Perez Hilton has surrendered to the idea that some people will always see him as the person who regularly posted and said mean (often really, really mean) things about Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears and the like.
"I've accepted that, in the minds of the overwhelming majority, I am irredeemable," Hilton, whose real name is Mario Lavandeira, told Gloria Estefan, her daughter Emily Estefan and her niece Lili Estefan, on Thursday's episode of Red Table Talk: The Estefans. "There is nothing I could ever do — change, grow, evolve, mature — to make things right with my past. Like, not even if I donated all of the money that I've made over the last year. If I gave it all away, they would say, 'OK, that's nice. It still doesn't erase his past.' Or, 'That's great. He's still a d-bag.' Or, 'What an idiot, I can't believe he gave away all his money.' I do believe that a lot of people view cancel culture as a form of entertainment."
The episode of the Facebook Watch show examined so-called cancel culture.
And Hilton, though he continues to have a website and a following of 5.5 million followers on Twitter, has had some experience with that. In April 2020, fans of social media star Charli D'Amelio started a petition to have him banned from TikTok, after he commented on one of the then 15-year-old's posts. (He asked if anyone else thought her post, which he considered racy, was inappropriate.) He said that he remains banned.
Hilton also received backlash for circulating an image of Lauren Jauregui, a former member of the music group Fifth Harmony, kissing a girl. In an appearance on the same Facebook Watch show last week, the singer said she was "outed to the public" by Hilton, even though she "wasn't ready" for it.
He argued that he didn't see it that way, because the images were already floating around — he was simply one more outlet that was sharing them — but Emily was having none of it. The musician, who identifies as queer, took issue with Hilton's assessment that "sexuality is so fluid" for young women and that they'll "make out with women" although they don't identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community.
"What is wrong with you?" she said, arguing that men often refuse to consider women's gay relationships as legitimate, saying, "It's just a college phase" or "Girls together are hot." As a man, she reminded Hilton, he can't speak to a woman's experiences.
While Hilton's career isn't exactly free of drama even now, he has apologized for some of his meanest behavior back in the day. And he acknowledged on the show that he had said hurtful things in the past. But he wouldn't use the word "powerful" to describe how writing such things made him feel.
"That word, to me, it never resonated, because that would imply that I can force people to do things, and I can force people to think a certain way," Hilton said. "I could have influenced, but I like to view it more as opportunity. I have the opportunity to share, and people have the opportunity to receive."
He reiterated something he's said before, which is that he saw his more unfriendly work as "shining the light."
"I'm shining the light on celebrities that get it right and those that get it wrong, those that are behaving badly," he said.
They asked what he learned from his darkest moments, and he gave an honest answer.
"I wasn't aware of it at the time but the whole birth of Perez and so much of what I did and still do was a reaction to my childhood trauma," he said. "Now I realize that I was kind of wielding a sword, and I just wanted to wield the sword because life had been so unkind and unfair to me. But a sword can really hurt people."