We couldn’t do a series like this without him. Day 23 celebrates the life of David Bowie (1947 – 2016)
As a musician, actor and fashion icon, David Bowie constantly reinvented himself, developing challenging music and alter egos regularly throughout his career. His musical success began with Space Oddity in 1969 and continued up until the release of the album Blackstar just a few days before he died in January 2016.
A beloved, much-admired icon, for sure – but what puts him on our list for this month?
Bowie could be seen as something of an LGBT enigma. As with his overall performance persona, his sexual identity is a story of layers. In 1972 he declared himself gay. In 1976 he said he was actually bisexual. And years later, he explained that, in fact, he had always been a ‘closet heterosexual’, and suggested that his G and B identifications had been simply a product of the time and of his cultural environment.
This is perhaps a good illustration of the fact that people can have many aspects and elements to their identities, and regardless of how Bowie truly saw himself, his artistic work has had an enormous positive influence on the LGBT community. His alternates and stage characters were sexually ambiguous, gender-fluid, and unashamed to be who they were. These were themes he developed extensively in his portrayals of the Thin White Duke and Ziggy Stardust.
His presentation of ‘Otherness’ as something to be embraced challenged assumptions and broke down barriers, and inspired many people who found his messages relevant to their own struggles. Musicians including Boy George, the Pet Shop Boys and Scissor Sisters have all acknowledged owing much to Bowie’s work, both personally and professionally.
As an actor, Bowie is probably best known for his portrayal of Jareth, the Goblin King, in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth (1986). He wrote five songs for the movie, including Magic Dance (and wore those tights…) . He also appeared in 1983 vampire fantasy The Hunger, 1976 sci-fi drama The Man Who Fell To Earth in 1973, and the 2006 mystery The Prestige.
You can explore his website here: http://www.davidbowie.com/ and read his obituary here http://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/jan/11/obituary-david-bowie