WARNING: MIGHT CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT FINISHED READING THE SERIES (BUT DUMBLEDORE IS REALLY GAY)
One of the big news items this weekend has been J.K. Rowling’s revelation that the Dumbledore character in the Harry Potter series is not only a great wizard – he is a great GAY wizard. It seems that in his early teens Albus Dumbledore was smitten with the Dark Wizard Gellert Grindenwald – a relationship that would let him down horribly later on. This is an interesting twist in the development of the series – it will be very instructive to monitor reactions to the issue. Harry Potter is undeniably one of the best-selling kids books of all time and has been trumpeted as having a high educational value. One wonders whether Albus (and with hims the rest of the characters) will not suffer from a demonisation process by one part of the population in much the same way (or worse because of some implied betrayal of trust) that Tinky-Winky and Sponge-bob Square pants have done.
With hindsight, having read the whole Potter razzmatazz, all I recall is a great affection for Dumbledore – never once hanging on to the theory of his having been very cunning artificer for the dark side. “Affection” and “care” are two words that spring to mind when you think of Albus and his mentoring of Potter through his childhood. This uncloseting of the sexual side of the Great Wizard does not change much in the overall appreciation of the story and of the character’s personality. What I do find surprising (and rather weak) is that JKR has to point it out herself – AFTER we have read seven books in a series. Weak, because if she wanted his gayness to be so known then probably she should have made it clear from the novel itself. Ultimately the novels give us the kind of character we prefer – not ambiguous but providing sufficient hints to let everyone’s imagination run wild and fill in the gaps of the narrative thread.
After all who would not have thought at some points in the story that Harry himself was entertaining the possibility of a homosexual relationship with his closer male friends? And why not? One striking aspect of Rowling’s sincere characters (and we are not the greatest fans) is their development through their early teens and all the difficulties that come with them. It’s not for nothing that we have the controversial first kiss, the difficulties with pulling girls, and that very very complicated Hermione Granger (don’t we just love that girl?). Guessing at characters’ sexuality (if we are really interested) should be part of the rights of the readers – remember Georgina in the Famous Five? The one who always wanted to be called George? And to move away from film – remember the enigmatic Mr Humphries in Are You Being Served?
What we mean is that if the sexual inclination of the character would have a bearing on the development of the plot then it is up to the author to either give sufficient hints or to declare such inclination outright. Otherwise all ulterior speculation once a series is over can only be seen as some sorry excuse to milk more publicity and hype once the main storyline has been exhausted. What next? Harry Potter is an alien and Hermione aspired to be a page three girl when she was older? Give us a break JK…
Incidentally… Pratchett’s “Making Money” was out this October… and Pratchett is one Fantasy Author who has tackled such issues as homosexuality, inclusion and tolerance ages ago…. it’s just as great as all his other books… order it
… or you’re a Dumbledore.