A brief conversation with Winslow keyboardist Curtis Tate about coming out, growing up and giving back.
Interview by Christopher Clevenger
I’d been sitting in Starbucks for nearly two hours, preparing for an interview with Curtis Tate, keyboardist for local band Winslow, and waiting for a table to open up upstairs. He eventually calls me to say he’s waiting in line, and he’ll be up soon to meet me.
At first glance, Curtis looks more like a freshman than a guy who is 26 — he seems shy, nervous even, yet he greets me with a smile and confidence as he introduces himself. In just minutes, he is opening up to me about one of the most personal experiences he’s had.
We start off discussing what it was like when he realized he was gay. Tate recalls how he first started to realize he was different when entering puberty. He saw that while his friends were starting to like girls, he really didn’t. He was more attracted to guys.
From a religious aspect, this scared him. Raised mostly by his grandparents, Curtis was very involved religiously. Not only was he involved in the church, but also in a number of youth and school groups. Being gay really didn’t seem like an option for him. Religion was a big part of his life and remains so today. But as a young leader, “there was a certain appearance, a certain quality” he needed to maintain.
In high school, Curtis went through stages of acceptance. At one point, he was convinced he was bisexual. Later, he realized he was gay. Coming out was a tough decision for him. He says he had been “going through that whole struggling phase,” and the last year of this phase was probably the point at which he was deliberating back and forth.
“This all happened after high school. It did start to happen before I went to college … I got out of the what’s popularly known as the ‘bi now, gay later’ plan. It was at that point, during that summer, that I told my best friend. She was the first person I told. She was really great. I told my mom at that point, too.”
Curtis later told his sister and some other friends, though there are still some family and friends who are unaware of his sexuality. He mentions his hometown, Franklin, Pa., and how it wasn’t as accepting as Kent. Being gay there was both looked down on and unheard of.
While he feels there will be some repercussions, Curtis says he is ready to open up to the rest of his family and friends and hopes this column can be a tool in that process. He says he’s trying to be involved in the LGBT community through his music. He’s played at benefits in Akron, and as far as the band goes, members of Winslow are fully aware of his sexual orientation, and they fully support him.
I spend just an hour with Curtis, but it’s obvious how unique he is. Though he is gay, it doesn’t define him as a person.
“I guess, as far as gay people go, they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. And I guess I’m just one of those. I love baseball. I do most of my own car repairs. I speak in a rich baritone. Music is my life, and I happen to be gay.”
Christopher Clevenger is a freshman electronic media management major.
(This article originally appeared in the Winter 2009-10 print edition.)