At an event earlier late last week at Carnegie Hall, author J.K. Rowling announced that Albus Dumbledore, Hogwart's famed headmaster in the Harry Potter series, is gay. The announcement was greeted with cheers by fans. And it quickly hit the news sites even though the last book was released this past summer. It was picked up by Newsweek and The Washington Post. The Globe and Mail called it "the biggest outing in the entertainment industry since Ellen DeGeneres". The New York Times' The Lede posted on the "Blogospheric Reaction of the Outed Wizard".
J.K. Rowling's public appearances are fairly rare. So of course the wonderful staff at The Leaky Cauldron has posted a transcript of the event which I'll use for sharing Dumbledore's outing.
Did Dumbledore, who believed in the prevailing power of love, ever fall in love himself?
JKR: My truthful answer to you... I always thought of Dumbledore as gay. [ovation.] ... 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... [laughter]. I had to write a little note in the margin and slide it along to the scriptwriter, "Dumbledore's gay!" [laughter] "If I'd known it would make you so happy, I would have announced it years ago!"
What are BlogHers saying? Plenty.
Contributing Editor Denise says of course he's gay!
Dorothy Surrenders tries to put it the reveal in perspective for us.
But what I really want to do is take a moment to put this historic outing in perspective. The Harry Potter series is the best-selling children’s series of all time. To date it has sold more than 350 million copies and been translated into 64 languages. The five film adaptations so-far rank among the top 20 highest-grossing films of all-time worldwide. And now, the whole world knows that one of the most important and beloved characters in the series is gay. Wow. I think that makes it a pretty good day to be gay, don’t you?
Dana from Mother Talkers weighs in on the reveal coming after the end of the series:
With millions of readers holding Dumbledore in their hearts even before they knew his sexual orientation, perhaps they are now more willing to accept this new piece of information. And perhaps, just perhaps, this acceptance will flow over into their view of the real LGBT people in their lives. How very Dumbledorian of Rowling to present it this way.
From Finding Wonderland:
I'm not sure story ever IS "done" - especially since every reader brings something new to the story, and writers only imagine they've revealed its entire scope. We live in the world of Fan Fiction; Dumbledore's probably been gay a long time ...
Jessica at New Terrain hasn't read the books (but has seen the movies) and sees it as positive news:
As an educator, I personally think it's not a big deal, but a step in the right direction: to expose children to sexuality in a realistic and tolerant way. By realistic, I mean that Dumbledore's sexuality was merely fact and not the plot in a book that was focused on the children. In our own lives, our sexualities are fact, rather than the plot. By tolerant, I mean our children are learning, in subtle ways, that we should respect everyone, regardless of their sexuality.
Of course, not all reactions are positive. But most on lit-blogs seems to be civil such as the discussion in the comments in the post about Dumbledore at Dear Author wondered if it should have a place in children's literature.
As for me, I think it makes sense. I always assumed there were gay characters in the books. HP fan fiction had lots of gay characters (not to mention the slash fics). Should Dumbledore's sexual orientation have been in the books? I don't know...I kind of like that it will just be accepted fact. If it had been written into the books, it would have been made a major focus of the books. Not in the books themselves but in coverage of them. But instead it's just an aside. Another fact about a friend we've known for years. It doesn't change his role in the books or the person that he was. We merely have some more insight to his life. Dumbledore taught that love was the greatest power there was and this new knowledge really shows that he learned that through his own experiences with love. He fought evil with love and he taught Harry to do the same. And through Harry he taught an entire generation of kids that love conquers. Dumbledore's value as a character and a role model doesn't center on his sexuality, but in what he taught us about love and friendship.
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