In 2017, Kevin Spacey Taught Us an Invaluable Lesson About When Not to Come Out

In 2017, Kevin Spacey Taught Us an Invaluable Lesson About When Not to Come Out

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On Oct. 29, 2017, Kevin Spacey finally did what Hollywood insiders and much of the LGBTQ community had wanted him to do for decades — he came out of the closet as a gay man. But instead of being lauded for his strength of character, Spacey was reviled, and rightly so.

Many — inside the LGBTQ community and out of it — were stunned to discover there is, indeed, an incorrect time to come barreling out of the closet. We now know, thanks to Kevin Spacey, that incorrect time is when you’re attempting to deflect from sexual assault charges lodged against you.

Feeling empowered by the plethora of women who had spoken out about their Hollywood horror stories, openly gay actor Anthony Rapp, now 46, made headlines with his 32-year-old allegations against Spacey.

Those allegations were met swiftly with a statement by Spacey, delivered via Twitter, in which he apologizes to Rapp “if I did behave then as he describes,” attempts to excuse his behavior through intoxication, then embraces the opportunity to come out (“I choose now to live as a gay man”).

But people weren’t having it.

“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,” said Vanity Fair editor Richard Lawson. “This exposes the gay community to a million tired old criticisms and conspiracies.”

Dan Savage tweeted, “Nope to Kevin Spacey’s statement. Nope. There’s no amount of drunk or closeted that excuses or explains away assaulting a 14-year-old child.”

The Kevin Spacey backlash that followed was swift as well.

Without missing a beat, director Ridley Scott replaced Spacey with Christopher Plummer in his film All the Money in the World. Spacey’s talent agency, CAA, and his publicist both dropped him. Netflix at once halted production on his series House of Cards, days later removing him from the show’s final season and shelving its planned Spacey-starring biopic of Gore Vidal.

To date, at least 20 individuals have emerged to accuse Kevin Spacey of sexual misconduct.

Coming out is always a personal decision — many would say the most personal — but Spacey‘s statement was far from a heartfelt decision to live one’s true life publicly.

Coming out is also usually a benefit to the LGBTQ community at large. Unfortunately Spacey‘s simply prolonged dangerous stereotypes of gay men as predators.

The copious charges against Harvey Weinstein opened the floodgates of sexual assault claims against Hollywood’s most powerful players. We all knew it was a mere matter of a time before one of our own — a gay man — stood accused of the unthinkable.

It’s a new dawn in Hollywood, and previous barriers to the rich and powerful being indicted are tumbling down around us. The world is a better, safer place because of that. And the LGBTQ community is a better place for not allowing our own to be shielded from wrongdoing by their membership in our hallowed ranks.


Stephan Horbelt is a former entertainment attorney who, prior to his current position as Hornet’s Executive Editor, was the editor-in-chief of L.A.’s LGBT print publication Frontiers. He has written award-winning profiles of some of his favorite artists, including Lily Allen, Stevie Nicks and Rufus Wainwright.

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