Dumbledore’s Still Not Gay

In an interview that exploded onto the internet this week, the director of the new Fantastic Beasts movie revealed that the character of Dumbledore will not be explicitly gay in the upcoming film. And people are more than a little upset.

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When the Harry Potter books were released in the 90s and early 2000s they were almost revolutionary in the way they dealt with discrimination. There were even a couple of studies (read more here) that showed that readers of Harry Potter had better attitudes toward minority groups, especially immigrants and homosexuals. However, to many 21st century readers, it isn’t enough. They want to see representation. This is most easily exemplified in the black-Hermione movement, which did eventually lead to the casting of black women for the role of Hermione in the Cursed Child play. However, LGBTQ readers and allies still lack a character to identify with.

Long-time fans have been anxiously awaiting the Fantastic Beasts sequel, because we assumed that any moving including both Dumbledore and Grindewald would HAVE to include something about their relationship and/or sexuality. It’s incredibly disappointing to me, but even more so to others, to find that this won’t be the case. Not just because of this lack of representation, but because I know I was personally hoping to get to know Dumbledore better. He is such an enigma in the books, which is presumably why his sexuality never came into play. I think fans are itching to find out more about him. (I can’t help but think of all the times I’ve heard a call to read a “Life and Lies of Albert Dumbledore” book…)

So, yeah, it sucks.

BUT…

It also makes sense. This movie series is about Newt Scamander, NOT Albert Dumbledore. While Dumbledore will be in the movie, I’m hoping to continue to see Newt as the main character. We have no reason to believe they are close friends or anything. And Dumbledore was obviously not openly gay. It’s not really shocking that it’s not showing up.

And I think the anger being thrown at Rowling and the Harry Potter franchise in general is misplaced. As Rowling herself pointed out, this is a FIVE PART movie series. She has even hinted in the past to watch the Fantastic Beasts story-line for more about his sexuality. It is possible there are plans to include it in future films.

But even if there wasn’t…

Blaming Rowling exclusively is unfair. She is the screenwriter, but that does not give her full control over the films. We don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. It’s possible it was originally included and then film executives insisted it be taken out. It’s possible it never was. BUT WE DON’T KNOW.

I’ve talked before about how I don’t like this demonizing of Rowling and the Harry Potter series because of its lack of LGBTQ characters. The books were written in a different time. And while concerns that these recent films ought to include LGBTQ characters, especially a gay Dumbledore, are legitimate, they are not necessarily decisions that are 100% in Rowling’s control.

Bottom line, I trust Rowling. If she stands behind the movie that’s good enough for me. I am willing to wait out all five installments before I get angry about lack of representation.

17 thoughts on “Dumbledore’s Still Not Gay

  1. I agree with you. I’m really tired of reading articles demonizing JK Rowling. Like you said, these books were written during a different time. Wasn’t the whole reason she just used her initials was because they didn’t think a fantasy series would sell as well if people knew it was written by a woman? I remember being excited that there was an intelligent and brave girl as a main character who felt real and modern.

    It also makes sense that Dumbledore might not be openly gay because it would have been even more difficult in that time period. Like you said, we have several more movies to come. Just because it isn’t happening in the second movie doesn’t mean it’s never going to happen.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I guess the director said in that interview that it might not happen in the future movies either, which is why some people are so upset. But Rowling has hinted that it almost certainly will be. So I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I definitely agree! After all, why do we have to have someone explicitly include this in the movie when JK herself made it cannon? Especially seeing as, hey, Grindelwald didn’t return Dumbledore’s feelings?? Honestly I’d’ve been happy with either option- he’s canonically gay, we have visibility, there’s no need to shove it in everyone’s faces. Especially thinking of the context, I feel it would have made the community seem tacky and perverted, which, come on, we’re seeing too much of as it is.
    Thanks for writing this! Lovely post 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I’m kind of confused too about why people are so upset that it’s “still not canon”. These are a lot of the same people who just decided that the Cursed Child isn’t canon because they don’t like it. As long as we’re just DECIDING what canon is, can’t we agree that stated in an interview is canon?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly! At the end of the day, JK decides what’s cannon and what isn’t – it’s her freaking world, man! And she said Dumbledore is gay, so that’s that. He is. I don’t see why everyone’s making SUCH a big deal out of it smh 😐

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I totally agree with you! No one has even seen this movie yet, so how can they judge it? The movie is not just about Dumbledore, and who knows how much he will even be in this movie. We should just be glad the Potterverse is continuing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Honestly, I find a lot of the drama for this a tad overblown. Leave JK alone, I say. From a literary criticism standpoint, I’d have preferred it had been left as deduction, or a short story had been added to the canon instead of an announcement, so I can understand people’s desire to see this actualised- but that doesn’t mean attack the author- jeez! Anyway, there’s a fair amount to go on and infer from HP 7 and I’m pretty confident it’ll end up in a later film anyway. Maybe people just need to take a chill pill.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I honestly don’t understand why this was such an issue. Dumbledore was not “explicitly gay” in the Harry Potter books or movies either, so I’m not really sure why people assumed it would be made more obvious in this one. Like you said, it would have been nice to get that bit of backstory, but it’s not really what the movie is about either.

    I personally have never seen much complaint about the lack of diversity in Harry Potter, but I can see where people would get that impression. On the other hand, the stories are told from Harry’s limited perspective and given how many times his life was in danger, I doubt he was paying much attention to who was dating who at school. I find it a bit odd that people would assume that in a school the size of Hogwarts, or even in a world the size of the Wizarding World, that there wasn’t a single gay person. I guess it comes down to a lack of representation on the page, but realistically, I don’t see what relevance it might have had to the storyline in this particular case.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. After talking to a LOT of people about this, it doesn’t matter to them if it’s relevant. Seeing someone who looks/thinks/loves like you do is a big part of connecting with a book. Whether or not the gay people are “there” doesn’t matter unless someone SAYS so. I’m with you, in Dumbledore’s case it ISN’T relevant, and I think if there were other LGBTQ characters in the series they wouldn’t be making as much a stink about it. I love what Rowling said once on Twitter about Dumbledore: “Maybe it’s because gay people just look like people.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love JK Rowling’s comment about it, because it’such a perfect way of putting it. She’s basically saying that they are there, but it might not be obvious because they’re not making a huge deal about their sexuality. I think if Dumbledore’s sexuality was directly in the book and skipped in the movie it would be a problem, but he was never even “outed” until after the series ended. And from what I’ve seen, there’s no canon information (and someone please correct me if I’m wrong) that says he and Grindelwald were in a relationship or that Grindelwald was even aware of Dumbledore’s feelings. I always had the impression it was a one-sided crush.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You’re right, there’s nothing to indicate that Grindewald felt the same way. I think THAT is the kind of thing that I was personally interested in learning more about in this movie series, and am disappointed to find won’t be included in this movie. Did Grindewald even KNOW? If so, was there any reciprocation? In my mind it was always possible that Dumbledore said something, and that was part of what scared Grindewald away. After all, if Grindewald isn’t gay, in that time period it would be a pretty good reason to freak out if another dude told you he was in love with you. That’s what I would personally like to know more about, more because I think it makes a good story than because I need LGBTQ representation to enjoy a story. I hope it gets included somewhere in this series. I am SOOOOOO curious!

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