Openly gay ’N Sync member Lance Bass admitted on ‘Larry King Live‘ Monday that he bullied gay kids when he was a teen.
On the same show, ‘Project Runway‘ star Tim Gunn, also openly gay, revealed that he attempted suicide at age 17 because of his deep confusion over his own sexual identity. It’s a story Gunn has only recently begun telling as he promotes his new book, “Gunn’s Golden Rules: Life’s Little Lessons for Making It Work,” in which he wrote about the suicide attempt.
Bass and Gunn were part of a panel of celebrities who came on King’s CNN show to talk about bullying, which has reached crisis levels with the recent suicides of teens bullied for being gay, including Rutgers University music student Tyler Clementi, who leapt off New York’s George Washington Bridge after classmates allegedly spied on him with a Webcam while he was involved intimately with another man in his dorm room.
The other guests were comedian Wanda Sykes, country singer Chely Wright, daytime talk-show host Nate Berkus, and comedian Kathy Griffin, an activist for gay causes, and the only member of the panel who was not gay.
Bass, who didn’t come out publicly until 2006, had come on the show to talk about bullying from a very personal perspective. “You made fun of gay kids in high school to hide your own secret,” host Larry King said to Bass. “Didn’t you think you were harming your own kind in a sense? Did you feel bad when you did that?” King asked.
“You know, as a kid, you don’t think of it like that,” Bass answered. “When you’re 13, 14, you just go along with what the other people are doing. You just want to fit in. You want to make sure that your friends like you.”
King asked Gunn whether he was bullied for being gay. Gunn said he wrote about it in his book. “I certainly talk about the bullying that I experienced and about how marginalized I felt,” Gunn said. “And it was serious enough and I felt desperate enough that I wanted to end my own life. And I’m very lucky that my suicide attempt was not successful.”
The ‘Runway’ mentor details his desperation in this excerpt from his book, “Gunn’s Golden Rules”:
“When I was 17, I made a serious suicide attempt,” Gunn writes. “I was at yet another boarding school — I must have cycled through a dozen schools in as many semesters — and was ever more miserable. I had a debilitating stutter. I had no friends. I was incredibly lonely and depressed. I just wanted to end it all. In my dorm room at Milford Academy, I took far too many pills, then lay down to die with a sense of peaceful resignation. Then, much to my frustration, I woke up the next morning.”
Last month, Gunn talked about his suicide attempt on ‘Access Hollywood Live.’ “I was a very, very unhappy kid and I thought, What does the world have to offer me? And more importantly, What do I have to offer the world? And I had incredibly low self-esteem and made a decision…. It’s only because of a lot of wonderful people who nurtured me and cared about me that I’m still here.”
Gunn told King his confusion stemmed in part by the gay role models he saw on TV and in the movies when he was growing up.
“Did you make a conscious decision, Tim, to be gay?” King asked him.
“Oh, certainly not, Larry,” Gunn said. “As a matter of fact, growing up, I didn’t really know who I was when it came to my sexuality. But I knew who I wasn’t. And there just weren’t a lot of positive role models for me growing up, gay role models. I mean, when I reflect on it, Paul Lynde running around on ‘Bewitched’ as Uncle Arthur. And you had gay decorators in the Doris Day movies sort of flitting about. And I thought, I’m not like that. That isn’t who I am. So I knew who I wasn’t. And it was very difficult to come to terms with.”
Bullying Bombshells on ‘Larry King Live’: