You’ve probably heard the news
by now. On Friday night, J.K. Rowling told a packed Carnegie Hall audience
that Albus Dumbledore,
Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, is (was?)
gay. More specifically,
in response to the question of whether Dumbledore had ever found true
love, Rowling responded that he was gay and that he had a thing for
onetime friend and then mortal enemy Gellert Grindewald. (You
can read a full transcript of the question and answer session here.)
I had hoped to be
at this event,
but my sweepstakes entry was not one of the 1,000 selected. Like the
other 49,000 rejects, I had to read about the big
revelation the next day. From both a character and big-picture perspective,
this posthumous outing is significant. Not only did Rowling disclose that
the most influential and talented wizard in the modern magical Harry
Potter world was gay, but she affirmed something that was not at
all clear in the books — that GLBT folks (or at least “G” wizards)
exist in that world.
I find it encouraging that
the audience reacted with applause (and some shock). And Rowling’s response
to that was, “If I’d known it would make you so happy, I’d have announced
it years ago.” That would have been nice. Of course, some gay fans
are happy about the revelation, and others see it as either downright
negative or too little too late. And AfterElton.com readers, of course,
have their range of reactions. My favorite comment (which I read
on another site) was, “Oh
good, now all the fictional, closeted gay wizards of the world have
a role model.”
At the event, Rowling also
had the presence of mind to note, “Oh, my god, the fan fiction now,
“The fan fiction” is right.
The Harry Potter fan fiction and shipper sites are prolific, to say the least. [Note: Click at your own risk — some of the stories are pretty graphic.]
There are more than 300,000 Harry Potter stories on fanfiction.net. (For comparison, Buffy has
approximately 31,000 stories, Xena has approximately 1,500 stories
and The Flying Nun has eight.) Much of the fantasizing has focused
on Harry/Hermione vs.
But lots of writers want to see some same-sex action. Remus/Sirius is
a favorite, as is Harry/Draco. And there was
at least one lesbian reader who implored Rowling to include a gay or
lesbian character in book 7, via a very earnest (and largely unsigned) web petition.
But talking about the boys
gets old. Let’s get to the real question: Who are the lesbians?
Again, Rowling has acknowledged
that same-sex attraction exists in the world she created, so there must
be some dykes out there. Some of the fan fiction writers have explored this realm, and Ginny Weasley seems to be a favorite
subject of speculation.
I don’t really buy this. She
fell for Harry the moment she laid her eyes upon his scar. (I suppose
she could have been a precocious LUG while she was waiting for Harry, but
I’m far from convinced.) And Hermione,
of course, would have been great in her brainy, political, cat-loving
way, but she’s Rowling’s (loose)
alter-ego and was
fated for Ron early on.
The unmarried adults — the
teachers in particular — are generally blank slates, so I find it easier
to attribute lesbian archetypal-ness to them.
Tonks had so much early potential.
Remember how she was introduced?
“She looked the youngest
there; she had a pale heart-shaped face, dark twinkling eyes, and short
spiky hair that was a violent shade of violet.”
Unfortunately, this early promise
was frittered away when she and Lupin became an item. Alas. (But anyone
who hooks up with a werewolf has to fall somewhere on the spectrum of
Then there’s Madame Hooch,
the Quidditch ref and flying instructor (i.e., gym teacher). I think
she’s a pretty safe bet. And Professor Trelawney could have the flaky,
New Age, hippie-lesbian thing going on. (But that might just be me wanting
Emma Thompson to be a lesbian.)
Ultimately, though, if I had
to pick just one, I’d have to go with Professor Minerva McGonagall.
She’s strong and confident;
there’s never been a mention of Mr. McGonagall; and her animagus form
is that of a cat. With markings for her glasses. (Some might think it
a bit much to have the top Hogwarts witch and wizard be gay, but if
you’ve ever worked in a dorm, you know that residential life staffs
are full of us.)
That’s my analysis. Which witches
do you think were, could be, or should have been lesbians?