Holy Y2k! Remember when NSYNC’s Lance Bass and Boy Meets World‘s Danielle Fishel were an item?
The one-time boy bander recently joined Fishel on her Pod Meets World podcast to talk about their former fling. Though the series is typically dedicated to revisiting the beloved ABC sitcom (with stars Will Friedle and Rider Strong joining the actress in conversation), the most recent episode opened up a whole other nostalgic can of worms when Bass guested.
The two spoke openly and warmly about their past relationship—years before Bass came out publicly as gay. They met when NSYNC stopped by the network for a live “TGIF” special the Boy Meets World cast hosted in 1999, during which time Bass says he developed an instant crush on Fishel.
Apparently, she had no idea about this until months later when the musician had to have Justin Timberlake ask her her number for him. Ah, young love!
In any event, the pair dated for some time even though Bass was on tour with NSYNC and Fishel was preoccupied with Boy Meets World‘s busy filming schedule. They even went to Fishel’s prom together… and then broke up two weeks later.
Interestingly, that story is one they’re hoping to tell in a brand new movie they’re working on—one that they announced exclusively on Pod Meets World.
“Lance and I are actually working on a movie about our love story and about our prom experience,” Fishel announced at the top of the episode.
As the two recounted their year of dating, it became clear they had very different ideas about what this relationship was—and what it could be. For Fishel, she was living out every teen girl’s dream: She was dating a pop star! And she was madly in love.
“I thought I was going to marry Lance. I had envisioned our future,” she shared. “I held on for hope for way too long that we were going to get back together and get married and have a family. … It turns out I’m not Lance’s type.”
But what was otherwise a “very wonderful, very warm, loving relationship” was also a point of anxiety for Bass, and it all came to a head with the prom. Fishel recalled their “lack of intimacy” up until that point, and seemed to pick up on the pressure associated with the big night:
“Lance and I had a hotel room booked and I had a vision for what that night was going to be and Lance was very nervous about what my vision for that night was going to be,” she said.
“That is the night Lance talks about, where he felt like he was hurting me by not being honest with himself or anyone else about what was going on in his life so it was kind of the impetus for him to say, ‘I’m going to end our relationship.’”
In Bass’s view, that night was an important one in the journey of coming to terms with his own sexuality, only underscoring why the former couple’s story is one that deserves to be told:
“The reason we wanted to make this prom story into a film [is because] I think so many people can relate to that story; so many people in the LGBT community, their prom night was the night they were like, ‘Oh, wait a minute. This can’t happen anymore,’” he said.
“This was the catalyst for me that made me start to accept myself, which took a long time after that, but that was definitely the first little straw that broke.”
So, no, Fishel didn’t “make” Bass gay, but his experience is a familiar one to many of us. And one hopes that the movie (being written by actor/comedians Lauren Lapkus and Mary Holland) will also double as a love letter to all the former girlfriends, boyfriends, and partners who were patient and understanding with us as we learned to accept out authentic selves. We couldn’t have done it without them.
And we’re glad to hear that Bass and Fishel’s relationship has a happy ending—they may not have had the fairytale romance she initially imagined, but they’ve remained close friends ever since.