Earlier this week, I received an unusual good morning text. One of my friends texted me that my favorite actor, Kevin Spacey, had come out. I googled frantically, eager to learn more, and was horrified by what I read. Spacey did not publicly confirm his sexuality out of the goodness of his heart or to serve as a positive representation for the LGBT community. Rather, he did so to try to distract from sexual assault allegations made against him by Anthony Rapp. In an interview with Buzzfeed, Rapp said that Spacey “had invited Rapp over to [Spacey’s] apartment for a party, and, at the end of the night, picked Rapp up, placed him on [Spacey’s] bed, and climbed on top of him, making a sexual advance.” Rapp was only 14 years old.
First of all, I was horrified that this had happened, and then I was horrified that it had worked. My friend’s text had included no mention of the sexual assault allegations against Spacey, only that he came out. In one tweet, Spacey decided to both address the sexual assault allegations and come out. He conflated the two matters and left the LGBT community vulnerable to serious and entirely unfounded scrutiny. For years, the LGBT community has put up with unsubstantiated attacks of linkage between homosexuality and pedophilia, and now Spacey has conflated them. Sexualt assualt has nothing to do with sexuality or “drunken behavior”–which is how Spacey explained away Rapp’s accusation– and has everything to do with power.
While gay men are usually stereotyped as interested in the dramatic arts, there is a serious lack of representation of LGBT Academy Award winners or nominees. The last time an LGBT person was nominated in any of the acting categories was in 2009 for Angelina Jolie’s performance in “Changeling.” Spacey, although closeted at the time, was the most recent example of an LGBT performer winning an Oscar for acting. The LGBT community was never important enough to Spacey for him to publicly acknowledge his sexuality until he needed something to distract from his actions. Spacey was an accomplished actor with several Academy and Tony award wins that he did not choose to publicly celebrate with the LGBT community, while Jodie Foster and Sam Smith have both reaffirmed their sexualities and support for the LGBT community. The only thing Spacey shared with the LGBT community was the guilt for this accusation.
Many news sources, particularly those writing directly after Spacey’s announcement, reported the actor’s coming out but failed to mention the accusations of his predatory behavior in titles, bylines or, in some cases, at all. In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the initial lack of an outcry against Spacey’s own atrocities was surprising. Most of the immediate mainstream news and social media coverage discussed his coming out but nothing more. Following Rapp’s statement, more men have come forward with allegations against Spacey, and Netflix created an anonymous crisis hotline for any others wishing to come forward.
Spacey did not do a good job of addressing these accusations. He excused his actions as “drunken behavior” and apologized over Twitter. In the same message, he also came out in an ill-disguised attempt to mask the accusations. It is very difficult to respond to accusations like this in general, but coming out does more damage than good to Spacey’s integrity. His attempts to overshadow the accusations backfired as many from the LGBT community, like “Parks and Recreation” star Billy Eichner and “Star Trek” actor Zachary Quinto, denounced him and redirected public attention to Rapp’s accusations. Members of the LGBT community were disappointed that his coming out was self-serving and, as Quinto said, “not standing up by a point of pride… but as a calculated manipulation.” Quinto also remarked that such an accomplished actor could have been “inspiring for tens of thousands of struggling LGBTQ youths around the world” but has now made it more difficult for them to be accepted and to come out.
Many followers of the story have wondered what the future of the massively popular Netflix Series “House of Cards” will be. Netflix has been put in a difficult position regarding the future of the show. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix has made the executive position to “sever ties” with the star and executive producer. Netflix has made the right decision to sever ties with Spacey and is sending executives to the set to “to ensure that [the crew] continue to feel safe and supported”. Netflix is sending a message that abusers will not be in positions of power and that their actions have consequences while also supporting the accuser’s claims. The show is expected to continue filming but with Spacey being written out, leading many fans to wonder, what comes next? Personally, I would have Robin Wright’s character become the star of the show. In the wake of many sexual assault allegations, the 2016 Presidential election accusations and the downfall of Harvey Weinstein, it would be wonderful to have a woman in charge.