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.
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.
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.