Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who publicly revealed 25 years ago yesterday that he is gay, told Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC that a couple Republican colleagues were among the first to tell him they were supportive.
“I had the fear that maybe if people knew that I was gay that they might not want to vote for me,” Frank said. “So there was a sense of well, that’s not hanging over me anymore. On the other hand, I feel a little funny. It’s a little bit late in life to become any kind of sex symbol. I feel funny. I walk around and I get a sense people are saying, gee, I wonder what he does.”
The retiring congressman said he was proud of his voting record on women’s issues as well as gay rights, saying “it would be a lousy world if the only people who were concerned about mistreatment or discrimination were the victims of it.”
“A couple of people who immediately told me they were supportive were some major Republican — not liberals, necessarily, mainstream conservatives, former Senator Al Simpson, former Senator Warren Rudman,” Frank said of his initial coming out.
Frank charged that Republicans have “regressed” on “diminishing prejudice and hate in the country as a whole,” while Democrats “have gotten better at an even faster rate than the country.”
“I look back somewhat nostalgically to a degree of bipartisan encouragement I got then that sadly I couldn’t count on today,” he said.
The 72-year-old noted his upcoming summer nuptials with Jim Ready. “I’m looking forward to introducing Jim as my husband to my colleagues for the rest of this year,” Frank said.