I'm A Celebrity 2020: Perez Hilton Reveals The Turning Point In His Career
Ten years ago Perez Hilton made the decision to no longer run ‘Hollywood’s most hated site’.
Speaking to Tanya Hennessy for an episode of her ‘Sexy Jungle Podcast’, the gossip guru and blogger revealed the ‘turning point’ in his career.
“In the fall of 2010 there was this gay teenager named Tyler Clementi who took his own life,” Hilton said.
Clementi was an 18-year-old student at Rutgers University in New Jersey. His college roommate used a webcam to film him in an intimate act with another man, later sharing it to Twitter and asking his followers if he should spying on Clementi. The next day, Clementi killed himself.
“Shortly after that there was this rash of gay teenagers and young people taking their lives,” Hilton continued. “This journalist, Dan Savage, created this campaign called It Gets Better to encourage young queer people that it will get better when they grow up.”
Beyond Blue reports that LGBTQ+ people are between 3.5 to 14 times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual people. Savage and his husband hoped the It Gets Better project would prevent suicide among young LGBTQ+ people by showing older queer folk sharing their experiences of life getting better with age.
Celebrities ranging from Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Sia, Janet Jackson, Barack and Michelle Obama, Kermit the Frog, Kathy Griffin, Ellen DeGeneres, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren and Perez Hilton all contributed to the project at the time.
“I was the first public figure/personality to make a video,” Hilton told Hennessy, “I thought I was doing something positive but the response I got to that video shook me to my core.
“The overwhelming majority of comments said, ‘How dare you make an It Gets Better video. You’re a hypocrite, you’re a bully. You’re part of the problem’,” Hilton said.
“It made me change everything.”
Following the controversy, Hilton said he overhauled the way his site was run.
“I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel, I just put new rims on it,” he joked.
“In 2010 I thought… this is the right thing to do. You need to change because I don’t want to possibly contribute to somebody’s death or suicide or whatever it may be. Now I do things so differently,” he admitted.
“I don’t draw inappropriate things on people anymore, I don’t give them nasty nicknames. I’ve matured,” Hilton continued.
Adding that he now has a “no kids policy” on his site, refusing to run paparazzi photos of celebrity children as well as no longer using paparazzi photos of celebrities attending funerals.
In 2009 Hilton faced backlash when he claimed Michael Jackson’s death was a publicity stunt in the lead-up to a sold-out tour. Later he amended the story once the news broke that Jackson had died.
“I am very mindful of things when it comes to the health of celebrities,” he said.
“But just by nature of who I am and what I do, people still dislike me.”
Later, Hilton told Hennessy, “I do believe that everything happens for a reason… and being disliked so much has helped me stay grounded.”
If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondBlue on 1300 22 4636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.