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Dumbledore, Homosexual?…Well, That’s Up for Discussion

December 10, 2010

The first part of the movie for the seventh installment of J.K. Rowling’s series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” recently released in theatres. I thought it necessary to bring back a topic that left discussion for many fans: whether or not Dumbledore was homosexual. Albus Dumbledore, one of the main characters in the series, Harry Potter, was a mentor and a father-like figure to Harry as he watched over Harry from infancy and schooled him from his first and last battle.

J.K Rowling, the creator of the well-known character, Dumbledore, announced a few years ago during a question-and-answer session held at New York City’s Carnegie Hall that Dumbledore was gay. While taking questions from thousands of fans, a 19-year-old from Colorado asked: “Did Dumbledore, who believed in the prevailing power of love, ever fall in love himself?” J.K Rowling replied in front of thousands of Harry Potter fans: “My truthful answer to you…I always thought of Dumbledore as gay.” This answer shocked many as the crowd fell silent and then erupted in applause.

Rowling went on and explained that:

“Dumbledore fell in love with Grindelwald, and that added to his horror when Grindelwald showed himself to be what he was. To an extent, do we say it excused Dumbledore a little more because falling in love can blind us to an extent, but he met someone as brilliant as he was and…he was very drawn to this brilliant person and horribly, terribly let down by him.”

This proves that through experience, you learn. However, experience is not enough. Discussion is needed. Fans that reread J.K. Rowling’s series and even the screen writers of the movies did not catch this information. Their experience was not sufficient in the depth of this information. Discussion on literature is emphasized as many people do not read between the lines. Mill argues that liberty is the fundamental human right when talking about the centrality of self development. This results in the liberating a diversity of interests to the benefit of the individual and of all; and consequently, it will nurture moral freedom and rationality. Creativity will instill and the means of social and intellectual will progress.

However, even though the very own author of the popular Harry Potter series declared that Dumbledore was, in fact, homosexual, some people were hesitant. This generated mixed emotions as some felt shocked and others relieved that J.K. Rowling was able to bring in a topic that didn’t seem exposed in the book. They wondered:  How is it possible that they, the loyal fans of HP, did not catch that the wise Albus Dumbledore, headmaster or Hogwarts, the greatest, master wizard of the age, superior to the world around him, was gay? Many went back and read the seventh book over again looking for clues.

“You cannot imagine how his ideas caught me, Harry, inflamed me,'” Dumbledore says in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”

Dumbledore refers to Gillert Grindelwald, Dumbledore’s childhood friend, who eventually went over to the dark side. Grindelwald and Dumbledore planned on living together and ruling together. Dumbledore’s infatuation with another prodigious wizard had a falling out in a dramatic duel that was mentioned in the seventh book. This love was Dumbledore’s “great tragedy.” His love is described as a “childhood crush” that made him blinded by love. Readers soon recognized that Dumbledore was never mentioned as having a female companion.

Mill argues that true statements cannot be proven true if there is nothing wrong to refute it. This explains that if the fan never asked J. K. Rowling this question on Dumbledore’s love life, we would never have realized such an important piece of information. Wrong statements and opinions establish why certain things are true. Mill states:

“To refuse a hearing to an opinion, because they are sure that it is false, is to assume that their certainty is the same thing as absolute certainty. All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility” (Mill 600).

Mill believes that hindering an opinion is evil, even if it is false. He reasons that our beliefs and actions are reasonable or not depending upon our capacity to critically assess them. By opening up discussion and being able to refute the necessary wrong claims, people are able to open their minds to information that they did not realize during experience. It is important that people have their own opinions and are able to voice them freely so that it can be discussed.

It was soon realized that many others did not catch this information, even people that were associated with the production of the movies. Rowling stated:

“In fact, recently I was in a script read-through for the sixth film, and they had Dumbledore saying a line to Harry early in the script, saying, ‘I knew a girl once, whose hair…I had to write a little note in the margin and slide it along to the scriptwriter — ‘Dumbledore’s gay!'”

It is important to hear opinions, even if they are wrong. Mill stands for this statement:

“The usefulness of an opinion is itself matter of opinion: as disputable, as open to discussion, and requiring discussion as much, as the opinion itself” (Mill 603).

It could ultimately change the opinions and beliefs of others or even open people’s view. This is exactly what happened when J. K. Rowling stated that Dumbledore was homosexual. With all these mixed reactions, the topic of homosexuality made headlines. A character in a book was able to generate this. Mill believes that the best topics are the ones that result in continuing debate. This topic of Dumbledore does this as readers go back and reread the works of J. K. Rowling.

The character Dumbledore is iconic. He is a hero in the book and in the real world. Although some felt that this information was distracting from the book itself, which was why it never emerges or becomes obvious to readers, the announcement of this information was, in fact, a push towards gay rights movement. People oblivious to this topic realized that one’s sexual orientation is now some obvious “lifestyle choice.” This realization came from discussion and discussion only. If the person never questioned J.K. Rowling about Dumbledore’s love life, this information might have never been apparent to the millions of fans that read Harry Potter. It was powerful in the way that it brought in another relatable universe to the unreal wizarding world, just like the orphanage of Harry Potter or the poverty of Ronald Weasley.

Mill argues in particular for freedom of thought and discussion.

“We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion, and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still” (Mill 600).

Like Mill, J.K. Rowling also stated:

“I believe passionately in freedom of expression and of speech. I’ve always taken the banning of my books as a compliment, if you look at which other authors are on that list. In a way it’s great advertising.”

3 Comments
  1. December 10, 2010 10:28 PM

    “I believe passionately in freedom of expression and of speech. I’ve always taken the banning of my books as a compliment, if you look at which other authors are on that list. In a way it’s great advertising.”

    I think this right here says it all. What is a perfect way to get your book my publicity? Most people have read Harry Potter, but not everyone. By randomly stating that Dumbledore was gay after the 7th book had been out for sometime was completely a publicity stunt. It’s great advertising. Taking one of the most beloved books of all time and completely change a perception of a character would make people want to go back and reread the books again, meaning people would by more books if they dont already own them. Its all about the Benjamins. J. K. Rowling recently stated that she may continue on with the Harry Potter series to make up to a 10th book. Im pretty sure she said a few years back that she was done forever with those characters. Anyone else see a bit of a pattern

  2. December 10, 2010 10:53 PM

    I enjoyed this post and thought it was developed very well, however I have a tiny problem with one of your lines and with such, a theme in this post.

    This explains that if the fan never asked J. K. Rowling this question on Dumbledore’s love life, we would never have realized such an important piece of information.

    I am not sure why the topic of one’s sexuality is so important. Whether one is attracted to the opposite sex or their own does not change the person’s character or morals. To me this would be as if Rowling had come out and said Dumbledore was Muslim in the book. Why should we allow this bit of information to affect our view of someone, even if it is just a fictional character? Your race, creed, and sexuality, in my mind at least, have very little bearing on who you are as a person. It is as if being a blond instead of a brunette would lead you to change your views of a person and thus go and re-examine all past interactions with said person.

    I am not in any way saying that the author of this post is trying to convey that homosexuals are people who we must evaluate and treat differently from others, I am just saying that this is a message that can be picked up when one suggests that because someone is different that we must therefore judge them differently than we would someone who is more similar to oneself. This is a sense I picked up on when I read this and I do not in any way see it as a reflection of the author, but possibly of society.

  3. blanchc permalink
    December 10, 2010 11:30 PM

    Your post was quite interesting, as I am a Harry Potter fan myself. While you do a nice job incorporating Mill into the post, I believe that you could have also tied in another issue we learned about this year, which is pluralism. We’ve talked about pluralism all throughout the semester, mainly dealing with political terms. But the idea brought up in this post is kind of like pluralism in that there are many different arguments and interpretations made for Dumbledore’s sexuality.

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