Earlier today, BuzzFeed News published an interview with Star Trek: Discovery star Anthony Rapp in which Rapp accused actor Kevin Spacey of making sexual advances on him in 1986, when Rapp was only 14 years old.
Spacey then responded with a tweeted apology, saying he is “beyond horrified” and that while he does not remember the encounter, he owes Rapp “the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior.”
In the same tweeted image, Spacey also chose to come out as gay. “This story has encouraged me to address other things about my life,” said Spacey, admitting that he has “had relationships with both men and women” throughout his life, and that he now chooses “to live as a gay man.”
The BuzzFeed exposé notes that Rapp had chosen to tell this story now, following the outpouring of support for the many women who made public charges of sexual harassment against film producer Harvey Weinstein. “I came forward with my story, standing on the shoulders of the many courageous women and men who have been speaking out to shine a light and hopefully make a difference, as they have done for me,” said Rapp in a thread of tweets.
I came forward with my story, standing on the shoulders of the many courageous women and men who have been speaking out 1/3— Anthony Rapp (@albinokid) October 30, 2017
These revelations come 20 years after a controversial profile of Spacey in the September 1997 issue of the US edition of Esquire, entitled, “Kevin Spacey Has A Secret”. In it, Esquire writer Tom Junod discusses the trajectory of Kevin Spacey’s career as an actor, as well as what were then pervasive rumors that he is gay. The profile never directly supported nor refuted the rumors, but instead used them to show the lines that Spacey drew between his craft and his personal life.
Nevertheless, Spacey at the time issued a hostile response, saying, "Esquire has made it abundantly clear that they have now joined the ranks of distasteful journalism, and this mean-spirited, homophobic, offensive article proves that the legacy of Joseph McCarthy is alive and well.”
In recent years, Spacey had been more slack about the rumors regarding his sexuality, often choosing to joke about them as he did while hosting the 2017 Tony Awards. He even came under fire for that particular nod, as most people felt that it was a cavalier treatment of the issue of coming out, which for many members of the LGBT community, is no laughing matter.
But if his callous mishandling of the issue of his own sexuality had been questionable before, his response to Rapp’s accusations are even more problematic. Comedian Billy Eichner put it best in a tweet:
Kevin Spacey has just invented something that has never existed before: a bad time to come out.— billy eichner (@billyeichner) October 30, 2017
Many feel that Spacey’s decision to include his revelation with his apology is inappropriate and disingenuous, because it seems like an attempt to deflect Rapp’s accusations rather than facing them head on. It’s as if Spacey wants to steer the narrative towards a more sympathetic view of his closetedness, rather than one that more accurately evaluates the allegations of sexual abuse he is facing. And while Spacey’s decision to come out could very well be a sincere effort to bear his life to the public more honestly, it still remains, in this context, a poorly timed one.