Barney Frank: Beto O'Rourke 'May Be Regretting That He's Straight'

May 3, 2019

Barney Frank (D., Mass.), the former congressman whose live-in personal aide ran a male escort service out of their Washington, D.C., apartment in the 1980s, recently weighed in on the success of South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is vying to become the first openly gay president in history.

In an interview with the Boston Globe published on Friday, Frank said Buttigieg's sexuality was "an advantage" that has helped him stand out in a crowded Democratic primary field dominated by straight white men. "If he were straight, I don't think he would be doing as well," Frank said.

Frank even suggested that Buttigieg's rivals might be wishing they were gay, because it would allow voters to signal their lack of bigotry by supporting them. "It attracts attention to [Buttigieg] and he gets points for being open and honest and gives people a chance to affirm their lack of prejudice," Frank said. "I think Beto O’Rourke may be regretting that he’s straight."

Frank has recently weighed in on other issues of interest to Democratic primary voters, including the Green New Deal, which he called "a loser" for Democrats. While acknowledging that he agreed with many of the policy goals outlined in the document, authored by celebrity socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), Frank said, "there's an argument that you don't destabilize a society by doing too much change at once."

Frank is also notable for his close relationship with another 2020 Democratic candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), who described meeting Frank at his Boston apartment in her 2014 memoir, A Fighting Chance.

[Frank’s senior adviser] Jim [Segel] showed me into the congressman’s apartment. It was a small space; on one side of the living area there was a king-size mattress on the floor, complete with a tangle of unmade sheets and blankets. Jim sat down next to a small table in the kitchen part of the room. I said hello to the congressman’s surfer-dude handsome boyfriend, Jimmy, but before we had a chance to visit, Congressman Barney Frank burst in.

… He sat me down with my back wedged up next to the refrigerator, then jumped right in.