On November 24, 1991, Freddie Mercury said goodbye to the world at just 45 years old. The day before his death, he issued a statement in which he wanted to settle all rumors and give visibility and dignity to those who, like him, suffered from the disease. aids virus, the pandemic that hit, above all, the homosexual community to which he belonged. “The time has come for my friends and all my fans around the world know the truth and I hope that everyone joins me, my doctors and everyone who is battling this terrible disease, ”he wrote.
An act of courage that, hours after his death, was accompanied by another piece of news that, on a more private scale, also left many in shock. The leader of Queen left the bulk of his inheritance, valued at today’s exchange rate of around £ 37 million sterling between houses and liquid assets, to his young girlfriend and great friend, Mary Austin. It also left him the most coveted part: the proportionate share of the copyright of his entire artistic legacy as a member of the multi-million dollar gang.
The official theory, the one that remained in the collective imagination and was told in the hit biopic ‘Bohemian Rapsody’, smeared with heterosexual romanticism this final act of the great gay icon: Mary had been, it was true, the love of his life, regardless of the disagreement of their bodies. He had broken up with her 16 years ago, but she had accompanied him on his coming out of the closet.
Why did Freddie Mercury leave the crumbs to those who had been caring for and supporting him in the final stage of his life? These were the Irish barber Jim Hutton -to which he was joined by a seven-year sentimental relationship- and three friends (one of his first boyfriends, Joe Fanelli, who served as his assistant and chef; his public relations, Peter Freestone, and his driver, Terry Giddings), who were they had settled with him in his London mansion, Garden Lodge, in Kensington, from which they would be evicted shortly thereafter. The singer did not leave them on the street – he left half a million pounds for the first two and 100,000 for the third – but he gave them a very minor place in the cast. What was hidden behind this controversial decision on the doorstep of death?
The Freddie Mercury case, unfortunately, sounded all too familiar to thousands of anonymous homosexuals who cared for their fellow AIDS patients at times when society turned its back on them, to later be excluded from the last decisions and inheritances of the deceased.
Mary Austin: “Some fans even told me that I was just the housekeeper. That hurt”
Mary Austin herself, who at 70 still lives in the London mansion, later acknowledged that she had uncomfortable sense with the will. “Some fans even told me that I was just the housekeeper in the house. That hurt. I know some of Freddie’s gay friends were surprised at how much he left me behind, that they thought the house belonged to them, “he said.
Freestone, the public relations, however, despite being one of those affected, got from the ex-girlfriend from the singer. “The will bequeathed Garden Lodge and all its contents to Mary Austin. And that didn’t include three grown men. ”
Both Freestone and Queen manager Jim Beach (whom Mercury gave carte blanche shortly before his death to do whatever he wanted with his musical legacy) apparently underestimated the role of what is called in the homosexual subculture. ‘the chosen family’ of the singer of ‘Somebody to love’. They considered that Freddie had promised villas and castles in life to his friends and lovers, but that, on the role of the will, his mind was cold and clear.
And so, the singer’s partner, Jim Hutton, faced with this argument that the words are blown away, could only turn his unofficial version into a book, ‘Mercury and me’, published in 1994, in which he hardly spoke about music, but he did speak of his intimacy with Freddie, of how before he died he asked him to will carry him in his arms to say goodbye to his works of art and, incidentally, he threw more than one dart at Mary.
Her ex-partner Jim Hutton: “I publish this book not to make money, but to show the truth. That, contrary to what many media claimed at the time, Freddie did not die alone “
“I publish this book not to make money, but to let the truth be known. That, contrary to what many media claimed at the time, Freddie did not die alone, “said Hutton in a promotional interview. In the book he further asserted that of his part of the inheritance he barely saw 20,000 pounds in cash, and hinted that the will had been orchestrated from the recording environment from the singer.
His theory has its logic: unlike other coming out of the closet accelerated by death from AIDS, such as the actor Rock Hudson, the music world rubs its hands with it post mortem sales boom And in a way, the will was a rewrite of Freddie Mercury’s stigmatized way of life. The show must go on… and the money too.
According to Freddie’s partner, when they organized the posthumous musical tribute to the singer, there was no trace of his favorite groups, just a commercial agenda. The theories of Hutton -who died in 2010 of cancer-, although branded as conspiracy by many, were in a certain way confirmed with the premiere of ‘Bohemian Rapsody’ in 2018.
The film featured a unqueer narrative of the life of Freddie Mercury (They focused more on her career and Mary, to hastily narrate her coming out of the closet as the prelude to a spiral of drugs and self-destruction) that excited the masses, did not bother the general public and left the loot in heterosexual hands: those of the other members of the band and those of Mary Austin, who pocketed another 56 million pounds in royalties thanks to the film and its consequent push to the Queen’s music catalog.
However, there is still a theory that is not entirely dismissable that has to do with another harsh reality recognizable to many members of the LGTBQI + community: with all the success, the money amassed and the excellence achieved in his entire career, Freddie Mercury had still been unable to be himself in front of his family. Perhaps knowing that his end was coming and his identity would be exposed, the transgressive artist opted for a conservative will.
His mother: “He protected us by not talking about these issues with us. Now it is different, but then it would have been very hard for him to tell us “
In an interview with ‘The Telegraph’, his mother, Jer Bulsara, explained that, hours before his death, the singer was concerned about the effect the media would have on his family. “You don’t have to worry about us now,” her mother told her. “He protected us by not talking about these issues with us. Now it is different, but then it would have been very hard for him to tell us and we respect his feelings ”, explained his mother, who died in 2016 at the age of 94.
And it is that, although Freddie Mercury was a homosexual liberation icon that has inspired several generations, it now seems important to look closely and with more nuances at its last days and, 30 years later, leave testimony of the chinks of fear and intolerance who still haunt even the most successful of homosexuals to the end.
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The mystery of Freddie Mercury’s inheritance: millions for ex-girlfriend, eviction for boyfriend