Dumbledore's gay! Should we care?
Jean Raber October 22, 2007 - 8:44am
J.K. Rowling, in a CNN story Saturday, confirmed that Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore is gay.
This bit of news was buried in another thread over the weekend, so here's your chance to talk about it without derailing other topics. But first I get to throw in my two cents.
While it's clear that the Harry Potter characters "live" for Rowling beyond the boundaries of the page and have extensive backstories that aren't included in the books, I was surprised to learn that Dumbledore has any sexual orientation whatever. Rowling's news is particularly interesting since she has contemplated writing a book about Dumbledore's early life.
Dumbledore is not a warm and fuzzy character. His humor is as withering as his manners are pleasant. He reminds me of George Saunders in "The Picture of Dorian Gray." He seems to have many admirers, but no friends. And we learn in Book 7 that he has toyed with the wizarding equivalent of fascism. His relationship with Gellert Grindelwald is faintly Leopold-and-Loebian.
If a book about Dumbledore appears, here a few guesses about how it might play out and why Catholics ought not to fear it:
First, Rowling isn't interested in writing about sex. In the Potter series, there's a bit of snogging and groping, and that's pretty much it. I imagine that a story about Dumbledore and Grindelwald would be equally restrained, particularly since she knows lots of young adults will be reading it.
Second, Rowling set up the Dumbledore-Grindelwald theme at the end of Book 2 of the Potter series, where Dumbledore himself says: "It is our choices, Harry, that show us what we truly are, far more than our abilities."
A book about Dumbldore would explore how a young man, who has used his genius to shield him from the unpleasantness of his difficult family--and possibly his own true self--responds when the only love of his life urges him to evil.
We already know how it turns out, of course. But I think Dumbledore's journey will be every bit as inspiring as Harry's.
And maybe we'll also find out what Dumbledore's brother Aberforth was doing with that goat ...
Update Oct. 24: This post elicited 99 comments, and I think we've about played it out. Since the discussion has been more about homosexuality and how we should respond to it, whether in or outside of the world of Harry Potter, please see the post above about the Barna study.
Just to recap for those of you who may have tuned in late, the conversation went something like this:
- Comments in support of Rowling, the books and/or a gay character: 39 percent, with 11 individuals weighing in.
- Comments against Rowling, the books and/or a gay character: 30 percent, with two individuals weighing in.
- Tangential comments, smart-aleck remarks (most of which were welcome comic relief), or those who found a heated discussion about the sexuality of a fictional character absurd or irrelevant: 24 percent with 10 individuals weighing in.
- My posts: 7 percent.
- Few individuals directly answered the question about whether they'd read the HP stories to their kids despite the fact that we now know Dumbledore is gay, but the responses were approximately 5 "would read" (if you count me) to 1 "would not."
I thank everyone for their responses.