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Bass, Lance (b. 1979)  
 
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*NSync reunited in the summer of 2004 to sing the national anthem and participate in a celebrity basketball game to benefit a children's charity. Immediately afterward, Timberlake informed the others that he was quitting the band. The remaining four members briefly considered continuing as a quartet, but in the end they decided to go their separate ways. *NSync did, however, release one more album, Greatest Hits, in 2005.

While performing with *NSync, Bass had remained closeted out of fear that revealing his homosexuality might adversely affect the popularity of the band. He even sometimes dated women to keep up appearances. During the extended hiatus, however, he met and fell in love with a young man identified in his memoir only as Jesse. The two began living together in Orlando.

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Although the couple attempted to hide the true nature of their relationship by having a female friend accompany them when they went out, Bass's sexual orientation became something of an open secret in Orlando. After the break-up of *NSync, Bass and Jesse decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue career opportunities and, they hoped, to escape the inevitable scrutiny that comes with living in a small city. Even with the change of venue, however, the burden of maintaining secrecy put intolerable stress on the relationship, and the two parted ways in September 2003.

After the failure of another romantic relationship, Bass met Reichen Lehmkuhl, who had been the winning contestant in the 2003 season of the reality show The Amazing Race. Their friendship soon grew into a romance.

Since both men had relatively high public profiles, the chances of keeping their relationship secret were poor, and indeed rumors soon began to swirl in the tabloid press and on the Internet.

While Bass was out to a number of friends, he had hesitated to speak to his Southern Baptist family about his sexual orientation. The first relative he approached was his sister, who, he felt, "was best equipped to handle it." The revelation came as a total surprise to her, though, and she "broke down and cried." Nevertheless, Bass stated, "I was relieved that I could tell her and sensed in that instant we were closer than we had ever been before in our lives. But I also knew my parents were going to be devastated."

Bass attempted to ease into coming out to his parents by introducing Lehmkuhl as a friend rather than a boyfriend. He did not anticipate that his mother would look Lehmkuhl up on Google and find Internet reports that he was gay. When she did so, Mrs. Bass immediately spoke to her daughter, who acknowledged that Bass had come out to her.

In an ensuing conversation, Bass's parents expressed their love and support for him although the news had been difficult for them to receive. His mother was concerned about his eternal salvation, but he assured her that he still believed in God and continued to go to church. His mother also hoped to keep his grandparents from learning of his sexual orientation—an impossibility because of his celebrity. His maternal grandmother, for one, though, was quite able to take things in stride, telling Bass, "I love you just the same, and you're welcome in my house anytime."

Bass came out publicly shortly thereafter, in an August 2006 interview with People magazine, which featured the news as its cover story. He was candid about how difficult it had been for him to come out to his family but stated that he was happy to have received support from them and from friends.

Bass admitted to some missteps as a newly out, very visible gay man. "When most people come out, they deal with it out of the public eye, and they start getting educated about it. Me, I had 24 hours [at the time of the People interview] to say what I had to say on a subject that I had no clue about," he explained to Advocate reporter Kyle Buchanan.

Bass's initial announcement was well received by the glbtq community, but he eventually drew some criticism for his lack of knowledge about glbtq issues. When Bass, together with Lehmkuhl (from whom he would split in 2007), were given the Human Rights Campaign's Visibility Award in October 2006, some decried the selection as inappropriate because they had not made significant efforts on behalf of glbtq rights. In January 2008 Buchanan wrote that Bass "seem[ed] both adored and scorned by gays in equal measure."

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