Lance's Gay Odyssey

'NSync was so freaking popular around the turn of the millennium that even I — jaded, posturing music critic — bought the second album, No Strings Attached. It sold more than a million copies the day it was released in March 2000, and I was swallowing a lot of LSD at the time.

Though my friends thought I was, well, gay, the girls in the junior high after-school program where I taught all thought Lance Bass was the "cute one." So when Bass came out of the closet last year, perhaps they were disappointed. Even though they can't make out with him, surely they would enjoy Bass' new memoir, Out of Sync, as much as I did.

Although the book is ghostwritten, it's a tremendous read, mainly because the dude has a great story. At age 5, he had a crush on another boy in his kindergarten class, but coming out wasn't in the cards for a young Southern Baptist Mississippian. It certainly couldn't happen while he was a teenaged boy-band heartthrob either. Fifty million records later, he finally let us know he's gay, after, of course, he briefly abandoned showbiz to train in Russia to be a space tourist. (Due to a lack of funding, his trip fell through.)

While there's a lot of good fodder in Out of Sync, the media have fixated on the passage in the book in which Bass disses Justin Timberlake. In 2002, JT told the group he was leaving to work on a solo album.

"I felt completely betrayed," Bass writes, adding later: "Why couldn't Justin keep the franchise intact while he also did his own thing?"

Over the phone from New York — where he is starring as Corny Collins in Hairspray — Bass says he's not thrilled that coverage has focused on this brief criticism. "I didn't write the book to talk about the breakup of 'NSync, but the story had to be said," he says, adding he's not bitter anymore and never doubted that JT's solo stuff would kill (although he thought JC Chasez's album would too).

My only complaint with Out of Sync is that it neglects a hilarious chapter of Bass' life — when he dated actress Danielle Fishel, AKA Topanga from Boy Meets World.

"It's something that, in hindsight, I can't believe I skipped over," he says, adding that, though the two of them never slept together, he has slept with women. "It would have been so good to put in the book. Because so many people in the gay community go through having a girlfriend and then realize, 'I'm gay — why am I with this girl?' "

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Ben Westhoff
Contact: Ben Westhoff