Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Apparating Out Of The Closet

We interrupt our regularly scheduled travel blogging to bring you a bit of Harry Potter commentary.

Unless you've been living underneath a rock, you've probably heard about JKR's recent pronouncement that Albus Dumbledore is gay.

Woo-hoo! you might think. One step forward for kid-lit inclusiveness!

But look at how she handled it.

At the now infamous Carnegie Hall conference, JKR was asked if Dumbledore had ever loved anyone.

Her response?

"Dumbledore is gay, actually."

See, that's the problem. The correct answer is "Yes. Grindelwald."

Making it a "actually, he's gay" means that even JKR, despite her attempt at inclusiveness or diversity or whatever, views being gay as unnatural or deviant or "not normal."

What kind of answer is "actually, he's gay?" The conditional "actually" plays as a negative; it denies the love she's trying to promote.

"Has Dumbledore ever loved anyone?"

"Actually, he's gay, so he can only have that gay kind of love."

Not to mention that sitting on this and then revealing it seems to me a bit chickensh***ed on her part. Sure, the lit theorists are saying. The clues are there in her description of Dumbledore and Grindelwald's chummy adolescent relationship! I don't buy it. Maan and Firoz are a pair of discreetly-written lovers; Albus and Gellert are not.

Legions of fans were begging for a GLBTQ character (just like other fans were begging for a non-Christian character), arguing that in a school that large, non-inclusion would be a deliberate omission. So JKR gives us Dumbledore, after the fact. Not actually in the seventh book, when it really would have been a step forward for literary inclusiveness.

(And what did she have to lose, anyway? Everyone would have found out after they bought Book Seven; neither she nor her publisher would have lost revenue if people were upset with her choice.)

Anyway. On a more positive note, someone stands to make a lot of money off of a lavender "Dumbledore's Army" t-shirt. If I knew how to produce and sell them, it would be me.

1 comment:

Daniel said...

I'd buy one. Or a pink one...with sparkly purple letters! :)

No, maybe sparkles are just a LITTLE too gay for me. Let's just stick with pink.