MSNBC Celebrates Barney Frank's 'Illuminating' Book on Gay 'Hardships' in Reagan's America

With the Supreme Court’s potential overthrow of 239 years of tradition, law, and morality on marriage growing ever closer, Emma Margolin of MSNBC.com shamelessly plugged a book by former Congressman Barney Frank. Frank’s life, says Margolin with a spirit of lamentation, “offers a stark reminder of the way things used to be for a gay man living a public life at the end of the Reagan Era.”

It was filled with tragic moments, like the time in 1989, when Frank “suffer[ed]...at the hands of...The Washington Times – which exposed his two-year relationship with a male prostitute, Steven [sic] Gobie.”

The Stephen Gobie case -- when Frank allowed a male prostitution business in his home and fixed Gobie's parking tickets -- was almost completely ignored by the the "objective" TV newscasts at the time.

Tellingly, Margolin fails to note that prostitution scandals are fair game for the press (see the D.C. Madam case, which drew far more network TV attention – since Republicans were implicated). She also fails to realize that Barney Frank would have suffered politically and personally even if he was straight and his lover ran a brothel out of his house. In fact, one could make the case that he got preferential treatment; he kept his Congressional seat for another 24 years.

It was also oppressive that The New York Times published a piece titled, “Public Man, Private Life: Why a Congressman Told of His Homosexuality,” that referred to his “homosexual acquaintances” and support for “homosexual rights.”

“‘Homosexual’ was not explicitly derogatory, but it was the preferred term among those who wanted to maintain some semantic distance from our cause,” writes Frank. “In the phrasing of certain aptitude tests, you might say that ‘homosexual’ was to ‘gay’ as ‘Negro’ was to ‘black.’ It wasn’t exactly an insult, but it was a message to the minority in question that the majority would decide what to call us, rather than let us pick a name we liked.”

When not lamenting his scandals, Margolin celebrated Frank’s gay-left activism:

For the most part...Frank’s account highlights how he was able to use his position to advance the cause of LGBT equality – particularly with regard to AIDS spending and the military’s ban on gay service members. He was even able to convince President Bill Clinton to pass over Sam Nunn for secretary of state due to Nunn’s "consistent record of homophobia."

It's a bit contradictory to regard AIDS spending as a gay cause when the Left used to get furious when it was suggested that AIDS was a gay disease, and even tried to panic the public by claiming a heterosexual AIDS epidemic would follow.

Bryan Ballas
Bryan Ballas
Bryan Ballas is a former MRC News Analysis Division intern