“When I was a teenager, I found myself in a profound internal struggle – what I perceived as a mandate to live a ‘straight’ life, despite contrary feelings that were welling to the surface,” Levin writes.
“I thought I did a pretty good job sublimating those feelings, but someone close to me had a good sense of what was really going on. That person went on with what felt like a homophobic campaign, denigrating LGBT people with epithets and snide comments – without ever confronting me directly,” Levin continued. “That was my first encounter with anyone who suspected I was gay, and it scarred me for many, many years. I tried harder than ever to lead a ‘straight’ life.”
Eventually Levin allowed himself to take part in the gay night life scene, but did so cautiously.
“When I finally began to experiment, I felt such shame. If I went to a gay bar, I would wait – sometimes for half an hour – just to make sure cars weren’t passing by the front door for fear a driver might see me enter. When I met someone, I would often use an alias so I could easily cut ties. It actually makes no sense, but that’s what I did. Short story, I was a mess,” Levin writes.
Levin, 65, is now a donor for the Los Angeles LGBT Center and decided to share his story to gain support for the Center.
“The Center has been a place of comfort for so many kids and adults who have been rejected or fear rejection by their families. (It has) been the mortar in the LGBT community, often quietly providing a lifeline for people with great value, but who have no support,” Levin writes.
“During the 1980s the Center provided care and comfort to our community as AIDS ravaged thousands. The people who provided these services truly are angels, and the Center deserves profound respect and support in our community,” Levin concluded the essay.