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  • He died on November 24, 1991 and was only 45 years old. He started out life as Farrokh Bulsara and spent his childhood in Zanzibar and India before moving to England. Born with a unique musical talent, he wrote songs from an early age, first Indian, then Western rock'n'roll. In 1970, he changed his name to "Freddie Mercury" and formed a band called "Queen". That's how I came to know him, through pirate cassette tapes I purchased in the late 1970s on the streets of Tehran, Iran.

    I was an American, rock'n'roll, expat teenager when I first heard Freddie and Queen. I loved it from the first "Sheer Heart Attack." My father wasn't fond of my music. Dad was a defense contractor, ex-military and liked country music and 50s rock'n'roll. Long hair, loud guitars, and sexual ambiguity were not his cup of tea. Many of my friend's dads were the same, active duty or ex-military, some were CIA agents, and some worked for the State Department on jobs they didn't discuss. (Turns out it was all about spying on the Russians.) The point is, they saw themselves as Type-A, Alpha Dogs - REAL MEN - and any perceived femininity in their male offspring was unacceptable.

    And so we were the sons of our fathers, and even though we rebelled against them, some of that attitude rubbed off. We used words like "faggot", "queer" and "homo" to challenge one another's masculinity. To be a gay teen in the 70s was to be on constant guard, to be ostracized, teased, and possibly even beaten, and let's face, even killed. It was all on the table, and it was so wrong.

    Freddie Mercury was a homosexual. That was the word around school. There were whispers that he was also an Iranian. He certainly looked like many of the Iranian guys I knew. Later I found out that he did have Persian ancestry though raised outside of Iran. I secretly wished that he was Iranian just because I lived there - a little Persian Pride from an American boy.

    I liked Freddie, and I loved his band. He was a cool dude who rocked, but there was another side to him - the balladeer, the writer of sad songs, the tender side of a sweet and loving man. I came to realize that I didn't care if Freddie was a "queer". What did it matter? How did that one label change my life? It simply didn't. Those hateful words dropped out of my vocabulary. I believe that Freddie helped me grow up and become a man.

    One day my son asked me, "Daddy, do men sometimes live together?"

    "You mean like roommates. Like your cousin, Makee, at college?"

    "No, like mommies and daddies."

    "Sometimes they do if they love each other. And sometimes women live together too because they love each other."

    "Can they have kids?"

    "Yes, they can. Women can have children and men can adopt." I watched as my son processed this information. "What do you think of that, Jack?"

    "I think it's OK."

    "It is OK. It's all about the love, kiddo."

    That crazy little thing called love.

    Thank you, Freddie. I miss you. And I loved you too.
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