WORLDWIDE — Hours after sexual assault claims against actor Kevin Spacey were made public, the Oscar Award winner released a statement apologizing for his actions, and then announcing he'd chosen to live life as a gay man.
Some critics say the statement was a deflection technique to bury the assault accusations, while others believe the statement reinforced a dangerous misperception.
Canaan Hoffmann, 26, now lives in Austin, but grew up in a small Texas town when he came out as a teenager.
Hoffmann was upset by the way Spacey chose to make his own momentous announcement.
“I felt insulted because coming out takes so much strength and courage, so many people still can’t find that strength,” Hoffmann said.
BuzzFeed published a scathing article Sunday night accusing actor Kevin Spacey of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old actor several years ago.
Spacey apologized for his actions, but then publicly declared his sexuality — a topic he'd previously treated as a private matter.
In Spacey's statement, he used the phrase “I choose now to live as a gay man,” and that has sparked outrage among the LGBTQ community.
“In the gay community we already get pinned down as deviant,” said Hoffmann. “We are so much more than what homophobes or people who don’t understand think of us.”
“It’s perceived that he’s linking the allegations against him being gay or being closeted, and those two are very separate things,” said Loretta Holland, executive director of Waterloo Counseling Center. “They don’t have anything to do with each other. There’s an old stigma around if you’re gay then you’re doing sexually inappropriate things, and I think that’s what people are reacting to.”
The Waterloo Counseling Center offers a range of mental health treatments, specializing in the LGBTQ community.
Holland says linking homosexuality with accusations of sexual assault could have a negative impact on others.
“It could result in someone now feeling very unsure about coming or making that decision to come out because of the emphasis around the stigma around that,” Holland said.
But the hope is that anyone who has come out or, considering it, knows they aren’t alone.
Waterloo Counseling Center is a nonprofit organization and provides affordable, culturally sensitive mental health services to people of all sexual identities.
Anyone who would like more information about the center should visit waterloocounseling.org.