Lance Bass Reveals Why He Didn’t Come Out as Gay During *NSYNC

All eyes were on the five members of *NSYNC on Monday, as the popular boy band received their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But it was Lance Bass’ speech at the ceremony that hit home the most.

Bass revealed he was gay in a People magazine cover story in 2006, several years after *NSYNC’s last official appearance as a group. (They would reunite in 2013 for Justin Timberlake‘s Video Vanguard performance at the MTV Video Music Awards.) During Bass’ Walk of Fame speech, the 38-year-old singer opened up about why he didn’t come out while *NSYNC was at its peak in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“I want to thank these four guys right here: Joey, JC, Chris, Justin. We’re brothers. We’re family,” he said at the top of his speech, pointing to the four guys behind him onstage. “Out of all this, the music, the tours, the love from the fans, it’s my brotherhood I’m most thankful for. I was a kid when we came together and I’m a man today because of the family I have and you. I love you guys.”

“The other thing I want to say here today is something I’ve been trying to put into words maybe my whole life. Growing up in Mississippi and in a Southern Baptist church, in a town where everyone knows your business, I had a secret: I was gay,” Bass continued, prompting Joey Fatone to adorably feign shock. “Yes guys, I’m gay! I am! And at the time, I thought that I would never be able to tell anyone because not only was I terrified of the lasting rejection — I was certain that that would happen — but more than that I didn’t want to jeopardize the careers of these guys up here, much less the hundreds of amazing people who worked tirelessly to bring *NSYNC to the world.”

“I thought if I had come out,…