Rebecca Juro

Barney Won't Talk To Us

Filed By Rebecca Juro | April 25, 2008 9:50 PM | comments

Filed in: Media, Politics, Politics, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Barney Frank, ENDA, gender, Hilary Rosen, politics, radio, transgender

Never let it be said I didn't give it my best effort.

During a surprise call-in during my March 6th show featuring Donna Rose, Joe Racalto, an aide in Congressman Barney Frank's office, suggested I contact him to set up an interview with Congressman Frank to discuss ENDA and the issue of transgender rights in general. Of course, I was interested. I contacted Joe soon afterward and began the process of requesting and setting up the interview. Unfortunately, it seems Joe overestimated the willingness of his boss to speak directly to the transgender community and and enter into the kind of dialog with us that he's advocated publicly for so long.

Earlier today, I got my answer. Apparently, Congressman Frank, who always seems to find the time to talk Queer politics on the air on the Michelangelo Signorile Show, apparently can't seem to find even a few minutes to come on a show like mine which focuses on topics and issues of concern to transgender and gender-variant Americans. Personally, I was hoping to have the opportunity to ask Congressman Frank some long-unanswered questions about these issues instead of maybe a gender-relevant question or two in the midst of a round of the same tired open-ended softballs Signorile always seems lob Frank's way whenever he appears on his show.

I guess it's really not all that surprising when you think about it. I'm not Michelangelo Signorile. Unlike I've heard Signorile do so often in the past, if Barney Frank tried to avoid answering my direct questions about these issues which are so important to so many in our community, I'd call him on it and push for answers, not let him just go on saying whatever he wanted to say for as long as he wanted without challenge. After all, if Congressman Frank's not going to respond to our questions fully and directly, what's the point in having him on in the first place?

And hey, let's not forget we're not really his target audience. Apparently, he only really wants to speak to the monied gay elite, and that's what he gets when he goes on the Signorile show. Like so many politicians, Frank talks a great line when he's the one leading the discussion, but it seems he isn't so willing to respond to the questions and concerns of those American citizens who are most directly impacted by what he and his colleagues in Congress are doing in regards to ENDA and LGBT civil rights in general.

Honestly, it's kind of funny when you think about it. Democrats go on the shows of the right-wingers and go toe-to-toe with these people all the time, but apparently Barney Frank is shying away from speaking with those who's interests he claims to be representing in Congress. Or, could it be me...lil' ol' me? Am I really scarier for Barney Frank than Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity...or even Michelangelo Signorile?

Maybe I really am that scary, at least for someone like Barney Frank. Maybe it's that I'm just not willing to drink down a Big Gulp-size helping of Congressional Kool-Aid. Maybe it's that I'm not afraid to call 'em as I see 'em, even when doing so inconveniences activists and politicians who probably prefer I'd just shut the hell up. Maybe it's that he knows I'd ask questions he's not going to want to answer and I'm not going to be satisfied with a politically-neutered dodge as a response. Or, maybe he just doesn't think we're important enough to bother with.

Fear not, however. Just because Barney Frank isn't willing to be questioned by me and my listeners about these critical issues, it doesn't mean everyone involved in mainstream and LGBT politics feels the need to run the other way. It took a while to finally get it together, but I'm pleased to announce that Hilary Rosen, Board member of the Human Rights Campaign Fund, and former interim director of the organization (in-between Cheryl Jacques and Joe Solmonese), will be my guest on the May 22nd edition of "The Rebecca Juro Show".

I've been hoping to get some opposing, or at least not completely agreeing, guests to come on my show and take on some of these issues, but until now, it's only been Chris Crain, former Editor in Chief of the Washington Blade, and Dana Beyer, a transwoman, former and future political candidate in the State of Maryland, and a member of HRC's Board of Governors, who had been willing to take me up on the offer. Speaking to and with the choir can only take us just so far, so I've been trying to make it point to get people like Dana Beyer and Hilary Rosen on the show to offer listeners a different perspective. While I'm quite sure many of us will disagree with some or even all of what Ms. Rosen has to say, she has both my respect and my appreciation for being willing to step up and enter into a discussion of these issues, a discussion Barney Frank apparently really has no interest in having despite his many public statements to the contrary.

I'm looking forward to my discussion with Hilary Rosen. I think it'll be an interesting and informative show, and I think she'll be a terrific guest. I just think it's a pity that Barney Frank isn't willing follow her example and take even a few minutes to speak directly to the community most significantly impacted by his advocacy of ENDA in Congress.

I guess it's a good thing, in a twisted sort of way. For all those gender-variant Americans who may have had their doubts as to whether or not Barney Frank was really committed to seeing them protected from discrimination under federal law, you've now got your answer from Congressman Frank in as unmistakable a manner as possible, spoken in a voice as loud and as clear as silence.


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A.G. Casebeer | April 26, 2008 1:49 AM

Can't say I'm surprised. It's Barney Frank we're talking about, after all. He thinks he can afford to ignore us, just like Solmonese thinks he can. They will learn next year that they cannot do that.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | April 26, 2008 6:01 AM

How many gender varient persons live in his district? If shame at having unpopular or oppressive opinions(supported by the officeholder's majority) mattered in Congress there would not have been a Senator Strom Thurmond. Good luck in May, I'll try and get you on the internet.

Of course, there is always the opposing side...

Doesn't your show every other week? So we're talking a couple of times a month. Perhaps a Congressman is a little busy on the night's you're on the air.

There's a better chance of the LA Clippers going back to the NBA playoffs and winning a series than Barney Frank sitting down with a transgender person that doesn't drink HRC Moneygrubbing Blue Kool Aid and submitting to an interview.

No Bil, there was no specific date or time offered and I made it clear that we could prerecord the interview if need be. He's just not willing to do my show, period.