Chinese filmgoers are going to see approximately two fewer minutes of Bohemian Rhapsody than US audiences after the film’s queer content is cut in order to air in China, CNN reports.
Which means that Bohemian Rhapsody, a film about one of the world’s biggest and queerest rockstars, only has two minutes of explicitly queer content. Yikes. Chinese censors targeted six moments in the film that ended up on the cutting room floor.
In the very beginning of the film, the censors cut a moment with a close-up of Freddie Mercury’s crotch and replaced it with a glitching screen. They also cut a kiss between Mercury and his boyfriend, Paul Prenter.
Later in the film, Mercury’s lover and friend Mary confronts him over his sexuality and he says, “I think I’m bisexual,” and she says, “No, Freddie, you’re gay.” The momentary exchange has been cut. Rather than asking whether Mercury got his haircut to look “gayer,” Queen drummer Roger Taylor just gives the cut a “skeptical look.”
In one of the film’s seminal moments, Mercury gropes a server at his party, who ends up being his future partner, Jim Hutton. The moment is cut from the Chinese version of the film, which means audiences don’t know how Mercury knows Hutton later in the film. The Chinese version also cut a passionate kiss between the two later in the film. The entire scene that shows Queen in drag filming the “I Want to Break Free” music video was cut, and the scene only shows the band’s anger at hearing MTV refused to air the video.
What did make the cut? Apparently, the press conference moment where a journalist asks Mercury about his sexuality has been changed to ask about his “sex life” in the subtitles and a moment where Mercury holds Hutton’s hand in front of Mercury’s parents.
Chinese censors banned “abnormal sexual behavior” in films and TV in 2016. One Chinese documentary filmmaker, Fan Popo, told CNN that the Chinese censors are more “sexphobic” than homophobic.
"They are probably the most conservative people in China, that's why they are chosen for this job,” he told CNN.
Homosexuality is legal in China and in 2001, authorities took it off the official list of mental disorders. Same-sex marriage is not legal in China, and there no discrimination protections in place for the LGBTQ+ community.