Tuesday, January 09, 2007

David Bowie made me bi

Oh dear, late again, with this blog as with life. It was David Bowie's 60th birthday yesterday. I spend a lot of time thinking about how I can post things that are, y'know, timely and here I go and miss one.

So, David Bowie made me bi. Well, no, obviously not. No one can form your sexuality just like that. And there were other significant people (Kate Millett etc) later on. But he was My First and let's just say he helped. A lot.
I don't remember how I first knew about DB - he was sort of there throughout my early adolescence. But I do remember the first time I really thought about him. In 1973, when I was 16, my then-boyfriend Martin gave me a copy of Aladdin Sane. It was like having a bucket of water thrown all over me, like nothing I had ever heard before. Then I discovered shortly after that Bowie had said he was bisexual (or gay, or something, exactly what was immaterial; he denies it now anyway) and you could see him cosying up to male musicians... Wow - my eyes were opened.

Time... it's waiting in the wings

Last night I was lying in bed listening to various Bowie tracks on my iPod and it wasn't bisexuality I was thinking about first and foremost, it was my youth. In particular, all the people I used to know and don't see any more. Martin - who came to hate me for being better educated than he was; Robin, a wonderful, funny man who died in 2005 and I don't know why; Jane, his dancer girlfriend who's now a signer for deaf people and has, apparently, "a lovely life"; Trevor, my Diamond Dogs-loving ex-boyfriend who became a born again Christian. Back when Bowie was king, we were all a seething mass of potential, waiting for our lives to start.
But I also thought about how downright impossible it was to be a suburban bi-girl in the 70s. Some of my male friends experimented sexually with each other - they told me so, it wasn't a secret, just something that would-be bohemian boys did - but when I told Trevor that I was attracted to girls he simply laughed and told me I was trying to make him jealous. I filed my own bisexuality away for the future, for the life I was going to have when I could get the hell out of there. When, at about 17, two of my female friends did kiss each other in public (at a girls-only event, interestingly), I thought they were simply trying to attract attention. They were both a bit outrageous anyway, but I was furious. I knew that I wouldn't be able to get away with that myself: I had a "bad reputation" - it didn't take much in those days - and I wanted people to carry on speaking to me. I had no inkling that those girls might have actually fancied each other, and I don't suppose they did, but as one of them later had a 12-year relationship with a woman no doubt I was being harsh.

The prettiest star

Going back to David Bowie again, it was mainly because of him that I started to connect bisexuality with creativity, with androgyny and glamour and excitement, with rejecting what I perceived to be the suburban values of everyone around me. I didn't see him in concert till 1983, so missed by more than 10 years the ├╝ber-bisexuality of Ziggy Stardust and those amazing clothes. Bowie looked great though. Still does.
And the music sounds as fantastic as ever.


Elsa Martinez said...

I was browsing Bowie blogs and came across yours! thanks for sharing and opening up - i find that is so therapeutic about having a blog myself (just started mine a couple months ago). I will keep reading yours - best of luck! u can check mine out too (I have the same green background - i am in love with that green - it's so zen and alive all at once!!) Ciao!

Ms Melancholy said...

Sue, a wonderful post. I got side-tracked, however, on the Kate Millet link which is an equally wonderful post. I too am fascinated with her life, her work and the criticism she has faced from both anti-feminist men and feminist women. For our generation lesbianism was so politicised (and that's not a criticism) that bi-sexual women had a double hurdle to jump: the derision of men and the judgement of our lesbian sisters. I suspect things are different for this generation of young women, but I agree that women discussing their sexuality seriously is still taboo.

Unknown said...

Wow, good experience to share with us. Your words do remind me recall the happiest time with my darlings i met one http://www.bimingle.com. They let me know i am a bi girl, and never be shy any more. Yes, I get some similiar feelings as you describe. My darlings are hot and also charming Anyway, i still love my life, and also will be in the future with them.