Filed Under Harry Potter on October 20, 2007 at 7:57 pm
The books may be finished but we still continue to learn more about the characters we have come to love through Joe’s comments. I posted before about how great it was to see a more open JKR now that the books are over. It’s great to finally get to see her starting to share more of the encyclopedic knowledge she has of her characters and their world. However, I have to admit that I thought we’d heard all the big revelations at this stage. It turns out I was wrong! During her current American tour JKR told an audience in New York that Dumbledore was gay! You can read more in this BBC News article.
The most obvious result of this revelation will be even more rebukes of the Potter books by fundamentalists. However, does this make much of a difference to the way we should view Dumbledore? Not really. Being gay does not define who you are so, Dumbledore is just a wizard who happened to be gay. However, it does help us better understand Dumbledore. It sheds a whole new light on his relationship with Grindelwald and probably goes a long way towards explaining why he was, at least according to Rita Skeeter, so slow to tackle the Grindelwald situation on the continent. It also explains why there is no Mrs. Dumbledore.
One of the first questions I asked myself when I read the BBC news article this morning was whether the fandom had missed some glaringly obvious clue in the books. I re-read the Daily Prophet articles about Dumbledore and the extracts from Rits’s book about him included in Book 7 this afternoon and didn’t find any smoking guns. The only thing to note was that it was clear that Dumbledore and Grindelwald had an exceptionally close relationship. You could also argue that it was odd for a man who went on and on about love not to be married and that we should have taken that as a clue. I don’t agree. His sexuality doesn’t enter in to that, it’s still just as odd that Dumbledore didn’t have a significant other. was he simply so heartbroken by what happened with Grindelwald that he never loved in that way again? Or was there a little more to it? Was his whole “for the greater good” thing all just an attempt to impress Grindelwald? Could he have been so ashamed of what he did while blinded by love that he decided never to get involved in a relationship again? Perhaps it was a little of both.
Another question that this raises is why homosexuality was never directly discussed in the books. Sure, the underlying message is one of tolerance and acceptance of those that are different and that certainly goes against homophobia as well as the more obvious things like racism. However, I was always disappointed that JKR never made even the smallest passing reference to a same-sex couple. Even just the very briefest mention of two guys dancing during the Yule Ball would have done the trick. Now that we know that she was thinking about homosexuality while writing these books the omission seems even stranger.
There is certainly some food for thought in this revelation. Lets hope we get many more like it in the future!