Human beings are obsessed with certainty: formulas, definitions, sure things. Indeed, this obsession of ours may just be the root of all suffering—if you really think about it. Because every time something is defined, something else is cut down to size. The same is true of “radical” communities—even those focused on gender marginalization. Indeed, bisexual erasure is just as prevalent as the effacing of people of colour in many self-proclaimed gender-aware circles. While one may think that sexual orientation and race should both be heavy considerations in said environments—where self-determination is supposed to be everything—shitty multi generational habits die hard.
Born Farrokh Bulsara, the late (and legendary) Freddie Mercury of Queen had a notoriously flamboyant stage presence but he was a rather private figure and there is still much misconception surrounding his personal life (specifically his sexuality), over 25 years after his untimely death in 1991 at just 45. Today most media still portray him as gay even though he was openly bisexual. He had relationships with both men and women and never identified as gay. Unsurprisingly, very few people know that Mercury was a bisexual of colour too: he was of Persian descent and grew up in the Sultanate of Zanzibar as well as in India before moving to England in his teens.
On top of the persistent stigma around being bi, the fact that Mercury’s death came just a day after rumours that he’d been suffering from AIDS were confirmed, only fed representations of his gayness. Back in the 1980s, the disease was demonized,and mainly associated with the gay community. Fun fact: AIDS used to be known as Gay-Related Immune Deficiency (GRID). But this, combined with the fact that his last long-term partner was a man is still no excuse for the misinformation.
Bisexual activist Shiri Eisner has spoken out about monosexism being a heterosexual construction. Nonetheless, bi phobia within the LGBTQ community is real.
Dan Savage is infamous for saying that, whenever he meets a young self-identified bisexual, he replies, “I was, too, when I was your age.” Kurt Hummel from “Glee” once said, “Bisexual is a term that gay guys in high school use when they want to hold hands with girls and feel like a normal person for a change.”
Bisexuals today are very often portrayed as immature, and/or greedy. In spite of this, it wasn’t long ago that promiscuity was associated more with gay communities specifically, and Freddie Mercury, who was notoriously promiscuous, got lumped in for this reason as well.
Take this Freddie Mercury meme that says, “Didn’t actually like fat-bottom girls. Still did his job.” Clearly the all-holy meme-maker in question failed to fact-check, because Mercury did like fat-bottom girls. He also wrote the song “Love of My Life” about Mary Austin, his lover of 7 years.Contrary to popular belief, Mercury was, according to his obituary, ” a self-confessed bi-sexual” with both male and female lovers.
In our current day and age, where more and more people seem to be identifying as Pansexual (a gender-blind openness to people who identify as men, women, or any other gender), bisexuality continues to be erased, and is sometimes simply seen as a less inclusive version of pansexuality. This, in my opinion, is a disservice to the particularity of being a bisexual who might not feel an attraction to trans people, for example (I can hear a few offended gasps, but I’m just keeping it real here).
Some are saying that the upcoming Freddie Mercury biopic,set to be released in November, will present a false version of the bisexual superstar.When it was announced, it was flagged for erasing the musician’s bisexuality and the circumstances of his death in the context of the AIDS crisis in 1991. Borat’s Sacha Baron Cohen was supposed to play Mercury, but he ultimately left the project after reported conflicts with the band, who supposedly didn’t want to focus on their late mate’s sexuality.
Not convinced the erasure of one random group of people is worth your attention? According to the San Francisco Human Rights Commission’s report on bisexual invisibility, in 2008, not one of the US grants slated toward LGBTQ activism addressed bisexuality specifically. The report shows bisexuals have a higher risk of suicide and poorer mental health than the general population, and that there is indeed a correlation between the lack of bisexual visibility and these issues. That’s why we need initiatives like Bi Visibility Day. Popular education has no end, friends.
Who wants to go see the Bohemian Rhapsody movie with me this fall to celebrate one of the sexiest bisexuals to ever walk the earth? We can stage a protest if the rumours are true.
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