Freddie famously struggled with his sexuality throughout his teenage years and twenties. By the time Live Aid rolled around in 1985, the Queen frontman was 38 and most people in the industry knew he was gay. Even so, one hugely famously rock star was rather taken aback when Freddie flirtatiously hustled him up against a wall backstage “like he was chatting up a chick.” Despite being two of the biggest stars in the world they had never met before.
U2 frontman Bono was backstage at Wembley Stadium with his wife Ali Stewart, who he had married in 1982, when the hilarious encounter occurred.
Bono recalled: “I was walking with Ali and Freddie Mercury pulled me aside and said: ‘Oh, Bo-No….is it Bo-No or Bon-O?’ I told him, ‘It’s Bon-O’. He said, ‘Come over here with me. We’ve all been talking, Roger [Daltrey] and Pete [Townshend] and David [Bowie], and we all agree there’s no singers any more, everyone is shouting these days, but you’re a singer.’
“I was up against a wall and he put his hand on the wall and was talking to me like he was chatting up a chick. He had me laughing but I was shifting nervously at the time, with Ali and myself exchanging glances.”
Of course, it was all done with Freddie’s usual irrepressible sense of fun and playfulness.
Once he embraced his sexuality, he famously delighted in teasing others and sometimes exaggerated his behaviour for effect, off stage as much as on.
Bono added: “I thought, ‘Wow, this guy’s really camp.’ I was telling somebody later and he said: ‘You’re surprised? They’re called Queen!’ But I was really amazed. It hadn’t dawned on me.”
Freddie, of course, meant nothing by it. He was accompanied at Live aid by his partner Jim Hutton.
By then his friends and peers had accepted his sexuality.
Live Aid organiser Bob Geldof even joked about why the concert was the ideal platform for Queen’s flamboyant superstar: “It was the perfect stage for Freddie: the whole world. And he could ponce about on stage doing We Are The Champions. How perfect could it get?”
After so many years hiding his true self, Freddie was finally able to be himself, surrounded by those who loved him.