Rick Maiman/AP; INF
Tim Nudd
October 17, 2007 02:10 PM

There was a time when Lance Bass could get through to Britney Spears in her moments of crisis, but those days are long gone.

Asked by GQ magazine in its November issue if he’s been in contact with the troubled pop star, Bass replies: “I tried. I tried. She’s my neighbor in Beverly Hills. She lives next door. I tried to get in touch with her – I wanted to be that friend to help her. I don’t think she’s having any of her old friends anymore.”

In fact, the former ‘N Sync-er, 28, says he hasn’t spoken with Spears, 25, since shortly after her impulse wedding in Las Vegas to childhood friend Jason Allen Alexander, way back in January 2004. In reaching out to her then, he says, he let Spears in on a little secret.

“I felt bad for her,” Bass says. “I knew she was about to go through a lot of crap. I felt the need to share something. So I sat her on my bed, and I’m like, Well, I’m gay!”

Bass, who would not come out publicly for another 2½ years (when he told PEOPLE in July 2006, “I’m more liberated and happy than I’ve been my whole life”), says Spears was shocked.

“I was always the Southern gentleman,” he says.

In discussing another friend’s reaction to his coming out, Bass says, “I used to hang out with Marc Anthony in New York and Miami. We were boys. We had a good time – before he was married. He was surprised when I came out.”

Questions About Justin

While Bass kept his own sexuality a secret, he and his bandmates harbored other suspicions – ultimately unfounded – about a different member of the group.

“We thought Justin [Timberlake] was gay,” Bass says, “because he told us he wanted to do a gay part in a movie.”

Of another band member, he added, “We thought Chris [Kirkpatrick] was gay because he used to hang out with a choreographer.”

After harboring a fair amount of resentment toward Timberlake over the demise of ‘N Sync, Bass now says he’s at peace with the musician – though he still hopes the band can reunite at some point.

“I’m proud of him,” says Bass, who is currently on Broadway in Hairspray. “There’s no anger, but there’s disappointment. We were starting to get respect – and Grammy nominations. And he kind of took that respect to get past the boy-band stigma. Hopefully, he’ll throw us a bone and do another ‘N Sync album or a song, because the rest of us loved it. It was our life – touring, making albums.”

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