Music's greatest gay icon: Elton John or David Bowie? | The Tylt

Music's greatest gay icon: Elton John or David Bowie?

Elton John and David Bowie both became gay icons in the '70s for their elaborate styles and outfits. Elton John came out as bisexual in the '70s before coming out as gay in the '80s, paving the way for other musicians to be open about their sexuality. Bowie, a "closet heterosexual," defied gender norms with his androgynous style and alter ego Ziggy Stardust. Who is music's greatest gay icon? 🎤

FINAL RESULTS
Entertainment
Music's greatest gay icon: Elton John or David Bowie?
A festive crown for the winner
#LoveElton
#LoveBowie
Dataviz
Real-time Voting
Music's greatest gay icon: Elton John or David Bowie?
#LoveElton
#LoveBowie

For the past several decades—LGBTQ and women music artists have openly declared their "true colors,” supported gay rights, empowered LGBTQ communities, and gave the gurls some of the most iconic gay anthems of all time. There is no better way to celebrate Pride Month than to honor the popular music artists who have influenced LGBTQ movements by ultimately picking which of them is the greatest gay music icon of all time.

In our first round, it's Judy Garland versus Liza Minnelli, Diana Ross versus Donna Summer, Elton John versus David Bowie, Cher versus Cyndi Lauper, Freddie Mercury versus George Michael, K.D. Lang versus Melissa Etheridge, RuPaul versus Madonna and Janet Jackson versus Lady Gaga. Who's the greatest gay icon?

Don't forget to cast your vote for the rest our “greatest gay icon" debates below!

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#LoveElton

Elton John is revered as a pioneering gay musician. He's regarded as one of the greatest piano men of all time and one of the most iconic artists ever. On top of his elaborate stage costumes, John was arguably most daring with his anthem "Elton's Song," detailing a young gay boy's crush on another boy. 

Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield wrote about "Elton's Song":

An overlooked one-off from 1981's The Fox, when Elton was still fumbling through the darkest, most confused period of his career. It's a quiet piano ballad about growing up gay. The lyrics come from the out-and-proud British punk rocker Tom Robinson, who had a hit of his own with "Glad to be Gay." The payoff is the tender moment at the end when Elton sings, "I would give my life/For a single night beside you." Maybe he scared himself with how emotional he could be – it was years before he tried anything this revealing again. –RS

Below are some notable lyrics to the gem, per Genius.

🎶Staring all alone and your grace and style. Cut me to the bone with your razor blade smile. I watched you playing pool. It's all around the school that I love you. I love your gypsy hair and dark brown eyes. Always unprepared for your pointed replies. Cynical and lean, I lie awake and dream about you.🎶

Watch the music video below. 

#LoveBowie

David Bowie became an androgynous icon with his alter ego Ziggy Stardust. The character was conceptualized on Bowie's album "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust." Bowie openly defied gender norms with his alter ego, despite identifying as "closet heterosexual.” Regardless of his sexuality, Bowie inspired generations of androgynous celebrities. Slate's Christina Cauterucci wrote:

And he never stopped evolving. As soon as someone pinned Bowie to a limiting category, he changed. He was gay, then bisexual, then a “closet heterosexual.” He claimed the sexual power of spangled Lycra, androgynous formalwear, and hypermasculine leather jackets at once, exposing the performative nature of gender by inhabiting conflicting norms. The man who gave us our most cherished eyeliner and body-glitter goals also gave us the most compelling codpiece in all of children’s cinema.
Today, Bowie’s androgynous legacy finds new footing in gender-bending celebrities like Jaden Smith, who models womenswear for Louis Vuitton and wore a skirt to prom with bisexual actress Amandla Stenberg. But men still have much less leeway than women to experiment in the blurry interstitial spaces of sexuality and gender. "Bowie's shameless androgyny helped women express their masculine strength without losing their feminine glamour and sensuality," Gucci designer Frida Giannini has said. His ability to do the reverse—helping men express their feminine glamour and strength without losing their masculine sensuality—was a precious gift the world desperately needed.

While "Boys Keep Swinging" celebrated boyhood, it also defied and challenged masculinity. In the video, Bowie dresses in drag and poked fun at the society's expectations with being masculine. Hence, the song—like many others from Bowie–has been adopted as a gay anthem.

Below are some notable lyrics to "Boys Keep Swinging," per Genius

🎶When you're a boy, you can wear a uniform. When you're a boy, other boys check you out. You get a girl, these are your favorite things. When you're a boy.🎶
🎶Boys, boys. Boys keep swinging. Boys always work it out.🎶

Watch the daring music video to "Boys Keep Swinging" below.

FINAL RESULTS
Entertainment
Music's greatest gay icon: Elton John or David Bowie?
A festive crown for the winner
#LoveElton
#LoveBowie