How could anyone forget the rash of “Snape kills Dumbledore” spoilers circling the web surrounding the release of the sixth Harry Potter book? Talk about a lot of people spoiling the pleasure of others (and yes, I too saw the spoiler before I read it). But now there’s an even bigger revelation, although admittedly not really a spoiler: Dumbledore’s gay. That puts an interesting spin on “children’s literature”.
I do think J. K. Rowling is cheating a little bit. She’s been in the news now for several months for releasing tidbit after tidbit of information to tidy up the ending to the seventh book. She’s told us what happens to the rest of the main characters, and now, she’s revealed the sexual orientation of one of them. Isn’t it cheating? You don’t see other authors continually revising and adding onto their already published works. If it wasn’t written in the book, it didn’t necessarily happen. Yes, she’s the author and all, but she doesn’t retain total control over the Harry Potter universe anymore. It’s now larger than any one person. So just because she says something about Harry Potter doesn’t mean I buy it. Maybe I’m just being conservative in the way I interpret my literature, but if it’s not contained within the covers of the book, it doesn’t have the same validity.
But about the gay issue. Oh, how awesome is that? It’s good to have more gay characters in fiction. They are sorely underrepresented. Gays are, what, 5% of the population? Yet you don’t see nearly as many as that in literature (except for in certain cough niche subgenres). So to have such a prominent gay character in such a prominent series is a huge score for the gay community. Too bad it wasn’t actually explicitly written into the books. I never ran across a hint of interest in women in Dumbledore, though I apparently mistakenly assumed he was of the asexual unworldly wizard archetype instead of merely being gay.
My first reaction upon reading this news was wondering about all of those times in the series when Dumbledore was meeting with Harry privately and mentoring him. Some people may be making a big deal of it in light that Dumbledore is gay. But that’s nonsense. There’s not a hint of pedophilia anywhere (nor should there be, considering the intended audience). Yes, Dumbledore was mentorly and fatherly to Harry, but that’s where it ended.
Sorry for geeking out like that there. Let me be honest about my strongest sentiment regarding the outing of Dumbledore: Suck it fundies! I know how much you already got your collective panties in a wad over the audacity of anyone to make a book about witchcraft available to kids in public schools (no matter if it was the only thing that actually got them interested in reading). So how are you possibly going to deal with the revelation that Harry Potter features a prominent, strong gay character? Oh, there’ll be marching in the streets in Kansas over this!