Kevin Spacey's betrayal of the LGBT community was brutal. But as more and more stories come out, all of us have some thinking to doby Caspar Salmon / November 4, 2017 / Leave a comment
In the late 90s and early 2000s, those of us who had come of age with Kevin Spacey’s films talked among ourselves of our desire for him to come out. His sexuality, never averred, started to become something of an open secret. Of all the dozens of closeted actors in Hollywood, he felt like a good bet to disclose his sexuality. He had a certain everyman quality. He was an Oscar-winning movie star, but not gorgeous or ritzy; his roles hinged on his perceived ordinariness. But Spacey disavowed the gay community, seeming to see his sexuality as a hindrance to his success. And no-one who knew what being openly gay could do to someone’s career could begrudge him his reluctance. But over time his unwillingness to own his sexuality calcified; it began to feel like a rebuke, and a taunt.
I thought again of my initial feelings about him as a young filmgoer this week when I read Spacey’s disastrous, hateful comments accompanying his “coming out” in the wake of Anthony Rapp’s accusation that the actor attempted to molest him as a teenager. His betrayal of the LGBT community was brutal.
On the day of the revelations, I remembered my youth, when gay people were routinely associated with paedophilia in casual conversation, banter, insults, culture and (tacitly) legislation. Homosexuals were still perceived, in this time, as faintly tragic: if AIDS didn’t get you, it was the inevitable loneliness of the creepy old homo that you had to fear—the leering Latin teacher, the catty bow-tied concert-hall artist; Quentin Crisp, or Uncle Monty. In France, where I grew up, the preferred gay slur was (and still is) pédé, a derivation of pederast.