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Kevin Spacey’s coming out is a tasteless distraction that hurts the LGBTQ community
Photo via Marco Verch/Flickr (CC-BY)
It centers gayness as spectacle—not sexual assault.
House of Cards executive producer and actor Kevin Spacey allegedly sexually assaulted actor Anthony Rapp when he was 14, according to a story BuzzFeed News broke late Sunday night. And now Spacey’s apology has left LGBTQ activists livid—especially since he used the allegations as an opportunity to come out about his sexuality.
According to BuzzFeed’s interview with Rapp, in 1986, Spacey allegedly invited the then-teen actor into his apartment for a party. After the night ended, Spacey reportedly hoisted Rapp onto his bed, rested on top of the child actor, and began “pressing into” Rapp. Rapp claims he pushed Spacey away after he began the alleged assault, soon leaving the apartment, unsure of what exactly happened to him.
“The older I get, and the more I know, I feel very fortunate that something worse didn’t happen,” Rapp said to BuzzFeed News. “And at the same time, the older I get, the more I can’t believe it. I could never imagine [that] anyone else I know would do something like that to a 14-year-old boy.”
Shortly after BuzzFeed published the exposé, Spacey turned to Twitter with an official apology, stating that he is “beyond horrified to hear [Rapp’s] story.” But many feel Spacey’s apology isn’t enough, in part because he pushes responsibility onto Rapp for “the feelings he describes” as opposed to the actions he allegedly did to a 14-year-old.
— Kevin Spacey (@KevinSpacey) October 30, 2017
Even worse, Spacey took this moment, of all moments in the public spotlight, to come out as gay.
“This story has encouraged me to address other things about my life,” Spacey explained. “As those closest to me know, in my life I have had relationships with both men and women. I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man. I want to deal with this honestly and openly and that starts with examining my own behavior.”
In just about any other circumstance, Spacey’s coming out would be cause for celebration. But the actor is being accused of sexually assaulting a minor. In his apology, he is conflating his “behavior” of alleged assault with his sexuality, and therefore perpetuating a horrific, ancient stereotype that gay men are predatory.
Headlines across the morning news cycle are also focusing on Spacey’s sexuality over his alleged crime, with ABC News, the Independent, and the Weekly Observer’s reporting on the actor’s coming out first and foremost. By doing so, they are treating gayness as a greater attention-grabbing spectacle than sexual assault.
For these reasons, people on Twitter are calling out Spacey and the media for trying to rewrite the narrative of sexual violence.
Nope to Kevin Spacey's statement. Nope. There's no amount of drunk or closeted that excuses or explains away assaulting a 14-year-old child.
— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) October 30, 2017
This whole Kevin Spacey situation reminds me that queerness is still more shocking than sexual violence to far too many people.
— Raquel Willis (@RaquelWillis_) October 30, 2017
Anthony Rapp: "Kevin Spacey tried to rape me."
Media: "Kevin how do you respond?"
Spacey: "uuh…uuhh… Hey everyone I'm gay!" pic.twitter.com/6LAEfsyRtF
— Travon Free (@Travon) October 30, 2017
Kevin Spacey has just invented something that has never existed before: a bad time to come out.
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) October 30, 2017
Kevin Spacey resorting to the "Yay I'm gay" parade only when allegations of child molestation comes out is wicked trashy.
— Kate @ ♀ convention (@transscribe) October 30, 2017
Others pointed out that this his deflection tactic is familiar. When sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein emerged, he also used his media time to attack President Donald Trump and the National Rifle Association.
Kevin Spacey responds to sexually assaulting a kid by announcing he's gay. Harvey Weinstein deflected by attacking Trump & the NRA. PSYCHOS!
— LIZ ReleaseTheMemo‼️ (@LizCrokin) October 30, 2017
Harvey Weinstein: "I'm going to fight the NRA!"
Kevin Spacey: "I'm gay!"
Same story different distractions….
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) October 30, 2017
Seems kinda chicken shit for Kevin Spacey to come out right now — echoes of Weinstein’s, “I’m now going to take on the NRA!”
— Mr. Smith (@GuardianRover) October 30, 2017
Others also acknowledged that Spacey’s allegedly predatory ways are about as open a secret in Hollywood as Weinstein’s.
Family Guy with the Kevin Spacey reference twelve years ago… creepy. pic.twitter.com/bVbEOLlAwz
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) October 30, 2017
I wonder when Kevin Spacey will get his spot blown up, while we're talking about open secrets and underage partners.
— Alex Trimboli (@Nicole_Cliffe) October 24, 2017
We’ll likely find out how true that is in days to come.
Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Waypoint, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone's Glixel, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.