Skip to main content

For the Brutal Truth of One on Behalf of Many: “Compared to What? The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank”

There is certainly something special about Barney Frank. The former member of the House of Representatives served his home state of Massachusetts well for nearly forty years. He is known for being outspoken to a fault, which of course is part of his charm. It’s my favorite thing about him despite his other many wonderful qualities. 

I have been a huge fan of Barney Frank for many, many years. The last few years he has been a presence on Bill Maher’s “Real Time” and I have enjoyed each minute of that more than the one before it. I suspect Bill agrees with me on this matter.

His style might be a little rough around the edges but he was certainly a mover and a shaker. I like his style never afraid to say what he meant. Better yet he made promises and kept them much of the time forsaking have a personal life to make public policy to make the world a better place. Or as he would say, to at least stop other people from making it worse.

A self-admitted workhorse, Mr. Frank has used his quick searing tongue for the good of his country. He served on the House Finance Committee and co-sponsored the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that passed in 2010 and prevents the circumstances that created the financial fall out in 2008.

In October of this year Showtime released a documentary called “Compared to What? The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank”. When I set my DVR I had no idea it would be so good I would need to watch it twice just to process of all the information. It is so well done and captures much of the very important moments our country has had because of him as well as earnest moments with the former Congressman himself.

Despite the fast-talking, joke telling, speech he is infamous for, his brilliance shines through. He is so smart that he can react with a quip before the other guy even knows what he is talking about. His mind never stops spinning. Perhaps tenacity is a good 
word as any for describing Barney Frank’s characteristic approach to a conversation. It doesn’t matter if he is talking to his paperboy or the president of the senate. He is more than outspoken, he has a way of correcting your view to a line with his but also being incredibly funny and on point. He seems to speak before he thinks which is something I can relate to. However he is so brilliant that no matter the topic he is always putting someone in their place, a place they didn’t know they fit into.

For me the most significant moments began with the mention of Emmett Till, the fourteen-year-old boy that was murdered in Mississippi for allegedly whistling at a white woman. Barney says that event really stuck with him as he new he wanted to work for causes that could change society. His love of legislating was largely based on the fact that he could tackle many areas to effect the most change. When Barney Frank traveled to Mississippi as a community organizer many years later, in 1964, the first thing he does after getting off the airplane is to drink from a water fountain designated for “colored people”.

Another holding tear back moments were during the speech he gave outside of the hospital in 1998 during the vigil that was held for Matthew Shepard who had been tortured and killed simply because he was gay and in Wyoming. Frank said that what we were witnessing was what non-acceptance looks like. Such powerful words that dives into the heart of this issue.

As a gay man himself, who came out in 1986, he knows of what he speaks. He was the first openly gay man to serve in the House and created a path for others to follow in.  Happily he found his soul mate in Jim Ready who he married on July 7, 2012. They were married by the Governor and had many in attendance including politicians and family. It was a wonderful site. Both Barney and I cried at his wedding even though I was attending from my living room.

When trying to defeat DOMA (Defense of the Marriage Act) in 2009, Frank said:  “If gay marriage threatens the institution of marriage than the argument should be made by someone who is in an institution”. Here, here Mr. Frank.

“Teddy Roosevelt said the presidency was the bully pulpit”, Barney Frank says “Well then so is the House”. This quote Frank believes sums up his experience as a member of Congress, as they are able to speak out on behalf of so many and create all kinds of policy. These positions in government provide a  “license to do good”.

Now that Frank has retired I a filled with sadness, it’s the same kind of sadness I felt when I left FDR’s house. Both men had such an influence within our society and I fear they don’t make politicians like that any more. Leaders, founding fathers had a grace and brilliance we are in desperate need of now. 

When on the campaign trail for Joe Kennedy III (who would succeed Frank in that House seat), grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, he closes his speech by saying: “Vote Democratic, we aren’t perfect but they are nuts”. Always with the humor this one.

Whether you agree with his politics or not you have to admit that he made his job look fun. It doesn’t look like work with him. He is seamless in the way he can move from topic to topic despite breaking down barriers as he goes along.

I hadn’t planned on writing this blog at all. It actually came as quite a surprise. One day I was going about my business trying to clear my DVR when I was immobilized by what I was watching. This documentary was so captivating I was glued to it trying to absorb every last detail. I had to rewind a bunch just to make sure I was hearing it correctly and that was only during my first viewing.

To say this feature had a profound affect on me is an understatement. The only other show that had a similar result was when HBO aired the Broadway show based on Thurgood Marshall. That one-man play was impressive for may reasons and I felt a surge of inspiration to share that with my readers (

During my second viewing of this documentary yesterday I was moved all over again. God’s honest truth I got the chills during this documentary especially as Barney himself wells up with emotion as his speaks on the floor of the House or even reciting his vows at his wedding. This is a man that feels everything on a deep level and isn’t afraid to show it. That is what kept drawing me in. What you see is what you get with Barney Frank. He is most definitely living his authentic life.

Barney Frank and I have more in common than our politics. For instance he is a fellow devotee of reading the hard copy of the New York Times. The fact that I share this trait with a 75-year-old man is not uncommon for me.

After all of this it appears that both Barney and I really are people persons whether we look like it or not.

For More Information: 


Popular posts from this blog

For Find Out Friday - Why Do Emery Boards Make My Skin Crawl?

You know that sound a fingernail makes when it scratches against a chalkboard?  You know that feeling the sound of that action gives you? I, like most people, hate that sound.  I instantly feel like scrunching my shoulders up to my neck and closing my eyes.  I feel the exact same way when I am using an emery board to file my nails. This annoying sensation has a name: “grima” which is Spanish for disgust or uneasiness. This term basically describes any feeling of being displeased, annoyed, or dissatisfied someone or something.  It is a feeling that psychologists are starting to pay more attention to as it relates to our other emotions.  Emery boards are traditionally made with cardboard that has small grains of sand adhered to them. It is the sandpaper that I believe makes me filled with grima.  According to studies that are being done around the world, it is not just the feeling that we associate with certain things like nails on a chalkboard or by using emery boards

For My Madness During Migraine Awareness Month

Last weekend as I sat staring at the blank page in front of me, I was still surprised and elated that I had an entire day to myself and unlike past experiences it was filled with what I wanted when I wanted it. There were a few rough moments but when I consider the previous twelve hours (and the days to come) have been better than the last week. Especially this last week even though I had braced myself ahead of time, I just didn’t know I should have braced for a more serious episode. I am a chronic migraine sufferer for so many years I don’t quite remember when they started exactly which is ironic because I can remember every special event they have ruined. I remember plays or dinners I was at where I don’t remember what happened but I could tell you what I felt minute by minute. It amazing how the mind works, especially when it’s operated by a migraine brain. In the last few years, specifically the last few years since I have been going to the Montefiore Headac

For Find Out Friday - Why is One Foot More Ticklish Than the Other?

As I sit here typing I can’t seem to stop thinking about my nails. Mainly that they REALLY need to get done. They are starting to chip and become unruly. As soon I as think about making an appointment my mind immediately returns to this question: “which of my feet will be ticklish this time?” Because I am a girl that needs her fingernails and toenails to match, I always get a pedicure whenever I get my nails done. And while this should be an activity I enjoy, it often feels like a chore, despite my going only once every three to four weeks. I know; #firstworldproblems.  Anyway, each and every time I get my toes done, as soon as they are done soaking in the bubbly water I wonder, which of my feet will be ticklish today?  Without fail one of them always seems to get the brunt of it and suddenly what was supposed to be a relaxing activity has made me all tense. So, is there a scientific reason for this?  According to most research, yes. While the answer doesn’t