Re-Examining Freddie Mercury

What led to the erasure of Farrokh Bulsara's Brownness?

Freddie Mercury
Freddie Mercury by Suzanne Dias

Fariha Róisín


February 22, 2019

I can’t remember how old I was when I saw Farrokh Bulsara on a rerun of Entertainment Tonight, but I was definitely pre-adolescent, gloriously soaking up the close-up of his Mughal-esque aquiline face. He was handsome like my grandfather, astute like brown men of a certain generation, and despite his newfound fame as a rockstar, when he spoke, it was collegial.

In this interview, with his famous overbite (he was teased in his youth and called “Bucky”), his two front teeth always slightly on display under the roof of a spectacular moustache, Bulsara called himself a “big ham” with mild-mannered earnestness. A contrast to the bombastic iconoclast he transformed into on stage. At the time, we knew him to be the lead singer of Queen, Freddie Mercury; a legend. I found out much later that his original name was “Farrokh.” His brown name, given at birth.

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