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Tuesday, Aug 20, 2019

How Anthony Rapp’s sexual misconduct allegations got lost in Kevin Spacey’s coming out as gay

Spacey’s decision to combine a coming-out statement with an apology to Rapp, who has accused him of sexual misconduct when Rapp was just 14, is wrong on so many counts.

hollywood Updated: Oct 30, 2017 14:26 IST
Jyoti Sharma Bawa
Jyoti Sharma Bawa
Kevin Spacey in a file picture from 71st Tony Awards.
Kevin Spacey in a file picture from 71st Tony Awards.

Kevin Spacey’s fans are in a dilemma after he admitted he is gay and apologised to actor Anthony Rapp, who accused the award-winning star of making a sexual advance when he was 14 years old--all in one tweet.

There have been rumours about the two-time Oscar winner’s sexuality. He made a joke about it at Tony awards that he also hosted but he remained committed to guarding his privacy in the face of pointed questions over the years.

On Sunday, in a carefully written tweet, he said, “…I choose now to live as a gay man.” And with that confession, he changed the discussion. A few hours earlier, actor Anthony Rapp had accused Spacey of making an unwanted sexual advance at him. What makes the crime heinous is the fact that Rapp was 14-year-old when the alleged sexual misconduct happened and in Spacey’s home, on his invite and without any other adult around.

Rapp lived with that for 21 years, even coming face-to-face with Spacey more than once. In an interview to Buzzfeed News published Sunday, Rapp wondered if he saw recognition in the actor’s eyes when they saw each other some time back. On Sunday, however, Spacey claimed he did not remember what happened but was “horrified” to hear the story.

Spacey, in his tweet, apologised for “inappropriate behaviour” and accepted his sexual orientation. And with that one masterstroke, the story – as appearing across the world – turned from ‘Kevin Spacey accused of sexual misconduct’ to ‘Kevin Spacey comes out as a gay man’.

Suddenly, the fact that Spacey allegedly behaved improperly with a 14-year-old boy has lost out to him embracing his sexual identity. Coming out should be an empowering experience, but should it also be convenient?

Here are a few voices from the world of entertainment and people who have championed gay rights…

Author and LGBT activist Dan Savage asked how being closeted can explain assault on a child.

Actor Rose McGowan, who was among the actresses who helped reveal sexual assaults committed by Harvey Weinstein, asked media to refocus on what Rapp is saying.

Comedian-writer Guy Branum called it a “PR smokescreen.”

TV host Billy Eichner put it clearly: “Nope. Absolutely Not.”

And for those who came in late, this is what Rapp told Buzzfeed News: “(Seeing Spacey today) My stomach churns. I still to this day can’t wrap my head around so many aspects of it. It’s just deeply confusing to me... The older I get, and the more I know, I feel very fortunate that something worse didn’t happen,” he said. “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.”

Spacey had invited the then 14-year-old to a party at his New York apartment. Spacey would have been 26 at the time. Rapp said he was in Spacey’s bedroom watching TV when Spacey appeared in the doorway at the end of the night, “kind of swaying” and apparently drunk.

Rapp said Spacey picked him up, put him on the bed and lay on top of the teenaged boy. “He was trying to seduce me,” Rapp told Buzzfeed. “I don’t know if I would have used that language. But I was aware that he was trying to get with me sexually.”

The allegation against Spacey is not limited to Rapp. On October 13, former television news anchor Heather Unruh tweeted, “The #weinsteinscandal has emboldened me … I was a Kevin Spacey fan until he assaulted a loved one. Time the dominoes fell.”

And now that is happening, coming out should not be used as a shield.

First Published: Oct 30, 2017 14:26 IST

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