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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 17)

It is just strange that no one complained about Rowling saying, for example, that Neville married Hannah Abbot or that Hagrid never married! No one complained that this wasn't revealed in the books, no one complained that Rowling mentioned it afterwards!

I am sorry to say it like that, but all of you who say Rowling should have made Dumbledore's "" clear in the books if she thought it important should also complain that she answered ANY questions regarding ANY of the characters' love preferences/relationships afterwards!

Posted by Siena from Leeds, UK on October 30, 2007 03:55 AM

If you rightly say, Angel, that we can't shield our children from the often violent horrors of history dealt with in books - so why on earth shield them from such a pleasant "occurance" as love between two adult men?

And to Michelle: I don't think it is possible to put a label with a list of influences on a book you've written. An author's mind is vast and has sucked up all sorts of thoughts and inspirations throughout life and throughout the process of writing. I don't think it is possible to say, where for example, the goodness of one of your characters comes from - is it from a Christian, Jewish, Buddhist or what - have - you background? In many ways most religions teach us forgiveness and to care and accept those around us in order to find our peace. There isn't THE cleverest God out there. What you believe and how you write is a mixture of what's out there.

It is therefore hard to find a book with the label "To be read by Christians only" or "the main character of this book is " or "the character in this book loves a women/gets married/divorced".

You can't read anything if you want to be absolutely certain about every personality trait/background/religious influence and so forth of a book or, in fact, any written word.

How can you be sure about the motivations/ beliefs of me, "Siena", for instance? I might have one or several thoughts and beliefs you don't agree with.

Why not let a child read a book with Christian values (just an example!) and then discuss it with the kid, asking the child what he/she thinks and then have a discussion about it, even if you don't agree with everything?

Posted by Siena from Leeds, UK on October 30, 2007 06:00 AM

i think it was great JR did not state that Dumbledore is .. i don't see why she should...even if he is , he is still a wonderfull man, a respectable character and a wise, talented and powerfull wizard... that's exactly how he is described in the books and thats how everyone in the wizarding world saw him...all the fans of the Harry potter books, love dumbledore's's as if he comes to life while you're reading the books, and he is standing right beside you..and you feel as if he is your own caring, loving and understanding teacher..all readers have surely felt connected with dumbledore's character... i know i have...i cried for days after his in 6th even if he is ..does it matter? he still is the same wise, powerfull, respectable and kind person he always has doesn't matter at all if he was and i hope readers do not change their views about this great character...if they do, it be a real shame as the books lose a huge part of their greatness...just like the wizarding world lost a huge part of it's greatness when Dumbledore d....

love you professor Dumbledore...

Posted by lilly from nicosia, cyprus on October 30, 2007 11:37 AM

Here's a question that struck me: What would the reaction have been if Voldemort was , or Bellatrix Lestrange? Would there have been the same 'It's wonderful that J.K. is reflecting the real world in her HP books' or would there have been offense taken by those who are themselves?

Posted by Miriam on October 30, 2007 10:07 PM

i don't think dumbledore being had any effects on the relationships he had with harry and snape (definately not sexual or anything similar). his relationship with harry was probably like it was for two reasons. 1) harry was the person destined to defeat voldemort and who better to help than the greatest wizard ever and 2) i believe he was fond of lily and james and so wanted to protect their only child. as for snape i believe that he liked snape in the way that he liked grindelwald (intellectually) as we see through the Half-Blood Princes potions book snape was very intelligent. also i think that he cared for snape because he knew that he was alone, doing a job that would make people hate him and that the only person he ever loved was ed after he told voldemort about the propehcy (alhtough it wasn't his fault voldemort went after the potters)

i don't not think dumbledore being would have had anything affect on the plot and i don't really think it matters. its just another bit of information about a character in a story and anybody who believes that it shouldn't be in a "children's" book should grow up and start living in the real world

Posted by carl from england on October 31, 2007 03:29 AM

To Miriam: As "Suba" pointed out before, it "was brilliant and quite Rowlingful to assert that the wisest wizard in the HP books was ." (And not the psychopath Voldemort, who never loved anyone anyway, or Bellatrix, who was obsessed with -or should I dare say loved? - Voldemort.)
Rowling's comment on Dumbledore did a good service to the movement, and besides, Dumbledore had so many personality traits that I associate with s: He was open-minded, extremely witty and shrewd, believed the best of people and had really good manners and valued love above everything... all these qualities of which a Voldemort and a Bellatrix never possessed even the tiniest trace...

Thinking of , shrewd and witty; I would really like to know what Stephen Fry might have to say on the matter!

Posted by Siena from Leeds, UK on November 1, 2007 04:27 AM

Harry Potter is about love...all kinds of why not have love between people of the same gender? (even if it is revealed after the books are all finished) No-one is objecting to explicit snogging between Ron and Lavender, or even Ginny kissing Harry "as she had never kissed him before" (p99 DH). In my opinion, objecting to JK's announcement that Dumbledore is just goes to show how deeply homophobia runs in our society. I think JK has done a brilliant job in challenging people over this issue by telling us Dumbledore was after millions of people have read the books and come to love him...what a fantastic way to stimulate people to she challenges us to think about other controversial issues in the books.

Dumbledore being explains a number of things to me that puzzled me before. Why did someone so knowledgable about love and so obviously capable of loving not have a good, loving relationship in his life? Why did Dumbledore take so long to go after Grindelwald....perhaps he still loved him...or couldn't bring himself to go after him because he had once loved the same way that his love for Harry nearly stopped him from revealing the prophecy to Harry.

To those who suggest that 8 is too young for children to be exposed to positive depictions, or even the existance, of relationships I am sorry to say that where I live, kids of this age are already using the word in a pejorative way...I expect they don't understand its full connotations but never-the-less I feel this is unacceptable and should be way is to have positive role models in children's books and other media aimed at kids. So well done JK in my opinion. And even more well done for not mentioning it in the books in a implies that it was so not an issue in the wizarding world that it wasn't worth perhaps it be in our world one day.

However, I do take issue with the idea that Lockhart is ...he may very well be BUT to suggest that he is purely on the basis of his narcissistic tendencies and obsession with his looks is pandering to stererotypes. I object to this as I do to the idea that Dumbledore's high heeled boots and purple velvet suit constitute "proof" of his sexual can't tell someones sexual orientation from what they wear (Fudge's lime green bowler hat?)... another stereotype and I'm sure that's not "Rowlingful".

I think that children learn what they need to when they need to. So I agree with the person who said earlier that one should answer their questions openly at the level at which they are at so to speak. My son is 7. I got into the books through reading them aloud to him. He loved books one, two and three, and to a certain extent book 4, although he did find bits of them scary...we had to skip the description of the battle with the basilisk at the end of book two (but then fairy stories are scary...little red riding hood anyone?). But he's lost interest in book 5 because it's too old for him and he's not ready for it yet. Dumbledore's sexual orientation is not an issue for him at his are lots of the other subtler details that JK includes in the plot...but should he ever ask I be very happy that he feels he can ask and also happy to discuss it with him openly at the level at which he can understand. Harry Potter opens the door for discussion of all sorts of challenging's part of what makes it such a good story both for kids and for adults.

Posted by Joe from England on November 1, 2007 04:28 AM

I think Ms. Rowling pulled a fast one on those of us who have defended the Harry Potter series to other Christians for all these years. There is no reason that this is relevant to reading the books and if she felt like she needed it for her background information then she should have kept it to herself. The "language" in the books should not give a situation like this away in the way many have suggested. Male friends can, in in past years have, been close enough to have a relationship without things becoming sexual. It is so sad that these days one is assumed to automatically lead to the other.

This does change everything about these books because all of Dumbledore's relationships and acts are now looked at with a question of "What did he mean by that", "Did he have THOSE kind of feelings for Harry?" Ewwww! I loved Harry Potter and the books and movies never be the same for me. I wish J.K Rowling had never felt she needed to make this statement.

And BTW I never even thought about Lockhart's sexually. That should not be a main issue in a children's story. Unfortunately this issue has now been thrust into the forefront of this series forevermore. I miss my days of innocence.

Posted by Wendy Tanis from Michigan, USA on November 1, 2007 10:22 AM

This whole thing makes me wonder... I didn't realy consider Dumbledore's sexualty before now but it does seem to fit... I think I need to read the books again to see if any new things click.

Posted by Max from England on November 1, 2007 11:23 AM

I have grown from this! We should not 'judge' others... that is not our job.. However, I am a beliver that Dumbledore is a man of honor and morals... just because he found like ideas in a similar male... does not mean he has submitted to the act of like sex... some of you may want to interpret it this way.. that is your choice. The beauty of literature... each of us has the choice of our own interpretation... It is unfortunate that the author has seen fit to set an interpretation for us.. Hopefully, each reader be able to find him or herself in the pages.

Posted by GwendolynGryff from TX on November 1, 2007 6:54 PM

I recently watched the press conference JKR held in Toronto where she was asked about her comments that Dumbledore was . Jo seemed to be tired of being questioned about it yet again but she stated that Dumbledore's attraction to Grindelwald actually was clear in the seventh book. That made me wonder if Jo didn't interpret the passages where she describes their relationship with the understanding that only she could have had knowing what she does about her characters. And, perhaps, that is the cause of the controversy--we didn't have a clue.

Certainly, although Dumbledore and Gindelwald developed a close relationship, I interpreted it as a mutual attraction of two similarly minded young men whose thinking and ambition mirrored one another. I've reread the chapter and really can't find anything that points to romantic love.

The "bombshell" about Dumbledore, I think, is a question of perspective. Jo knows what we never did about her characters and in this case, I don't think there's sufficient evidence in the book itself that would lead most readers to Dumbledore's . As for the fact that he didn't have a wife, as several posters have stated, years ago teachers did not generally marry so Dumbledore being wifeless really isn't a clue.

As for Jo telling us that Neville marries Hannah Abbott and Hagrid doesn't ever marry that's different to my mind because those are events of their lives that happen after the book ends. I think Jo was just trying to satisfy her fans insatiable curiosity about "what happens" to everyone from the books after the story ends.

Posted by Hannah from Los Angeles on November 1, 2007 9:19 PM

What's interesting in this discussion, as in so many discussions about s in general, is that people seem amazingly fixated on the sexual issue.

None of the Hogwart's professors, Dumbledore included, were particularly amorous people (Lockhart being the sole exception). While it is assumed that most of the teachers are , nobody seriously infers that there was any inappropriate behavior by teachers towards students (even though such things happen in the real world all the time).

So why would anyone assume that there was anything unseemly in Dumbledore's interest in Harry. It's pretty obvious to all but the most filthy-minded reader that Dumbledore's interest in Harry was driven by his prophecied role in the battle against Voldemort. Dumbledore even actively avoids Harry when he fears that Voldemort may be able to use Legilimency to spy through Harry and learn of his plans. Clearly he was not besotted by Harry.

That Rowling is prone to drop crumbs of what she imagines happened in the past or future of her fictional world outside the pages of the books is truthfully little different than the way deleted scenes are commonly provided on DVD releases of movies.

As for whether the question of whether this is too "adult" for young readers, that's something that is driven entirely by point of view. It is, however, true that the books "mature" along the same timeline as Harry and his friends in them, with Philosopher's Stone being very much a younger reader's book, while the theme becomes more mature with each successive book until ly Hallows wherein the narrative (along with the lead characters) is now really adult.

This worked well with the books being published with significant time in between, but can be problematic if a parent were inclined to allow a young child to read all the books in short order. This isn't always advisable, just like the fact that Star Wars Ep 1 was pretty suitable for young kids, Ep 2 was a bit violent and maybe better for older ones, and Ep 3 had some content that was maybe too much for young viewers. Parents, as always, should exercise some common sense. I wouldn't let a 10 year old read ly Hallows myself.

While Dumbledore may be a person, there's certainly no adult-themed content in the books related to his orientation. So I think that a lot of the negative reaction just shows prejudice, which is probably part of why Rowling dropped this tidbit.

As for the question: what if Voldemort had been ? Well, it might have been annoying, but more because of the assertion that he was incapable of love. The point of Voldemort was that he didn't love anybody. Love, not , is one of the key themes in the books. Dumbledore was and could love. Harry was straight and could love. Voldemort could not love. Bellatrix loved him (in a fanatical kind of way), but he couldn't really love her back, or see her as anything more than a favored servant.

But then, there are many people who find the idea of people of the same gender loving each other even more upsetting than the piece, so that may account for the upset over Dumbledore even in the absence of any action on the old fellow's part.

Posted by Daniel from Philly, PA on November 2, 2007 09:55 AM

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