By Erin Caine
Bi-Visibility Day, also known as Celebrate Bisexuality Day, was established in 1999 by bisexual rights activists Wendy Curry, Michael Page, and Gigi Raven Wilbur in order to combat their lack of recognition both inside and outside of the LGBTQ community.
The day, Sept. 23 (Wilbur’s Birthday), recognizes and celebrates the contributions of bisexual activists and celebrities. It gives bisexuals a platform to speak about their concerns. In honor of this day, here’s a list of some of the most iconic bisexual musical artists of all time:
1. Freddie Mercury. Mercury’s four-octave range, songwriting genius, and dazzling stage persona helped induct him posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. Born in what is now Tanzania to Parsi parents, Mercury spent most of his childhood in India, where he began taking piano lessons. In 1964, his family relocated to an area near London, and, six years later, Mercury (along with Brian May and Roger Taylor) formed the band Queen. The legendary vocalist was involved in long-term relationships with both men and women, though he tended to keep his personal life somewhat private.
2. Billie Holiday. The illustrious Lady Day had a long and successful career that spanned nearly 30 years, despite her lack of formal musical education and her incredibly painful and turbulent childhood. The beginning of her musical career was as an undiscovered talent in Harlem nightclubs, though she managed to impress producer John Hammond and was signed to Brunswick Records in 1935. Born Eleanora Fagan, she took her professional name from an actress she admired, Billie Dove, and from musician Clarence Holiday, who was likely her father. She played a sold-out show at Carnegie Hall in 1948.
3. Janis Joplin. Though she died at the age of 27, Joplin and her distinctive, soulful voice left a lasting impression on the world. The charismatic singer was born in Texas in 1943 and was influenced at an early age by blues artists such as Bessie Smith and Lead Belly. She rose to fame at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and released her first major recording, “Cheap Thrills,” a year later. The album went on to top the Billboard 200 album chart. Her 1971 album “Pearl” was the most successful of her career and went four times platinum. In 1995, she was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
4. Lou Reed. Reed’s musical career lasted for over half a century, beginning with The Velvet Underground’s formation in 1964. The Brooklyn-born artist’s solo career lasted from 1973 until his death in 2013. In 1961, he hosted a late-night radio program, where he was exposed to the jazz musicians who would later influence his guitar techniques. Three years later, he was an in-house songwriter in New York for Pickwick Records, and it was during that time that he met two of his future bandmates, John Cale and Sterling Morrison. The Velvet Underground is considered today to be one of the most influential bands of all time.