Retiring Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank wishes he could have come out gay before 1987.

In an exit interview with PBS Newshour, Frank, the first openly gay member of Congress and the first to enter a marriage with a member of the same sex, listed his support for gay rights among his chief accomplishments.

“I am very proud of the role I played in getting legal equality for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, and in helping get rid of the prejudice by being visible about it …,” Frank said.

When asked whether he regrets not coming out until 1987 amid allegations from Stephen Gobie that he ran a prostitution ring out of Frank's basement apartment with his knowledge and approval, Frank answered “no.” (The House cleared Frank of Gobie's claims.)

“No, I wish I could have come out earlier. I don't think it would have been possible,” Frank said.

“Look, I regret that, while the time I was closeted, I behaved irresponsibly and got hooked up with a hustler and made myself vulnerable to a guy who turned out to be a shakedown artist, and got scammed by him into thinking that there was something personal there. That wasn't part of my governmental duties.”

“I came out in '87. I now think, if I had come out a couple of years earlier, it would have been better. There was a problem there, because my colleague Gerry Studds was brought out in '83. And we represented adjoining districts in Bristol County, Massachusetts. The notion that there would only be two gay members of national parliaments in the world, and they would represent adjoining districts, people would have been checking the water.” (The video is embedded on this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)