Becoming a Strong Gay Man After Sexual Abuse: A Personal Essay

Written by Preston Mitchum


By now, we’ve all heard about Anthony Rapp’s allegations of sexual assault by Kevin Spacey when Rapp was 14 and Spacey was 26. Waking up in the middle of the night to the revelation of Rapp’s story and Spacey’s response felt like a punch in the gut because it doesn’t just happen in Hollywood.

As a black queer man who was sexually abused as a child by a man who now identifies as gay, this Spacey public relations stunt of coming out while addressing Rapp’s allegations saddens me in indescribable ways. We’re in an era where someone can tweet an apology for allegedly sexual assaulting a person then try to escape accountability by owning his sexual identity publicly.

Being assaulted by a man who later acknowledged being gay confused me so much about my own sexuality because I connected my sexuality to being abused. It took years to rework that my sexuality was not borne out of pain. I was not gay because I was abused.

Even though my abuser didn’t “come out” until many years after he assaulted me, Spacey’s response made me relive my entire interactions with my abuser and my own thinking on sexuality and abuse. I was a black boy who was already told that being gay was a problem; imagine adding on top of that the idea that my sexuality was connected to the abuse.
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