I woke up this morning to heartbreaking news. David Bowie, that absolute icon of, well, you name it, passed away after an eighteen month battle with cancer. While there will be plenty of remembrances that focus on his immense contribution to entertainment, I wanted to take a moment to talk about a couple of other reasons he was always something of a hero to me.
You may not know it to look at me (well, seeing as how my avatar isn’t a picture of the real me) and you may not know it by my actions (because I’m not the most mature person around) but I’m a bit of an old gal. And growing up before the loveliness of the Internet, and never having been overly social or outgoing to begin with, I didn’t know much of the world back in the day. But I knew who David Bowie was. He was that singer guy with the weird eyes and constantly changing look. I loved his music, of course, and I loved his acting performances, but one of the things that struck a chord with me most was finding out that he had admitted to being bisexual. At that particular time in my life, I was still trying to figure out my own orientation and being the naive kid that I was, I didn’t have a word for it. I didn’t even know at the time that it was possible to be attracted to people as opposed to a gender. But learning about David Bowie’s sexual fluidity made me feel like so much less of the freak that I thought I was, and I felt a little less alone in the world because of it.
The other reason I loved him even more was his marriage to Iman, who I still firmly believe to be one of the most beautiful women in the world. I grew up in a time and place where interracial relationships weren’t exactly celebrated, and for the longest time, I never felt comfortable admitting my attraction to people of different races because that kind of thing just wasn’t done very often in my neck of the woods. That kind of thing was pretty much guaranteed to invite ridicule and judgment. But much like the bisexual thing, seeing this white guy marry a black woman made me feel a lot better about my own attractions. I was able to start believing that it really was possible to look past gender and race and all of those other things that don’t matter, no matter what other people had to say about it.
So while I will join everyone else in fondly recalling his music and his movies, what I will always cherish the most about David Bowie is that he was a huge part of the reason why I was able to start embracing myself. And that’s a pretty big damn deal.
R.I.P. Mr. Bowie. ❤