Kevin Spacey undermines coming out experiences of others

Daniel Horowitz

Last week, actor Anthony Rapp revealed that Kevin Spacey had sexually harassed him at a young age. In a public statement tweeted , he apologized for his conduct and revealed that he wanted to live openly as a gay man. Since Rapp’s confession, others have come out accusing Spacey of incidents of sexual harassment.

Though it is difficult to discern Spacey’s actual intention, the tweet ultimately used coming out as a way of distracting from the fact that he had sexually harassed a young boy.

In recent years, colleges have become spaces for identity development. It is an exciting time when students are growing and learning about their identities through new experiences. For some, that might mean discovering and learning about their sexualities. In his tweet, Spacey managed to undermine the experiences of many  college students and other young people attempting to explore their own identities.

Many are not granted the privilege that Spacey has. He has the fame and prestige to come out with little-to-no backlash or harm. To some in college, that outcome is merely a dream.

Coming out is an experience unique to each individual in the LGBTQ+ community. Some struggle with it more than others. To come out in the context that Spacey did undermines the experiences of those who struggle with coming out. Not everyone can decide to come out when it is convenient for them, or when it serves a public relations purpose. 

Approximately 23 percent of women and five percent of men experience sexual assault in their undergraduate years. These individuals, like Rapp, undergo events that can leave lasting trauma.

The words “I’m sorry” cannot make these events go away. Individuals who experience sexual assault cannot feel better with an apology. To assume that an apology would be enough to make the incident disappear is naïve. To assume that is to avoid accountability.

For our peers on campus who either struggle with coming out or experience sexual violence, we have to hold those in the world to whom we look up accountable for their actions. We cannot accept their inappropriate conduct, half-hearted apologies or conveniently-timed coming out tweets. We need to ensure that our fellow students know their experiences are valued and can be heard on their terms. They cannot be undermined by those, like Kevin Spacey, who neglect the impact of such experiences, especially on younger people.

This is an opinion article and does not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Daniel is a senior at Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached at [email protected].

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