Kevin Spacey came out as gay early Monday and apologised to actor Anthony Rapp, who accused the Hollywood star of making a sexual advance on him at a 1986 party when he was only 14 years old.
Spacey's announcement, posted on his Twitter account at midnight, came after Rapp -- best known for being part of the original cast of the hit Broadway musical “Rent” -- made the accusation in an interview with Buzzfeed News.
Spacey, 58, a double Oscar winner and star of the Netflix series “House of Cards,” said he did not remember the encounter but that “if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behaviour.” The actor -- whose sexuality had been an open secret in Hollywood for years -- went on to say that Rapp's accusation “encouraged me to address other things about my life.” “As those closest to me know, in my life I have had relationships with both men and women. I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man."
“I want to deal with this honestly and openly and that starts with examining my own behaviour.”
'Trying to seduce me'
Rapp, 46, told Buzzfeed that in 1986, while both he and Spacey were performing in Broadway shows, Spacey invited the then 14-year-old to a party at his New York apartment. Spacey would have been 26 at the time.
Rapp said he was in Spacey's bedroom watching TV when Spacey appeared in the doorway at the end of the night, after all the other guests had left, “kind of swaying” and apparently drunk.
Rapp said Spacey picked him up, put him on the bed and lay on top of him.
“He was trying to seduce me,” Rapp told Buzzfeed. “I don't know if I would have used that language. But I was aware that he was trying to get with me sexually.” Rapp said he squirmed away after a brief period of time and went into the bathroom. Shortly after, he left Spacey's apartment and went home.
Rapp, who was living in New York with his mother, stressed that a young teen going alone to a party at an adult actor's home was not considered a cause for concern at the time.
“It was a different era,” he said. “I went to work by myself. I would walk to the subway, and go to the theatre by myself.”
'A pretty horrible defence'
Rapp said he felt compelled to speak out after a recent deluge of accusations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein sparked an examination of abuses committed by powerful men in the entertainment industry.
Publicly accusing Spacey is “not to simply air a grievance,” he said, “but to try to shine another light on the decades of behaviour that have been allowed to continue because many people, including myself, being silent.” “I'm feeling really awake to the moment that we're living in, and I'm hopeful that this can make a difference.” More than 50 women, including top actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Mira Sorvino, have accused Weinstein of misconduct including rape, sexual abuse and harassment.
The now-disgraced tycoon was sacked as co-chairman of The Weinstein Company and also resigned from its board. He has denied forcing himself on his accusers.
Backlash against Spacey's announcement was quick to build, with commentators slamming the actor's declaration that he is gay as a cynical ploy to distract attention from the troubling allegation of sexual misconduct with a young teen.
“'Sure, I may have tried to rape a 14-year-old boy when I was 26, but I'm gay!' is a pretty horrible defence,” conservative commentator Ben Shapiro tweeted.
“No no no no no! You do not get to 'choose' to hide under the rainbow! Kick rocks!” comedian Wanda Sykes said on Twitter.