In 1988, England introduced Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act, which barred the so-called promotion of homosexuality in schools. In the 1970s, Senator John Briggs  came up with an initiative called California Proposition 6, which attempted to bar gays and lesbians from working in Californian schools. The initiative was set aside because of the lack of support from the public. In Russia, one salient homophobic group calls itself Occupy Pedophilia, claiming that they protect the rights of children by humiliating, assaulting or otherwise targeting gay people, according to a Feb. 6, 2014 article from Gawker. LGBTQ activists have fought hard to reject the mislabelling and portrayal of the queer community as pedophiles, but recent events are damaging the progress made. 

According to an Oct. 19 Buzzfeed article, actor Anthony Rapp revealed that actor Kevin Spacey made sexual advances on him when Rapp was only 14 years old. With Spacey’s eventual coming out as a gay man, one wonders if the homophobic bigots will commence pressing the case that LGBTQ people are a threat to children.

Rapp was starring in the play “Precious Sons” on Broadway in 1986 when he had the opportunity to meet Spacey at a post-show party, which multiple cast members attended. At the time, Spacey was starring in another Broadway play, the revival of “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” Rapp grew bored and went to watch television, later realizing that he and Spacey were the only ones left. Spacey, who according to Rapp appeared “drunk,” attempted to seduce him. “I was aware he was trying to get with me sexually,” Rapp said, according to his testimony in the Buzzfeed article. When Spacey encountered Rapp lying in bed, Rapp says Spacey climbed on top of the 14-year-old Rapp, making a sexual advance. Rapp was able to sneak underneath Spacey and flee the scene, before locking himself in the bathroom and announcing to Spacey that he was leaving. To this, Spacey replied, “Are you sure you wanna go?” according to the same Buzzfeed article. 

The event lingered in Rapp’s mind and he considered pursuing some sort of legal action, consulting a lawyer back in 2001, per the same Buzzfeed article. Now, the egregious sexual-misconduct scandal circling mogul Harvey Weinstein was the nudge of encouragement that Rapp needed to speak out. According to an Oct. 29 Vulture article, Rapp stated, “Part of what allowed the Harvey situation to occur was that there was this witting and unwitting conspiracy of silence,” and added, “The only way these things can continue is if there’s no attention being paid to it, if it’s getting forgotten.”

The narrative of “coming out” as a person on LGBTQ spectrum usually has the positive connotation of empowerment. The individual is empowered enough to set the fear of rejection aside and lift the burdensome weight of oppressive secrecy off the person’s shoulders. It is usually an act of transparency, not an act of dishonesty.

It should not be an obligation of those individuals with public platforms to share every intimate detail of their private lives. In this case, an actor’s only job is to present to the public the diverse range of characters they are able to create. An actor’s personal life should not matter for the job. Being queer should not determine an actor’s ability to play the lead role in a heterosexual romantic love plot. 

British actor Rupert Everett, who is openly gay, said during an interview for the Guardian that he regretted having revealed details about his sexuality: “Honestly, I would not advise any actor necessarily, if he was really thinking of his career, to come out.” Thus, Spacey might have decided to keep his sexuality as a secret for the sake of his acting career, given his successful career and two Academy Awards earned in less than five years. But Spacey’s time to come out was, as comedian Billy Eichner described it in an Oct. 29 tweet, “a bad time to come out.” Spacey’s coming out seems like an outright attempt to cover up the allegations against him.

In the case of Spacey, the timing of his coming out seems like a distraction tactic. Spacey replied to Rapp’s allegations via a tweet, saying, “I have a lot of respect and admiration for Anthony Rapp as an actor. I’m beyond horrified to hear his story … I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior.” Then Spacey did a maneuver with the apparent intent of making the story go away, adding to his statement: “This story has encouraged me to address other things about my life … I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man.”

According to an Oct. 30 New York Times article, Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and chief executive of GLAAD, said that coming out to deny accusations of sexual misconduct was inappropriate: “This is not a coming out story about Kevin Spacey, but a story of survivorship by Anthony Rapp and all those who bravely speak out against unwanted sexual advances.” Actor Zachary Quinto also tweeted about the situation on Oct. 30, saying that Spacey had not come out “as a point of pride” but “as a calculated manipulation to deflect attention from the very serious accusation that he attempted to molest one.”

Quinto also stated, “I am sorry that Kevin only saw fit to acknowledge his truth when he thought it would serve him — just as his denial served him for so many years.”

The Buzzfeed article created a ripple effect, with eight employees from the Netflix series “House of Cards” coming forward and alleging sexual harassment from Spacey. The production assistants told CNN in a Nov. 3 article that Spacey sexually assaulted them and/or behaved inappropriately on more than one occasion during the production of the show. Ultimately, all eight people described Spacey’s behavior as “predatory.”

Initially, Netflix suspended production of the show, but as allegations from production saw light, Netflix decided to fire Spacey on Nov. 3. According to a Nov. 4 CNN article, a spokesperson for the network said, “Netflix will not be involved with any further production of 'House of Cards' that includes Kevin Spacey. We will continue to work with MRC during this hiatus time to evaluate our path forward as it relates to the show.” CNN also reported that the network will not release the film “Gore,” starring and produced by Spacey. In addition, Spacey’s talent agency, Creative Artists Agency, and publicist “have since cut ties with him.”

This time, though, Spacey did not play his cards well. As Quinto stated, “[Spacey’s] denial served him for many years,” but his new truth will not. He has attempted to use his sexuality — and with it, the entire LGBTQ community — like a prop to wipe away the mess of his own doing and to mitigate the collapse of his now-plummeting career. The LGBTQ community has disassociated from Spacey, which is a necessary step in order to fight against the pedophile stereotype that queer people have had to bear for a long time.

Spacey’s rejection from the public, the networks and his other affiliations is necessary. It is a tactic not only to protest against the people who abuse their positions of power, but also to get the point across that sexual advances on someone without their consent is not, and will never be, okay. At least one president — even if a fictional one — has suffered for his predatory behavior.