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'I was Freddie Mercury's girlfriend'

By rediff Entertainment Bureau
August 23, 2004 13:46 IST
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The name 'Rose Rose' yields no results at Google. Nor does 'Rosemary Pearson,' the name this woman went by in the past.

In fact, except for die-hard fans of iconic rock band Queen, it is a name that means little.

Rose Rose isn't complaining though.

For 35 years, she has refused to talk about the relationship she had, in 1969, with a young boy who would go on to change the face of modern rock music as we know it. Until now.

In an interview last week to The Times, London, Rose Rose looked back at what her life was like in the company of the outrageous, exotic, and always lovable Freddie Bulsara, who would go onto become Freddie Mercury, lead singer for the band Queen.

She decided it was time to confront her history -- primarily, her relationship with a man she knew was gay.

It happened when they were both students at Ealing School of Art in London.

'I think of my life as starting after Freddie,' she says. It was a conscious decision to edit him out of her life -- a decision stemming from her inability to reconciler her love for him with his fascination with men.

When they first met, what Rose loved about the Zanzibar-born, Mumbai-educated Freddie was the fact that he was 'a terrific clown, a great laugh and very caring…. I did find him attractive.'

She remembers, even now, that the young Freddie spent most of his time rehearsing with his then rock band, Smile. He would burst into song in the street, wear theatrical clothes, and practise everywhere. 'I just thought he was obsessed with what he wanted to do,' she says. 'It was theatre, a visual expression.'

Slowly, Rose realised his homosexuality would drive them apart. It did. 'Eventually I went round to Freddie's flat one Saturday afternoon and told him it was over. He sobbed like a little child. I left and never saw him again.'

In the years that followed, she married, had three daughters, changed her name, married again, had a son, and now lives in Sheffield with her partner of eight years, practicing Ayurvedic medicine.

What prompted Rose to break her long silence was a film by Derek Jarman called Blue, in which Mercury faced up to his impending death from AIDS. He died in November 1991.

It made her think not just of his death, but also about her feelings towards gay men. They were feelings compounded by her discovery, years later, of her second husband being gay.

Rose looks back at 1970 as a time when she was passionately in love with Freddie Bulsara. 'I have been in denial of this for over 30 years,' she says. 'It was so painful to know that this love could never be reciprocated because of his interest in the gay male.' She thinks he loved her too, but in a manner that was too ambiguous. 'He was true to me, he didn't look at any other women. But we couldn't carry on.'

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