LGBT History Month: Perez Hilton
Mario Armando Lavandeira Jr. (a.k.a. Perez Hilton) was born in Miami, FL to Cuban parents. Who would have thought that the Belen Jesuit Preparatory grad would be responsible for making the word "blog" a mainstay in American vernacular? His blog, www.perezhilton.com has millions of loyal followers, and he is one of the top followed celebs on Twitter with more than 5.7 million followers on the social media site.
After graduating from high school in Miami, Perez went on to study drama at New York University in NYC, where he received a Bachelor's of Fine Arts in 2000. Upon graduation from NYU, Hilton briefly worked for GLADD as a media relations assistant as well as for Instinct, in their editorial department. He also was an extra in one episode of HBO's hit drama "The Sopranos."
Like many aspiring actors, Perez Hilton could hear the siren call of the Hollywood Hills, so after a cross country move to Los Angeles, Perez found his niche in the blogosphere. In 2004, hardly anyone except Tech geeks even knew what a blog was, but Hilton quickly changed that statistic. His brand of biting satire and celebrity gossip quickly made his original blog "Page Six Six Six" a popular destination for anyone who cared about what happens in Tinsel Town. After just 6 months, his blog was named the most hated blog in Hollywood, and he faced a lawsuit for trademark infringement from the New York Post. It was then that he changed the name Page Six Six Six and adopted his new moniker "Perez Hilton."
His harsh critiques of Celebrity behavior have caused him more than a little controversy, but he has taken it as good as he gives it. After "outing" celebs like the Backstreet Boys Lance Bass, and Neil Patrick Harris, and feuds with Will.i.am from the Black Eyed Peas, Perez faced a firestorm from the main stream media, however it did nothing but drive more readers to his website. As they say "any press is good press." Hilton changed his tune in 2010 after a rash of gay suicides. He realized that, like the bullies who drove young gays to kill themselves, he too was a bully. He decided that his websites and personality could use an upgrade, and he posted a video on youtube and went on the Ellen Degeneres Show where he announced he would no longer be quite so mean spirited. He would no longer bully celebs, and he would quit drawing obscene doodles on the pictures he posted on his blog. He has also committed to not outing others, even if it's a scoop and good for business. When he spoke to Ellen, he said: "I'm not trying to lobotomize myself. I'm still going to be sassy and critical but there's a different way I can do that. I don't have to call people names. I don't have to out people. I don't have to draw inappropriate things on them. I don't have to go for the cheap joke. I can still be critical and sassy and fun and funny and smarter and just do it in a different way that I can feel good about myself... I don't want to feel like gay people are ashamed of me or embarrassed by me or thinking I'm hurting other gay people. That's not who I am. That's not my intention. I don't want to hurt other gay people. I don't want to hurt young gay kids.
Since the "big change," Perez has stuck to his word, and it's paid off. His popularity in on the internet has not waned, and he just finished a run in the Broadway hit "NEWSical the Musical" which was re-written for him to star in.