After the conclusion of his work with Queen in June 1991, Mercury retired to his home in Kensington, West London. His former partner, Mary Austin, was a particular comfort in his final years, and in the last few weeks made regular visits to look after him. Near the end of his life, Mercury began to lose his sight, and declined so that he was unable to leave his bed. Mercury chose to hasten his death by refusing medication and took only painkillers. On 22 November 1991, Mercury called Queen's manager Jim Beach to his Kensington home to prepare a public statement, which was released the following day:
Mercury and his inner circle of colleagues and friends continually denied the stories. It has been suggested that Mercury could have helped AIDS awareness by speaking earlier about his illness. Mercury kept his condition private to protect those closest to him; May later confirmed that Mercury had informed the band of his illness much earlier. Filmed in May 1991, the music video for "These Are the Days of Our Lives" features a very thin Mercury in his final scenes in front of the camera. The rest of the band were ready to record when Mercury felt able to come into the studio, for an hour or two at a time. May said of Mercury: "He just kept saying. 'Write me more. Write me stuff. I want to just sing this and do it and when I am gone you can finish it off.' He had no fear, really." Justin Shirley-Smith, the assistant engineer for those last sessions, said: "This is hard to explain to people, but it wasn't sad, it was very happy. He [Freddie] was one of the funniest people I ever encountered. I was laughing most of the time, with him. Freddie was saying [of his illness] 'I'm not going to think about it, I'm going to do this.'"More Info
During the 1970s, Everett became advisor and mentor to Mercury and Mercury served as Everett's confidante. Throughout the early- to mid-1980s, they continued to explore their homosexuality and experiment with drugs. Although they were never lovers, they did experience London nightlife together. By 1985, they had fallen out, and their friendship was further strained when Everett was outed in the autobiography of his ex-wife Lady Lee. In 1989, with their health failing, Mercury and Everett were reconciled.More Info
While some commentators claimed Mercury hid his sexual orientation from the public, others claimed he was "openly gay". In December 1974, when asked directly, "So how about being bent?" by the New Musical Express, Mercury replied, "You're a crafty cow. Let's put it this way: there were times when I was young and green. It's a thing schoolboys go through. I've had my share of schoolboy pranks. I'm not going to elaborate further." Homosexual acts between adult males over the age of 21 had been decriminalised in the United Kingdom in 1967, seven years earlier. During public events in the 1980s, Mercury often kept a distance from his partner, Jim Hutton. The tabloid newspaper The Sun referred to Mercury as a "bisexual rock star" in 1986, who had "confessed to a string of one-night gay sex affairs".More Info
During his career, Mercury's flamboyant stage performances sometimes led journalists to allude to his sexuality. Dave Dickson, reviewing Queen's performance at Wembley Arena in 1984 for Kerrang!, noted Mercury's "camp" addresses to the audience and even described him as a "posing, pouting, posturing tart". In 1992, John Marshall of Gay Times opined: "[Mercury] was a 'scene-queen,' not afraid to publicly express his gayness, but unwilling to analyse or justify his 'lifestyle' […] It was as if Freddie Mercury was saying to the world, 'I am what I am. So what?' And that in itself for some was a statement." In an article for AfterElton, Robert Urban said: "Mercury did not ally himself to 'political outness,' or to LGBT causes."More Info
The British press pursued the rumours over the next few years, fueled by Mercury's increasingly gaunt appearance, Queen's absence from touring, and reports from former lovers to tabloid journals. By 1990, rumours about Mercury's health were rife. At the 1990 Brit Awards held at the Dominion Theatre, London, on 18 February, Mercury made his final appearance on stage when he joined the rest of Queen to collect the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music. Towards the end of his life, he was routinely stalked by photographers. The Sun featured a series of articles claiming that he was ill; a front-page from November 1990 featured an image of a haggard Mercury with the headline "It's official — Freddie is seriously ill".More Info
We don't show ads. Help us keep it that way.