Spacey’s alleged conduct, imposing himself unwanted on a 14-year-old boy, is in no way defensible, nor is closeted queerness an excuse that authorizes bad behavior. (Spacey’s statement doesn’t dispute either of these points.) However, we can condemn the alleged events of [accuser Anthony] Rapp’s story without falling into the trap of fueling moral panic around the specter of the pedophile. And in its pitchfork-and-torches response, that’s exactly what the gay community is doing. It used to be straights who “pedophiled” gays to deny them civil rights and social inclusion. Now we apparently pedophile our own for moral purification and self-satisfaction.
The scary thing, in the eyes of the mainstream movement, is that Spacey used his apology as an opportunity to come out, to announce that he “live[s] as a gay man.” Braiding queerness into his apology sent gay pundits into a sanctimonious tizzy. Some lambasted him for coming out to deflect attention from his abusive conduct. Gay actors George Takei and Zachary Quinto decried Spacey’s coming out as manipulative and conniving, Frank Underwood-style. Others snarkily rejected his application for membership into the LGBTQ community.