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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. 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.
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Reader Comments: (Page 13)
i agree with virginia. i don't have a prejudice against s, and the fact that dumbledore is should not change the opinions of how loyal fans who have respected him all along think of dumbledore now.
Posted by Felix from Wales on October 24, 2007 1:34 PM
Several thoughts, some of which others have made already...
First, to everyone who was surprised to hear the Dumbledore is : if it surprised you after the fact, it shouldn't matter to you. You can read the books incorporating that information or not. If it didn't dawn on you in earlier reading/s it is not necessarily relevant to your view of the plot.
For those who ask WHY?: my answer is "why NOT?" If ten percent of all of us are /bi, then 1/10 of everyone you meet should be /bi... do you notice? Of course not. Some people are flamboyant and others are reserved and private: like Dumbledore. And we usually only think about someone's if we are attracted to them or they are flirting with us!
I am really sick (and I do NOT mean that euphemistically -- I mean "queasy" ill) about people thinking they should "protect" children (or other adults) from anything they disapprove of, including the total range of sexual ORIENTATION (not "preference"). Rowling's main message has been one of tolerance for EVERYONE. "Love" is the strongest force in the world. ity is just another human variation, and it is neither "good" nor "bad" just like ity per se is neither thing. Good and bad PEOPLE have all sorts of orientations, but there is no connection. The gender of the person you LOVE has nothing to do with your morality, kindness, wisdom, leadership, or anything else. So I submit everyone who feels disappointed, sick, upset, outraged, annoyed, or any other negative thing about the announcement is proclaiming both ignorance of what it means to be and their bias against s.
Rowling has long discussed the fact that she has boxes and boxes of backstory, she had all the main characters well mapped out in her notes before she ever started writing. She knew THEN that Dumbledore was , and she knew then that the stories were to be told from Harry's viewpoint. What kid in school thinks of adults as having sex lives of ANY kind? Especially *elderly* adults? As they become more mature and think about their own interests in romantic involvements (or sexual ones) they may start to abstractly realize that parents must have had sex to produce them, but every kid *I* ever heard discuss the subject thought the idea was weird and disgusting! Harry wouldn't have been interested in or have ever thought about his teachers' orientations, marriages, children, pets (well, ok, Fawkes was special!), or anything outside his immediate involvement with them in the context of his life. Not to mention that Dumbledore was over a hundred years old, and that alone would suggest that an active sex life might not be a big issue, even to him! And then there is the fact that everyone was more concerned with schooling and eventually the war with Voldemort to be interested in other people's private lives.
As for other characters maybe being ... I think Slughorn is definitely a possibility, but Tonks just seems "punk" to me, not lesbian (although I do know of a fair number of women who are both!) And I totally disagree with our host that Lockhart is ! No, I think he's the archetype of the narcissistic, effete, possibly even asexual male who loves himself way too much to actually make human connections with anybody else! (This is a diagnosable illness, by the way.) Probably some of the students qualify, if we only knew... I think Oliver Wood seems possible, for one.
I am delighted that Jo announced Dumbledore is , and that she did it OUTSIDE the actual books, so people who can't face it don't have to. The story needed characters, and yet, since it's not a book about sex, we never needed sex SCENES or declarations or any of the other things in life that clue us in to someone's orientation. It's the perfect solution, and I hope it, in itself, teach some people more tolerance. There is no reason at all that a (real life) man couldn't be exactly like Dumbledore in real life, and it's about time authors more authors admitted that! (In fact Richard Harris, the first movie Dumbledore, was openly -- did you care when you saw the film?) You GO, Jo!
Posted by Sherry the Librarian from New Hampshire, USA on October 24, 2007 2:20 PM
Okay, JK does center the whole books over the power of love, but this is out of hand. Remember, the wizarding world is more old-fashioned, and ity was frowned upon earlier in time. We must also consider the time frame in which these books are set. The series begin in 1981, and end in 1998. Dumbledore s in June 1997. At this time, even in the muggle world, ity was not nearly as popular as it is now.
Posted by C.J. from Utah on October 24, 2007 3:03 PM
wow... i love dumbledore through anything that goes on. wait till the movie dumbledore finds out, eh! that would not be pretty sight! i always respect dumbledore, he is the best thing that ever happened to the entire world! I love Dumbledore forever!
Posted by luna lovegood 4 life ( luna) from why do you care, lolol fine...canada on October 24, 2007 3:07 PM
I think that the varied opinions of this site depend, to a large extent, whether the writer has children and if so, what are their ages. As a mother of adolescent boys, I feel that I have the right to decide at what age my children are mature enough to handle the issue of sexual orientation. I am a very open person, and though I do not embrace the lifestyle for myself, I would never dream of hiding it from my children or painting it as wrong. Many of my in-laws, friends, and neighbors are , which is all fine with me. I would never think to push my own thoughts or lifestyle choices on another or to view another's choices on the same to be "wrong" simply because they are different from my own.
That being said, I resent the fact that the HP series was, at least initially, targeted toward children, and now this adult idea of sexual orientation is suddenly attached to this beloved series of books. I feel as thought JKR sold out her youngest fans in order to...what, exactly, I'm not sure, as Dumbledore's sexual orientation was entirely irrelevalent to the series.
I am curious, actually, what thoughts Alan Rickman might have on the topic. When he was preparing to portray Snape, JKR told him far more about Snape than had yet been revealed so that he could better portray the character. Of course many people then hounded Alan to give them further insight into Snape, to which he steadfastly replied that he would not comment. He said that he would not compromise the innocence of children to satisfy the adults who craved more information. He said that it was, after all, a book read by, if not geared toward, children, and almost admonished those who wanted to "ruin" the story for children. I greatly admired Alan's convictions. Although he has no children of his own, he still put the integrity of a child's innocence first. As should we all.
What adult cares whether Dumbledore was ? Why then even run the risk of thrusting the adult world upon children before they are mature enough to handle it, especially when it's needless to do it. Kids grow up fast enough, we shouldn't push them to understand adult relationships when they're 8 years old.
Those of you who say that since Dumbledore's orientation was not explicit in the books then young kids won't know about it, think again. Again, as one who actually has kids, I can tell you that older siblings talk about it, and kids hear about it "off the street" so to speak.
Posted by Michelle on October 24, 2007 4:59 PM
I read this article a few days ago, and I have been troubled by it ever since. Now that the books are finished and the characters are complete, meaning the author can't continue to develop them, it is too late for Rowling to make a claim like this. In my opinion, the passages in the article cites as possible mentions that Dumbledore was are really weak. Don't misunderstand me, I wish now that she had pursued this idea, it would have added an amazing element to the book, and to the collective consciousness of the kids who are reading the series all over the world. I just think that the proofs used in the article are a stretch and I never read this into the character.
Posted by Toby from Cincinnati on October 24, 2007 6:15 PM
Interestingly, despite being more "old fashioned", I don't see the Wizarding world as being therefore anti- by defintion. The primary argument against ity in European society is generally driven by religion. But the same religion under discussion is also hostile to the practice of magic (as evidenced by the number fundamentalists that revile the Harry Potter series!).
Obviously the beliefs of Wizarding people have to be a bit more flexible. It is also a world where individual merit supercedes many traditional values. Consider that two of the four Hogwarts founders were women, in an era when women at the very bottom of the social ladder in regular society.
JK, for her part, is still free to reveal her thoughts about the characters beyond what made it into print. Harry, Ron and Hermione's careers, Neville's marriage, Hagrid's lack of a marriage...these are all extraneous details from JK's view of her little world.
The funny thing is, that the books indeed don't explicitly state Dumbledore's orientation. So the irony is that the main way that kids are exposed to this knowledge is from all the loud noises that adults are making over it (the seemingly endless debates on Fox News in particular are very funny).
Posted by Daniel from Philly, PA on October 24, 2007 8:04 PM
dumbledore has always been a favorite charactor of mine. i havent felt differently since the news of his ity, so i don't see why anyone else who loved him, should now suddenly turn their backs on him.
Posted by misspotter3 from illinois on October 24, 2007 8:30 PM
Wow. As an educator, I am thrilled by this new revelation. To think, if the book banners hated Harry Potter before, they're really going to hate it now. You go JKR!
Posted by JLW from Pittsburgh, PA on October 24, 2007 8:56 PM
Personally, I LOVE that JK Rowling revealed this fact to the fans. My high opinion of Dumbledore hasn't changed in the slightest and I still love his character. I am also extremely pleased at the overwhelmingly positive response to this news. As for people feeling that a claim like this after the series is finished is stretching things, I think that Rowling had a lot more information about the characters and the wizarding world in general in her mind than what she included in the books. Just because it didn't explicitly reveal itself or she didn't make a point to include it doesn't mean it wasn't in her concept of the characters all along.
Posted by Rebecca Groman from Williamsburg, Virginia on October 24, 2007 10:14 PM
I think this makes sense. After all, why else would Dumbledore be "friends" with Grindelwald? I mean, I know they had similar thoughts of brilliance that connected them, but Dumbledore probably would have seen through it if his vision wasn't being blocked by something else. In this case, love.
Posted by Anna from Washington on October 24, 2007 10:24 PM
Frankly, I wish Jo would shut up. She finished the series and it is out of her hands now. If there is not textual support for what she is saying after the fact, as far as I'm concerned, it isn't true. Literature is what it is, and once it has left the author's hands, it is public domain. I feel like Jo is making stuff up off the top of her head as people ask her about it -- she is playing god (which she has a right to do in her universe until she has finished the product and shared it with the rest of us as part of the story to be published) and I wish she would stop. I know fans want gratification for what happens with the characters, but she decided to end it and, therefore, I think she should leave the rest to our imaginations.
All of these post publication revelations she keeps announcing are diminishing the experience for me. I can't trust the book anymore -- I have to keep up on the news and addendums Jo keeps spinning out. It feels like she is grasping desperately at straws to stay in the spotlight and continue the fantasy of the Harry Potter world for herself, which, if it is the case, could satisfy her and her fans by writing more. But if she is going to do that, she needs to keep the ideas to herself and stop spoiling potential future content.
My rant here has nothing to do with what Jo has revealed about any character, but simply the way she does it. If she really feels that we, the aunce, need these details, she needs to put out 2nd revision versions of the books, or hurry up and finish her appendices.
Posted by Tim from Flagstaff, AZ on October 24, 2007 11:54 PM
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