Prime Timers Forges Friendships for DC’s Mature Gay Community

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Prime Timers DC at its 25th anniversary in June – Photo: Gerry Woods

In 1996, Bill Latham came across an advertisement in the Washington Blade for the National Capital Region Prime Timers Founding Assembly. He was just out and hadn’t spent much time in the gay community yet. The Prime Timers, a new social group specifically for mature gay and bisexual men, intrigued him.

“I had the courage to go to the meeting,” Latham says. “It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve done [to] go ahead, because I had never been around a group of homosexuals before.

But he came back. Again and again.

More than 25 years later, Latham is the longest-serving member of Prime Timers of the National Capital Area, a branch of PrimeTimers Worldwide. The DC Chapter hosts over 100 social events a year aimed at older gay and bisexual men, with a current membership of approximately 120.

Many potential members are unclear about the mission of Prime Timers, so DC Chapter President Gerry Woods makes sure to clear them up.

This is not a dating service.

Not a sex club.

Not a political group.



“We only do one thing,” says Woods. “We offer our members, their guests and friends the opportunity to socialize, online or in person.”

Prime Timers hosts events like weekly Wednesday dinners at DuPont Italian Kitchen, Zoom calls, beach trips, concerts and parties. Members are mainly aged 60, 70 and 80, although the group is open to anyone 21 and over.

Latham, fondly remembering weekend trips to a bread and breakfast in West Virginia, says he made some lifelong friends. New members like James “Hawk” Crutchfield create quick memories: Last year he dressed up as Santa for the Prime Timers Christmas party.

“You wouldn’t think it, but every one of these little old men wants to have their picture taken with Santa Claus,” laughs Crutchfield. “It just reminds us that we’re still kids at heart.



Finding that comfortable companionship isn’t always easy for older gay and bisexual men. In fact, says Woods, PrimeTimers Worldwide founder Woody Baldwin started the umbrella organization because he had trouble fitting in at gay bars.

But when a strong community – like Prime Timers – becomes available, members enjoy benefit after benefit.

“[People realize] they’re not the only ones,” Latham says. “There are others out there who have been through situations where they come out late. You don’t have to feel like you’re the only one who’s been through this anymore.

Beyond the benefits of a shared identity, Woods also notes that the group encourages seniors to stay healthy and social.

Prime Timers DC 25th Anniversary Party in June - Photo: Gerry Woods
Prime Timers DC 25th Anniversary Party in June – Photo: Gerry Woods

“Sometimes older people tend to isolate themselves,” he says. “Some of them stay home and just watch TV and are often alone, and that’s not really healthy for them. We think it’s important that you go out and socialize and mingle. to others and try to stay active.

Additionally, when members are separated from their families, Prime Timers provides an essential social service. The group was recently recognized for this work by Mayor Muriel Bowser, who issued a proclamation honoring Prime Timers’ twenty-five years of community building.

Spurred on by the anniversary, Woods seeks to preserve the band’s history.

“When we celebrated our 25th anniversary in June, I wanted to include information about the early days of our chapter. I did not find much information. We haven’t really written anything.


Woods therefore began working with the Rainbow History Project. Together, they are setting up interviews to document the stories of Prime Timers members, starting later in August. Still 25 or 50 years later, Woods likes to think people will look into the archives and learn how Prime Timers grew.

Both he and Latham would like the group to grow, even if its capacity is limited. Woods suggested new groups could form nearby, in addition to existing chapters in Baltimore, Richmond and Rehoboth Beach. The reason more people are joining, he says, is already clear:

“What’s amazing is that when you join Prime Timers, you instantly have 120 friends.”

To learn more about prime timers in the National Capital Region, visit https://chapters.theprimetimersww.com/dc/.

To learn more about Prime Timers Worldwide and to find a chapter near you, visit https://theprimetimersww.com/.

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