Anthony Rapp delivered an inspirational speech on the origins of courage at Out and Equal's Momentum Gala.
The out Star Trek: Discovery actor, who was honored Thursday by the LGBT workplace equality group, used his acceptance speech to discuss how he came to break his longtime silence about being sexually harassed by Kevin Spacey — an act that occurred in 1986 when he was 14 and the older actor was 26.
"It wasn’t a large moment of standing at a precipice, heart thumping at my throat. It was a quiet moment sitting by my window in my apartment in New York City, reading The New York Times: Lupita Nyong’o’s story that she shared about her experiences with Harvey Weinstein over the years," Rapp recounted. "Her personal story moved me to the core, and I found myself looking at an opportunity for myself that I never would have imagined would be possible, of possibly making a difference in the lives of scores of people over the decades that had been affected by my assaulter."
"There was never a question if this was the right thing to do or the wrong thing to do. It just had to happen," Rapp added.
Rapp's first impulse was to act immediately, but he also received practical advice from his partner, Ken, who advised him to consider "all the possible consequences." He had additional support from family members and consulted a lawyer before coming forward.
“Find yourself some really good legal advice," Rapp advised others who are considering sharing their stories of abuse. "Because the fact of the matter is, for to long, we’ve thought a lie, that the threat of defamation, the threat of being sued, was more powerful than the reality, the power of the truth to tell your story."
Afterward, Rapp contacted a journalist friend, Adam B. Vary, to help him share his story. The BuzzFeed article, published in October, inspired dozens of other accusers to come forward against Spacey. This led to the disgraced actor's firing from House of Cards and his erasure from All the Money in the World.
In his speech, Rapp credited the outspoken AIDS activist Larry Kramer, with whom he worked on a play in his youth, as being “a galvanizing force to always lead me to think about the greater good.” He also thanked his late mother, who "quietly and nobly ... led by example."
"Nothing will change with silence, ever," said Rapp, adding, "Visibility is the only thing that has made the difference in our fight for equality for LGBT human beings."
His message to the world? "I hope that you will continue to do the right thing in every moment that you have the opportunity to do so."
Listen to his speech below.