The year 2006 marked a sort of fevered pitch for celebrities being “pushed” out of the closet. Bloggers like Perez Hilton routinely posted about famous faces that had theretofore never disclosed their sexuality. Facing overwhelming pressure from the booming gossip blogosphere and tabloids, two high-profile celebrities made their coming out official that year. One was Neil Patrick Harris, and the other was Lance Bass.
It’s easy to dismiss the magnitude of Bass’ announcement on the cover of People magazine from where we sit in 2014, especially when lumped together with darling NPH. Bass’ boyband heydey was already behind him, while Harris’ profile would continue to surge on stage and screen. However, as a member of one of the groups that defined the late-‘90s/early-‘00s bubblegum pop explosion, Bass’ coming out publicly inserted an LGBT person into the biggest (and perhaps most traditional, heteronormative) mainstream successes of a generation.
The People cover story also predated NPH’s by about four months. In the exclusive interview, Bass said:
“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.”
The effects of his coming out are still seen today. Before coming out himself in 2013, Jason Collins reached out to Bass for advice. Here’s what he had to say:
“I told him, look, this is what I wish would have happened when I came out…because when I came out I had 24 hours to decide what was going to happen, because basically the magazine [People] said ‘We’re doing it with or without you.’ So I had 24 hours to decide to do this interview and I did – with People magazine, and I thought it went great. But what I wish I could have done back then was to have a couple of days to sit down with HRC, sit down with GLAAD…get downloaded [on how to handle this]…because back then…[it was just] like Jason told me today ‘I don’t know many gay people because all my life has been is sports, [and] I’ve had such a crazy schedule I never had to think about my private life.’”
Check out some highlights of Lance Bass’ work, and share your thoughts, AFTER THE JUMP …
As part of NSYNC, Lance Bass, along with Joey Fatone, JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick and some guy named Justin Timberlake, sold more than 50 million albums. The band’s second album, No Strings Attached sold more than one million copies in one day. It became the first album sold in the U.S. to sell more than two million copies in a single week, ultimately reaching 2.4 million units sold.
In 2008, Bass partnered with Lacey Schwimmer on season seven of Dancing With the Stars. The pair made it to the final episode, ultimately landing in third place. It’s a marked improvement from his NSYNC days, when even his former bandmate Chris Kirkpatrick called him “the worst dancer in the group.”
Since becoming a high-profile out celebrity, the singer/dancer/director/erstwhile-astronaut hasn’t always steered clear of controversy. In fact, even his initial coming out article ruffled feathers for his assertion that he’s a “straight-acting gay.” In 2011, Bass found himself embroiled in controversy again when he used the term “tranny” during a segment on Access Hollywood. You can see the clip in question, as well as a discussion about the incident with RuPaul and Billy Bush here
In 2012, Bass (a Mississippi native) executive produced and starred in a documentary, Mississippi I Am about growing up gay in the state that denied Constance McMillen the opportunity to bring her girlfriend to prom. He also recently executive produced another documentary, Kidnapped For Christ, which centers on young LGBT people at Christian reform school.
Earlier this year, Bass released a solo single, “Walking On Air.”
What do you think about Lance Bass? Let us know in the comments!