Ending months of media speculation about the nature of his close relationship with openly gay former The Amazing Race 4 co-winner Reichen Burke and years of public denials that he was gay, former 'N Sync member Lance Bass has "revealed" that he's gay and in a relationship with the 32-year-old reality star formerly known as Reichen Lehmkuhl.

Bass, who "came out" of the closet in an exclusive cover story interview in People magazine's upcoming July 28 issue, says he and Burke are in a "very stable" relationship and concern for how his disclosure would impact 'N Sync's popularity was behind his decision to remain in the closet.

"I knew that I was in this popular band and I had four other guys' careers in my hand, and I knew that if I ever acted on it or even said (that I was gay), it would overpower everything," the 27-year-old Bass told People. "I didn't know: Could that be the end of ’N Sync? So I had that weight on me of like, ‘Wow, if I ever let anyone know, it's bad.' So I just never did."

"I'm not ashamed -- that’s the one thing I want to say," Bass explained. "I don't think it's wrong, I'm not devastated going through this. I'm more liberated and happy than I've been my whole life. I'm just happy."

According to Bass, the fact that his increasingly public relationship with Burke was prompting more and more media outlets to openly speculate about Bass' sexual orientation and the pair's relationship was behind his decision to finally go public. "The main reason I wanted to speak my mind was that (the rumors) really were starting to affect my daily life," he told the magazine. "Now it feels 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."

Earlier this month, The New York Post's Page Six gossip column had reported that Bass and Burke had been spotted at Atlantic House, a gay bar in the extremely gay-friendly Cape Cod town of Provincetown, Massachusetts. After the report, The Washington Blade, a decades-old gay and lesbian newspaper, and other media outlets went further, reporting that Bass and Burke had spent the Fourth Of July holiday attending numerous prominent gay Provincetown parties and noting that online gossip Perez Hilton had previously published photos that appeared to show that the couple -- who had been spotted together several times but were still insisting they were only platonic friends -- had begun wearing each others clothing.

"If privacy is what Lance wants, that's something that's easy to have,"Kevin Naff, the Blade's managing editor, told ABC News. "But if you're Lance Bass, and you're going to the gayest town on the gayest day of the year and going to gay parties, you have to expect something."

Burke, who has blamed the pressure that came with having to keep the fact that he and "Married Couple" partner Chip Arndt had won The Amazing Race's fourth edition a secret until the show's finale aired for the breakup of his "marriage" to Arndt, legally changed his surname to Burke a couple of years ago. According to Burke -- whose full legal name is now Reichen Allen Lehmkuhl Burke -- he changed his name "because it's tough going through daily life with a name that no one can pronounce or spell." Burke was the maiden names of both his paternal grandmother and his maternal great-grandmother.

According to Arndt, who last year told The Miami Herald that had not seen Burke since March 2004 and is now living in Miami Beach, the pressures that accompanied the couple's $1,000,000 The Amazing Race victory had nothing to do with the end of their less than two-year "marriage" (the couple were "married under God" in a February 2, 2002 ceremony at the Hotel Bel Air in Los Angeles, less than a year before The Amazing Race 4 was filmed.)

"It's all bullshit," Arndt told the Herald about Burke's allegations. "So Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, George Bush the sitting president -- you don't think they have more pressure than Ellen DeGeneres? It's what you decide. The strength of your character... Not to disparage Reichen -- I love him dearly and he's a very close friend -- but please!"

Late Wednesday, Arndt, the current president of Miami’s Democratic Lesbian & Gay Caucus, released a written statement offering his congratulations to Burke and Bass. "Lance’s example for his countless fans and those who don't know him personally is another major step forward on the road to full equality for LGBT people," said Arndt. "I wish him and Reichen the very best."