Let’s count the ways Kevin Spacey defamed all gay and bisexual men by coming out of the closet in a tweet last night.
And then, we’ll look at how the closet and power corrupts, turning an individual’s self-loathing into a weapon against an entire community. In the case of Kevin Spacey, that now has the potential to do terrible damage.
Defamation no. 1: Gays = predators and sexual abusers: After years of rumors and refusing to answer the question about his sexual orientation, Spacey only came out after being accused of sexually abusing a then-14-year-old actor, Anthony Rapp, who came forward on Sunday to Buzzfeed News about a 1986 incident which Spacey didn’t even deny. Spacey used coming out, bizarrely, as a cover. It was a selfish attempt to distract and seek sympathy. By doing so he conflates being gay with sexually abusing children, the hideous homophobic lie perpetrated by anti-LGBTQ extremists.
Defamation no. 2: Gays’ sex-crazed impulses are fueled further by drugs and alcohol: Spacey offers the excuse of being drunk for what he says may or may not have happened ― what he calls “deeply inappropriate drunken behavior” ― as if being drunk and gay leads to sexual predation.
Defamation no. 3: Bisexuality, as an identity, doesn’t exist: Spacey negates bisexuality by saying he has had relationships with men and women ― we have no idea whether this is true or not, and we have no reason to believe anything this man says ― but then goes on to identify as gay. Except...
Defamation no. 4: Homosexuality is a choice: ...he didn’t actually identify as gay but rather said, “I choose now to live as a gay man.” Again, this is the language of the enemies of LGBTQ equality, who claim homosexuality is a choice. By putting that idea forth as a public figure Spacey gives ammunition to the Christian right at a time when Donald Trump and Mike Pence have declared war on LGBTQ rights on behalf of their extremist evangelical supporters.
Defamation no. 5: Gays are liars and manipulators who will do anything to cover up their ugly behavior: Spacey makes all gay men not only appear to be sexual predators ― again, the ugly lie perpetrated by hate groups like the Family Research Council ― but he makes all gay men out to be manipulators and con artists who will do whatever possible to cover up horrendous behavior. In what appears to be a preemptive strike against any further accusations surfacing, Spacey alludes to other “stories out there about me that have been fueled by the fact that I have been so protective of my privacy.” Here, Spacey is attempting to negate any future stories, and framed them as made up by those who are supposedly so hellbent on taking away his “privacy” that they will fabricate stories. This is laughable, and it’s transparent to the enemies of LGBTQ equality, as well.
Kevin Spacey is motivated by internalized homophobia, which has kept him in the closet all these years, blowing up in his mind the ramifications for him if he came out.
He has angrily attacked anyone who has raised the question, even in this day and age when so many of us who are queer see nothing wrong with asking about it. When openly gay writer Kevin Sessums asked about Spacey’s sexual orientation back in 2010 in an interview in the Daily Beast, Spacey lashed out, atttacking Sessums for even raising the issue and equating even asking the question (of a privileged, wealthy, white male actor) with bullying of LGBT youth ― bullying that has led to suicide. This was not only ridiculous; it was an outrageous insult to all LGBTQ youth who’ve been bullied and to those who’ve taken their own lives:
And I don’t understand people who say, “Well, this is a terrible thing that is happening to this young person whose life is being exposed,” and then turn around and do it to another person. People have different reasons for the way they live their lives. You cannot put everyone’s reasons in the same box. It’s just a line I’ve never crossed and never will.
Spacey and many other influential and powerful individuals who are closeted have often done damage because they send a message that being gay is shameful. And, for some, the combustible combination of the closet and power can be dangerous.
The closet itself warps their thinking and their judgement, as they become consumed by their secret and doing whatever it takes to keep it. Though it’s not always the case ― and we’ve seen powerful public figures come out proudly when the time is right for them, and then do enormously positive things ― the closet, if kept closed for so long, can corrupt their lives and the lives of many around them who look the other way of their corruptive behavior.
And as I discussed at length last week, looking at the late multi-millionaire Malcolm Forbes, the late Hollywood producer Merv Griffin and an unnamed Washington DC politician, closeted, powerful gay and bisexual men can often engage in sexual harassment and predatory behavior, and often in the workplace. They’re trapped by their self-imposed closet, not able to go out publicly to meet gay people. And yet they’re able use their power to prey upon those ― sometimes closeted gay men themselves ― who work for them.
Someone like Spacey, so gripped with self-hate, has little concern about the larger LGBTQ community and clearly doesn’t possess an awareness for how his response to Rapp would defame it. And that’s why ― as so many thankfully have done, particularly among other celebrities and public figures ― he must be challenged loudly and forcefully.
Follow Michelangelo Signorile on Twitter: www.twitter.com/msignorile
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.