Judging from the reaction on social media, Kevin Spacey did himself more harm than good by choosing to come out when he did, in the wake of allegations that he made a sexual advance on a 14-year-old actor many years ago.
The media, meanwhile, is being blasted for the way in which it reported the news.
Over the weekend, Spacey responded via Twitter to an allegation by actor Anthony Rapp that Spacey made a sexual overture toward him when he was just 14 years old and Spacey was 26. In a story published Sunday by Buzzfeed, Rapp, now 46, said he felt he needed to discuss his experience publicly after a wave of sexual assault and harassment allegations have been made against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and many others.
In response to the Buzzfeed story, Spacey tweeted that he is “beyond horrified to hear [Rapp’s] story. . . . I honestly do not remember the encounter, it would have been over 30 years ago. But if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years.”
Spacey went on to say that he’s gay, tweeting: “This story has encouraged me to address other things about 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 social media response to Spacey’s tweet was swift and angry, with many accusing the actor of conflating homosexuality and pedophilia.
Vanity Fair’s Richard Lawson tweeted that Spacey’s linking his apology with his public statement that he’s gay was “disgusting.”
Coming out as a gay man is not the same thing as coming out as someone who preyed on a 14-year-old. Conflating those things is disgusting— Richard Lawson (@rilaws) October 30, 2017
Comedian Billy Eichner likewise skewered Spacey for his statement.
“Kevin Spacey has just invented something that has never existed before: a bad time to come out,” Eichner wrote. “But honestly I hesitate to make jokes because the Spacey statement is truly disgusting, irresponsible, and dangerous.”
But honestly I hesitate to make jokes because the Spacey statement is truly disgusting, irresponsible and dangerous. Ok goodnight!— billy eichner (@billyeichner) October 30, 2017
Actress Rose McGowan, who has said that Weinstein raped her in 1997, tweeted Monday morning: “Gay = Gay Predator = Predator”
Gay = Gay Predator = Predator— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) October 30, 2017
Actor Zachary Quinto also slammed Spacey for coming out in the manner he did. He said Spacey didn’t do it as a “point of pride,” but as a “calculated manipulation to deflect attention” from the allegations against him.
“I am sorry that Kevin only saw fit to acknowledge his truth when he thought it would serve him,” Quinto tweeted. “Just as denial served him for so many years.”
But in reporting Spacey’s apology, many media outlets, including the Globe, focused headlines on the actor’s announcement that he’s gay, rather than on the allegations. Some readers and commenters were livid, believing that Spacey was trying to divert attention from Rapp’s allegation, and by including that in the headline, the media was helping him do that.
“Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey declares he lives life as a gay man,” was the headline on Reuters’s story. To which Alex Schmider of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation tweeted: “WHAT ARE YOU DOING @Reuters? AGAIN? THIS IS NOT THE STORY. DO BETTER.”
Similarly, Guardian reporter Julia Carrie Wong faulted the media for playing along with Spacey’s “cynical ploy.”
“Part of the horror of spacey’s cynical ploy to use his coming out to deflect abuse allegations is how well it is working,” Wong tweeted.
Vulture reporter Mark Harris tweeted: “When every straight late-shift news editor manages to miss the [expletive] point.”
Rapp, in the Buzzfeed interview, alleged that Spacey invited him to his Manhattan apartment for a party in 1986, when both were appearing on Broadway. Rapp, who now stars on “Star Trek: Discovery,” said he spent most of the night in a bedroom watching television, but after the party ended, Spacey came into the room, picked him up and laid “down on top of me . . . he was trying to seduce me.”
Rapp said of coming forward about the alleged incident: “I’m feeling really awake to the moment that we’re living in, and I’m hopeful that this can make a difference.”