Lance Bass used to bully other gay or gay-seeming kids to hide his own sexuality. Imagine being bullied by Lance!!!
Humor aside, I think he deserves credit for pointing out that bullying is not some unBELIEVably beyond-the-pale thing that only a fraction of people engage in. Come on—we have all said and done things that approach the definition of bullying; even one unkind remark can become one more verbal punch for someone who's endured countless others we didn't know about, right?
I guess the difference is when bullying becomes something one person does habitually and/or when huge amounts of bullying become focused on one person. Children are going to bully each other; it's our responsibility to point out that it's wrong and explain what the boundaries are.
Another thing I've been wondering about—and I don't have the answer—is: Do adults really give kids the right signals on bullying? There's a drastic difference between how kids handle bullying and how adults handle it, but it's interesting to hear insult comics like Kathy Griffin and Wanda Sykes, outspoken fashionisto Tim Gunn (who recently, and perhaps correctly, trashed teenage terror Taylor Momsen) and blogger Perez Hilton revile anti-gay bullying while all of them have certainly made merciless fun of and in some cases humiliated people in the course of their public lives.
And what does it say about America that we love tabloids that post pictures of women in outfits so we can poke fun at every aspect of their appearances?
I've certainly poked fun at people myself (including Bass, at the top of this post). I don't know...I think we have to keep in mind that kids are less resourceful at processing criticism and teasing and less resilient than adults, but when we criticize adults, we should still think about why we're doing it.
For me, I feel like I'm usually poking fun at stupidity and at beliefs that run violently counter to mine or I'm poking fun at something obvious that is attempting to fly under the radar—for example, obvious plastic surgery (especially when coupled with denials of its existence) drives me nuts because it's as if we're not supposed to notice something noticeable. This might also be why gay people make fun of other gay people—"That faggot is married to a woman???"
Meanwhile, I would be very unlikely to post a picture of someone about whom most of us would think "wow, she's ugly" just for the belly-laugh at her expense.
Is there a difference? I guess I just have to hope so. But I wonder if children, the ones who've been dropping like flies of late, get that difference, because they're sampling adult culture at younger and younger ages and I'm not sure they are able to process our innate desire to tease one another. Or maybe they are processing it and—considering how anti-gay our culture still is—the take-away for too many of the gay ones is, "It doesn't get better...especially if you're gay."