Finally – an Oscar-winning actor has come out as gay. As a gay man and film fanatic, I never thought I’d see the day.
The actor in question? Kevin Spacey, star of one of my top 10 favorite films, American Beauty.
Well, he’s ruined that one for everyone, hasn’t he?
‘This is PR spin, a diversionary tactic’
The circumstances of Spacey’s coming out are cheap, cold and calculating. The timing and the reasoning behind his decision are repulsive. This is PR spin pure and simple; a diversionary tactic designed to undermine the real issue.
Yesterday, Star Trek: Discovery star Anthony Rapp alleged Spacey made sexual advances towards him in 1986. Rapp would have been 14 at the time, Spacey 26.
‘My stomach churns,’ Rapp told BuzzFeed. ‘I still to this day can’t wrap my head around so many aspects of it. It’s just deeply confusing to me.’
Representatives for Spacey didn’t respond to BuzzFeed’s request for comment, suggesting Spacey didn’t initially deem Rapp’s allegations worthy of a response, and/or hoped they’d go away.
However, once the article was published, Spacey posted a response on Twitter neither confirming or denying the accusation, rather claiming he couldn’t remember the encounter.
I know how I’m choosing to interpret the vagueness of Spacey’s statement. You can make up your own mind by reading it in full below:
‘I have a lot of respect and admiration for Anthony Rapp as an actor. I’m beyond horrified to hear his story. I honestly do not remember the encounter, it would have been over 30 years ago. But if I did behave as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years.
‘I choose now to live as a gay man.’
‘This story has encouraged me to address other things about my life. I know that there are stories out there about me and that some have been fuelled by the fact that I have been so protective of my privacy. As those closest to me know, in my life I have had relationships with both men and women. 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.’
One thing Spacey is already inextricably guilty of, in my view, is using the announcement of his sexuality to influence the news agenda. Already countless headlines are leading with his being gay rather than Rapp’s allegation: The Evening Standard, the New York Daily News and ABC News to name but three.
Kevin Spacey is 58. He’s been the toast of the film and theater worlds for decades, and lived in the glass closet just as long.
Out of respect for the privacy he so vigorously protects, respectable media have played along with his ridiculous charade for years, from the coverage of his ‘joke’ coming out at this year’s Tonys to the infamous dog-walking incident of 2004. I would have half-expected him to treat today’s news with similar ambiguity: that he might have cited his forgetfulness and inebriation without actually addressing his sexual identity.
Why does he want to start dealing with his sexuality ‘openly and honestly’ today?
What’s changed? Why now? Why does he want to start dealing with his sexuality ‘openly and honestly’ today?
For me, the timing couldn’t be worse. He’s using it as a distraction. And as the Daily Beast points out, he’s potentially conflating homosexuality with pedophilia and pederasty.
Truly, even his choice of words, implying being gay is a choice – ‘I choose now to live as a gay man’ – are a let down.
When and how one comes out is a personal choice. In theory it should always be celebrated. But Spacey coming out is regressive and damaging.
He’s not being brave. He’s not being honest for the greater good. He hasn’t come out late into his career to draw attention to a worthy cause like Wentworth Miller, or because he was afraid like Ellen Page.
He’s using it to combat an accusation, setting it up as the lesser of two evils. He’s using his talent – acting – for his own gain, and using gayness as a publicity stunt. I dread to think what effect it’ll have on other closeted LGBTIs in showbiz and the real world.
His behaviour is disgusting. He’s out of the closet as a gay man, but also as a deplorable person.