August 16, 2006
"Out of Sync"
'N Sync, if you've been living in a cave, is one of the first and, arguably, one of the best of the Boy Bands. Broadway's Tony winning Jersey Boys attests to the fact that the genre is nothing new, but its resurgence has sold many a CD. Hits like "Bye Bye Bye" and "It's Gonna Be Me" may be categorized by purists as Bubble Gum Pop Crap, but they gained worldwide recognition.
I like them, but I have a penchant for the trite. The standout of the group has always been Justin Timberlake. In spite of his role as Janet Jackson's prop in her "wardrobe malfunction," he's always shown prodigious talents as singer, composer, arranger, dancer and album producer. His taste in women is somewhat suspect and, ironically, gay rumors have abounded.
His teen years were spent as Britney Spears' original boyfriend and 'true love.' Remember? They pledged to remain virgins until they reached an appropriate age to wed. Yeah, right. She split leaving Justin to play the jilted good-boy and propelling Britney into the realm of tabloid-culture-slut-extraordinaire.
The member of the group second in recognition factor has been the perky, smiley, blonde dude named Lance Bass. His recent leap from the closet has brought him into international focus. It still matters to so many people — unbelievable! I suppose it's considered a big deal because the group is so big. They've worked hard to earn a huge following among young folks everywhere. These guys are not a bunch of slouches.
However insipid you may think their music can be, don't sell their talent (or their brainpower) short. Years back they fought a successful court battle to free themselves from the clutches of Boy Band svengali Lou Pearlman. They stayed on top of (and documented) Pearlman's illicit business practices when their stagestruck parents did not.
They wisely signed with Johnny Wright in March of 2000 and their album No Strings Attached wracked-up the highest first week sales in music history — 1 million of which sold on the first day. Their effort aptly titled Celebrity released in July of 2001 came in at number two selling 1.8 million in the first week. This represents power in show business however you slice it.
And it left our boy Lance with quite a conundrum. "I knew I was in this popular band and I had four other guy's careers in my hand, and I knew that if I ever acted on it or even said I was gay it would overpower everything." Bass felt the pinch for years and worried that living his own life would prompt "the end of 'N Sync." He reflects on those stressful years and explains, "So I had that weight on me like, 'Wow, if I ever let anyone know, it's bad.' So I just never did."
This is a real testament to the travails young gay people are put through. The insidious part of being a social pariah is this vicious reality: it teaches you self-hatred. If the laws, the churches, the schools, the business world and the public at large, who are supposed to judge your music and not your private life, hold you in such complete contempt, then maybe I'm bad. Maybe there's something seriously wrong with me.
If a young, handsome, millionaire star can be brought to this point of self-doubt, think of what it does to kids in the military or public school systems or the minimum wage work force.
Lance Bass's story is, thankfully, a happy one now that he's allowed himself to be the person he was born to be. He's in a "very stable" relationship with Reichen Lehmkuhl. He's developing a sitcom pilot with fellow 'N Sync-er Joey Fatone in which his character is gay. Here's the best part: "I'm not ashamed — that's the one thing I want to say. I don't think it's wrong, I'm not devastated going through this. I'm more liberated and happy than I've been in my whole life. I'm just happy."
Bravo, Lance! This may be your best performance ever.