OMG, Snape drills Dumbledore!!!11oneone

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!

5 Responses to “OMG, Snape drills Dumbledore!!!11oneone”

  1. lee Says:

    Honestly, I am quiet pleased at her revealing he is gay outside the covers of the book. For one thing, she avoided the cliche of introducing a gay character, having the main characters react/soul search due to finding out the new guy is gay, and killing the gay character off now that he is no longer needed.

    If she had not revealed the orientation, anyone claiming he was gay would be accused of prurient interest. This is quite unfair. We don’t make the same accusations when someone suggests a character might be heterosexual, yet people do make that assumption quite often.

    Look at the LOTR. Is there any reason to think Frodo is straight? Yet, speculation about him being gay is treated as prurient. Honestly, if Frodo were gay, how would he have behaved any differently? J.R.R. Tolkien was a devout Catholic. If you read the stories and assume that Frodo was gay, and then assume that there is no extra hobbit on hobbit action going on off camera, didn’t Frodo behave as Catholicism says gays should? Yet, time and time again, I see the argument that Frodo could not be gay because Tolkien was Catholic.

    If she had left in anything that directly indicated that he was gay, you can bet it would have raised even more of a stink than the witchcraft did. Why can we have het characters who never do things on page to show they are het, but not gay characters? It reinforces the stereotype that gays are more obsessed with sex than straights. Invisible or perverted seem to be the only choices, I for one am glad she decided there was another choice.

  2. Darmok Says:

    I don’t know if I really follow your ideas about J.K. Rowling not being in charge of the Harry Potter universe—it seems to me she is.

    But I agree, it’s about time someone did something like this. No big deal, just matter-of-fact.

  3. Cyde Weys Says:

    Lee: That cliche wouldn’t have to play out. When it’s revealed to me in real life that someone I know is gay, I don’t react in any special way or soul search at all. Why would the characters in Harry Potter be any different? It’s not as if they ever saw Dumbledore express any interest in women. I don’t think it would have come as a huge surprise to them. The reacting/soul searching, as it were, would be on the part of the reader, not any of the characters in the book. I get this feeling that the wizarding community is going to be a lot more accepting about these kinds of things anyway.

    True equality will come when there is no longer any stigma associated with being gay, and authors won’t need to reveal the orientation of their gay characters outside the canon. If everything was equal, why should they have to? They already routinely make it overtly obvious when characters are heterosexual (e.g. Harry Potter was quite clearly attracted to females), so why can’t gay revelations be the same?

    Darmok: The series is over and done with. She can’t just keep adding to it at this point. It is sort of beyond her. Literature stands as it is. Anything the author may have muttered simply isn’t as important because it’s not within the text itself. This effect increases as time goes on, and more scholarly examination has solidified the book within in confines. Imagine if this revelation had happened twenty years from now — would you then concede that it was almost as if she had no right to go back and change it?

  4. Darmok Says:

    I don’t think she has gone back and changed it; I think she has revealed additional information about him, information that was always true.

    Looking back on the series, especially what we find out in the last book, this makes sense, more sense than believing him to be straight, in my opinion.

  5. Cyde Weys Says:

    Darmok: You’re using a false dichotomy there. It’s not true that Dumbledore is either explicitly straight or explicitly gay. It’s quite possible (prior to these revelations, anyway) that Dumbledore followed in the footsteps of the the ancient white-haired wise wizard archetype of the likes of Merlin and Gandalf, who are considered above the base desires of mere “mortal” men, and thus, have no sexual inclination whatsoever.

    Before this revelation, I’m sure the vast majority of people reading Harry Potter saw that Dumbledore was not attracted to women so thus they assumed he was asexual in the tradition of literary wizards before him, not that he was not attracted to women so thus he must be gay. Everyone I’ve talked to who has read the books has confirmed my suspicions: they all thought of him as asexual. There was never anything in the novel to indicate a deviance from the Gandalf archetype in this regard. So thus him being homosexual after all is quite the surprise, and not indicated in the text.