Freddie Mercury & Bisexuality: Why 'Bohemian Rhapsody' Struggled To Tell the Rocker's True Story


In telling Freddie Mercury's genuine story, Bohemian Rhapsody had a tough process. The Queen singer was notoriously personal about many facets of his life, however one specific side has remained a focal point amongst followers even as we speak, practically 30 years after his passing: his sexuality.

During one emotionally fraught scene within the new biopic, Mercury (portrayed vividly by Rami Malek) cautiously appears to be like up at his fiancée and soon-to-be-friend Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton) and says, “I believe I’m bisexual.” His lover appears to be like down at him, virtually pityingly, and retorts. “No, Freddie. You’re homosexual.”

For many on the market, this specific second virtually rang too true to actual life. Bisexual individuals face the fact of bi-erasure on a near-daily foundation, being instructed that they’re both “too homosexual” or “not homosexual sufficient,” with little to no consideration paid to their precise sexual id. So it’s pure that many critics and Twitter customers would name Bohemian Rhapsody out for trying to erase Mercury’s bisexuality on this scene, particularly in a movie meant to have fun him.

But was it actually erased?

In the just about 10 years main as much as the discharge of Bohemian Rhapsody, followers of Queen and Mercury have all nervously waited to see how his story can be translated to the massive display screen. Many anxious that the famous person’s sexuality, which he refused to publicly establish throughout his lifetime, and his contraction of and demise by AIDS can be absent from the story offered to a wider viewers.

But telling the “actual” story of Freddie Mercury’s life is extra difficult than many are prepared to confess. The rock icon was extraordinarily secretive about his personal life, and wished his followers and the press to deal with his music. Since his tragic demise in 1991, fellow founding members Brian May and Roger Taylor have fiercely protected his privateness, typically declining to speak extensively concerning the frontman’s sexuality and AIDS prognosis in interviews.

Yet even with out being overtly bisexual, Mercury nonetheless laid declare to his queerness when performing. He by no means compromised his look, his music or his conduct to enchantment to a mainstream heteronormative viewers — in truth, he continually dared to problem their aggressive normality.

The movie itself has seen loads of drama surrounding the course by which its story can be taken. Actor Sacha Baron Cohen famously walked away from the position after clashing with May and Taylor, telling Howard Stern in 2016 that he wished to inform a “warts and all” story about Mercury’s life, whereas the band members appeared extra excited about “defending their legacy.” All of this isn't even to say the fixed artistic struggles that led to authentic director Bryan Singer's firing.

When the primary trailer for Bohemian Rhapsody was launched, followers flocked to social media to precise their outrage over what they perceived to be the queer erasure they had been half-expecting to see. And they had been appropriate of their evaluation — the preliminary trailer confirmed Mercury and Austin dancing and flirting, however confirmed completely no indication of any same-sex romance and even curiosity.

The closing product does, although, look at Mercury’s life by means of a practical, albeit considerably rose-tinted, lens. His battle together with his personal sexuality is explored at size all through the movie, together with complete sections devoted to his drug-fueled benders by means of homosexual golf equipment in Berlin, his advanced romance together with his supervisor Paul Prenter, his fixed love and admiration for Austin and his eventual AIDS prognosis.

So is Mercury’s bisexuality erased in that fateful scene with Mary Austin? No, it's made to be actual. The singer spent most of his life battling the general public, the press and even some in his private life about how he selected to establish himself. Many labeled him as homosexual, some denied his queerness, and only a few selected to validate his inherent bisexuality. It’s upsetting to look at on display screen as a result of actual life is usually extra bleak than fantasy.

That inner and exterior battle for self-realization is current in one other of the movie’s outstanding scenes, when a large press convention turns right into a public trial about Freddie’s private life. With reporters asking Mercury about his sexuality, his relationships, his drug habits and extra, he slowly begins to fall right into a dizzying haze the place he loses management.

Malek’s well-crafted portrayal of Mr. Fahrenheit is a credit score to the movie’s need to discover every side of the long-lasting singer’s persona. In the scenes the place Freddie is confronted together with his personal sexual demons, Malek manages to each unite and alienate the viewers of their sympathy and astonishment for the singer’s state of affairs.

All of this isn't to say that the movie handles every thing relating to Mercury’s queerness effectively. Bohemian Rhapsody’s method to these aforementioned benders in homosexual golf equipment and the singer’s eventual prognosis with AIDS are inaccurate at finest, and at worst, insulting to Mercury’s life and the LGBTQ neighborhood at giant.

For instance, after months of being coerced right into a sample of fixed intercourse and partying by his assistant and lover, the movie’s Freddie leaves him and receives his prognosis, virtually as if it had been a punishment. His discovery of AIDS rings true much less because the heartbreaking actuality for a queer man within the 1980s, and extra as a worth that he paid for what the movie deems his “unhealthy conduct.”

Rhapsody’s remedy of Paul Prenter additionally presents itself as problematic from early on within the movie. While Mercury’s former lover and assistant is usually thought-about a villain in actual life for outing the singer in a 1987 interview with British tabloid The Sun, the movie goes to nice lengths to make Prenter out to be the homosexual satan on Mercury’s shoulder, encouraging him at each flip to take pleasure in a stereotypically queer way of life solely to be later vilified for it.

With missteps in telling the story of Mercury’s sexual id, the movie deserves criticism for its portrayal of the rock icon’s life. But it must also be thought-about that had these moments been dealt with in a greater, extra correct manner, the movie probably would have nonetheless drawn criticism.

The chief drawback that Bohemian Rhapsody runs into all through its practically two and a half hour runtime is that it desires to be every thing to everybody. It goals to fulfill the followers of Queen who desire a behind-the-scenes have a look at the making of a few of their favourite songs. It goals to fulfill followers of Mercury, who wish to see the icon’s private life mirrored in an correct, all-encompassing mild. It goals to fulfill moviegoers who merely wish to see an entertaining movie a couple of rockstar.

The reality is that there probably is not any passable approach to painting Freddie Mercury’s life on the massive display screen, because it contained multitudes. Throughout his life, Mercury refused to be outlined by one specific side of himself and favored reinvention and alter over stasis. No matter how a lot we predict we all know concerning the famous person’s life, we'll all the time be left to marvel about some issues.

And perhaps that’s for the perfect. When all is alleged and accomplished, perhaps what makes Freddie Mercury one of the vital fascinating musicians of all time is that whereas his queerness can't be denied, it'll all the time be shrouded in his personal distinct mystique.