Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Friday, July 29, 2011

U.S. Congressman Barney Frank

Barney Frank is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives (D-Massachusetts) and is the most prominent gay politician in the United States. He is the former chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee (2007–2011). Democratic speech writer Josh Gottheimer describes Frank as "one of the brightest and most energetic defenders of civil rights issues."

Frank often refers to himself self-deprecatingly as a “gay, left-handed Jew.” His frequent quick witted, blunt, brash and painfully honest comments have earned him a reputation that he is not to be messed with, and to say that Frank is outspoken on matters of civil rights is understatement. Just one example: In 2006, Frank and incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were accused by Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN) of having a "radical homosexual agenda." Frank responded, "I do have things I would like to see adopted on behalf of LGBT people: they include the right to marry the individual of our choice, the right to serve in the military to defend our country, and the right to a job based solely on our own qualifications. I acknowledge that this is an agenda, but I do not think that any self-respecting radical in history would have considered advocating people's rights to get married, join the army, and earn a living as a terribly inspiring revolutionary platform."

Frank and "driver" Steve Gobie (right)

In 1987, Frank revealed his homosexuality to the public. He was the first U.S. congressman to do so voluntarily. Just two years later he was embroiled in a scandal. He had engaged the services of a male escort some years before and subsequently befriended him, housed him and hired him as a driver, despite knowing that the driver was on probation. Worse, Frank used his House of Representatives privileges to void the driver’s parking tickets. Then Frank found out that his driver was running a prostitution service out of his Capitol Hill apartment and fired him. With that, the driver went public and told his story to the media. Surprisingly, attempts by the House Ethics Committee (led by Larry Craig - I’m not making this up) to censure or expel Frank failed, and he has won reelection ever since (fifteen times).

Although Frank brought shame to the doorstep of the House of Representatives, he did not hide from his sins. His skills at bi-partisan brokering served him well. At the same time as the Frank-Gobie Capitol Hill prostitution scandal erupted, sex-related cases were brought up against congressmen Gus Savage, Jim Bates, and Buz Lukens. One Republican congressman said,  "I don't give a damn about Buz Lukens. . . I don't give a damn about Gus Savage . . . I don't give a damn about Jim Bates. . . . but if I were dying in the hospital, Barney Frank would come see me.  The others would be filing for my office space."

Shortly after coming out, Frank met and began dating Herb Moses, an economist and LGBT activist; their relationship lasted for eleven years until an amicable break-up in July, 1998. Moses was the first partner of an openly gay member of Congress to receive spousal benefits, and the two were considered “Washington's most powerful and influential gay couple.”

During the sub-prime mortgage crisis, Frank was characterized as a key congressional deal-maker, an unlikely bridge between his party's left-wing base and free market conservatives in the Bush administration. Hank Paulson, the U.S. Treasury Secretary for the Bush administration, said he enjoyed Frank's penchant for brokering deals. "He is looking to get things done and make a difference; he focuses on areas of agreement and tries to build on those.”

Frank resides in a modest studio apartment in Newton, Massachusetts, and a small apartment in Washington, DC.

No comments:

Post a Comment