And GLAAD's New President Is...

He has two and a half months before he officially takes over the reins at GLAAD, but former Massachusetts state senator Jarrett Barrios is hitting the ground running.

BY Ross von Metzke

June 16 2009 11:00 PM ET

GLAAD has made significant progress in reaching out to the Spanish language community, and you are, I believe, the first president of an LGBT organization who is bilingual. How will that play into your work at GLAAD? Is that an area you will specifically focus on? The work in Spanish-language media is critical for GLAAD's mission, as is the work in the African-American community, in the Asian American community, and in the Native American community. The work that GLAAD does, targeting communities that get their information from the quote-unquote ethnic press -- these are communities that GLAAD will continue to focus on, and it's certainly what I would like to see GLAAD expand on in my tenure. This gets me to the question of California -- a lot of people were upset about the decision on Prop. 8 in California, and rightfully so, but looking forward, the challenge for fair-minded Californians is to reach across their streets to their neighbors and invite them to consider their full equality. A lot of those neighbors are Latino. A lot of those neighbors get their news through the Spanish-language press. It is critical, now more than ever, that GLAAD in its role as a media advocate to the Spanish-language media, but also as a capacity builder working with state and local groups in their communication efforts, amplify the voices of Spanish-speaking LGBT Americans, so that they can persuade their friends and their family to support equality.

A lot of people don't know what GLAAD does -- I want to give you an example, I mentioned this, the communications support. One example is what GLAAD did in New Hampshire. GLAAD didn't take a front-and-center role, they didn't take credit while that was going on, but GLAAD worked behind the scenes developing a communications plan… in fact, the communications director of the marriage-equality effort was a GLAAD employee [Adam Bass] working with the other folks in New Hampshire to help get the message out. GLAAD was able to build their capacity and amplify their voice. That same work we have to do in every state.

Both you and [GLAAD's former president] Neil Giuliano have a history in politics. There are very high expectations for the Obama administration, but increasingly we're seeing people who are disheartened by what they deem to be his lack of a stand on gay issues. I know GLAAD doesn't work on legislation in Washington, D.C., but in media outreach and work with the entertainment community, how do you hope to influence this administration? GLAAD doesn't work in Washington. They don't work in legislative efforts or in legal battles, but what GLAAD does do is hold out the hope that LGBT Americans can achieve full equality. Full equality isn't incremental, it isn't partial, it's full. And by full equality I mean the kind of stuff you get with those full legislative victories, but that's not it. To maintain those legislative victories, and in fact achieve them in the first place, you have to have the kind of culture change… the changing of hearts and minds that allows those victories to happen. If you have an election, and you elect somebody that you like, who said good things, whether that's your governor or your president or your state representative, it isn't enough just to elect them -- then the work starts to make it possible to achieve that change. It isn't on any elected official to make those changes -- it's on us. We're going to get that change as we continue to organize our efforts and ask for more. Ask for more, not of our politicians, but of our fellow Americans.

 

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