Barney Frank’s Legacy

Rick Hertzberg lauds the soon-to-be former congressman:

Barney’s total dissimilarity from any kind of Village People stereotype was a big part of what made his coming out in 1987 so powerful. His acknowledgment of his orientation (he was the first member of Congress to leave the closet voluntarily) was a quantum leap in the amazingly rapid evolution of the dominant public conception of homosexuality from some kinda deviated perversion to a “virtually normal” (in Andrew Sullivan’s phrase) aspect of the natural variety of human life.

Amen to all that. Just so long as we don't get carried away and forget that he is often a total asshole sometimes for no reason at all (as above) and sometimes to great and important effect:

The rudeness was of a piece with his astounding intellect and messy personal couture. He was and is unique – in ways that eclipse his gayness, Jewishness, partisanship or any other aspect of his personality. He should have been Speaker, and in a less homophobic world, he would have been. A lot of us are in his debt. He made our lives more possible.