“I’m gay,” declared David Bowie on January 22, 1972, interview

In 1972, David Bowie ‘came out’ as gay during an interview in the British music weekly Melody Maker.

“I’m gay,” declared David Bowie on January 22, 1972, interview

“I’m gay,” declared David Bowie, “and always have been, even when I was David Jones,” Bowie spoke these now-immortal words in the Jan. 22, 1972, issue of England’s Melody Maker. The fledgling starman had just released December 1971’s “Hunky Dory” and already was giving his interviewer a taste of his glam-rock milestone, June 1972’s “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars”. He wasn’t the first to come out that was U.K. pop singer Dusty Springfield in 1970, but he did it while newly married to Angie Bowie, and months after fathering future film ­director Duncan Jones. But he would lead the way in contextualizing pop through LGBT identity. The Hunky Dory song “Queen Bitch” is sung in gay vernacular (“She’s so swishy in her satin and tat!”) from the perspective of a participant in gay life and set to buzzing guitar chords clearly taken from The Velvet Underground, which earlier chronicled this gender-mutable world through its ties to Andy Warhol, who had a Hunky Dory tune written about him too. The British Parliament had only decriminalized homosexuality in 1967; post-­Stonewall U.S. gay life was not yet 3 years old. Bowie used his outsider stance not simply to be breathtaking but to also built bridges. In 1992 Bowie married Iman, a Somali-American, fashion model, actress, and entrepreneur. Bowie let heterosexual men and women know they didn’t have to conform to sexual norms and that would be cool too.

By Ken Warren, 2017/18

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