One hour ago I found out that David Bowie died.
I frantically searched for the etching I made of him in high school art class and the sketch I did of him to illustrate this post but with a sinking heart I remember that most of the relics of my youth have washed away in flood and burned up in fires. I wanted to show how much he meant to me in pictures.
I’m 14 years old in this picture and wanted to BE Bowie. He gave me the courage not to hide myself. While my hair was derivative, it was merely the diving board into my own style interests and predilections. I don’t know when the first time I heard Bowie was, I know my parents liked him and listened to him before I noticed him. When I was 13 I went on a trip to California from Ashland Oregon with my mom and the first thing she did when we got to Mill Valley was stop by Village Music to pick up the new David Bowie album “Let’s Dance” and she told me she thought I should check out the new tv station “MTV” to see his video because she thought I would really love his music.
Nothing I’m saying here means shit. I don’t think there’s a way I can sum up how much David Bowie’s music and integrity and vulnerability has meant to me. I can tell you that for years the first song I always played in every new apartment was “5 Years” because that officially made a place home to me. I can tell you that Young Americans got me through a terribly dissociative summer alive, not a small miracle. My friend Jessica was the other person who got me through my 15th summer. But then I entered into a nervous breakdown in earnest and the one anchor to all the auditory hallucinations and cutting and numbness, the one voice that kept me strapped to my commitment to the truth, to art, to voice, and to carrying the torch of life on earth, was Bowie.
(Anyone else bothered by the missing buttons besides me?)
David Bowie was part of my primal scream. He was there with me when I found myself in pieces. He was there with me when I discovered the power of words in the maelstrom of madness. He was there with me when the mental dust settled. I knew people like me had worth because Bowie showed us that otherlies could see into and beyond light and shadows through to truth, should we take up the challenge.
This is a retrospective, bitches, so of course you’ve seen these pictures before if you know me AT ALL.
I know androgyny was in me without Bowie to show me the way, but Bowie gave me courage to express the side of my sexuality and my identity that I might not have had the courage to express without his example.
“let the children lose it, let the children use it”
That wool suit was sly. It taught me that gender is more complicated than clothes. It taught me that humans are so much more fluid than gender assignation leads us to believe. It taught me that girls come last no matter what they wear, that we can’t win because to men we will always be virgin or whore and it has nothing to do with what we actually do with our vaginas. Wear a fucking suit and men feel emasculated. Wear nothing and men feel powerful if they think you have no power of your own, otherwise they feel emasculated.
Bowie gave me the courage to be an unapologetically evolving human being. He taught me to be fluid, changeable, honest, and fearless.
I cried tonight when I found out Bowie died. I don’t cry easily or often. I honestly didn’t expect to cry tonight. I know that living 69 years and cramming a shit-ton of genius art into it is a life excessively well-packed and well-lived, and yet I feel such desolation knowing Bowie’s left this planet. Us otherlies are more otherly than we’ve been in a long time without him.
If we don’t take up the chalice of otherliness we all lose. Even the normals lose, because without us they have no context. Bowie was the patron saint of otherliness.
I know we won’t let his torch drop into obscurity.
Everyone ignite your torches of peace tonight.
Spread love all the way into the fringe of light, nay, all the way deep into darkness where corpses rot and you still have the power to heal them.
Give light, give love, give transformation.
Bowie was poet, musician, painter, lover, addict, genius, artist, actor, and father.
He was the best of all of us.
He was the best of me.