Speculation about Kevin Spacey’s sexuality existed long before the actor came out as gay.
For years, the “House of Cards” star distanced himself from questions regarding his orientation, even as rumors bubbled up within Hollywood.
He officially came out early Monday, shortly after actor Anthony Rapp accused a then-26-year-old Spacey of attempting to seduce him in 1986, when Rapp was just 14. The timing of Spacey’s sexuality announcement drew backlash from those believing he only came out to distract from Rapp’s allegations.
But various media reports have suggested in the past that Spacey was gay. In 1997, Esquire notoriously published a story titled “Kevin Spacey Has a Secret” that strongly implied that Spacey’s sexuality was a well-known secret.
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In the article, author Tom Junod says typical talking points about Spacey are that he “is supposed to be very smart, that he is supposed to be very private, that he is supposed to be extraordinarily committed to the protection and development of his extraordinary gifts as an actor, and that he is supposed to be gay.”
Spacey, now 58, vehemently slammed the article at the time.
“Esquire has made it abundantly clear that they have now joined the ranks of distasteful journalism, and this mean-spirited, homophobic, offensive article proves that the legacy of Joseph McCarthy is alive and well,” Spacey said in a statement in 1997.
He would go one to refute those same rumors two years later during a conversation with The Sunday Times Magazine, responding once more to the Esquire article.
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“It was a fiction,” he told the magazine in 1999. “An irritating one, but just a fiction none the less.”
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But those denials did not stop the intense media scrutiny on the topic. The Star published photos in 2000 showing the actor with a man as part of a cover story headlined “Kevin Spacey Romps With Male Model! Amazing photos of Oscar winner’s secret double life.”
The magazine’s editor, Tony Frost, told the Daily News at the time that they opted not to include photos he characterized as “far more graphic” then what they published.
“We showed considerable restraint,” he said.
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Spacey attended the 2000 Oscars with Dianne Dreyer, who was believed to be his girlfriend at the time, but The Star asserted in that same story that she was actually his personal assistant.
A rep for Spacey said the actor would not be addressing The Star’s photos, telling The News in 2000, “He’s said all he’s going to say about this. People can think whatever they want.”
A decade later, Spacey seemed to suggest he had no plans of addressing his sexuality one way or the other.
“I don’t live a lie. You have to understand that people who choose not to discuss their personal lives are not living a lie,” he told The Daily Beast in 2010. “That is a presumption that people jump to.”
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Earlier this year, Spacey seemed to joke about the longstanding rumors about his sexuality during a bit at the 2017 Tony Awards, singing a number dressed as Norma Desmond from “Sunset Boulevard.”
“I’m coming out,” he began, before pausing and saying, “No, wait, no.” The moment earned a laugh from the audience.
Spacey revealed he’s gay once and for all in a written statement, in which he said he did not remember the alleged incident with Rapp, but said he owes the actor an apology “if I did behave then as he describes.”
“I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man,” he wrote in the message, which was published to Twitter. “I want to deal with this honestly and openly and that starts with examining my own behavior.”
Rapp, 46, came forward Sunday night and told Buzzfeed that Spacey lifted him onto a bed and climbed on top of him in 1986.
“He was trying to seduce me,” Rapp said.
Bruce C. Steele, a former editor for Out Magazine and The Advocate, said he had long known that Spacey is gay, partly because Rapp had told him his story. But he never wanted his publications to be the ones to reveal Spacey’s secret.
“We did not out people, preferring to give them the time and space to make that decision themselves, a healthier route to honesty on both sides. We were happy to pave the way,” he wrote in an article for The Citizen-Times headlined “Why we did not out Kevin Spacey in 2001.”
Spacey has never been married and does not have kids. He’s won Oscars for “The Usuals Suspects” and “American Beauty.”
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