Thanks to Harvey Weinstein’s epic takedown, sexual assault is in the National spotlight, and Hollywood’s seedy underbelly has been exposed. Every day, it seems another once-beloved celebrity falls from grace. Shortyl after Weinstein, embattled actor Charlie Sheen was accused of raping the late Corey Haim when he was just 13 years old. But, in this race to the bottom, award-winning actor Kevin Spacey seems to have taken the lead.
His unraveling started on October 29, when fellow actor Anthony Rapp joined the #metoo conversation. In a BuzzFeed article, he accused Spacey of making sexual advances toward him when he was only 14. Spacey responded with a statement in which he sort of apologized (“…if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior”) and then used the same statement to come out (more on this later). In the weeks since Rapp’s initial allegation, several men have come forward to detail Spacey’s sexual misconduct. As a result, he was fired from the popular Netflix drama House of Cards, and his legacy is being picked apart, one accusation at a time.
His downfall, as well as Weinstein’s, is quite remarkable. But there’s more to the male sexual assault story than just Spacey’s disgusting behavior. Actor Terry Crews recently came forward, and accused WME agent Adam Venit of sexual assault. At a 2016 event, Crews alleges, Venit grabbed his genitals. Venit is now on leave from his agency, however, it is likely you didn’t hear much about this one.
Queer Black men have been dealing with, and speaking up about, sexual assault for ages, but no one has listened. Perhaps they just weren’t White enough to elicit enough sympathy. In an October piece for The Advocate, writer Jasmyne A. Cannick detailed an alarming story about Democratic donor Ed Buck, a White man who has allegedly drugged and abused Black men he meets on hookup apps or on the streets of West Hollywood. One man, Gemmel Moore, was found dead of a crystal meth overdose in Buck’s home in July. Yet Buck has faced no consequences.
Not for the dead body.
Not for the drugs.
Not for the incredibly dangerous behavior.
But if his victims weren’t Black, gay men, we all know how this story would go.
Cannick went there, all the way there, in dissecting the different responses to similar crimes happening to different ethnic groups. Actress Jane Fonda was recently quoted as saying sexual assault is only getting so much attention because famous White women are the victims. Write off her comments however you want, but there’s a grain of truth in there.
It’s not to say that any one group should be valued over the other; there’s no pissing contest to see whose abuse is worse or whose oppression is more dangerous. But, like all media conversations, there should be space for all perspectives. For all victims.
And when people do come forward from the LGBTQ community, it shouldn’t be used as a time to shame us. It’s great that Spacey felt so inclined to share he is now living as an out and proud gay man, but using that confession as a shield from sexual assault allegations? That was purely irresponsible.
There has long been a myth, mostly on the part of the conservative right, that homosexuality and pedophilia are inextricably linked. They aren’t.
But when a high-profile celeb pulls a stunt like Spacey’s, it just reinforces that link for people who want the connection to exist. It reaffirms their prejudice. We don’t need men like Spacey to throw our entire community under the bus just to save face. Can you say membership revoked?
What we want is for our men to be looped into this conversation and given some attention. We want our entire community to be respected by those both inside and outside of it. And we want to facilitate a greater conversation about respect and consent for everyone. Is that so much to ask?