Posted on Friday, November 11th, 2016 by Jacob Hall
The seven Harry Potter books and the eight film adaptations never address the romantic life of Albus Dumbledore, the wise and eccentric headmaster at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Although the final book revealed some harsh truths about his past, the biggest revelation about the character’s backstory came outside of the fiction when author J.K. Rowling revealed that Dumbledore was gay during a 2007 book reading and Q&A at Carnegie Hall.
With a younger Dumbledore set to play a role in the five-part Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them series, which takes place decades before Harry Potter’s parents were even born, the opportunity has arisen for Rowling and her collaborators to actually to actually address Dumbledore’s sexuality within the wizarding world fiction itself.
Variety attended a press conference for the new film (which marks Rowling’s debut as a screenwriter), where she was asked about whether or not these movies would be open about this aspect of the future headmaster’s life. Her response is coy, but optimistic:
“Well, I’m very comfortable with the question. I would like to say because this is obviously a five-part story, there’s lots to unpack in that relationship. […] You will see Dumbledore as a younger man and quite a troubled man. We’ll see him at that formative period of his life. As far as his sexuality is concerned, watch this space.”
I haven’t been shy about how seriously I take the inclusion of gay characters in film and television and presenting an openly gay Dumbledore on screen is the kind of choice that could change and save lives. I’m speaking from personal experience there – seeing shades of yourself in characters you love is important. It’s one thing for Rowling to say that Dumbledore is gay in front of a crowd of fans, but it’s another thing altogether for her to put her money where her mouth is and show one of modern fiction’s most beloved characters in the actual Wizarding World canon.
Plus, there’s an opportunity for some world building here and that has always been Rowling’s strongest suit as a writer. The Harry Potter films and books haven’t been shy with their political commentary – villains rise to power on platforms of hate and intolerance while ineffective leadership and the refusal to confront evil allows societal cancers to fester and grow. I have no idea how this fictional wizarding community treats an openly gay man, but I’m eager to find out. Whether it’s a point of contention or just accepted, there’s an opportunity to enrich this already complex world.
For the record, here’s Rowling’s full quote about Dumbledore’s sexuality, which reveals that he was in love with Grindelwald, a dark wizard who led Dumbledore down a very dark path early in his life:
My truthful answer to you… I always thought of Dumbledore as gay … Dumbledore fell in love with Grindelwald, and that that added to his horror when Grindelwald showed himself to be what he was. To an extent, do we say it excused Dumbledore a little more because falling in love can blind us to an extent? But, he met someone as brilliant as he was, and rather like Bellatrix he was very drawn to this brilliant person, and horribly, terribly let down by him. Yeah, that’s how I always saw Dumbledore. In fact, recently I was in a script read through for the sixth film, and they had Dumbledore saying a line to Harry early in the script saying I knew a girl once, whose hair… I had to write a little note in the margin and slide it along to the scriptwriter, “Dumbledore’s gay!” If I’d known it would make you so happy, I would have announced it years ago!
The only downside to this is that Johnny Depp is playing Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts series and I simply cannot abide the thought of Dumbledore being into a guy whose entire existence is based around what kind of stupid hat he’ll wear next.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens on November 18. It’s apparently pretty good!Cool Posts From Around the Web: