Lance Bass: 'I'm Gay'

NEW YORK (July 26, 2006) ? Lance Bass, the former ‘NSYNC heartthrob, reveals that he is gay, in an exclusive interview with People magazine.

A brave admission for Lance.

“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,” Lance told People, referring to bandmates Joey Fatone, Chris Kirkpatrick, JC Chasez and Justin Timberlake.

“I didn?t know: Could that be the end of ?NSYNC? So I had that weight on me of like, ?Wow, if I ever let anyone know, it’s bad.’ So I just never did,” he says speaking about his sexual orientation for the first time with People.

All of N’SYNC has been really supportive from the beginning, and I don’t think it’s going to change now that he’s going public with his story,? People magazine’s Marisa Laudadio told Access Hollywood.

Lance admits he?s since come out to all his bandmates except Justin Timberlake, who he will soon be calling.

Justin gave Access Hollywood a statement, however, saying:

“Lance is one of my great friends. I support him and wish him all the happiness in the world.”

Now, after years of keeping his personal life private, the Mississippi-bred, Southern Baptist-reared Lance, 27, is publicly revealing what he first shared with his friends, then his shocked family.

“He took years to really think about how he was going to tell everyone,” says his close buddy Fatone, 29, who was the first ‘NSYNC bandmate to find out Bass is gay. “I back him up 100 percent.”

And in a statement to Access Hollywood from JC Chasez:

“I’ve know Lance for more than 10 years. We have been through so much together. He is family and I support him unconditionally.”

Lance?s longtime pal, actress Christina Applegate told People: “I’ve always accepted him as who he is. It’s about his own serenity at this point.”

Having pursued acting, producing and — most memorably — space flight after ?NSYNC went on hiatus in 2002,Lance now is looking ahead to new beginnings. He is in a “very stable” relationship with model-actor- Amazing Race winner Reichen Lehmkuhl, 32, and is developing an Odd Couple -inspired sitcom pilot with Fatone in which his character will be gay.

Mostly, though, he?s just enjoying the relief that comes with the culmination of a long, at times emotionally fraught journey. “The thing is, I?m not ashamed — that?s the one thing I want to say,” he explains of his decision to come out. “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.”

As for why he’s talking about this now Lance says, “The main reason I wanted to speak my mind was that (the rumors) really were starting to affect my daily life. Now it feels like it’s on my terms. I’m at peace with my family, my friends, myself and God so there’s really nothing else that I worry about.”

For several years, Lance has been showing up at Hollywood events with a woman on his arm.

Today we know that Lance believed bringing a male date to red carpet events would have affected the success of N?SYNC.

Lance’srelationship with Lehmkuhl has been the target of gossip sites for months.

The intense media glare on his personal life may have forced him to speak up.

?People reached out to Lance because we really wanted to give him an opportunity to tell his story on his terms,? Laudadio told Access. ?What really killed him was that his mom didn’t find out from him. She found out from the Internet.?

As expected since coming out to People, Lance has been inundated with media attention and in an email to Access Hollywood?s Nancy O?Dell Wednesday morning, Lance said:

?Thank you so much for your support! I’m just not going to do any interviews… don’t want to cram it down peoples throats! Just know I am very happy and maybe I can make being gay a little more acceptable.?

People will be on newsstands Friday.

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