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J.K.'s surprising revelation about Dumbledore

by David Haber

Just a little over a year ago, on August 2, 2006, J.K. Rowling made a statement at her reading in New York City, at Radio City Music Hall, that was big news and related directly to what we talk about on this web site. She said Dumbledore was , and even mentioned this web site (which used to be called by name. Well, tonight she's done it again.

This evening, again in New York City, this time at Carnegie Hall, J.K. Rowling dropped a bombshell on the Harry Potter fan community. When asked by a fan if Dumbledore ever loved anyone, J.K. Rowling replied Dumbledore was . Reports from the scene say a hush fell over the crowd and then it broke out in applause, to which J.K. replied that if she had known that would be the response, she would've revealed her thoughts on Dumbledore earlier.

She went on to say that while she was reading Steve Kloves' script for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, she came across a passage in which Dumbledore was reminiscing about past loves, and she corrected it by crossing it out and scrawling "Dumbledore is " in the margin.

I, personally, was very surprised by this news. Not that I thought there couldn't be Wizards and not that I'd have anything against them if they were. (Lockhart is obviously , for example, and I think fans assume the whole Wizarding world knows it, and doesn't care... And he's one of our favorite characters.) It's just that I never for minute suspected it about Dumbledore. But, looking back, should we have seen clues that this was true?

We learned a great amount about Dumbledore in the final book that we never knew before, especially about his past. J.K. herself tonight said Dumbledore's being explains why he was originally taken in by Grindelwald, that it started off as an infatuation. Looking back at the book, the clues hinting at this are all there. In the excerpt from The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore, Rita Skeeter says Bathilda Bagshot says, about the young Grindelwald:

"He seemed a charming boy to me," babbles Bathilda, "whatever he became later. Naturally I introduced him to poor Albus, who was missing the company of lads his own age. The boys took to each other at once." (DH pg 356/291)

Also in her book, Skeeter says Grindelwald was expelled from Durmstrang at sixteen years old, and was forced to leave the country, "traveling abroad for some months". We know Durmstrang isn't shy about teaching the dark arts. Is it possible more than experimenting with dark magic caused Grindelwald's falling out with Durmstrang?

And then later, Bathilda says something funny about Ariana's :

"Albus was beside himself at Ariana's ... A shame Gellert could not have stayed for the ... He would have been a comfort to Albus, at least..." (DH pg 358/292)

Was Grindelwald too? Or was he just good at stringing people along, telling them what they wanted to hear, for his own purposes?

And in ly Hallows, one of the earliest things we learn about Dumbledore's past is told to us by Elphias Doge, in his eulogy of Dumbledore, when he says that after graduation from Hogwarts, he and Dumbledore had, in his words, "intended to take the then-traditional tour of the world together". In my first readings of the book, I took that phrasing to mean that it was traditional for Wizards to do that together. But is it possible that it was the trip itself that was the tradition, and that there was more than just a friendship between Elphias and Dumbledore?

Were there other, earlier signs in the books that Dumbledore was ? In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, after Sirius has d, Dumbledore tells Harry,

"You fought a man's fight. I was ... prouder of you than can say." (OotP pg 837/738)

"I cared about you too much. I cared more for your happiness than knowing the truth." (OotP pg 838/739)

"I never dreamed that I would have such a person on my hands." (OotP pg 839/739)

I'm not suggesting that anything ever happened between Dumbledore and Harry, nor am I suggesting Dumbledore ever wanted something to happen. But in the same way it sparked his relationship with Grindelwald, can we not say that his ity allowed Dumbledore to feel a special bond between Harry and himself, a bond normally reserved for a boy and a relative, like a father or older brother?

And what of Dumbledore's relationships with other men? We know Snape is because of his un feelings for Lily. But could Dumbledore's platonic affection for Snape help to explain why he trusted Snape when everyone else thought he was a fool to do so?

Ironically, of all the characters in the Harry Potter story, it was Harry himself who was the brunt of the rumors of being , as he had grown up "in the closet". Also, had he not gone to Hogwarts, the Dursleys told him he would attend Stonewall High. The Stonewall, a bar in New York City that was raided by the police in 1969, is an icon in the history of rights. But ever since the first book, the Harry Potter story has gained a great number of fans who are , because of how the story deals with Harry's feeling "different", and never understanding "what was wrong with him", until he finally got to find out that there were others like him, when he went to Hogwarts.

J.K.'s admission about Dumbledore tonight opens up a whole part of the Wizarding world that we previously could only guess about. Can we infer from the way Lockhart was treated that the Wizarding world was generally permissive of ity? If so, why did Dumbledore hide that he was ? Does the fact that Dumbledore was help to explain how and why he did what he did? Were you surprised by J.K.'s announcement? From what we were told in the book, should we have been able to guess that Dumbledore was ?

(Editors note: I understand this is potentially a controversial topic. Please keep all comments posted here respectful and adult. No judgmental comments be allowed. Thank you.)

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Published October 19, 2007

This article is Copyright © 2007, David Haber, and may not be reproduced on other web sites or in print, in whole or in part, without expressed permission

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