Calling Out Abuse Is Never A ‘Homophobic Smear’, Despite What Kevin Spacey And Bryan Singer Say

In using their sexuality as a shield, Singer and Spacey wield a weapon against allegation and the queer community.

Bryan Singer and Kevin Spacey

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Warning: this article discusses child and sexual abuse.

Yesterday, an explosive report by The Atlantic detailed decades of child abuse allegations against fired Bohemian Rhapsody director Bryan Singer, featuring four new accounts from victims, joining several publicly made allegations. In response, Singer has denied the accusations by painting them as a ‘homophobic smear’.

In a statement sent to Deadline, Singer said that a “homophobic journalist who has a bizarre obsession with me dating back to 1997” wrote the piece. In 1997, Singer was subject to a dismissed lawsuit surrounding the working conditions on his film Apt Pupil, in which several underage boys alleged they were bullied into filming shower scenes naked. The Atlantic report includes new abuse allegations on that set, and three more spanning two decades.

He then alleged that the piece was opportunistically timed to line up with attention around Bohemian Rhapsody‘s several Oscar nominations, and that the meticulously researched article, which corroborated stories with more than 50 sources, was a “low standard of journalistic integrity”.

“It’s sad that The Atlantic would stoop to this low standard of journalistic integrity,” says Singer. “Again, I am forced to reiterate that this story rehashes claims from bogus lawsuits filed by a disreputable cast of individuals willing to lie for money or attention. And it is no surprise that, with Bohemian Rhapsody being an award-winning hit, this homophobic smear piece has been conveniently timed to take advantage of its success.”

The denial isn’t surprising, echoing what he’s said for the past two decades. Unfortunately, the way he’s chosen to deflect them as homophobic isn’t surprising either. It is, however, deeply harmful, as using his sexuality as a shield is not only a weapon against allegations, but the queer community — a page directly ripped from Kevin Spacey’s book.

‘Throwing The Gay Community Under The Bus’

In 2017, Spacey responded to pedophilia allegations by actor Anthony Rapp by spinning it as an opportunity to “address other things about his life”, coming out as a gay man. Allegations around Spacey were considered an open secret in the entertainment industry, as were rumours about his sexuality.

By conflating the two as one in his response, Spacey shielded himself by using a harmful stereotype about the queer community, the logic which views same-sex attraction as a stepping stone away from pedophilia — something we saw resurface in Australia during the postal survey.

The difference, of course, is that pedophilia is a pathological sexuality, always immoral, as acting on it can never be consensual. At the time, the queer community rejected the pivot as opportunistic, a way to divert attention by ‘throwing the gay community under the bus’.

Singer’s response follows a similar logic. By depicting journalists Alex French and Maximillian Potter as motivated by homophobia, Singer is able to use a buzzword as a surface-level deflection: he does not need to address the allegations directly, instead wiping them away with one word.

But The Atlantic piece isn’t homophobic, nor are the allegations levelled against Spacey: it’s accountability against men who, if guilty, have been shielded by their wealth and importance in Hollywood. In The Atlantic piece, it’s alleged that Singer was part of a ‘sex ring’, where men would essentially trade off underage boys, or ‘offer’ them as a way to gain favour with Singer and others. Spacey allegedly used his clout in similar ways, promising to connect aspiring actors to job offers.

It’s disappointing that these men are using their queerness as a defence, especially when these alleged abuses of power were directly possible due to the sense of shame and misunderstanding surrounding gay sexuality. Shared among the accusations against Singer and Rapp’s allegation against Spacey is a palpable sense of shame: many speak of an unwillingness to come forward as a child, due to either their own conflicting views of their own sexuality, or a belief that they’d done something wrong and dirty.

The latter is by no means a reaction specific to same-sex abuse, but it intertwines with the sense of shame and self-hatred common with burgeoning queerness. Same-sex pedophilia thrives off the ensured self-censorship of its victims — in The Atlantic piece, one accuser alleges that Singer gleefully told him, at 14, that ‘no one would ever believe him’.

It’s also likely that the allegations and rumours surrounding Spacey and Singer were able to remain an ‘open secret’ without reaching the wider public due to a strong-held stereotype that younger gay men are sexually promiscuous and ‘willing’, even when they’re 13-years-old. There’s a belief that this is ‘simply how it works’, as evident in the complicity of the entertainment industry to ignore whispers, to not interrogate them.

You can compare it to the music industry’s inertia to acknowledge the many child-and sexual abuse allegations around R. Kelly, where artists like Chance The Rapper and Phoenix continued to collaborate with him as recently as 2015-6. In an interview in six-part documentary Surviving R. Kelly, Chance examines his ability to disregard allegations, saying “maybe I didn’t care because I didn’t value the accusers’ stories because they were black women.” Despite all our progress, it’s easy to see that the public rarely take the pain of a minority voice as seriously as a person of privilege, even when a chorus is speaking.

To hear Spacey and Singer use their sexuality as a defence is insulting to both victims and the wider queer community who have tirelessly fought the conflation of the two. But, as we said, it’s not surprising, it is yet another example of powerful men looking first-most out for themselves, cherry-picking when to ‘make a stand’ on issues when it’s convenient for them.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit In an emergency, call 000.

Men can access anonymous confidential telephone counselling to help to stop using violent and controlling behaviour through the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491.

Jared Richards is a staff writer at Junkee, and co-host of Sleepless In Sydney on FBi Radio. Follow him on Twitter.