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A compendium of queer people in the 19th and 20th centuries // Drawn and researched by Michele Rosenthal

Freddie  Mercury

Freddie Mercury 1946to –1991

Lead singer of the rock band Queen, responsible for writing “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Somebody to Love,” “We Are the Champions,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” etc. Born in modern-day Tanzania to a Parsi family, he spent most of his childhood and school years in India, learning the piano at a young age. His family fled to England during the Zanzibar Revolution, and there Mercury enrolled in art school and began performing with a string of bands. At 23, he gave his new group the provocative name Queen. Within a few years they had a string of hits, boosted by Mercury’s incredible vocal range and talents, that launched them to international success. From the start, Mercury’s quiet, reserved personality was at odds with his flamboyant and exuberant stage persona. And although there was always a campy subtext to his style, whether his long-haired sparkling glam of the 70s or his mustached macho man look of the 80s, he kept his sexuality largely hidden from the public. After trying a romantic relationship with lifelong friend Mary Austin, he eventually settled down with his “gardener” Jim Hutton. Hutton was by his bedside when Mercury died of AIDS at 45.

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