Gordon Smith

Spacey coming out as gay in the same breath as his apology sets us all back

Kevin Spacey using his apology to come out has set back acceptance of gay people the world over.

 

 

As the fallout continues in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein revelations, Hollywood has seen another high-profile actor accused of sexual assault.

Kevin Spacey, whom you may know from House of Cards, allegedly assaulted then-14-year old Anthony Rapp, in 1986.

Spacey was 26 at the time.

Rapp alleges that Spacey “sort of stood in the doorway, kind of swaying. My impression when he came in the room was that he was drunk.”

After the older man picked up and then laid down upon Rapp, he described being “aware that he was trying to get with sexually,” before escaping the encounter.

It’s a story not unlike those being told across the celebrity landscape right now, which Rapp credits as having given him the confidence to come forward.

If ever there was a worse time to be putting asterisks on your apologies, I haven’t seen it. Spacey adds fuel to the fire by – to quote one Tweet – “inventing something that has never existed before: a bad time to come out.”

And just as disappointingly common these stories have become, so too have the apologies become a routine act of blame shifting.

Spacey, unfortunately, is no exception to this.

In an apology made over Twitter, Spacey waxes about his respect and admiration for Rapp “as an actor” before insisting that he has absolutely no recollection of any such incident.

He then, of course, offers his sympathies, feeling that he owes Rapp “the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behaviour.”

That most sincere apology comes with qualification, however.

Spacey would only owe Rapp such an olive branch “if did behave as describes.”

And really, with Spacey not having the foggiest about the claims, that means it’s Rapp’s word against his.

If ever there was a worse time to be putting asterisks on your apologies, I haven’t seen it.

Putting aside his blatant dropping of responsibility and the stomach-turning notion of putting the onus of proof on the victims of sexual assault, Spacey continues to add fuel to the fire by – to quote one Tweet – “inventing something that has never existed before: a bad time to come out.” Many people struggling with their identities face a deeply personal battle with coming out, spending what can be years agonising about when – if ever – it will be safe to do so, and just what coming out would mean for them.

After all, being gay is still not easy, despite all the rainbows and handholding you might be seeing around you.

For all the social change and all the education, there are still many people around the world who do not particularly like gay people.

Indeed, there’s quite a few people still clinging to stereotypes about the gay community; about how predatory homosexuals are, and how they always have sex on the brain.

Those same people often think gay people are no different to pedophiles, and that they are equally likely to sexually assault children.

It’s a thought process that even some of our government’s highest members still hold.

A thought process that is just further reinforced when someone as universally recognisable as Kevin Spacey tacks their sexuality onto the end of an apology for the exact assaults they’re convinced of.

People still cling to stereotypes about how predatory homosexuals are, and how they are no different to pedophiles. Ignorance needs no support, and yet Spacey has given it more support than it could ever hope for.

In fairness, being accused of attacking someone who was almost half your age at the time probably does encourage quite a bit of introspection.

As Spacey continues in his apology – yes, in the same apology – he tells the world that the “story” had encouraged him to address other things about his life, before coming out as a gay man.

Sure, it’s fantastic that he feels comfortable enough to be open about his identity.

But his inclusion of his being a gay man as a footnote to an apology for alleged sexual assault of a minor reads as much as an attempt at changing the topic as it comes across as conflating the two.

For an actor who is well-regarded; and who will sadly almost definitely continue to be well-regarded after all this, it may be easy to come out. After all, he no doubt has all the support in the world.

But for those people still struggling to come to terms with who they are – people who are struggling for people to understand that their sexuality is of no danger to anybody, things can be infinitely harder.

Ignorance needs no support, and yet Spacey has given it more support than it could ever hope for.

Conservative commentators have denounced gay people as being a risk to children for decades.

They just haven’t had proof till now.

 

Gordon Smith

Journalist by day, cunning linguist by night. A passion for politics, hypnotically involved in human rights. An Australian born with a Japanese tongue, hoping to hold the big wigs in government to account.

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