Lance Bass is really proud of the LGBT youth in his home state of Mississippi.
But the one-time member of the boy band 'N Sync believes things could still be better for the youngsters growing up in a state where he could never imagine coming out as gay while he was growing up there.
In the new documentary, Mississippi: I Am, Bass opens up about how he felt as a closeted kid in his hometown of Laurel. The film focuses on the homophobia that exists in the state and includes the story of Constance McMillan whose high school canceled its prom rather than allow her to bring her girlfriend to it.
'To know that they still to this day, in 2012, young kids feel like the only gay kid in town, that's what I felt like 30 years ago,' Bass told Gay Star News during opening night of the Outfest Film Festival in Los Angeles where the film will screen on Saturday (14 July).
'Although we are changing, we need to speed up,' Bass said. 'That's why I wanted to do this film. I wanted to do something nice and something that the straight community could watch and maybe look at it and be like, 'Oh wow, I didn't really realize that and maybe I need to start changing the way I think.'
The film highlights several young people whose loyalty to their red home state inspires them to be visible leaders in hopes of creating change and making life in Mississippi better for all LGBT people.
'A lot of the kids were from my hometown,' said Bass. 'I love these kids so much who are in the film. They inspire me. They really are such great heroes that anyone can relate to and look up to.'
So far, reaction to the film, directed by Katherine Linton and Harriet Hirshorn, has been strong.
'I could not be more happy,' Bass said. 'The reaction we have been getting has just been overwhelming. When you sit with a project for two years, you really start to think, 'Oh, does anybody really want to see this?' But once people started watching it, I was just floored by the reaction. People were cheering in the middle of it, crying and laughing and I felt like, 'Wow, we actually did something kind of moving.'