Saturday, October 20, 2007

Rowling Reveals Dumbledore was gay

AP reports from New York: Harry Potter fans, the rumors are true: Albus Dumbledore, master wizard and Headmaster of Hogwarts, is gay. J.K. Rowling, author of the mega-selling fantasy series that ended last summer, outed the beloved character Friday night while appearing before a full house at at Carnegie Hall.

Fascinating revelation, though I'm not so sure this is good news to the activist gay community. Before there is celebration in the streets, they may want to actually read the final book in the Harry Potter series. We learn in Deathly Hallows that Dumbledore is not the kind and wise old man he has appeared to be throughout the series but is in fact a manipulator and schemer - and a very conflicted one at that. Is this an accurate representation of an archetypal gay person? Or is it a stereotype? As we've written here earlier, it turns out that Dumbledore was - as Jo Rowling has also stated - Machiavellian in his plans for Harry Potter. Even Snape is shocked by the revelation of Dumbledore's motives.

Deathly Hallows does allude that Dumbledore and Grindelwald engage in a deep friendship that is enmeshed and unhealthly. Everyone else is excluded. Their "breakup" leads to the tragic death of Dumbeldore's little sister. Grindelwald becomes one of the most evil characters ever - on par with Voldemort (who later kills him) and again, I wonder how the gay community will feel about that. It is not an idealized relationship by any means, not like the idealized relationships I would hear about during hearing testimonies at General Convention, for example, where everything is blessed and certainly not obsessive and idolatrous.

The article says this:
She then explained that Dumbledore was smitten with rival Gellert Grindelwald, whom he defeated long ago in a battle between good and bad wizards. "Falling in love can blind us to an extent," Rowling said of Dumbledore's feelings, adding that Dumbledore was "horribly, terribly let down."

Dumbledore's love, she observed, was his "great tragedy."
Before Christians jump at this news and take to the streets for different reasons, we should read the book as well. The "love" depicted in this relationship between Grindelwald and Dumbledore is destructive - it costs a girl her life and more. The 1940s wizard battle with Grindelwald parallels World War II and the atrocities committed by the Nazis. The name "Grindelwald" alludes to Grendel, Beowulf's dragon representing evil ("wald" or "vald" is German for ruler - i.e. a ruler of evil). The context of the story in Deathly Hallows is that this relationship was destructive. The character of Grindelwald is unsavory from the very beginning, as though a tempter of evil - and Dumbledore is indeed tempted - a temptation that he lives with for the rest of his life. Is this the sort of literary portrayal the gay community would like to see attached to their image? I'm not so sure. Is it compelling storytelling? Yes, it is.

Dumbledore went on to lead a chaste life, totally devoted to his role as headmaster (another typical caricature, by the way?) and to seeking the ultimate defeat of Voldermort. That was his whole life. In fact, Dumbledore reminds me very much of this guy. Just put a beard on him and you've got our guy. It isn't what we are that matters, it's what we do with who we are that makes the difference. That's what Dumbledore also said - it is our choices that matter and show us who we truly are.

That being said, I am very surprised that Jo Rowling would add the homosexual dynamic to the youthful relationship between the two titanic characters of Dumbledore and Grindelwald, for it reveals the inherent destructive nature of such obsession and idolatry, which - if you read Leanne Payne would tell us is at the center of homosexual behavior. It is quite a revelation indeed. Both of these characteristics - obsession and idolatry - were terrible character flaws in Albus Dumbledore (character flaws he readily acknowledged, I might add). Harry Potter's heart was pure and his love for Ginny (who later becomes his wife) was exemplary - it encourages him and makes him whole, quite a contrast to what Dumbledore knew in his relationship with Grindelwald. I am just surprised Jo Rowling would want to open up that can of worms.

Here are some more "revelations" that came from Jo Rowling's event at Carnegie Hall last night:
Jo also revealed that Neville Longbottom married Hufflepuff Hannah Abbott and she was to become the landlady at the iconic Leaky Cauldron Pub. She thought that people would find the fact of Neville's living over a pub particularly cool.

Equally large revelations were made concerning Petunia Dursley when Jo answered the question of what Petunia could not bring herself to say when Harry and the Dursleys parted ways before his seventeenth birthday. She would have wished him luck, saying: "I know what you're up against and I hope it turns out okay."

Information on the original Order members was also revealed during tonight's event. Jo related the fact that Remus Lupin, prior to the third book, was unemployable because he was a werewolf and upon his graduation from Hogwarts along with James and Lily, was supported by James using their own money. In addition to this she shed more light on the early days of the Order, saying James, Sirius, Remus and Lily were full time Order members. "Full Time Fighters," as Jo put it.

Jo also went into further detail about the many portraits in the wizarding world and their occupants. An occupant can only move freely to other portraits in their dwelling or to another portrait in which they are depicted. She also revealed that Harry himself made sure that the portrait of Snape made it into the Headmasters Office
Here's more from the transcript:

Q: How did you decide that Molly Weasley would be the one to finish off Bellatrix?

I always knew Molly was going to finish her off. I think there was some speculation that Neville would do it, because Neville obviously has a particular reason to hate Bellatrix. ..So there were lots of options for Blelatrix, but I never deviated. I wanted it to be Molly, and I wanted it to be Molly for two reasons.

The first reason was I always saw Molly as a very good witch but someone whose light is necessarily hidden under a bushel, because she is in the kitchen a lot and she has had to raise, among others, and George which is like, enough... I wanted Molly to have her moment and to show that because a woman had dedicated herself to her family does not mean that she doesn't have a lot of other talents.

(BB NOTE: Again, this flies in the face of modern cultural teaching when the "traditional homemaker" is the one that destroys the most evil character (second only to Voldemort) in Harry Potter's life.)

Second reason: It was the meeting of two kinds of - if you call what Bellatrix feels for Voldemort love, I guess we'll call it love, she has a kind of obsession with him, it's a very sick obsession ... and I wanted to match that kind of obsession with maternal love... the power that you give someone by loving them. So Molly was really an amazing exemplar of maternal love. ... There was something very satisfying about putting those two women together.

How different would the last two books be if Arthur had been killed in the middle of book five?

I think they would have been very different and it's part of the reason why I changed my mind. ... By turning Ron into half of Harry, in other words by turning Ron into someone who had suffered the loss of a parent, I was going to remove the Weasleys as a refuge for Harry and I was going to necessarily remove a lot of Ron's humor. That's part of the reason why I didn't kill Arthur. I wanted to keep Ron in tact ... a lot of Ron's humor comes from his insensitivity and his immaturity, to be honest about Ron. And Ron finally, I think, you see, grows up in this book. He's the last of the three to reach what I consider adulthood, and he does it then [ when he destroys the horcrux] and faces those things. So that's part of the reason. The only other reason I didn't kill Arthur was that I wanted to come full circle. We started with an orphan, someone who lost their parents because of the war. And so I wanted to show it again. ... Even though you don't see Teddy, I wanted to express in the epilogue, that he gets an even better godfather than Harry had, because Sirius had his faults, I think we must admit. He was a risky guy to have a s a godfather. Because Teddy gets someone who really has been there, and Harry becomes a really great father figure for Teddy as well as his own children. I hasten to add that I didn't kill Lupin or Tonks lightly. I loved them as that hurt, killing them.

Q: Harry often wondered about his parents lives before he died. What did Lily, James, Remus, Lupin and Sirius do after Hogwarts?

JKR: To take Remus first, Remus was unemployable. Poor Lupin, prior to Dumbledore taking him in, lead a really impoverished life because no one wanted to employ a werewolf. The other three were full-time members of the Order of the Phoenix. If you remember when Lily, James and co. were at school, the first war was raging. It never reached the heights that the second war reached, because the Ministry was never infiltrated to that extend but it was a very bad time, the same disappearances, the same deaths. So that's what they did, they left school. James has gold, enough to support Sirius and Lily. So I suppose they lived foff a private income. But they were full-time fighters, that's what they did, until Lily fell pregnant with Harry. So then they went into hiding.

Q: Is Severus Snape's portrait in the headmaster's office?

JKR: Some have been asking why hasn't the portrait appeared immediately. It doesn't. The reason is that the perception in the castle itself and everyone who was in the castle, because Snape kept his secret so well was that he abandoned his post. So all the portraits you see in the headmaster's study are all headmasters and mistresses who died, it's like British royals. You only get good press if you die in office. Abdication is not acceptable, particularly if you marry and American. I'm kidding! [laughter] I digress. I know, because I thought this one through, because it was very important to me, I know Harry would have insisted that Snape's portrait was on that wall, right beside Dumbledore's. [Applause.] As for whether Harry would go back to talk to him, I think, I'm not sure he would have done. Snape, I was really [?] the week after I finished the book. And I went to a chat room - not a chat room, what am I talking about? [laughter] I never go in chat rooms. I went onto a fan site because I was looking for questions to put up on my Web site, which is sometimes difficult. And I was so heartened to see that people on the message boards that people were still arguing about Snape. The book was out, and they were still arguing whether Snape was a good guy But that was really wonderful to me, because there's a question there, was Snape a good guy or not? In many ways he really wasn't. SoI haven't been deliberately misleading everyone all this time, when I say that he's a good guy. Because even though he did love and he loved very deeply and he was very brave, both qualities that I admire above anything else. He was bitter and he was vindictive... but right at the very very end, he did, as your question acknowledges, acheive a kind of peace together and I tried to show that in the epilogue.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking this up, BB! (Knew you would.)

Dumbledore is a celibate homosexual in charge of a school. Not sure that I like the premise but am not sure the homosexual community would like it either. J.K. Rowling calls for "inclusiveness." Boy, I am starting to despise the term, but who is disapproving of a celibate person who had a same-sex attraction fifty years in the past?

I don't think 8-13 year olds need to be losing their innocence and thinking about sexuality issues at all. We protect our children's childhood as much as possible. Just unnecessary. Predict that future booksales will be hurt.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how much of this is JKR indulging her desire to swipe back at her critics...

Anonymous said...

Once I got over the initial shock of knowing that Dumbledore was homosexual, I realized that he was celibate, so I guess that is not so bad. In fact, he could be a good role model in that regard. However, I don't think his sexuality needed to be known at all. I thought these were supposed to be children's books. Sigh. I suppose we cannot protect the innocence of even the youngest people any more.

MadPriest said...

Of course, as JK has already said the stories contain Christian allegory, as Harry is obviously the Jesus figure and Grindelwald is Satan, then Dumbledore is gotta be God.

Oh heck, BabyBlue, my darling, you've been promoting a gay God. 'Fraid it's too late to spin it. The word is out that you're floundering like a floundering thing.

But never mind. Everyone's extremely happy today over at my place and you are part of the reason for their happiness. As the old saying goes: "Make someone happy. Get it completely wrong."

Thanks for the op to gloat.

Respect due to you, as always.


Unknown said...

I'm wondering, Jonathon, if you've had the chance to read the books yet - especially Deathly Hallows? I'd be interested to know that, as well as others who are posting here. There is a lot to talk about regarding Jo Rowling's revelation, I don't doubt that! But what do we learn about - as Rita Skeeter put it - "The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore"in Deathly Hallows?

Thank you for dropping by - I can understand this is a big day. Dumbledore would always be welcome here too - as you probably know. But I think we might have to go to "King's Cross" to find him.


Unknown said...

I posted this comment below in the "Trust but Verify" thread, but thought I'd include it here as well. I wrote it response to the comment of Dumbledore as the mentor to Harry Potter:

We learn in Deathly Hallows - after six books - that Albus Dumbledore in fact is NOT the best "mentor to the prototypical adolescent." This revelation to Harry is devastating - Dumbledore's infactuation with Grindelwald - now in all its complexities - caused the death of an innocent girl's life, a death that haunted Dumbledore for the rest of his life. In fact, in Half-Blood Prince, when Dumbledore has the horrific visions in the cave, he is reliving that period of his life with Grindewald. This is not the positive remaking of a myth for the gay community. I would encourage those who are calling this a triumph to read the book first then make your case. Harry has to "break" from Dumbledore during the course of the seventh book and he has a huge confrontation with the "dead" Dumbledore in King's Cross near the end of the book (sorry, spoilers, but what can I tell you?). Dumbledore is all about choices and he chooses not to live out his same-sex attractions, he instead choses a celibate life, which is what evangelicals preach.

The character of Albus Dumbledore is not the stuff of children's fiction - you will not find Rowling's characters in Narnia, though you might find them in Charlotte or Emily Bronte or perhaps Jane Austin and Charles Dickens. And sometimes, even William Shakespeare (Hamlet anyone?). Dumbledore is a tragic figure who makes better choices - but I'm not sure they are the choices advocated at this time by the leadership of the Episcopal Church.

At the same time, am I comfortable with putting this piece of information to young children? I'm not so sure about that - and in that way I might argue that Jo Rowling was reckless last night. We'll see. I know she's received a lot of criticism from gay activists for not creating an "outed" gay character in the books (there was a lot of speculation about Remus Lupin but those speculations were finished in seventh book as well - you sure could have read between the lines on him, if you know the books - but that was not to be). I can imagine the criticism she's received because I've seen the expectations in the HP reading communities. Lupin was ostracized living a sublife because he was not accepted by the wizarding community - the analogies were all there. But in the final book we see that was not the case at all, talk about a twist!! If you know your Potter you will know what I'm talking about.

That Albus Dumbledore, the eccentric, celibate bachelor headmaster of a British school who liked candy and socks is a caricature again of the quintessential English Boarding School. But Dumbledore's inner world is far more complex, and again - perhaps not the one the gay community would like to have as a champion. That is one of the spoilers, one of the BIG SURPRISES of Deathly Hallows. I am surprised that Jo Rowling would want to do this at this time, but there we are. If we're going to raise up the standard of Albus Dumbledore, then its all of him. He is fascinating, make no mistake about it. One of the big surprises in the final book is that the one who was most devoted to keeping Harry safe was not Dumbledore after all - but someone else we would never have expected or have known the reasons why (though some of us did guess!).

Contrasting the heterosexual relationships with the one homosexual "relationship" (and it's not clear it got that far, actually, since Rowling is saying it was unrequited) in Harry Potter is still in line with the Christian view. We are all born in sin, evil exists, and we have choices about what to do with what we know.

Dumbledore made his choice. Is it the standard by which gay activists would follow? I don't think so. That he reveals whether Christians truly love people, gay or straight - yes, that's a point. We can see by how people respond to this whether its the orientation or the actions that matter (and this goes for all sides).

Like I said, this is a fascinating development, but if we're going to discuss it, we would need to argue our points from the text. I will be interested to see - from the text, and not outside the canon - how this revelation will be handled.

I am not sure if Rowling should have sprung the news as she did, but my guess is because she has received criticism regarding the absence of gay characters in the series and with the characters that were "in question" turned out not to be so. But I don't know why she decided to do it now, at this point. She's not the only one to have speculated about Dumbledore, I might add. But what she did reveal about him in Deathly Hallows was far more shocking then even what she said last night in Carnegie Hall. And that's why people should read the final book before deciding to celebrate or not.


Anonymous said...

Wow, MadPriest must have had many many more failures, disappointments, and defeats than I had thought if this is the kind of thing he needs to claim as a Very Special Victory and work up a gloat about.

How much more pathetic than I had imagined . . .

Hadn't realized.


Anonymous said...

I don't really care, but I do think it's a shame that Rowling couldn't just leave it alone in terms of announcing it. This is such a children's series and they are so bombarded daily with sexual images and information, and here goes another one of the adults that just has to make a sexual point. Very disappointed in the author.

Anonymous said...


Like you at first glance I was appalled and then thought about it and decided that IF DD was gay, then he lived in a Christian way after his disastrous adventures in 'love'. So actually, JKR made a better case for how one can live their lives honorable as a gay person than I could ever written - which I don't think those trumpeting the LBGT agenda really want.

More troublesome to me is her total want of understanding of what made the books work - which was their innocence. To sacrifice that innocence to the altar of pop culture shows a lack of understanding about children. That bothers me more than her 'outing' DD.

Madpriest - great name - I believe you.

You are really pathetic if this is all you have to celebrate - oh sad for you. How terrible that out all the things today - beautiful skies, aspen leaves falling in golden showers, the brisk wind in your face and the blessings of family around you all you can find to be happy about is the demise of the integrity of a fictional character.

This explains much more about who you truly are than anything about babyblue - oh, and by the way, God doesn't make mistakes (like DD) so, the 'gay God' analogy is a very poor attempt - which fails miserably in the Land O' Logic. Don't 'they teach that in 'madpriest class' 101? Perchance you skipped that day?

Rowlings biggest flaw in the HP series was always a great good to counter-balance her extensive evil. This only confirms this flaw.

Anonymous said...

Oh, BB, this is Eclipse from StandFirm - I don't have a blogger account...

MadPriest said...

You are really pathetic if this is all you have to celebrate

Well yes, times are bad. The trannies have been kicked off the bill. So this has cheered us up on a bad week.

Anyway, as BB knows, I'm only teasing. I don't diss BB. I sign my comment with my real name. She is wrong but she ain't stupid. And the Evil Lesbian Priestess told me to respect her and I always does what the wimmins tell me.

Anonymous said...

the Evil Lesbian Priestess told me to respect her

LOL, which one?

Unknown said...

Jonathon, you are really just too much! ;-) But of course, anyone who loves cats is always welcome here. It's called the Madeleine Mandate.


Henry Karlson said...

Great reflection on this revelation (I first saw your comment on I've quoted one of your comments and pointed to your article on a post I did this morning on the issue on .

I've been reading the Harry Potter series to compare its presentation of evil with the understanding of evil in Balthasar's theology. The series clearly reveals their Christian character throughout, and so this "revelation" about Dumbledore can seem surprising. Yet, I think you have shown the proper way of understanding it; indeed, it explains quite a bit about Dumbledore. If nothing else, he is tainted by his past, and his attraction to Grindelwald still has an influence on him and his way of thinking. There is too much objectification going on, and it allows people to use others for "the greater good."

Anonymous said...

*ALERT* Talk of the Nation today (Monday) on NPR is featuring "Outing Dumbledore."