- The Who’s Pete Townshend said one of his songs was interpreted as a “coming out” by Playboy.
- Townshend discussed how his words were misunderstood.
- He later discussed his sexuality in his memoir.
The Who‘s Pete Townshend said one of his songs was misinterpreted as a coming out song even though it was not. He once said he did not consider himself to be bisexual, saying he just had a feminine side. Subsequently, Townshend discussed his sexuality in a very different light.
The Who’s Pete Townshend discussed the misunderstanding created by his solo song ‘Rough Boys’
The book Who Are You: The Life of Pete Townshend includes an excerpt from a Playboy interview from 1994. In it, Townshend discussed his solo song “Rough Boys” that appeared on his sophomore album Empty Glass from 1980.
“I did an interview about it, saying ‘Rough Boys’ was about being gay, and in the interview I also talked about my ‘gay life,’ which — I meant — was actually about the friends I’ve had who are gay,” he said. “So the interviewer kind of dotted the T’s and crossed the I’s and assumed that this was a coming out, which it wasn’t at all.”
The Who star discussed his feelings about bisexuality
Townshend discussed facing bigotry. “But I became an object of ridicule when it was picked up in England,” he recalled. “It was a big scandal, which is silly. If I were bisexual, it would be no big deal in the music industry.
“If I ran down a list of the men who have tried to get me into bed, I could bring down quite a few big names in the music business,” he said. “And no, I won’t do it.” He said he didn’t want to treat bisexuality like it was something shameful.
How Pete Townshend discussed his sexuality in more recent years
During a 2002 interview with Rolling Stone, Townshend was asked if he was bisexual. He said he was not; he simply had a feminine side. He viewed his creativity as feminine and compared his creative drive to a desire to give birth. Despite this, he said his femininity had nothing to do with his sexuality.
In his 2012 book Who I Am: A Memoir, Townshend portrayed himself in a very different light. He said he realized he was “probably bisexual” around the time The Who released “I Can See For Miles” in 1967. Townshend said he was uncomfortable with this aspect of himself and wished he had no shame. He said a 1990 article in the Orlando Sentinel described him as bisexual, which caused his Catholic cleaning lady to quit her job.
Townshend eventually described himself as “probably bisexual” regardless of whether his song “Rough Boys” counted as a “coming out” song or not.