It was a benchmark year for LGBTQ representation on the big screen in 2018, and the full list of GLAAD nominations will be announced on Friday. But one title that will be noticeably absent is Bohemian Rhapsody, which the organization pulled at the last minute over multiple allegations of sexual assault leveled against its director, Bryan Singer, in a piece from The Atlantic this week.
GLAAD released a statement on Thursday explaining the difficult choice to pull the Freddie Mercury biopic, with its important themes of bisexuality and HIV/AIDS, from the list of nominees in order to send a message that the organization “stands with survivors of sexual assault.”
“In light of the latest allegations against director Bryan Singer, GLAAD has made the difficult decision to remove Bohemian Rhapsody from contention for a GLAAD Media Award in the Outstanding Film – Wide Release category this year. This week’s story in The Atlantic documenting unspeakable harms endured by young men and teenage boys brought to light a reality that cannot be ignored or even tacitly rewarded,” read GLAAD’s statement.
The highest-grossing LGBTQ film of all time and also the highest-grossing music biopic ever, Bohemian Rhapsody was the darling of Golden Globe Awards earlier this month. The film earned an award for Malek for his role as the bisexual icon Mercury, and it took home the Best Picture-Drama prize. This week, as the film earned five Oscar nominations as it crossed the $800 million mark at the box office.
Responding to the allegations of sexual assault from several young men over the course of two decades, the bisexual director of X-Men and The Usual Suspects denied all accusations and leaned into the idea that he was instead a victim of a homophobic news media.
“The last time I posted about this subject, Esquire magazine was preparing to publish an article written by a homophobic journalist who has a bizarre obsession with me dating back to 1997. After careful fact-checking and, in consideration of the lack of credible sources, Esquire chose not to publish this piece of vendetta journalism,” Singer said in a statement.
“Singer’s response to The Atlantic story wrongfully used ‘homophobia’ to deflect from sexual assault allegations and GLAAD urges the media and the industry at large to not gloss over the fact that survivors of sexual assault should be put first,” GLAAD wrote in its statement. The organization continued to praise the people who worked tirelessly to bring Mercury’s story to light:
“The team that worked so hard on Bohemian Rhapsody as well as the legacy of Freddy Mercury deserve so much more than to be tainted in this way. Bohemian Rhapsody brought the story of LGBTQ icon Freddy Mercury to audiences around the world, many of whom never saw an out and proud lead character in a film or saw the impact of HIV and AIDS in fair and accurate ways. The impact of the film is undeniable. We believe, however, that we must send a clear and unequivocal message to LGBTQ youth and all survivors of sexual assault that GLAAD and our community will stand with survivors and will not be silent when it comes to protecting them from those who would do them harm.”
Since the accusations against singer were exposed this week, a movement on social media is building that calls for the Oscars to remove the film from contention. But even as the details of Singer’s alleged predations emerged, the producer of the upcoming Red Sonja movie, which Singer is set to direct for a cool $10 million, doubled down on his decision to keep the embattled director.
"I continue to be in development for Red Sonja and Bryan Singer continues to be attached," producer Avi Lerner said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.
"The over $800 million Bohemian Rhapsody has grossed, making it the highest grossing drama in film history, is testament to his remarkable vision and acumen,” Lerner continued. “I know the difference between agenda driven fake news and reality, and I am very comfortable with this decision. In America people are innocent until proven otherwise."
In its statement that dropped Thursday afternoon, GLAAD addressed those in the industry who place profit above people.
“Other films that involve Singer now or in the future should take note of the backlash to The Atlantic story and other previous allegations,” the GLAAD statement continued. “The industry cannot let those who perpetuate harms against anyone – especially vulnerable young people – go unnoticed or unchecked any longer.”