Professionally, Barrett is an attorney, and serves as Co-Chair of the Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity of the American Bar Association. He was graduated from the Horace Mann School in 1971, received his BA from Columbia University in 1976, and his JD from Columbia University in 1979. As a student at Columbia University, he was Treasurer (1974-1975) and Vice President (1975-1976) of Gay People at Columbia, and in 1979 founded the Columbia Gay and Lesbian Law Students Association. While in New York, Barrett served as a member of Manhattan Community Board 9 (1978-1980), and as a member of the Board (1974-1975) and Chair of the Community Outreach Committee (1977-1980) of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah.
Barrett is a member of the Screaming Eagles, proud supporters of 4-time MLS Cup Champions and InterAmerican Cup Champions DC United. He also serves on the planning committee for Gaylaxicon 2008, the annual international science fiction, fantasy, and horror convention for GLBT fans and friends. In addition, he is an avid amateur astronomer, and is recognized as one of the world’s top ten eclipse chasers. Barrett’s husband, Antonio Ruffini, a writer and engineer, lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.