On Thursday evening, Immigration Equality honored long-time activist Barrett Brick with our “Global Vision Award.” The Award was presented during our annual Capital Reception in Washington, D.C. In addition, Barrett received heartfelt letter of congratulations and thanks from DC’s Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton.
Barrett, whose husband is South African, is one of the most recognized, and revered, LGBT advocates in the D.C. community. He is also a long-time supporter of Immigration Equality and a consistent voice speaking out on behalf of LGBT immigrant families.
Below are Barrett’s remarks from the event.
I met my partner — now husband — Antonio in 1999 at that year’s World Science Fiction Convention, in Melbourne, Australia. Antonio and I are both big fans of SciFi. Many people think of Science Fiction as a straight male universe, but, like all things that seem on the surface to be ultra masculine, it is pretty gay. There are lesbian planets. Men date and marry each other. Some of them date robots. I think even I may have done so once or twice.
But Science Fiction, at its best, is not about aliens or space battles. Good science fiction peers into our very lives and souls and examines who we are as a society and who we want to be. As the author Samuel Delaney once said, “Science fiction isn’t just thinking about the world out there. It’s also thinking about how that world might be — a particularly important exercise for those who are oppressed.”
Seven years ago, I sat on a panel at that year’s Worldcon in Glasgow, called “Rainbow Over the Future.” Today, the rainbow is not over the future. It’s here. It’s above us now. It’s in the arc connecting me to my husband in South Africa, connecting so many people who have been separated for so long, from the people they love and from their homes. The future that we have imagined and fought for is finally appearing. And we are beginning to taste its fruit.
When I first started volunteering for Immigration Equality, it was called the Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force, and the very idea of immigration equality for LGBT people seemed like an impossible dream. That didn’t deter us. For so many years, we held DC Valentine’s Day Parties at the home of Stephen Bennett and Craig Ferrier. Raise your hand if you were there. We also held open nights every few months at which people in need of information and help could speak with local immigration attorneys who volunteered their services. Those open nights helped many, many people in distress get plenty of advice and assistance, changing their lives for the better.
We’ve imagined an America where our lives and our families are recognized, but imagination alone didn’t get us to this point. Stephen and Craig helped us get here. Liz McGrail and Louise Zanar — may her memory be for a blessing — helped us. Ruth Eisenberg, Rick Rosendall, Sinclair Dunlop, Christopher Edwards all helped us.
As Judaism teaches, one who saves a single life saves a whole world. Over the years, I have seen how Immigration Equality has saved many, many worlds. I’m honored to accept this award on behalf of all of my DC friends who were bold enough to imagine a better world and courageous enough to make that world a reality. Thank you very much.