The Real Perez Hilton

Perez Hilton was heralded when he embarrassed Miss California and derided when he did the same to Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. So what's a guy to do when he's the most loved and most hated gay guy in America?

BY Benoit Denizet-Lewis

July 05 2009 11:00 PM ET

While Perez seems genuinely aghast that anyone would respond to his relentless name-calling with violence, few people were surprised when he was punched in Toronto. But many gay people were shocked to learn that Perez had, in an attempt to hurt will.i.am, called him a faggot. "For someone in our own community to use it to attack another person by saying that it is, quote, 'The worst possible thing that thug would ever want to hear,' is incredibly dangerous," Rashad Robinson, senior director of media programs at GLAAD, said in a statement. "It legitimizes use of a slur that is often linked to violence against our community. And it sends a message that it is OK to attempt to dehumanize people by exploiting antigay attitudes."

But Perez tells me that, in the heat of the moment that night, he almost chose to use a different word. "I thought about calling him the n word," he says over the phone a week after the incident, "but I thought the f word was even worse. I was so filled with hate at that moment because I was hated on so much, and I reacted in the worst way possible. Then I went on to make a bunch of other mistakes. I shouldn't have made the video. I shouldn't have released so many statements. But what's come out of all of this is that I've learned so much about myself, and I'm in a much better place. I'm actually thankful that it happened. As cheesy as it may sound, I had almost a spiritual moment when I just let all of the anger and worry go and am now filled with peace, happiness, and wisdom. I could let this jade me and go back to being the super bitch that I was when I first started the website, but I've softened on my website and in life, maybe because I'm happier in my personal life than I've ever been."

Perez says he tries to take his cues from Madonna, or at least from what he imagines Madonna might do in similar situations. "In times of doubt I ask myself, What would Madonna do? " he says. "For the majority of her career, she was as equally hated as she was loved. She went from one controversy to another, but she just worked through it. She didn't let it affect her. And that's what I'm going to do. Even if I feel battered and hopeless and that the whole world is against me like I did during the week after this happened, I'm just going to soldier on."

***

After filming the marriage equality PSA, Perez drives us to an upscale club for the birthday celebration of a local party promoter. When we arrive, he spends a minute being photographed on the red carpet before stopping for a series of quick, inane interviews with reporters from magazines like Star and Us Weekly. He never tires of talking about celebrities, and there is plenty to talk about tonight. Only hours earlier, Kris Allen was crowned the newest American Idol.

"OMG!" Perez gushes in a reporter's microphone. "What an upset on American Idol ! I totally thought Adam Lambert was going to win. I'm kind of devastated." (To my surprise, Perez says he doesn't actually watch American Idol -- or any other television except awards shows.)

When another reporter notices Perez holding a wrapped present in his left hand, the following conversation ensues:

Reporter: You brought a present.

Perez: I did.

Reporter: What did you get him?

Perez: Porn.

Reporter: What kind of porn?

Perez: Hot gay porn!

Tags: Media

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