If you haven't already heard, author J.K. Rowling revealed a few years ago that Albus Dumbledore is gay. Not only was Dumbledore gay, but he fell in love with Gellert Grindelwald when they were teenagers. For those of you who don't know, Grindelwald grew up to become the most dangerous wizards of his time and was only knocked off that perch when Lord Voldemort rose to power. But before that happened he was a dreamer who shared his visions with the brilliant, young Albus Dumbledore.
This came as a shock to a lot of Harry Potter fans, and disturbed some of them. A few even went so far as to completely turn away from the books and movies because of this revelation.
Earlier today I saw an article where J.K. Rowling actually responded on Twitter to someone who was critical of Dumbledore being gay. It got me thinking - does it matter if Dumbledore is gay?
Interestingly, as I was writing the first few paragraphs of this post my 12-year-old daughter Lily walked in to the room to ask me something. She saw the title and was surprised. Below is the conversation that we had about this topic.
Lily: "What? Dumbledore was gay?"
Me: "Yes. Does that bother you?"
Me: "Do you know why you didn't know he was gay?"
Lily: "No. Why?"
Me: "Because there was absolutely nothing in the books that hinted at or indicated that he was gay."
Lily: "Oh. But she shouldn't do that!" ["she" = J.K. Rowling]
Me: "Why? Does it change anything about Dumbledore for you?"
Lily: "No. But she still shouldn't change things after the story!"
Me: "J.K. Rowling has back stories for all her characters, and this is simply part of Dumbledore's back story."
Lily: "Oh. Okay."
And off she went to do whatever she had been doing before she saw me writing this post.
But What About Dumbledore's Friendship With Grindelwald?
What about it? As I said above, J.K. Rowling's has said that Dumbledore fell in love with Grindelwald when they were teenagers. We see snippets of their relationship in the book by Rita Skeeter, The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore, but what we see is a friendship, not a romance. We don't even know if Grindelwald was also gay, or, if he was, if he felt the same way about Dumbledore.
The whole point of finding out that Albus and Gellert were good friends was to show who Dumbledore was at that moment in time. For one brief summer he imagined what it would be like to dominate as a wizard over Muggles. The events of that summer also showed us why the two friends parted (the accidental death of Dumbledore's sister, Ariana), and that Dumbledore spent the rest of his life atoning for the thoughts and actions of that summer when he was a teenager. In other words, it shows how and why Dumbledore became the man he was when Harry Potter knew him.
What About All The Time Harry Spent Alone With Dumbledore?
Again, what about it? Oh, sure, I know that Rita Skeeter hinted there was something suspicious or sinister about their relationship. Or, more likely, she made this claim in an effort to drum up interest (aka sales) in her upcoming book. Here is what Rita Skeeter had to say regarding this matter, which comes from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. She wrote:
ou could argue that this one paragraph proves that Dumbledore was gay and that Dumbledore was a danger to all the kids (i.e. boys) that were around him. But let's get real! Dumbledore wasn't a sexual predator, and homosexuality isn't contagious. Dumbledore took an "interest" in Harry because he suspected, and later confirmed, that Voldemort would return and that Harry would have a part to play in Voldemort's future actions. Simple as that.
Oh, and he loved Harry. Not in a "gay" way, but in a caring, grandfatherly way.
Then What Is All The Fuss About?
To be honest, I don't know. I've read the books at least seven times and am reading them again right now. Knowing that Dumbledore was homosexual doesn't change the stories in any way for me. It doesn't change how wise Dumbledore was, or that I often apply his wisdom to my own Muggle life. It's not a story about recruiting young boys to the homosexual way of life, nor is it an argument or plea for sexual tolerance. It isn't any of the negative things that I have seen people say regarding this matter.
The best answer I can come up with to this question is that some people are transferring their uncomfortableness about homosexuality to the Harry Potter stories. If so, that's a shame. By doing this people are missing out on the wonderful opportunity to get lost in a world of magic, or to learn from the variety of lessons that can be found within the pages of these books, of which there are plenty!
So, Does It Matter If Dumbledore Is Gay?
In the end, I can only speak for myself. My answer is, "No." My daughter Lily proved my point that it doesn't matter that Dumbledore is gay. Dumbledore never looked longingly at Harry, he never expressed his love for Grindelwald, or anything else that would point to a homosexual desire or relationship.
Dumbledore was a man to be admired. As a child I would have loved to find out that I am a witch by getting an invitation to attend Hogwarts and been able to learn from the incredibly brilliant Albus Dumbledore in person. As it is, I am happy to be able to learn from him through the writings of the equally brilliant J.K. Rowling, who was so gifted at bringing the Headmaster to life that people like myself are writing posts like this because we care about him.