Rami Malek Was Asked If He Thinks Freddie Mercury Is A Gay Icon—And His Answer Sparked An Important Debate

The upcoming Freddie Mercury biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, stars Mr. Robot‘s Rami Malek as the “Queen” front-man and has already seen its fair share of controversy. When trailers for the film were first dropped, people were afraid the movie was going to gloss over or remove the AIDS crisis and Freddie Mercury’s sexuality. Given Hollywood’s long history of straight and cis washing queer icons, director Brian Singer has been embroiled in allegations of sexual assault, which he firmly denies.

But a new interview with Bohemian Rhapsody‘s star, Rami Malek, is adding fuel to an already burning fire.

The interviewer asked, “So, Freddie Mercy. Obviously a rock icon, a god. Do you also see him as a gay icon?”

After a long-winded response, Malek finally ended by saying…

“I think if he’s an icon there’s no reason that it requires another adjective, as far as I see.”

Mercury is often celebrated as a queer icon, though the singer never defined his sexuality or gender identity publicly. That said, he did openly talk about dalliances with men, and former band-mates have talked about men and women being close to him throughout his career. According to Queen’s guitarist, Brian May, Mercury did confirm to his fellow band-mates that he “also liked men” only “years after it was obvious.” Mercury died of complications from AIDS in 1991. 

People felt that Malek’s answer to the question wasn’t particularly strong.

Others spoke plainly on the issue of straight washing.

But most took issue with bi erasure, which is a pervasive issue in the LGBTQ community.

Our society has come a long way in the last decade when it comes to LGBTQ issues. However, it always becomes problematic when we try to place historical queer icons within a modern paradigm. One thing is certain: Freddie Mercury was certainly queer. Outside of that, he never completely defined anything to anyone. Let people be gray.

H/T: Twitter, Independent