Pop star Lance Bass married his Miami Beach boyfriend Michael Turchin on Dec. 20 in Los Angeles, 2½ weeks before same-sex marriage became legal in Florida.
Thursday morning, the newlyweds will have a reception of sorts on Fort Lauderdale Beach, along with about 75 gay and straight couples who will marry or renew their vows in celebration of Florida’s Jan. 6 legalization of gay marriage. Hosted by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, the “Love is Love” mass wedding begins at 7 a.m.
“And for a thrill, we’re in town for three hours. We’ve got to go back to New York right after,” says Bass, 35, the former ‘N Sync boy-band star whose E! television reality special, Lance Loves Michael: The Lance Bass Wedding, debuts 8 p.m. Thursday.
“We’ve been waiting two years for this moment. We’ve been working on this special for two years. We’re excited that the world finally gets to see it,” says Bass, dismissing criticism that the special exploits his recent nuptials.
“I totally understand why you think that, but this is a way bigger picture than just Michael and my wedding,” he says. “This is all about trying to educate people. This is to show people — you know 99.9 percent of people watching this E! special, this is the first gay wedding they’ll ever see. The first same-sex wedding. This is an important part for a lot of people to change their minds, get educated.
“The main reason I want to do this is because I’m from that small town in Mississippi where you felt like you were the only gay in town. When I watched television, I didn’t see an example for me to live up to or admire and dream to be like. I’m hoping that little kids all over the world will be able to see this and know there’s nothing wrong with them, that they can be happy with whoever they want to marry. That right there is the reason I want to make this special public.”
Bass spent his years as a young singing star in the closet. Following much media speculation, he came out publicly on the cover of People magazine in 2006.
“Ten years ago being gay was being so taboo and was still looked at so negatively. And now it’s so positive to be gay,” Bass says. “Right now in this day and age, the transgender community is now the red-headed stepchild that people don’t know. And this is a fight that the transgender community is going to have to fight to make people aware and make people feel comfortable with who they are.”
He’s watching carefully as the media focuses on 1976 gold-medal Olympian Bruce Jenner, Kris Kardashian’s ex-husband. People and other major news services report that Jenner is about to transition from male to female.
“I hope that Bruce is ready for this, and I think he is,” Bass says. “He’s used to this, and I’m hoping that whatever he announces is going to be very positively taken. I’ve seen the media’s reaction over the last few months. It started out making fun of the situation because I think most of the media thought it was a show, not real. Then once it started getting real for everyone, I’ve seen a lot of the tone change in the media where it’s very supportive. If this is a transgender situation and a story, then this needs to be handled delicately as this is a subject that most Americans are not aware of, and they don’t understand it.
Bass says Jenner’s journey would be a “great teaching tool.”
“I know what he’s going through because when I came out, I didn’t know anything about the LGBT community. I wasn’t aware of the struggle and the issues. It took me a while to really understand what the fight was and how I could help,” Bass says. “When I first came out, I didn’t do any interviews, I didn’t want to speak about it because I was very ignorant to what was happening to our own community. I learned quickly. I wanted to learn and hopefully I’ve helped. I paid my dues in this community, and I hope that I have at least changed one person’s mind out there.”