NKOTB’s Jonathan Knight Says He Was Told Not To Date Or His Career Would Be ‘Over’: ‘So Much Pressure’
Jonathan Knight reflects on how he felt immense “pressure” to stay in the closet when he was at the peak of his New Kids On The Block celebrity.
The singer, 54, opened up about his experiences as a young gay star on the Frosted tips with Lance Bass podcast, and said her manager told her that revealing her sexuality would negatively impact her career.
« SCS [Records] never [told me not to say anything, but] my manager did,” he recalled. “He pulled me aside and said, ‘If anyone finds out, then your career is over, New Kids’ career is over… Sony is going to lose money. It was just so much pressure and looking back, it’s a lot of pressure to put on someone who is just trying to figure out the world on their own.”
Knight rose to fame in the late 1980s as a member of the Boston band, which also includes his younger brother Jordan, Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg and Danny Wood.
Before the group split in 1994 – they have since reunited – Knight told Bass that he rarely meets people on the road and remembers being “so scared…like someone saw him?”
“My manager knew I was gay and he would always have another gay kid around, so I met a few of them,” he explained.
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Ethan Miller/Getty Jonathan Knight
Knight said keeping his sexuality a secret made him prone to anxiety – but it all came to light in 2009, when he was exposed by a former boyfriend who sold pictures of the couple to the National applicant.
The star said that at the time he dated his bandmates, but not the rest of the world. He had recently started dating Harley Rodriguez, who he has since married.
“I did not want [come out]. I was just living my life. My siblings didn’t say ‘Hey mom and dad, we’re straight’. It wasn’t something I was hiding,” he said. “I mean, I was with Harley. We kissed in public and that was it. And then it was like, no, you have to make a statement, you have to publicly clear the air.”
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Vinnie Zuffante/Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Jonathan Knight in 1990
Knight said the public release process was “awful” and he saw Bass’ journey as a plan – but not necessarily one he wanted to follow. The former *NSYNC star is out on the cover of PEOPLE in 2006.
“I watched what you did, Lance, and I actually think in my coming out statement, I was like, ‘I didn’t know I had to be on the cover of a magazine,'” did he declare.
Still, Knight said he appreciates how the industry is more accepting of gay stars, and now people who accept awards will often thank their loved ones “and no one flinches.”
Knight and Rodriguez got engaged in 2016, and he revealed in August that they’ve since been married.
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