Lance Bass gave Jason Collins advice on coming out

Story highlights

  • Lance Bass says he gave NBA player Jason Collins advice on coming out
  • The singer opened up publicly about his sexuality in 2006
  • Bass says he wished he'd had more time to process how to handle the media

As the NBA's Jason Collins made history by coming out as gay, he sought advice from someone who'd walked this road before: Lance Bass.

In case you don't recall, the singer soared to fame in the late '90s as part of the popular boy band 'N Sync, but he didn't open up about his sexuality until 2006.

At the time, Bass told People magazine that he was acknowledging it mainly because of rumors, and that coming out made him feel like "it's on my terms. I'm at peace with my family, my friends, myself and God, so there's really nothing else that I worry about."

Bass, who now hosts SiriusXM's "Dirty Pop With Lance Bass," revealed on his show Monday that Collins reached out to him for guidance through a mutual friend, actress JoAnna Garcia.

"He's been trying to plan this for a very long time, contemplating if he wanted to do this. In fact, he said he was going to call me months ago, but he got too scared," Bass said.

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But with Garcia's encouragement, Collins finally made the call Monday.

In NBA, Collins' defense matters more than sexual orientation

    "I gave him some very good advice today, because everybody wants to interview him," Bass said. When Bass came out, he recalled wishing he'd had more time to think about whom he wanted to talk to and how he wanted to do it.

    "When I came out, I had 24 hours to decide what was going to happen. ... What I wish I could have done back then was to have a couple of days to sit down with (the Human Rights Campaign), sit down with GLAAD (and) get downloaded (on how to handle this)" Bass said. "So I gave him some really great connections."

    By putting Collins in touch with people such as GLAAD's Wilson Cruz, Bass is aiming to help the athlete "get some really good information before he does these sit-downs, just so he doesn't put his foot in his mouth ... because this will live (on) for the rest of his life, and he wants to make sure it's good."

    Obama 'couldn't be prouder' of Jason Collins

    The media crush that comes with such an announcement isn't the only part of Collins' story to which Bass relates. Just as Collins was so busy with basketball that he didn't ruminate on his personal life until the 2011 NBA lockout, Bass said he was too stretched performing with 'N Sync to focus on his personal life.

    With the lockout, Collins "finally got to sit back and think about himself, and relationships and love and all of that type of stuff because he had the time -- and that's when he started becoming more comfortable with it and finding out about himself. And that's exactly what happened with me when we went on the hiatus after the last 'N Sync show," Bass said.

    "We were 24/7, had the same set schedule (and) I didn't have time to think about my personal life. And I totally relate to this because it wasn't until that hiatus where I had a vacation, I had a few weeks off that I became comfortable with it, and met a guy finally and had my first relationship. It was that downtime that really makes you see things."

    Bass told his "Dirty Pop" listeners that he thinks "we are going to be overwhelmed with the support he gets," which has been steady over the past 24 hours. Many in Hollywood and beyond have joined Garcia and Bass in encouraging the NBA veteran, including President Barack Obama, who told reporters Tuesday he was "very proud" of Collins and had spoken with him on the phone.

    Spike Lee slams Collins hate machine

    These are a few celebrities who encouraged the athlete on Twitter:

    Russell Simmons: "(P)roud of Washington Wizards' player Jason Collins (@JasonCollins34) for coming out. (W)e will stand with you as you continue on your journey."

    Ellen DeGeneres: "@NBA center @JasonCollins34 is the 1st out player on a US major league team. I'm overwhelmed by your bravery, Jason, & sending so much love."

    Neil Patrick Harris: "Bravo, @JasonCollins34! Thanks for stepping up. For standing tall. And at 7 feet, that's saying a lot."

    Howard Stern: "Big support to @jasoncollins34. That's not an easy thing you did."

    Marlee Matlin: BRAVO to #jasoncollins for his bravery and class. Equality and changing attitudes are just inevitable.

    Shonda Rhimes: Totally loving me some @jasoncollins34 right now. Well done!

    Eva Longoria: "So proud of Jason Collins for being an example of bravery and courage. I applaud you!!!"

    On Monday evening, Collins responded on Twitter: "Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me thru email, texts, calls, tweets, letters, and every other form of communication. #support."

    Looks like Bass was right.