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J.K. Rowling: Dumbledore is a Gay Wizard Daddy

Dumbledore

You've probably heard by now that Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling outed her character Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore during a question-and-answer session at Carnegie Hall Friday night in response to a question from a 19-year-old fan. He asked, "Did Dumbledore, who believed in the prevailing power of love, ever fall in love himself?"

RowlingRowling replied, to the reported shock and delight of the audience there: "My truthful answer to you...I always thought of Dumbledore as gay...Dumbledore fell in love with Grindelwald [a bad wizard he defeated long ago], and that added to his horror when Grindelwald showed himself to be what he was. To an extent, do we say it excused Dumbledore a little more because falling in love can blind us to an extent, but he met someone as brilliant as he was and, rather like Bellatrix, he was very drawn to this brilliant person and horribly, terribly let down by him...Yeah, that's how I always saw Dumbledore. In fact, recently I was in a script read-through for the sixth film, and they had Dumbledore saying a line to Harry early in the script saying, 'I knew a girl once, whose hair...' I had to write a little note in the margin and slide it along to the scriptwriter, "Dumbledore's gay!"

The revelation had fans looking for new meaning in some of the passages.

Reuters reports: "Fans on the top Potter fan site TheLeakyCauldron.org (http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org) were divided on the news, some uncertain Rowling wasn't going to backtrack on the announcement, others saying it was unnecessary, and some welcoming the extra information on Dumbledore. 'This is even more awesome because it adds another layer to Dumbledore's character, which is already so rich and complicated. I hope he got over Grindlevald (sic) and fell in love again,' wrote Amanda."

British gay activist Peter Tatchell of the group Outrage! welcomed the news but felt Rowling should have let people know in the books. Said Tatchell: "It’s good that children’s literature includes the reality of gay people, since we exist in every society. But I am disappointed that she did not make Dumbledore’s sexuality explicit in the Harry Potter book. Making it obvious would have sent a much more powerful message of understanding and acceptance."

Others weren't so pleased. A post on the blog Red State labeled Rowling a fascist: "I wonder where her tolerance was for those readers who have beliefs different from hers. Where was the respect for them? Don't they too have a right to avoid and hide themselves away from ideas and themes they disagree with? I guess not. After all, there is no crime in creating an endearing story that is acceptable and appealing to many, and then pulling the rug out from under the readers later by revealing some disconcerting facts about a beloved character. Subversive yes, but I guess she was within her rights. (Thankfully, she kept this latest revelation out of books, so at least I can pretend it never happened)"

Rowling herself was thrilled with the reaction to the news, and said: "Just imagine the fan fiction now."

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Comments

  1. "I wonder where her tolerance was for those readers who have beliefs different from hers."

    Oh yeah. I love this argument. "How come you're not tolerant of my intolerance? How dare you?" As if being a fair-minded person should involve kowtowing to bigots. It's pathetic. Dan Savage wrote a good piece once about the necessity of being intolerant of intolerance, and it's as true now as it was then. Fuck 'em. If they want "Christianist-friendly" entertainment, they should go watch the 700 Club and leave the rest of us alone.

    Posted by: Brian | Oct 22, 2007 9:02:47 AM


  2. Having read all the books, I never gave Dumbledore's sexuality a second thought. But, now it certainly makes sense: He was a little bit too possessive and enamored with Grindelwald in the final book. Not to mention, this peels away another layer of Dumbledore - a guy who, even at the end of the final book where they answered a lot of questions about him, seemed to be even more mysterious in the end.

    But, I'm not saying anything else for fear of giving away the ending!

    Posted by: damien | Oct 22, 2007 9:04:48 AM


  3. I think what she said was ridiculous. As much as I want gays to be represented I think it is not mandatory to put one in each story .

    Why saying that anyway , what does that bring to the story?

    Posted by: TAZ 389 | Oct 22, 2007 9:31:58 AM


  4. After berating others in the comment section on Mugglenet (another fan site) about the whole "choice" and "lifestyle," I posted the following on Dumbledore:

    "Now, when it comes to Dumbledore, it really shouldn’t matter that he was gay. Dumbledore was a secretive man, so he wasn’t going to fully reveal everything to Harry, even at the end. It can be interpreted that his sexuality did play a part in the plot of the books so far as the fact it took him so long to finally face Grindelwald, and not just the incident with his sister. We didn’t need Dumbledore to tell us about that part of his relationship to further the story. Perhaps he was ashamed he had gotten that close to a person who had started to make him into a man he didn’t, in the end, want to be and thus didn’t tell Harry about it. J.K. viewed Dumbledore as being gay while writing the series, so this didn’t come out of nowhere. It just wasn’t relevant until a fan wanted to know whether Dumbledore had found true love, to which she answered honestly. Knowing this fact about Albus only allows us to learn more about the old Headmaster and continue to theorize about this character."

    Posted by: Rick | Oct 22, 2007 9:32:06 AM


  5. Taz, she never said that she made Dumbledore gay because she felt there had to be a gay character. She stated that she always just saw him being gay. You ask what it brings to the story. It may be small, but it adds to the character of Dumbledore and part of the motives for his actions. Still, she didn't bring this topic up until a fan asked her if Dumbledore had ever found true love, and she answered honestly about the character she had created.

    Posted by: Rick | Oct 22, 2007 9:36:34 AM


  6. I thought it was obvious Dumbledore was gay, I mean he was the Headmaster after all..

    *ducks and runs*

    Posted by: Darren | Oct 22, 2007 9:38:33 AM


  7. Wow! That post from Red State is just sad. Really, really sad. I mean, "Don't they too have a right to avoid and hide themselves away from ideas and themes they disagree with?" Can you imagine living your life like that?

    Posted by: DARB | Oct 22, 2007 9:43:28 AM


  8. I don't think it needed to be stated straight out in the books that Dumbledore was gay: there were plenty of hints. Besides, I think some people forget that the story is told from Harry's point of view and he's rather dim when it comes to relationships and stuff so it's no surprise that he didn't notice anything going on.

    Posted by: Alex | Oct 22, 2007 9:44:43 AM


  9. Not at all a shock. Gays in history have been the shamans in many cultures. For JK not to include one of us somewhere would have been truly fictional. A gay wizzard man is where he belongs in such a setting, the headmaster of the school leading the others.

    Posted by: richard | Oct 22, 2007 10:05:01 AM


  10. And don't forget Gandalf was gay too! I loved him in Gods and Monsters

    Posted by: argonaut | Oct 22, 2007 10:16:36 AM


  11. I wish she would have taken it further and said he had long term relationship with Elphias Dodge. That would have been totally believable and appropriate.

    Posted by: Jersey | Oct 22, 2007 10:37:34 AM


  12. A gay witch teaching children.

    That's like a worst nightmare of the Religious Right. I love it!

    Posted by: Dan E | Oct 22, 2007 10:38:45 AM


  13. I have been trying to understand JK Rowling's motivation in releasing this bombshell for the past two days. To date, the Harry Potter series has been revered as a pristine new age classic suitable for children. Now, for whatever reason, Ms. Rowling has chosen to reveal that one of the principal characters is gay. Everyone reading this will certainly find nothing wrong with this revelation, including me. Yet there is no doubt that religious wingnuts who think gay men are child molesters will be taking these treasured books away from their children. Hundreds if not thousands of these books have no doubt already vanished from the bookshelves of children's rooms. We will probably see Harry Potter book burning events staged by church groups in the coming days to gain media attention. So what has JK Rowling accomplished by doing this? How many children are going to be at odds with their parents over this for a very long time? This story will no doubt take on a life of its own in short order.

    Harry Potter fans, including those of the religious right are already duking it out on message boards. Check out the Harry Potter fan site below which is run by Emerson Spartz who appeared on the Fox News show Geraldo Friday night.


    http://mugglenet.com/

    Posted by: Johnny Lane | Oct 22, 2007 11:05:53 AM


  14. The commentary at Red State is a rare look into the TRUE mind and motivations of anti-gay people.

    When the commenter said, "I wonder where her tolerance was for those readers who have beliefs different from hers. Where was the respect for them? Don't they too have a right to avoid and hide themselves away from ideas and themes they disagree with?"

    What he/she is saying is, "Don't we have a RIGHT to go through life not knowing that gay people exist? Don't we have a RIGHT to mistakenly think that ALL the people we love, ALL the people we look up to, ALL the people we respect and ALL people that we hold as heroes are straight, even when they're not? Doesn't our RIGHT to believe that gay people don't exist trump gay people's right to exist; or at least trump their right to be open about it? Doesn’t my RIGHT to not see, hear, know about things that make me uncomfortable trump their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?”

    So let me get this straight: When these people rant and rave with homophobia and someone challenges them they cry “FREE SPEECH RIGHTS” but they don’t believe gay people, or gay characters, should be able to reveal themselves because that would violate their RIGHT not to know about it. And I’m not sure how it works when those who complain about “thought crimes” and “thought police” start complaining that they should be protected from having to think about certain things. Wouldn’t a person in charge of protecting them from inappropriate thoughts BE a thought policeman? Or would he just be a thought Pinkerton guard?

    TAZ, why do you make the assumption that Rowling made this character gay for nefarious reasons? You could make the "what does that bring to the story" argument about any one of thousands of characteristics held by the scores of characters in the series. The fact of the matter is that this revelation does have a purpose and it does make a contribution to the greater story. If you were familiar with the story at all you would know that this information really helps us to understand the character and motivations of Dumbledore better. Your comment reminds me of people who complain when gay people come out of the closet by questioning what the point, what the value, what the purpose is. In my opinion, EVERY coming out story, whether it be real or fictional, has meaning, purpose and relevance, if only to the person who comes out.

    Posted by: Zeke | Oct 22, 2007 11:14:22 AM


  15. Dan E nailed it in two sentences. If you want some entertaining reading, click on the "Wall Of Shame" link of mugglenet.com (Harry Potter Fan Site) and read the hate mail from people over the past several years blasting the webmaster's promotion and teaching of witchcraft to children. I can't wait to read the new hate mail about the gay witch.

    Posted by: Johnny Lane | Oct 22, 2007 11:21:20 AM


  16. For those who wonder why JK "revealed" this information with no apparent reason, I beg to differ. In the past, when a fan asked a direct question, unless it revealed too much about the plot, they got a direct answer. I greatly admire JK's respect for her, mostly young, fan base.

    To an author, well, a good author, his/her characters are not two-dimensional, but multi-faceted and real, and this was very true of JK in the writing of these books. She commented that she always thought of Dumbledore as being gay. What's interesting is, that that is not the most interesting thing about the character. So the "subliminal" message to those bigoted agains GLBT individuals is that in terms of who a person is, sexuality is not on top of the list, and that is a message that very much frightens those who live in the land of intolerance.

    However, I'm sure hoping I don't see a bunch of Dumbledore's at next year's Pride events; I'd miss Tinky Winky.

    Posted by: KJ | Oct 22, 2007 11:58:20 AM


  17. Alex and TJ are spot on. All of the books are littered with hidden clues about the characters and the plot. Some are explicitly explained and some are left to the imagination or interpretation. Not all those explanations are immediate either. Some are given several books later in the series, in later interviews, or on her website. This is further proof that Rowling does not just reveal character or plot details after the fact on a whim. They are carefully planned out in advance. As TJ said, she has been perfectly willing to not only answer questions directly about the books once there is no conflict with the plot. She also goes out of her way to dispel inaccuracies about the books if they crop up.

    All of this creates texture and nuance for an entire imaginary world. There are plenty of details about the other characters, especially the adult ones, which Harry never picks up on because he is too wrapped up in his own problems just like any teenager.

    Posted by: James C | Oct 22, 2007 12:44:04 PM


  18. http://www.fanfiction.net/s/3847277/1/

    Short story about how Harry and Draco react to the news about Dumbledore, positive message about older gay men.

    Posted by: Paul | Oct 22, 2007 2:21:14 PM


  19. Once again, the handwringing at what a small group of people whose opinions don't matter think! J. K. Rowling herself, in a different article about this revelation, was quite aware that there was a fringe of lunatics trying to ban the book on the grounds of Satanism and anti-Christian bias. She said she could only guess what this little tidbit would do to them.

    I'm hoping for mild strokes myself. Maybe it will curb certain people's instincts to go out of their way to look for something mideval to be outraged about.

    Personally, I kind of suspected something in his relationship with Grindelwald. If you've read any English stories that take place for extended periods in boarding schools, one of the recurring themes explored in them is the nature of the close relationships that develop between male protagonists. In some cases, it's explicitly homoerotic (Maurice) and in other cases, deliberately vague (Brideshead Revisited). In the Harry Potter books, she focuses on a very awesome platonic friendship between Harry, Hermione, and Ron. But there was something in the Grindelwald history -- the indirection, the recollections, the fact that we saw Albus bond to someone his own age -- that made me think of those old English boarding school motifs, but I wasn't sure what. So this is all flavors of awesome.

    Posted by: AG | Oct 22, 2007 2:37:33 PM


  20. Very apt comment of Jo on the weekend of the Polish elections, you know the country who's government (now ousted thank goodness)wanted to issue legislation to sack teachers who were found to be gay.

    Posted by: philippe landman | Oct 22, 2007 3:23:06 PM


  21. Excuse me....some folks need to head back to reality here. This is a fictional charecter, in a work of fiction.....since the gay thing was never mentioned in the books, or even hinted at......it's just idle talk about a person that isn't real. It's like saying your secret childhood friend that no one saw but you was a pole dancer.....this news affects who exactly?

    I know that readers can get caught up in a charecter in a book, it happens if the book is a well written work.....but to then go out into the real world and treat these charecter's like they are real, with real thought's, feeling's and personalities is just a bit deranged. Both Rowling and her readers that are busy analysing this fictional charecter's *secret* is disturbing to say the least. A fictional charecter can't have *secret's* no matter what you or the author think, unless those *secret's* are in the work itself.

    Unless of course Doubledore called Rowling and *outed* himself because he was tired of hiding from his public.

    Get real people.

    Posted by: Joshua | Oct 22, 2007 3:57:23 PM


  22. I'm a little disturbed that JKR picked Grindelwald, essentially a Hitler substitute if you follow the timeline, as the love a gay character. It's a bit unflattering. However, there isn't much There there to read into the story--her prose isn't exactly deathless. The only reason she raised the whole Grindelwald issue was to give Dumbledore the special wand, which otherwise remains with Dark wizards. It's a plot device rather than a character study.

    Posted by: anon (gmail.com) | Oct 22, 2007 5:01:59 PM


  23. No way I'm sending my kids to Hogwarts now! I thought they were supposed to be teaching good, old-fashioned family withcraft? ;)

    Posted by: Meeg | Oct 22, 2007 5:54:22 PM


  24. I wasn't surprised by this "revelation", nor did I care. I hadn't thought about it much as it has *no* bearing on the story.

    As for the extreme reactions on both sides of the issue, relax people. Rowling isn't going to out Sirius and Remus simply for your slash writing. As for the Red State, yes, she does have the right to make any character anything she wants, including making Dumby gay, because they are *her* characters. Don't like it, don't read the books. Calling them morons is an insult to morons.

    Posted by: Anaon | Oct 22, 2007 6:33:38 PM


  25. She chose to reveal this fact because she was asked a question and wanted to answer it honestly. Nothing more. Nothing less. It wasn't a publicity stunt. It wasn't to create controversy. It was just the truth. Writers can only put so much into a book. There can be thousands of books to be written about the stuff she has in her head but never actually wrote down about her characters. This is just one them. In response to the article about the person who said that people should "have the right to avoid issues that they don't disagree with". Ummm they do have the choice! They can choose not to read the book! I don't recall Rowlings putting a gun to every kid's head and forcing them to read it and agree with everything it says. This is her book and she can write and say whatever she wants to about it. Just because it happens to be a popular book that's read by children doesn't mean her first amendment rights are no longer valid.

    Posted by: BRIAN | Oct 23, 2007 7:07:47 PM


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