July 26, 2006 — -- Former *NSYNC star Lance Bass is out of the closet.
Bass is reportedly announcing that he is gay in an exclusive interview with People magazine.
"I'm not ashamed," Bass reportedly told the magazine. "I'm more liberated and happy than I've been my whole life."
Bass says that he's involved with Reichen Lehmkuhl and reportedly says that he kept his sexuality a secret mostly out of concern that it would hurt the boy band. Fellow member Joey Fatone was the first band member he told.
"I back him up 100 percent," Fatone said.
Rumors had been swirling about Bass, 27, and his relationship with 32-year-old reality-show star Lehmkuhl.
The New York Post's Page Six reported that the couple had been spotted over the July Fourth weekend at Atlantic House, a gay bar in Provincetown, Mass.
Bass' spokeswoman Cindy Owen said to ABCNEWS.com that the singer would not comment on the report and that the singer would not comment on whether he felt that the Post had "outed" him.
She did not return calls today to comment on Bass' magazine interview, which will hit newsstands later this week.
Bass had long been living a double life, according to The Washington Blade, a leading newspaper for the gay and lesbian community. Managing editor Kevin Naff took him to task for it in his blog on the Blade's Web site.
In an entry early this month, Naff accused him of being an "openly closeted" celebrity, comparing his actions 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 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.
Other mainstream media have been reporting on Bass-Lehmkuhl spottings.
The New York Daily News had noted that online gossip maven Perez Hilton had photographic evidence that suggested Bass and Lehmkuhl were sharing each other's clothing.
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.
While some publications felt justified to report on Bass' private life because he was apparently misleading the public, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation says none of Bass' actions justified invading his privacy.
"Coming out is a personal, private decision that needs to be made by the individual," said Damon Romine, GLAAD entertainment media director, in an interview before Bass made his announcement.
"Media speculation about people's sexual orientation is not something we support."