Why Kevin Spacey’s Coming Out Statement Has People So Upset
On Sunday, actor Anthony Rapp alleged in an interview with BuzzFeed News that Kevin Spacey made sexual advances toward him when he was 14. In a post on Twitter, Spacey responded to Rapp's allegation, but also wrote of wanting to "address other things" and stated that he lives as a gay man. Spacey's coming out statement was met with anger online, as many saw it as an effort to deflect from the sexual assault allegation. In addition to everyone else who voiced their anger on Twitter, fellow celebrities including Rose McGowan, Wanda Sykes, and Cameron Esposito spoke out against Spacey's response.
The women coming forward recently with allegations of sexual misconduct in Hollywood inspired Rapp to share his claim against Spacey. The Rent actor alleged that Spacey befriended him in 1986 while they were both on Broadway, invited him to his apartment for a party, and at the end of the evening allegedly placed him on his bed and made a sexual advance, which Rapp claims he was able to "squirm” away from after a short amount of time. Rapp would have been 14 and Spacey 26.
On Monday at midnight, Spacey published a two paragraph statement on Twitter addressing the allegation. He wrote that he was "horrified to hear his story" and claimed to not remember the alleged incident, which he said would have been "deeply inappropriate drunken behavior." The post went on to serve as a coming-out for the actor, who revealed that he had been with women and men in his lifetime, but considers himself to be gay.
The statement was met with criticism, and for many, Spacey's statement serves as an unfortunate conflation between homosexuality and assault. People online criticized the evasive response as such:
Spacey's Coming-Out Was Seen As A Deflection
No no no no no! You do not get to “choose” to hide under the rainbow! Kick rocks! https://t.co/xJDGAxDjxz— Official Wanda Sykes (@iamwandasykes) October 30, 2017
Comedian Wanda Sykes felt that Spacey was using coming out to draw attention away from the accusations.
Harvey Weinstein: "I'm going to fight the NRA!"— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) October 30, 2017
Kevin Spacey: "I'm gay!"
Same story different distractions....
Writer Yashar Ali pointed out how Spacey's post distracted from the matter at hand.
Dear fellow media:— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) October 30, 2017
Keep focus on #AnthonyRapp BE THE VICTIM'S VOICE. Help us level the playing field.
Gay = Gay Predator = Predator— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) October 30, 2017
Rose McGowan encouraged the media to focus on Rapp's allegation.
kevin spacey trying to use coming out of the closet to distract from anthony rapp pic.twitter.com/yfKXNKDbzk— no dana, only zuul (@DanaSchwartzzz) October 30, 2017
Writer Dana Schwartz also felt his coming-out was disingenuous.
Anthony Rapp: "Kevin Spacey tried to rape me."— Travon Free (@Travon) October 30, 2017
Media: "Kevin how do you respond?"
Spacey: "uuh...uuhh... Hey everyone I'm gay!" pic.twitter.com/6LAEfsyRtF
Full Frontal writer Travon Free also criticized the star's response to the allegation.
Kevin Spacey really tried to throw the entire LGBT community under a bus and call it solidarity in an effort to mask his personal failings.— deray mckesson (@deray) October 30, 2017
Activist Deray McKesson pointed out how the actor's statement hurts the LGBT community.
Additionally, this coming out publicly in an “apology” is as much of a deflection as Weinstein declaring he was “gonna go fight the NRA” now https://t.co/BQLhLWCGXD— Caro (@socarolinesays) October 30, 2017
Many others recognized similarities between Spacey's response and the initial statement from Harvey Weinstein in response to the allegations against him, in which he pointed out that he plans to fight the NRA. (Weinstein has since denied all allegations of nonconsensual sexual activity via his spokesperson.)
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
Writer Dan Savage said that the points made in Spacey's statement, in regard to how drunk he may have been or his sexuality, did not "[explain] away" the allegation of assault on a 14-year-old.
Zachary Quinto released a lengthy statement on Twitter, calling the way Spacey came out "deeply sad and troubling."
In addition, George Takei told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement,
Others Felt The Statement Made A Harmful Conflation
Double shame on Kevin Spacey for calling on the old, tired, erroneous, and harmful idea that there’s some link between gayness and sexual predation as a distraction from his wrongs.— wikipedia brown (@eveewing) October 30, 2017
Writer Eve Ewing pointed out how Spacey's statement could reenforce harmful prejudices toward the LGBT community.
Kevin Spacey being gay is irrelevant to Kevin Spacey being a predator. Do not make that the story as though they are linked.— Rachel Sklar ❄️ (@rachelsklar) October 30, 2017
Rachel Sklar pointed out that there should be no link made between Spacey's sexuality and his alleged behavior.
I'm not interested in Kevin Spacey being gay. I'm curious as to why we're conflating sexuality w/ the molestation of a minor. Stay on topic— Ashlee Marie Preston (@AshleeMPreston) October 30, 2017
Ashlee Marie Preston encouraged critics to stay on the topic of Rapp's allegation, and pointed out how harmful the the conflation between sexuality and the alleged assault of a minor could be.
Sexual assault is not about sexual attraction or sexuality. It's about power. Plenty of straight men rape other men and boys b/c they can https://t.co/YAGoupuvRe— 🖤Black Cat🖤 (@kat_blaque) October 30, 2017
Kat Blaque pointed out that in no case is assault, or alleged assault, about sexuality.
Coming out as a gay man is not the same thing as coming out as someone who preyed on a 14-year-old. Conflating those things is disgusting— Richard Lawson (@rilaws) October 30, 2017
Film critic Richard Lawson pointed out how Spacey's statement evokes the the long, painful history of prejudice against the LGBT community.
But honestly I hesitate to make jokes because the Spacey statement is truly disgusting, irresponsible and dangerous. Ok goodnight!— billy eichner (@billyeichner) October 30, 2017
Comedian Billy Eichner was at somewhat of a loss over Spacey's statement, which he, too, felt was dangerous and harmful to the LGBT community.
Playing "whoa, Spacey is gay!(??)" and "PS he abused a kid" lets a contiguous elision occur: it says, without saying, these are the same.— Anthony Oliveira (@meakoopa) October 30, 2017
Anthony Oliveira pointed out how Spacey's statement could allow information to be misconstrued and potentially perpetuate an erroneous and harmful narrative.
Spacey’s statement was not well received, and the actor has not yet posted again since his statement. It’s unclear whether or not he intended to draw as much attention to his coming-out in the statement, but for many, and especially members of the LGBTQ community, the coming-out moment has the potential to be conflated with the alleged assault — and not just because of how Spacey wrote it, but because of the way it is covered in the news.