How David Bowie Brought Gender Fluidity to the Masses
Wherever he is right now, we know it just got a lot less boring. The passing of David Bowie is not just the passing of a great musician, but the passing of someone who first introduced gender fluidity to the masses. Whether he was Ziggy Stardust or the Goblin King or the man who fell to earth, Bowie expressed concepts and ideas that did not conform to prescribed gender binaries or roles. His appearance and attitude were neither strictly male nor female, but instead were a combination, portraying both masculine and feminine traits.
Although Bowie had been on the music scene’s radar since the 60’s, it wasn’t until 1972 when he became the sensation known as Ziggy Stardust. His first appearance was at a pub in London, “the owner of the pub Toby Jug recalls to History, “I couldn’t blink for fear of missing something—nothing would ever be the same again.”
Ziggy wasn’t formed over night however. Bowie had spent those previous years struggling to find himself and make ends meet, all the while though, Ziggy was developing under the surface through his encounters with dancers, mimes, theatre actors and fashion designers. Bowie said he truly got his break when, “somebody did come along and grab me by the empty wallet and said, I’m Tony Defries and I’m going to make you a star,” reports OpenCulture.
Not long after was that fateful night in London. He became this sexually explorative and experimental alien that was meant to create commentary on gender and sexual orientation. In a time where sex and sexuality were not talked about and gender roles were very much in place, Bowie presented himself as highly sexual and as androgynous… and everyone loved him for it. He made concepts that were typically outcasted and rejected into concepts that were cool and sought after. The NY Times reports that British rock journalist, Paul Trynka said that back then Bowie was, ‘”dangerous, a warning to lock up not only your daughters but also your sons.”
This new fluid idea of gender would forever change and influence gender roles, sexuality, gender identity and the LGBT community. Editor of G2, Dylan Jones tells BBC, “He was a dangerous figure on British TV at a point when television didn’t do danger. 41 years ago, it was an extraordinary experience. It didn’t immediately fill me with gay longings – though with some people it did. But nothing was quite the same afterwards.” He was the first public figure that was openly bisexual and androgynous at the same time; he showed people it was okay to be who they were.
An icon and revolutionary in many fields, David Bowie has not only changed the face of music forever, but has influenced our culture to be more accepting and tolerant of difference and uniqueness.