On Monday, April 30, it was a monumental day in pop culture: *NSYNC finally got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The celebration brought all five band members together (unfortunately a rare occurrence these days), and they gave touching speeches for countless fans about what the band's legacy means to them. Lance Bass' *NSYNC Walk of Fame speech took a look into his past, his challenging journey to self-identity, and why he'd sacrificed coming out as a gay man to protect his *NSYNC family.
Bass started out his speech by honoring his fellow four band members. "I wanna thank these four guys right here," Bass said. "We're brothers, we're family, and out of all this, the music, the tours, the love from the fans, it's my brotherhood with you guys that I'm most thankful for." He went on to explain how he's gone from a "kid" when the band started in the '90s to the "man" he is today because of their love and support. And because he's become the confident man he is today, he was proudly able to dedicate his speech to the LGBTQ+ community.
Although the height of the *NSYNC cultural phenomenon was roughy between 1997 and 2001, Bass didn't come out until 2006 on the cover of People magazine. He took the opportunity on Monday, in front of fans, family, and industry leaders, to explain why he was so selfless in hiding his authentic self even though it caused him pain.
"The other thing I need to say today is something I've been trying to put into words maybe my whole life," said the 38-year-old. He revealed he hid the truth about his sexuality while growing up in Mississippi. He detailed that he was just 17 years old when *NSYNC made its debut. Bass said that at the time, he was not only terrified of "lasting rejection" but putting his fellow bandmates and their hard-earned careers in jeopardy, fearing that people wouldn't accept his sexual orientation.
He then gave fans a peek into his challenging journey and honored fellow gay members of the band's rapid fanbase, saying:
"I thought if I had come out, *NSYNC would be over, so out of fear I kept my secret. Our wildest dreams were coming true and I was so incredibly thankful and I still am. But so many nights on stage, I'd see young, gay fans singing their hearts out, I wanted so badly to let you know: I was you. I just didn't have the strength then. But I do today, and so let me say loud and proud to all my LGBT brothers and sisters who embrace me and show me the way to be who I am: thank you so much."
His touching speech got a wild applause from the crowd, as it not only showcased the band's impact on him, but his impact on the LGBT community. "A star on this boulevard is more than just an honor, it's a lasting reminder of all the artists from all the colors of the rainbow that your voice matters," Bass continued, with his proud husband and family members watching. "I am truly humbled and honored to be a part of that legacy in some small way." When Bass finished the deeply personal speech, Justin Timberlake put his arm around him and told him, "Well said."
The massive group of *NSYNC fans who camped out and patiently stood for blocks away from the ceremony certainly witnessed something special. Bass graciously took this huge moment and platform to make it about something much larger than himself or the band. He encouraged all people, especially those of the LGBT community, to be seen and heard as their authentic selves.