Actor Kevin Spacey has apologized for an alleged attempt to "seduce" a 14-year-old Anthony Rapp more than 30 years ago, an encounter the thespian could not recall but attributed to drunkenness. The actor also used the opportunity to come out as a gay man.
Rather than tempering an uproar over the allegation, Spacey's combination of an apology with a statement going public about his sexual orientation stirred a backlash against the actor as Hollywood found itself embroiled in yet another humiliating scandal.
"Coming-out stories should not be used to deflect from allegations of sexual assault," said Sarah Kate Ellis, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, GLAAD. "This is not a coming-out story about Kevin Spacey, but a story of survivorship... and all those who bravely speak out against unwanted sexual advances."
Adding fuel to the raging scandal was the announcement that Netflix and producers Media Rights Capital are ending the political serial "House of Cards," which ironically stars Spacey as a corrupt and closeted bisexual U.S. president.
The controversy centers on claims leveled against Spacey by actor Anthony Rapp, 46, who currently stars in CBS's "Star Trek: Discovery" series.
According to Rapp, Spacey made an unwanted sexual advance toward him in 1986 when he was a 14-year-old child.
Rapp said the encounter occurred after a party Spacey hosted at his New York apartment, where he said Spacey, then 26, encountered him at the end of the night when other guests had left, then carried him to a bed and laid down on top of him.
"He was trying to seduce me," Rapp said. "I don't know if I would have used that language. But I was aware that he was trying to get with me sexually."
Rapp told BuzzFeed he remained unnerved by the experience decades later and felt compelled to come forward after dozens of women recently accused movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and several other Hollywood figures of sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Weinstein, who has since been expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Producers Guild of America, has largely denied dozens of accusations of rape, sexual assault and groping.
Spacey posted, to his Twitter account, on Sunday that he was "beyond horrified" by Rapp's account, which he claims he did not recall due to his inebriated state.
"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 tweeted.
Continuing his quasi-apology, Spacey explained that Rapp's story "had encouraged me to address other things in my life."
"As those closest to me know, in my life I have had relationships with both men and women. I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, I now choose to live life as a gay man," wrote Spacey, who had not previously addressed his sexuality publicly.
Spacey immediately came under fire on social media for what many saw as a disingenuous conflation of an apology for sexual misconduct with a public acknowledgment of being gay.
Webzine columnists Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez responded to the story with the headline: “On Behalf of the LGBT Community, Fuck Off, Kevin Spacey.”
“We vehemently reject the use of the standard celebrity coming-out announcement to distract from the fact that serious allegations have been made against him,” the bloggers said on their site, Tom and Lorenzo. “Worse, the statement made it sound like feeling up 14-year-olds is just a thing that happens when gay men – pardon us, men who 'choose to live as a gay man' – get drunk.
“In case there’s any confusion on this matter, please allow these two longstanding gay men to clear it up for you: Alcohol does not make gay men fondle teenage boys,” they continued. “That one’s all on you, Kev. And fuck you for hiding behind the rainbow flag – the very one you ran screaming from for two decades – when your shit went public. You’re revolting.”
An Oscar winner for "The Usual Suspects" and "American Beauty," Spacey is best known lately for his role as the ruthless fictional president Frank Underwood in "House of Cards."
The news comes after James Van Der Beek, the star of cult-classic teen drama Dawson's Creek, described sexual assault by figures in Hollywood during his childhood: “I've had my ass grabbed by older, powerful men, I’ve had them corner me in inappropriate sexual conversations when I was much younger.”
Last week, an agent named Tyler Grasham was fired by APA Agency after actors described how they were invited to meet him when very young and were given alcohol before becoming victim to Grasham's attempted sexual advances.