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GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios: Gay Identity Means "Inviting People to Understand"

While many minorities in our society face discrimination, being gay is a little different, according to GLAAD President Jarret Barrios. "You don’t wear that on your sleeve," says Barrios. "It’s not part of your last name; it isn’t in your accent.  And so, the first and foremost difference is, you actually have to come out and tell people that orientation.  You have to invite people to understand.  That’s not to say that people can’t be discriminated against because they’re perceived to be gay.  That wasn’t the question.  The question is how is it different?  And an important difference is that I have to announce my inequality.  I have to announce to people my difference and my sexual orientation as not the majority’s sexual orientation, which opens me up to discrimination."

In his Big Think interview, Barrios, who was previously the first openly gay Latino to serve in the Massachusetts Senate, says that Americans are, by and large, becoming less homophobic, due in part to the influence of the way LGBT people are depicted in the media. He says that people in the U.S. are fair-minded and understand inequality, and as they come to understand who LGBT people are much more completely and "are then open to supporting not just legislative endeavors for equality, but cultural frames, which we cast how we are understood."

Barrios also talks about how his sexuality influences how he is raising his two sons, saying that being gay helps him understand how one can "be trapped in the lens of somebody else's stereotype. .. Whether it’s 'all kids are like that,' or 'all teenage boys are like that,' or 'all gay people are like that.' And it’s made me ... more compassionate.  Not necessarily any less strict with my sons, but certainly more understanding, I think, of the challenges that they are facing and really, the challenges that I, as a parent am facing, to make sure we grow them into fine young men."

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