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R&B singer Tevin Campbell, known for hits including "Can We Talk" and "I'm Ready," has confirmed that he is gay.
Campbell discussed his identity on an episode of the People Every Day podcast that dropped Thursday. The performer, now 45, had been out to his family and friends since he was 19 or 20, but he didn't go public until this year. He hinted at his sexuality earlier in the year by writing "Tevin is" with a rainbow emoji on Twitter. "It was a casual thing for me," he said on the podcast, which is affiliated with People magazine.
After coming out to his loved ones and stepping away from his recording career in the late 1990s, "I went on the road of discovering myself," he said. "I didn't know who I was."
A stint on Broadway helped him figure that out. He joined the cast of Hairspray in 2004 and stayed six years. "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."
When he was at the height of his music fame in the early 1990s, it wasn't a good time to be gay in R&B, he said. Now Black queer performers like Frank Ocean and Lil Nas X have opened doors.
"I'm glad that's changing," he said. "There are 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." He was so young when he had his first hits, he noted, he considered himself a child star.
He doesn't care what fans think about him being gay, he said, and he's happy with what he's accomplished in his life. "You know, there are a lot of child stars that don't make it," he said. "But a lot of us do ... and the fact that I've embraced me."
He is now working on new music, and he received the R&B Icon award at the Black Music Honors ceremony in May.