Why Kevin Spacey playing the gay card is so despicable

Kevin Spacey launched himself into the 'probo' bin in 2018 after sexual assault allegations surfaced. Photo: Getty

Kevin Spacey launched himself into the 'probo' bin in 2018 after sexual assault allegations surfaced. Photo: Getty Photo: Getty

It’s the sort of behaviour that’d make even the machiavellian Frank Underwood bristle.

In what is the worst ‘coming out’ I’ve seen, Kevin Spacey has manipulatively deflected allegations of underage sexual harassment of a 14-year-old boy, actor Anthony Rapp, by conveniently using the moment to reveal he “chooses now to live as a gay man”.

Netflix has cancelled House of Cards and a host of celebrities – from Weinstein-exposer Rose McGowan to comedian Rosie O’Donnell – have slammed him.

There are so many problems with Spacey’s response statement, his behaviour, and what’s going on in Hollywood, I barely know where to begin.

But let’s start here. Looking at the pictures of Rapp at 14, he looks even younger, not like an adult at all.

By conflating homosexuality with predation, Spacey has played into the hands of those who like to peddle the damaging and demeaning myth that gay men cannot be trusted around children: from programs tackling homophobic bullying in schools, to raising kids.

Anthony Rapp

Actor Anthony Rapp accused House of Cards star Kevin Spacey of sexual misconduct. Photo: Getty

It comes at a time when the No campaign has already tried to distract the marriage equality debate by taking it there, so it’s particularly unhelpful for gay people in Australia. The last thing we need is this ammunition for the No camp in the final days of the pernicious postal survey.

This isn’t about sexuality or even sex. It’s about power and its abuse. And it’s about disordered behaviour that sits completely separately from gay men.

Spacey has thrown the gay community under the bus for his own self-preservation. He leveraged himself off the mystique of the ‘is he, isn’t he’ gossip story for years, keeping his mug in the press to promote his latest venture.

Yet at the same time, his vehement denials of being gay were as unbelievable as they were damaging. They insinuated that being gay was something shameful, to hide and deny at a time when role models such as Sir Ian McKellen were lone voices, crying out for solidarity.

Everyone should come out when they’re ready, but this is a man avoiding the pink community for years, only to douse himself in pink camouflage this week to conceal something far darker.

His “choosing to live as a gay man” is also unhelpful. It gifts homophobes and No campaigners with further ammunition: why should we break our backs changing laws for these people over their frivolous choice?

As if my sexual orientation, which I agonised over for years, were as simple as my preference for mocha over latte. As if, aged 17, I wouldn’t have chosen the life that didn’t involve so much prejudice and discrimination and battling just to be accepted as an equal.

And the “I don’t recall” part of his statement is the classic amnesia tactic of the powerful, surrounded by PR spin doctors advising on their every word. From corrupt politicians to abusers, it’s the non-committal non-denial. The public sees straight through it.

Further allegations are already emerging, including from top theatre director Victoria Featherstone who told BBC Radio 4’s Today program there have been “concerns” about Kevin Spacey’s behaviour for “years”.

For far too long our servile attitude towards fame – from Jimmy Saville in the UK to Weinstein and Spacey in Hollywood – has allowed celebrities of all sexualities to escape responsibility.

Finally, this dangerous cocoon is imploding, and victims heard and believed.

It doesn’t matter if Weinstein went on the women’s march, or Spacey says he prefers men. They must be held to account.

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