Former Politician Barney Frank on Being Jewish and Gay
Our photojournalist attended the Washington Jewish Film Festival, where Congressman Barney Frank spoke to the audience after a premier of his film. Our photojournalist asked him a question in front of the audience, and the former Congressman agreed to share his response widely through Stories For Love.
I first thought about a political career at 15 years old.
Being Jewish seemed to be more of an obstacle than being gay because I wasn’t going to tell anybody I was gay. But, I had outed myself as Jewish at my Bar Mitzvah.
I have seen a lot of commonality between being Jewish and being gay.
In the evolution, and the end of anti-semitism in America, we have seen the elimination of anti-semitism as an obstacle to peoples professional advancement. We no longer have to have Jewish law firms, Jewish hospitals, etc. Jews are statistically now overrepresented in Congress, as opposed to what it was when I was first there. I think the arc of the major prejudice is more similar between Jews and LGBT people than between either of us and race. Race is harder.
People didn’t know other people were Jewish, or didn’t know they were gay. When you have had friendly relationships with someone, and you later learn that you were supposed to have disliked them all along, it erodes the basis of why you were supposed to dislike them in any case. When I first ran for office and we polled people by religious affiliation, the second most supportive group of me in my coming out were Jews. The most supportive group was “none of the above.”