Jarrett Tomás Barrios began his tenure as the President of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) in September 2009. Barrios is known for his work as a human rights advocate and former state legislator, and is proud of his role as a husband and father of two teenage sons.
Under Barrios’ leadership, GLAAD advocates for full equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community –and challenges discrimination—not in court rooms or in Congress, but where attitudes towards LGBT people are formed - TV and news outlets that reach the living rooms of America, faith communities, virtual communities, entertainment, sports and more.
Barrios joined GLAAD after serving nine years in the Massachusetts legislature and two and a half years advocating for access to care and coverage for residents of Massachusetts as the president of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation. He was the first Latino and first openly gay man elected to the state Senate. While in the legislature, Barrios served as the chair of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee and Vice-Chair of the Health Care Committee. He also chaired the Massachusetts Black Legislative Caucus and founded its Latino Caucus, along with Oíste, the statewide organization advancing the standing of Latinos in Massachusetts, and the Commonwealth Seminar to promote the inclusion of underrepresented minorities in politics. He was named Legislator of the Year by organizations as diverse as the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, the Disabled American Veterans, Metropolitan Area Planning Council and the Massachusetts Senior Action Council.
As a state Senator, Barrios successfully helped lead the legislative effort to protect marriage equality in Massachusetts, and is best known for a globally televised speech where he spoke on discrimination faced by his own family. In the legislature, he pioneered the legislative approach to anti-bullying education, succeeded in codifying the state Gay and Lesbian Youth Commission to prevent teen suicide and make schools safe for LGBT youth, wrote the state’s buffer zone law around women’s health facilities and other progressive issues. Barrios has been an advocate for equality since co-chairing Harvard’s LGBT student organization in the late 1980s and the Boston Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project in the early 1990s. In 2004, he was named to the inaugural “Hall of Fame” by the Equality Forum in Philadelphia.
The son of a carpenter and a social worker, Barrios worked three jobs to help put himself through college at Harvard, where he graduated magna cum laude. He received his J.D. with honors from Georgetown University Law Center. His pro bono work as an attorney included the first successful petition of a gay Dominican man for asylum in the United States. He is also active in progressive issues at the national level as vice-chair of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Action Fund, and member of the board of Families, USA and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.
He resides in Boston with his husband Doug and their two children, and splits time between GLAAD’s New York and Los Angeles offices.