"Coming out completely changed everything I wanted to do, in a good way," says Lance Bass of former boy band 'N Sync glory. As part of one of the most famous music groups of a generation, Bass rose to superstardom and became a household name, defining an era of adolescent experiences involving posters on bedroom walls and idolatry to rival the most successful artists throughout history.
Then, in 2006, he revealed in People magazine that he was keeping a secret - he was actually gay.
Now, 6 years later, he interviews with talk show host Ricki Lake about how coming out has affected his trajectory, where he is now, and what he hopes to do moving forward.
Bass had been afraid to reveal his sexuality to anyone, never telling a single friend or family member. First affected by his faith, then by his career, he remained, as he describes it, completely asexual. He was afraid that if he'd come out while in 'N Sync, it would ruin the band, whose image so appealed to the adolescent female teenybopper demographic.
But, after the band dissolved, Bass decided it was time. "I would rather be in a position where I can help other people," he says during Lake's interview, "then be the biggest super star in the world and pretending I'm straight."
Bass claims he had known he was gay since he was four years old. One of his earliest memories involves having a crush on another boy in kindergarden. Even then, he says, "I knew it was something I had to hide because it was completely wrong."
Growing up in a religious community in Mississippi, he first starting singing in Church, and claims his faith is still important to him. "I'm still a Christian," says Bass. "But there's a lot of conflicting advice you get and education you get growing up in the south. It's just confusion, and a lot of un-education."
It was during those impressionable years, even before his career with 'N Sync, that Bass perfected the persona that would allow him to hide in the spotlight.
"When you're in the straight crowd, you hear what everyone says about the gay community," he explains. "And it's all misconception for sure, and you go along with it. You make the gay jokes along with everyone. You want to fit in in high school with your friends."
"What does that do to your soul?" Lake asks.
"It eats you away, it really does. My whole existence, up until 20 years old, I always told myself and I'd pray everyday that I would wake up straight. Because I didn't want to deal with it, I wanted to fit in. And I was torn over the whole religious aspect of it, that was my main concern, was my family and my religion. When you're taught from your first thought that being gay is completely wrong and is against the bible and you will go to hell, you're going to try to do and convince yourself in any way possible to try to change yourself into what everyone else wants you to be."
Tune into Ricki Lake tomorrow, October 2nd, for her special "Coming Out" episode to hear the rest of the interview with Lance Bass and other stories from guests. Find out more here.
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