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The Life and Loves of Freddie Mercury

The Life and Loves of Freddie Mercury

By Peter May
Special to Virtueonline
September 20, 2021

A new book by Lesley-Ann Jones asks, "Who was the love of Freddie Mercury's life?" Thirty years after his death, this question has increasing relevance. Sexuality has become a very confusing cultural nightmare and Freddie's life highlights the complexities and pitfalls. While many saw Freddie as the love of their lives, who was actually the love of his life?

Freddie Bulsara moved to England in 1964, aged 18 yrs. His earlier years had been a painful experience, which he felt were best forgotten, as he rarely talked about them. The celebrated film, Bohemian Rhapsody, which earned some $1billion at the box office, deliberately avoided his upbringing. Born in Zanzibar in 1946, Freddie had a volatile relationship with his father and was dispatched at the tender age of eight to an Indian boarding school 3,000 miles away, across the ocean. Not only was this too far for his parents to visit him, but it was too far for Freddie to return home in school holidays! Instead, he stayed with aunts in Bombay. In the guise of a documentary, film makers "can get away with murdering the truth" says Jones. In Bohemian Rhapsody, they had a moral obligation to present Freddie's life as it actually was. Instead, his "X-rated lifestyle was diluted, simplified and sanitised... to render him acceptable and appealing to the widest possible audience."

His father Bomi is described as diligent, dignified, authoritarian, antagonistic, confrontational, inflexible and emotionally distant. Instead of intimacy, Freddie received hostility and disapproval. Lacking affirmation from his father, this shy, retiring and insecure young man found comfort in music and affirmation in the adulation of strangers. Drug and alcohol fuelled sexual debauchery became his coping mechanism. Strangely, he never publicly came out as gay. Nor did he admit that he had AIDS, until his dying hours.

The author quotes the development psychologist Prof. Ritch Savin -Williams, "Traditionally, our understanding has been that if you're male and have even a slight attraction to the same sex, then you must be gay." It is a profoundly misleading myth to believe that all those who experience homosexual thoughts are '100% gay'. This is at last being seen for the lie that it is, though it has been more generally accepted that women have a natural capacity to be sexually "fluid". The result is that many men, who experience homosexual desires, have been brainwashed into believing that homosexuality is an intrinsic part of their nature. They are born gay and cannot change. Any attempt to change their orientation risks serious damage to their mental health.

A huge research project has now demonstrated clearly that there is no gay gene, which determines our sexual orientation. Furthermore, a recent large Ipsos MORI poll (January 2021) showed that only 56% of those under 25 yrs of age claim to be exclusively heterosexual in their desires. There is a good explanation for this, as every car insurer knows. Adolescence is a life stage driven by gut feelings and emotions. It is not until we reach our mid-twenties that the pre-frontal cortex of the brain, the area responsible for rational thought processes, gains dominance and brings these gut-feelings under control. As the apostle Paul put it, "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me."

A key factor in all this concerns the development of the brain. Even at the end of adolescence, the developing brain does not finally become fixed in its neurological pathways and connexions. It can continue to develop and reshape itself according to changing demands. This "neuroplasticity" continues to some degree even into old age, but it is still much easier to learn when you are young, whether it is a new musical instrument, a foreign language or new patterns of sexual arousal. The longer you persist in repeating the same thoughts and behaviours ('practice makes perfect'), the more set in your ways you become. What was in Freddie's mind when he wrote that powerful song, "I want to break free"?

Jones raises the case of TV presenter Philip Schofield. After 27 years of marriage and having two grown up daughters, he 'came out' as being gay. Was he 100% gay? Surely not. Bishop Gene Robinson left his wife after 14 years and having two children. Was he 100% gay? Even Oscar Wilde married and fathered two sons. Elton John was betrothed to Linda but married Renate before he eventually married David Furness. The recent MORI poll showed that some 15% of adolescents feel equally attracted to both sexes. Doesn't that mean that at that stage in life, they anyway have a choice as to how they go forward? Or rather three choices - heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality.

This complexity is reflected in the growing number of labels people use to describe their sexuality: bisexual, non-binary, gender-fluid, pansexual, transgender and queer. We are beginning to see the distress in young people now in their mid-twenties, who, after inadequate counselling, underwent transgender therapy during adolescence.

Is it not more true to say, as Freddie is reported to have said of himself, that we are just "sexual". Strong sexual drives can be expressed in a wide range of behaviours. Such behaviours, when imagined and then practised, can become deeply entrenched and difficult to change, as with pornography addiction. Furthermore, those memories and desires, while they may fade into the background, never entirely go away, and may suddenly challenge them afresh.

Did Freddie reflect on the nature of his own sexuality? Jones wrote, "Could he have had any idea that orientation is the result of a combination of biological, hormonal, emotional and environmental factors...that may differ from person to person?...We are never likely to know, because he never discussed it publicly."

School friends of Freddie insisted that he was 'obviously heterosexual', even if he experimented with homosexuality. His first serious girlfriend was apparently Rosemary, and love affairs with women were a major part of his story - Valerie, Anita, Elaine, Barbara, Montserrat. Twenty-one year old Valerie was his closest friend in 1970/71. They spent time together every day - 'I could not have been closer to anyone than I was to him, nor he to me' - but she did not see him as being gay. Did she try to keep in touch with him? 'No, he was on a different track. His ego had kicked in - and destroyed him...His life as Queen frontman took him from simple beauty to shocking awfulness...it was the biggest mistake of his life...Freddie was completely corrupted. He walked into the quicksand... He was very vulnerable.'

Freddie actually proposed to Mary Austin and they cohabited for six years until his musical career lifted off, but she remained very close to him. He is reported to have said, 'All my lovers asked me why they couldn't replace Mary, but it is simply impossible. The only friend I've got is Mary and I don't want anybody else,. To me, she was my common-law wife. To me, it was a marriage....I couldn't fall in love with a man the same way as I have with Mary.' And Mary, the faithful, dignified, demure and private one, remained close to him to the end. She lived near him, cared for him, travelled with him, remained on his payroll and ultimately inherited his expensive home and the bulk of his wealth. Mary is reported to have said, 'When he died I felt we'd had a marriage. We'd lived our vows. We'd done it for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health.' She anyway thought she was the love of his life.

Jim Hutton had a different view. For the last six years of Freddie's life, they lived together but not openly as homosexuals nor as equals. A mild-mannered man, Jim did not like to be in the spotlight and lived at Freddie's beck and call. He was shaken by Freddie's mood swings, his sex drive, his outrageous flirting with other men, the spectacular break ups, his manipulations, deep insecurity and his 'childish insistence on getting his own way.'

So who was the Love of his Life? Was it a man or a woman? Was it the faithful Mary, the glamorous Barbara, the romantic opera singer Montsy or a single man among the many - the great many. Surely, if ever there was an example of self-love, Freddie was ultimately in love with Freddie. As Jones concludes, he was "the alpha narcissist". Was he not compensating for the huge emotional damage and neglect inflicted upon him by his parents in his childhood?


1.Jones L-A, Love of My Life, pub. by Coronet 2021
2. Savin-Williams R. "Mostly Straight: Sexual Fluidity Among Men", Harvard University Press 2017
3. Ganna A. et al. Science 365, eaat7693 (2019)
4. Paul: 1 Corinthians 13, verse 11.

Peter May MRCGP is a retired family doctor residing in Southampton UK. He is a Board member of the IFTCC (International Federation for Therapeutic and Counselling Choice). He also has a long interest in Christian Apologetics, and is the author of "The Search for God and the Path to Persuasion" (2016).
He has numerous articles published on bethinking.org. He and his wife have been married for 50 years and focus their energies on their four children and 16 grandchildren.

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