Humans are social creatures. We like to share stories with each other. Humans are sexual creatures. We like to share our bodies with each other.
Before we go any further, let's make sure we're both ready.
Sex is the physical act of sharing our body with another consenting* human in a romantic or desirous way. (*non-consenting people include adults who say no, children who say yes or no, drunk or drugged people who can't say yes or no because they're passed out or asleep. Consent is a definite YES from a person mature enough to know what they're agreeing to do.)
Assault (also called abuse, rape, molestation) is the physical act of forcing our body onto another nonconsenting human. It's not about feeling in control of yourself, feeling sexy. It's about feeling in control of someone else, feeling dominant.
I grew up in a time when most gay people were in the closet. Some of my gay friends were out, obviously, to me, and to other friends. But most people hid their authentic sexuality from most people. We were afraid of getting beaten up. Or murdered. It happened.
I saw this quote on the wall of one of the numerous therapists I've visited over the years, and I never forget it.
"Hurt people hurt people."
Sexuality, shrouded in secrecy, leads to inauthenticity. Humans, social creatures that we are, struggle to not share our stories with each other. When we feel shamed into secrecy, told not to tell our stories, we bottle them up. Until we are strong enough to uncork the bottle and feel our feelings and be our authentic selves.
I'm not saying I approve of the way Kevin Spacey outed himself. It's gross how he conflates pediphilia and homosexuality. But, I do understand that Kevin Spacey is a product of our society, the one where for most of his life you could at best not get any big roles in Hollywood and at worst get yourself killed. I understand why Spacey wanted to be in the closet. I understand, but I do not condone, how his feelings about sexuality might have gotten all fucked up from all those years festering inside the closet.
Inauthenticity leads to unhealthy behavior. Alcoholism. Eating disorders. Drug abuse. Sexual abuse. In Kevin Spacey's case, living an inauthentic life has lead, allegedly, to sexual assault. I throw in that word - allegedly - because I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. Because, legally, a person in our society who has been accused of a crime is, supposedly, innocent until proven guilty. I throw in that word - supposedly - because what often happens in our society, especially when a case involves a public figure, is that supposedly and allegedly get tossed out the window and everybody takes sides, without assessing it from all points of view.
But, I get it. It's difficult to be dispassionate about such a sick subject. Sexual abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment, all cringe-worthy, shameful things. Difficult to talk about.
Kevin Spacey's case has already been tried in the court of public opinion. It's been just five days since Anthony Rapp accused Spacey of assaulting him decades ago, and yet Netflix has already cancelled House of Cards. Netflix punishes a fake president after he is accused of sexual assault. Our nation has yet to punish our actual president after we hear his recorded confession of grabbing women by the pussies.
It's difficult to acknowledge and it's difficult to talk about. Solace comes from uncorking the bottle, telling the secrets we've been shamed into bottling up inside ourselves.
Here are a couple of brave people, wielding the corkscrew. Watch an amazing conversation between Ronan Farrow and Stephen Colbert here.