Respectful Insolence

I can’t say I saw this one coming, but it turns out that Albus Dumbledore is gay:

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has revealed that one of her characters, Hogwarts school headmaster Albus Dumbledore, is gay.
She made her revelation to a packed house in New York’s Carnegie Hall on Friday, as part of her US book tour.

She took audience questions and was asked if Dumbledore found “true love”.

“Dumbledore is gay,” she said, adding he was smitten with rival Gellert Grindelwald, who he beat in a battle between good and bad wizards long ago.

The audience gasped, then applauded. “I would have told you earlier if I knew it would make you so happy,” she said.

“Falling in love can blind us to an extent,” she added, saying Dumbledore was “horribly, terribly let down” and his love for Grindelwald was his “great tragedy”.

“Oh, my god,” Rowling, 42, concluded with a laugh, “the fan fiction”.

Rowling is smart. Given all the Kirk-Spock erotic fan fiction out there, I’d be worried too.

Reading the last book, I did sort of vaguely wonder about whether there was something more to Dumbledore’s friendship with Grindelwald, but the story didn’t really drop any major hints. As if the wingnuts who don’t want the Harry Potter books in school libraries because they think the books glorify witchcraft didn’t have enough reason to try to ban the books…

It seems that Rowling is almost intentionally tweaking these idiots and taking delight in it. Good. It doesn’t matter one whit to me whether Dumbledore is gay, straight, or asexual, as long as he’s a compelling character in a compelling story.

Comments

  1. #1 David B.
    October 20, 2007

    I don’t know that I care so much about this having read the books, but it sure makes Rowling much more interesting to me as a writer. I’m looking forward to her next project.

    It would be fun if she allowed this info to somehow be reflected in the last two films… and I mean in a real way – not some stereotype where Dumbledore has some pufter moment!

    http://www.theskinofmyteeth.com

    David B.

  2. #2 Amy Alkon
    October 20, 2007

    Do you know anything about slash films (homoerotic films, usually made by straight girls, I think, out of popular films and TV shows). Catherine Salmon, a ev. psych professor friend of mine, writes about them, and showed me a hilarious Harry Potter slash film at the last Human Behavior & Evolution Society conference. Will try to remember to post the link when I get home (have flash temporarily turned off on this computer, so I can’t get it now).

  3. #3 HCN
    October 20, 2007

    Perhaps one of the reasons some of us “grown-ups” like the Harry Potter books are the allusions to the real world.

    In the _Order of the Phoenix_ the Umbridge character reminded me so much of the so-called “education reformers” I hear spouting off in newspaper editorials, school meetings and other forums.

    When I read the last book the Dumbledore and Grindelwald pair reminded me a bit of the pairs of Nietzeche murders. From Loeb and Leopold, those depicted in Hitchcock’s “The Rope” all the way to Rafay and Burns:
    http://www.crimelibrary.com/notorious_murders/famous/nietzsche_crimes/index.html

    By the way, I’ve taken to listening to the books again. I have checked out _The Order of Phoenix_ from the library. I am on my way to a native plant sale and will be listening to #6 of 23 disks. Great for working in the garden. Unfortunately, they are not available in mp3 format from where I downloaded with my library card the _Series of Unfortunate Incidents_, http://overdrive.com/products/dlr/ )

  4. #4 Jeb, FCD
    October 20, 2007

    Must resist urge to make Gandalf vs. Dumbledore wand joke….

  5. #5 Amy Alkon
    October 20, 2007

    Catherine just e-mailed me. (She’s going to check out your site later.) She thinks I might be thinking of the Harry Potter slash video, “You touch my tra la la.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMnaDcGrV3s

  6. #6 Dianne
    October 20, 2007

    Must resist urge to make Gandalf vs. Dumbledore wand joke….

    No comparison. Gandalf used a staff.

  7. #7 Ahistoricality
    October 20, 2007

    Well, that sort of explains why the Dumbledore-Grindelwald relationship was so poorly laid out in the last book. The complete absence of homosexuality from the books otherwise…. well, it’s not the first bit of realism she’s attempted and fumbled.

  8. #8 Dorian Gray
    October 20, 2007

    Dumbledore ‘gave Harry the sword of Gryffindor’ (heh-heh).

    Personally, I think she should have left Dumbledore asexual, particularly since there are two movies yet to be made. Now everyone will read into every Dumbledore/Harry scene, or even Dumbledore/Snape scene. Just as they would a gay Scoutmaster and Boy Scouts. Or Mark Foley to interns.

    Also, magic and witchcraft are clearly fake. Homosexuality is real. So while the woos may have been struggling with the hilarious suggestion that Rowling was ‘promoting’ witchcraft, they will actually have some legs to stand on by suggestion that Rowling is ‘promoting homosexuality to children.’

    I admire her desire to tweak the noses of stupid people, but you don’t tweak their noses by handing them ammunition.

  9. #9 Marcus Ranum
    October 20, 2007

    What does she care if she pisses the woos off? She’s filthy loaded and can rub people’s faces in it if they like.

    Personally, I’m amazed that anyone reads such poorly written and edited schlock. But then, I shouldn’t be – when the “DaVinci Code” is heralded as a top-notch thriller… Every time I go to the bookstore and see what’s on the popular shelf I have to struggle to resist the urge to rip one of my eyeballs out in protest.

  10. #10 John Marley
    October 20, 2007

    Every time I go to the bookstore and see what’s on the popular shelf I have to struggle to resist the urge to rip one of my eyeballs out in protest.

    It’s true that there is a lot of crap out there, but this sounds to me to be saying that you feel anything popular is automatically bad.

    My advice to you is to stay out of bookstores.

  11. #11 susan
    October 20, 2007

    I was pretty sure Dumbledore was gay. People got annoyed when I suggested it. I rather enjoyed the books, poorly written or not. I do think, however, that the DaVinci code was a terrible, terrible book. I burst out laughing while reading it in public when, at one point, it was suggested that Walt Disney was a member of some goddess worshiping cult. I had a crush on Snape…Or maybe it was Allen Rickman, I don’t know. He was evil, but I could have saved him.

  12. #12 Necie
    October 20, 2007

    Given the percentage of homosexuals in the real world, and Rowling’s inclusions of reality in her series, I’m not surprised she revealed this. I’m glad she chose such a complex, revered character to represent the community (although I think it just happened that way while she wrote).

  13. #13 Rjaye
    October 20, 2007

    “The Da Vinci Code” was considered a top notch thriller? Seriously? The only reason I would’ve thought it worth watching was for albino flagellation scenes…oop, tmi, much?

    While they may not be the acme of literature, I found the Harry Potter books enjoyable for the creativity behind them, and the way the plot connected everything. If JK is serious about Dumbledore being gay, well, yeah. And as for the suggestion that now people will be reading something salacious in his relationship with other characters, well, isn’t that just typical. Can’t be gay and a person of ethical character in a position of responsibility, eh? I agree with David B., that this info’, if not a tease, is treated in a non-stereotypic and nonsensational manner.

    And Susan, yeah, Rickman-Snape–just somethin’, ain’t it?

  14. #14 Eamon Knight
    October 20, 2007

    Actually, I thought Rowling had done the gay vs. bigotry riff by making Lupin — the best Dark Arts Defence teacher Harry’s class had yet had, and an unambiguous Good Guy — be a werewolf, and having him get fired when it comes out. Or maybe that was more of an AIDS vs. bigotry riff.

    (BTW: I haven’t read the books, and I’d like to know as little as possible about what happens in #6 and #7 until I see it on the big screen. Forlorn hope, I know, but….)

  15. #15 Patience
    October 20, 2007

    I’m somewhat relieved. Rowling had made references to one of the “big” characters being gay a few years back, but it never eventuated. I actually think that both Lupin and Tonks were queers in a sham marriage, and it’s a popular stance in the fandom. Remus Lupin clearly had the hots for Sirius Black. Anyway, relieved. Yes, because she didn’t take a cop-out character (a second tier one, like any of the back-up Gryffindors such as Seamus Finnigan) as her one and only gay character–she went with arguably the second most important in the books after Harry himself.

    As for the slash…it’s already out there and has been around a LONG time. Google “Dumbledore slash” or “Dumbledore/[any male character, especially Snape]” and you’ll get plenty of art, fic, and probably photo/video manips.

  16. #16 doctorgoo
    October 20, 2007

    Actually, this makes me want to re-read the series once again, to see if I can rethink some of the plotlines given this new info.

    But I don’t see how moderate or liberal Christians would be too upset about it… after all, the religious imagery and parallels are even stronger in book 7:
    http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1572107/20071017/index.jhtml

    And of course the conservative Christians were already totally against the Potter books… so no real change in behavior from them either.

  17. #17 Bob O'H
    October 21, 2007

    (BTW: I haven’t read the books, and I’d like to know as little as possible about what happens in #6 and #7 until I see it on the big screen. Forlorn hope, I know, but….)

    Just because I’m evil – the butler did it.

    Bob

  18. #18 Rey Fox
    October 21, 2007

    My favorite part of the article was this:

    “And a spokesman for gay rights group Stonewall added: “It’s great that JK has said this. It shows that there’s no limit to what gay and lesbian people can do, even being a wizard headmaster.” ”

    We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it or we’ll turn you into toads.

  19. #19 lytefoot
    October 21, 2007

    I actually think that both Lupin and Tonks were queers in a sham marriage, and it’s a popular stance in the fandom. Remus Lupin clearly had the hots for Sirius Black.

    Wow, I’m glad I’m not the only one thinking that… though in all honesty, Lupin isn’t nearly as gay in the books as he is in the films.

    One actually suspects that this announcement will cut down on the Dumbledore slash. A big part of the thrill of slash (or so I’ve had it explained to me) is the violation of expectations, the character moving out of his cannon behavior. Hence the people you see slash of are the macho men (Kirk being the archetype here) and the pairs of characters that despise one another. I’m not going to google it because I can’t bear the pain, but for my money the most common Harry Potter slash is going to be either Harry/Draco or Snape/Sirius. More likely the latter, since Draco’s always struck me as a bit light in the loafers, too.

  20. #20 Dianne
    October 21, 2007

    I’ve always thought the Harry-Ron-Hermione triangle should have been resolved by Harry and Ron becoming a couple myself. They work better together than either with Hermione. And, really, Harry marrying Ron’s sister? How Freudian can you get?

  21. #21 Blake Stacey
    October 21, 2007

    Dianne, are you the same Dianne who said this last year?

    Added Halloween irony: The church-religious school near my workplace was having a Halloween party today. The minister was dressed as Dumbledore.

    I wonder if he’d have qualms about that today (of course, I hope not).

  22. #22 Susan
    October 21, 2007

    I think Wormtail was pretty gay. He seemed to have a thing for Harry’s dad, at least in the fifth book. Maybe that’s why he betrayed Harry’s parents to Voldemort, cause Harry’s dad married his mom. Or perhaps I’m reading too much into it. It’s interesting, I remember thinking that Dumbledore was gay because he wasn’t married. Then I realized that none of the instructors at Hogwarths were married….Except to their jobs I suppose.

  23. #23 Jack
    October 21, 2007

    Am I the only one who finds this ridiculous? There was really nothing in the books that suggested Dumbledore as being gay (or, really, sexual at all). Announcing that he was gay despite having nothing to support it in the books at all is silly. She might as well say Harry was really an alien sent from outer space to infiltrate humanity.

    The only reason anybody cares about this is the opportunity to stand on their respective anti/pro gay soapboxes. It really has nothing to do with the books.

  24. #24 Catherine
    October 21, 2007

    Since Amy mentioned me, :-) I thought I’d respond to the comment about the frequency of slash pairings in the Harry Potter universe…Harry/Draco and Harry/Snape are actually the most common (number of sites/stories/vids/etc). And there has been a lot of Sirius/Remus but that last book has taken more out of that parings sails than the Harry/Snape (or snarry :-)) one.

  25. #25 other bill
    October 21, 2007

    No Jack, you are not the only one who finds it ridiculous, and a hoot, too. This is sort of like some of the fun interpretations of Moby Dick or other classics.

  26. #26 Blake Stacey
    October 21, 2007

    Just when I thought the Internet couldn’t surprise me any more, a homophobic, Potter-bashing, 9/11 Twoofer shows up at my old classmate Mollishka’s place. Don’t that just take the biscuit?

  27. #27 Warren
    October 22, 2007

    Must resist urge to make Gandalf vs. Dumbledore wand joke….
    Posted by: Jeb, FCD

    Wand? Pfft. Gandalf had a staff.

    (And as we know from Discworld, a wizard’s staff has a knob on the end…)

  28. #28 Dianne
    October 22, 2007

    Blake: Yes, I am and I suspect and certainly hope that he wouldn’t. I live in NYC: If religious leaders got upset at every aberration from the typical that they see, they’d have no congregation left. I’m not sure he’d dress up as Aberforth, though. Goats aren’t allowed in the city limits.

    While we’re on sexuality in the HP world, does anyone besides me…worry…about giant/human pairings? Apparently, they can be either male giant/female human or vice versa (Hagrid asked Mme Maxime which of her parents it was), but one pairing sounds painful, the other unsatisfying for all concerned.

  29. #29 Flex
    October 22, 2007

    Dianne wrote, “While we’re on sexuality in the HP world, does anyone besides me…worry…about giant/human pairings? Apparently, they can be either male giant/female human or vice versa (Hagrid asked Mme Maxime which of her parents it was), but one pairing sounds painful, the other unsatisfying for all concerned.”

    Ahh,

    But they mention ‘engorgement’ spells in the books quite a number of times. That should take care of many of the ‘size’ issues.

    Cheers!

  30. #30 Ian B Gibson
    October 22, 2007

    One of my favourite Royle Family quotes:

    ‘I don’t care if he’s gay, straight or Australian – it’s what he’s like as a person that counts’!

    Top!

  31. #31 Justin Moretti
    October 23, 2007

    a homophobic, Potter-bashing, 9/11 Twoofer

    “Dumbledore destroyed the Twin Towers with the power of his homosexuality!”

  32. #32 Patience
    October 23, 2007

    for my money the most common Harry Potter slash is going to be either Harry/Draco or Snape/Sirius.

    It’s Harry/Draco. Not to my taste.

    I personally like reading fanfic of relationships that make logical sense, be they slash or not. Some pairings that are never even touched on in the books make more sense (given what we see of the characters) than the canon ones. Ron and Hermione would eat each other alive given their canon personalities, so I’m at a loss why they end up together in the end.

    As for Harry marrying Ron’s sister, it should also be noted that Ginny looks just like Harry’s mother, as is mentioned repeatedly. Thanks, Freud.

  33. #33 Evinfuilt
    October 24, 2007

    Dumbledore had style beyond compare, could flourish his wand like no other.

    He was also a confirmed bachelor.

    To have the greatest Wizard since Merlin come out of the closet is a great boost.

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