B.W. Grant Barnes was born in Stephenville, Texas. He graduated high school in 1966, then attended the University of Texas for his bachelor's degree. He graduated in 1972, with High Honors in Sociology, Comparative Literature, Philosophy, and Architecture. After living in Berlin in the mid-1970s while teaching English, he moved back to the United States and graduated Harvard Law School in 1982.
His legal experience includes international counseling and litigation practice (including providing counsel to Swedish and German law firms and assisting local firms in California in state and federal litigation and business due diligence), international law, international civil aviation, securities regulation and mortgage acquisition litigation, insurance coverage, labor litigation and counseling (including performance/recording contracts), construction claims, government contract law, and general business negotiable law.
Barnes was involved in gay rights activism, including research in international human rights violations and LGBT legal issues in the United States. He also advocated for LGBT immigration rights, same-gender marriage and AIDS awareness and support. He was a member of LGBT groups including AIDS Project Los Angeles, Asian/Pacific Lesbians & Gays, Gay Bruins, Lawyers for Human Rights and Lambda Lawyers. He also participated on the rowing team in the Gay Games of 1994 in Amsterdam.
As of 2013, Barnes continues to live in Los Angeles, California.
B.W. Grant Barnes Papers, Coll2013-036, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California.