Star Trek: Discovery actor Anthony Rapp has accused Hollywood star Kevin Spacey of making a forceful sexual advance on him more than three decades ago, when Spacey was 26 and Rapp was just 14.
In responding to the accusation, Spacey came out as gay, drawing a massive backlash from critics who questioned the timing of his announcement and saw his reply as conflating homosexuality and alleged pedophilia.
In a Buzzfeed interview published Monday morning, Rapp said that Spacey invited him to a party at his apartment in 1986, when both were acting on Broadway. When everyone else had gone home, Rapp said, the older actor put the boy on his bed and climbed on top of him.
“He was trying to seduce me,” Rapp told the publication. “I was aware that he was trying to get with me sexually.”
Rapp said he managed to “squirm” away. Over the subsequent years, he said, he watched with “outrage” as Spacey’s career blossomed.
Spacey quickly responded to the article with a statement on his Twitter feed, in which he wrote: “I honestly do not remember the encounter…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 carrier with him all these years.”
Some responded angrily to the supposed implication that Spacey’s drunkenness may have excused his behavior. However, it is the second part of Spacey’s statement that arguably drew the biggest backlash.
In it, Spacey came out as gay, saying: “I want to deal with this openly and that starts with examining my own behavior.”
Spacey’s sexuality has long been something of an open secret. When confronted about it in 2010 by an interviewer who is himself gay, and who asked why Spacey did not “proudly claim” his sexuality, Spacey said: “People have different reasons for the way they live their lives…It’s just a line I’ve never crossed and never will…You have to understand that people who choose not to discuss their personal lives are not living a lie.”
When he hosted the Tony Awards earlier this year, Spacey repeatedly poked fun at the is-he-isn’t-he issue, but never definitively said that he was gay.
So when on Monday Spacey finally did officially come out in response to the accusation, many people responded furiously.
“For a famous person to deflect these allegations with a long-in-the-making coming out is so cruel to his supposed new community it stings,” tweeted Vanity Fair film critic Richard Lawson. “How dare you implicate us all in this?”
Some news outlets also came under fire for leading their stories on the incident with Spacey’s coming-out, rather than with Rapp’s allegations. Reuters, for example, initially titled its story, “Actor Kevin Spacey declares he lives life as a gay man,” before updating it to read: “Kevin Spacey apologizes after actor says he was subjected to sexual advance when only 14.”
The episode comes as many Hollywood players are being exposed for their sexual misconduct, most notably the producer Harvey Weinstein.
Although he has a very longstanding career on stage and in film, Rapp is currently best known for playing the first openly gay character in a Star Trek show or movie. He plays lieutenant Paul Stamets on the recently-launched Star Trek: Discovery.