Bohemian Rhapsody: What 8 other biopics would be like with all the queerness removed

A trailer for the Freddie Mercury biopic has caused a stir by avoiding references to the Queen singer’s bisexuality - how would we do the same to other famous queer figures?

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This week’s release of the trailer for Freddie Mercury/Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody has rightfully ruffled a few feather boas. Devoid of any references of Mercury’s bisexuality or the AIDS crisis, if the trailer is anything to go by this might as well be a film about any of classic rock’s array of hetero dudes.

Undoubtedly, this is queer erasure in action. Writing Freddie Mercury’s sexuality and the cause of his death out of a film about him is a little bit like a remake of Titanic with no references to icebergs. Or ships. So helpfully - I think - I’ve written some alternative, straightwased plots for potential/existing biopics about some other LGBTQ icons.

Marlene Dietrich

German silent film actress takes on Hollywood while entirely avoiding top hats. All of her tempestuous relationships are with men. Her and fellow red blooded straight gal Greta Garbo are the best of frenemies. At no point during/after her life is she idolised by homosexuals.

James Baldwin

African American man writes on the struggle of being African American. He doesn’t struggle with anything else as far as we know. For the foremost writings on the toxic intersection between racism and homophobia, you’ll have to look elsewhere I’m afraid. He never goes to France.

k.d. lang

Quirky short-haired Canadian musician is involved in some kind of activism, but mostly just wins loads of awards. Lang to be played by Reese Witherspoon. Go easy on the men’s suits.

George Michael

Popstar and enjoyer of brisk walks on Hampstead heath, George Michael, keeps on getting arrested for littering. Luckily this doesn’t interfere with his generic charity work that related in some way to public health, but details schmetials, right?

Oscar Wilde

Victorian banter merchant writes plays. None of them are about a pretty boy and just how pretty the pretty boy is. Marries a woman. Ends up in Reading Prison for “gross indecency” which means telling one too many fart jokes. What a lad.

Ellen DeGeneres

Attractive blonde woman compromises hugely successful TV career by getting a short haircut before America is ready for short-haired women in sitcoms. Makes a comeback when the US becomes a bit less short hair-phobic. Regularly seen eating exsanguinating slabs of beef. DeGeneres to be played by Portia de Rossi.

Harvey Milk

Man becomes the first elected official in Californian history to be out as being named after a dairy product. Which is surprisingly difficult as, up until very recently, it had been illegal to be named after a dairy product. Milk is eventually assassinated by militant vegans.

Divine

Dude dresses up as a woman for a joke.

Eleanor Margolis is a freelance journalist.