Heard on the Hill

For Barney Frank, Roland’s Is a Symbol of Bipartisanship

Ex-congressman recalls a conversation in the popular convenience store

Former Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, left, recalls former New Hampshire Sen. Warren Rudman, center, as being supportive when he came out as gay in 1987. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Roland's of Capitol Hill, the convenience store on the corner of 4th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, has a special place in former Rep. Barney Frank's heart.  

“At 10 o’clock at night, go see them buy milk for the morning — members of Congress in Roland’s,” the Massachusetts Democrat said Monday while recording an episode of WAMU's "The Dinner Party Download ."  

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In 1987, Frank came out publicly as gay and he recalled Republican senators — Warren Rudman of New Hampshire  and Alan Simpson of Wyoming  as being "very supportive at the time."  

A few days after coming out, Frank went into Roland’s one night after work.  

He recalled feeling vulnerable at the time.  

“You feel pretty exposed, like you walk around and [people could think] ‘Oh, I wonder what he did last night,’" he said. "You don’t want to expose your sexuality but there is no option.”  

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Frank said Rudman, a moderate Republican who served in the Senate from 1980 to 1993, spotted him shopping and waited for him at the front door.  

As Frank was leaving, Rudman said, "Barney, I’m proud of you."  

“I do feel very partisan today because of the state of the Republican Party , but I had a very bipartisan career for much of it,” Frank said.  

The episode will air on June 17.  

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