1946 – 1991
Queen is credited with the most enduring and bizarre rock anthem-pastiche ever written, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” (1975) and its creator, who pranced concert stages in tight pants and tank tops, was none other than flamboyant front-man Freddie Mercury. Mercury also penned the group’s other major hits, “We Are the Champions,” and “Somebody to Love,” and performed with the group until 1986, after which he was living with AIDS until his death in 1991. The closet that Freddie lived in was not so much self-imposed, but rather created by a fan base who couldn’t wrap their heads around a hard-rock lead singer being a fag-he actually did more to conceal his ethnicity, as a Parsi Indian, than he did to hide his sexuality. Lyrics often alluded to gay themes, and he referred to himself as “gay” in a 1974 interview with UK pop mag NME (New Musical Express), but he managed to carry off a persona that was not quite queeny enough to make anyone question his hetero hard-rock cred.
The Evidence Mom Ignored
Occupation: lead singer of a rock band which happened to be named Queen, in part because of its singer’s gayness. 6/10 gay points.
Appearance: glammed it up in the age of glam rock; wore tight pants always and occasional sequins; grew a moustache like every other gay man ca. 1980. 8/10
Demeanor: not dissimilar from Jagger or Bowie in that he did a fair amount of peacock prancing and limp-wristed flouncing while on stage, but all in the name of being a “rock star”; had no sibilant ‘s’ in his speech, but had more of a speech impediment caused by some *fucked up* British teeth. 7/10
Beards: he is often cited as bisexual because he lived with close friend Mary Austin (for whom “You’re My Best Friend” was written) for a number of years but the two never married. Freddie maintained relationships with men throughout his life, including Jim Hutton with whom he was living when he died in 1991. He left the majority of his estate to Ms. Austin. 6/10
Minstrelsy: not really Freddie’s style, at least not in the sense we mean — he didn’t do any gameshows or portray any gay caricatures in his work — but there were some lyrics about makeup and all that glamor-puss posing. 3/10
Total Score: 30 points – Low Burn (see scale)
Freddie wasn’t the gayest gay, but still, the man admitted it for god’s sake. This was willful ignorance on the part of the audience, regardless of whether they could identify that Village People mustache or any of the many other clues. Any fan worth her salt could have easily dug up the interview where he fessed up to being a ‘mo in the early 70s. In the 1985 interview from Brazilian television featured below, he denies the gay undertones of “I Want to Break Free” by pointing out that he didn’t even write it-it was written by straight bandmate John Deacon.
And we’re not even sure how Mercury managed to pull off seeming so butch and rock-star-ish while wearing only a neckerchief and these shorts, but somehow, goddammit, he did.
Mom Thought He Was Straight?: Rock Hudson
Mom Thought He Was Straight?: Paul Lynde
Mom Thought He Was Straight?: Charles Nelson Reilly
Mom Thought He Was Straight?: Anthony Perkins
Mom Thought He Was Straight?: Elton John
Mom Thought He Was Straight?: Truman Capote
Mom Thought They Were Straight?: Village People
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