“It was pretty sudden. We don’t know what happened,” Sheffield said.
Barrett was chair of the Atlanta Pride Operations Committee, putting him in charge of the golf carts, radios, and tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment needed to put on the annual festival.
Sheffield estimated he had been volunteering with Atlanta Pride for at least 15 years.
“Greg was one of the longest serving committee members — he was a big, big part of what we did,” he said.
“As chair of the Operations Committee, he had his thumb on the pulse of Pride,” Sheffield said. “He ran the event triage. Whenever there was a problem, he would be the one to call. He had a big job.”
Greg Barrett (photo via Facebook)
Barrett also volunteered regularly for the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus as well as the annual AIDS Walk, Sheffield said. And he did the work behind the scenes, never asking for public recognition.
“He was the one always doing the work and all our organizations have people like him,” he said. “They’re not in the paper or getting awards and Greg was a shining example of that. Even if people didn’t know him, we should all be grateful for his work.”
With Atlanta Pride, Barrett’s job was “the most serious job” on the committee, Sheffield added.
“He had an incredible mind for the event, not just on his committee. He was just a problem solver,” he said.
“Even with all the seriousness, when he got to find a moment of joy … that look he had made me understand why we do this,” Sheffield said. “Seeing that look of joy on Greg’s face made it all worthwhile.”
The Atlanta Pride Committee meets this weekend. Sheffield said he doesn’t know what it will be like to organize Atlanta Pride without Barrett.
“I’ve never done it without him,” he said.
Sheffield recalled a special moment in 2007 during the Starlight Cabaret. It was incredibly hot and there was chaos with 110 people backstage of the popular closing event of Atlanta Pride. Then Alexandria Martin came on stage.
“I came around front and looked into the VIP section at the front of the stage where Greg was sitting and Alexandria Martin unravels some kind of rainbow materials and his face just lit up like a Christmas tree,” Sheffield said.
“Seeing him like that, overwhelmed with a feeling of happiness — I just stopped and saw how much he loved and cared about Pride.”
Friends are posting memorials of Barrett on Atlanta Pride’s Facebook page.