Lance Bass Talks About Feeling Pressured to Hide His Sexuality for N*Sync
During the ’90s, Lance Bass came onto the scene as one of the members of N*Sync, one of the most popular boy bands of the time. In the Yahoo Entertainment video interview series Are the Kids Alright?, Bass told them that knew he was gay when he was 5 but was told that he couldn’t come out publicly, considering the industry at the time.
“Being in the entertainment industry, you get told certain things and they allude to certain things. No one ever flat-out said, ‘Listen, if you’re gay, you can’t do this,” Bass said. “But they would [say] things like, ‘You know, if you have a girlfriend, you can’t really talk about them’ and ‘Remember your audience, your fans out there. They don’t want to really know about your personal life.’ So that always to me was kind of a backhanded, like, ‘Look, we know you’re gay, keep it a secret, kid.'”
Yet, due to the homophobia around boy bands, there was always a lot of speculation about the sexuality of the members. I remember people wondering if Lance Bass was gay, partly because he was so handsome, which, in retrospect, toes that line between the ridiculous and the homophobic—this obsession with clocking some kind of queerness among a group of men.
“Being in a boy band, I got called gay every single day that I was in the band. And it wasn’t because they actually thought I was gay,” Bass says. “It’s just because I was in a boy band. All of us got that. I definitely wasn’t singled out. I think all of us got it equally.”
After the group broke up, Bass came out in 2006, which now seems so normal, but back then, it was a groundbreaking moment and on the cover of PEOPLE magazine. I mean, Ricky Martin didn’t come out until 2010, and he was also this massive sex symbol who had always had to combat gay rumors.
What is most amazing about it is that, for 2006, the response was overwhelmingly positive about Bass coming out. As he said to PEOPLE, “The thing is, I’m not ashamed – that’s the one thing I want to say. I don’t think it’s wrong, I’m not devastated going through this. I’m more liberated and happy than I’ve been my whole life. I’m just happy.”
“No one cares, you know? Everyone’s just like, OK, that’s just normal,” Bass says now. “My niece and nephews, they were really little when I came out. I remember the first thing that they said … they didn’t understand it, they were like, ‘Why is this a big deal?’ [They] could not comprehend why people cared about us being gay and why it would be so big you put you on the cover of People. It really encouraged me to know that this younger generation is so accepting and they just, they look at it as kids. They don’t know it [as] any different. It’s just the reality of life for them.”
Now, young LGBTQ celebrities get the chance to be themselves. While new milestones are still being crossed, we are seeing more people in the public own who they are.
“You know, one thing that I didn’t have growing up was examples of gay people, you know, especially in entertainment. Everyone was hidden,” Bass says. “I didn’t really have anyone to look up to, but now, this generation has so many people in the public eye to relate to and be like, ‘Oh, that sounds like my story’ or ‘That’s the type of family I have.’ Now we have like Troye Sivan … JoJo Siwa, especially Lil Nas X. It’s been so great for his community. You have all these young celebrities that are really accepting who they are and, because of that, their fans would probably accept themselves earlier.”
And that ain’t no lie …
(via Yahoo, image: Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)
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