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Why I Give: Harvey Levin

TMZ big shot Harvey Levin is known for exposing the secrets of Hollywood’s biggest stars, but now he’s revealing a few of his own: In a new essay the Jewish media mogul writes what it was like to grow up gay and why he donates to the Los Angeles LGBT Center

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The reason I give to the Los Angeles LGBT Center is very personal and relates to a story that resonates with me today as much as it did many decades ago.

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. 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.

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. This all happened soon after the Center opened. 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.

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