NKOTB's Jonathan Knight on Being Outed and How 'The Amazing Race' Helped His Anxiety
By Meredith B. Kile
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For years, Jonathan Knight performed in front of thousands of screaming girls as a member of popular boy band New Kids on the Block, but the pop star was hiding a huge secret.
"I think it's so funny, there was an article in a magazine and I was reading the comments and there's still so many people who were like, 'Wow I didn’t know he was gay,'" Jonathan tells ET. "It's just like, relax people, we're no different than anybody else."
Knight says he never hid his sexuality, but was pressured to keep quiet to maintain the boy band’s heartthrob image. In fact, no one talked publicly about Knight’s sexuality until singer Tiffany outed him on Bravo's Watch What Happens Live.
"What he must have went through back in the day being in a boy band, if there was a peep of him being gay, who knows [what would have happened]?" Jonathan’s brother and fellow NKOTB member Jordan Knight tells ET. "It might have shut down the group or been in tabloids. Now, it’s a plus, it’s a bonus. It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing."
Jonathan remembers the intense amount pressure he was under to keep his sexuality a secret.
"I was a young kid in the New Kids and I had CBS, my manager, all these people telling me 'You can't let anyone know you're gay. If you let the world know you’re gay, you're gonna ruin your career, you're gonna ruin your manager’s career, CBS is going to lose money on record sales.' It was just so much on my shoulders as a young kid."
It was this scrutiny that led Jonathan to struggle with stage fright and panic attacks, one of the reasons that he was eager to sign up for the latest season of The Amazing Race with his partner Harley Rodriguez.
"That was one of the main reasons I did it," Jonathan reveals. "Just to prove to myself I could do it. Being in a group with five guys, it was always easy for me to fall behind or not speak up at interviews."
Rodriguez can see the change in his partner since he came out and took on the reality show challenge.
"They just had a show a couple weeks ago and he was on stage just talking to the audience," Rodriguez gushes. "I looked at my friend like, 'Who is that guy up on stage?' I’'m like, this is a new guy. So, it really has helped him."
"It's good, I'm happy," Jonathan agrees. "It's too bad that it happened at the age of 46."