We won’t waste too many words on this, but when a major gay publication decides to put a stain on the gay community on its cover, it’s worth addressing. The Advocate contracted New York Times-y writer Benoit Denizet-Lewis to profile Perez Hilton, he of the celebrity blog and Miss California media meme. The article, online here, went to print before Mr. Hilton (real name Mario Lavandeira) engaged in his most noteworthy undertaking to date: calling will.i.am. of the Black Eyed Peas a “faggot.” Had the piece been filed after the incident, it might have steered in a different direction, perhaps away from Hilton trying desperately to find a boyfriend. But the online version includes updated comments from the blogger post-“faggot” incident. And those comments reveal that despite Lavandeira’s apology about using the f-word (to assuage GLAAD, apparently), there is no meaning behind his words. In fact, Lavandeira is as harmful as ever to minority communities, several of which he belongs (gay, Hispanic, obese).
I thought about calling him the n word 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.
What’s so horrifying is not just that Lavandeira feels comfortable “almost” calling another person by a slave name — he would have done so more easily, in fact, than calling will.i.am a a gay slur — but that throughout the entire article, the blogger can be found proclaiming himself to be a gay advocate; “his earnest belief that one of his true callings is as a civil rights leader,” writes Denizet-Lewis. Can you imagine a self-described black civil rights leader throwing around the n-word to express his anger? Or an advocate for the physically disabled calling her foes gimps?
“I’ve always known that a lot of gays didn’t like me,” Lavandeira says in comments after the Black Eyed Peas fracas, “but after this it felt like no gays liked me. It was one of the worst weeks of my life.” It is a feeling he should adjust himself to, but now add “the black community” to the list of folks who find no friend in Perez Hilton the brand or the person. For someone who (in addition to coke scrawls and penis drawings) writes so many of them, Lavandeira has no concept of how words work.
This item is not an attempt to disparage Mr. Lavandeira; he does a fine job of that himself. But it is a cue to media, gay rights advocates, and anyone inclined to turn to this person as a voice of anyone in the gay community: Please, don’t.