According to the calendar, it’s National Coming Out Day.
Not that any PR-related branding will make the experience any less intense.
Rep. Barney Frank is renowned for becoming the first Member of Congress to voluntarily out himself. But even the Massachusetts Democrat admits he lingered in the closet about a decade longer than anticipated because of political pressure.
Frank tells HOH that the very first person he ever came out to was gay rights activist Steve Endean back in 1978. During the course of championing Frank’s first gay rights bill in the Massachusetts Legislature, Frank finally fessed up to Endean, only to discover that the activist was “disappointed” — not by the announcement, but because Endean honestly thought he’d been making amazing inroads with heterosexual lawmakers. (Frank suggested he was one of three early allies who eventually came out to Endean.)
And what’s been the greatest benefit of shedding that secret?
“My partner, Jimmy,” Frank said, touting his long-standing relationship with James Ready as “the greatest reward.”
Bully for Frank. But the rest of America’s gay community could still use some help.
Sex columnist turned anti-bullying advocate Dan Savage urged Congress to weave together “one big bill that creates full civil equality for same-sex couples with — la la la — specific language in the bill making it clear that no one will be forced to perform, attend or have a gay wedding if they don’t approve or want to get all gay married.”
Savage intends to keep opening doors with his “It Gets Better” outreach.
“We’ve heard from so many LGBT kids who’ve found hope through the campaign,” he said. “But the most moving responses, for me personally, have come from the parents of LGBT teenagers who were being bullied or just struggling with normal coming-out issues. They didn’t know how to provide their kids with role models or examples of happy, successful gay adult life. We were able to help them do that.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.