Lance Bass attends the 2024 iHeartRadio Music Awards at Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California on April 01, 2024 Source: Jesse Grant/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

Lance Bass Relates How Elton John was His Gay Welcome Wagon

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 2 MIN.

Talking with People Magazine for the publication's 50th anniversary, former NSYNC member Lance Bass cast his mind back to 2006, when – despite his fears, but prompted by a journalist outing him – he decided to embrace authenticity publicly... and none other than Elton John welcomed him into the openly gay "club" with a gift basket.

Bass had long heard that coming out would torpedo his career, but, he noted to the publication, though "there were rumors," the aughts were "a time where social media wasn't so much of a thing and you could actually have more of a private life."

The recording artist, husband, and father added: "No one was taking pictures everywhere you went. So it was kind of easy for me to live this kind of private life."

That changed during a trip to Provincetown when he struck up a conversation with a man while "in the bathroom line at one of the bars," Bass recalled, "and he's like, 'You're Lance, right?' I'm like, 'Yeah.'"

"He goes, 'Wait, are you gay?' I'm like, 'Yeah,'" Bass added. "And it was the first time I told a stranger that I was gay."

That stranger happened to be a reporter – and Bass' admission was soon tabloid fodder.

"I knew I had to say something," Bass recalled, even though "I was so scared about what would happen in my life personally. I didn't want my family to get hurt by this."

Nor did he want to see his career suffer the way Ellen DeGeneres' had after she came out. "I saw how she was treated," Bass told People Mag. "I'm like, 'Oh, Lord have mercy. That's horrible.'"

Courageously, though, Bass determined to forge ahead with the truth, and he came out in an interview with the magazine. After that, needing some distance, he took a holiday and "went to Catalina Island with my boyfriend at the time."

His career did not, in fact, evaporate – even though he did miss out on a chance to star in a sitcom with fellow NSYNC alum Joey Fatone. If anything, the pop star, now 44 and a happily married family man, is thriving.

But even though "everything in my life changed," Bass said, and Hollywood gatekeepers "said, oh, well, we can't use you now," his fans "made it such a positive thing."

That made all the difference: "Once I was able to see that reaction," Bass told People Mag, " it made me feel so good that I wasn't going to be hated."

Then there was the gesture that out pop icon Elton John made. "The most fun thing I got after I came out was a nice gift basket – I think on my front step – and it was from Elton John basically saying, 'Welcome to the club,'" Bass related.

"I was like, 'Wow, I got a welcome basket from the king of the gay mafia,'" Bass went on to say. "I'm like, 'I'm in!'"

"I thought that was the most fun, welcoming basket you could ever get."

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

Read These Next