With Bohemian Rhapsody in the cinema it is time to rethink and clarify my position on Queen and Freddie Mercury.I must have loved the band when I was young. After all, at primary school me and my friends imitated Queen on stage. I don’t remember which song we pretended to play. I only remember that they forced me to be John Deacon, the bass player. Come to think of it, I’m always the John Deacon in any group of friends. Around the same time I bought myself ‘Greatest Hits’ (1981), an album I literally played to pieces. I just loved it, especially ‘Killer Queen‘, ‘Don’t stop me now‘, ‘Save me‘ and ‘Crazy little thing called love‘. ‘Save me’ especially meant a lot to me to me, I bought it as a single before I decided to buy the album. Was it my gateway drug? I don’t know, I only know it was my last year of primary school, literally months before Punk would open a whole new world for me, moving Queen to the periphery of my attention.
Only ‘Under pressure‘ (1981) I still loved, not so difficult for a Bowie fan like me, and the hilarious video of ‘I want to break free‘ (1984) made me smile, every single time it was played on MTV. Apart from that I just lost track of Queen, didn’t find them very interesting anymore.
Much later I tried again, downloaded their classic albums, Queen I and II, Sheer Heart Attack, A Day at the races, but it still didn’t work. Even in their early days Queen were an act, more Cabaret and Vaudeville than Rock. I listened to those albums and missed something. Clearly, Queen’s singles were much stronger than many of the other songs on the albums, but I also missed genuine emotion. It was all too much drama, too much theater, all centered around Diva Mercury. And that could have been the end of it, but I never stopped to admire Mercury’s act of hiding in plain sight. Quite a feat, to be so evidently gay and to demonstrate it so openly, without anyone noticing. His outfit in ‘We are the champions‘ (1977) is over-the-top gay, but as an 8-year old kid I found it just as normal as Bowie’s drag queen act in ‘Boys keep swinging‘ (1978). Different times perhaps? If so, can we please go back to those times, and forget about the fact that most ‘hetero-normal’ men only abandoned Queen after Freddie Mercury started growing a moustache and Queen released their most hilarious video; I want to break free.