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The Passing of David Bowie: Hero Worship, Brutal Honesty, and Dichotomous Thinking
I was shocked like countless others were when I heard the news. Right after the release of his new album, and my purchase and partaking of its artistry, American and British rock icon David Bowie was dead.
As I learn more details about the orchestration of this final release, it seems as if it were an extremely poignant gift left to the masses, especially his fans. Cognizant of his impending demise from cancer, Bowie set out to write, sing, and produce one last album, arguably the best of his career, and leave clues that, in retrospect, became haunting foreshadowing to what was to come.
Barely giving anyone enough time to mourn, the truthers came out.
Bowie was a pedophile.
Bowie raped a thirteen-year-old girl.
Bowie engaged in some questionable performance art, some of which included Nazi imagery.
There’s every indication that these charges are true. White supremacy, hypermasculinity, and violent heteropatriarchy reign supreme in the microcosm that is rock and roll. After all, it hasn’t been long since Mackenzie Phillips admitted to her decades long “affair” with her own father. As much as I admire Marilyn Manson i.e. Brian Hugh Warner, claims are out there that his bassist, Jeordie White (aka Twiggy Ramirez) raped a woman. And then there’s the glaring truth that cannot be overlooked: my number one idol, Michael Jackson, was not once, but twice (and posthumously another two times) accused of child molestation.
Yet I know, from extensive research, that the FBI cleared Michael of guilt of the charges, as did the twelve jurors in that San Barbara County courtroom on June 13, 2005. I know that there is a long history of deceit, corruption, and abuse at the hands of Evan Chandler, the first accuser’s father, and Thomas Sneddon, the chief prosecutor of each case (and I waste no tears of the passing of each). I know that in 2005, Wade Robson, one of the posthumous accusers, testified under oath in court that nothing happened to him, only to suddenly change his mind while the Jackson family had AEG, the concert promoter attempting to stage the ill-fated This Is It comeback shows, in court for negligence (whom he was under contract with at the time). As a matter of fact, in 2013, when Wade first made his claims, Taj Jackson, one of the nephews of the King of Pop, admitted freely on his Twitter account that he had been molested as a child, but was still standing by his family member and demanded Wade to stop lying.
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In light of the Cosby fiasco, and David Bowie’s death, I might seem to be too soft on these men who allegedly committed heinous crimes. The difference is that I accept and acknowledge Bowie’s guilt as freely as I do Michael’s innocence.
I loved Bowie as an artist and an icon. He was a role model for me, and most of the LGBTQ community, in helping to find ourselves and flaunt it. Like Freddie Mercury, another late great, Bowie inspired us to come out, be loud, and be proud. He was openly bisexual and genderpunk in a world and culture that insisted the average person be none of these things. He took something eccentric and made it cool and, dare I say, acceptable. He allowed for the blossoming of not only artists to come, such as Marilyn Manson and Lady Gaga, but for regular queer folk struggling to find their place in the world and some peace in their minds, hearts, and souls.
I was one of these gender confused, sexually non-conformist young people who looked up to him for inspiration. That I will continue to do, even in light of his death and some of the harsh realities of his life.
What we, as part of a group of people who strive to accomplish equality and minimize disadvantage, oppression, and harm on the basis of the kyriarchy, need to realize, is that these two standpoints don’t have to be at odds with each other.
I wrote about it like this: death and abuse are both painful facts of life. If you are in pain seeing he admiration and popular canonization of a figure you know is just as much a rapist as the one who victimized you, you are entitled to your pain and anger and it is valid. If, however, you are in pain seeing someone you love being dragged through the mud on the very day of their death, your pain and anger are also valid.
It is possible to co-exist, despite what the two factions would tell you on the often-divisive sphere of social media. If I am someone with a mental health condition and a history of trauma who is trying to cope with the death of another celebrity that made my life richer and helped guide the way on my quest towards identity, and seeing posts that remind me that he was human, and as such, was capable of horrible things, I should be able to speak out on my pain. I should not attack others, nor should I deserve being attacked in kind. If I am a sexual abuse or rape survivor who feels hate towards seeing a rapist being exalted, I should have free rein to speak out on my feelings. I should not attack others, nor should I deserve being attacked. The first person is not a rape apologist unless they deny the charges; likewise, the second person is not bringing others down unless their words become biting and personal.
Life is made up of nuance. Discourse is made up of level-headedness and an avoidance of doing harm onto others who share opposing views. Self-care is best for all.
I’m someone who will be celebrating the life of someone who meant a great deal to my development and who will continue to inspire me as I continue to hone my persona and style. That in of itself is not an attempt to silence survivors; you are free to speak your minds. But the minute someone says that my mourning is reflective of being against them and their journey and rather siding with a sadistic, predatory person, I will not remain as calm and civil.
We can keep things clean and carefree so long as we remember things like that.