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Kevin Spacey's cowardly act

by Editorial Board

Actor Kevin Spacey, who portrays President Frank Underwood on Netflix's "House of Cards," proved to be just as cynical in real life.

The two-time Oscar winner was the subject of a BuzzFeed story in which fellow actor Anthony Rapp accused him of an unwanted sexual advance at a party 31 years ago, when Rapp was 14. A couple of hours after the story posted, Spacey responded on Twitter. "I have a lot of respect and admiration for Anthony Rapp as an actor," he wrote. "I'm beyond horrified to hear his story. I honestly do not remember the encounter, it would have been over 30 years ago. 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 should have stopped after excusing his action on too much alcohol, but he didn't. Instead he decided to come out as gay, and in doing so, reinforced one of the worst stereotypes about gay men - that they are sexual predators.

"This story has encouraged me to address other things about my life," he wrote. "... 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. ..."

Spacey's error was linking his coming out with the alleged sexual assault. It was an insult to the LGBT community.

The awareness of unwanted sexual advances, sexual assault, and rape was raised to new levels last month, but until now, had been confined to straight men. Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, director James Toback, and political analyst Mark Halperin are just three men whose behavior - and possible criminal acts - jolted Hollywood and the mainstream media. We're not surprised that a powerful gay man in Hollywood is now similarly accused, and doubt Spacey will be the only one. But here's the thing: Spacey's comments give fuel to the lie that queer people are sexual predators, as Elle writer R. Eric Thomas stated. Anita Bryant unsuccessfully used this years ago, and ever since, the LGBT community has worked doggedly to dispel this slur. It continues now with the argument that trans people are restroom predators and so should be denied using a facility that matches their gender identity.

Then there's Spacey's hideous use of the word "choose" when describing how he's now identifying as gay. For years, we have fought this false assumption, which has been used against us, forcing us from jobs, housing, and our children. Anti-LGBT people continue to believe that we "choose" to be LGBT and that we can change if we want. It's the premise behind conversion therapy, discredited junk science that was pervasive decades ago and is only now starting to fall out of favor as more medical professionals and lawmakers see it for what it is: a dangerous attempt to medicalize anti-gay bias, putting the person at risk for low self-esteem and possible self-harm. That a celebrity like Spacey would use that word does not in any way help in the fight for LGBT equality.

Production on "House of Cards" is now suspended indefinitely, as Netflix and the production company grapple with the fallout. It was announced Tuesday that Spacey will not receive a special Emmy Award later this month.

Spacey has turned what otherwise is a huge personal breakthrough for every LGBT person - coming out - into a conniving and self-serving attempt at deflection from his misdeeds. He's no star, he's just a coward.

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