There Was No Bad Way to Come Out Until Kevin Spacey

Kevin Spacey in 2011. Photo by Paul Hudson, licensed under CC 2.0.

Kris Atienza
BU News Service

Coming out is a significant part of a LGBTQ person’s life.

It stands as a moment where a person can begin to live as a truer version of themself, even if it means risking potentially harmful consequences. This moment, especially for celebrities, can stand as inspiration for young, closeted LGBTQ fans to not be afraid of taking that step in their own lives.

Based on my own feelings towards the coming out process, I have absolute disdain for how Kevin Spacey came out.

Coming out because something essentially forces you out of the metaphorical closet isn’t a new concept, but this one just seems so wrong to me.

Recently, actor Anthony Rapp explained in an interview with BuzzFeed News that, because of all the allegations of sexual misconduct currently being discussed in the entertainment industry, he felt the need to tell his own story.

Instead of people being able to focus on the problematic nature of the allegations Rapp brought up (he was 14 when the sexual advance allegedly took place), his trauma seemed secondary to Spacey’s response.

The first part of his tweeted response was an apology of sorts. Spacey doesn’t seem to dispute the claims brought against him and acknowledges the feelings that Rapp might have experienced over the years.

It’s in the second part of the apology where some other folks and I have a problem.

Spacey decided to use this moment to address his own life. This is not uncommon from what I’ve seen, but I still consider it aggravating. In his second to last sentence, he says that he is now “choosing” to live as a gay man and will be doing a bit of self-evaluation.

Aside from my issues with his use of the word “choose,” as an openly out queer person, this angered the hell out of me. 

It was an unnecessary moment to reveal the truth about himself. The part about self-evaluation could have stayed, but coming out RIGHT NOW was a poor choice. I don’t even know if I can believe the truth behind his coming out because the timing. While this makes me feel horrible as a LGBTQ person, the timing was just so off-putting.

This seems to me like a calculated move to intentionally distract from his accused pedophilia. Spacey was very aware of the curiosity folks had about his sexual orientation, which he even referenced by jokingly “coming out” during the 2017 Tony Awards.

This feels like privilege at its finest. Some people aren’t ever able to come out safely while Spacey is coming out just to protect his image. It’s distasteful. I’ve known too many people who risked their lives being turned upside down by coming out. I’m also very aware of the fact that a person’s sexuality has no direct correlation to sexual harassment.

This made coming out feel like a dirty publicity stunt. Though your sexuality is important in who you are, it doesn’t give you the right to pretend all your negative actions from before are negated—it makes you more accountable to do right by the world.

Before this, I was a strong believer that there wasn’t a bad way to come out because it’s supposed to be a personal moment of empowerment.

I was wrong.

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