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43411820_e67c66feeb Jarrett T. Barrios, a former Massachusetts state senator, has been named the new president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

The org works to achieve full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and
transgender Americans through media advocacy and via portrayals in
entertainment.

Barrios, 40, is fluent in English and Spanish, a sign of the priority that the organization is putting on strengthening its ties in the Latino community. For example, he cited the work that the org had done in working with producers of a Spanish language telenovela introducing an openly gay character.

In a press release, GLAAD also highlighted the fact that he was the first openly gay person and the first Latino elected to the Massachusetts state senate, where he “represented a largely white, Catholic, working class district.”

There’s been some concern of GLAAD’s relevance in a news cycle increasingly driven by new media and social networking, and Barrios said in an interview that one of his priorities would be to make sure that the org is “part of that conversation and is even convening that conversation.” He said that the org has to expand its efforts in new media “to proactively address the challenge of having gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people accurately represented and fairly represented in popular culture.”

“On all of these fronts, the long term victory is when we change the hearts and minds of everyday Americans,” Barrios said.

As a state senator, Barrios helped lead the legislative effort to retain same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, also championed anti-bullying legislation and the Gay and Lesbian Youth Commission to prevent teen suicide.

In fund-raising in a tough economy, GLAAD also faces the challenge of competing with an array of organizations pursuing same-sex marriage rights and a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Barrios said that GLAAD would continue to play a role in support of other orgs engaged in campaigns and legislative and legal victories, noting that “the culture change has allowed the media change to go forward.”

Barrios, the son of Cuban immigrants, is the youngest person to take the leadership of GLAAD. He currently oversees the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Foundation of Massachuetts, and will assume his post on Sept. 7 after completing an Eisenhower Fellowship studying community health in Brazil.

He and his spouse, Doug Hattaway, are raising two teenage sons.