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Rami Malek Called Freddie Mercury "A Gay Man" At The Oscars And The Internet Isn't Happy

Malek is being criticised after failing to acknowledge Mercury’s relationships with women.

Last night marked one of the biggest nights on the Award Season calendar as the Oscars hit LA to celebrate the best of film. The big winner of the night was Bohemian Rhapsody, which took home four of its five nominations.

20th Century Fox

One of its biggest wins came in the shape of Best Actor, which went to Rami Malek for his portrayal of Queen frontman and icon, Freddie Mercury.

Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Malek had been a clear favourite going into the Oscars on Sunday night after scooping the BAFTA, Golden Globe, and SAG awards earlier this month.

However, Malek had been criticised during the Award Season circuit for failing to directly mention Mercury's sexuality or his experience living with HIV and dying from AIDS.

Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Despite it being known that Mercury had relationships with both men and women, he never publicly confirmed his sexuality.

The closest Malek got to referencing these things was in his BAFTAs speech when he said: "To the greatest outsider of them all, for being so unwavering and unflinching and uncompromising in every which way. Thank you, Freddie Mercury, again."

Ben Stansall / AFP / Getty Images

So, when Malek stepped up on stage to accept the award, many thought this would be his opportunity to address what had seemingly slipped his mind before. And he did!

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

"We made a film about a gay man, an immigrant, who lived his life just unapologetically himself," Malek said in the midst of his speech. "The fact that I'm celebrating him and this story with you tonight is proof that we're longing for stories like this."

Matt Sayles / Handout / Getty Images

However, the fact that Malek labelled Mercury as "a gay man" wasn't lost on those watching, with many quick to remind him that the Queen frontman also had relationships with women.

rami malek got an academy award for playing freddie mercury but doesn't know him well enough to know that he was bisexual and not gay, ok.

Freddie Mercury was unapologetically himself, as a bisexual man, yet Rami Malek erased his sexuality by calling him a gay man during his acceptance speech. But OKAY. #Oscars #LGBT #LGBTQ #BiErasure https://t.co/S6bKYWd4AK

Some called it uncomfortable and wondered how someone who had presumably researched Mercury for the role would’ve missed that detail.

freddie mercury was queer/bisexual and rami malek calling him a gay man in front of millions while accepting an award portraying him was uncomfortable

How are you at the pinnacle of awards season and STILL calling the REAL PERSON you portrayed gay when he was NOT GAY?! Dammit Rami!

Bohemian Rhapsody itself also came under fire for "fully [erasing]" Mercury's sexuality and his experience living with HIV then subsequently dying from AIDS. Others claimed the movie had been aimed at a straight audience.

it’s funny that rami’s speech highlighted that it was a story abt a gay man and an immigrant but the movie itself fully erased his experience with HIV/AIDS and his indian heritage lmfao freddie mercury deserved better than everything associated with that trash

Wellll....I'm happy Rami Malek identified Bohemian Rhapsody as a movie about a gay man. I wish someone had told the screenwriters.

It's probably safe to say that HIV/AIDS activsists, gays AND bisexuals *all* feel a little cheated by the chat around Bohemian Rhapsody. Queen are happy, as are their straight fans, which was who the film was aimed at. So, there's that.

However, some are defending Malek, claiming that Mercury was "extremely private" and never confirmed his sexuality.

You know what? We don't know what Freddie Mercury's sexuality was! We don't know. (I mean, obviously, queer as the sea.) But he lived and was famous in a hugely homophobic time and was EXTREMELY private. So maybe he isn't the right poster child for the ~bi erasure~ discourse

A reminder that Freddie Mercury never revealed his sexuality to the public so it’s not okay to spread things around like “HE WAS BISEXUAL!!” Having a relationship with 1 woman doesn’t determine your sexuality and he’s the only one who truly knew himself.

@BryceHammmmer he was probably just using it as an umbrella term, considering freddie mercury never confirmed his sexuality

BuzzFeed have reached out to reps of Rami Malek for comment.

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