Bowie brought colour to a monochrome world. Without him, all would have remained painted black for me, in counterpoint to my rival's white. Splitting our idol's hues into two; dividing them one apiece. Like they were all that existed in the rainbow prism of a fabulous spectrum.
I wore red for Bowie. I wore feathers, leather, mascara and kohl. I wore whatever I Goddamned liked, because he made it possible for all men to do so without sacrificing one iota of masculinity. Whether we traced it back to source or not, it was Bowie who took male beauty into a cosmetic artform and gave us the glitz and glamour previously only available to ladies.
If he could do that in working men's clubs, I could do it in the Mafia. He made Metrosexual sexy. He made self-pride alright. He made it so no-one could say a blasted thing about it and not seem silly in the saying.
All this while gay men were still being beaten by police in raids on shady bars. All of this out in the open, where conversations could be had over dinner-tables watching Bowie on TV. All giving courage to countless legions of gay and bisexual individual, and those who saw gender in its glorious fluidity, and those who simply didn't care a damn.
As writer Mark Simpson - 'daddy' of the Metrosexual - put it back in 1994, “(David Bowie) gaily refused to conform to 'masculine' expectations and provocatively appropriated ‘feminine’ styles, fashions, cosmetics and sensualities – anything that would make him look and feel fabulous, and piss off 1970s dads. He understood perfectly that the world was an increasingly visual culture and sired the New Romantics, who went on to invent the 21st Century.
“The glamorous seeds he sowed back in the Seventies have borne strange and wonderful bisensual fruit, enjoyed by everyone, regardless of gender or orientation.”
There is no 'feminine' anymore. No 'masculine'; no 'androgyny'; no 'unisex'; not after Bowie. There is just us and what we will be. Each of us with the potential to be heroes, rebels, leper messiahs or stardust, but mostly the potential to be whatever we want to be. He blurred boundaries until there were none, only that which we set ourselves. He normalised the weird; domiciled aliens; made diversity the new normal.
Moreover, Bowie taught generations since that it's ok to reinvent yourself, and reinvention does not have to mean losing one atom of that self.
You may know me as Mello, 'the best dresser who died like a dog'. But it was a Diamond Dog, with a fabulous wardrobe made possible by the prior bravery of Bowie. We can be heroes, he told us, and we were.
RIP the legend that was David Bowie (1947-2016)
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