Lance Bass Is Gay -- So, Now What?

After weeks of rumors and speculation in the press, prompted by his visit to a gay bar over the Fourth of July weekend, Lance Bass finally set the record straight -- he revealed to People magazine that he is, in fact, gay.

Speaking out publicly about his sexual orientation for the first time, the former *NSYNC pop star explained the timing behind his decision to open up. "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 own terms.

"I'm at peace with my family, my friends, myself and God so there's really nothing else that I worry about," Bass told the magazine.

So now what?

Bass certainly isn't the first person in Hollywood to open up about his sexuality. He follows in the footsteps of some of the most iconic gay celebrities: George Michael, Melissa Etheridge and Nathan Lane, to name a few.

"Look at Ellen DeGeneres. She developed some of her greatest popularity after coming out," said Ken Baker, US Weekly's West Coast executive editor, adding that Rosie O'Donnell is another great example of a celebrity whose fame continued to skyrocket after she revealed she was gay.

And what about any impact this may have on Bass' career?

"If someone's talented, they'll find success. They just may find a different audience," Baker explained.

Bruce Steele, editor in chief of the Advocate, a national gay and lesbian newsmagazine, agreed.

"When established performers come out, it doesn't really affect their careers one way or another," Steele said. He said that in the entertainment industry, careers are often affected by the projects people choose more than anything else.

Aside from his thwarted plan to travel to space in 2002, Bass largely disappeared after *NSYNC's 2000 blockbuster album, "No Strings Attached." Unlike bandmate Justin Timberlake, he wasn't able to parlay boy-band stardom into a solo recording career.

While another *NSYNC member, Joey Fatone, performed on Broadway and landed supporting parts in movies like "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and "The Cooler," Bass virtually disappeared.

Even the chance of an *NSYNC reunion seemed doubtful after Timberlake's chart-topping debut, as he has worked hard to shed his clean-cut boy-band image.

According to reports, Bass' future projects include a reunion of sorts with Fatone. The two are currently developing an "Odd Couple"-inspired TV sitcom for UPN, in which Bass' character would be gay. Industry experts say plans for Bass' latest venture might have played into the timing of his public disclosure. When UPN announced the TV project, there was no mention of any gay-straight plot twist.

Either way, most people agree that as a former boy-band heartthrob, it was wise of Bass to let the dust from storming 'N Sync fans settle before his announcement.

"With *NSYNC, he was a sex symbol for young girls -- they all were," Baker said.

"His entire business was predicated on their sex appeal to young women," Baker added, explaining that from a business perspective alone, it was completely understandable that Bass stayed tight-lipped as long as he did.

Furthermore, gay advocates explain that coming out is a complicated and often timely process in which every individual has to decide on his or her own path.

"Everyone's closeted for some period of time," Steele weighed in. "Just because they're celebrities doesn't mean that they have an increased ability to deal with what it takes to come to terms with their sexuality."

"You can't come out to other people until you come out to yourself," Steele said.

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