October 20, 2007

"Dumbledore is gay."

J.K Rowling, who apparently needs even more publicity, has informed us of the sexual orientation of one of her characters.
She then explained that Dumbledore was smitten with rival Gellert Grindelwald, whom he defeated long ago in a battle between good and bad wizards. "Falling in love can blind us to an extent," Rowling said of Dumbledore's feelings, adding that Dumbledore was "horribly, terribly let down."...

Rowling... also said that she regarded her Potter books as a "prolonged argument for tolerance" and urged her fans to "question authority."
She's baiting the usual anti-Potter groups. Do I have to look to see if they are taking the bait?

50 comments:

Synova said...

I donno. The ones who think Potter is terrible already think Potter is terrible.

And there is a point at which baiting becomes rather obvious. It's not enough to put something on a hook, the thing on the hook has to look edible.

As for Dumbledore's childhood attachments... this *is* a series about English boarding schools, isn't it?

Synova said...

It does get one of my pet peeves, though.

I really hate it that we *disallow* profound same-sex attachments and loyalties in books or entertainment.

I mean... Ernie and Bert are *obviously* gay, right?

rcocean said...

I figured that out when Dumbledore asked Harry if he liked gladiator movies.

halojones-fan said...

Oh, how hip and edgy. What's next--doing magic gives you a rush sort of like doing cocaine?

Jennifer said...

Well, that certainly explains a little of the last book. I wonder if Ms. Rowling is starting to feel a little letdown from the waning attention over the last book. That kind of adulation has to be at least a little addictive.

bill said...

I mean... Ernie and Bert are *obviously* gay, right?

No, just roommates. Big Bird and Snuffleupagass, however...

Pastor_Jeff said...

How is this news to anyone who's read the series? Dumbledore is consistently happy and cheerful.

reader_iam said...

Do I have to look to see if they are taking the bait?

Nope.

reader_iam said...

For my part, I'm not the slightest bit tempted to take away the volume (#1) my son is reading.

(Well, not at this minute--right now he's getting ready for a nice, long bike ride with his dad, on an absolutely beautiful day for it.)

bill said...

Do I have to look to see if they are taking the bait?

Who do you mean by "they"? I can think of at least 2 groups of people taking an equal interest in the story.

bill said...

this *is* a series about English boarding schools, isn't it?

Hmm, let's check in with Kipling and his Stalky & Co:

"Did you give Clewer Head-knuckles?" McTurk echoed. At the twentieth repetition -- no boy can stand the torture of one unvarying query, which is the essence of bullying--came confession.

"We did, confound you!"

"Then you'll be knuckled;" and knuckled they were, according to ancient experience. Head-knuckling is no trifle; "Molly" Fairburn of the old days could not have done better.

"Did you give Clewer Brush-drill?" This time the question was answered sooner, and Brush-drill was dealt out for the space of five minutes by Stalky's watch. They could not even writhe in their bonds. No brush is employed in Brush-drill.

"Did you give Clewer the Key?"

"No; we didn't. I swear we didn't!" from Campbell, rolling in agony.

"Then we'll give it to you, so you can see what it would be like if you had."

The torture of the Key--which has no key at all --hurts excessively. They endured several minutes of it, and their language necessitated
the gag.

"Did you give Clewer Corkscrews?"

"Yes. Oh, curse your silly souls! Let us alone, you cads."

They were corkscrewed, and the torture of the Corkscrew--this has nothing to do with corkscrews--is keener than the torture of the Key.

The method and silence of the attacks was breaking their nerves. Between each new torture came the pitiless, dazing rain of questions, and when they did not answer to the point, Isabella-colored handkerchiefs were thrust into their mouths.

Trooper York said...

I haven't been this shocked since Robert A. Heinlein told us that Johnnie Nucleo was gay!

Bruce Hayden said...

I seem to remember Dumbledore and Grindelwald meeting right after the former finished school. He had done a remarkable job at school and was thinking of a Ministry job after he got back from a grand tour. But he met Grindelwald, they got along, competed and learned higher level magic together, etc., until the death of Dumbledore's sister, with some culpability by Grindelwald. They were in Dumbledore's home town. I don't remember the specifics, which means I need to reread the book.

I found the mention of Bert and Ernie interesting. Years ago, we used to tease about them being gay. But, of course, they can't be, because they are prepubescent. Nevertheless, both Potter and Sesame Street cannot really show homosexuality, at least as it is known by adults. So, you end up with best friends who could be, but aren't necessarily, gay.

Jackie said...

:( I really don't feel like she did it for publicity. She's been releasing lots of tidbits of information about the characters since book 7 has been published, including Ron's, Hermione's, and Harry's professions. The universe is huge, and the fans are rabid for any tidbits of information. The fact that the press is making such a big deal about Dumbledore's homosexuality is more of a reflection on society than on Rowling herself, I think.

Trooper York said...

Now SpongeBob Square Pants and Patrick are the gayest two dudes on TV since Charles Nelson Reilly guested on a Liberace Christmas special (NTTAWWT).

Joan said...

I really hate it that we *disallow* profound same-sex attachments and loyalties in books or entertainment.

Oh, give me a break. The love between Frodo and Sam was as profound as one you will ever see on screen. I still tear up when I see the scene in TRotK, when Frodo falls for the last time on the slope of Mount Doom, and Sam declares, "I may not be able to carry the Ring, but I can carry you," and, parched and beaten as he is, he does, and so saves the world.

It doesn't get any better than that.

As for Rowling: she has said she won't publish any more novels in the HP-verse, but she has mentioned more than once that she might do a sort of encyclopedia. I don't think it's too wild a speculation to think she has it all written already. She has been working on it all along, she might as well as publish it. I'd buy it -- especially as she has said that, if she did it, the proceeds would got to charity. I like that idea.

As for Dumbledore being gay: so what? It obviously never stopped him from doing what he wanted to do, and by all accounts he was the greatest wizard ever -- and also one of the least tortured souls portrayed in the books, for all the anguished history we discover in the seventh volume.

Revenant said...

I thought that the past history of the two men (as revealed in book seven) hinted at that a little. Guess I was right.

I wonder if Ian McKellen's role as Gandalf inspired her?

MadisonMan said...

Dumbledore was gay. The man's dead.

Joe said...

OK, where do we go with this information?

Dumbledore takes the "Deathstick" from Grindelwald. Voldemort lusts after Dumbledore's Deathstick, (you noticed that he never seems to make it with Bellatrix), but never can master that stick. Yet Hetero Harry ends up the master of the Deathstick (after"disarming" Malfoy), uses it only to fix his own stick that Hermione broke, and then slips it back into Dumbledore's tomb.

I hope that this time, the cigar was just a cigar. And I can't possibly handle the implications of Harry carrying Dumbledore's "stones" under an invisibility cloak...

Simon said...

Dumbledore is a fictitious character. Or, pace MM, was a fictitious character. His sexuality is of absolutely no relevance whatsoever; his actions were driven, as with all fictitious characters, by the needs of the writer, not personal qualities. It always used to drive me mad in literature classes when we'd be asked to psychoanalyze fictitious characters and pull something out of our asses aboutwhy they said X or did Y - they did it because that was what the author needed them to say in order to advance the story. did dumbledore not rat out Harry and Ron to Malfoy in Hagrid's house in the second book? Latent sexual desire? Identification with Harry? Guilt over Hary's father? Well, maybe because sh*t, the book would have ended pretty pretty quickly and ingloriously if he had... Bottom line: with haltingly few exceptions, fictitious characters are fictitious. They don't have an external existence. They show up at a given time and deliver the lines the author needs a character to deliver, and their personalities are reverse-engineered to serve the plot. The latest "revelations" aout Dumbledore are more just mindless publicity-seeking.

George said...

Cat in the Hat? Definitely gay.

Fox in Socks. Probably.

Horton. Not sure.

Sneetches? Only the ones with stars on thars.

Trooper York said...

Simon, I think you might have missed the point. Dumbledore is more real to more people than Condoleezza Rice. They live vicariously through popular culture and attempting to reach an audience through such means has a much better chance of success than any pamphlet or protest march or speech by a preacher or a politician. That is not to imply that Dumbledore, Harry Potter or Condoleezza Rice are gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Trooper York said...

Yogi and Boo Boo. Definitely homo's. Jellystone. It was KY Jellystone for those two Mo's.

Trooper York said...

But I forgot, not that there's anything wrong with that.

NSC said...

Dumbledore is a fictitious character. Or, pace MM, was a fictitious character. His sexuality is of absolutely no relevance whatsoever; his actions were driven, as with all fictitious characters, by the needs of the writer, not personal qualities.

Bingo. Unless it was written into the story, it doesn't exist.

Jennifer said...

No, I disagree. I think it helps explain some of his motivations. Reading the last book, I thought it was kind of odd that a strong and brilliant character like Dumbledore could be so influenced by a friend. But, I can accept that much more easily if he was motivated by love.

Danny said...

It all comes down to J.K. Rowling being too much of a coward to reveal this little detail in the actual books, where her net worth is on the line.

Trooper York said...

Flintstones. Meet the Flintstones.
They're the modern stone age family.
From the town of Bedrock,
They're a page right out of history.

Let's ride with the family down the street.
Through the courtesy of Fred's two feet.

When you're with the Flintstones
you'll have a yabba dabba doo time.
A dabba doo time.
YOU’LL HAVE A GAY OLD TIME

(The Flintstones theme song)
(The Flintsones gay themed song)
(Not that there's anything wrong with that)

Danny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tc said...

"Dumbledore is gay" by crazy femin- ist-tending J.K.Rowling, Ann Althouse blog,10-20-07


You know what I think Ann,

I detest gays -as gays. Nor am I unaware of recent reports that genetic, social, cultural factors...are to blame. However, as I see it, the world would be better off if homosexuality... were attacked and destroyed. However, because of feminism, and its allowing/tolerance of such,the idea of homosexuality is ever more sticking a dagger in the survival of the human race as a whole ...and I dont just mean the fact that homosexuals dont have children.
No, I mean the survival of the human race as a survival-prone and forward-looking race of beings.

Tom

John Stodder said...

Perhaps she's setting up a new series of books: Hogwarts Nights, exploring the club action in Diagon Alley.

rhhardin said...

I hope she doesn't explain the card tricks. It ruins it for everybody.

Palladian said...

"It always used to drive me mad in literature classes when we'd be asked to psychoanalyze fictitious characters and pull something out of our asses about why they said X or did Y"

That's because you have no imagination.

Randal Rogers (I. Ronin) said...

TMI.

eom.

Galvanized said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Galvanized said...

She could have just left it at the understanding it could also have been just one of those understandable platonic same-sex crushes or some soulful mutual admiration. But I guess she figured she has finally sold millions of volumes enough of her books to allow promoting an agenda.

And, again, how could a character be called gay if he's not living the lifestyle or openly practicing it? Homosexual maybe...but not gay.

Whatever -- her characters,her choice, I guess. Really makes no difference in the quality of the storytelling.

MadisonMan said...

That's because you have no imagination.

You can imagine all you want -- but you'll never know if what you're imagining is the truth behind the character's motivation or not. Good imaginations in this case are solely for the benefit of some lame English TA at college. If I want to write fiction, I want to be paid for it.

Simon said...

Palladian, it's not a question of imagination. Fictional characters are purely utilitarian: they exist to tell a story, to say words and perform actions that advance the story. That's all. That doesn't mean that the story's bad or that the enterprise of telling stories is flawed, only that it's possible to get a little too pretentious about the "characters" and so forth. The characters are proxies for the author and the needs of the author to tell the story. you can create very interesting and detailed characters in the course of telling the story, but they still don't have an external, independent existence.

Balfegor said...

"Dumbledore is gay."

And somewhere, a legion of fangirls cries out in mingled triumph, ecstasy, and vindication. Yes! Their reams of slash fics were in canon!

Trooper York said...

Moriarty: So I am not a real human being, just some construct of your holodeck. A mere author’s conceit and not flesh and blood.
Captain Picard: Just so Professor.
Moriarty: Damm, that sucks. Next thing you are going to tell me that Harry Potter is really Harry Poofter.
(Star Trek, The Next Generation)

Revenant said...

Dumbledore was gay. The man's dead.

In a fantasy series, being dead doesn't preclude still being around. Anyone you can hold a conversation with -- as Harry does with Dumbledore -- deserves to be spoken of in the present tense.

Cedarford said...

rcocean said...
I figured that out when Dumbledore asked Harry if he liked gladiator movies.


Yah, elderly, umarried - takes an unusual interest in young boys like Tom Riddle and Harry Potter.

Signs were there.

Though I think Rowling is having a bit of fun with her critics as the main goal.....damn good tweak at that to certain religious zealots that wanted her books banned...

Doesn't even have to get into Hagrid and beastiality....

I think it is something wonderful that this whole world was created and incredible financial success came to a lower middle class person who went from being on the dole in 1990 to the richest woman in Britain, including the Queen, by 2006.

And the wealth will not stop with her last book. She has spinoff products and licensing that could generate new Harry Potter product from other writers. Tremendous impact. 175 country sales, 300 million distinct readers.

I saw Emma Watson on Conan O'Brien last week. Charming young woman. 17, worth over 25 million, took 8 Firsts in her exams, "A"s in the other two. Oxford or the Sorbonne...but two more Harry Potter films before that plus a ballet film.

Like Rowling, the world's her oyster...

Robert Holmgren said...

Rowling wants readers to have tolerance and question authority--has she considered the logical consequences? My guess is she has no tolerance for those with who she disagrees and wouldn't question the authority of those she agrees with.

Fen said...

The love between Frodo and Sam was as profound as one you will ever see on screen. I still tear up when I see the scene in TRotK, when Frodo falls for the last time on the slope of Mount Doom, and Sam declares, "I may not be able to carry the Ring, but I can carry you," and, parched and beaten as he is, he does, and so saves the world.

Not sure if you meant to, but you've touched on the main complaint about homosexuality. Sam and Frodo's relationship is about the bonds between males that homosexuality perverts.

Think about it objectively. Imagine a society that was permissive and tolerant of father/daughter sexual relationships. What damage would it do to the relationship model between all fathers and daughters?

Skeptical said...

This is craziness. NSC's right. Rowling can no more declare Dumbledore gay than she can declare that for Harry it was all a dream. Any such information must be passed along within the confines of the literary world in order to make any difference to that world.

A comparison: a lawmaker can't declare a year after a statute is passed what the statute means. If the lawmaker wants to make a difference at that point, he or she had better pass another statute.

michael farris said...

"while working on the sixth Potter film," she spotted a reference in the script to a girl who once was of interest to Dumbledore. A note was duly passed to director, revealing the truth about her character."*

I think that's a key point here.
I suppose that at some point, probably not from the beginning, maybe fairly late, she decided the character was, (for lack of a better word) gay and wrote his story accordingly.
But for whatever reason, she did not make any romantic or sexual feelings explicit in the original text (assuming maybe that alert adult readers would connect the dots). And she wanted to make sure the film didn't undermine her conception of the character.

(disclaimer: I've only read the first two books, and not in the original)









*edited for space)

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

Two points:

First, I have always hated literature classes where we are told a certain authour meant a certain point when they wrote a certain story (Like in The Fall of the House of Usher, Poe was using the crack in the houses foundation as a metaphor for the weakness of the upper class; yeah, right. If I see it in his handwriting, I'll buy it, otherwise that is just YOUR interpretation).

That being said, if Rowling has put this out there, then i will believe this is one of her motivations for the character. Of course, without knowing the detals of the alleged cinematic romance this note stopped, maybe she felt this was a wrong development for her Dumbledore character, and saw this as an easy, unarguable way to stop his development in ways she disn't want it to go.

I also will say that she probably has a thick notebook or computer file on each character, their biography if you will, as a writing aid to make sure they stay in charcter, and i think publishing that would be another interesting read.

Drew W said...

This semester in middle school, my daughter’s computer class is teaching HTML and the construction of a website. My daughter’s site, to the surprise of no one who knows her, is a Harry Potter fansite. This has allowed her to place the imprimatur of “school work” on re-reading all seven books in sequence. (She’s downstairs tearing through “Goblet Of Fire” as I write this.)

So it was with some curiosity last night that I told her to fetch that day’s NY Daily News from the recycling pile, so she could find the “Dumbledore Is Gay” story. After sifting through the still-endless Yankees-manager-Joe-Torre stories, she found the Dumbledore shocker. She said: “Oh, that Dumbledore is gay? Yeah, I already saw that today on mugglenet.com.” (Her preferred source of information for All Things Potter is mugglenet.) At any rate, she barely raised an eyebrow over the revelation, which was nice to see.

More amusingly, she was stupefied that the Daily News reporter failed to note the other bombshell dropped by Rowling at her New York appearance: that Neville Longbottom will eventually marry Hannah Something-Or-Other. (Honestly, only my daughter can keep track of all the names, and this Hannah is a minor character at best.). My daughter felt that Neville should have been married off to Luna Lovegood, a matchup that sounded fine to me too. To her, the Neville-And-Hannah -- would the tabs call them NevAnnah? -- story was the interesting one, not the orientation of old, essentially sexless, Dumbledore.

She did make a comment to me that Dumbledore reminded her a bit of Da Vinci, and that she’d also heard that Da Vinci was gay. I told her that there have always been theories floating around that pretty much every major intellectual figure in the Western history was gay. (That these are generally propagated by gay university professors, I didn’t mention.)

Methadras said...

Upon hearing the news of Dumbledore being gay, I had to wonder whether I felt more diverse than I was before I heard it.

Well, back to watching clips of the Conspicuously Gay Duo again. Pip pip and cheerio.

Synova said...

I said: "I really hate it that we *disallow* profound same-sex attachments and loyalties in books or entertainment."

Joan: "Oh, give me a break. The love between Frodo and Sam was as profound as one you will ever see on screen. I still tear up when I see the scene in TRotK, when Frodo falls for the last time on the slope of Mount Doom, and Sam declares, "I may not be able to carry the Ring, but I can carry you," and, parched and beaten as he is, he does, and so saves the world."

Name two more.

Sam and Frodo, besides being written about a long time ago, is an aberration in present entertainment. No, you won't see something like that on the screen, at least not often.

Maybe in movies about soldiers a strong loyalty and attachment between men isn't assumed to be sexual. Maybe. But it's the only exception I can think of.

It's the Ernie and Bert thing. They don't *act* sexual. The only thing that would lead anyone to say that Ernie and Bert are gay is that they are *friends*.

I think this started happening about the time I was in college (or it at least reached some critical mass). I remember telling my mom that in the realm of room-mates that girls rooming together was just as suspicious as a girl and a guy rooming together. In my mom's world, having a male room-mate implied sex was going on. In MY world it is nearly the reverse.

I tried to think of same-sex non-sexual bonds in recently published books and I could think of several but they were "posse" bonds. (If I haven't embarassingly misspelled that.) It's not two girls, but four or five. It's not Harry and Ron, it's Harry, Ron and Hermione.

Because you put Ernie and Bert in a room together and it's quite a different thing than if it's Ernie, Bert and Grover.