Freddie Mercury And The Evolution Of Sexuality
More than just a singer in a rock band
“I want to break free
I want to break free
I want to break free from your lies
You’re so self-satisfied, I don’t need you
I’ve got to break free
God knows, God knows I want to break free”
These are the starting lines of one of the greatest hits by the legendary rock band, Queen, performed by the iconic vocalist, Farrokh Bulsara aka Freddie Mercury. The song has gone onto become not only a cult-classic but also an anthem for the LGBT community.
The video has the band singing along dressed in women’s clothes. Originally said to be a parody of the show Coronation Street, it wasn’t received well and led to it being banned in many parts of the United States. This was also said to be a confirmation of the fact that Freddie Mercury, in fact, was not a straight man.
And that was it.
Although never really opening up about his sexuality, Mercury had no qualms in doing away with conventional ideas of masculinity and stereotypes, with the band’s concerts being filled with him strutting around in skin-tight clothing, mostly androgynous and flamboyant performances.
In one of his interviews, when asked about his sexuality, he replied, “I’m as a gay as a daffodil, my dear.” This statement, although humorous at best, came at a time when the LGBT community still had a lot of progress to make. This man, who was in a rock band, a genre associated with “hardcore masculinity”, opened up a discussion about sexuality.
From cross-dressing to wearing clothes on stage that were strictly restricted to “gay” males, Freddie, with his statements and stage performances opened up discussions about sexualities. Some would go as far as to say that he brought the LGBT community into the spotlight; gave them the visibility they were striving for.
He never officially came out and justified his sexuality. Freddie Mercury was just was; and that was enough. Although, his life was short-lived, there is no forgetting him as an artist and as the community puts it, “an icon for the gays.”
There is still a whole lot of discussion about whether Mercury was gay or not. In the biography, ‘Somebody to Love: The Life, Death and Legacy of Freddie Mercury’, authors Matt Richards and Mark Langthorne talk about Mercury’s relationships with men as well as women. Mercury was in a long-term relationship with Mary Austin but was also involved with a lot of men during his time with Austin. When he came out to Austin as bisexual, Austin reportedly replied, “No Freddie, you’re gay.”
Even in the community, he has been labeled as a flamboyant, gay man. Although a huge step for the queer community to have their identity acknowledged by the vocalist of one of the biggest bands in the world, one can’t help but wonder about the possibilities of him being bisexual.
Its 2018 now and Freddie Mercury is still as relevant when it comes to the queer community, yet his bisexuality is never talked enough. We have pride marches and people from the community fighting for basic rights; and yet there is still rampant bi-erasure and bi-phobia existing within the community itself.
Freddie’s relationships with men led him to be labeled as gay by the entirety of the world, blatantly ignoring his other relationships with women, especially when he was in a long-term relationship with a woman. Mary Austin had been left with nearly his entire estate and his ashes to be distributed in secret, yet no one talks about that.
It’s no surprise that bisexuality is still a concept that is constantly in the fringes without being in the spotlight. And when it comes to Freddie Mercury, it’s completely erased.
Brian May, the guitarist for Queen, once told the Daily Express, “I knew a lot of his girlfriends, and he certainly didn’t have boyfriends in those days, that’s for sure. I think there was a slight suspicion but it never occurred to me that he was gay.”
Hardcore fans of the band till now believe that Freddie was gay because even though, he was a strictly private person, his involvement with men and women alike was a public affair. The sole basis of the belief stems from Mercury’s relationships with men and his flamboyant and androgynous style of clothing, which at that time was a gay stereotype.
“As a person who is bisexual and a huge Queen fan, it is sad to see such a big part of his identity being disregarded and completely ignored. We live in a time where it is still problematic to come out as a member of the LGBTQ community but even within the community, it feels difficult to be accepted as someone who is attracted to either gender. The disregard of Freddie’s identity as bisexual is a step backward for people who identify as the same and as the LGBT community as a whole, which strives for equality and recognition”, says a fan who wishes to stay anonymous.
This holds true for a lot of fans who identify as bisexual and look at Freddie as more than just a legendary singer of an iconic rock band. The disregard of Freddie’s bisexuality, even in the current times, says a lot about the erasure and the biphobia that is still going strong in the community as well as all over the world.
To quote Austin, “Anyone who portrays Fred as purely a gay story is missing a lot of the point.”
It will be interesting to see how much of Freddie Mercury’s bisexuality or lack thereof is explored in the upcoming biopic, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, the trailer of which was released on May 15 of this month, The title of the movie is based off one of the most iconic songs by the band, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. The song is cited to be his “coming out” song to the world.