Last week, Kevin Spacey began facing a swarm of sexual misconduct and sexual assault allegations, ranging from some of his first years of stardom to as recently as filming for “House of Cards”. In response, Spacey came out,
Spacey’s claim of “sexual confusion” and attempt to heroically come out as a gay man backfired. Outrage rang out from sexual assault survivors, their advocates, and the LGBTQIAP+ community. Spacey came out not to be heroic and share his struggles as a closeted gay man, but as an attempt to distract the media from the claims piling against him.
And honestly, I’m not surprised.
As a femme LGBTQIAP+ individual that is frequently in spaced dominated by gay men, it’s impossible for me to be surprised.
I’ve experienced first hand the way that gay men, of a variety of ages, use their sexual identity as a hall pass for their behavior. I’ve been forced to experience the very real truth that just because a man is gay, doesn’t mean he’s not a threat.
We have an assumption in society that gay men are safer than straight men.
“Well he isn’t attracted to me, so it’s not like he’s a threat.”
“Oh it doesn’t matter if I change in front of him, it’s not like he’s going to watch.”
While those ideas are often held by straight women who fetishize the idea of the “gay best friend” (which itself fueled by homophobic assumptions that gay men are effeminate and adhere to all the stereotypes established by the media), they are partially born out of this idea that a gay man does not exist as a sexual threat.
Even when thinking about sexual assault and the male victims of the crime, we rarely consider the male victims, ESPECIALLY gay or bisexual men that have been abused by another man.
Maybe we have this assumption because of how hard the gay and bisexual communities have to fight against stereotypes associating gay and bisexual men with child molesers. Maybe we have this assumption because of internalized homophobic ideas.
Most likely? Both.
But quite frankly, it’s time to cut the crap.
Don’t misunderstand me – I am not about to write a whole article about how gay and bisexual men are actually child molesters. That will never be something that comes out of my mouth, let alone through the voice of my keyboard. But we cannot let our efforts to separate male same-gender attraction from child abuse cloud our judgement regarding the physical safety of individuals.
To put this in perspective; as a young bisexual, hungry for other LGBTQIAP+ friends in high school, I was in a group of friends that included a single other out member of the LGBTQIAP+ community. We shared interests, his personality was somewhat annoying but it could be tolerated most days. Yet something was never quite right about him. Mainly, the fact that he loved grabbing up on girls.
It wasn’t a daily problem, but it happened enough. He was out to a few people as gay, it was kind of a badly kept secret. He would grope and hug a little too hard. But in our minds, it was okay. I mean…he’s gay, what does he gain from this?
The fact of the matter is, gay or not, he was sexually assaulting us. We let it happen, we would sometimes laugh about it. He hid behind his label, using it like a shield against complaints and whispered comments.
Spacey is just another example of this. Using his coming out as a deflector against people who would attack him for the sexual assault allegations. While it failed for Spacey, it’s been successful for too many gay men. And it has to stop.