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"I was drunk and didn't know what I was doing."
"I don't remember what happened."
Men and women alike have both used lines similar to these when it comes to behavior that does not fit with how they usually behave while sober. Generally, lines like these might be used in order to excuse various inappropriate actions, but here's the problem: at times, saying these lines might be an expression of truth, but they also bring with them a significant loss of credibility. We are human beings and we certainly make a lot of mistakes, but using intoxication as an excuse for inappropriate sexual behavior of any sort does not make it all better.
Celebrated actor #KevinSpacey has come under significant fire over the last 24 to 48 hours for using intoxication as a reason for not remembering his alleged sexual misconduct with Star Trek Discovery actor #AnthonyRapp at a party when Rapp was 14. At the time, Spacey would have been 31 or 32, though other news outlets report that Spacey would have been 26, and Rapp said the two actors were performing on Broadway at the time of the incident.
Reportedly, Rapp was invited to a party by Spacey and Rapp came alone, unaware that there would only be adults at the party. He says he went into a bedroom because he was bored and spent the time watching television. Later, Spacey entered the room, seeming drunk, and that's when Rapp says Spacey appeared to try and seduce him.
"He picked me up like a groom picks up the bride over the threshold. But I don't, like, squirm away initially, because I'm like, 'What's going on?' And then he lays down on top of me," he said in an interview with Buzzfeed News.
Rapp had detailed the incident in a June 2001 interview with The Advocate, but the name of the actor in question was redacted at the time. He has said that he debated about reaching out to Spacey about the incident afterwards, but opted not to.
For his part, Spacey came forward shortly after Rapp's accusation of sexual misconduct and in a statement, apologized for his behavior and came out as a gay man.
It was not the best move he could have made; many have said that in coming out at the same time that he was responding to allegations of sexual misconduct, he was attempting to distract from the serious accusations by revealing his sexuality.
"I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I now choose to live life as a gay man," Spacey's statement read in part.
In his statement, Spacey also expressed admiration for Rapp's decision to reveal what happened, and apologized for what he said would have been "deeply inappropriate and drunken behavior."
It was nowhere near enough. The Twitterverse exploded, accusing Spacey of setting the #LGBTQ rights movement back with his accusation, among other lurid statements.
"I am ENRAGED at the Kevin Spacey statement in my timeline," tweeted user @sharmander_says. "How dare you associate and try justifying assaulting a minor by saying you're gay."
Actor Billy Eichner (Funny Or Die, Parks And Recreation) said that Spacey had stumbled upon something that he had previously believed to be impossible.
"Kevin Spacey has just invented something that has never existed before: a bad time to come out," Eichner tweeted.
Indeed, Spacey's decision to come out while acknowledging an alleged sexual misconduct that he does not remember seems shady. Certainly, his decision to admit to likely being quite drunk at the time of the alleged incident is also questionable, but in looking at Spacey's coming out, he did not appear to be using his sexuality as a justification for sexual misconduct. Rather, he says the incident has required him to examine his own behavior and conduct.
"This story has encouraged me to address other things about my life," he wrote. "I know that there are stories out there about me and that some have been fueled by the fact that I have been protective of my privacy. 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 and I choose now to live as a gay man. I want to deal with this honestly and openly and that starts with examining my own behavior."
Spacey has been as known for his intense privacy as he has for his outstanding acting chops, and he acknowledged that the story of the alleged sexual misconduct has pushed him into facing his own truths. He does not, in fact, state that his sexuality is what pushed him into an alleged sexual misconduct with then-underage Anthony Rapp, as some have suggested. Rather, he is using the incident as a catalyst to acknowledge his own truth.
That said, the timing sucks.
As human beings, we don't always choose the best times to discuss issues. Anthony Rapp discussed the alleged sexual misconduct with Spacey because he wanted to "shine a light and hopefully make a difference, as [the men and women who have also spoken out about sexual misconduct thus far] have done for me. Everything I wanted to say about my experience is in that article, and I have no further comment about it at this time."
Spacey now choosing to come out as gay while acknowledging a potential incident of sexual misconduct while drunk smacks of a terrible attempt to deflect attention from a crime. Spacey may be human, but he ought to have known better than to attempt to come out while discussing sexual misconduct allegations that were directed his way. To come out while discussing an allegation such as that only appears to lay blame for his behavior on his sexuality, and that is something that the LGBTQ community has been fighting against for years.
It is my hope that those who continue to speak out about sexual misconduct — whether they are a part of the Hollywood elite or otherwise — get the help and support they need to cope with the aftershocks of what happened. People need to speak about it; only then can we continue to heal.