Everyone Should See Compared to What? The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank

This week Roll Call's Warren Rojas reported:

"Compared to What? The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank," a pull-no-punches peek into Frank's personal and professional lives, began making the festival rounds last year, opening first at Tribeca before migrating West.

Rojas also wrote:

Sheila Canavan and Michael Chandler, the documentarians who filmed former Rep. Barney Frank throughout the Massachusetts Democrat's final year in Congress, have launched an online fundraising effort to help spread their still-in-need-of-fine-tuning project nationwide.

It is clear that this film is a work of passion for the filmmakers.

Chandler cites the former congressman as his motivation for making the documentary, saying, "As Barney Frank puts it, 'There are things that a civilized society needs that we can only do if we do them together.'"

The film also explores how Frank overcame the challenges of being closeted to become a leading voice for LGBT rights. "For me," Frank says in the film, "it's been a disparity between a very satisfying public career and a private life in turmoil." Through Frank's story, Canavan and Chandler delve deeply into the meaning and sacrifice of a life devoted to public service.

Those fortunate enough to know Barney Frank understand what his commitment to public service did to his private life. It is a story of so many in the LGBT community who live hidden lives, under the constant fear of people finding out who you really are and how that could stop you from building a career. Frank went through all this as a public figure. It is one reason that so many in the LGBT community and our allies believe this important film needs to be seen by as many people as possible.

Barney Frank is an icon in the LGBT community, but not everyone recognizes that he was also considered the smartest member of Congress during his many years there. He had an uncanny ability to focus on issues of importance and become the most knowledgeable person in Congress on those issues. He has a rapier wit. He can take down opponents with a one-liner and can laugh at himself as well.

Like so many others, I came out during Frank's time in Congress. His very public coming out and speaking out for the community led to my becoming an LGBT activist. He was fearless and at times took the slings and arrows of his own community as he fought for our civil and human rights. Barney's 2007 speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, which led to their passing ENDA, brought tears to my eyes and to those of so many Americans.

So it is vital for a wider audience to see this film. According to Roll Call's Rojas, Canavan and Chandler are so sure we will all respond that they "are already looking forward to showing their movie far and wide, mapping out plans to dovetail with Frank's forthcoming book tour by plotting screenings in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and, of course, here in the District." The current plan is to show the film in D.C. the week of March 20.

Barney Frank has dedicated his life to making our lives better. He fought for the rights of the LGBT community; he fought to redress the wrongs visited upon the Japanese-American community during World War II; he fought to make the banks and Wall Street more responsive to the people; he has spent his life making a difference. We need to share his work and his life as broadly as possible to inspire others to the kind of selfless public service that Barney Frank's life continues to represent.