On October 29th, BuzzFeed released an article in which actor Anthony Rapp recounted a story from his childhood. He attended a cocktail party when he was 14 years old. Being the youngest one at the party, he found himself away from the crowd watching television. Once the party was over, actor Kevin Spacey, who would have been 26 at the time, supposedly picked Rapp up, placed him on a bed, and climbed on top of him. Rapp recounts being able to squirm away from Spacey’s sexual advances before things were taken much further, but holds onto the memory of the incident to this day, more than 30 years later.
With an allegation of assault and pedophilia, the world turned its attention to Spacey to see how he would respond to the claims. Later that night, Kevin Spacey tweeted a two paragraph long response in which he claims to have forgotten the incident, but also apologizes for it. Then, seemingly in an attempt to divert attention from the accusation, he came out as a gay man. The statement reads:
Now he is facing major backlash for both the assault claim, as well as for using his sexuality as PR tool. Rumors have been circling for years that Spacey is not straight, and the actor has very publicly explained that his personal life is personal, and that the rumors are off base. Now, in the wake of a career threatening allegation, he seems to have had a change of heart, coming out as openly gay.
A larger issue with the press release is that Spacey conflates the ideas of pedophilia and homosexuality. Coming out of the closet has always been a significant and difficult decision to make, but the way in which Spacey did it may have caused more harm to the LGBT+ community than benefit. By stating that, “This story has encouraged me to address other things about my life,” Spacey is connecting these allegations to his sexual identity. There has been a stereotype that gay men are more promiscuous and inherently sexual than heterosexual men, and Spacey seems to be hiding behind this as a way to deflect blame for his actions.
This story is still unfolding, as on October 30th, Netflix has announced that House of Cards, in which Spacey portrays character Frank Underwood, will be ending after the upcoming season 6. With the cancellation of his Netflix show, intense backlash from the larger Twitter community, especially with the LGBT+ community, and, most significantly, an accusation of making sexual advances on a minor, Kevin Spacey’s world has collapsed like a house of cards with the last 24 hours.