The accusation “has encouraged me to address other things about my life,” he continued in the statement. He then publicly divulged for the first time that he had “loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life.”
While coming out is often met with support by peers, fans and gay rights activists, the response was far different for Mr. Spacey.
“Coming out stories should not be used to deflect from allegations of sexual assault,” Sarah Kate Ellis, president and chief executive of Glaad, a gay rights organization, said in a statement. “This is not a coming out story about Kevin Spacey, but a story of survivorship by Anthony Rapp and all those who bravely speak out against unwanted sexual advances. The media and public should not gloss over that.”
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George Takei, who has used his large social media following to advocate social-justice causes, said in an emailed statement that Mr. Rapp’s accusations were about power, not sexuality.
“Men who improperly harass or assault do not do so because they are gay or straight — that is a deflection,” he said. “They do so because they have the power, and they chose to abuse it.”
Zachary Quinto, an actor, said in a statement that Mr. Spacey had come out not “as a point of pride” that could inspire children but “as a calculated manipulation to deflect attention from the very serious accusation that he attempted to molest one.”
“I am sorry that Kevin only saw fit to acknowledge his truth when he thought it would serve him — just as his denial served him for so many years,” he said.
A representative for Mr. Spacey did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
While Mr. Spacey made reference to rumors regarding his sexuality when he hosted the 2017 Tony Awards, he had never publicly confirmed them and fiercely guarded his privacy.
“We gay men have always proudly claimed you as a member of our tribe, and yet you don’t proudly claim us back,” Mr. Sessums said. “Why?”
Mr. Spacey responded: “Look, I might have lived in England for the last several years but I’m still an American citizen and I have not given up my right to privacy.”
Mr. Sessums continued the line of questioning, but Mr. Spacey pivoted to a discussion of bullying without addressing his own sexuality.
“No one’s personal life is in the public interest,” Mr. Spacey said. “It’s gossip, bottom line. End of story.”