The NSYNC star says he was terrified of backlash himself when he came out because “90 percent of my fans were women, and they all thought I was straight.”
Lance Bass knows a thing or two about coming out in the public eye, and he has a word of caution for former “Bachelor” Colton Underwood.
In particular, he believes the reality star might face some backlash from the very community he’s joining since coming out as gay. Not because he’s coming out, but because of how he’s parlaying the experience into a new Netflix series.
“This gay community is very diverse, but we can also be very fickle,” Bass said on The Ben & Ashley I. Almost Famous Podcast. “He’s definitely gonna get a lot of backlash from the community at first.”
Bass was quick to amend his statement to emphasize that he’s actually referring to “a small percentage” of the LGBTQ+ community, but we all know how vocal and loud a small percentage of any group is capable of being.
According to the NSYNC star, that group is “just gonna not like the fact that he came out this way, that he’s monetizing the experience.”
He went on to explain, “They don’t think he deserves this attention and one of those reasons is, and this is what I experienced when I came out… when you first come out, most people have no clue about the LGBT community.”
Here, he’s referring to the person coming out themselves, saying they’re out of touch with the issues facing the community because “they’ve been so separated from that on purpose.”
“So when someone comes out as a public figure, so many people immediately go, ‘It’s too late,'” Bass explained. “They don’t like to support it because they don’t feel like you know what you’re talking about yet. But I don’t think Colton is trying to lead that charge of trying to be the spokesperson for the LGBTQ community.”
Caitlyn Jenner faced a similar backlash when she first came out as transgender and found herself facing an almost immediate backlash from the trans community, and especially when she was speak out on trans issues early on.
At the same time, Bass feels that Underwood’s docuseries can only “help the community.” He said, “Every story that you see on television or in a film of a gay character, a different person can relate to that. We haven’t had too many representations of a gay person on television that came from this world, this crazy sports world where you had to hide it.”
But, he also suggested that there may be some truth to that “small percentage” of the community that fears Underwood isn’t in touch with their issues by advising Underwood to “listen to the community.”
“That’s all you need to do right now, is just listen to the community, listen to everyone around you,” Bass said. “Educate yourself and then you’ll naturally find where you belong in this community. But the best thing to do right now is sit back, listen and learn.”
Bass said he faced a fear of backlash with his own coming out, though not from the LGBTQ+ community. Instead, he was worried that NSYNC fans might reject him, as he claims “90 percent of my fans were women, and they all thought I was straight.”
“I made my money off women and singing about love and using that market,” he said. “So me coming out, it was scary because I was like, ‘Oh crap, now everyone is gonna see me as a liar and why did I do this to them?'”
He also said he could relate to religion factoring into a reluctance to coming out. Underwood had told “Good Morning America” on Wednesday, “I had already grown up in the Catholic church, I had gone to Catholic grade school, I had learned in the Bible that gay is a sin.”
“I grew up in the church, going to church three times a week. You’re taught that gay people are going to hell,” Bass echoed. “When that’s instilled at you at such a young age, you think that’s the truth.”