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Poet Kae Tempest announces they’re changing their name and pronouns: ‘I’ve loved Kate, but I’m beginning a process’

Josh Milton August 6, 2020
Kae Tempest. (Jim Dyson/Getty Images)

Kae Tempest. (Jim Dyson/Getty Images)

Kae Tempest – poet, rapper, author and all multi-genre talent – revealed Thursday afternoon (August 5) that they have changed their name and pronouns in a heartfelt message to fans.

The author and rapper, known for their work that examines the steely agonises of the modern world, took to their social media to share a photograph of themselves as well as explain the background of their new name.

“Hello, old fans, new fans and passers-by – I’m changing my name!” they wrote in a statement.

“And I’m changing my pronouns. From Kate to Kae. From she/her to they/them.”

They added: “I’ve been struggling to accept myself as I am for a long time. I have tried to be what I thought others wanted me to be so as not to risk rejection.

“This hiding from myself has led to all kinds of difficulties in my life. And this is a first step towards knowing and respecting myself better.

“I’ve loved Kate. But I am beginning a process and I hope you’ll come with me.”

Kae, they explained, is an old English word that means jaybird. A creature associated with “communication, curiosity, adaptation to new situations and courage,” they wrote.

Tempest added that “this is a time of great reckoning”.

“I want to live with integrity. And this is a step towards that.”

Countless literary authors, LGBT+ fans and organisations rushed to praise Tempest for re-introducing themselves to the world. 

Kae Tempest: ‘It took me a long time to be able to stand with my own queerness’.

Tempest, 34, barreled into the front ranks of London’s vivid performing arts scenes in their late 20s. With their unmistakable South London accent, their music, such as Everybody Dawn, tapped into both the quiet beauty and gritty silences of London living.

Kae Tempest performs live on stage during the third day of the BBC Radio 6 Music Festival in 2020. (Jim Dyson/Getty Images)
Kae Tempest performs live on stage during the third day of the BBC Radio 6 Music Festival in 2020. (Jim Dyson/Getty Images)

Indeed, in a single year, they won the Ted Hughes Award for innovation in poetry, was nominated for a Mercury in music and was named one of the nation’s 20 Next Generation Poets.

In an interview with Notion in 2019, they discussed their queer identity: “It took me a long time to be able to stand with my own queerness and where I sit on the gender spectrum.

“That journey, for me, has been a challenging journey,” they said, “to be able to just stand on stage and just be in my presence, and in my body, and the fact that I’m even there at all — that’s powerful for somebody in the audience going through their own journey with their sexuality or gender.”

More: Kae Tempest, London, Music, pronouns

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