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October 24 2007

Dumbledore's outing compared to Willow's. The Leaky Cauldron interviews GLAAD about the revelation that Dumbledore is gay. GLAAD briefly discusses this in comparison with the discovery that Willow's character was a lesbian..

The majority of the article deals specifically with Rowling and the characterization of Dumbledore as well as the reactions of fans and the media to the announcement, but they also briefly discuss Willow's outing, as well as the killing of Tara and versus the enforced separation from Grindelwald.

Pleeease can Joss direct HP#7?

Kudos to Melissa Anelli (who btw is a huge Whedon fan), for doing this interview. One of the things I appreciate about TLC is the care they take to present accurate news and to keep the tone of the site respectful and informational.

As for Joss directing HP - dream on. The issue has come up before, and he's essentially said that he has too much respect for Rowlings vision to even consider trying. There was an item posted on TLC about it, however the site is not working very well right now.
Actually, that's not completely true, Znachki, Joss said this in an Empire online chat in 2005:

JIaamond: "Joss, what can a Browncoat do to get you directing a Harry Potter movie?"

JOSS: "ihaamond, awesome question, as I was just thinking about this last night...They would have to wait until all the books come out, as I refuse to see any Potter film till I've read them all, because she writes better movies tha[n] anybody shoots. When she's done, I'll go back and watch them and wait for the call to direct number seven."

However, how much he was kidding, whether or not he's now seen any of the movies, and whether or not he would be under consideration to direct are all open questions.

Regarding the outing of Dumbly-dore and the comparison with Willow's outing - I thought this was a pretty good interview, with the GLAAD guy's analysis of Willow's outing pretty spot-on. However, I think it's pretty difficult in most respects to compare the post facto outing of a deceased literary character with the three-year plus depiction of an ongoing gay TV character.

And in conclusion, may I just thank the gods for Fandom Wank, which has captured the best and worst reactions to his outing under the wonderful title of "I Love My Dead Gay Headmaster!"


ET: fix typo...

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2007-10-25 03:30 ]
Heathers quotes never go out of style.
I actually just read all 7 books recently (not a re-read, first time) and only finished "Deathly Hallows" the day before Rowling's comments (liked them all, loved the last three, but I wish i'd listened to Joss - from what I gather it's not that popular but 'Order of the Phoenix' was one of my favourites and I think it's at least partly because it was the first book I read without seeing the film beforehand, good as some of them are they just don't do the books justice).

I think it's pretty cool that he's gay - it's not inconsistent with what we know about him and makes the stuff with Grindelwald even more resonant - but even cooler IMO (and this was touched on in the interview) is that he's constantly around kids in the books and people who know him (and therefore, in the book's universe, presumably would know he's gay) trust absolutely no-one more than Dumbledore in that position - it's a stand against one of the nastiest, most pernicious aspects of homophobia i.e. that gayness is seen as tantamount to paedophilia.

(I agree with QG though in that it's apples and oranges - Willow is gay in the sense that she was gay and lived as a gay woman, Dumbledore is gay in the sense that that's not inconsistent with how he was written but we don't really see it - though of course we don't see much openly sexual behaviour of any kind)

[ edited by Saje on 2007-10-24 22:34 ]
Saje - two things - 1) you have 'women' in place of 'woman', I think, though maybe you were trying to say she lived a gay enough life for more than one woman (or maybe it was a typo) ;) 2) I can't stop thinking of the IT Crowd ep where Jen dates Peter File.
Willow's outing was cuter.

BUFFY: Okay, I'm all with the woo-hoo here, and you're not.
WILLOW: No, there's "woo" and, and "hoo." But there's "uh-oh," and "why now?" And... it's complicated.
BUFFY: Why complicated?
WILLOW: (sighs) It's complicated... because of Tara.
BUFFY: You mean Tara has a crush on Oz? No... Oh!
Thanks muchly for the correction QG, that was the quote I was trying to find. But, didn't have it to hand, and since I'm at work anyway, couldn't take the time to find it. Damn work!
Heh, zeit, "I'm Peter File ! I'm Peter File !" ;). Second series was even better than the first I reckon, much as I like Chris Morris, the introduction of his wayward son was a genius move.

And typo ? Dunno what you mean ... "Good grief, look ! At that place which is not my previous post ! Gold and ... free sex ! Free Sex Gold everyone !"

Ahem ;).
Does Free Sex Gold come from Free Sex Leprechauns?

What are Free Sex Leprechauns?

- Yours Sincerely,
Mystified In Tunbridge Wells
Does Free Sex Gold come from Free Sex Leprechauns?

What are Free Sex Leprechauns?

Dear Mystified,

You people with your filthy sex questions will ruin the internet's reputation as a place entirely free of such things.

Quite frankly I am appalled and I post on the internet.


Frankly Appalled
The Internet

PS And obviously there's no such thing as a Free Sex Leprechaun, not since the Reasonably Priced Sex Faeries took out an injunction prohibiting them from giving it away.
I thought it was a perceptive interview all around- the questions were intelligent and the answers were very very wise. And the comparison to Willow is apt in the sense that these were influential characters in stories where the main tale involved someone else. And both will have done wonders to alter the perception of gays as Other. I applaud Rowling as much as I do Joss for doing what she did- and I think the timing was wise as well, coming after all the books were done and the homophobes could not do anything at all about them. Even if Dumbledore's gayness is all subtext and never overtly mentioned, it will lead to a huge re-read of the entire series and to new academic examinations of the tale as a result.
You know, I've just been completely unimpressed with Rowling's pronouncement. I really don't see how it adds anything.

W&T was a literary attempt to portray a homosexual relationship as a normal relationship, full of ups, downs, and complications. The 'special' element of W&T was that they *weren't* special, just different.

X1 and X2 were a cinematic attempt to raise issues of homosexual acceptance by society in terms of mutant superheroes. Singer did get a wee bit ham-fisted with the Drake family in X2, but even without that overt ("Have you ever tried... NOT being a mutant?") reference, the allegory was not lost on anyone I'm aware of.

Rowling's pronouncement is too retconnish for me. I can't say it's inauthentic, because she's the author. But it would be a bit like Joss coming out and saying Book was gay. Not incongruent with the story that was told and it's certainly his prerogative, but what's the point of posthumously announcing the sexual orientation of any dead character whose sexual activities hadn't been explored in the story?

If Rowling wanted to include gay characters in her story, that was her right. But she didn't. Instead, after the fact, *poof* Dumbledore was gay all along. Frankly, it seems like either a cowardly or mercenary act--Cowardly, if she was unwilling to face the increased protests from the religious right; mercenary if she's just decided that a bit of controversy will boost some sales and this fits the bill.

Overall, I don't see Rowling as anywhere in the same league as Joss as far as character foreshadowing, let alone knowing his message WRT homosexuality and delivering it. Unfortunately, she's ahead of Joss on the money scale, but life's not fair.
Dear F. Appalled:

I heard the Free Sex Leprechauns had voted to strike and now they're rushing to... um, deliver product before they... um, have to leprechaun the picket lines.

But that's just a rumor... you know how these things are... I just like to pass them along before they're confirmed.

Outraged and Fantaskical in Torquay, wot is a made-up town

P.S. This post so far OT that it might possibly have gone all the way around the bend and be back on topic again.
Tend to side with jclemens on this...basically it's hard for me to see at this point, what Rowling has accomplished by saying this. Unless she has some prequels set in 1953 in progress back at the office, which I never thought of before and sounds like a plausible explanation. Not really familiar with the Potterverse so I'm just rambling here, I admit.
Speaking of coming out, I remember reading somewhere that Buffy's "coming out" to her mother as a Slayer was built word-for-word on the classic "coming out as gay" scenario. Watch Becoming Part 2 again, and just substitute "gay" for "vampire slayer." It's amazingly well done.
I'm in total agreement with you, jclemens. It wasn't anything like Willow. It was retconing in order to get more press and to get the homosexual community to sing her praises. Even if it was hinted at in the books it makes Dumbledore out as a closeted gay virgin who believed the feelings he had were wrong and needed to be covered up. Why should anyone look to him as a role model? It disgusts me that GLAAD is singing J. K. Rowlings praises when she is obviously just wanting more attention.
Just finished reading it.

What was most astonishing to me was that the initial description by the GLAAD rep omitted one of Dumbledore's most defining characteristics: tolerance. Not only of all his students, whatever their strengths and weaknesses (and even the darkness of some), but it was he who kept pushing for improving relations with giants, for example. Then, when discussing the concept of tolerance, stuck entirely to wizards themselves, and the whole m*dbl**d thing (see, some words are not proper to spell out!) and didn't mention house elves, giants, or other creatures.

It's not tollerance based on a list of "don't hate people who are X or Y, or even Z" but a truly tolerant tolerance, an all-encompasing tolerance of everything EXCEPT hate.

This is one of the things I've loved about both PT and Whedonville. Yes, vamps are for staking -- except that even some of them aren't; non-violent demons should get to live their lives; etc. Unlike, say, orcs of Middle Earth. It's not "good things" and "bad things" defined by species or characteristic, but "destructive things" and "live and let live" things. (The sort of species-ism of Tolkein always bothered me. But then, I grew up on that greatest of all role models: Dr. John Dolittle, MD.)

The other thing that struck me was the interviewer's remark that many gays objected to Tara's murder; is that still true, even though the series ended with Wil in another gay relationship (thus contradicting the idea that gays must be punished)? Or was that only at the time of Tara's death? (After all, if you didn't HATE Tara's murder, you're just not human. So to speak.)
tehabwa - you so invoked this for me:

"Witches can be right,
Giants can be good.
You decide what's right,
You decide what's good."

- Sondheim, "No One Is Alone," Into the Woods
I don't think the situations are similar at all - Willow's homosexuality was dealt with in the text and Dumbledore remained closeted forever.

Saje, it's all very well to presume that characters might know about his sexuality in-universe, but there's absolutely no evidence of this. There's basically only two passages in the entire 7 book series that can really be seen to be allusions to Dumbledore's homosexuality - and one of them is Rita Skeeter's infering that his relationship with Harry is suspect (which is the old muckraking line for someone whose sexuality is in question. I'm NOT saying that an allusion to pedophilia is proof that he's gay, just that Rita Skeeter would sink to that level).

Yes, tolerance is one of the big issues of the series - but while the series explores sexism and racism, tolerance for sexual differences isn't explored directly. And the fact JKR keep Dumbledore closeted for the entire series is very disappointing. So while the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive - the only people are objecting are the ones who hated Potter for its witchcraft really - declaring a character's sexuality after canon is officially closed is a bit weak.
I say the author should get to decree cannon whenever he or she feels like it. I have a hard time buying that Rowling feels any need for MORE attention or publicity... And my impression was that this revelation was made in response to a question of some sort, rather than her saying, "oh, by the way, I have an announcement to make!" Can anybody back me up on that?

And much as I loved Deathly Hallows, I really didn't need another 50-100 pages of non-Harry backstory :) Yes, I suppose there could've been a throwaway line about the nature of the relationship between Grundenwald (sp?) and Dumbledore, but then I suspect the people who are complaining now would've complained just as much anyway.

Totally agree that the 3-year portrayal of a healthy relationship is a rather different critter, but I think the point is that both W/T and Albus serve as media representations of three-dimensional characters whose sexuality is a part of them regardless of whether/when it is relevant to the story they're involved in.
Well, there's different kind of complaining, miri47 - the homophobes who are complaining now and would have complained if she'd put it in the text AND my kind of complaining, because she didn't put it in the text. And as you point out, it wouldn't have taken more than a line to make it clear!

Gay readers have been queering Potter for a long time, because it is a story about tolerance - and gay teens/adults know about intolerance. But over the years the discussion of who might be gay never ran to Dumbledore, because it's just not there. In fact, it's really only in Book #7 - whereas it's much easier to read other characters as gay from the text throughout. (Until, of course, she randomly married off Lupin and Tonks!)

Hell, even Harry Potter himself could well have come out of the closet he literally lived in, but that didn't happen either. But given how he was different and how his family (ie. Uncle and Aunt and cousin) wished he wasn't like that, the gay subtext is pretty easy to read there.

I think the point is that both W/T and Albus serve as media representations of three-dimensional characters whose sexuality is a part of them regardless of whether/when it is relevant to the story they're involved in.

The relevancy issue bothers me. Just because it's not a plot point, doesn't mean it's not important to the character. Was it a plot point that all the Weasleys had red hair? No. But it would have been strange if it were never mentioned until she completed all the books and then said BY THE WAY they were all red heads. Oh, sorry, I forgot to mention that Nevil was black and Luna had a tail! Whoops.

You're right, she was answering a question. This wasn't done to seek publicity. She could have put it into the text of Book #7 but she didn't. If anyone in the world could have insisted on it, it would have been JK Rowling. But it's not there. So indeed it is a part of the character, but it's not ever a part that we can see. And that is troubling - closeting a character who deserved to be out and proud.
Crossoverman, I don't mean to be too cynical, but I disagree that just because it was stated in response to a question, it could not have been a planned publicity stunt. People ask the same sorts of questions over, and over, and over, and sooner or later an opportunity to work Dumbledore's sexuality in would have presented itself. So it may seem to be spontaneous, and indeed it might be, but just because it looks spontaneous doesn't mean it is. The world of entertainment is filled with engineered events.
I don't mean to be too cynical

And yet...

Of all the discussions I've read or had about this topic, hardly any have suggested she did this for publicity (she doesn't need any more) or that this was planned in any way - except for the fact that she obviously wrote Book 7 with Dumbledore's homosexuality in mind.

Whether or not "I have always thought of Dumbledore as gay" is a fact or an offhand remark remains unknowable.
Erm, do we seriously think JK Rowling and the Harry Potter books need more publicity ? Do we really think Rowling feels that having hundreds of millions of pounds in the bank isn't quite enough when 10-12 years ago she was practically on the breadline ? I don't buy that at all, sorry.

The "cowardice" accusation I see some merit in - she'd already pissed off the religious right by apparently promoting witchcraft (Hellooo, not real ? ;) so I don't see what she'd have lost by being (slightly) more explicit about Dumbledore's sexuality through the course of the books (though I do think that he quite clearly dug Grindelwald the most, as the link QuoterGal supplies mentions).

One reason I can see for waiting is, basically, to trick bigots into liking him in order to get the sort of "I hate blacks. Except for my mate Darren, he's alright" effect, planting a seed of doubt through their love for the character.

Dunno, never happen but i'd love for her to just produce an early note about Dumbledore to shut up the doubters, the way she's done this does leave her open to attack.
The transcripts of JK Rowling interviews always impress me. She's very astute and also very respectful of her fans. There has always been a very clear tightrope walk where she wanted to talk about people's questions about the books but had to choose her answers very carefully, and avoid certain subjects altogether. She manages to avoid spoilers while also having interesting conversations with people.

This outburst of criticism about her motives in outing Dumbledore bothers me because people are accusing her of serving her own interests at the expense of the story and her fans-- which is the exact opposite of what she's done. Funny thing, writing good stories and being decent to your fans tends to help your sales. I was no less impressed when I read the transcript from the event where she made the announcement than I was when I read other interviews in the past. It was clear she was able to say much more than before, and that it was a relief.

I'm not sure what she can do to appease people who accuse her of doing various things as publicity stunts, except perhaps stop appearing in public and stop selling books. Those are part of being a bestselling author, but there's a difference between meaningful interaction with fans that gets a lot of press and interaction with fans that is meant to get a lot of press. There is a difference between knowing how to work press coverage and substituting that for content and real contact with fans. I honestly don't understand how someone can read the transcripts and interpret her comments as a stunt, unless there's a strong motivation to see that.

Yes, I wish Deathly Hallows was clearer about Dumbledore's orientation, but there was suggestive wording in several places, and she dropped some clues in Half-Blood Prince as well. Subtext is good, and maintext is better, but I won't pretend I wasn't happy to learn my suspicion was correct. He's my favorite character. His difficulty facing Grindelwald and his suspectibility to Grindelwald's ideology make more sense with the "new" information, too. Unfortunately the message about tolerance in the books can only be read to apply to sexuality metaphorically, like the early use of magic in BtVS. It would have been great to have seen Rowling take steps similar to the BtVS writers into a more literal treatment. She has many gay fans who've really appreciated the metaphor. It is a very strong message though, and he's a very strong character, so this is a good development, even if it's not what I would have liked to have seen. And as Saje mentioned, subtext will reach some readers that maintext can't. A lot of people have now just realized that their hero's hero is... gay. And really decent. And not what they may have thought "gay" meant at all.

I'm hoping that she writes a Dumbledore prequel years from now.
Nice post, Sunfire.

Am I the only one who has long suspected this of Dumbledore?
Neil Gaiman said something interesting (I thought, anyway) about this in his journal, saying that if it's not relevant to the story, it doesn't go in, regardless of how much the author knows about the character in his/her head, and that Dumbedore's sexuality just wasn't relevant - which makes sense for me.

Harry's a schoolkid, the stories are from his POV and in his world, and how likely is it that Dumbledore is going to specify something like his sexuality to his pupils? I think it's entirely plausible that it never became an issue so just never got mentioned specifically. None of the teachers have romantic lives mentioned in their context as teachers - nothing of that comes out until Lupin and Tonks, or Snape's love for Lily, and they are well out of the schoolchild-teacher relationship before they become apparent. Harry's relationship with Dumbledore is always teacher-pupil.

[ edited by Mehitabel on 2007-10-25 12:50 ]
I'm sorry, but the relevancy argument doesn't wash. Given how much we learn about other people's love lives, it doesn't take much to reveal Dumbledore's sexuality. It takes a line. Or a paragraph. That's not much to ask in a 7 book series. Is Lupin and Tonks marriage really relevant? Probably not. But given that love and family are strong themes of the series, revealing Dumbledore's true love, however briefly, is not irrelevant.
I don't know - I think the parellels made with Harry's own start in life, with the marrying, sprogging, Harry being made godfather, and then both parents getting killed fighting together in war on evil wizard was the point of that relationship.
To clarify, I do think it'll be fantastic when every book with a cast opf more than a few people has a range of plausible gay-and-fine-with-it characters. It would have been fantastic had there been note of it in the text - but that it's not there doesn't (for me) indicate that it was a problem.

Sexuality other than in terms of having children really isn't a big part of these books anyway. We know nothing about the love lives of McGonagall, Grubbly-Plank, Sinistra, Flitwick, Sirius, Shacklebolt, etc. I think it'd be more of an issue if everyone else were defined in terms of their partners except Dumbledore.

But really it's only those who become parents whose romantic lives are mentioned at all, other than Harry himself and those in his immediate circle of friends - the people who he would without doubt notice and be interested in. You do know at school who your mates are dating - do you really know (other than random cloakroom gossip!) know anything about your teachers' personal lives? By the time Lupin/Tonks becomes relevant, they're on a much more equal footing and the books' focus has moved away from school and the focus on Hogwarts.
Lupin and Tonks matter a great deal; they are also Other and a queer reading of this is obvious- so obvious that this relation is mentioned today in a LA Times article examining clues that Dumbeldore was gay. I am honestly surprised that anyone at all can take issue with this- and can sit there and try to Joss it. There is no need or reason to compare W/T to Dumbledore, and to accuse Rowling of a lack of courage seems patently unfair. Have we all forgotten how much anger and hatred these books have given rise to? What seems to be lost in all this is that the books were initially designed as YA books, and that is a different kettle of fish than a TV program designed to interest both teens and adults. We are comparing textual media to televisual media. Joss might be the master of subtext- something we freely grant him. And now we will not grant Rowling the same? If she always saw his as gay, and wrote him that way, and never made it overt- and after all, she made no one's relations overt save for Ginny/Harry and Ron/Hermione- that was her right. There is no possible way this is PR stunt- what, she is already the wealthiest woman in the world and has no need to do anything ever again. It is, as I see it, a cry to take heed of the message of the book- tolerance and love. That was, after all, what Dumbledore was all about.

As to tehabwa's question- yes, there are many people still angry and hurt over Tara's death even today. And who still feel that Kennedy was a sop to the LGBT community.
Also, Lupin was a half-breed so the tolerance thing comes into it again (and highlights an underlying theme of the series, "love conquers all").

Not sure about the relevancy thing, it seems pretty thin but Gaiman does make some good points, maybe Jo Rowling agonised over including an explicit aside but saw it as an attempt to curry favour ? Like, "Look how enlightened I am, i've made him gay" when maybe the truly enlightened thing is not to mention it at all unless it comes up ? It's worth pointing out that she doesn't seem to have done it as part of some crusade or even as a deliberate attempt to provide a positive gay rolemodel and it's possible that unless asked the relevant question in this Q&A, she may not even have mentioned it for a long time, maybe ever.

Maybe the poor woman's ended up in the firing line because she really is so tolerant that she's genuinely "sexuality blind" ? Which would obviously be a great pity.
Dana5140, not to point too obviously to the linked article, but the entire reason it was linked here was the comparison to W&T, hence the discussion going that way, and hence Rowling being compared unfavorably to Joss.

And Saje, I respectfully disagree about money. More controversy equals more money, pretty much universally. If I published a book, I'd want it to be banned by someone, guaranteeing that a bunch of people would react and buy it as a knee-jerk reaction to the banning. All that not to say that Rowling IS all about the money, but it's VERY plausible that it might be. The fact that she was previously poor is actually an argument in favor of her being greedy--Those who've not had enough often react by working exceptionally, even perhaps irrationally, hard to enrich themselves.

Again, my key point is that Rowling is inferior to Joss, on *every* level--certainly her stories, definitely her track record of committment to sexual minorities, and quite possibly her motivations.
Wait a minute, am I really the only person who read Grubbly-Plank as coded Lesbian. Smokes pipe, has "masculine haircut", works in an outdoorsy field. Less obvious perhaps to U.S. readers, but a very specific literary type in English writing. I saw her as being included to be inclusive, in the same way that we know Lee Jordon is black, Anthony Goldstein is Jewish, Cho is Asian, without these things having to be explicitly stated.

As for Dumbledore being closeted, what Mehitabel said - we see all the teachers through the students' eyes, and we know nothing of their romantic lives. For all we know Profs. Sprout and Flitwick were having it off like bunnies in the greenhouses once lights were out (maybe there's more reasons for those student curfews in Hogwarts than we're told about). In that respect, Dumbledore is treated exactly like all the other teachers.
Well, we'll have to agree to disagree on this jclemens, the last I heard her personal worth was something like 270 million (half a US billion dollars) so I don't in any way see her doing this for financial gain - even if that's high by an order of magnitude (which seems unlikely) just the annual interest alone would approach $5 million.

Do you have any actual reason to believe she's money grubbing or dishonest ?
jclemens, of course. But I do not think the comparison is apt. Both she and Joss have accomplished a great deal, and personally, I think attributing this to an attempt to curry greater book sales is absurd on its face. There is utterly no proof whatsoever; she simply made a statement in answer to a question and it was picked up by the media. Because everything she says is picked upby the media.

Let's just give credit where it is due. Both Joss and Rowling have done great things, end of story. I don't much care who is better or how that is defined; I simply enjoy what they have done.
Gee, I must not really read into these things. I just saw Grubbly-Plank as a teacher and Dumbledore as a brave (if somewhat misguided) father-figure for Harry.

But on the other hand, I still don't feel announcing Dumbledore is gay really adds anything to the story. If she really wanted this to have an impact on his character, she should have worked it into the story. There are ways she could have done it without it taking away from the main focus of the book, and kept the grumbling from the general public down to a minimum.

In that regard, her style and Joss's are different because she's drawn a great deal of attention to the subject whereas the portrayal of W/T was just a matter of course. Whether Rowling is just greedy for book sales is inconsequential. If we're talking about charcterization and plot, there's no point in saying it after the series is finished. That is unless she's planning on writing a new group of books based on Dumbledore's history (which would be seriously cool).

Not trying to slam Rowling (I've always been a fan of the novels), or sound prejudiced, but when I heard this announced, it didn't make much sense to me (unless there will be more stories. More stories good).
"How much money is enough? Just one dollar more." - J. Paul Getty.


I don't know Rowling's motivation; none of us here do. What I do know is that no one ever has enough money. On a physical level, of COURSE they do, and Rowling's certainly in that camp. But in a psychological level, "enough" may mean "more" just like in the classic Getty quote.

What I'm NOT saying is that Rowling is greedy. What I AM saying is that those posters here who've said "She's rich beyond her wildest dreams--she can't be motivated by further gain!" are ignoring basic human nature and making unsupportable statements.
It doesn't surprise me in the least. I saw several characters as homosexual. I don't know that they are, but I got the idea that Harry saw them that way. Since Harry always felt distant and outside of Dumbledore's circle, Harry never had a chance to see him as gay. Like others, I wish it had been made clear in the books instead of in an interview. We have to remember that most of this story is from his view. Most of the adults were drawn asexual. If he didn't know Hooch favored women, how would we?
jclements, without any proof, it is all conjecture. Period. So there is no argument at all about why she did what she did, and your comments are as wrong, or right, as anyone else's. There is no proof to suggest she did this for personal gain. End of that story, for real.

But I have a broader question for everyone. What does this matter in the scheme of things? Does it matter why she did this? She did it. I see it as a positive development in just about every way. It brings light to something that in the past few years has been used to divide this country. If this helps, in even the smallest way, to set the country back on track and to help stop vilifying gays, I would consider this wonderful, and I don't care if Rowling makes money off it or not. At times, this board can be so protective of Joss that positive developments elsewhere are minimized because Joss did not do it. But it does not matter. Rowling says Dumbledore is gay. This is effectively canon- not that I am a big defender of canon, mind you! :-) But a lot of people here sure are when it is Joss that says, for example, that Faith's last name is Lehane. That does not appear in any episode from Buffy S1-7 that I have ever seen. But it forces us to consider Faith in a new light, because Lehane has an ethnicity associated with it, or a possible ethnicity. Or perhaps he named her after Dennis Lehane, because Joss really loved Mystic River? See, we can debate what it means. Just as we will for Dumbledore.
What I do know is that no one ever has enough money. On a physical level, of COURSE they do, and Rowling's certainly in that camp. But in a psychological level, "enough" may mean "more" just like in the classic Getty quote.

Also an unsupported statement. The important distinction is that one point of view assumes greed is a motivation until proven otherwise, while the other view assumes greed is not a motivation until it is proven otherwise.

If he didn't know Hooch favored women, how would we?

Madame Hooch in the first movie is kind of dreamy. And no, I have nothing more intellectually substantial to say about her than that. ;)

I suppose the clearest parallel between Rowling and Whedon here is that when an author/writer/creator/evil genius ventures into the (still too rarely visited) narrative territory where not all characters are straight, they're going to get a lot of criticism. Both from people who don't want to see any characters who aren't entirely straight and from people who deeply care about how queer characters are portrayed. What bothers me in both fandoms is the meanness behind some of the criticism. It's one thing to be critical of the story-- that's a good thing. It's quite another to demonize a writer who dared to write gay characters people love, but didn't do something the way people wanted. It's definitely much safer, in terms of being a subject of harsh criticism and accusations, to be like most writers and not even go there, in the story itself or in the interviews after. I'd personally rather see writers take some steps that are seen as missteps than see nothing at all.
Though this is obviously careening madly off-topic, I don't agree that no one ever feels like they have enough money. There is a certain mind-set that requires more and more and evermore, but I know lots of folks - including myself - that are quite content with their earnings and their holdings. I'm not sure that it's "basic human nature" to perpetually feel fiscally unsatisfied.

And J. Paul Getty would not be my role-model for psychological-financial health. Much as I enjoy the fruits of his collecting, he was clearly someone who had a need to amass quantity.

Is there something weird about me that I never really considered the sexuality of most of the Potter menage et al? When I read kid's books, I tend to revert in some ways to my childhood, and don't tend to think of characters in a sexual light at all, unless it comes up in some way. And I don't usually have the remotest curiosity about it if it's unclear or ambiguous.

Perhaps that is just me... in real life, I am usually content with not knowing someone's sexuality, if it's unknown to me or seems unclear... unless 1) I was attracted to them, especially if 2) I was single, which I'm not...
Seems to me there are two issues that are being conflated. One is why Rowling revealed that he is gay now and its significance, and the other is why she revealed it at all. The second, to me, is of no importance whatsoever. She did it and that cannot be put back in the box. It is out there now, and it will always be out there. Now, we can theorize as to her motives for revealing it, but that will get us nowhere, really. If it was a ploy to make more money- which I do not see at all- this seems a a fairly hamhanded means to do that, considering all her books have been best sellers and remain best sellers. If we take her at her word, then she always considered him gay, and that ought be good enough. We would accept such a comment from Joss, right, were he to offer some new reading of a character that we had not before considered. So,let's take her at that word, assume she meant him to be gay, and kept that from becoming overt in the tale. If she was afraid- and she has given no indication she was- I'd accept that because I do not know what it is to walk in her shoes, but I do know that there have been some truly vile things written about her, and I would assume that there have been threats as well.

I don't much care whether someone is gay or not (it is just who they are), but I do wish for people to be able to be who they are without fear. I think JK helped do just that with this announcement.
While reading the Harry Potter books, I was constantly wondering where Dumbledore put his penis. It all makes sense now.
I understood that it had been reported in several places that JKR's comment was in response to the making of the 6th Harry Potter movie, where the director was going to throw in something about Dumbledor having been attracted to some woman. Personally I decided that Dumbledor was Gay from my reading of this last book; I certainly interpreted the degree of obsession Dumbledor felt for Grindelwald, and how much Dumbledor was influenced by him, was a sign of a much deeper attraction than usually found in friendship.

JKR had had a problem with many fans not noticing that Ron and Hermione were falling in love, so it isn't surprising that many fans didn't pick up on the hints that she felt that she dropped about Dumbledor's sexuality either.

[ edited by embers on 2007-10-25 21:50 ]

[ edited by embers on 2007-10-26 00:08 ]
Embers, you're right, it was there and some of us read that relationship's meaning. That doesn't mean people will like or accept it (Joss has had this problem too). I noticed she was bringing Hermione and Ron together, I just didn't want her to do so. Albus likes men, I get that...Hermione likes Ron, I don't get that.
Just for those wondering why she announced this now, or suspecting some publicity conspiracy surrounding it, if you read any amount of interviews with her since Book 7 came out, which I being a HP geek have done, you will see that she knows a huge amount about her characters that is not in the books, and she is willing to tell all of it anytime someone asks. In fact, she knows so much more about her characters than she was able to fit into seven volumes, that she is planning to write an encyclopedia in which she gives all their backgrounds and futures (Ginny plays Quidditch for the Hollyhead Harpies, Luna Lovegood becomes a naturalist and marries late, Neville marries Hannah Abbot). The information about Dumbledore came out in a Q and A along with answers about other characters. It's not as though she held a press conference to announce it.

And for the record, I have to say that I think romance is one of the things Rowling did least believably, so I'm just as happy that she told us no more than she did and left the rest to our imaginations.
I think that's an important point, barboo. Rowling's characters are developed (in her mind) to a very unusual degree--she's got mountains of back story on everybody. That enabled her to write 7 books that flow together very well, and it makes it, to me at least, completely unsurprising that she has always known the story of Dumbledore's romantic life. And I don't think it's surprising that information didn't come out in the story. As others have said, we don't know the sexual orientation of many of the characters. You can bet that Rowling knows a lot about Minerva McGonagall & Molly Weasley & Madame Rosemerta that we don't know, either. Dumbledore didn't have a partner at the time of the story & his sexual orientation wasn't something he would discuss with Harry, so we didn't find out about it and it didn't matter. What mattered was that he was brilliant, brave, tolerant, kind and powerful and he loved Harry as dearly as the father Harry had lost. His gayness is just part of his background information. It may not "add" anything to the story, but it certainly made me smile to hear it.
[And I'm with QG when it comes to not thinking much about the sexuality of these characters. I mean, we're talking about a world where 17-year olds apparently never do more than kiss--even on extended, unchaperoned camping trips. It's a different world.]
Dana, the problem I see is this - JK's statement is out there now but because the texts will outlive her, I really think it's a pity that Dumbledore's sexuality is not in the text MORE. It's incredible how much discussion this one statement has created. And for the most part it is positive. But the problem with writers making things explicit outside the text is that, overall, it has no great bearing on the text itself. These things can be easily dismissed because the text doesn't support it. (Okay, it supports it slightly, but not quite enough.)

As to people saying Dumbledore's sexuality is irrelevant because we don't know about - for example - Professor Flitwick's love life... that just seems ridiculous. Dumbledore is a major character of the series. Most of the teachers are not. Dumbledore is equally a member of the Order of the Phoenix - and we do know A LOT about their love lives. But we don't know much about his in the text.

My casual dismissal of Lupin/Tonks was a bit facetious - mostly because A) those characters were read as queer prior to Book #6 and B) their relationship never read very convincingly to me. Particularly because most of their relationship happens off screen in Book #7, one of the big weaknesses of "Deathly Hallows". And yet even though Rowling played most of their relationship off screen, we knew a lot about them.

And we know about Snape's love of Lily. We know about Hagrid's love life. And the Longbottoms. And from one line in "Deathly Hallows" we know that Sirius Black liked girls.

We even know that Dumbledore's brother likes goats! But nothing about Albus. Well, not much. He had a flamboyant plum suit.

Look, overall, it's positive. But it could have been so much more.
It IS much more. It may not be you think is right or in the right amount or overt or whatever, and it may not be what others think is right, but it is what it is, and that really is something. Forget about the book; that is not what matters. What matters, to me at least, is that culturally this is significant. It's positive, it's obviously gay friendly, it will make a difference. In the real world, not the world of the story.
Quoter Gal ;Thanks for the added itnerview.
QG, Mehitabel: There is the point of relevance; as an example, Poul anderson ahd practically an encyclopedia put togeteher of planets and cultures for his Technic-Age Future History but proportionately little got into the books. So I have to agree that Gaiman's point is accurate regarding how things are.

Dana5140: Not to be too nitpicky or too sidetracky but just how much "ethnic identity" is there in being of Irish descent in the US today? I still think Faith 's background should have been Eastern European both because it's so darned rare in popular media and to fit Eliza's looks.
As to the topic, while I still have taxis towards crossoverman on the motives I kinda-sorta agree with you more on the results.
DaddyCatAlso, since when is an "ethnic" surname required in order to have an "ethnic" background? Certainly not in the last century, when people from all backgrounds marry and mix. My ethnicity is a mix of Irish, English, Portuguese, and (three different tribes of) Native American, but my surname is as common British as you can find. The idea that you can get a clear, complete picture of Faith's (or anyone's) ethnicity from her surname is about as fictional as the character.
WARNING! WARNING! Dana5140 and newcj are about to agree again. The universe may be in danger.

I'm actually in agreement with all the folks that pointed out that this is a story told through Harry's experiences and Harry would have no reason to know Dumbledore's sexuality even if he were out to the entire wizarding world. Although we can say that we got to know the members of the Order of the Pheonix and therefore should know more about Dumbledore, that does not work for me because Dumbledore kept his life very private from Harry, and most likely from others. Not just his sexuality, pretty much everything. Dumbledore kept Harry at arms length much of the time. Why in the world would his sexual history or interests come up? Hell, my sister-in-law is an extremely open bisexual political activist but I'm doubting that she is going to initiate a conversation about it with my son unless something specific brings up the subject. Although I have told him that if he has questions about it, she would probably be happy to talk to him, I do not think he wants to deal with any specific knowledge of the sexuality of any of the adults in his life, straight, gay or otherwise...'cause, ewwwwww.

I actually am glad that Rowling didn't throw in a line to make sure he was identified as gay. It would have seemed like gay characters needed to be identified when almost no one else's sexuality was talked about. Admittedly I am yet another person who does not think about someone's sexuality unless it hits me over the head...or I am interested in dating them.

Joss's work and Rowlings are very different and I just don't see a reason to denigrate either one. The way they did things can be compared without that.

As far as the assuming the worst about people's motives and all humans having an insatiable desire for MORE, especially more money, count me out of that. I decided a long time ago that there were more important things than money. I am absolutely sure I am not alone in that. I also decided that I could assume the worst about people until they proved otherwise, or I could take them at face value until they proved otherwise. I decided to go with the latter since if someone is assuming the worst about me, I have no desire to prove anything to them, and generally ignore them entirely. As far as I'm concerned, assuming the worst just cuts a person off from the possibilities of life. Just my opinion, of course.

Oh, Saje glad to hear you bit the bullet after all. I'd love to know how your experience of reading the books after seeing a couple of the movies went. Feel free to drop me a line about it. ;-)
Neville marries Hannah? Awww, I liked him and Luna together.

Well, I got my wish, possible new book coming out. *does happy dance* :)

ETA: And as long as I'm thinking about it, Joss directing the last Harry Potter would probably be along the lines of sick and demented. On the other hand, at least we wouldn't have to worry about him killing off characters. ;)

[ edited by deepgirl187 on 2007-10-26 02:06 ]
Forget about the book; that is not what matters.

Really? Okay. Interesting perspective. I disagree.

At the moment, it is culturally significant. And there will be renewed interest in reading the books from a queer perspective. But from now and forever, the books will need to be read with JK Rowling's comments in mind - to approach it from a queer perspective. Disappointing.
Sigh. You don't have to do that, crossoverman. You can read the book any way you want. Everone on this board knows I am a huge proponent of reader response theory, and so I would argue that if you want to read the book without believing DD is gay, you can- or you can read it and not pay attention to it at all. But as to the reality of that fact outside the book, to me that's critically important. That can affect the lives of real people, in what I hope will be a positive way.

newcj- the universe just ende

Of what I remember of the last book, Dumbledore is explaining everything to Harry in the weird afterlife place and he briefly talks about his relationship with Grindelwald. That was the prefect time for Rowling to have Dumbledore say that he had fallen in love with Grindelwald. It wouldn't have been out of place or strange and then there wouldn't have been this big argument about Dumbledore's sexuality. If I remember wrong and he didn't talk about Grindelwald then he should have talked about him.

Plus I always felt like there was some sort of attraction between Dumbledore and McGonagall that was touched on every once in a while.
As I was rereading through the books prior to #7 coming out, it struck me that the closest relationship that we see in the entire series is the one between the Weasley twins. They are two sides of the same coin, far more emotionally connected than any of the romantic couples we see. And the next thought that came to me was that if Rowling were Joss Whedon, that would mean for sure one of the twins would die, simply because there is more potential for milking the anguish that such a loss would entail.

But I didn't think it would happen because I don't think that's Rowling's kind of drama. (Or from another perspective, she doesn't have the courage for doing horrible things to her characters that Joss does.) And dang, if she doesn't go and kill one of the twins, but she barely touches on the impact on the surviving twin. If Joss were to write and direct the final movie, he would do more justice to that loss than Rowling did. And he wouldn't even have to kill any additional characters to lather on the pain.
I agree barboo, that Joss would justify the deaths; JKR didn't 'barely' touch on the impact, she glossed right over it like it wasn't important at all (and I haven't forgiven her for that).
JKR didn't 'barely' touch on the impact, she glossed right over it like it wasn't important at all (and I haven't forgiven her for that).

Me, either. I think leaving out Dumbledore's sexuality is basically the same as forgetting to show people's reactions at the end... or, in fact, the death of major characters off screen. It's the biggest flaw of Book #7 - the way she's structured it, we miss so much.
I think if JKR showed George's reaction more it would have simply ruined any possibility for a "happy" ending. As it was I was hugely torn up. I'm an identical twin myself and I overidentified waaay too much with Fred and George's pain in DH.

Someone mentioned earlier that JKR isn't the bestest when it comes to writing realistic romance, so it's all for the best that she didn't make D/G more explicit. I agree with that.

I think it would have been weird if JKR had forgrounded Dumbledore's lovelife even if he were straight.

JKR donated all the proceeds from "Magical Beasts and Where to Find Them" and "Quidditch Through the Ages" to charity and has said that she'll do the same with the proceeds of the encyclopedia if and when she writes it. If she just wanted all the money she could get she wouldn't do that.
Personally? I think Dumbledore is someone who was deeply affected by the loss of someone whom he loved with ever ounce of being, and who he was forced to fight to prevent people from coming to harm. It just so happens that Dumbledore's One True Love was a guy.

Was there a missed opportunity to have a major literary character be "openly" gay by having some exploration into his sexuality, as crossoverman has presented? Probably, but I get the feeling that homosexuality itself is something far less heinous in the wizarding word Harry Potter inhabits than having a Muggle parent (analogue for interracial relationships) and lycanthropy (the Potterverse's analogue for homosexuality IMO). Did Joss explore the issue of same-sex relationships better? Yes, but only because he had more time and room to do so. We don't know how much more background detail would have been mentioned if JK Rowling had done more than 7 books.

What I think it boils down to is that both Joss and Jo Rowling are writers who have used the mystical and the supernatural to discuss a variety of real-world matters. That means to me, at least, that both used what they needed to tell the story they wanted to tell; Joss & Co. were detailed in their exploration because it was important and needed to both character development and plot devices, while JK Rowling was more vague because Dumbledore's sexuality was not something that affected plot or character development other than his relationship with Grindewald coloured Harry's perception of what he had been taught by Dumbledore until Harry learnt more about it.
You mean like the grieving we saw with Xander for Anya? Oh wait, we didn't see that. Or the grieving we saw for Tara in S7 from everyone but Willow? Nope, didn't see that either. Didn't even see much from Willow, come to think of it. So I can hardly fault Rowling, since the twins were secondary characters and we never saw anything from their point of view, ever.

Though I did not predict either of them for being killed off. I thought she'd take Percy.
This is where the Rowling/Whedon comparison becomes ludicrous - I fault Rowling for doing a lot of things off-screen in the final book, whereas Whedon cannot be said to leave a moment unmilked. You're right, Dana, there should have been more grief over Tara - from everyone, but especially Willow. As for Xander and Anya - well, only so much grief you can squeeze into the final fives minutes of your TV show.
Rowan Hawthorn ;True about the ethnic aspect (I'm not as much of an example as you are but I know from experience) but in fictioanl characters it's more manipulable. Plus, while I might be out of touch on this and things may have changed in the 20 years I've been away from comics and 5 years away from TV, but I still feel that obviosuly ethnic names for white characters are rarer than they should be.

newcj; I also agree about money but I'm, not convinced enough people agree with us so I'm always looking for that "1 dollar mroe" myself since, however good my self-image is, that's how other people evaluate me and there's too many of them out there to buck.

Dana5140: "reader response theory" GLad to know it has a name. I'll have to look into that.
Crossoverman, sure, on Xanya- but also, keep in mind that we have not seen this in the S8 comic either, nor still have we with Willow for Tara- though I predict that will come, in part, in #10. Not to the level I would like, mind you!

DCA- for reader response theory, look up Stanley Fish. Wikipedia actually has a decent entry on it, for a change.

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