Wednesday 24 April 2019

Jason Kennedy: With one tweet, Kevin Spacey performed an unforgivable betrayal to a community he has always distanced himself from

Kevin Spacey
Kevin Spacey

Jason Kennedy

"Kevin Spacey has just invented something that has never existed before: a bad time to come out."

That was comedian Billy Eichner's succinct response to Kevin Spacey's statement after historic sexual assault allegations against him came to light.

Anthony Rapp (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Anthony Rapp (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Eichner, an out and proud entertainer, was recently presented with a visibility award from the Human Rights Campaign for never shying away from discussing LGBT issues. In his passionate acceptance speech, he expressed the importance of LGBT role models for gay young people.

"If [my work] has encouraged or inspired or comforted people, especially young LGBTQ people, then that fills me with delight and pride, as well as a appreciation for the platform and responsibility that I now have to be authentic and be out and speak out and encourage other people to come out," he said.

This is the type of role model Kevin Spacey could have and should have been.

Instead, the two-time Academy Award winner chose to publicly step out of the closet as a tactic to distract from the serious accusation of sexual assault made by fellow actor Anthony Rapp.

In an interview with BuzzFeed, Rapp said Spacey, then aged 26, placed him on a bed and climbed on top of him following a party at his apartment. He was then aged 14.

Spacey's sole response to the serious allegation was, of course, through Twitter. He that he is "beyond horrified" by the claim, but that he does not remember the alleged incident.

"I choose now to live as a gay man," the 58-year-old added; a nine-word blow to the LGBT community that Spacey had consistently denied being part of.

By doing this, Spacey has linked his homosexuality with vile accusations. Whether intentional or not, the American Beauty actor has handed hatemongers fuel to spread bigoted and archaic stereotypes about the LGBT community.

At a time where countries like Northern Ireland and Australia are facing battles for marriage equality and transgender people are fighting to win back rights they have lost, rhetoric like this is a giant leap backwards.

It will never been known how many people Spacey's calculated response has deterred from coming out.

Through that one tweet, he has exploited a community which he has never used his profile to help or advance in any way, but has actively tried to distance himself from. He has defused questions about his sexuality by constantly stating his desire to keep his private life private.

The fact he has only now used his homosexuality as method to deflect from an allegation of paedophilia should come with deep shame.

It goes without saying that it's game over for Spacey. Like the titles of his now-cancelled Netflix show, his house of cards has come crashing down around him. The International TV Academy has already withdrawn a planned award he was scheduled to receive next month.

In his statement, Spacey alludes to other "stories out there" and other members of the Hollywood elite have, yet again, chalked this down as another open secret. Comedian Rosie O'Donnell tweeted her knowledge of his alleged reputation, while a decade-old Family Guy reference to Spacey has also re-emerged.

At a time when an old man who has been recorded making lewd comments about women can become President of America and a culture of victim-blaming remains prevalent in online commentary, it must be incredibly daunting for victims of assault to come forward.

It's important that these voices are elevated above the too-little-too-late apologies of those who have preyed on them. For the gay community and their allies, it's voices like Billy Eichner's we should be amplifying to those who now need to hear them more than ever.

If you have been affected by the above content, you can contact Dublin Rape Crisis Helpline on 1800 77 88 88, Gay Switchboard on 01 872 1055 or Samaritans on 116 123.

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