Thank You David Bowie for Reminding Us It’s Okay to Be Weird
David Bowie was a complicated figure. Throughout his life he identified as gay, bi, and straight. We could endlessly speculate about his “true” sexual orientation, talk about fluidity, and speculate some more, but the fact of the matter is it doesn’t really matter. Regardless of how he was identifying, David Bowie challenged us to think about gender performance differently. He played with androgyny, gender stereotypes and expectations, and fantastic fashion. He talked about homosexuality and bisexuality when these topics were still relatively taboo, and it didn’t end his career or hurt his popularity. David Bowie showed us, and continues to show us, that it’s okay to be weird. You don’t have to conform or fit in.
It’s easy to forget that before glam rock there was still David Bowie. Even before the platform boots and glitter eye make up, he was playing with gender expectations and androgyny. Also check out these incredible pre-Ziggy images of David Bowie rocking a dress.
Then in 1972, he famously performed “Starman” on Top of the Pops and the world was forever changed. It may seem a bit tame by today’s standards, but Bowie’s incredible look and his one armed hug of guitarist Mick Ronson scandalized many viewers.
I’ve always admired that he looked like he was having fun with his clothes. Yes he was breaking the rules and shocking people, but there was a lot of joy and playfulness in that. He referenced so many different aesthetic styles and frequently brought them together in new and wonderful ways.
Even when he was having a demure day in the 70s and decided to don a men’s suit, he reminds me more of Marlene Dietrich than any male model.
Maybe it’s because they both have such incredible bone structure, perfect posture, and a whole lot of attitude. I’d like to think that he was paying homage to Marlene Dietrich, another incredible gender bender.
Talia Squires is the editor in chief for bi.org. Talia has a degree in German Literature from Bryn Mawr College and a Master's in Critical Studies from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. She's obsessed with good food, fantastic wine, and trashy television. She lives in LA with her husband and fluffy Lhasa Apso.