I remember July 13, 1985…three days before I turned 12. My first nephew was born this day. I was at a church picnic when my brother, Jim, stopped by to tell me the news. I was excited to have a new baby in the family.
However, I was more excited to hurry up and get home to watch MTV. This station was playing this nonstop concert, something called Live Aid. All day music. (Back when MTV actually played music) Moma was going to let me watch it until I fell asleep. Whoop!
I remember seeing Queen perform. At that age, and long before that, I thought they were odd, but their music was so happy. My brother, Jim, played their albums all the time. I remember one of the songs (not from Live Aid), “Bicycle Race“. I’m thinking that is the dumbest song I have ever heard. For real. Dumb. But I couldn’t stop listening to it. The chorus to “Radio Gaga” was crazy enough to make it one of my favorite Queen songs. Queen has this way of drawing you into their world.
My hunka hunka and I saw Bohemian Rhapsody during opening weekend. The actor, Rami Malek, graduated from our local university and we both love Queen. Needless to say, we were excited for the premiere.
We were not disappointed. They did a fabulous job in telling Freddie Mercury’s story. I most loved how they ended the movie on a positive note, with the Live Aid concert, rather than his death. We all knew he died. We saw all of what the amazing talented, Freddie, and the rest of Queen brought to the older generations, and now pulling in new fans of this one.
AIDS/HIV was a scary disease back then. What a shame the stigma this disease created. I remember when you first heard about AIDS, everyone immediately said you must be gay. I will NEVER forget overhearing a conversation between two individuals discussing AIDS. One said, “I would never shake hands with someone with AIDS.” I thought at the time,”How ignorant can you be?!”
I have watched the Live Aid performance many times since. I wonder how the lyrics of “Bohemian Rhapsody” resonated with him once he later discovered his diagnosis as he sang it, as it does with me today. “Goodbye, everybody, I’ve got to go. Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth.” No matter his struggles, he never allowed the disease to get in the way of his performances. His illness was kept private and the public, while suspected, did not know he truly had AIDS until literally the day before he died. The movie does give a faux pas for dramatics on when he told the band. Just the same, it was a fitting element to the movie.
I worked in a nursing home in my very early adulthood. This was just a couple years after Freddie’s death, and the (somewhat) shocking announcement of his AIDS diagnosis. I remember having a patient who had AIDS. This young man was only in his 20s, just a few years older than me. This sweet soul obtained the virus by drug use. He was quarantined at the time. His T cell count was extremely low and risk of pneumonia was extremely high. Pneumonia seemed to rob AIDS patients of their lives so fast. Another nursing assistant and I were the only ones willing to go in his room. His family disowned him for fear of catching the disease. Rather than learning more about AIDS, they quickly turned their backs.This man was on his death bed, and all he wanted was someone to care. Or as Queen would sing, “Somebody to Love…”
How many times do you quickly judge someone or something without taking the time to educate yourself? You’re lying if you say you have never done this. Human nature. In my hometown an AIDS awareness walk started nearly 25 years ago. I remember I was one of maybe 20 individuals at the time who participated. I wore that red ribbon proudly. I wasn’t embarrassed as many were of a disease invading our country. I sure as hell would never ostracize someone, you hypocrites.
If you haven’t seen Bohemian Rhapsody, I highly recommend it. Rami truly deserves an Oscar nod. His transformation into Freddie Mercury, one of the most amazing artists of his time, was nothing short of remarkable.
AIDS was not something to be afraid of, it was something to be aware of… Celebrities, such as Elton John, brought this disease to the forefront to show we should not be afraid. Give these people a chance.
World AIDS Day is coming up on December 1. Take a moment to remember those who have passed and honor those still living with this disease. I read earnestly about medicinal progression. Many are now living with this disease, rather than dying from complications of it.
Some may wonder why I wrote a blog about Freddie Mercury and AIDS. Sometimes we just need to take a step back, evaluate ourselves, and swallow a piece of that humble pie.
I leave you with this fantastic performance…
Peace out, Trout.