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Now would be a good time to learn a little about the man behind the silly grin. I'll try not to bore you with details, though. Indeed, I hope the things I have included elsewhere throughout FreeHawk's Lair will say more about who I am, what I'm like as a person, and my outlook on life.

Through all of this, you will find I am very open about myself. Why? It is one of my deepest beliefs that honesty about one's self is among the surest ways of earning the trust and respect of others.

Secrets survive only in Darkness. I choose to live in the Light.

First, some general background:

My real name is Rick Hutchings, and I live in Falls Church, Virginia (just outside Washington DC). I live with my partner of two years, with whom I share my life and everything in it.

What else can I tell without droning on? I'm originally from Upstate New York (Cortland/Ithaca area) and moved to Virginia in October 1999. I work at one of the national museums in Washington DC.

Right now (and for awhile to come, I suspect) I think of myself as a former 9-year US Navy vet on current indefinite active duty as an out-and-about queer.  I certainly had fun during my days as a sailor, but my subsequent return to home and the rest of the world beyond the uniform has been far more enlightening.

I left the Navy in October 1993, after doing duty tours on Guam, in Subic Bay in the Philippines, and Misawa, Japan,  and New Jersey (I love the Jersey Shore!).  I went back home to Upstate New York and since then, gone back to college and gotten my degree in Human Services.  Now I'm currently employed as a Program Assistant at one of the museums in Washington.

I came to the realization that I'm gay when I was 23, although I'd had same-sex encounters before that.  I realize that may seem a contradiction, but it's easy to justify in the mind, even if it doesn't make sense to others. Being in the Navy at the time, I couldn't exactly be open about it. So, I became adept at leading a double life. I didn't come out until early 1994, and then not all at once. That took a little time. Now I am fully open and have been actively involved in the local gay community, particularly back in New York.

In 1998, I became a god-parent to two wonderful children (a girl and a boy).  I maintain an active and supportive role in their lives.  Not having any children of my own to raise, this fills a place in my life that has long been empty. Whenever I see them, I become a daddy.

I also try to invest a lot of effort into various areas of political activity (it's said Hell hath no fury like a Libra who senses something wrong). I avidly support anything that advances the cause for equal rights without regard to sexual orientation or any other perceived difference and, espeically, the fight against hate crimes and intolerance. Although I'm interested mainly in organizing in my local area, I recognize the necessity of a more widespread effort.

Oh! So where exactly does the name FreeHawk come from? Actually, it has two sources. The first comes from a campaign I played in Dungeons & Dragons - my favorite character was a scout-turned-priest named Hawk Silverwing. In his earlier days, Hawk had a habit of getting tangled up in unpleasant situations, and other players would remark that it was "time to free Hawk again." The second source combines the name Hawk and the name of a cat I once had - Freefall. Somehow I drew my online name from those.

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