Last night, October 29th, Kevin Spacey released a statement responding to sexual assault claims made by Anthony Rapp; in the same statement, Spacey also officially came out as a gay man.
Firstly, I respect Spacey’s decision to come out and applaud him for doing so. Nevertheless, this statement is the absolute worst thing in recent PR history.
Anthony Rapp alleges that Spacey, 26 at the time, “picked him up, put him on his bed and was trying to get with [me] sexually” in 1986. Rapp was 14 at the time. There are many levels to this, sexual assault, sexual assault against a minor, and same-sex sexual assault.
Spacey begins his statement by proclaiming his respect for Rapp as an actor, and then goes on to say he is “horrified to hear this story” and “honestly doesn’t remember this encounter.” Here’s a tip, never start a supposed apology statement by insinuating that the victim is lying. Commencing this statement with the underlying venom of victim-blaming instantly sets an awful tone for the rest of the statement. Spacey continues by saying that the encounter “would have been 30 years ago.” Okay, so you don’t remember the encounter, but you are trying to use the time period to sugarcoat it?
The next sentence is the real kicker, “But if I did behave as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology, for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior.” First of all, the fact Spacey is even acknowledging, let alone responding to these allegations proves that he did sexually assault Rapp, there are no “if’s.” In addition, Spacey does not take responsibility for his actions; he would rather hide behind alcohol than admit his transgressions. There is absolutely no amount of alcohol that explains sexual assault against a minor. This is not to be blamed on a night of getting wasted, is to be blamed on Spacey being a sexual predator. Spacey also says that he is “sorry for the feelings [he] describes having carried with him all these years.” Here we go again with the victim blaming. Spacey is not sorry that he caused decades of emotional trauma for Rapp, he is “sorry” that Rapp apparently has these feelings in the first place. This is basically the equivalent of “I am not sorry for what I did, but I am sorry if anyone was offended by it.”
Moving on to the second and final paragraph of the statement, Spacey uses it as an opportunity to “choose now to live as a gay man.” Spacey using an “apology” letter for sexual assault against a minor to come out as gay is disgusting, low, transparent, and incredulously tone-deaf. Spacey is trying to divert media attention away from his history of sexual predation and to his coming out. No, just no. You don’t get to use coming out as diversion tactic because you can’t take responsibility for your heinous crimes. It is disrespectful towards all the LGBTQ+ people before and after Spacey who have to struggle with the monumental decision of coming out. In addition, this was probably the worst time for Spacey to come out if there ever was one. Given the dark history of the stereotype of gay men being pedophiles, lumping in coming out with this “apology” letter was absolutely idiotic. Lastly, the word choice here is not the best. No one chooses to be gay. I assume he meant he “chooses now to live openly as a gay man,” but regardless the word choice lends further fuel to the stereotype gay people have fought so hard to overcome.
On the dimly lit bright side, this situation sheds a much-needed light on same-sex sexual assault. Kevin Spacey has always been one of my favorite actors; as a young actor, he is one of my biggest influences. After learning of his past of sexual assault, especially against minors, and the release of this awful statement, he is now absolute trash (as a person) in my book.