Bill Cosby's prevailing accuser, Andrea Constand, is a lesbian. Here's why that matters

Andrea Constand, center, after Bill Cosby’s conviction. (Photo: Getty Images)
Andrea Constand, center, after Bill Cosby’s conviction. (Photo: Getty Images)

Although more than 50 women have come forward with their own Bill Cosby sexual assault accounts over the years, the entertainer’s three-count conviction on Thursday came down to just one: that of Andrea Constand, who, the Pennsylvania jury found, had been drugged and sexually assaulted by Cosby in his home 14 years ago.

“United we stand,” tweeted Constand not long after the decision was handed down at the Montgomery County Courthouse, along with a photo of herself going in for a celebratory hug.

The pressure on Constand was fierce, as hers was the only criminal case against Cosby; in many of the other women’s cases, the statute of limitations’ time frame had ended. “She is the linchpin of the case,” Lynne M. Abraham, a former Philadelphia district attorney and judge, had said in 2017. “The whole case stands or falls on her. She is it.” Still, Constand remained steadfast in her legal fight.

On Thursday, the day the verdict was read, many observers made a point of highlighting what turned out to be a noteworthy personal fact about Constand in the case: her sexuality.

Andrea Constand. (Photo: Getty Images)
Andrea Constand. (Photo: Getty Images)

“Before the national reckoning around sexual harassment and abuse that prompted the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, Andrea Constand … came out publicly in 2015 as a lesbian to challenge her attacker’s assertion that he knew how to read the desires of the women he assaulted,” noted national LGBT publication the Advocate in its story published Thursday about “the lesbian accuser who brought down Bill Cosby.”

The story explained that in 2015, Constand’s attorneys noted, in a motion, “As defendant [Cosby] admits in his deposition, despite his talent for interpreting female reactions to him, he did not realize Plaintiff was gay until the police told him.”

Further, in 2017, the New York Times reported that Constand had told investigators about previous times that Cosby had made sexual advances toward her. “I was kind of embarrassed really,” she’d said, noting that she was gay and that the feelings were not mutual. “I never really thought he would have hit on me. He is much older than my father.”

Echoing recent connections between gayness and activism, as made by Parkland shooting survivors including Emma Gonzalez, some of Constand’s supporters celebrated her sexuality on Thursday — which just happened to be, to their great delight, Lesbian Visibility Day.

Constand, who grew up in Toronto and was a high school basketball star, befriended Cosby through his alma mater, Temple University. That’s where, in 2002, he served on the board of trustees, and where Constand was employed as director of operations for women’s basketball. (On Friday, Temple revoked Cosby’s honorary degree in response to his conviction.) She later changed careers and became a massage therapist — taking part in personal-boundaries trainings that, according to her father (also a massage therapist), triggered her memories of the assault incident with Cosby and led her to question more deeply what had gone on, and then to report it.

Today, after being scrutinized by the press, particularly in Canada, Constand is largely private. Her tweets tend to be quotes from others — particularly the Indian yogi and guru Paramahansa Yogananda and the Bible — though Leonard Cohen got in there recently, as did, on Thursday, the Roman Catholic priest and Czech theologian Jan Hus, with her statement on Twitter that “truth prevails.”

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