“Freddie was white, he wasn’t Indian.” “He was straight, stop making everything gay.”
Freddie Mercury was the queer person of color that I needed growing up. Why does representation matter? Because Farrokh Bulsara, Mercury’s birth name was not only Parsi, he was also #bisexual.
Like any person of color with a strong ethnic name, Mercury decided to go by his English nickname and created a new surname for himself. In “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the biopic released last month about Mercury’s life, his dad feels that Freddie has rejected his heritage assimilated when he changes his name, illustrating the generational divide that so many young people experience.
Bohemian Rhapsody not only cast Rami Malek, a person of color as Freddy Mercury, but also acknowledged that Mercury was bi, which was a momentous step in cinema as Hollywood finds it hard to say the word “bisexual” on screen.
Mercury and Mary Austin had sat down on the couch knowing their romantic relationship was coming to an end. Coming to the conclusion that they needed to part separate ways and go on different personal journeys. Mercury had started to question his sexuality during the tour, something Mary said she suspected. And then he uttered the sentence every bi person has been waiting for someone in Hollywood cinema to have the courage to say;
“I think I’m bi.”
Cue bisexual gasps and tears of joy because of the representation!
As a queer woman of color, it is frustrating that Hollywood refuses to acknowledge character’s identities in the media. This movie surprisingly didn’t whitewash Mercury and acknowledged his identity.
The movie had subtle scenes with adding queer people, some even hitting on/flirting with Mercury himself. It illustrated his identity multiple times throughout the film. For example, the scene where he cuts his hair, Mercury asks Roger Taylor for his opinion, to which he replies, “Even gayer.”
In another scene, Mercury and Paul Prenter go to a gay nightclub and, later on in the movie, they engage in what is implied to be a threesome. Additionally, there was a cameraman that had focused on one of the band member’s bulge while filming the band singing for a show.
Mercury was born with four incisors, a congenital condition of having teeth that give the appearance of having more teeth. He probably felt insecure about the condition, so he compensated by his overly confident attitude as depicted in the movie. Actor Rami Malek has also commented on this in a video interview.
As Queen rose to fame, Mercury became consumed by it. With the betrayal of Prenter, Mercury grew distant from Queen and began moving toward a solo career. As his band members were finding spouses and settling down, Mary moving on with another man and Mercury suspecting he’d contracted AIDS, he eventually gets a wake-up call and reconnects with the rest of the band.
He finally realizes the toxic link in his life — Paul Prenter, who pushed him further away from his friends and life.
Prenter was controlling and gaslit Freddie.
“I know who you are Freddie Mercury,” he said, threatening to out Mercury and reveal his private photos. Prenter consequently stabs Mercury in the back.
Mercury then starts this journey of re-self discovery with Jim Hutton, continues with the band, and the movie ends with his family trying to make amends.
Queen reunited and got a last minute spot to play at Live Aid in 1985, a concert featuring many famous artists, raising money for the famine in Ethiopia. While practicing for Live Aid, Mercury revealed to the rest of the band that he had been diagnosed with AIDS.
The ending scenes of the movie showed the band’s performance at Live Aid and displayed photos of Mercury with his cats and Jim Hutton. The biopic concluded by saying that Mercury died of AIDS, something he didn’t announce until just days before his passing.
His death created a lasting legacy, not only for the band, but also by bringing awareness to the AIDS crisis. After his tribute, the band created the Mercury Phoenix Trust in memory of Mercury. The Trust funds numerous projects around the world, and battle HIV/AIDS globally.
The biopic illustrates Mercury as a human and not as some God-like person. He had flaws just as everyone does. This movie not only celebrated his memory but truly humanized him and amplified his identity.