After months of anticipation, the eagerly awaited film “Bohemian Rhapsody” is on screens, along with a review within the pages of The Ithacan. Unfortunately, my excitement about the movie has staled because it is problematic in many ways. And although I’m appreciative The Ithacan reviewed the film, this element of the review stuck out: “Even though Mercury was a gay man living a rockstar dream”…
Although Mercury himself was not very public about any particular identity words that may have resonated with him to describe his identity during his life, he was clear about being attracted to people of several genders. This passage seems to ignore or invalidate Mercury’s lifelong management of his identity very privately. It may also perpetuate and reinforce bisexual and pansexual erasure.
Labeling Mercury as gay or bisexual isn’t adequate, accurate or necessary. Erasure and mislabeling of people who have marginalized sexual orientations is commonplace in society. This has far-reaching negative impacts, especially in a film with such a widespread reach and appeal.
It’s possible that the exchange in the film to which the reviewer refers may also itself illustrate erasure — as either an intentional or unintentional intent of the screenwriters. I believe this was a missed opportunity for the reviewer to call this out and educate rather than duplicating it in the review without comment or examination.