The Harvey Weinstein accusations have opened long overdue conversation about sexual harassment. Nothing is more demeaning that subjected a person to unwanted advances. Women who were afraid to talk about are beginning to do so, and that will hopefully lead to more men understanding we need to treat women with respect. As with all social change, it won’t happen overnight, but what is happening is a fury of interest and an increasingly favorable legal situation for women who come forward.
For gay men, it is also happening, and here we need to be careful and not get carried away. Anthony Rapp accused Spacey of making untoward sexual advances on him when he was just 14 years old. Spacey was 26. Spacey issued a statement: “I honestly do not remember the encounter, it would have been over 30 years ago. But if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years,”
What troubles me is the way some people jumped all over him for it. Harry Lewis, for example, who describes himself as a Radial queer feminist, #BlackLivesMatter supporter and organize said, “For Spacey to imply that sexual confusion was somehow related to his conduct sets a dangerous precedent. It allows men like the one who assaulted me to believe that their queerness recuses them from accountability for predatory behavior. It sends the message that conservatives and evangelicals are right to believe all gay men are pedophiles and child rapists. And it reinforces the idea that there are special circumstances in which certain men get a “get of jail free” card because of who they are?” That smacks of victim mentality.
This is an era of tender coming out stories, so we should be sensitive to the difficulties we, even our celebrities, face when it comes to owning our sexuality. I believe we should care for our brothers even when they do dastardly things rather than simply heap blame on them. We know more about sexual confusion than your average bear, and let’s face it, sex is a major part of our lives as gay men, and sometimes we’re compulsive. As for the drinking thing, I had to have three beers before I had the courage to approach someone in a bar, and how many gay men haven’t needed to be drunk to have sex? And didn’t we do some stupid things when we were drunk? Taking advantage of someone sexually is the most heinous act, and none of that excuses his behavior, but I would rather we try to understand everyone’s frame of mind before we make snap judgments. That makes for poor headlines, but it’s the right thing to do with a fellow human being,