It might not have been the full-fledged reunion fans have been clamoring for since *NSYNC’s 2002 hiatus, but Monday’s (April 30) Hollywood Walk of Fame star ceremony did bring together Lance Bass, JC Chasez, Joey Fatone, Chris Kirkpatrick and, yes, even Justin Timberlake for a very public celebration of their time as the world’s biggest pop group.
JT pal Ellen DeGeneres and TRL alum Carson Daly were on hand to fete (and roast) the group with speeches that poked fun at Timberlake’s curls, Kirkpatrick’s braids and Joey in general. And after the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce made it all official with a plaque presentation, each of the five guys took a turn at the mic to thank the (countless) fans who crowded Hollywood Boulevard to get a glimpse of the mini-reunion, their families sitting front-and-center for the ceremony, and their brotherly bond that remains more than two decades later.
In addition to talking about that brotherhood, Bass took the opportunity to address a topic that never came up when *NSYNC was an active boy band: his sexuality. “The other thing I need to say today is something I’ve been trying to put into words maybe my whole life. Growing up in Mississippi in a Southern Baptist church in a town where everyone knows your business, I had a secret. I was gay,” he said to loud cheers and feigned surprise from his bandmates. “At the time, I thought I’d never be able to tell anyone because not only was I terrified of the lasting rejection … but more than that, I didn’t want to jeopardize the careers of these guys up here, much less the hundreds of amazing people who worked tirelessly to bring *NSYNC to the world. I thought if I had come out, *NSYNC would be over, so out of fear, I kept my secret. And our wildest dreams were coming true and I was so incredibly thankful and I still am. But so many nights onstage, I’d see young gay fans singing their hearts out and I wanted so badly to let you know, I was you. I just didn’t have the strength then. But I do today, and so let me say loud and proud to all my LGBT brothers and sisters who embraced me and showed me the way to be who I am, thank you so much.”
Timberlake was the final member to take the stage, and he gave fans exactly what they came for: a little hope for the future. He finished his speech about “the greatest fans in the world” by saying, “I can’t wait to see what the future holds.” As *NSYNC left the stage to take photo after photo with their star and different combinations of their families and VIP attendees, the crowd started a chant of “RE-U-NITE!” that continued for a minute. Fans also started a crowd sing-along of “Tearin’ Up My Heart,” but unfortunately didn’t get the guys back to the mic to join in.
Despite those hopeful words from Timberlake, the closest fans got to an *NSYNC performance on Monday would have to be JC briefly returning to the microphone to let people know that on Tuesday, “It’s gonna be May!”
Bass took to Twitter after the ceremony to share a group shot along with DeGeneres and Daly:
Well that was fun!!!! This was the calm before the storm. Thank you to my four brothers for this amazing gift. Also, @theellenshow and @carsondaly for your beautiful speeches! And the fans! Holy! Seeing all your faces has made me so happy. Love to all! pic.twitter.com/I3gymXspKk
— Lance Bass (@LanceBass) April 30, 2018