I awoke this morning to the news that David Bowie had died. Like most of the world, I was gutted by this news, and have spent the rest of the day — while working, nonetheless — fighting back the release of tears that have been omnipresent behind my eyelids. Undoubtedly The Man of Many Personas left us too soon, but oh, what gifts he left us all, and the LGBTQ+ community specifically.
Like many children in the 1980s, my introduction to David Bowie came in the form of his performance as Jareth, the Goblin King, in the film “Labyrinth”. As a young boy, I found him both fascinating and disturbing; his presence onscreen was captivating, but sometimes he looked like he almost wanted to be a girl. My prepubescent binary brain had difficulty processing this dichotomy, but I knew, nevertheless, that I wanted to be as cool as the guy who ruled goblins, danced, sang, and was both terrifying and captivating. Thus began my appreciation for the greatest public gender bending the world has yet been gifted.
As I grew, I never lost my appreciation for David Bowie. His Ziggy Stardust persona became, while not an obsession, a curiosity. S/He was human alien mythic beast performance artist extraordinaire. Androgyny became a new word in my lexicon, but beyond that, I finally truly understood that men can be beautiful and women can be strong and sometimes that’s the same person. My teenage mind was blown.
David Bowie lived publicly the way many still fear to live; fighting the hetero-normative narrative not for glory or attention or to make a statement, but merely as himself, however shifting and dynamic and fluid that may be. His simplicity of complexity was ahead of his time while remaining the purest, oldest truth. Through his presence, we all learned, we all grew, and now in his passing we can all look up and notice that, indeed, the stars are different today.
In the end, while we grieve and mourn in our own ways, let us also appreciate the legacy Mr. David Bowie leaves behind. If not for him we would have no Lady Gaga, nor Tilda Swinton, encouraging us to forgo the binary and embrace fluidity. He gave us great films and great music, and the best way we can honor him is to do what he told us oh so long ago; just put on your red shoes and dance.
Stay SINful, friends.