It was in St. Peter that questions about Mercury’s sexuality arose. Another student Janet Smith, now a girl school teacher, remembered him as “an extremely thin, intense boy who had a habit of calling a ‘darling’ which I must say seemed a bit cowardly.”
“It just wasn’t something guys did back then,” she said in Lesley-Ann Jones‘Mercury: An Intimate Biography of Freddie Mercury. “It was accepted that Freddie was gay when he was here. Normally it would be, ‘Oh god you know, it’s just awful.’ But somehow it wasn’t with Freddie. It was okay. “
Mercury returned to Zanzibar in 1963, the same year that British colonial rule ended, resulting in a revolution on the island the following year, in which poor Africans targeted the wealthier Indian population. As a result, the Bulsara family fled to London and eventually settled in nearby Feltham, Middlesex. After leaving Farrokh in Mumbai, despite still using Bulsara as his last name, Mercury enrolled at Isleworth Polytechnic in West London to study graphic design. But soon he was caught up in the era of swinging London.
“Most of our family are lawyers or accountants, but Freddie insisted he wasn’t smart enough to want to make music and sing,” his mother told The Telegraph in 2012, laughing. “My husband and I thought it was a phase he was going to grow out of and we expected that he would soon regain his senses and get back to real study. It didn’t happen.”