Kevin Spacey has been criticised for coming out as gay to “deflect” from allegations he made an unwanted sexual advance toward a 14-year-old actor.
Actor Anthony Rapp said in an interview with Buzzfeed that in 1986, when Rapp was 14 and both actors were performing on Broadway, Spacey invited him to a party at his apartment.
Rapp said at the party, an inebriated Spacey found him in a bedroom, placed him on the bed, and laid on top of him. He said he was able to “squirm” away soon afterwards, locking himself in the bathroom before telling Spacey he was leaving.
“He was trying to seduce me. 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.
“My stomach churns [when I see Spacey now]… I could never imagine [that] anyone else I know would do something like that to a 14-year-old boy.”
Rapp, who appears in TV series Star Trek: Discovery, spoke of the trauma the incident caused him and that he was encouraged to come forward because of the ongoing conversation about sexual harassment and abuse in Hollywood sparked by allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein.
He tweeted: “I came forward with my story, standing on the shoulders of the many courageous women and men who have been speaking out, to shine a light and hopefully make a difference, as they have done for me.”
The famously private Spacey responded in a written statement on his social media accounts, saying he was “beyond horrified” to hear Rapp’s accusations and characterised them as “deeply inappropriate drunken behaviour.”
“I honestly do not remember the encounter; it would have been over 30 years ago,” he wrote.
“But if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behaviour.
“I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years.”
Spacey went on to say that he has “had relationships with both men and women” in his life.
“I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man,” he wrote.
“I want to deal with this honestly and openly and that starts with examining my own behaviour.”
But Spacey’s statement was met with fury as social media users blasted the star for attempting to deflect from the allegations with an announcement about his sexuality, suggesting being gay is a “choice,” and using alcohol to justify the alleged incident.
“Nobody cares if you’re gay, what we care about is that you allegedly sexually assaulted a young boy, you imbecile,” one Twitter user wrote.
“Kevin Spacey never had any use for the LGBT community until he needed to use us as a shield to try and deflect from his horrible actions,” another wrote.
In a series of viral tweets, journalist Richard Lawson said the actor’s linking of his coming out to the accusations of sexual misconduct was “disgusting”.
“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,” he wrote.
“This exposes the gay community to a million tired old criticisms and conspiracies.
“The distance we’ve had to walk to get away from the notion that we’re all paedophiles is significant.
“For a famous person to deflect these accusations with a long-in-the-making coming out is so cruel to his supposed new community it stings.”