In the first days after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke earlier this month, a surprising voice joined the chorus of sexual assault survivors: actor and former NFL linebacker Terry Crews. He detailed, in a series of tweets, the story of a Hollywood executive groping his genitals at an event in 2016. It was a stark reminder that sexual harassment and assault are an industry-wide problem (in every industry) that crosses all genders and orientations.
For the most part, Crews’s story has been the only high-profile allegation about a man, from a man, and Crews never revealed the executive’s identity. The focus has seldom strayed from the parade of actresses going public with disturbing stories about Weinstein and director James Toback. (And Amazon’s Roy Price. And Lionsgate’s Andrew Kramer. And on and on.) Perhaps that’s about to change.
Last night, BuzzFeed published a story in which actor Anthony Rapp alleged that Kevin Spacey made a sexual advance when Rapp was 14 years old. Hours later, Spacey responded with a statement that did not deny the alleged behavior, but did confirm long-standing rumors of his homosexuality. As many have pointed out, Spacey’s statement conflates being gay with being a pedophile and insinuates that being drunk is an excuse for pedophile predation. This line of thinking reinforces and validates some of the more unfounded and damaging views held by homophobes—namely, that all gay men are child predators. Several people, including Dan Savage and Wanda Sykes, have also accused Spacey of using his coming out as a way of deflecting attention from the seriousness of Rapp’s accusations.
The statement’s only saving grace is that it is so off-putting, in so many ways, that it might spur others to action. It could be the story that inspires more LBGT survivors to come forward with stories of abuse–and shed light on how show business treats young talent.
Although former child star Corey Feldman has been vocal about the urgency of investigating pedophilia in Hollywood, there has been a dearth of prominent voices joining him. It could be the perceived stigma of having this dark chapter of their lives out in full view of the public, or the fear that no one will believe them. (Both of which are fears that all the women accusing Weinstein and other predators have had to overcome.) Rapp’s courageous revelation should send a signal to other victims that the world is ready to listen to them.