The Very Problematic Kevin Spacey Situation

Wait, What Does Being Gay Have to Do With This?

By Bailey Edwards ·
Kevork Djansezian/BAFTA LA/Getty Images

Why did Kevin Spacey choose being accused of pedophilia as an occasion to come out as a gay man? Why has he chosen now, in response to the accusation of something very dark, to present the world with completely unrelated information about his private life? Why bundle these completely unrelated things together? 

Because one of the most dangerous things about abusive men is their unrelenting need to control the narrative. Abusive men feed off their ability to control situations—from the targets of their abuse, to the public reaction once that abuse has come to light. In a truly textbook response, instead of apologizing for his clear wrongdoing, Spacey has decided he is the conductor, and we, the orchestra. He is giving us information about his private life some have longed for, in exchange for us to kindly, conveniently forget what the apology was for in the first place. He's trying to play us like fiddles. It's the height of cynicism. Frank Underwood, live in the flesh, folks. 

Letting him control this narrative is the most dangerous thing we can do. So let's not. 

A quick recap: 30 years ago, Spacey allegedly soberly invited a 14-year-old Anthony Rapp to an adult party and proceeded to, drunkenly, force himself on top of said 14-year-old boy. Cut to late last night, Spacey released a statement on social media (kind of) apologizing to Rapp for what he claims to not remember, but is "sorry for the feelings he (Rapp) describes having carried with him all these years." 

Spacey goes on to also use this "story" as an opportunity to address other aspects of his life, more specifically living his life as a gay man. Of the two paragraph statement, he spends the latter half focusing on his revelation that he should now be open and honest with the world. 

With regard to Spacey's homosexuality: it's something the world could have celebrated. But while I don't want to criticize the way in which anyone chooses to come out, there is something incredibly dark about using this abuse accusation to choose to come out (something that is good) to ultimately distract from pedophilia. How are we supposed to celebrate Spacey while also digesting what he did to Rapp 30 years ago? The trick is that we can't. And Spacey knew that. 

Spacey's "while we're on the topic," essentially equates his own homosexuality with his alleged encounter with Rapp. Spacey is famous for rejecting any inquisition into his private life. He has, over and over again, refused questioning on the matter of his sexuality deeming it private—none of our business. Sure, fine, I'm sold! But then when accused of something like drunken attempted pedophilia, Spacey doesn't get to conveniently divulge erroneous information as a means of making us forget why he's in the news in the first place. It's basically as if he had been accused of robbing a bank 30 years ago, and in his response admitted that yes, he drunkenly robbed that bank, but oh, by the way, he also recently reconnected with his birth mother who gave him away as a teen. Isn't that lovely! What a beautiful story! Sorry about all that money, bank! 

The thing is, we believe Rapp. Spacey believes Rapp. He said so in his statement. This isn't a barter system where, in exchange for a half-assed apology and admitting to Rapp's claim, he gives us insight into his life and we all move on and call him brave. We can all feel empathy toward Kevin Spacey for the challenges and the bravery it takes to be gay in a world that is often times incredibly unkind. We can feel for his journey, while also acknowledging that he used this information to distract us from what we really needed from him - an earnest apology to Rapp and nothing more. 

So let's not let Kevin Spacey dictate this narrative. His sexuality is irrelevant. We can support him as a gay man, and also hold him responsible for predatory actions 30 years ago. He is both of those things, and those things are not tied to one another. So, as his informal publicist, I fixed his statement for him. You can find his original here. As you can see, I made just a few tweaks, including but not limited to, mentions of his intoxication (which, sorry! not an excuse), and including his coming out in what should be a straight forward apology. 

I have a lot of respect for Anthony Rapp. I owe him the deepest apology and I am sorry.

I want to deal with this honestly and openly and that starts with examining my own behavior. 

- Kevin Spacey 

Bailey Edwards

Bailey (@bedwerds) is a comedian and writer in NYC. She smells of autumn.

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