JK Rowling on Dumbledore: Homophobia is a Fear of People Loving


JK Rowling addressed Dumbledore’s homosexuality in a recent interview with Scotland’s Edinburgh University student paper. In the interview, Rowling says “So what?” to those who disagree with a gay character in a children’s novel.

DumbledoreSays Rowling: “It is a very interesting question because I think homophobia is a fear of people loving, more than it is of the sexual act. There seems to be an innate distaste for the love involved, which I find absolutely extraordinary. There were people who thought, well why haven’t we seen Dumbledore’s angst about being gay? Where was that going to come in? And then the other thing was — and I had letters saying this — that, as a gay man, he would never be safe to teach in a school…He’s a very old single man. You have to ask: why is it so interesting? People have to examine their own attitudes. It’s a shade of character. Is it the most important thing about him? No, it’s Dumbledore for God’s sake. There are 20 things that are relevant to the story before his sexuality.”

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  1. Michael W. says

    I absolutely love Rowling and especially Dumbledore–if you haven’t read Harry Potter, do yourself a favor and start reading! The first two books are the most “children’s bookish”–if you can make it through those, the real story gets off and running with book three. Dumbledore is suave, clever, quick-witted, and brilliant! He has a way of being self-knowingly genius yet at the same time, self-deprecating (sp?). By the way, I saw a t-shirt on cafepress.com the other day that was really cute: Dumbledore’s Army: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell! (And the Michael Gambon’s Dumbledore is nothing like the book–he hasn’t read the first Harry Potter book and would rather play “his” version, which isn’t as good at all.)

  2. KJ says

    Agreed, Michael. In addition to that, Dumbledore comes with flaws that make him more interesting, and as JK has indicated, his sexuality is not the most important thing about him — you know, kind of like in the real world.

    Though this is about a fictional character, the religionists, given their homophobia are right to be afraid of the impact of this subtle nuance that is lost less and less upon the next generation.

  3. Hope says

    She is wonderful. I do wonder if she ever, during the course of writing, considered the sexualities of other characters, backstories that never quite made it into those fabulous books.

    Specifically, Lupin, Sirius, Lucius Malfoy…lots of JK’s characters had an interesting subtext.

  4. Johnny L. says

    @ Michael W … Agreed, all, except for the last sentence. Gambon is terrific as Dumbledore! Especially in the third movie. Unfortunately, since the screenwriter is having to condense so much into the two-and-a-half-hour movie script, a lot of the fun Gambon could have with the character isn’t there.

    J.K. rocks.

  5. Michael W. says

    Ooooo, Johnny L., we have to agree to disagree! :) Gambon’s Dumbledore seems so impatient and angry at times. Rowling’s Dumbledore was almost always cool and unflappable. A good example was when he defended Harry at his trial in the fifth book. Gambon paced frustratingly and was very curt. In the book, Dumbledore simply whipped up a comfortable chair for himself and sat calmly, elbows on the arms of the chair, fingers touching.

    I think my problem is that I feel Richard Harris’ portrayal was a lot closer to my impression of the way Dumbledore would have behaved, and it ruined me for anyone else in the role.

  6. Michael W. says

    Hope: It’s funny you should mention that. Up until the point Lupin’s and Tonk’s relationship was revealed, I would have thought that if anybody had been gay, it would have been Lupin. I didn’t think Rowling would reveal it, because it’s a children’s book, and the story isn’t about sex between anybody. But I thought Lupin’s outcast status as a werewolf was a metaphor for homosexuality. I wished she had gone in that direction with him.

  7. Strepsi says

    to Michael W: I thought so too. And Lupin and Sirius were totally a “My Two Dads” for Harry Potter!
    JK Rowling is a HERO for not crumbling before the ignorant bile that large chunks of the US public routinely spew. Okay, I mean she’s no Rosa Parks, but damn good for her for sticking to her pro-gay guns!

  8. Anthony says

    I love her for saying that and telling it how she feels…Not like other rich people and the like…how they dance around the subject because they dont’ want to offend either side…and it doesn’t help that she’s for the gay community…JK is a genius…

  9. Alora says

    I agree with Michael! Gambon isn’t Dumbledore at all! He is way too angry..Dumbledore is a very calm character and he never yells or shouts. Gambon plays the role soo wrong..and I was very disappointed at his performance as Dumbledore.

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