Thursday, September 29, 2022

Tevin Campbell on Why He Initially Kept His Sexuality Secret: ‘You Just Couldn’t Be [Gay] Back Then’ | Podcast

Tevin Campbell
Tevin Campbell

*Tevin Campbell has continued to shed more light on his sexuality in a way he would not have dared to do in the ’90s when he ruled the airwaves. In an interview with the PEOPLE Everyday podcast, the R&B singer reflected on his life and career and the image he was forced to adopt as a teenager to survive in the music industry.

Campbell, 45, now says the image he portrayed back then was far from reality.

“I don’t think the sex symbol thing worked, but the love songs last,” he said about the packaging of his successful debut album “T.E.V.I.N.” in 1991 and “I’m Ready in 1993. “I had no idea at the time, like when I was 15 or 16 recording [‘Can We Talk’], that it would have that impact,” he added. “I was just a kid singing in the studio.”

He explains that as a child, he didn’t care about his sexuality; it didn’t matter to him whether he concealed it or not because he just wanted to be himself.

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“I didn’t hide anything about me,” he added. “I didn’t try to act a certain way or anything. You just couldn’t be [gay] back then.”

One reason he would not dare go public about his sexuality in those days was due to the fact that young Black girls were his significant audience, and letting them know he was gay would negatively affect sales and destroy his music career. At the same time, he had become the girls’ fantasy, thanks to the role he played (fictitious teen idol and crush of Ashley Banks) on an episode of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

However, his closest friends knew the truth.

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He also recalls when he finally opened up to his friends and family.

“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,” he narrated.

Campbell says performing in the Broadway musical “Hairspray” in 2004 helped him come to terms with himself.

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

For years, speculation about Tevin’s sexual orientation went back and forth. But the matter was laid to rest early this year when he responded “Tevin is…” to a Twitter user’s question about celebrities rumored to be gay.

Campbell’s short, telling response was accompanied by rainbow emoji, further revealing his status.

“It was a casual thing for me. I love my fans, but what they think about my sexuality is of no importance to me,” he later explained, referring to his response to the tweet.

You can listen to the full podcast, below.

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