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John Tierney’s remark about Barney Frank: Poor taste?

US Representative John Tierney.

John Blanding/Globe Staff/File

US Representative John Tierney.

US Representative John Tierney told a group of gay and lesbian activists Friday that his former colleague Barney Frank as a young man “liked young boys and politics.”

“When he was a young man, there was two things he liked. He liked young boys and politics,” Tierney said at a Go Out Loud forum in Salem, pointing out that he was paraphrasing Frank. “Liking young boys wasn’t so popular. Liking politics was very popular. Flash forward a number of years, he finds out that he still likes men and he likes politics. Liking men very, very popular. Liking politics, not so much.” ​

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Frank, reached Monday via phone, said he had no quarrel with Tierney’s remarks, calling them a reiteration of his own assertion that “when I was 14, I was interested in politics and I was attracted to the other guys and that was a problem.”

As acceptance of gay culture has increased, Frank has repeatedly pointed out, politics has gone the other way — now held in lower esteem than ever.

An event organizer said Tierney’s comments raised eyebrows at the forum.

“I think some people may have thought that was not the right phrasing. He was trying to make a joke,” said Christopher Sicuranza, vice president and co-founder of Go Out Loud, an equality advocacy group.

“I know what the implication was, but I don’t think it was necessarily well-worded,” Sicuranza said.

Tierney, a Salem Democrat reelected narrowly two years ago against Republican challenger Richard Tisei, is facing primary challengers, among then Iraq war veteran Seth Moulton and immigration attorney Marisa DeFranco. Tisei, the former state Senate minority leader and candidate for lieutenant governor, is making a second run at the North Shore seat.

Frank did not seek reelection in 2012 to the seat he had held since 1981.

Jim O’Sullivan can be reached at Jim.OSullivan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JOSreports.
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