“Star Trek: Discovery” actor Anthony Rapp’s public accusation on Oct. 29 that Kevin Spacey made unwanted sexual advances on him when the former was 14 years old follows a growing trend of actors speaking out about their experiences with sexual harassment. Buzzfeed published the article featuring the explosive interview on Oct. 29, prompting Spacey to respond to the accusations. On his Twitter and Instagram, Spacey posted a photo, apologizing to Rapp for “what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior.” Spacey did not simply apologize for his alleged actions, but proceeded to “address other things about my life;” namely his sexuality. Spacey’s decision to publicly “come out” and state that he “[chooses] to live as a gay man” is not only insulting to innumerable individuals who do not “choose” their sexuality, but is also a gross attempt by Spacey and his team to distract from a potential scandal.
There is one common link between all of the accusations against public figures in the media: accountability. Despite many people knowing that powerful men exerted that power in some form, they remained silent. Fox News reported that Tom Hanks condemned the silence from people in Hollywood about the alleged sexual exploits of producer Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein was accused by at least 64 women throughout October of sexual harassment or sexual assault, according to USA Today. Hanks said, “Sure there were people who knew exactly what was going on … [and they need to ask themselves] ‘Did you aid it? Did you abet it?’’’ Hanks raises a significant point about bystander accountability, but the focus must also remain on the accused’s response.
Similar to Weinstein’s apology published by The New York Times — where he states that “the rules about behavior and workplaces were different” during his start in the 1960s and 70s — Spacey’s apology lacks awareness of its implications and attempts to evade blame. Choosing to publicly confirm his sexuality in conjunction to the scandal serves to link the two contradictory elements. It perpetuates an inaccurate representation of the LGBTQ+ community that they have tried to shed for centuries. More so, as our country currently stands, our president has nominated Samuel H. Clovis Jr. as under secretary of agriculture for research, education and economics in the United States Department of Agriculture. Those who are familiar with Clovis’ views are aware that he views protecting “[LGBTQ] behavior” as a stepping stone to protecting pedophilia, according to NBC News.
Addressing the sexual harassment allegations and rumors of Spacey’s sexuality in the same breath will perpetuate the views of people like Clovis. Spacey, who has arguably benefitted in the past from denying rumors about his sexuality, is now seeking to benefit from being “honest.” Ironically, by appearing to try to live his most authentic life, Spacey’s coming out in the manner that he did will prevent less privileged individuals from living their own lives, based on the long-standing homophobic assumption that LGBTQ+ individuals are inherently predators.
Rapp should be afforded the same support shown to the female actresses who spoke up about Weinstein and his behavior. Unfortunately, there will be continued focus on how Spacey came out and that will detract from the support that Rapp deserves. It takes away from the fact that many individuals are harassed and feel like their only option is remaining silent and that these individuals are not only women. It is a layered issue that Spacey has complicated further and I believe that actor Zachary Quinto explained the root of the issue best. Quinto posted a photo on Twitter, which in part said, “It is deeply sad and troubling that this is how Kevin Spacey has chosen to come out. Not by … inspiring tens of thousands of struggling LGBTQ kids around the world. But as a calculated manipulation to deflect attention from the very serious accusation that he attempted to molest one.”
Spacey never chose “to live as a gay man,” but he did choose to isolate himself, as well as potentially isolate the LGBTQ+ community. If he thought that he should address the rumors, his initial statement was not the time to do it and he should have waited for a follow-up opportunity, so that his sexuality was not muddied by his alleged egregious actions. Perhaps, then the community would be able to look past what is a blatant attempt at self-preservation and undeniable scapegoating.