Kevin Spacey Makes A Case For Why It’s OK Not To Say You’re Gay


It is “common knowledge” that he’s a big homo despite never declaring himself so — not that the 1997 misleading Esquire headline teased that “Kevin Spacey Has A Secret” did him any favors to keep a low-profile. Unlike John Travolta, Kevin Spacey never tried to actively cover his tracks with a heterosexual image. Spacey never married and procreated with some young Hollywood ingenue — he took his mom to the Academy Awards the night he won for American Beauty. Is that good enough to earn him the right to privacy and respect from those who just want to hear the words come out of his mouth?

When Daily Beast writer Kevin Sessums offers to go off the record for an honest conversation about his sexuality, Spacey is uncharacteristically totally game to keep that shit ON the record and proceeds to argue pretty successfully for his right to stay in the “glass closet.”  When the interviewer challenges with: “we gay men have always proudly claimed you as a member of our tribe, and yet you don’t proudly claim us back,” Spacey opens up more than you’d think:

“People have different reasons for the way they live their lives. You cannot put everyone’s reasons in the same box. It’s just a line I’ve never crossed and never will. … 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. That is a presumption that people jump to. Look, at the end of the day people have to respect people’s differences. I am different than some people would like me to be. I just don’t buy into that the personal can be political. I just think that’s horseshit. No one’s personal life is in the public interest. It’s gossip, bottom line. End of story…”

Later in the interview Sessums brings up how powerful it would be to see Spacey do an “It Gets Better” video, and Spacey agrees and says he’d “absolutely” do it.

Sidenote, have you seen The Ref? Greatest.Christmas.Movie.Ever.  (@dailybeast)


Speaking of gay A-list actors, news of Carrie Fisher’s John Travolta outing has gone mainstream and is a officially free-for-all for talk show pundits. Now you have hard evidence to show your uncle at Christmas dinner!


Have you heard that Rosie O’Donnell is going back to daytime TV next September on the Oprah Winfrey Network? It seems the show will be in the single topic Oprah format, rather than The Rosie O’Donnell Show mold of yesteryear:

“This show won’t be as celebrity focused; guests won’t be promoting their movies for eight minutes. The show will be about real people and real issues. I’ll focus on a single topic for one hour, things people deal with every day. Raising children. The education system in America. Autism. Relationships, health, weight, depression—and happy stuff, too, of course. I envision the show being full of love and laughter.”



You’ve already seen his E! True Hollywood Story, but this brand new interview with CNN Asia allows for more introspection on his part. He reveals that he still isn’t sure whether he wants to be a spokesperson for the gay community and goes deeper into the AMA performance backlash than I’ve seen before. He also talks about the concept of fame and how he handles it.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Jess is a pop culture junkie living in New York City. She enjoys endless debates about The L Word, Howard Stern, new techy gadgets, DVR, exploring the labyrinth of the Lesbian Internet, memoirs, working out, sushi, making lists, artsy things, anything Lady Gaga touches, traveling, puppies, and nyc in the fall. Find her on Twitter @jessxnyc or via email.

Jess has written 240 articles for us.


  1. Ages ago I read a really good article by a radical queer group against coming out. Annoyingly I can’t find it now. But basically their argument was that it just stigmatises it, and that as straight people don’t have to come out as straight, why should we have to come out as not straight? Just live your life and people will pick up on it kind of thing. That’s kind of my approach so far. That said, I realise that that’s really easy for me to say, being a priviledged white kid with super-liberal parents, growing up in London, with friends who are mostly squatters, queers and anarchists. I know nobody I care about is going to feel any different about me if I go ‘Yeah, she’s pretty hot’. It’s not even an issue. Also I used to play baseball, so, you know.

    However, I get how massively different it would be if I was growing up alone in a small, conservative town in the middle of nowhere surrounded by people who might reject me for who I am. Or a variety of other less priviledged circumstances. So yeah, I’m not against coming out, but I don’t think it’s the right thing or even neccessary for everyone. It seems like in the Spacey case, it’s more not wanting to let the media into his personal life at all, which is fair enough and kind of a different issue.

    This became way longer than I intended…

      • This is not by a radical queer group so it’s not the one aimutiny was thinking of, but it’s on the same topic. it’s also just by some woman on the internet so not authoritative, but it’s interesting.

        I feel, perhaps completely baselessly, that feelings like this are especially strong among bisexual women who are not only constantly coming out to everyone we meet but having to go back and re-come out to everyone we know every time we start dating someone new. On the other hand, we also have tremendous passing privilege, so I don’t know that you would necessarily want to listen to us very carefully on the issue.

        • although I should disclaimer that I don’t particularly agree with that post. but I do understand it, I think.

    • I kinda would see living openly as coming out though. Like I remember a friend saying to me you will be coming out your whole life.

      There’s probably a handful of people who I actually sat down with and said “I’m gay” and that’s because it was the kind of situations and relationships that really required it. Otherwise I just let people find out themselves. I am aware though when I’m posting certain things online or saying things in conversation its part of me coming out as in its giving other people the chance to go oh so she is gay.

      If I didn’t want to be out or actually come out I would censor myself and the acts that give that away.

      • I agree. I mean the reason we have to come out in the first place is because people assume everybody is straight. That is why straight people don’t have to come out and that is why we’ll be coming out our whole lives. Whether it’s by telling or just by living open lives.

    • I was recently at a discussion hosted by a group of queer migrants to Australia (one Tanzanian/American, one Chinese, one Malay, and smatterings of us across the audience) and we were talking about how coming out isn’t always an option with Asian families (and African too). Asian cultures can be quite asexual and they consider talking openly about sexual matters to be taboo – it’s private, it’s not something you revel in, etc. Trying to talk about coming out would entail having to explain sexuality matters to your family, which then becomes really uncomfortable and “shameful” or “immodest” conversation. They don’t really want to know who you sleep with (or consider the idea of you sleeping with someone outside marriage). It’s not worth the effort.

      In some cases coming out can be detrimental – the moderator was talking about 2 Sudanese refugee women who had found each other in Australia and fell in love, but felt conflicted because their communities don’t accept homosexuality. They went to a social worker, who said “just come out! The queer community here will welcome you!”. BAD ADVICE. Not only were they outcasted by the other Sudanese, who had been crucial familial and life support while they transitioned to Australian life, they weren’t welcomed by the Aussie queer community either.

      Coming out would just more often have a bad reaction not because “ew, you’re gay!” (though that is a reaction amongst many) but because “ew, you’re parading your sexuality openly you shameless person!”. I definitely saw that having grown up in Malaysia with Bangladeshi parents. It’s just too much at once, and you might as well just keep it to yourself or only share with people you know will be able to deal with it.

      • People shouldn’t assume they know what’s best for other people. You have a lot of people telling others of different cultures what they should or shouldn’t be doing with their outness. Mind your business, people, and wake up to the fact that individuals know what’s best for them.

  2. while I do believe that the personal IS political, I also believe that the personal belongs to the person first, and not the public. If someone chooses to come out, that should be celebrated. If someone chooses to out someone else, that should not be supported and validated by we, the gay people.

    I think that we, the gays, have really important struggles. We can be disowned, kicked out of churches, run out of towns, lose our jobs, get bullied, get murdered, be denied basic human rights. We need to take care of us right now. Speculation about celebrities’ sexuality doesn’t really help us. I agree with Spacey that it’s gossip. I want celebrities to join us publicly, and put their influence to good use, but I’m willing to let them choose when they want to do that.

  3. I kind of liken outing someone to sexual harassment. Hitting on someone isn’t wrong. If the person has stated they do not want that kind of sexual attention, then continuing to hit on that person becomes wrong. Unwanted attention based on one’s sexuality strikes me as wrong too.

    Does that make sense?

  4. The Ref is a classic. I probably like it because of Christine Baranski and the excessive use of the eff word.

  5. coming out is extremely powerful for some, but i think there are other ways to be powerful, too. it is not for everyone and i think the queer community needs to be more respectful of this.

    • Thank you so much for this comment on respect. A part of “queerness” is embracing all the strange and beautiful and contradictory and painful ways people live their lives.

      I’m out to some people in my life and not others. There’s always a balance between coming out to feel open and closer to my friends, promote visibility and give meaning to my politics, and staying closeted for my own sanity.

      One of my favorite quotes to this effect is from Susan Sontag, who lived her life just as she liked, but never formally “came out.”

      “I grew up in a time when the modus operandi was the ‘open secret’. I’m used to that, and quite OK with it. Intellectually, I know why I haven’t spoken more about my sexuality, but I do wonder if I haven’t repressed something there to my detriment. Maybe I could have given comfort to some people if I had dealt with the subject of my private sexuality more, but it’s never been my prime mission to give comfort, unless somebody’s in drastic need. I’d rather give pleasure, or shake things up.” I love her pleasure/ comfort battle!!!

      Ironically, reading about Susan’s sexuality gives me great comfort.

  6. I also find that when it comes to a serious actor, knowing about their personal life, whether gay or straight, makes it harder for them to do their job. I find that I have a hard time buying Tom Cruise in a role because I know so much about his damn life (unwillingly, it’s shoved down my throat any time I pass a magazine stand. Although that might be a bad example considering what a shite actor he is.)
    But Kevin Spacey? I don’t know anything about him, so when I see him on-screen I can just take what he’s giving me (that’s what she said) and not have anything else interfere.

    • But Kevin Spacey? I don’t know anything about him, so when I see him on-screen I can just take what he’s giving me (that’s what she said) and not have anything else interfere.

      BINGO. And it’s the heteros who are far more guilty of shoving their personal lives down our throats than the gays.

  7. It’s a complex matter, but my simple view on it is that unless you’re specifically and directly doing something to harm the gay community (e.g. pastors/priests who are closeted but publicly homophobic), then I say live and let live.

    Re Kevin Spacey: A persons private life is by definition private. Being an actor doesn’t mean that we as the public automatically have a right to know everything about that person. Unless a person makes the decision to allow the media into their personal lives, then the media does not have the right to go poking around in it.

    The John Travolta one is a bit more of a grey area. Does being publicly associated with Scientology – and therefore with a homophobic institution – exempt him from that ‘live and let live’ approach? If that’s the case, then any person who is publicly Catholic, for example, would be subject to the same judgement.

  8. Hmmmm…while I appreciate right to live privately (that’s kinda how I am–I tell people about my relationship that I know can handle it.) Though initially happy that I told my parents, sometimes I wish I didn’t…However, it was such a RELIEF letting it off my chest.

    Of course, I’m in a country that won’t killz me if I happen to come out.

    Hate to be making a reference to The L Word [remember that show?!!], but what comes to mind is when the other people in the group or whatever couldn’t tell that Bette was half-black. People convincingly in the closet may have encounters with unsuspecting people that talk mad smack about gay people. Then what? Do u keep your mouth shut for the fear of revealing too much?? Or do chime in like a douche?? Sometimes staying silent can do just as much damage.

    And as for the people that publicly bad-mouth gay people: fair game. When you put your personal thoughts out there, people have the right to check out your background. Plus, even though some might find out your sexuality through…unethical or sketchy means…still, I see it as, “Well, you had to have seen it coming.” Call it karma, if you will.

  9. that ‘photoshopped’ pic of Rosie is just her ‘authentic’ self being morphed into something that’ll fit into Oprah grand vision. Just like Ro sayin’ Oprah was one of the tribe not that long ago, but now sayin’ “oh no, she’s not…”. That photo creeps me out, but only because I can’t believe that Ro would fall so low as to have it published. Really authentic!

  10. Kevin Spacey cites the exact reasons why the notion of massive fame doesn’t appeal to me.
    On one hand, I feel like unless you’re facing the consequence of extreme harm – physically, psychologically, or financially – then to an extent, you’re obligated to be out. Bear with me while I explain. Visibility and face-to-face interaction is what really opens up acceptance for us. People are most comfortable with that which is familiar to them, so the more functional and for lack of a better word, “normal” queers out there interacting with the rest of the world, then the better.

    That said, I get to say this from the privileged position as noted above of living somehwere that I won’t be stoned to death. I also get to “pick and choose” for the most part to whom I am outed. I’m out to my parents, my dad’s family, and my friends, and they’re supportive as all hell. I don’t announce to new people I meet that I’m a total lesbo, but I don’t hide it, either, and anyone introduced into my life who is going to stay is going to have to accept that.
    I am not, however, out to my mom’s family. I’m conflicted on that. I’ve got my reasons for that and I believe they are valid, but for the exact reason I stated above, I also feel the obligation of showing them that queers are fully developed adults with functional priorities that take care of themselves.
    I’m also only out to a couple of my coworkers because I don’t work in a state where my employment is protected.

    Anyway, my point is that Kevin Spacey doesn’t have that luxury once he’s out to the public in picking and choosing who knows.
    Sudanese refugee women don’t have a strong social support system to back them up, and I totally imagine them to be extremely ripe targets for all sorts of horrific retaliation from other members of their home group. Nobody should be signed up for things like beatings or “corrective” rape.
    There are still so many teens and young adults in our country, now, who face terrible repercussions without an ability to escape their situations…let alone those in most other parts of the world.

    That said, if you are a solid and decent person living a fruitful life who just so happens to be queer, then I really do feel like you should be as open as you can, even if it means incurring varying amounts of discomfort. Everyone is different, though, and we can all only define our situations for ourselves as individuals. I’m not stating a commandment, just what I view to be ideal.

  11. I honestly knew very very little about Adam Lambert but that interview made me really, really like him.

  12. Can I just say that Perez Hilton made me kind of proud of him in that video when he used to just make me change the channel? He didn’t dump on anyone and called Joy on her shit. Color me impressed.

  13. No, Kevin Spacey generally doesn’t discuss his personal life. He keeps it professional in interviews, except that we know he likes Twitter and dogs! I’m a long-time fan of Mr. Spacey, who has always thought he is gay…and I love him to pieces. I am totally hetero, and would vote for gay marriage in a heartbeat if they would just put it on the ballet.

  14. I’d like to know just so I can fantacize about Spacey. Well, I still fantacize about Adam and he’s batting with the other team. So, I’ll still fantacize about Spacey, too.

Comments are closed.