The creator and executive producer of the popular gossip website and television gossip show of the same name opened up about his sexuality in a new essay he penned for the Los Angeles LGBT Center, "the world's largest provider of programs and services for LGBT people."
Levin details in the piece, published on the non-profit's Vanguard Now site on Friday, the "profound internal struggle" he felt as a teen and how a "homophobic campaign" that someone close to him waged had "scarred" him for "many, many years." It caused him to try "harder than ever to lead a 'straight' life."
His shame led to him living a life of secrecy and lies. "If I went to a gay bar, I would wait -- sometimes for half an hour -- just to make sure cars weren’t passing by the front door for fear a driver might see me enter," Levin writes. "When I met someone, I would often use an alias so I could easily cut ties. It actually makes no sense, but that’s what I did."
Levin, who earned the number 48 spot last year on Out magazine's list of the 50 most powerful queer people in America, first publicly spoke about being gay at a fundraising event in West Hollywood for the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association in 2010. "I compartmentalized my life... Obviously friends knew I was gay but professionally I had to shut it out," Levin told the audience then. "And I believe, at the time, there was good cause for thinking I’d get fired. It got to a point where I was agoraphobic. My biggest joy was just never having to leave my house.”
Levin was eventually able to confront his fears. “It got to a breaking point with me where I just finally said, ‘This isn’t worth it.' And I just let it go. And nothing happened," he said.
In retrospect, the media mogul said he wishes he had turned to the Los Angeles LGBT Center for support. "I never used its services, because I was afraid to be seen, but I knew people who did, and I was amazed at how the center’s health and mental health counselors compassionately handled people with experiences similar to -- or much worse than -- mine."
Though the queer community has won many victories in recent years, Levin notes that "tolerance is measured not by national polls but by individual families, many of which have little tolerance for those whose sexual orientation or gender identity differ from theirs." For this reason, he donates to the center to ensure that its services will be available for those who might find themselves in a situation he once knew all too well.
For more information about the Los Angeles LGBT Center, visit its official website.