Andreja Pejic. Annie Lennox. Tilda Swinton. David Bowie. These were the four people I saw when I typed in “androgynous” to Google.de. Mind you, this was back in 2010-2011 while in Germany, and Europe’s fashion definitely leans more towards androgyny than do American styles. The latter two in particular were basically the entirety of the search results, with Ms. Pejic cropping up here and there with people exclaiming at the fact that she was known as Andrej, and a man, at the time.
I did another Google image search, this time in 2016 and in the US. David Bowie was on the sixth line of results. Tilda Swinton came up a few times. The rest were either famously queer people like Ruby Rose, Emma Watson with short hair, Casey Legler, and — for some strange reason — Justin Bieber (oh, how our standards have fallen).
We’ve come a long way since I first set my eyes on Ziggy Stardust, a.k.a. Bowie, and I can still remember my complete confusion to realize they were one and the same. I was struck by a few thoughts, most notable being:
Why can’t I look that fabulous in red boots?
I want that hair. I need that shirt. He can keep the crotch.
THIS. All of this. ALL THE MAGIC CRYSTALS, LEATHER, AND GLITTER.
Dear lords above, I must watch this “Labyrinth” thing.
(And I did watch Labyrinth within the past two months. It was wonderful, angsty, slightly creepy, full of muppety goodness, and oh so glittery. And I loved it.)
David Bowie represented to me what at that point I could only dream of: a world free of gender restrictions, and a colorful celebration of human uniqueness.
I woke up on this my first day back to providing therapy since mid-December, and I saw that he had passed away shortly after his sixty-ninth birthday. Since dropping my hormone dose it’s been only slightly easier to get me to cry, and I’ll admit I’m getting sniffly just writing this, just seeing the pictures that so inspired me almost six years ago. People have told me constantly today, “I thought he was supposed to be immortal! He wasn’t supposed to die!”
But people do leave us, for various reasons and machinations unknowable to the ones left behind. And absence isn’t inherently wrong, nor is death truly the end of all things. As my mentor, Albus Dumbledore, noted,
Thank you, David Bowie. Thank you Ziggy Stardust. Thank you for all that you represented, and will continue to represent forevermore. Your words strike me as poignant, especially now: “Everything that you wanted, I have done. I have turned the world upside down, and I have done it all for you!”