Bass is best known as one of the members of 90’s boy-band ‘N Sync. Indeed, it was concern for his band-mates and the band’s future that weighed most heavily on Bass as he weighed his decision to come out.
“I knew that I was in this popular band and I had four other guys’ careers in my hand, and I knew that if I ever acted on it or even said [that I was gay], it would overpower everything. I didn’t know: Could that be the end of ‘N Sync? So I had that weight on me of like, ‘Wow, if I ever let anyone know, it’s bad.’ So I just never did.”
There is no word on how long Bass and Lehmkuhl have been a couple, but Bass describes their relationship as “very stable”.
Staying in the closet grew increasingly difficult for Bass as bloggers reported frequent sightings of Lance with reality television star Reichen Lehmkuhl (The Amazing Race). The openly gay Lehmkuhl was partnered with Chip Arndt when they won The Amazing Race 4. Their relationship ended shortly thereafter.
Rumors of an intimate relationship between the two men heated up further when Bass and Lehmkuhl were spotted wearing each others clothes–each wearing what many believed were the same pair of jeans but on different days. Other sightings followed, inciting even more speculation.
That speculation from the bloggers eventually led the mainstream media to start reporting on the story. The New York Post’s Page Six was one of the first, reporting Bass had been seen at a gay bar over the Fourth of July weekend. ABC News then published a story that didn’t out Bass directly, but questioned how much privacy Bass could expect when visiting a gay bar with a well-known gay celebrity.
Some gay activists condemned the speculation.
Damon Romine entertainment media director of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) said, “Coming out is a personal, private decision that needs to be made by the individual. Media speculation about people’s sexual orientation is not something we support.”
Others argued the gay community only hurt itself by assuming a straight person could not have gay friends or frequent gay establishments.
Says Kim Ficera, a columnist for AfterEllen.com, “We really need to make up our minds. We say that coming out is a personal decision, but we are among the first to give celebrities an unwelcomed nudge out of the closet by speculating in print about their personal lives. Then when they do come out, we condemn the straight press for doing exactly what we’ve done.”
The Washington Blade’s managing editor Kevin Naff had a different take. In a post on Naff’s blog on the Blade’s website, he accused Bass of being an “openly closeted” celebrity. Naff compared Bass’ behavior to what Rosie O’Donnell and Ellen DeGeneres had done before they came out.
Andy Towle of Towleroad was one of those who saw Bass and Lehmkuhl in Provincetown. He agrees Bass opened the door to speculation about his sexuality by appearing in public, but in a recent interview with AfterElton Towle said, “I think celebrities can do a lot of good when they come out of the closet. I don’t believe in ‘outing’ celebrities, but I will report when other media speculates.”
Bass’ announcement has received widespread coverage. Stories have run in The Washington Post, Fox News.com , and The Chicago Tribune as well as hundreds of other media outlets. Even TravelGolf.com has weighed in asking if Bass can come out, why can’t a pro athlete?
The coverage has mostly been positive. Few folks seem terribly surprised by the news (Wizbang’s headline was “Lance Bass States the Obvious”) but most articles include Lance’s comments that he is completely comfortable with who he is, as well as his remark about his stable relationship with Lehmkuhl. Indeed, several headlines read “I’m Gay and In Love” a far preferable alternative to the recent headlines generated by George Michael’s escapades in a British park.
Bass is using the media attention generated by his coming out to promote a new reality show he plans to star in with ‘N Sync bandmate Joey Fatone. Titled Out of Sync, the show is being developed for the UPN for a possible fall debut and is being touted as an Odd Couple comedy-reality hybrid. Bass will play an openly gay character on the show.
Fatone was the first member of ‘N Sync (which also includes Justin Timberlake, Chris Kirkpatrick, JC Chasez) to whom Bass came out. Fatone told People he is completely supportive of Bass. “He took years to really think about how he was going to tell everyone. I back him up 100 percent.”
So far no comment has been issued by the other members of ‘N Sync.
Photo courtesy of People Magazine