If you are reading this story on that day, you are reading about Farrokh Bulsara, AKA, Freddie Mercury, on the anniversary of his death from AIDS 27 years ago.
It was only a day before his death that Freddy Mercury, at 45 years of age, revealed he had AIDS. It was the same year, 1991, that Magic Johnson, then an NBA basketball star, also announced he had AIDS.
The Sporting News published Johnson’s picture on the cover, with only one word: ‘Tragic.’ It was a day and era when everyone thought contracting AIDS was a death sentence.
For Freddie Mercury, it was.
As for Magic Johnson, today he is the part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Life deals us all unique destinies.
So it goes.
The magical music that the lead vocalist of Queen created resonated in the gay community. Throughout the world, he became a gay icon. This month, his songs and life have been made into a movie. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is in theaters everywhere. It was released just a few weeks ago.
The film starts off mildly, but soon becomes masterful. It captures Freddie’s life as a singer with a four-octave vocal range, and his growth as a songwriter and record producer. It shares his life and maturation with the band members he called ‘family.’
The movie does not hide Mercury’s transition from a married man who was in love with a woman to a hedonistic homosexual fueled by many partners. Yes, his wife knew all along, but no he is not cast in bed night after night with other men.
But you know what’s going on.
The film reveals the drive and drain of being an internationally acclaimed entertainer. It hints at the secret liaisons Mercury must have engaged in, from the drug fueled parties to indulgences we have all teased and tainted with.
Rami Malek stars in the film, which since its release, has been criticized by some as a ‘straight wash.’ I don’t think so. It is just one man’s singular story. We each have our own.
However, to his credit, Malek has said in some post-release interviews that he wished the film had delved a little more into that more flamboyant side of Mercury’s life.
Filmgoers instead will have to settle for a ‘tease,’ like the scene where Mercury is enticed by a heavy, bearded bear to follow him into a men’s room. The glances, the smiles, the looks, and guess what? You don’t need a road map to figure out where the film is going.
Freddie Mercury was human, of course, but his stage persona was super. On stage, he was as flamboyant as he was fabulous.Consistently voted as one of the greatest singers in the history of pop music, he was a bisexual rock star whose songs became anthems. You know many of them.
Amongst the hits Mercury wrote for Queen were ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ Somebody to Love’, Don’t Stop Me Now,’ and of course, ‘We Are the Champions,’ along with the immensely popular this ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love.’
Mercury was born of Parsi descent on Zanzibar and grew up there and in India before moving with his family to Middlesex, England, in his late teens. The film starts and ends with a message from his dad, urging him to live a life of good thoughts, deeds, and acts.
One of Mercury’s most noteworthy deeds was to play Wembley Stadium in 1991, reuniting with his band to do a 20-minute set for Live Aid. Less than a year later, on Easter Sunday in 1992, the stadium would be filled again. Unfortunately, this time it was for a concert held posthumously in the singer’s memory. The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness drew 75,000 people.
As the worldwide pandemic known as AIDS continues to take lives, SFGN remembers Freddie Mercury.
As our nation and the globe commemorate World AIDS Day shortly, on Dec. 1 SFGN urges you to take a moment to help recall the memory of a friend that has passed; a lover that has been lost.
Dedicate yourself anew to lighting that flame and holding up that candle, looking to the day when we celebrate a cure, not commemorate a loss. As sung by Queen, as written by Metallica, ‘nothing else matters.’
Today, the Mercury Phoenix Trust lives on in Freddie’s honor. Founded by Queen band members Brian May, Roger Taylor and their manager Jim Beach, the Trust has given away over 15 million dollars and funded over 700 projects in 57 countries across the globe in the past 21 years while joining the global battle against HIV/AIDS.
The trust focuses on a wide range of education and awareness projects, but principally targeting young people in the developing world, including 18 million orphans who have lost one or both parents to AIDS.
In death as in life, Freddie Mercury made his father proud, doing good deeds and acts.
This story was published in the November issue of SFGN's high glossy magazine, The Mirror – on stands now. Click here to see the online PDF.