By Stephanie Doheny
Asst. Features Editor
On Monday October 15, 2018 former *NSYNC band member and current producer, actor, and entertainment star Lance Bass spoke at Sacred Heart University as part of the 2018-2019 Student Affairs Lecture Series. Bass was promoting his new show, “Finding Prince Charming”.
Assistant Features Editor Stephanie Doheny had the opportunity to interview Bass, along with two members of other SHU student media groups.
Q: What was being in *NSYNC like? Are you still in touch with the guys?
A: *NSYNC was basically my college years. I started when I was 16, and I had never really left home. It was my introduction to the world, getting to live in different countries and really growing up fast. I had my four best friends that were bad influences on me. We still talk daily because we started a clothing line together last April, so now our group chat went from making fun of each other and sharing horrible old memes of ourselves, to now we’re fashion designers. We’re constantly approving and designing things and we’re much more adult now.
Q: What was it like to be the youngest person ever inducted into the Mississippi Musician’s Hall of Fame?
A: It was quite the honor, for sure. Growing up in that state, I was very proud to say I was from Mississippi and we’re a proud bunch down there, although we can be very backwards, but the people are good at heart. You know the people might be confused and ignorant about a lot of things, but they have a great heart. I was never embarrassed to say that I was from Mississippi. It came with a little slap afterward because I did come out of the closet after that. So they were very supportive before that but then once I came out, they basically erased me from all Mississippi history, which you know, sucked.
Q: When did you realize that you were gay and what was it like telling your family and your friends? Were they supportive or were they negative?
A: The scariest thing is of course coming out because you don’t know what your friends and family are going to think of it. You don’t want to be disappointed. You know that they’ll most likely love you still, but you don’t want any disappointment and surprises like ‘Oh! wait, my sister really is against me?’ So that I think is the scariest part about coming out. I knew I was gay when I was five years old and one of the first memories I have is being in kindergarten and having a little crush on this little boy. So I knew then I liked boys, but I also knew then that I had to hide it because it was wrong, because that’s what I kept being told. It’s very confusing when you’re that aware so young and know that you’re going to hide it the rest of your life.
Q: Since coming out, what has been your favorite moment that stands out in your mind and makes you think and feel “wow! I’m really making a difference?
A: There’s several things like that! And I think one of the first times I realized that people were looking at me and listening to me was when I did Broadway and that was right after I came out, so around 2009. I remember being at the stage door, you know at the end we go and sign autographs and there was a kid that was probably 11 or 12 years old and he said “I came out because of you!” I was like OH MY GOSH, how I would dream to have been able to be that aware and comfortable with myself at 11 years old. I was so happy because I remember thinking “your high school is going to be so much better than mine! You’re so lucky!” So that I had any kind of influence on someone becoming themselves at an earlier age, they can start living their life!”
Q: How do you think your show, “Finding Prince Charming”, will affect LGBTQ youth? What would it have meant to you, growing up to see a show like this on TV?
A: It would have meant everything because I would have had something to relate to. I think one of the downfalls of being a part of the LGBTQ community growing up as a kid, you had no representation at all to look at so you always felt like there was something wrong with you and of course society was always telling you something was wrong with you, especially growing up in southern Baptist Mississippi. So, I think as a kid just being able to see something like that on TV, I would have known that there wasn’t anything wrong with me and there are people just like me.
Throughout the interview for ‘Spectrum’, Bass was smiling and laughing, with his warm southern accent, while recalling all the memories he discussed.
After the interview, Bass joined moderator, Gregory Golda, Professor in the School of Communication, Media, and the Arts, on stage in the Edgerton Theatre for a formal discussion.
“Lance is a unique, gem of a man,” said Golda. “He’s fascinating on every level. He’s motivated like no one I’ve ever met. He’s vitally important in our cultural debate over equality. That was really inspiring and I hope that’s what the students took away from this evening.”
Bass was met with love and cheers from the crowd.
“My friends and I didn’t realize how young he is and he’s accomplished so much. It was amazing because my older sister who grew up with *NYSNC and Backstreet Boys said it’s so amazing that a new generation knows him for a different reason,” said junior Victoria Oliva.