Tevin Jermod Campbell is an American R&B singer and songwriter. At a very young age, the vocalist was racking up hit records under the mentorship of Quincy Jones, Baby Face, Prince, and Al B. Sure. After many years of speculation the singer has finally decided to invite the world into his truth, and according to the singer it feels so damn good!
I love being me it feels so damn good— Tevin Campbell (@tevincampbelll) August 18, 2022
Campbell got his start in the church choir, where he was initially discovered. The Waxahachie, Texas native gained a reputation for his powerhouse vocals and was signed to Warner Bros. Records when he was only 12 years old. From there, Tevin scored his first hit record with “Tell Me What You Want Me to Do,” followed by “Alone With You.”
His sophomore project pushed him even further into the stratosphere and featured his signature record, “Can We Talk.” Tevin then voiced the character Powerline in the Disney film A Goofy Movie and appeared in Prince’s Purple Rain sequel Graffiti Bridge.
In the decades since, Campbell has faded from the spotlight a bit. Social media has helped create renewed interest in his music and vocals, thanks to viral challenges based on his biggest hits. Even more intriguing to fans are lingering questions of Campbell’s sexuality.
The bubbly young singer was questioned early on thanks to his effeminate image and bold hairstyle choices. For Tevin, this was somewhat intentional, as he recently revealed that he was never hiding as a child. “I didn’t hide anything about me. I didn’t try to act a certain way or anything. You just couldn’t be [gay] back then.” Campbell was telling the truth, as being queer was career suicide for just about any artist in the early ’90s, especially a young black R&B star.
Campbell recently discussed his journey with the PEOPLE Every Day podcast and opened up about the moments he felt the freest. This included a stint on Broadway in the musical Hairspray back in 2005. He played Seaweed J. Stubbs and said the experience gave him a level of freedom he had never had before. “Being around people who were like me, LGBTQ+ people that were living normal lives and had partners. I had never seen that” he recalled. “That was a great time in my life.”
Campbell is not the only powerhouse vocalist who had to hide their sexuality. Billy Porter famously played up a straight image during his ’90s R&B star era, something he quickly shook in hopes of living a life more authentic and liberating. Billy is now a pillar of queer culture and has used his platform to uplift many others, starring in groundbreaking shows like Pose and originating queer roles on Broadway. Unfortunately, not many others had that type of luck. Artists like Luther Vandross and Teddy Pendergrass went to their graves, hiding their sexuality.
These days things are different, and Tevin Campbell has been blessed to see young black queer artists like Lil Nas X and Frank Ocean be embraced and achieve success being themselves. Avery Wilson, who many hail as this generation’s Tevin Campbell, also took the leap and came out last year with great support from fans. Singers like Keiynan Lonsdale, Cam Anthony (winner of The Voice), and many others are living out loud and proud as queer R&B vocalists. “It wasn’t like that in the ’90s, but I’m glad I get to see it. I’m glad that’s changing,” Tevin 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.”
Tevin attempted to come out earlier this year, Tweeting “Tevin is…” followed by the rainbow flag emoji in the Spring. He later deleted it but said he is not living in shame and fully embraces his identity as a gay man. This was a far cry from his energy towards the topic in 2018 when he stated that he could not understand people’s “obsession with his sexuality.”
Another, much more worst rumor was that Tevin Campbell had engaged in a sexual relationship with mentor Quincy Jones when he was underage. He silenced these rumors quickly and swiftly in 2018, Tweeting,”‘Tevin was molested by Quincy’…GTFOH with the devil.”
Speaking of Quincy Jones, he famously outed some male celebrities who also died concealing their sexuality. During a Vulture interview in 2018, Jones revealed that legendary actor Marlon Brando had sexual relationships with several other Hollywood men. “Brando would [sleep with] anything. Anything! He’d [sleep with] a mailbox. James Baldwin. Richard Pryor. Marvin Gaye.”
Luckily for Campbell, he is able to tell his own story and has done so in his own time. Check out his full interview below.