R&B icon Tevin Campbell casually comes as gay: ‘I didn’t try to hide anything about me’

An image of Tevin Campbell wearing a suit at the annual Black Music Honours

R&B icon Tevin Campbell has come out as gay in a heartfelt discussion about his life and career.

The “Can We Talk” singer-songwriter talked about coming to terms with his sexuality during an episode of the People Every Day podcast on Thursday (17 August).

He said he had found it difficult to embrace himself in the heteronormative 90s, saying: “You just couldn’t be [gay] back then.”

Campbell told podcast host Janine Rubenstein that his introspection grew after he stepped away from his music after his 1996 album Back to the World, which didn’t perform as well as he had hoped despite its positive critical reception.

“When I came out to my family and friends [at] about 19 or 20, that was it for me. And then I went on the road of discovering myself. I didn’t know who I was,” Campbell continued.

He then cited his 2004 Broadway tour of Hairspray as one of the fundamental pillars in discovering his truth.

“Being around people who were like me, LGBTQ+ people that were living normal lives and had partners. I had never seen that,” he said. “That was a great time in my life.”

Tevin Campbell attends the 7th Annual Black Music Honors on May 19, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Tevin Campbell attends the 7th Annual Black Music Honours on May 19, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Paras Griffin/Getty)

Tevin Campbell’s keeping his sexuality to himself wasn’t so much out of guilt or fear, but was part of an effort from the singer to keep his private life private.

Even publicly coming out felt about as unofficial as it gets for the “I’m Ready” artist, who said it had always been “a casual thing.”

“I didn’t hide anything about me. I didn’t try to act a certain way or anything,” he said. “I love my fans, but what they think about my sexuality is of no importance to me.”

Having met his talent manager Benny Medina at the young age of 12 and releasing his debut album T.E.V.I.N at age 15, Campbell has always considered himself a “former child star” because, in his own words, “That’s just what I am.”

“I had no idea at the time, like when I was 15 or 16 recording this song that it would have that impact. I was just a kid singing in the studio,” he said.

But he has never let that stardom interfere with his passion for making music, nor has it affected his own personal growth, saying: “What makes me happiest right now is how far I’ve come in life.

“You know, there are a lot of child stars that don’t make it. But a lot of us do,” he said, while also adding that he is content with “the fact that I’ve embraced me.”

When asked about his thoughts on how the music industry has progressed to embrace queer Black stars like Frank Ocean and Lil Nas X, Campbell said that seeing so much representation is really important, especially in today’s political climate.

“It wasn’t like that in the 90s. I’m glad I get to see it. I’m glad that’s changing,” he said.

“There a lot of kids, especially young Black boys that need to see representation. They’re not being taught to love themselves because of who they are.”

 

 

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