How much privacy should onetime *NSYNC star Lance Bass expect when he visits a prominent gay bar with a prominent gay star?
On Wednesday, The New York Post's Page Six column reported that Bass had been spotted with "Amazing Race" star Reichen Lehmkuhl at Atlantic House, a gay bar in Provincetown, Mass.
Following the Post report, a blog on the Washington Blade, a leading newspaper for the gay and lesbian community, said that Bass had been outed.
Through his spokeswoman, Cindy Owen, Bass, 27, declined to comment on the report. Lehmkuhl's spokeswoman, Mara Santino, also declined to comment on the Post report.
Certainly, simply visiting a gay club doesn't confirm that you are gay. But historically, mainstream media have restrained from exposing the sexual orientation of celebrities who have chosen to keep that side of themselves personal. Some gay activists condemn the Post and other media outlets for speculating about Bass' sexual orientation.
"Coming out is a personal, private decision that needs to be made by the individual," said Damon Romine, entertainment media director of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. "Media speculation about people's sexual orientation is not something we support."
Mass Speculation -- Not Necessarily Truth
Blade is a newspaper that takes a more aggressive approach outing celebrities.
Its reporters expose celebrities they believe are in the closet and are hypocritical for not publicly revealing their sexual orientation.
"Perhaps the Post is not outright saying Lance is gay. But by implication, we can all easily connect the dots," said Kevin Naff, managing editor of the Washington Blade.
In his "Blade Blog" entry "Bye, Bye, Bye to the Closet," Naff questioned why Bass had allegedly continued to deny his sexuality while otherwise living what he described as an "openly closeted" celebrity, comparing it to what Rosie O'Donnell and Ellen DeGeneres had done for several years before they publicly came out.
Over the July Fourth holiday, Naff wrote in his blog that Bass reportedly had made "the gay party rounds," appearing with Lehmkuhl at several prominent gay Provincetown parties.
His whereabouts were also noted by "gay bloggers" Andy Towle and Cyd Zeigler, Naff wrote. Bass, Naff wrote, "tried lamely to disguise himself with a hat" during his vacation.
"Unfortunately for Bass, it wasn't big enough to fool the New York Post," Naff wrote, adding that it was the most media exposure Bass had received since "his odd and ill-fated attempt at space exploration."
Lehmkuhl and Bass have been spotted together several times in the last few months.
Lehmkuhl became a prominent gay celebrity in 2003, after winning the $1 million prize for "The Amazing Race 4" with his former lover, Chip Arndt.
He has since appeared on "Fear Factor" and other reality TV shows, while hosting a talk show on Q Television, a now-defunct cable network for the gay and lesbian community.
Other mainstream media have been reporting on Bass-Lehmkuhl spottings.
On Monday, The New York Daily News noted that online gossip maven Perez Hilton had photographic evidence that suggested Bass and Lehmkuhl were sharing each other's clothing.
It doesn't seem like the quest to out Bass will stop anytime soon -- even if the reports are wrong.
"If privacy is what Lance wants, that's something that's easy to have," Naff said. "But if you're Lance Bass, and you're going to the gayest town on the gayest day of the year and going to gay parties, you have to expect something."