October is LGBT History Month and Equality Forum is honoring an icon a day all month long, including David Bowie, who was honored October 7, despite the fact that he would probably look askance at such a title.
David Bowie played with identity throughout his career, trying on different persona and presentations as regularly as he changed up his musical styles. This included his sexuality.
Bowie came out as gay in an interview with Melody Maker in 1972 with writer Michael Watts, saying, “I’m gay, and always have been, even when I was David Jones.” He was married to first wife Angie Barnett at the time. The article’s author, Michael Watts, suggests his coming out might be less than genuine.
“But there’s a sly jollity about how he says it, a secret smile at the corners of his mouth,” notes Watts. “He knows that in these times it’s permissible to act like a male tart, and that to shock and outrage, which pop has always striven to do throughout it’s history, is a ballsbreaking process. And if he’s not an outrage, he is, at the least, an amusement. The expression of his sexual ambivalence establishes a fascinating game: is he, or isn’t he? In a period of conflicting sexual identity he shrewdly exploits the confusion surrounding the male and female roles.”
“Let’s start with the one question you’ve always seemed to hedge: How much of your bisexuality is fact and how much is gimmick?” Playboy asked four years later.
“It’s true – I am a bisexual. But I can’t deny that I’ve used that fact very well. I suppose it’s the best thing that ever happened to me. Fun, too. We’ll talk all about it,” he answered.
But then in 1983, at the onset of the AIDS epidemic “playing queer” was no longer so much fun, it seems, as Bowie took the opportunity to come out as straight to Rolling Stone in an interview with Kurt Loder.