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TMZ founder Harvey Levin opens up about being gay

TMZ founder Harvey Levin opens up about being gay

As founder of the TMZ celebrity news empire, Harvey Levin spends each day dishing about other people.

But not so much about himself.

The managing editor of TMZ.com and executive producer and host of TMZ on TV does get personal about growing up gay in an essay published today by the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

‘When I was a teenager, I found myself in a profound internal struggle – what I perceived as a mandate to live a “straight” life, despite contrary feelings that were welling to the surface,’ Levin writes in The Center’s Vanguard Now.

‘I thought I did a pretty good job sublimating those feelings, but someone close to me had a good sense of what was really going on. That person went on with what felt like a homophobic campaign, denigrating LGBT people with epithets and snide comments – without ever confronting me directly.

‘That was my first encounter with anyone who suspected I was gay, and it scarred me for many, many years. I tried harder than ever to lead a “straight” life.’

But eventually Levin did venture out – with much trepidation.

‘When I finally began to experiment, I felt such shame. 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. 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. Short story, I was a mess.’

Levin, now 65, is sharing his story to show support for The Center to which he is a donor.

“The Center has been a place of comfort for so many kids and adults who have been rejected or fear rejection by their families. (It has) been the mortar in the LGBT community, often quietly providing a lifeline for people with great value, but who have no support.

‘During the 1980s the Center provided care and comfort to our community as AIDS ravaged thousands. The people who provided these services truly are angels, and the Center deserves profound respect and support in our community.’