Was David Bowie actually bisexual or not? This TikTok has the answer

He was one of the most iconic recording artists of the 20th century, seamlessly transitioning from glam rock to pop to electronic in the blink of an eye. He was Ziggy Stardust, an epicene icon showing the world the pleasures of gender-f*ckery: he was the Thin White Duke, embodying the cocaine-and-disco-fuelled nights of the mid-70s. He was a man of many personae and even more eras than Taylor Swift. So it’s no wonder that when it comes to David Bowie’s sexuality, people are still somewhat puzzled.

But according to one creator, we don’t have to be. Although David Bowie was openly bisexual throughout his early career—and that openness inspired queer filmmaker Todd Haynes to create his glam rock masterpiece Velvet Goldmine partly as a reimagining of Bowie’s early years—many remember Bowie’s famous anecdote about being a “closeted heterosexual” from an interview where he appeared to walk back his queerness.

That’s not the whole story, though, as trans TikToker and Bowie fan Jamie Ortiz recently explained.


Replying to @Soup #greenscreen i just dont understand what people get out of this, like he’s said more often than not that he was bisexual can we just let the man rest please #davidbowie #bowietok #classicrock #70s #glamrock

♬ original sound – jamie ortiz

As Ortiz explains, Bowie came out to press in a 1972 interview, stating: “I’m gay and always have been, even when I was David Jones.” Ortiz goes on to say that in a 1976 Playboy interview, Bowie said “it’s no secret that I’m bisexual.” For the first decade of his career, the singer was quite open and honest about his sexual attraction to genders across the spectrum.

So what happened with that “closeted heterosexual” remark? As Ortiz explains, the interview where Bowie said that took place in 1983, during press for his album Let’s Dance.

“Now…what would make a queer man in the 80s closet himself again,” Ortiz asks. The answer is clear to anyone who knows any gay history: 1983 was the very beginning of the AIDS crisis. The HIV virus was first isolated and observed by scientists in February of that year.

Ortiz then excerpts an interview Bowie did in 2002 when he defined America (correctly) as a “very Puritanical place” and that he felt being openly queer “stood in the way” of what he wanted to achieve at a certain point. But when it came to discussing his sexuality at almost every other point in time, Bowie was open about his bisexuality. That 1983 interview that everyone remembers was in fact an isolated incident, and it might have had more to do with the stigma around gay men during the AIDS crisis than Bowie’s own desire for self-erasure.

In 1993, ten years after the “closeted heterosexual” interview, Bowie was again asked about his bisexuality by an interviewer who wondered whether it was a “publicity stunt.” Bowie’s answer was clear and concise. “What did I say in 1972,” he asks the interviewer. “You definitely said that you had sex with men,” the interviewer says.

“Well,” Bowie replies, “that was my answer.”

So there we have it. Bowie told the world he was bisexual, and kept on saying it, except for that one time when it was famously not a great time for queer men to be out of the closet (or in the closet, tbh.)

“Bisexual people constantly have to prove their bisexuality,” Ortiz explains, “and I’m sure [Bowie] felt the strain of that also.” As someone who’s studied Bowie deeply, Ortiz tells us that there are many interviews where Bowie is clearly sick of being asked the same questions and giving the same answer.

“If you say you are bisexual,” Ortiz says, “you are bisexual!”

I mean, yeah, exactly! Case closed! The burden of “proof” should never be on bisexual people, and we as a community have to get better at listening to people when they tell us who they are.

“He said he’s bi, leave him alone,” Ortiz says. And they’re absolutely right. David Bowie was a bisexual icon who not only starred in one of the most bisexual movies of all time, but constantly told people about his bisexuality. So let’s believe him, shall we?

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