In the late 1990s, Lance Bass rocketed to international superstardom with the boy band *NSync. The five singers graced almost every teen magazine cover and preteen bedroom wall.
A bevy of hit singles and highly choreographed dance moves helped Bass and his band mates become household names. But even as his fame grew, Bass hid a secret.
While tweens and teens screamed for him and dreamed of being his girlfriend, Bass hid his true identity. Later, after the band disbanded, Bass finally came out with the truth: He was gay.
Now, in his new book, "Out of Sync," Bass talks about his struggle to come out to the public, the well-publicized problems with former manager Lou Pearlman and what it was like being in the world's biggest and hottest band.
Read an excerpt of his book below.
I've known I was different ever since I was five years old. For one thing, I had what I guess you could call innocent crushes on boys.
I knew it was wrong; at least that's what I was taught by my family, my church, my friends, my whole world. That was the overwhelming message I kept on getting. How could I ever admit to what everyone else believed was such a bad, even biblically evil thing, especially to my parents and grand-parents, who doted so much on me and made me feel like I was a little prince?
I understood in my heart it wasn't wrong to be gay, but I also knew instinctively that I had to play the game in order to live in the world I was born into. In all honesty it didn't seem much of a problem to me when I was growing up in Mississippi. There were girls around. I even dated a few, but only because that's what everyone else did. I never thought about it, or felt funny doing it. As for dating guys, it never even entered my thinking that such a thing was possible. At least not in Mississippi.
That's where I was born, in 1979: the heart of the Deep South. My parents liked the name Lance, so that's what they decided to call me. They'd had it picked out for their firstborn son even before they were married. If they had a boy, they'd agreed, he'd be James Lance Bass, after my dad, James Irvin Bass, Jr. My parents considered making me a III. Thank heavens they settled on Lance!
I was raised in the town of Ellisville, about seven minutes outside of Laurel. Despite my early sexual feelings, I had an extremely happy childhood. I loved my parents, Jim and Diane. I loved my sister, Stacy. And I loved singing in the church choir. My dad, was a medical technologist in the Ellisville hospital. I more or less grew up in hospitals, which is why to this day things like having blood work done never freaks me out.
We were a completely traditional Southern family. I was brought up strict Baptist, in the steep shadow of the church where, as it happens, I sang for the very first time. As far back as I can remember, I loved to sing. No one in my family was ever in show business, but my mother's beautiful singing voice put me to sleep each night as a little boy. Even when I'd go off with my dad and grandfather on pheasant hunts in Texas, my mom would tape-record a lullaby so I'd be able to fall asleep in my sleeping bag.