*NSYNC member Lance Bass delivered an emotional speech on Monday as he joined former bandmates JC Chasez, Joey Fatone, Chris Kirkpatrick and Justin Timberlake to receive a (long-overdue) star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Bass spoke at length about his journey toward accepting himself as a gay man after the band broke up in 2002.
“Growing up in Mississippi and in a Southern Baptist church, in a town where everyone knows your business, I had a secret. I was gay,” Bass told the crowd. “At the time, I thought I’d never be able to tell anyone. ... I didn’t want to jeopardize the careers of these guys up here, much less the hundreds of amazing people who worked tirelessly to bring *NSYNC to the world.”
Check out Bass’ full speech in the video above. His comments about coming out start around the three-minute mark.
“So many nights on stage, I’d see so many young, gay fans singing their hearts out and I wanted so badly to let you know, I was you,” Bass added. “I just didn’t have the strength then. But I do today, and so let me say loud and proud to all my LGBT brothers and sisters, who embrace me and show me the way to be who I am, thank you so much.”
Bass also talked to HuffPost about his struggle to come out.
“The ’90s were a different time,” he said in an interview published Monday. “If you came out, if anyone knew you were gay, it was a disaster and people really flipped out. I felt like if anyone found out that I was gay, the record label would immediately drop us and the fans would hate us ― these were all the crazy things that went through my head as a teenager. So, I just trained myself into being a certain person and became that person.”
“I just thought if I even told just one single person it would get out, which it would have,” he said. “So that secret stayed with me and me only.”
Bass, now 38, first publicly came out in a 2006 interview with People magazine. The pop star has since become a staunch LGBTQ rights advocate. He married his husband, Michael Turchin, in 2014, and they have recently expressed their interest in having children.