LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Blogger Perez Hilton, who for six years has delighted in running “Hollywood’s most hated web site”, outing gay stars and insulting celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, said on Wednesday he was going to stop being a bully.
In an appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and a video posted on his website, Hilton, who is gay, said he no longer wanted to be seen as a bully and a hypocrite.
“I‘m going to do things differently on my website than I have in the past. I‘m not going to call people nasty nicknames. I‘m not going to go the mean route. I‘m going to force myself to be funnier or smarter...not out people,” Hilton, 32, told lesbian talk show host DeGeneres.
Hilton’s pledge follows a rash of recent suicides by bullied gay teens, including 19-year-old college student Tyler Clementi, who jumped off a bridge last month after his encounter with a gay man was secretly filmed and distributed on the Internet.
Blogger Hilton, who was instrumental in the outing of singer Lance Bass and actor Neil Patrick Harris in 2006, said he had been working hard in recent weeks to raise awareness of gay teen bullying.
“In doing so, a lot of people have called me a hypocrite and a bully myself, and a big one...From now on I really want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem,” he told DeGeneres.
Hilton has built a 2.5 million-strong Twitter following and an equally popular website for his barbs and vicious doodles on celebrity photos.
His targets include young stars like Lindsay Lohan (dubbed “Lindsanity”), Vanessa Hudgens and Demi Moore’s daughter Rumer Willis, whom he called a “Potato Head.” He has also made fun of the looks of former “Friends” star Aniston, calling her “Chinnifer Maniston”.
Hilton told Reuters after his “Ellen” show announcement that he was not going to “lobotomize” himself, and accepted that his change of heart would be met with skepticism.
“I‘m not saying I am going to be perfect...I‘m saying I‘m trying to be different. I am acutely aware that people are going to be skeptical of this and I deserve that. But everything will show itself in time,” he said.
“If I lose readers, I am okay with that. I am not motivated by money,” he added. “Everything in my heart tells me this is the right thing to do and I am hopeful my readers will grow with me and embrace this change.”
Hilton said reactions from friends and family had been a “huge slap in the face” for his efforts to speak out against the bullying of gay teens.
“I did not see myself as a bully. I saw myself as an entertainer, as somebody who made fun of celebrities who don’t have it hard and who made a choice to live in the public eye.” he told Reuters.
“What I did (in the past) wasn’t right or wrong. It’s what I did, and it was probably more wrong than right.”
Hilton on Wednesday posted an emotional five minute video on his website explaining his change of heart.
The normally bubbly blogger said he had been unusually nervous on the decision to go public on the Ellen DeGeneres talk show.
“I felt like crying and I felt like vomiting, and I was so anxious and nervous and scared. I feel like this is one of the most important things I have ever done on my life,” he said.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte