During 'N Sync's heyday, Lance Bass kept his homosexuality a secret -- and even dated several women -- to protect the boy band's image. In a video interview with The Rubin Report, the 33-year-old implied history may be repeating itself with 2013's hottest pop quintet, One Direction.
"If you took one of these One Direction kids, because they basically are kids, my guess is one of them is gay," host Dave Rubin said of bandmates Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan and Liam Payne (all of whom identify as heterosexual).
"Statistically speaking, one probably is," Bass agreed. "It's crazy with a market like that, because 100 percent is young women, and they fantasize about these guys. Then you have the record label and everyone grooming you to make sure that you don't even mention you have a girlfriend. So screw the fact that you're gonna come out as being gay. It ruins their whole business plan."
Bass continued, "These girls really do fantasize. It's a crazy thing. I had a girl a couple of months ago come up to me and she thought that we were in love and she was waiting for me this whole entire time. She thought the whole gay thing was a joke, basically, and that I was lying."
Though Bass had told friends and family members about his homosexuality, he didn't make the news public until 2006. "I felt like I had four of my best friends' careers in my hands," he said of fellow 'N Sync singers Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick. "It was a different time. . . I felt that if anyone found out that it would be the end of the group, everyone would completely make fun of us, and we would no longer make music anymore. . . which might have happened."
"I even hid it from myself. I didn't have any relationships [with men]," Bass said. "As long as I was with 'N Sync, I was completely asexual."
In hindsight, Bass said he should have probably come out sooner. "Back then it was scary because I didn't want the gay community to be embarrassed by me coming out. I didn't want everyone to make it a joke and be like, 'Yeah, that boy band guy. Of course he's gay!'" he explained. "I was expecting the Lenos of the world to really just give it to me, but it was the first time I really heard people say, 'Who cares anymore?' That was a nice change for me."
Ironically, Tomlinson denied dating his bandmate Styles during a 2012 interview with Tumblr's Storyboard. (The singer has been in a long-term relationship with college student Eleanor Calder since 2011; Styles previously dated country superstar Taylor Swift and recently made out with reality star and model Kimberly Stewart.)
"We want to joke around, but there seems to be a different rumor every time we do anything," Tomlinson said of their touchy-feely bromance. "I act the same way with Harry as I do any of the other boys."