Coming Out And Sexual Assault Apologies Don’t Mix: Why Kevin Spacey Pairing His Coming Out As Gay With His Apology For Sexual Assault Is A Big Problem

I was in the elevator on my way home from class the other day when it stopped on a floor to pick up two other students. Since I was in an elevator with them, and unfortunately didn’t have my headphones with me, I had to listen in on their conversation. It went something like this:

    “Hey, did you hear about Kevin Spacey?”

    I was instantly interested because, as a journalism major, we had discussed this topic in my previous class as part of our daily current events discussion, and I wanted to hear what these students had to say about the sexual assault charges that had been pressed against Spacey by Anthony Rapp. Rapp, an actor, said that Spacey made a move on him at an industry party when Rapp was 14 years old, and Spacey was 26. How the conversation continued however, shocked me.

 

 

    “Yeah— I had no idea he was gay.”

    “Me neither. I couldn’t tell at all.”

    “Yeah...he’s still pretty funny though.”

    “Yeah, he’s really funny, man.”

    At this point we had reached my floor, and so I left the elevator. It took me a few seconds to really process the conversation that I had overheard. Not once did those two students mention that Spacey had been accused of sexual assault. I mean, they definitely could have had a continuation of that conversation once I left the elevator about the assault accusations, but I don’t see that conversation taking that turn any time soon. The most alarming piece of news that they could glean from what they had heard about Spacey in the news was that he came out as gay. That is a really big problem.

 

    Throughout history, people have linked being a gay man with being a sex offender and a pedophile. It is an extremely harmful stereotype that continues to be proliferated today and weaponized in order to demonize gay men. This began with anti-LGBTQ+ groups lumping together behaviors that they saw as “deviant,” which included homosexuality and child abuse. They then used this to oppose the advancement of gay rights and other civil rights in our history and today. This tactic of lumping minority groups with other “deviant” behaviors has been used time and time again, and is never any less damaging. Spacey using his Twitter apology to Anthony Rapp for his sexual assault as an opportunity to come out as gay is only reinforcing this damaging stereotype.

Not only that, but he has used his coming out to shift the focus from his sexual assault charges onto his “emotional tweet,” as it was called by ABC news. Already he has shifted the focus back to him in a positive light, or even just a different light— a legal one. As the conversation I overheard on the elevator proves, people are thinking more about his sexual orientation than his assault charges, and can even possibly be linking the two.

    Coming out is hard, no matter the circumstances. Some may argue that it is even harder to come out if you are a celebrity, because you are coming out in front of an audience of thousands of people. There is no denying that being part of the LGBTQ+ community is a difficult thing to do. However, what Spacey did was not coming out in order to gain acceptance from his fans, friends, and family. This was a deflection of his assault charges, and a way to change the news. He came out as gay in order to make the public forget that he is being accused of sexual assault by Rapp, and now even more actors have come out with accusations against him.

    Hollywood is in dire need of more queer representation. There is no questioning that. But the queer community can definitely do without someone that uses their sexuality as a veil to hide their pedophelia in the media, and proliferates dangerous and inaccurate stereotypes about gay men, and the LGBTQ+ community as a whole.