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We're Not All Kevin Spacey

Kevin Spacey Perpetuated a Dangerous Myth

The actor perpetuated a dangerous myth in his coming-out, writes out politician Evan Low.

Earlier this year, a group of Trump supporters crashed a town hall I was hosting in the city of Campbell, Calif. Among the many insults they hurled at me was an accusation that I'm a pedophile because I'm gay. It's a horrific insult that is completely baseless and extremely harmful to the LGBT community. But unfortunately, it's one many gay men are familiar with. Historically, our community has been wrongly portrayed as sexually deviant predators as a way to sow fear and justify discrimination against us, despite the complete lack of evidence supporting such an accusation. As many people know, fear is a powerful way to promote hate.

This context is important to understanding why it was so offensive for Kevin Spacey to conflate sexual orientation with sexual assault in his response to Anthony Rapp's allegations. For those unfamiliar, actor Anthony Rapp recently accused Spacey of making sexual advances toward him when he was just 14. Spacey responded that he was "beyond horrified," didn't remember the incident and now chooses to "live as a gay man."

Some believe Spacey chose that moment to come out as a way to skirt the serious allegations that he assaulted a young boy, change the narrative and drive the news cycle. Whatever his reasons, Spacey did the LGBT community a disservice by equating his sexual orientation with his predatory actions.

It takes tremendous courage to come out, and I am glad Spacey can now live his authentic self, but using his orientation as an excuse for assault is harmful to gay men everywhere. No one can know for sure why he chose that moment, but it brings up a pernicious and dangerous myth that has been used to harm our community for decades. Instead, Spacey could have taken responsibility for his actions.

Sexual assault thrives in silence. We must call out predators to hold them accountable for their actions and send a message of zero tolerance, especially to those in positions of power who believe they can get away with anything. Money, power, and fame do not grant a free pass to touch or grab anyone against their will.

I applaud Anthony Rapp and all the brave individuals who have come forward to name their attackers. It is through this open and often painful dialogue that we can begin to address the pervasive culture of sexual assault in our country. This clearly has to change, as we are beginning to unravel the true extent of the problem. Let us commit ourselves to supporting victims and finding ways to end the widespread culture of sexual harassment and assault.

EVAN LOW is a California Assembly member representing San Jose and the Silicon Valley. He is chair of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus. Follow him on Twitter @Evan_Low.

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