Justin Timberlake and wife Jessica Biel accepted the Inspiration Award at the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) Respect awards on Friday night, and the singer took the stage to talk about when a childhood friend came out to him.
"Growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, I was called all types of things, just for being creative," the 34-year-old told the crowd. "I ended up on this 'small television show' called The Disney Channel’s New MMC [Mickey Mouse Club]...I was 10 years old and all of a sudden, I was around a group of young people that were like me, that were different."
"I’ll never forget, a very good friend of mine -- still, to this day -- he’s an amazing songwriter and producer, his name is Matt Morris," Timberlake recalled. "I was obsessed with his voice, he had one of the most amazing voices. I actually learned how to riff, because I would follow him around."
"He was 14 years old and I was 12 years old, we were riding our bikes in Orlando, Florida," the singer continued, "and he said, 'Hey man, I have something that I have to tell you.' And I said, 'Yeah, I know.' And he said, 'No, it’s very important to me.' And I said, 'Yeah, I know.' And he said 'Okay, I’m just gonna say it...I’m gay.' To which I said, ‘Yeah, I know.'"
Morris was surprised by Timberlake’s acknowledgement and acceptance, the singer told the crowd, but for him, the news didn’t come as a shock. (Morris, 36, has released music on Timberlake’s Tennman Records and the two were on The Mickey Mouse Club together.)
"I said 'Matt, you make us breakfast in your own tortilla pan with a headband on while you’re wearing a mud mask every morning.'" he recalled with a laugh. "I said, 'You know what, I love you for that.'"
Timberlake and Biel, who married in October 2012 and welcomed son Silas Randall in April, thanked GLSEN for "a quarter century of inspiring positive change" and their continued support of LGBT youth.
"These young people here tonight, we’re just blown away, the two of us," Timberlake added. "Thank you so much."