Apr 26, 2015

[Pink Culture] The One and Only Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury by Gabriela Rondon via Flickr.
So this past week I finally got to watch Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender, which is a 2012 feature length documentary about the life of Freddie Mercury, particularly focused on his efforts to have a solo career. Most folks remember him as the front man for British rock band Queen. But this feature looked a little deeper into his personal life - something that has largely been rather private given Freddie Mercury's seemingly unusual shyness in contrast to her public persona.

And the whole feature got me thinking about my own love for Queen and ultimately Freddie Mercury given his tremendous contributions to music and more importantly for how his many songs just felt like they really spoke to me along with everyone else who came around to loving their music. And while Freddie Mercury may be considered a somewhat controversial figure in LGBT history because of how he handled his sexuality as perceived in the public.

But I think they really broke the mold when Freddie Mercury came to being and he certainly had some interesting and quite unique methods of personal expression that really blew the imagination away.

I think I really got to know Queen  and thus Freddie Mercury back in my grade school high school days. I felt like my dad's Best of Queen album was the only cassette in his van and we listened to it every single day during summer vacation as he'd drive us around the city. The music was just so powerful and seemingly crazy and yet you had a vocalist who was quite talented and also a larger than life figure. Freddie Mercury. The striking vocals of Freddie Mercury really helped define that period of my childhood in an amazing way.

At the same time Freddeie Mercury was a rather confusing LGBT figure at the time. He clearly wasn't straight and he seemed to play coy with the press whenever pressed about things. If anything, he was openly gay to friends and those in the community that mattered to him. Otherwise the world just had to accept who he was and just shut up and enjoy the music. And maybe that's all that matters, really. His sexuality was there for everyone to speculate about and maybe even"see" for themselves as it were, but in the end they didn't matter as much as the music did.

I love the fact that Freddie was quite seriously involved with his moment, but also only really in the moment. Once a song had been released to as many folks as possible he was ready to move on to the next big project. And thus we see how his passions would take him just about anywhere he wanted them to all in the name of the music. You can see this in his life given how his love for the ballet led him to some rather interesting stage adventures and his respect for the opera resulted in a rather clever duet between Freddie and a world-class opera singer. Talk about getting starstruck yet still getting to live a dream?

Freddie Mercury remains to be more than "just" a gay icon since he doesn't perfectly fit the mold or something. He's something greater than that is clearly demonstrated in how he loved by millions regardless of sexual identity or whaetever.

I love Freddie Mercury and the music that drove Queen to the tops of the charts back in those days. So many of their songs just spoke to me on some fundamental  level whether in terms of their creative work's words or even just the powerful melodies that drove the performances. He was a guy who was clearly queer but didn't want to become some sort of activist or something. He was a man who made music and he loved his music dearly and he didn't want to have to defend or explain himself time and time again. And that's a pretty strong and inspiring message in its own right.

In the documentary, Freddie seemed rather dismissive of his own work and presented himself as one always looking for the next best thing. But I agree with another point presented by one of the interviewers that Freddie's take on his music was that he wanted to be successful but would be ready to move on at the drop of a hat. He supposedly gave the rights to his image and likeness provided his manager did cool things with them.

I love Freddie Mercury. I love Queen. This music sings to an important part of me and I'm sure many others feel the same way, whether gay or straight And that's fine - musical expression knows no gender either. At the same time, he was an amazingly inspiring LGBT public figure whose life deserves revisiting by those that only know him as that guy from Queen.

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