Lance Bass rose to fame as a member of NSYNC, being thrust into the entertainment industry as a teenager. While navigating worldwide superstardom and the pressures of being idolized as a boyband heartthrob, he was hiding one big secret — he was gay.
Bass came out publicly in 2006, five years after NSYNC’s latest album dropped. Since then, he has used his platform to support LGBTQ rights, working with GLAAD and GLSEN.
But still, there was another secret: during his early years in Hollywood, Bass had experienced unwanted advances from both men and women, which made him feel shaken and confused.
The subject of sexual harassment and the silencing of victims has become a hot-button issue over the past few weeks as Hollywood power players from Harvey Weinstein to Kevin Spacey have been exposed as alleged sexual harassers, assaulters and rapists.
Lance has been critical of Spacey, who was accused earlier this week of inappropriate misconduct with a minor, and has faced growing accusations of sexual harassment and assault from “House of Cards” staff members. Bass tweeted, “Being gay should never be equated with sexual assault or pedophilia. Thanks for giving the homophobes more ammo #KevinSpacey.” He also slammed Netflix for shutting down production on “House of Cards,” which could potentially affect the jobs of hundreds of crew members, rather than simply firing Spacey.
Here, Bass writes a candid account for Variety on own experiences in the entertainment industry and calls for Hollywood to put an end to the culture of sexual harassment…
Over the past couple of months we’ve been hit with a barrage of stories and accusations revolving around sexual misconduct and abuse in Hollywood. I, like most people in this business, have heard countless rumors over the years, but not until these rumors were given life over the past couple months did they finally seem real — and this is a problem.
Now, I’m certain I’m not saying anything new here, nor am I the most eloquent, but as a society, we’ve been become far too comfortable with the pervasive “casting couch” adage that it no longer resembles what it truly is — sexual assault.
Finally, victims are speaking out, giving faces to these too-often overlooked victims and proving that we can no longer be complacent and quiet, if we truly want things to change.
I grew up in the entertainment business and I’ve experienced my share of unwanted advances from both men and women who saw me as a target. The experiences left me shaking and confused each time. I hated being put into that position, but I was too afraid to say anything. First because I was not out, and second because I didn’t want to affect the jobs of the hundreds of people who depended on me working. The people who perpetrate these horrible acts know this. They rely on it. For my young mind, the stakes were overwhelming and silence seemed to be the only option. So I remained silent.
Later on, I would come out of the closet and find a comfort and relief in those who accepted me. In the years since, I’ve met wonderful members of the LGBTQ entertainment community who’ve fostered my career, partnered on my projects and stood out as beacons of brilliance in a town filled with incredible creatives at all levels.
I say this because it’s important to remember that sexual predators are just that. They come in all sexual orientations and seek to overpower those who believe they have too much to lose if they speak up. Recent statements in the press have irresponsibly conflated predatory behavior with homosexuality, and blurring that line is simply dangerous. Loving who you love isn’t a choice; abuse on the other hand is.
I’m truly thankful for my LGBTQ brothers and sisters and our straight allies, as we raise our voices to give strength and protection to those who are still scared and silent. That being said, we still have a long way to go. I am certain more stories of abuse will be brought to light, and I hope those responsible will be brought to justice. As a society, we’ve accepted sexual misconduct for far too long, and I believe we’ve finally reached the beginning of the end. The end of fear. The end of shame. The end of intimidation. The end of abuse.
— Lance Bass