Sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood is in the spotlight, and it’s no surprise actors have been victims of it as well as actresses. When those actors are young and closeted, though, it can put them in even more dire straits.
Teen Wolf actor Charlie Carver, who came out last year, said that he is “no stranger” to unwanted advances from those in power. “I wouldn’t say I was traumatized,” he told Variety on the red carpet for the GLSEN Respect Awards. “But it was definitely a lesson, something to move through.”
Carver said his experience wasn’t as bad as others, “but I can identify and empathize with anybody who has gone through it. I’m not a stranger to it. This will hopefully open up a discussion about men and power dynamics in general—maybe it has to do with exerting masculinity.”
At the same event, Wilson Cruz admitted early on in his career “there were people who made suggestions about how they could help me.” He didn’t name anyone, but referred to an “older gentlemen of a certain age who made offers.”
“I did not take them up on it, but it was uncomfortable,” he added. “I was in my 20s, and I thought: ‘Is this what one does?’ And also: ‘Am I going to ruin my career by not doing it?’ In the end, I politely said no and kept on my way.”
“I was trying to maneuver my way through Hollywood as an openly gay actor and there weren’t many examples for me at the time. I was juggling a lot of worries.”
The Star Trek: Discovery actor says inappropriate advances are “quietly accepted” as the norm in Hollywood. “People are like: ‘Oh, it happens’ and you brush it off. [But] I didn’t feel safe.”
Earlier in the week, out Orphan Black star Jordan Gavaris accused agent Tyler Grasham of harassing him over the phone and threatened that his career could be derailed if he didn’t allow Grasham to “protect” him. (Grasham has been accused of sexual assault by at least two other men.)
Of course, having your sexuality used against you is something queer women in Hollywood face, too: Cara Delevingne recounted being asked inappropriate questions and pressured to kiss another woman by Harvey Weinstein. And producer Isa Hackett alleged Amazon head Roy Price made repeated unwanted advances in 2015, despite knowing she was a lesbian with a wife and children.
More people, gay and straight, are coming forward with their stories to help remove the stigma victims of harassment and assault face: Scandal star Tony Goldwyn revealed he was a victim of the casting couch when he was starting out. And earlier this month James Van Der Beek admitted he was sexual assaulted as a young actor by “older, powerful men” who would touch him inappropriately.
“I’ve had my ass grabbed by older, powerful men, I’ve had them corner me in inappropriate sexual conversations when I was much younger,” he tweeted. “I understand the unwarranted shame, powerlessness and inability to blow the whistle. There’s a power dynamic that feels impossible to overcome.”