Queen guitarist Brian May is firing back after comments he made about the removal of gendered categories at the Brit Awards stirred up controversy, claiming he was “ambushed” by a journalist, who then “twisted” what he’d said.

Back in November, the Brit Awards announced they will scrap the separate male and female categories for solo artist and international solo artist. The categories will instead be replaced by artist of the year and international artist of the year.

They said the changes are to honour artists “solely for their music and work, rather than how they choose to identify or as others may see them” and was part of the event’s “commitment to evolving the show to be as inclusive and as relevant as possible.”

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When asked about the decision at the ITV Palooza event,  May told the Mirror, “It’s a decision that has been made without enough thought. A lot of things work quite well and can be left alone.

“I get so sick of people trying to change things without thinking of the long-term consequences. Some of these things are an improvement, some of them are not.”

The artist had further thoughts about the state of the creative world at present, calling it an “atmosphere of fear everywhere because people are afraid to say how they really think.”

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He elaborated: “I think so many people are feeling, ‘Hang on, this isn’t quite right.’ But they don’t dare say anything. Eventually, there will be some kind of explosion.”

Speaking to the culture of diversity today, he believes that a lack of diversity shouldn’t be as big a deal.

“Freddie came from Zanzibar, he wasn’t British, he wasn’t white as such — nobody cares, nobody ever, ever discussed it,” he said. “He was a musician, he was our friend, he was our brother. We didn’t have to stop and think, Oh, now, should we work with him? Is he the right colour? Is he the right sexual proclivity? None of that happened, and now I find it frightening that you have to be so calculating about everything.”

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May feels so strongly about the topic that he thinks Queen would have struggled as a band today.

“We would be forced to have people of different colours and different sexes and we would have to have a trans [person],” he explained. “You know, life doesn’t have to be like that. We can be separate and different.”

May was criticized for that last remark, and he took to Instagram to issue a response claiming he “was ambushed and completely stitched up by a journalist at the recent ITV event.”

That, he added, “led to a whole mess of press stories making it look like I’m unfriendly to trans people. Nothing could be further from the truth. My words were subtly twisted. I should have known better than to talk to those predatory Press hacks.”

May concluded, “Sincere apologies to anyone who has been hurt by the stories. My heart is open as always to humans of all colours, all creeds, all sexes and sexualities, all shapes and sizes – and all creatures. We all deserve respect and an equal place in this world. And my grateful thanks to all of you who stepped up to defend me in the last couple of days. It means so much that you have faith in me. With love – Bri.”