By Steve Berman It’s not an “encounter.” It’s not “deeply inappropriate drunken behavior.” It is what it is, and it’s disgusting in any context.
But that’s not what jumped out at me.
Spacey said “I honestly do not remember the encounter.” That’s almost certainly true. I am sure that some in the LGBT community will give him a pass because he’s now come out as gay, and that’s just how things might roll in the gay community (or did in 1986). Rapp is also gay, and from his Buzzfeed interview, knew he was gay when he was 14. Spacey knew what he was doing when he invited a young teen to an adult party at his apartment, where there’d be drinking and whatnot.
They both knew things that aren’t really being said, which makes what Spacey did all the more awful. He may have wanted to be Rapp’s “first.” I don’t know and I don’t care.
But that’s not what jumped out at me either. For nearly 32 years, Rapp carried this thing with him, like a ball and chain, everywhere he went. He told some people about it. He flirted with hiring an attorney. But there wasn’t really a case there.
Rapp avoided Spacey. The man became his bogeyman. Every notch that Spacey moved up in his career became a bleeding paper cut for Rapp; he couldn’t be happy for the man. He wondered if Spacey remembered the “encounter.”
For nearly 32 years, Kevin Spacey lived rent-free in Anthony Rapp’s head. (Kind of ironic since “Rent” was one of Rapp’s big roles on Broadway.) And what does Rapp get for that 32 years? Nothing. Bupkis. Spacey doesn’t even remember it. He probably forgot about it in 32 hours, never mind 32 years.
That look of vague recognition passing in a restroom might have been “Yeah I think that dude was at a party I threw a few decades ago,” or it may have simply been “Hey that’s Anthony Rapp, I liked him in ‘A Beautiful Mind’!” That’s what jumped out at me–there’s few things worse than carrying a grudge for decades when the object of the grudge is blissfully unaware of it, and furthermore, doesn’t even care.
Of course, Spacey cares. He said he owes Rapp “the sincerest apology” for something he admitted doesn’t remember even doing. That’s not closure for a man who has 32 years of back rent to pay. It doesn’t even begin to be closure.
It’s really sad, because there’s an answer for Rapp, and he could have taken it at any time since that night in New York. It’s forgiveness.
Not the fake “okay, I forgive you” then telling everyone how awful Spacey is. It’s forgiveness of the heart, and moving on. I don’t know if any of the various people with whom Rapp shared his story suggested this solution. But it is indeed the answer.
The other option–not forgiving–leads to all kinds of inequality. What I mean by that, is how bad was Spacey’s transgression versus, say, whoever raped Corey Haim? Or how bad was it compared to any of Harvey Weinsteain’s conquests? Or Bill Cosby’s drug-assisted rapes? Or Bill Clinton’s Oval Office escapades? You see where it leads?
But Rapp was just a kid. Yes. But Spacey didn’t actually rape him. Yes, also. But Spacey was drunk. True. Desire plus opportunity minus inhibition equals really bad behavior. That night, for Rapp, was Spacey at his worst. Perhaps, others will come out with stories of Spacey at his worst for them, which may or may not be worse than Rapp’s experience.
Kevin Spacey doesn’t deserve to be forgiven. Of course not. He deserves what he gets. Career in tatters, or worse. But that might not happen at all. Since Spacey used the occasion to out himself as a gay man, he might find a sympathetic audience in all the gay men who have had their worst moments of desire plus opportunity minus inhibition. All the gay men who, like straight men, did something they knew they shouldn’t have done.
How will Rapp feel when (if) Spacey gets a total pass, and all that back rent is never paid?
The answer, to me, is the same as it’s been for 2,000 years. Forgive, because none of us deserve forgiveness.
The only place where all our transgressions are truly equal, where none of the “but”s and comparisons matter, is the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ. Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. In His sinless life and sacrifice, all of us, no matter how relatively “good” or “worse” than others in comparison, we all fail and are undeserving of forgiveness.
God could carry the grudge of all grudges against humankind, and at the end, when we’ve all forgotten Him and ignored Him, He can have His revenge upon us. He can utterly destroy the living and consign the dead to Hell. But he chose to forgive anyway–that’s called grace.
My recommendation for Anthony Rapp is to extend grace to Kevin Spacey and forgive him. It’s what God has done for all of us.
I’m sure that statement will bring all kinds of angry responses from the gay community, about how evangelicals say that gays will go to Hell and are not forgiven. That’s just more of what Rapp carried around letting Spacey live rent free in his head. God has forgiven all sins, including the sin of homosexuality. Of course, that forgiveness must be accepted to have effect.
Holding on to a grudge against God, and failing to receive His forgiveness, failing to believe in Him (which means believing in His law and moral requirements) is a choice we all make individually to continue in our error and anger, or lay them down at the foot of the cross. I do pray that both Rapp and Spacey make that choice for themselves to reconcile to God–but that’s not what I mean by my advice to Rapp.
“To err is human, to forgive, divine,” is what Alexander Pope wrote and it’s universally true. The only way for Anthony Rapp to receive 32 years of back rent from Kevin Spacey is for him to pay it himself. And that, if you think about it, and think about Christianity, is the essence of the divine.