Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody accused of queer erasure

Freddie Mercury

Yesterday (15 May), a trailer for the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody was released.

However, criticism of the long-in-development film has emerged, with television writer and producer Bryan Fuller accusing the project of queer erasure. Eyebrows have been raised over the film’s lack of representation for Freddie Mercury’s sexuality and his battle with AIDS.

Fuller took to Twitter to say, “Anyone else mildly annoyed (enough to tweet about it) that the #BohemianRapsody (sic) trailer features gay/bi superstar Freddie Mercury flirting with and twirling with a woman but no indication of his love of men?”

Following speculation that, perhaps, the trailer may be holding back scenes related to the lead singer’s sexuality and illness, Fuller tweeted, “I disagree. It’s #HETWASHING (hetero-washing) for marketing sakes.”

Addressing 20th Century Fox, Fuller continued, “DEAR 20TH CENTURY FOX… Yes, it was a life-threatening illness, but more specifically it was AIDS. From having gay sex with men. Do better.”

He added, “I feel what the trailer is doing is queer-erasure. If they were out and proud with his bi-sexuality they would have indicated he was bi-sexual. Showing him romantic with a woman, but not a man (3 frames don’t count) is not a celebration of bi-sexual identity. It’s hiding it.”

Bohemian Rhapsody has been in the making since 2010, and has seen a change in directors after Bryan Singer left the project in December. He’s since been replaced by Dexter Fletcher. The Queen frontman is played by actor Rami Malek, after comedian Sacha Baron Cohen left the role last year, explaining that he had a dispute with a Queen member over the second half of the film.

In an interview with the GuardianCohen said the film celebrates how the band “carries on from strength to strength” after Mercury’s death. He explained, “I said: ‘Listen, not one person is going to see a movie where the lead character dies from AIDS and then you see how the band carries on.'”

The film is executive produced by Brian May and Roger Taylor. It’s slated for a UK release on 24 October.

Read Fuller’s tweets below.