Culture of abuse

Wilson Cruz describes the “career help” he was offered when he was a “little twink”

As the Harvey Weinstein scandal continues to reverberate through the entertainment industry, more accounts of sexual harassment/assault in Hollywood are popping up left and right.

On Friday night, openly gay actors Wilson Cruz and Charlie Carver added their voices to the conversation, opening up about their own run-ins with the industry’s quid pro quo culture that has allowed countless abuses of power.

Speaking on the red carpet of LGBTQ advocacy group GLSEN’s annual Respect Awards at the Beverly Wilshire hotel, Cruz spoke of some “help” he was offered by at least one gay Hollywood exec, when he was searching for his big acting break.

“I mean, early on when I was a little twink there were people who made suggestions about how they could help me,” he said. “And you know, clearly I didn’t take them up on that because I would be far more famous than I am now!”

And while Cruz didn’t name any names, he was clear that it was “older gentlemen of a certain age who made offers.”

“I did not take them up on it, but it was uncomfortable,” he said. “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.”

The My So-Called Life and Star Trek: Discovery actor continued: “But, you know, it definitely happens. I think it’s been quietly accepted as the norm in a lot of ways. People are like: ‘Oh, it happens’ and you brush it off. [But] I didn’t feel safe. 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.”

Charlie Carver, who has appeared in The Leftovers and Teen Wolf, witnessed the same environment when he was starting out.

“There are many other people who have experienced way worse in terms of harassment, but I can identify and empathize with anybody who has gone through it,” he said. “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.”

“I wouldn’t say I was traumatized,” he added. “But it was definitely a lesson, something to move through.”

Speaking to the importance of the GLSEN ceremony, Caver drove home the point that “In this political climate more than ever, we need to reward our allies and the people who are visible in the community so that young people feel like they are being seen and that they have peers and support.”