Friday night, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling revealed that Albus Dumbledore, mentor to the world-famous boy wizard and Hogwart’s headmaster, is gay. According to AP sources, during a question and answer session before a full house at Carnegie Hall in New York City, Rowling made the surprise revelation when a fan of the books asked the author whether Dumbledore would ever find “true love”.
Rowling responded, “Dumbledore is gay.”
Some in the audience reportedly gasped while others applauded. The author went on to explain that Dumbledore loved rival wizard Gellert Grindewald who he had long ago vanquished in battle. Said Rowling, “Falling in love can blind us to an extent.” She then added, Dumbledore was “horribly, terribly let down” and that his love was his “great tragedy”
According to Rowling, she also revealed the truth about Dumbledore’s sexual orientation during the filming of the sixth movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. She had noticed a reference in the script indicating Dumbledore had once been interested in a girl and sent a message to director David Yates.
Albus Dumbledore in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”
“There’s been speculation in the kids’ lit community as to why Rowling’s Harry Potter universe didn’t include any gay or lesbian characters,” said Brent Hartinger, author of the children’s fantasy Dreamquest and also various young adult books about gay teens. “Was Rowling just clueless or indifferent about the topic? Or was she making some kind of statement — as hard as that is to believe, given how cool she seems to be on virtually every other social issue? This interesting news about Dumbledore answers these questions, but creates one more: why didn’t his sexual orientation ever come up in the books, even in the passing?”
That is likely to be the question Rowling will face in the coming days.
While gay fans of the books will no doubt celebrate the news, the fact that the information is not found in any of the books or movies will likely diminish the revelation of the impact. As newsworthy as the revelation is, had it come at some point during the publication of one of the seven books, it would have likely generated a larger discussion about what it means.
Rowling is likely to face criticism on another front. The news that a major character is gay, in what is likely the most popular children’s book series of all time, is almost certain to inflame the author’s critics in some corners of the Christian community. Indeed, the Harry Potter books have already faced frequent criticism and calls to be banned for their use of magic. No doubt those critics will only take this news as more ammunition in their fight against the books.