PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 13: Television personality Harvey Levin speaks onstage during the REELZ 2015 Winter Television Critics Association press tour at the Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa on January 13, 2015 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Harvey Levin, Founder of TMZ, Talks Growing Up Gay and The Los Angeles LGBT Center

Harvey Levin is known for crossing almost any line to get the big break on a celebrity news story. There are, however, a few lines he won’t cross.  They are simple…he won’t out celebrities or scandalize minors – and perhaps his own history has something to do with that.

Harvey has been in the news quite a bit lately; which is nothing new for the lawyer turned world known celebrity news vulture.  After The New Yorker did an expose on TMZ and Harvey fans and the general public have been made aware of what goes on behind the scenes of celebrity gossip all while providing a bit of back story on Harvey and how he got to where he is now.  There is truly a method to Harvey’s madness and let’s face it – it works.

One chapter of Harvey’s life that was a struggle for him, was coming to terms with his sexuality.  Harvey opened up a little bit about that recently with “Why I Give” in relation to 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. 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.

In an all too common situation, Harvey found himself in the company of someone who was cowardly and judgmental without having the backbone to confront him personally – just filling the air with backhanded remarks.  Harvey went on to explain how deeply that affected him – for a long time.

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.

Harvey tried to cover his every track if it wasn’t setting him down a path of “straight heterosexual patterns”.  He was too afraid to truly indulge in who he was because of harsh judgement after an encounter where he realized how close-minded people could be – how even people that are close to you can make you feel bad about yourself if you differ from the mold they think you should fit in.  True compassion and care from the people in your lives will never resemble trying to box you into their ideas of what your life should look like – but sometimes you meet wolves disguised in sheep clothing.

Harvey himself never used the Los Angeles LGBT Center but people in his life did and he said he saw it benefit them.  The center not only helps youth, but adults as well – anyone who feels like they wouldn’t have safety, comfort, or acceptance in their peers or loved ones can benefit from the LGBT center.

The center offers a multitude of services from counseling and support to HIV testing and mental health services – this is not just a place to go for help, but a place that builds you up as a person, an equal person, and gives you a sense of confidence and security.

We were inspired by the center’s message and drive to help change a community – so we figured out how to get involved.  You can do the same here.  There are ways to donate, ways to use your voice, and to offer support to those who need it – whether or not they walk the same path you do.

For Harvey, his life may seem put well together now, but he struggled in his youth and young adulthood just to find peace in himself.  While there are many things he’s willing to do to get a story – we understand why there are some lines he refuses to cross.

If you, or anyone you know is struggling with self acceptance and sexuality – please find a help center close to you and know that you are worth it and it gets better.

Written by Ashley

Writer, coffee drinker, mother.