Monday, January 30, 2012

40 Years Ago This Month: David Bowie Announces "I'm gay"

Why let being married and having a son get in the way of making a big splash?

In an interview for the January 22, 1972 issue of Melody Maker David Bowie told interviewer Michael Watts "I'm gay and always have been."

David's present image is to come on like a swishy queen, a gorgeously effeminate boy. He's as camp as a row of tents, with his limp hand and trolling vocabulary. "I'm gay," he says, "and always have been, even when I was David Jones." But there's a sly jollity about how he says it, a secret smile at the corners of his mouth. He knows that in these times it's permissible to act like a male tart, and that to shock and outrage, which pop has always striven to do throughout it's history, is a ballsbreaking process. And if he's not an outrage, he is, at the least, an amusement. The expression of his sexual ambivalence establishes a fascinating game: is he, or isn't he?
-Michael Watts, Melody Maker

If the gesture was meant to shock Bowie's waning career back to life, it worked. The press had a feeding frenzy and kids raced into the store to buy Hunky Dory. "Changes" hit the Billboard charts in the US and "Starman", released in April of '72, would go Top 10 in the UK. That summer Bowie would release Ziggy Stardust, a UK Top 5 album that still sits near the top of critics' lists of best all-time rock albums. And in September he'd release "John, I'm Only Dancing", a single with such homosexual overtones it was judged too risque for release in America.

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