In any other moment, news that Kevin Spacey had come out would be met with worldwide acclaim.
He would’ve been welcomed openly, lauded for his bravery and provided a generation of his LGBT fans with another positive gay role model. Instead, Spacey decided to “come out” as a result of being accused of ‘sexual advances’ with a then-14-year-old boy. Criticism within the community was instant and deservedly brutal. But why aren’t the LGBT community not supporting Spacey in this moment? Well, because of history.
“Gay Men are Paedophiles” has long been the right-wing attack on LGBT people. When Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed in America, prominent right-wing leader Bryan Fischer said it would increase cases of paedophilia stating, “we’ve talked about the fact that homosexuals commit sex crimes against children at about 10 times the rate of the heterosexual population…there’s this proclivity toward the abuse of children.”
The fact is that there has been zero scientific evidence that would back up such a claim doesn’t seem to bother him and his audience lapped it up.
But how could people believe that? Primarily, in the UK and US, this way of thinking has come from mishandling of LGBT groups around pro-paedophile groups namely, PIE (Paedophile Information Exchange) and NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association). In the UK, PIE was formed in 1974 by a gay man who was, at the time, in a relationship with a 15-year-old boy. The group, which advocated for the removal of the age of consent, received support from the National Council for Civil Liberties (now known as Liberty) and thus the connection to paedophilia and homosexuality was born. Similarly, with NAMBLA, they were part of the International Gay and Lesbian Association (ILGA) which would, in 1993, achieve UN consultation status (the group lost their status in 1994 due to the NAMBLA association and quickly dis-associated with them). Again, this appeared to align paedophiles and homosexuals. Add in decades of reports of sexual misconduct towards boys of men in power such as Priests and you can easily see the picture that was being painted over decades. That is why LGBT groups have battled for years to avoid even the slightest air of support of this sexual misconduct.
Then why are we mad at Kevin Spacey? What he has essentially done here is used the accusation of ‘sexual advances’ with a minor to announce he’s a gay man. This opens up the old wound that has been deeply damaging to the community. If allegations against Spacey and, let’s face it, any gay male celebrity are proven to be true, (we must state that these are just allegations, Kevin Spacey denies any recollection of misconduct), then it gives anti-LGBT groups ammunition and opens generations of us to violence, accusations and mistrust. By using his statement to link homosexuality and sexual misconduct with minors, Kevin Spacey has swung open the door to the past, ripped open the healing wounds of the 70s, 80s and 90s and exposed LGBT people to false equivalence.
You may be sat reading this thinking it’s an over-reaction but you’re wrong. I implore you to search Kevin Spacey’s name and the word “faggot” or “homo” on Twitter and see for yourself people coming up with their own conclusions about gay men as a whole. Minority groups don’t have the privilege of common sense dissociation. When a straight Hollywood exec is accused of rape, nobody questions if all straight men are rapists but if a gay man is found to be a paedophile then, for some, ALL gay men are paedophiles.
Decades of bigotry, ignorance and hatred have been battled and now Spacey has handed them an open goal yet for him, it’ll mean nothing. Unless further allegations occur, Spacey will likely be able to lie low in his mansion, wait for it to blow over whilst he counts his millions and protects himself with hired security. But the real damage will be felt out here in the real world, beyond the bubble of celebrity. It’ll be felt by the gay school teacher looking to make a difference, the gay Scout Leader looking to enrich lives, the gay social worker looking to keep our young people safe. All that it takes is for a bigot to question their motives. Bigots do not need concrete evidence, they just need tenuous links, fragments of a conspiracy to build upon. And now… they’ve got it.
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