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Both Anthony Rapp and Kevin Spacey were beginning to garner recognition for their first major Broadway roles in 1986, and often attended some of the same parties. Rapp, who began acting at the age of 9 and is known for his roles as Tony in Dazed and Confused and Mark in the Broadway musical Rent, alleged that at the age of 14, he attended a party at Spacey’s home, and Spacey reportedly “picked Rapp up, placed him on his bed, and climbed on top of him, making a sexual advance.” Spacey was 26 years old at the time.
Buzzfeed reports that immediately after the incident with Spacey, Rapp was not ready to publicly discuss his own sexuality, so he remained silent for years. His urge to come forward with the allegation against Spacey now comes after multiple accusations of sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein. Over the years, Spacey’s rising star and eventual Tony and Oscar wins were impossible for Rapp to ignore, and in the Buzzfeed News interview, Rapp recounts a moment where he saw Spacey at the 1999 Tony Awards, but the two actors passed by each other without exchanging a word. Haunted with memories of the violating experience he had with Spacey as a child, Rapp avoided confrontation with him, but did eventually attempt to take legal action. The lawyer Rapp met with told him he did not have much of a case.
A few hours after the news of the allegation broke, Spacey tweeted a response to Rapp, in which he confessed to possibly being drunk one night over 30 years ago, but does not remember the incident due to inebriation. Spacey says he is now ready to publicly address the fact that he has had relationships with men, taking the news of his alleged assault towards a minor and spinning it into a coming out narrative focusing on his previously not-to-be-discussed sexuality.
Speculation of Spacey’s sexuality dates all the way back to a story from a 1997 issue of Esquire. He has publicly dismissed any attempt by the media to label him as gay or “gossip” about his sexuality, and is now citing Rapp’s story as a moment that has “encouraged” him to examine his own behavior, which has been under the microscope for two decades. Falling back on his right to privacy as self-preservation against hearsay, Spacey tweeted, “I know that there are stories out there about me and that some have been fueled by the fact that I have been so protective of my privacy.”
In the tweet responding to Buzzfeed’s report, the House of Cards actor quickly moved on from the apology, disclosing, “I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man.” While Spacey tweeted that Rapp’s story describes his “deeply inappropriate drunken behavior,” he makes no mention of the fact that the alleged incident occurred against Rapp when he was a minor, and instead used this tweet to shift the focus of the allegation towards the topic of his own sexuality and away from the discussion of the epidemic of predatory behavior in Hollywood.
Other celebrities responding to the incident on Twitter—including Rose McGowan, Dan Savage and Cameron Esposito—were furious at Spacey’s conflation of addressing allegations of sexual misconduct towards a minor with an opportunity to publicly address his sexuality in an attempt to excuse his behavior.
The lid on the open secret of abuse and the silence that follows has blown open in the past month, as the chorus of individuals coming forward with their own experiences with sexual assault has sparked investigations into Harvey Weinstein, James Toback and more powerful figures in Hollywood and beyond.
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