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The Daily Agenda for Monday, September 5

Jim Burroway

September 5th, 2011

Today is Labor Day in the United States, which makes it a long weekend for just about everyone here. There’s not much happening today, but to take advantage of the three day weekend there are still a few celebrations going on.

Pride Celebrations Extended Through Today: Atlanta, Ga (Black Pride) and Duluth, MN.

Also Wrapping Up Today: Burning Man, Black Rock Desert, NV and Southern Decadence, New Orleans, LA.

Freddie Mercury: 1946. I was a freshman in high school in my quiet, Appalachian home town when “Bohemian Rhapsody” came screaming out of our radio speakers like an alien from outer space. Nobody was quite sure what to make of it, and nobody wanted to be too enthusiastic about this very flamboyant song. But whenever it came on the radio we always turned it up. And we listened, trying to figure out exactly what it was we were hearing. Queen had already been very popular in the U.K. for several years, but “Bohemian Rhapsody” was our introduction to this new band and we had almost nothing to prepare us for the — well, I’ll say it again — flamboyance of the band’s lead singer. Even the band’s name was provocative. One of my friends bought a Queen teeshirt at a concert clear out in Dayton, but his mother prohibited him from wearing it. It was “too homosexual.” And so was Freddie — maybe. Except he had a girlfriend, as the press went, so maybe he wasn’t. Maybe it was all an act, we told each other and ourselves. You know, a character like David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust or Alice Cooper any of the members of Kiss. Whatever he was, he flaunted it, as it went in our vernacular, but as long as it was a character he was flaunting, maybe it was okay. It helped that Queen’s follow-on hits — “You’re My Best Friend,” “Someone To Love” — were sufficiently “normal” while unmistakeably Queen to calm things down a bit. By the time News of the World came out and the testosterone-laden “We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions” became my high school’s unofficial anthem the same year that we won the state AA basketball championship, everyone had chilled. Those of us in that town and school who were easily freaked out over the very possibility of homosexuality — including us homosexuals — were well served by our sometimes willful naiveté. Without it, it would have been socially impossible to enjoy the music.

Freddie was something else. And he hoodwinked all of us who wanted to be hoodwinked, just enough so we could enjoy the music and the spectacle. The hits kept coming: “Fat Bottomed Girls,” Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “Another One Bites The Dust,” “Under Pressure” (with David Bowie, of course).  By the time it dawned on me that he really was gay, I had long since left home and it no longer mattered socially whether I was a fan or not. And by the time it was announced that he had AIDS and would die very shortly, nobody was surprised but everyone was saddened. It seems that there are some people who are too outsized in our world to remain in it for very long, and Freddie was one of them. On November 25, 1991, the day after he died, Britain’s tabloid The Sun carried a very simple headline: “Freddie Is Dead.” It’s hard to believe, but if he had survived he would be sixty-five today.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. PLEASE, don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).



September 5th, 2011 | LINK

I remember how I cried my eyes out for him, although I wasn’t much of a Queen fan yet at the time.

I don’t even know when and how their music made its way to my side of the Iron Curtain. I don’t even know if it was before or after the fall of the communist regime in Bulgaria (it started on 10 November 1989, but it took a little time for the whole economic and social structure to collapse, so I think of 1990 as the first post-communist year).

We were so naive here that we didn’t notice anything – or at least the general straight population didn’t notice anything. We thought of the clip of I Want to Break Free as “just silly fun” and the rest seems to us… just somehow eccentric.

I remember that it was written in some newspaper here that he was “bisexual” – there was already enough freedom of speech for that in 1991. I think that was my first encounter with the concept of bisexuality. It didn’t matter as I was mourning the singer I’d barely learned to like, at a time when music meant an awful lot to me. I was too grieved to experience a culture shock. It never occurred to me later to somehow try to find out if he was really bisexual, or full-on gay. It just wasn’t important for me in any way.

It’s amazing how different my perspective was.

September 5th, 2011 | LINK

We’re the same age and your recounting of the “impression” Queen made when they first arrived on the US airwaves resonates with me.

I was a freshman, in the drama club, natch, and I remember performing in a student production and BR seemed to be always playing in the backstage and dressing areas. It sort of became a de-facto sound track to that school year. (Much like “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” became a soundtrack—another over-the-top set piece written by a gay composer.)

And I remember everyone not being entirely sure what to make of “Bohemian Rhapsody”. I grew up in one of the more progressive suburbs of New Jersey, but still —was that a chick or a dude singing? What’s with that voice? And then when Queen started to show up on some of those late night rock concert shows and you had the visual to go with the sound—it didn’t necessarily clear the air. They were sort of a guilty pleasure for many of us. I bought “A Day At The Races” and would play it on the family stereo. I recall my mother inquiring as to who was it I was listening to and answering “Queen” and watching her eyebrows arch.

By the time I moved on to college they had become a mainstay of rock radio, MTV had launched and and it became pretty obvious the Mercury was in his own way coming out—that leather outfit from “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”. And the good thing was that it didn’t seem to matter to many people at that point. Freddie definitely blazed some trails.

Ben In Oakland
September 5th, 2011 | LINK

One of my best memories of my youth was The night I met Freddy Mercury. It must have been the late ’70’s, but I can’t be sure. I was quite the hot boy then– 180 pound of muscle.

I met a guy who, it turned out, was the road manager for Queen, and they were in San Francisco for a concert. He was quite taken with me. I ended up spending the night with him at the fairmont. We had a canopied bed in a room 1/2the size of my current home. We had an order-what-you-want-it’s-on-Freddy breakfast in bed with a servitor (the only word for it) to make sure we were quite happy.

That night, I rejoined my friend. We were in a limousine with Freddy and some leather Daddy with him, because that’s what he liked, and we went to visit several south of market Bars. I wanted to talk to Freddy, because I LOOOOOOOOOOVED Queen, but he was very taciturn, possibly because I was there with Road Manager, probably because Leather daddy wasn’t turning out quite as he had hoped.

Road manager and I decided that we would have more fun back at the fairmont.

Ah, youth.

Priya Lynn
September 5th, 2011 | LINK

I first started hearing Queen on the radio when I was around 12. It wasn’t until my late 30’s when I heard Freddy Mercury liked men that it occurred to me the name “Queen” might be alluding to gayness.

When I was 20 working as a bartender at a golf club I found an 8-track of the album “The Game”, took it home and was Sooo impressed by it I became a dedicated fan. On that album was the tour de force “Rock It – Prime Jive” which was easily one of the top five songs Queen had ever done. I couldn’t believe they didn’t release that as a single from the album rather than the god-awful “Another one bites the dust”.

September 5th, 2011 | LINK

Freddie made my youth make sense. You flouted convention, made something of me and said to everyone else, and I mean EVERYONE, that its okay to be true to oneself. Your songs lighten me, my mood, my future. I weep for you and all that could have been to “Who Wants to Live Forever. ” Thank you, Freddie. Watch over us.

Ben in Atlanta
September 5th, 2011 | LINK

Queen is still relevant.

Have some ear candy:

September 5th, 2011 | LINK

Google has a Google doodle in his honor, although it is not on the US Google site.

September 7th, 2011 | LINK

“It seems that there are some people who are too outsized in our world to remain in it for very long, and Freddie was one of them.”

Beautiful line, and so very true. Thank you for this!

Lorenzo from Oz
September 8th, 2011 | LINK

Freddie: the world’s most famous Zoroastrian! Freddie and Queen remain pop culture giants. Right down to references in such gems as Good Omens

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