Lance Bass reflects on being forced to hide his sexuality while in NSYNC

·4-min read
Lance Bass reflects on being forced to hide his sexuality while in NSYNC

Lance Bass has spoken candidly about being forced to hide his sexuality while in the pop group NSYNC.

The singer, 43, appeared on a recent episode of the Pod Meets World podcast, where he opened up about the strict “image management” his record label made him follow before he publicly came out as gay in 2006.

Boy Meets World star and podcast host Danielle Fishel began the episode by explaining to her fellow co-stars Will Friedle and Rider Strong that she had dated Lance Bass in the 1990s, at the height of both their fame.

“For those who don’t know, I dated Lance for about a year while I was on Boy Meets World, said Fishel, who played Topanga on the hit coming-of-age sitcom. “It was my senior year and Lance came with me to my high school prom. He was my date.”

Two weeks after her high school prom, Bass broke up with her over the phone. Fishel shared how devastated she was by the breakup, and even admitted that she thought she was going to marry Bass at the time.

“It turns out I’m not Lance’s type,” Fishel jokingly said.

While discussing Bass’s relationship with Fishel, podcast co-host Will Freidle asked the former NSYNC member whether he knew at the time of their breakup that he was gay.

“I knew it was something that I didn’t want to think about,” Bass revealed. “I had realised that, yes, I wasn’t into girls but it was also in my head that there was no way I would ever act on being gay.”

He recalled thinking at the time, “This will just not be a part of my life.”

“You trick yourself into thinking that you’re just always going to be in the closet, that you will meet someone that you can have a relationship with and you live that lie like so many people have to,” he added.

Fishel then reflected on the cultural climate of the 1990s and how coming out as gay wasn’t as socially accepted as it is today, before admitting that Bass was “forced to be in the closet”. Bass went on to detail the control his management team had over his public image, and revealed that he wasn’t allowed to talk about his love life so that he would appear “available” to fans.

“At that time that was definitely the message I was getting from my management, the record label. If they knew that I was gay, they wouldn’t say, ‘Hey, if you’re gay, don’t come,’” Bass explained. “But they would always disguise it like, ‘People look up to you so you can’t have a cigarette in your hand, you can’t be seen with a drink, you can’t be seen with a girlfriend.”

“They were kind of laying down the law for us so I knew being out gay was definitely not [an option],” he said.

At that point, co-host Rider Strong expressed his shock that there was “so much image management going on” behind the scenes.

Bass replied: “It was so much easier back then. There was no social media, no one had a camera in their hand, so whatever story you told the public, they just had to believe.”

“Now, you’ve got proof every step of the way so you can’t hide yourself,” he continued. “I think that’s why so many people are able to come out sooner and live their real life because authenticity is key and everyone can see right through it.”

Lance Bass was just 16 years old when he rose to fame as a member of the popular boy band NSYNC in 1995. Four years after the band went on a hiatus, Bass came out as gay in a cover story for People magazine in 2006, when he was 27 years old.

Speaking to People at the time, 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.”

In 2014, Bass married actor and artist Michael Turpin. Last October, the couple welcomed twins: son Alexander James and daughter Violet Betty.