There are times when Hollywood gossip is just harmless fun. This is not one of those times.
Hot on the heels of revelations that Harvey Weinstein used his movie mogul status to put women in compromising sexual situations comes actor Anthony Rapp’s assertion that as a child of 14, he was approached sexually by a man nearly twice his age: Kevin Spacey.
Such news always poses a moral challenge to the press. A few outlets stick to the facts (if there can be said to be facts about an encounter with only two people present 30 years ago). In this case, all that’s available is Rapp’s allegation and Spacey’s equivocal apology (if it happened?), now coupled with new assertions of misconduct on Spacey’s part. All of this drives less reserved members of the media into a feeding frenzy because they know that whenever celebrity and sex meet, it always draws an audience. That Spacey would choose this particular moment to come out of the closet as a gay man was decidedly tone deaf – reminding us of the outdated idea that homosexuality and the sexualization of children were unfairly linked for so long — a notion we have worked hard as a community to dispel.
Since we’re in the business of gathering and disseminating information, we at Metrosource thought it best to simply ask our friends on social media to share their points of view. And you had lots to say: some rushed to Rapp’s defense, calling Spacey’s behavior inexcusable. Others were quick to point out that it is possible Spacey was not aware of Rapp’s age and saw Rapp’s presence as an invitation. Spacey’s brother has even come forward to say that their father was a “neo-Nazi” who raped Kevin when he was a boy. Ultimately there is much about the situation that cannot be known, let alone verified. Some say Rapp has been sharing this story around NYC and Hollywood circles for years, and they wonder why he chose this moment to go public. Rapp himself explained that Weinstein’s transgressions, and the women who have come forward to say they too were victimized, compelled him to finally speak out.
Others have noted that Spacey, who has faced problems with substance abuse, may well have not been in a state at the time of the incident to make anything resembling a well-considered decision. It is sadly ironic that the same people who kept fearful actors in the closet when this moment was supposed to have happened are now the very ones regurgitating their tired and baseless arguments that gay men are prone to pedophilia.
These accusations swirling around Weinstein and Spacey touch something deep in our collective psyche. Perhaps we as a society have reached a point where we must once and for all agree that consent is an essential part of any sexual encounter and that sexual aggression is not something to be laughed about or shrugged off – that it is time we create avenues by which victims of sexual assault can report such encounters without feeling shame or the potential that it will impact their careers. Not so long ago, even the current occupant of the Oval Office seemed to think it was all a joke; “locker room talk.” Maybe we’re learning that these words are seeping out of some primordial subset of our society; a place where such talk is considered tacit permission to act with impunity in the service of one’s own libido.
None of these events occured in a vacuum, of course. Just as more women have come forward (including at least one lesbian) to claim that Weinstein acted inappropriately with them, there have been new accusations regarding Kevin Spacey’s conduct over the years, as well as news that he’s now seeking treatment. And while none of us will ever probe Spacey’s mind to know his intentions toward Rapp on the night in question, we can continue to create a forum for your thoughts and feelings on the broader subject of how we agree as a culture to make sexuality something that brings us together rather than tears us apart.
Last modified: November 8, 2017