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Bryan Singer, you are not a victim of a ‘homophobic smear’

The Daily Beast

January 23, 2019

Bryan Singer’s claim of ‘homophobia’ is as offensive as Kevin Spacey’s weird coming out. Both men are using their homosexuality to deflect questions around alleged abuse.

When Kevin Spacey sought to deflect accusations of abusing Anthony Rapp, he did so by coming out as gay.

It was a low piece of PR. He had, as BuzzFeed’s Adam B. Vary pointed out, seemingly weaponized the closet he lived in to help facilitate his alleged abuse of younger men. Now he was flinging the same closet door open to elicit public sympathy.

Now the movie director (and another alleged serial abuser) Bryan Singer is claiming that an article written in The Atlantic, researched and written over many months and with 50 sources and that lays out specific allegations of abuse, is a “homophobic smear piece.”

It is nothing of the kind. Singer either genuinely thinks it is, or thinks he can gaslight the world into thinking it is, and make it go away accordingly. Either way, he’s wrong, and offensively so—just as Spacey was wrong when he thought that making a bid for public sympathy was an adequate response to Anthony Rapp’s accusations and pain.

There is nothing in and of itself homophobic in reporting on the alleged abuse carried out by gay men. It is important that such reporting is carried out neutrally, and is phrased and written responsibly, as Vary (when it came to Spacey and Rapp) and the two authors of The Atlantic did (when it came to Singer).

The offensive “smear” here is fully Singer’s, and that smear is really around his embrace of his sexual identity as deflecting shield and weapon, when what he should be addressing are the accusations of abuse.

Singer thinks that just by saying something is “homophobic” that it will act as kind of fire blanket on the accusations within the piece. It will not, but it makes an offensive mockery of the very real homophobia LGBT people face in America and abroad, whether it be murder, beatings, their sexuality and/or gender identities being made illegal, and all kinds of discrimination.

Singer’s invocation of ‘homophobia’ is as questionable as Spacey’s weird coming out. Kevin Spacey and Bryan Singer are not on trial for being gay—even if they try to skew their narratives that way to suit their own ends. They are facing accusations of abuse, and instead of facing those accusations directly, they are using their homosexuality as a mitigating factor. Don’t buy it.

The entirety of Singer’s absurd statement reads thus:

The last time I posted about this subject, Esquire magazine was preparing to publish an article written by a homophobic journalist who has a bizarre obsession with me dating back to 1997. After careful fact-checking and, in consideration of the lack of credible sources, Esquire chose not to publish this piece of vendetta journalism.
“That didn’t stop this writer from selling it to The Atlantic. It’s sad that The Atlantic would stoop to this low standard of journalistic integrity. Again, I am forced to reiterate that this story rehashes claims from bogus lawsuits filed by a disreputable cast of individuals willing to lie for money or attention. And it is no surprise that, with Bohemian Rhapsody being an award-winning hit, this homophobic smear piece has been conveniently timed to take advantage of its success.

To be clear, I know nothing of the personal beliefs of either of the journalists who wrote The Atlantic article, but there is nothing homophobic in the piece. There are stories of scared, sometimes damaged younger men claiming they were variously abused and used by Singer. These stories are not presented salaciously, far from it. There are no judgments made about Singer’s sexuality, or derogatory statements about the same.

Note that Singer’s statement does not include an actual, strongly voiced denial, but a half-hearted claim of the Atlantic story “rehashing claims from bogus lawsuits filed by a disreputable cast of individuals willing to lie for money or attention.”

The specifics of the charges made against Singer stand in stark contrast to his generalized attack on the journalists and his alleged victims.

It is jarring to see Bohemian Rhapsody mentioned, because not only did Singer leave that film during some kind of personal meltdown, as detailed in the piece (and his name hasn’t been mentioned at any awards ceremonies), but it is also no sterling cultural artifact of LGBT strength and pride.

It treats homosexuality as a kind of downward spiral to personal oblivion, which only Mary Austin, Freddie Mercury’s one-time fiancé and later friend, can save him from. The movie, curiously, makes their relationship the central romance of the film.

The movie’s villain is a gay manager, who lies, obsesses over Mercury, and isolates him from his friends and the rest of the band.

The thing that really marks Bohemian Rhapsody’s own homophobia is how it represents Jim Hutton, Mercury’s last, and much-loved partner.

In 2006, Hutton himself told me the story of his and Mercury’s relationship, which bears scant relation to the dismissive and offensive lies the film peddles. The film is as dishonest about their relationship, and its depth, as it is about Mercury’s sexuality.

If Bryan Singer, as a gay man, is proud of overseeing this gross, anti-gay, stupid lie of a movie, then that perhaps is in and of itself a telling comment about Bryan Singer.

But Singer should stop deploying his sexuality and “homophobia’”as deflections when it comes to questions about his conduct and behavior. What he is accused of has more to do with control, privilege, and a willingness to abuse people, than it is about who he is or isn’t attracted to. It is not OK to coerce anyone into sex, especially when they are younger and have less power than you—and especially when they are as vulnerable, financially and emotionally, as some of the young men in The Atlantic piece appear to be.

If you want to understand the LGBT anger over Spacey and Singer, it is because their cases link again homosexuality and abuse, a trope that has been a longtime burden of LGBT people, and a convenient battering ram of homophobes. The anger is made more acute because these two powerful men then use their sexuality in the worst way to play to the public gallery.

Bryan Singer may want to read about what LGBT people in Chechnya are going through right now: that’s homophobia.