I trust the gentle perspicacious blog reader realizes I am juxtaposing pretty much the impossible, given James Dean died in 1955 when David Bowie was all of 8 years old. When I was in university I begged two good friends to teach me the guitar riff for the Bowie song “rebel rebel” and I played that over and over again. It is pretty much the only thing I ever learned how to play on the guitar. Took piano lessons growing up for a decade for what it is worth though. Anyways the other day when running I was contrasting, pondering the sexuality, sexual identity of these 2 famous men. I never understood why James Dean was considered such a tough guy because physically he was hardly imposing and in his 3 major roles he expresses a lot of vulnerability for a male, which was unusual in that day and age. To me his acting and looks presage a type of male character we did not see until decades later. That kind of androgynous, in touch with my feminine side, not really a threat to women type that is more the currency of Hollywood today in 2013 than in the early 1950s when Dean acted. He was rumoured to have had a fling with Brando. Who knows. Well, at least I do not know.
He did famously state he was Not going to go through life with one hand tied behind his back. Which as a digression, got me thinking about some fascist decades after the Vietnam war kvetched that no longer in the future would America fight wars with “one hand tied behind their back.” Well, that is sure good to know. Am certain the millions of dead Vietnamese civilians killed from the carpet bombing under Tricky Dick Nixon appreciate that new and improved war fighting spirit! I’ll refrain from going into a rant about Shock and Awe, war as a video game.
Wiki on Dean:
Today, Dean is often considered an icon because of his “experimental” take on life, which included his ambivalent sexuality.
There have been several claims and assertions that Dean has had sexual relationships with both men and women.
When questioned about his orientation, he is reported to have said,
“No, I am not a homosexual.
But, I’m also not going to go through life with one hand tied behind my back. “
With James Dean, there’s a feeling of the Montgomery Clift effect going on all over again. The average bear out there thinks “died young, women crazy about him, end of story”. Some are quick to seize on his same sex activity and have their Archimedes in the ancient bath tub moment and exclaim “Aha! he is a homosexual” and just about nobody bothers to connect the dots and say “perhaps he was bi?” There is something about being bi, that is almost like the philosophical construct of ‘proving a negative’. Help!
And you do not have to take a course in logic, to know how hard that is. (Actually I did take a course in logic in Belgium and it was hard!)
Back to Bowie. He was decades ahead of his time in terms of sexual identity. He almost admits that it was all a big con job, his gay-bi attitude, a case of “trickeration” as boxing promoter Don King would say. Bowie = Great musician but you felt the sexual labels were being sold like some consumer product.
below is a boring corporate hetero looking Bowie with his wife Iman (married 1992)
He was a contrarian coming out as gay-bi then renouncing it as a ploy. O Lord spare us! Maybe I should sacrifice a chicken to Aphrodite, the goddess of Love to help us here! As the Great Alfred Kinsey taught us (but we resist that lesson for the most part) our human sexuality is fluid over a lifetime. Perhaps that was the case with Bowie and I should cut him some slack but I won’t. Too late. However I am more apt to put it down to living in a wild era, tons of sex fueled by drugs-alcohol and his stone cold sober assessment of how to generate buzz, hype, pub. It just feels like a big sham. But this was one of the few prominent, mainstream people when I was growing up, anyone could point to in the public eye as being bisexual. Is it any wonder I told myself, “well I am not that”. Normally I would insert a photo to illustrate the point, but why shorten my lifespan and yours? I have no desire to revisit the excesses of the 1970s glam rock period.
below: came across this and like colours. The “eat me” jar is so wonderfully rich in similes, metaphors. Their was an essay accompanying the image on bi visibility, the monosexual problem, etc. which was good.
I as a teen growing up had the opportunity for sexual play, experimentation, fooling around, with both sexes and I liked it. It was consensual, fun, enjoyable and did not seem like a big deal. However once an adult I did not know what to do with that knowledge about myself. There was no way to channel it in a productive, approved way. I never felt, thought I was gay because I was so attracted to women. Actually upon coming out, that was a tricky issue for a couple of people because I used to carry on ad infinitum it seemed about the latest woman I was in love with (or at least lusted after).
Guess I am fired up on the bi visibility, bi erasure, role model issue because I can see so clearly now (in 2013 at age 53) how dramatically helpful it would have been say in 1983 to come out as bi. I was back then, only I did not know it.
It is so ironic that the one and almost only Bi figure of my youth (Bowie) is not actually bi. and was presented as a freak.
James Dean, legend and iconic figure is bi and nobody knows it. That aspect is rubbed out of history.
2 potential snippets: f
“I’m bi, just like James Dean” or
” Your bisexual just like that weirdo David Bowie?”