For a few hours after a bombshell BuzzFeed interview in which actor Anthony Rapp alleged Kevin Spacey had made a sexual advance toward him more than 30 years ago, when Rapp was just 14, Spacey remained silent.
Then, at precisely midnight, the veteran actor posted a two-paragraph statement on Twitter.
In the first, Spacey said he was “beyond horrified” to hear Rapp’s story but did not remember the encounter, which would have taken place when Spacey was 26. However, he apologised “if I did behave then as [Rapp] describes ... for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior.”
Hollywood actor blasted for response to sexual misconduct claim
Then, in the second paragraph, Spacey came out as gay.
“This story has encouraged me to address other things about my life,” he wrote. “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.”
His late-night statement outraged many, particularly in the LGBT community, who accused Spacey of trying to deflect from a serious accusation — making a sexual advance on a minor — by coming out and implying that it was his choice to be gay. For years, the actor has danced around rumours he had relationships with other men.
“Coming out stories should not be used to deflect from allegations of sexual assault,” GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. “This is not a coming out story about Kevin Spacey, but a story of survivorship by Anthony Rapp and all those who bravely speak out against unwanted sexual advances.”
Even worse, they said, was the implication that the two paragraphs in his statement might be related in any way.
“Kevin Spacey has set gay rights back 50 years by a) conflating homosexuality with Rapp’s allegations,” one Twitter user said, “and b) saying that being gay is a ‘choice’.”
Soon, Twitter was flooded with memes from people who were equally dumbfounded and angered by Spacey’s approach to the allegations.
People also criticised Spacey for seeming to qualify his apology with the fact that he was drunk at the time of the alleged encounter with Rapp.
Rapp told BuzzFeed he was in Spacey’s apartment for a party in 1986, and that at the end of the night, Spacey picked him up, placed him on a bed and climbed on top of him.
The two had known each other for their Broadway work; Rapp, a child actor at the time, was 14, and Spacey was 26, BuzzFeed reported.
Reports detailing allegations of ongoing sexual harassment and abuse by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein prompted Rapp to speak publicly about Spacey; he had told close friends about the encounter throughout the 1990s and 2000s, BuzzFeed reported.
“I came forward with my story, standing on the shoulders of the many courageous women and men who have been speaking out, to shine a light and hopefully make a difference, as they have done for me,” Rapp said on Twitter after Spacey’s statement. “Everything I wanted to say about my experience is in that article, and I have no further comment about it at this time.”
Last week, the actor Zachary Quinto blasted Spacey’s coming out as “a calculated manipulation to deflect attention” from Rapp’s allegations.
“I am sorry that Kevin only saw fit to acknowledge his truth when he thought it would serve him — just as his denial served him for so many years,” Quinto said in a statement. “May Anthony Rapp’s voice be the one which is amplified here. Victim’s voices are the ones that deserve to be heard.”
In an essay for the Daily Beast, reporter Ira Madison III called Spacey’s decision to come out of the closet “all the more cold and calculated,” seeing as he must know it could change the subject in the wake of Rapp’s allegations.
“There’s never truly a wrong time to come out and I’d never begrudge anyone for accepting their sexuality,” Madison wrote. “But the seediness of using your coming out to deflect from a sexual assault allegation is something else entirely.”
A Netflix representative confirmed that the upcoming sixth season of House of Cards, which starred Spacey, would be the show’s last, but said its cancellation was decided months ago, not in response to Rapp’s allegations.
Beau Willimon, the creator of House of Cards, released a statement calling Rapp’s story “deeply troubling.”
“During the time I worked with Kevin Spacey on House of Cards I neither witnessed nor was aware of any inappropriate behaviour on set or off,” Willimon said. “That said, I take reports of such behaviour seriously, and this is no exception. I feel for Mr Rapp and I support his courage.”
— By arrangement with The Washington Post
Published in Dawn, ICON, November 5th, 2017