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Why I do care about Dumbledore's sexuality and you should too


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A few weeks ago The National Student published an article entitled 'I'm not interested in Dumbledore's sexuality and Harry Potter fans shouldn't be either', arguing that Dumbledore's sexuality is irrelevant to the new Fantastic Beasts movie, The Crimes of Grindelwald, set to be released in November. Now as we are fans of seeing both sides of the story here at The National Student, I'm here to tell you why I think that not referencing Dumbledore's sexuality explicity is an act of cowardice on the part of JK Rowling and the team involved in The Crimes of Grindelwald. 

Jude Law as Dumbledore

I am part of the Harry Potter generation. I was born the year before the first book was released and by the time the final book was published in 2007, I was 11 years old. I watched every movie as it was released, and when Fantastic Beasts came out in 2016, I went to the midnight showing in town with my friends. All this is to say, that I am a huge Harry Potter fan and JK Rowling has been an idol of mine for many years. 

However I can't say I've been thrilled with the way that she has retconned details into the Harry Potter canon long after the series has ended. It's all well and good wanting to keep the magic alive, and as a writer, I know that we know far more details about our characters than we reveal on page. However, if you are not willing to live up to your word when it comes down to it, then you have no business adding those details in. This is exactly what has happened with Dumbledore's sexuality.

Likely, when Rowling revealed in 2007 that Dumbledore was gay, she never thought anything would come of it. The books were finished, and as it wasn't included in the books, it wouldn't be in the remaining movies, so she didn't need to worry about it. Until now. 

I can completely understand the outrage on behalf of fans when the news came out from director of the second "Beasts" movie, David Yates, that Dumbledore's sexuality wouldn't be addressed "explicitly" in the film. In a movie that from the title seems to be all about Grindelwald, and that it has been heavily hinted Dumbledore will play a huge role in, it seems completely ridiculous that their relationship will not be front and centre of the movie. The relationship informs every aspect of the character's reactions to each other, why wouldn't you address that? The deep conflict that Dumbledore feels facing his former lover would add a huge layer of complexity to the story, without it, the tale will lose some of its biggest emotional impact. 

The Potterverse is a huge franchise. It would be a massive deal to see a gay relationship at the centre of one of the world's biggest movie franchises and JK Rowling certainly has the clout to make it happen, being the writer of the screenplays, and you know, the creator of the whole thing! Ignoring Dumbledore's sexuality is not only an act of cowardice on the part of the filmmakers, it also shames the very community that Dumbledore is supposed to be a part of. Harry Potter is supposed to be based on tolerance and acceptance of others and by sweeping Dumbledore's sexuality under the carpet, Rowling is ignoring the entire message of her beloved works. 

Perhaps the team behind "Beasts" were worried about the potential international backlash of markets such as China and Russia, huge markets who have been known to shun LGBTQ+ movies in the past. However by ignoring Dumbledore's sexuality, Rowling runs the risk of alienating a whole lot more fans. People who once felt welcome in the Harry Potter community will not anymore. Perhaps they were offput by the furore created by the tiny two second "gay moment" in Beauty and The Beast (which let's be honest you could have blinked and missed) and didn't want the same for their movie. 

Being coy about Dumbledore's sexuality in a movie all about the man he had a relationship with, a relationship that is central to Dumbledore's character and who he became, will not cut it. The fans deserve better and we should demand better. 

If JK Rowling were a real ally of the LGBTQ+ community she would include Dumbledore's sexuality. If she always imagined him that way, then she should write him that way. Words are completely empty if you never act on them. Quite frankly, her reactions to the criticisms have been less than acceptable, with one being an inflammatory tweet using digital blackface.

Sure, the Potter team has three more movies to correct this. But I for one am not holding my breath. It seems that even in 2018, when facing the choice between what is right and what is easy, as Dumbledore himself once said, JK Rowling and her team have gone with what is easy; ignoring Dumbledore's sexuality completely. 

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