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It's official: Dumbledore is gay

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William Crawley | 15:37 UK time, Sunday, 21 October 2007

I'm confused. Speaking to a packed Carnegie Hall in New York on Friday night, J.K. Rowling "revealed" that Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, is gay. (And, in fact, that Professor Dumbledore was infatuated with Gellert Grindelwald.) But why didn't Rowling mention that Dumbledore is gay in any of the seven Harry Potter novels? After a heptalogy of speculation by fans, she now lets the wizard out of the closet during a book tour? Can you do that? I suppose if you are J.K. Rowling you can do what you like, but surely literary characters (and their personality traits) exist on the page. It seems pointless to invent significant chatacteristics for characters and reveal them to the public after the book series is complete. Peter Tatchell, while welcoming the outing of Dumbledore, asks why Rowling didn't make his sexuality explicit in the novels. Good question. Was she nervous about a possible backlash from some conservative Christian groups who were already unhappy about what they saw as the glamorisation of the "occult" in the children's series?

Incidentally, while at the Edinburgh Festival this year I caught a glimpse of "Potted Potter: The Unauthorised Potter Experience". It's a kind of Reduced Shakespeare version of all the Potter novels, and it's terrificially good fun for the entire family. Sustained laughter all the way, even from the non-Potter-heads in the room. Let's see if Jeff and Dan do a quick rewrite now to include a gay character when they bring their production to this year's Belfast Festival.


  • 1.
  • At 05:17 PM on 21 Oct 2007,
  • Roger wrote:

It seems to me like Rowling rather pathetically bandwagoning in order to boost her sales even more. The characters of a novel or series thereof do not have a "life" beyond the text. Anything that cannot be deduced about them from the text cannot be true of them outside the text. It would be like someone claiming that in fact Hamlet was infatuated with Horatio, or had been in love with Yorick. Not even Shakespeare could have got away with telling us that unless the text itself at least points in that direction.

  • 2.
  • At 05:22 PM on 21 Oct 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Hmmm. I'm sure there is a point here somewhere, it just escapes me for the time being. How does this in any way change the stories she wrote, a seemingly trivial detail at best?

I now recall a high school home room teacher, a man of about 5'-2" height. One day without any warning he blurted out "Napoleon was short." Well after that we knew what was on his mind much of the time.

BTW, it's rather strange that she would give a talk in Carnegie Hall. This is a concert hall intended for symphonic performances and other musical recitals. If a large audience in New York City was what she was looking for, Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium hold many times more people. I think Yankee Stadium was venue where the Pope and Billy Graham convened their audiences. The weather has been excellent, daytime highs in the 70s and even around 80 with very little rain lately, unusual for NYC this time of year.

  • 3.
  • At 09:06 PM on 21 Oct 2007,
  • Al Shaw wrote:

Of course, the word "gay" is undergoing a change of meaning at the present time, despite attempts in the House of Commons (no less) to halt this linguistic development.

  • 4.
  • At 10:19 PM on 21 Oct 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Doesn't the House of Commons have better things to do than trying to legislate the definitions of words? In current common usage, the word "gay" means homosexual. Do they need a definition for that word too? Britain is becoming more European every day. Now it will have a legalized word police just like the French do. Parlez-vous Franglais?

  • 5.
  • At 12:13 AM on 22 Oct 2007,
  • Jen Erik wrote:

I think an author is entitled to know all sorts of things about their characters that may inform their writing, but are not explicitly spelled out in the text.

Can't say I thought about Dumbledore's sexuality when I read the books, but when I heard the news, it was a bit of a lightbulb moment: I did just think - Oh, of course he's gay - that explains a lot about his relationship with Grindelwald.

  • 6.
  • At 12:00 AM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • Sarah wrote:

This is just J.K. Rowling thumbing her nose at the Christian right. I, for one, appreciate her tenacity and her assuredness of the security of her place in the history of literature.
Perhaps she never mentioned it in the text of the novels because it is of absolutely no importance whatsoever.

  • 7.
  • At 12:27 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • Ian Hall wrote:

I think most decent people will find it totally disgusting that Rowling gave out this information out to an audience which I understand was full of children . Whither childhood innocence ?


  • 8.
  • At 09:09 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • Stephen G wrote:

Well, I agree with William. Dumbledore exists on paper and he's not gay in the book so it's a bit silly to make stuff up about him afterwards. Maybe next in an effort to appeal to her swinger readers she'll tell us that Harry, Ron and Hermione engaged in threesome romps behind Hagrids hut.


  • 9.
  • At 09:24 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • Stephen G wrote:

OK...last attempt...

Well, I agree with William. Dumbledore exists on paper and he's not gay in the book so it's a bit silly to make stuff up about him afterwards. Maybe next in an effort to appeal to her swinger readers she'll tell us that Harry, Ron and Hermione engaged in threesome romps behind Hagrids hut.


  • 10.
  • At 10:23 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Oh horror of horrors, how shocking. Dumbledore is now forced out of the closet. What could be worse? How about a revelation that Harry Potter is also gay. Now wouldn't that stir the pot (pun intended.) How to reconcile this? The House of Commons should refer the problem of the definition of the word "gay" to the Ministry of Magic which will cast a spell allowing it to mean whatever each person sees in it just like the magic mirror in the first episode. Anyone who doubts Britain has a Ministry of Magic should just watch one episode of Prime Minister's Question Time and will realize instantly that given the kind of people who are elected to the House of Commons, without a Ministry of Magic nothing would ever get done. Maybe Britain would be better off without one after all.

  • 11.
  • At 09:20 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Gee Dubyah wrote:

Are you really so one-dimensional Mark?

You've taken your anti euro theme away from the racsim of DNA thread, where I highlighted your bigotry and you hypocrisy and you've brought it here. How wonderful. So really, whats your point? I'm reminded of Delia Smith's famous Address: "Letsby Avenue" (google her, it appears you've little better to do).

  • 12.
  • At 02:40 AM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

I don't know if a lot of my postings just aren't getting through due to BBC website software problems or are just getting censored. It hardly matters. There are replys I tried to post which never appeared.

Dubyah, not much dignity in those broadcasts of Britain's elected legislative body every week "when they let it all hang out" is there?

Funny thing about Europeans, they can dish it out when it comes to bashing America but they sure can't take it. It's a sign that the criticism has hit home. If you don't know what I mean, just tune in for the next enthralling episode. Awda! Awda! We'd all like to hear what the Prime Minister has to say.

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