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David Bowie expertly claps back after Jonathan Ross awkwardly pushes him to define his sexuality

Josh Milton January 8, 2021
(L) David Bowie in a grey suit smiling. (R) Jonathan Ross in a black suit mid-speaking,

David Bowie (L) appearing on the Friday Night with Jonathan Ross show in 2002. (Screen captures via YouTube)

As the world reflects on the fifth anniversary of David Bowie’s death, he will undoubtedly be remembered as many things: A fiercely forward-thinker, an astronaut adrift in space and a metamorphosing misfit musician, among so much more.

Bowie throughout his life fought against those who sought to squeeze him into something that he was not.

So, when British TV presenter Jonathan Ross attempted to pressure him into discussing his sexuality, he, with class and sass, clapped back. Hard.

Jonathan Ross repeatedly tried to get David Bowie to define his sexuality. He failed

He appeared on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross show in 2002, and Ross quickly began to chat about the singer’s personal life.

Bowie was a lifeline for many LGBT+ people at the time. The godfather of glam-pop bent the ways people present gender with his androgynous persona, but as much as he freely experimented with fluidity in his music and fashion, he was frequently asked to confine his sexuality with a label.

As much as Bowie labelled himself “gay” in a 1972 interview, he later called this declaration “the biggest mistake I ever made”.

Enter Ross asking him whether he “minds” talking about his sexuality. “Sorry, why?” Bowie flippantly hit back.

“What’s the deal,” Ross begins, “you were gay for a while, then you were not gay, but were you bisexual, were you pansexual, were you try-sexual?

“Because I thought being gay was like being in the Foreign Legion – once you joined, I didn’t think you were allowed back.”

An agitated Bowie cracks shaky smiles and cool remarks as Ross tries to jigger open his dating life as he asks whether he has had relationships with men: “Not if I could help it,” Bowie, with his steely sarcasm, replied.

“I was incredibly promiscuous, and I think we’ll leave it at that,” he said, before adding: “Why would I go into [my dating history] when I could make a fortune by writing a book about it?”

When Ross clunkily asked him if he should try out “the man-love”, Bowie smoothly hit back: “Such a serious and life-challenging and changing question.

“The answer that I have for you would probably create such turmoil in your soul that I’m not sure you could actually withstand it or, in fact, last the rest of the show, so I’m quite happy politely and reluctantly not answer that question.”

More: bisexual, coming out, David Bowie, Gay, Jonathan Ross, Music, Sexuality, The Jonathan Ross Show, TV

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