contributions to various social, youth, veteran and neighborhood groups. Since the 1970s, he has been a member of GLAA, serving on education, and police and crime committees as well as working as its office manager for more than two years. His concern for gay youth led him to become a founding member of SMYAL in 1984. As a gay veteran, he served for two years as president of the Capital Area Gay Lesbian, and Bisexual Veterans of America and earlier served as Secretary of the local Gay Veterans Group. He served as president of the city’s second Gay Community Center for more than five years. In 2000, Mr. Crutchfield became a founding member of Rainbow History Project. He continues to serve as its board treasurer and as organizer of events chronicling the history of gay youth and gay sports.

Kathleen DeBold — Kathleen DeBold is the Executive Director of the Mautner Project, the national lesbian health organization. The Mautner Project was founded in

1990 following the 1989 death of Mary-Helen Mautner of breast cancer. Shortly before her death, Mary-Helen and her partner, Susan Hester, discussed starting an organization that could help other lesbians face the overwhelming challenges of life-threatening illnesses. Based in Washington, D.C., Mautner has grown to become the national lesbian health advocacy organization. Its mission is to promote lesbian health through advocacy and activism; conduct and advocate for research; educate lesbians about their health, provide direct client services and support to lesbians, their families and caregivers. Before joining the Mautner Project in 1999, DeBold served as Deputy Director of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, where she supervised the organization’s communications, training and political programs. An articulate advocate for the LGBT community, DeBold has been a featured speaker/trainer at hundreds of events, workshops, and seminars, including the John F. Kennedy School of Government (Harvard University), Feminist Expo, Bridgebuilder’s Conference, American Cancer Society Diversity Conference, Susan G. Komen Foundation Mission Conference, Women’s Information Network, National Lesbian Health Conference, OutVote, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association Summit.

Ric Mendoza-Gleason — Mr. Mendoza-Gleason first came to D.C. for a two-week vacation to visit his lover in May 1965. He never left. Raised in Chicago, Mr. Mendoza-Gleason lived in California and served in the military in Korea. He has lived in the Mt. Pleasant area continuously since 1965. As a Latino, he has a comprehensive knowledge of the evolution of options for the Latino/a community. He has worked as a teacher, in local clubs, and at Lambda Rising Bookstore. He is a founding member of Gays and Lesbians Opposed to Violence (GLOV) and ENLACE, the first Latino gay organization. He was named to the D.C. Latino Civil Rights Task Force in 1991 and he continues to contribute to our community as an executive board member of the Rainbow History Project. He has also worked with the Gray Panthers on housing and Medicare issues for seniors. His experience in the Korean War led him to participate in local gay veterans groups and in the gay veterans oral history project.

Mara Keisling — Ms. Keisling is the founding Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), the first national advocacy group for the transgender community. She was instrumental in getting trans-inclusive hate crimes legislation passed in Pennsylvania and is a forceful speaker on behalf of the GLBT community and she is able to bridge gaps of ignorance and discomfort. She has served on the board of Directors of Common Roads, a LGBTQ Youth Group and on the steering committee of the Statewide Pennsylvania Rights Coalition.

Jerrie Linder — Ms. Linder arrived in Washington, D.C. in the early 1950s and ever since has nurtured and supported the local LGBT community. An octogenarian, Ms. Linder continues to participate in annual Pride events and attend conferences such as Lavender Languages. Ms. Linder worked at the National Geographic for more than thirty years and rose to the level of curator of the organization’s esteemed magazine. Her experience with activism and organization include working with the Washington area Women’s Center. Her experience of achievement and discrimination in her field of photojournalism led her to be a founding member of the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association. She has also been active in the Triangle Arts Group and became involved with the previous Gay Community Center as its vice-president in her early ’60s. She helped keep the community center open as a functioning and welcoming center until its closing in late 1990. Ms. Linder helped give many gay and lesbian artists their first opportunities to exhibit their works specifically to the Gay and Lesbian Community.

Mark Meinke — Mr. Meinke is chair of the Rainbow History Project (RHP) an organization dedicated to the preservation of GLBT history in the nation’s capital. As many projects, RHP grew out of necessity. Mr. Meinke was attempting to write a book on the drag community and by November of 2000, realized there was no local archival collection and no local GLBT-focused historical society. He has said that RHP is about making the story of our struggles and our community building known, so he began by collecting oral histories of GLBT life in the nation’s capital. He continues this work and has also begun to amass a database of our social geography, the places and spaces that have been important to our history. He recognizes that Washington, D.C. is a largely African-American metropolis and RHP works very hard to tell the story of African-American gays and lesbians, as well as other local ethnic groups. RHP also networks with other archival groups preserving Washington, D.C. history. RHP also has taken a part in the preservation of buildings that have housed important LGBT movement activities. Currently some of RHP major projects include indexing the Washington Blade and preserving copies of the Friends Radio program.

Don Michaels — Mr. Michaels has been an integral part of how the GLBT community in Washington, D.C. views itself for more than thirty years. He was the original publisher of the Washington Blade, taking it from a monthly in 1973 to a bi-weekly in 1978 and then to a weekly in 1982. He was involved in every step of the Blade‘s existence, from personally inspecting copies as they came off the press run in Virginia and trucking them back to town in his beat-up Volkswagen bus to delivering copies to its readers in the District. Mr. Michaels’ commitment to the paper and the emerging LGBT community’s economic and political strength drove him to record events as hard news in a pointedly unbiased fashion. He led the Blade for twenty-four years, chronicling our emergence from backrooms to boardrooms. His sensitive reporting on the AIDS crisis helped galvanize the response that our community took to minister to its own when no one else was watching or simply turned away. Mr. Michaels ensured that the Blade gave back to the community from which it sprung, whether through extensive local coverage or simply by sponsoring hundreds of community events.

Otis “Buddy” Sutson — Mr. Sutson is a native African-American Washingtonian and a Vietnam Veteran who, in his second career, has devoted himself as client services manager for Northern Virginia AIDS ministry and Damien Ministries. For more than thirty years, he was the backbone of the Best of Washington (BOW), one of Washington, D.C.’s most successful and enduring black social clubs. He founded BOW in 1973 as a venue for the African American gay community in the tradition of black social clubs that existed during and after segregation by organizing house parties and spectacular social events and currently serves as the organization’s chairman. As more opportunities opened up for the African-American gay community, Sutson worked to redefine the role of BOW and other black social clubs, spurring them to support community HIV/AIDS organizations and other GLBT organizations to provide role models for younger African-American gays and lesbians.

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