‘‘ Kevin Spacey’s state­ment slipped and slid around the cen­tral ac­cu­sa­tions

A pow­er­ful ac­tor us­ing the cloak of com­ing out when mak­ing a couched apol­ogy for al­leged abuse is not on

The Irish Times - - Front Page - Don­ald Clarke

To say that Kevin Spacey’s re­sponse to al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual abuse is “prob­lem­atic” would be to un­der­state the case. He could hardly have made the sit­u­a­tion worse. But he’s made it bad in a dif­fer­ent way.

Ac­tor An­thony Rapp, cur­rently to be seen in tele­vi­sion se­ries Star Trek: Dis­cov­ery, ac­cused Spacey of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing him af­ter a party in 1986.

He said Spacey, who was 26, met Rapp, then just 14, at a club and in­vited him back to his apart­ment in Man­hat­tan.

When all the other guests had gone, Spacey al­legedly ap­peared at door of the bed­room where Rapp had been watch­ing TV.

“My impression when he came in the room was that he was drunk,” the younger man said.

“He picked me up like a groom picks up the bride over the thresh­old. But I don’t, like, squirm away ini­tially, be­cause I’m like, ‘What’s go­ing on?’ And then he lays down on top of me.”

Rapp says he es­caped be­fore any­thing more in­ti­mate hap­pened, but the in­ci­dent has haunted him ever since. The wave of ac­cu­sa­tions lev­elled against Har­vey We­in­stein prompted him to come for­ward.

Spacey’s state­ment slipped and slid around the cen­tral ac­cu­sa­tions. “I hon­estly do not re­mem­ber the en­counter,” he said. “But if I did be­have then as he de­scribes, I owe him the sin­cer­est apol­ogy for what would have been deeply in­ap­pro­pri­ate drunken be­hav­iour, and I am sorry for the feel­ings he de­scribed hav­ing car­ried with him all th­ese years.”

I don’t know if I did it. If I did I was drunk. I am sorry if you are up­set. The lan­guage could hardly be more couched.

What came next caused ab­so­lutely no­body to fall into any sort of dra­matic swoon. No pince nez were dropped. No smelling salts were re­quired.

“The story has en­cour­aged me to ad­dress other things about my life,” he wrote. “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.”

The rev­e­la­tion that Kevin Spacey is gay does not . . .

Sorry, I’ve got that wrong.

The rev­e­la­tion that Kevin Spacey chooses “now to live as a gay man” does not be­long on the same shelf as the story of Rock Hud­son’s ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity.

Sup­pressed sex­u­al­ity

The Hol­ly­wood pub­lic­ity ma­chine en­sured the truth about that ac­tor’s sex­u­al­ity was vig­or­ously sup­pressed. He was nudged to­wards mar­riage with the ac­tor Phyl­lis Gates.

The in­for­ma­tion was known to only a cir­cle of in­ti­mates and in­dus­try in­sid­ers.

It in­volves only a lit­tle hy­per­bole to sug­gest that Spacey’s story is closer to that of Lib­er­ace or Noel Cow­ard. Only the most naive fans con­tin­ued to be­lieve that he wasn’t . . .

Sorry, I’m do­ing it again. Only the most naive fans con­tin­ued to be­lieve that he didn’t choose to live his life as a gay man.

Just re­mem­ber the breath­tak­ingly eu­phemistic lan­guage used in 2004 when Spacey was “mugged” by a “youth” while walk­ing his dog on Clapham Com­mon at 4am.

Every per­son has the right to keep quiet about his or her ro­man­tic life. But Spacey’s story did present puz­zles.

There re­mains an un­help­ful be­lief that the pub­lic will not ac­cept a gay ac­tor in a straight ro­man­tic lead­ing role (though it is seen as per­fectly fine for a straight per­son to play a gay char­ac­ter).

Even if this were true – and it prob­a­bly isn’t – Spacey has never been a ro­man­tic lead. He has al­ways been a char­ac­ter ac­tor who oc­ca­sion­ally stum­bles to the top of the bill.

An­nounc­ing that he was gay was never likely to do any more dam­age to his ca­reer than a sim­i­lar an­nounce­ment did to Ian McKellen’s 30 years ago.

The spe­cific na­ture of this an­nounce­ment might, how­ever, be dam­ag­ing.

“I choose now to live as a gay man” sits only a few feet to the left of “I am a con­firmed bach­e­lor” or “I have not yet met the right woman”.

In­tro­duc­ing choice into the con­ver­sa­tion plays into the hands of so­cial con­ser­va­tives who be­lieve gay peo­ple can be talked out of their sex­u­al­ity.

More se­ri­ous still is the sus­pi­cion that Spacey has timed his (sort of) com­ing out to de­flect at­ten­tion from ac­cu­sa­tions of mo­lesta­tion.

Ini­tial re­ac­tion from within Hol­ly­wood was not pos­i­tive.

“No no no no no! You do not get to ‘choose’ to hide un­der the rain­bow!” the co­me­dian Wanda Sykes re­marked.

No ex­cuses

Dan Sav­age, the ar­tic­u­late, witty LGBT ac­tivist, was equally forth­right. “Nope to Kevin Spacey’s state­ment. Nope,” he wrote. “There’s no amount of drunk or clos­eted that ex­cuses or ex­plains away as­sault­ing a 14-year-old child.”

Glenn Green­wald, the jour­nal­ist who helped break the Ed­ward Snow­den story, was sim­i­larly in­can­des­cent.

“Kevin Spacey ex­ploit­ing com­ing out as a gay man to try to dis­tract from his as­sault on a 14-year-old is re­pug­nant,” he tweeted.

Mean­while, the vic­tim gets lost in the fury of anal­y­sis.

Rapp has had the courage to speak out. His ac­cu­sa­tions in­volved one of the in­dus­try’s most pow­er­ful men. He de­serves to be sup­ported and cel­e­brated.


In­tro­duc­ing choice into the con­ver­sa­tion plays into the hands of so­cial con­ser­va­tives who be­lieve gay peo­ple can be talked out of their sex­u­al­ity


Kevin Spacey: he has apol­o­gised for al­legedly sex­u­ally as­sault­ing a 14 year old at his apart­ment in New York when he was 26.

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