Backstreet Boys’ AJ McLean Embraces Authenticity with New Name “Alexander James”

McLean of Backstreet Boys now goes by Alexander James, embracing authenticity and self-discovery

AJ McLean. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE)
AJ McLean. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE)

In a heartfelt move towards authenticity, AJ McLean of the Backstreet Boys has decided to embrace his full name, Alexander James.

The singer, who is currently on tour with *NSYNC’s Joey Fatone, revealed his decision during an appearance on Lance Bass’ podcast, “Frosted Tips with Lance Bass.”

During the podcast episode, which also featured actor Brian Austin Green, Lance Bass introduced the topic by noting McLean’s preference to be called Alex instead of AJ.

McLean elaborated on this shift, explaining that AJ has become a persona, a character that represents his role as one-fifth of the Backstreet Boys. He shared that this change is part of a broader journey towards self-discovery and authenticity.

McLean’s decision to step away from his AJ persona is rooted in a personal journey that took place last summer.

He spent ten weeks at The Meadows, an intensive outpatient program, to address not just his sobriety but also to tackle deeper issues and past traumas. The experience taught him valuable lessons about boundaries and authenticity. 

“I’ve now kind of learned [AJ] is a persona, is a character if you will,” McLean said. “But Alexander James is me being my true, authentic self.”

The Backstreet Boys, Brian Littrell, Nick Carter, AJ McLean, Howie Dorough and Kevin Richardson in 1995. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, TIM RONEY/GETTY IMAGES)
The Backstreet Boys, Brian Littrell, Nick Carter, AJ McLean, Howie Dorough and Kevin Richardson in 1995. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, TIM RONEY/GETTY IMAGES)

During his time at The Meadows, McLean found inspiration in the work of author Brené Brown, particularly her concept of “braving.” He was so moved by her teachings that he got the acronym tattooed on his arm.

“Braving” stands for boundaries, reliability, accountability, fault, integrity, non-judgment, and gratitude—principles that have become central to his new outlook on life.

McLean has also shown a deep understanding and support for personal choices within his family. Last year, he spoke about his daughter’s decision to change her name from Ava to Elliott.

Initially, he wondered if it was related to a gender transition, but he soon learned it was simply a personal choice. 

“When my daughter asked to change her name to Elliott, initially, I didn’t know if it was a transgender thing, which it is not, but it is a personal choice,” McLean told PEOPLE.

“And it is her body, it’s her name, it’s her everything. And she’s still Ava. She’ll always be Ava to me. But at the same time, whatever reasoning it is, that’s hers, and I’m going to support it a million percent, my wife will [too].”

This embrace of personal authenticity extends to his professional life as well. McLean is currently co-headlining a tour with Joey Fatone from *NSYNC, blending the musical worlds of two iconic boy bands.

AJ McLean and Joey Fatone on tour. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, JEREMYCHANPHOTOGRAPHY/GETTY)
AJ McLean and Joey Fatone on tour. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, JEREMYCHANPHOTOGRAPHY/GETTY)

The tour promises to take fans on a nostalgic journey through the music of *NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, and other hits from the era.

“I’ve known AJ as long as I’ve known my own band members,” Fatone shared in a press release announcing the tour.

“We’ve worked together in the past on one-off projects here and there but never had the opportunity to create something together. This tour gives us the chance to combine the best of both musical worlds.”

This tour is a testament to McLean’s enduring passion for music and performance, even as he navigates a new chapter in his personal life.

By choosing to be known as Alexander James, he is stepping into his true self, shedding the layers of a persona that has defined him for decades.

McLean’s journey towards authenticity and self-discovery is a powerful reminder of the importance of being true to oneself.

His decision to embrace his full name reflects a broader commitment to living with integrity and embracing the full spectrum of his identity.

As Alexander James, he continues to inspire fans with his music and his personal story, proving that it’s never too late to rediscover oneself and live authentically.

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