Black Music Honors 2019

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R&B star Tevin Campbell is ready to open up about his true self.

He’s had his entire career in the public eye after rising to fame for crooning the Babyface-written hit “Can We Talk?” but it turns out he’s really showing who he truly is now by coming out as a gay man.

In a recent interview on the PEOPLE Every Day podcast, he spoke about his sexuality and what led him to be content in his identity. While the news has only been confirmed to the public now, Campbell confided in his family as a young adult about his personal journey.

“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,” says Campbell. “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 …  and the fact that I’ve embraced me.”

That journey of self-discovery continued when he took on the role of Seaweed J. Stubbs in the Broadway show Hairspray back in 2005, which further opened his eyes to the LGBTQIA+ community.

“That was a change in my life. That was a great time in my life. I grew up a lot,” said Campbell on the podcast. “LGBTQ+ people that were living normal lives, that had partners, I had never seen that. That was pleasing to me. And they were great people!”

Campbell went on to praise the culture’s current stars for being comfortable in their own skin and sharing their sexuality with their fans, naming Lil Nas X and Frank Ocean.

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

Fans had often speculated about his sexuality, with the rumors beginning after he was arrested in 1999 for soliciting a lewd act from an undercover policeman. Again earlier this year, when he quoted tweeted (and deleted) a post that read, “My mom keeps telling me Luther Vandross, Teddy Pendergrass, and Tevin Campbell were gay,” and added the words “Tevin is…” followed by a rainbow flag.

Listen to Campbell’s entire interview on the podcast above.