On Dumbledore being gay!

by Samuel Thambusamy

“My truthful answer to you is that I have always thought of Dumbledore as gay.” – J.K. Rowling, while addressing a group of fans at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

The gay-twist to the tale

We all loved Dumbledore. Didn’t we? Now, J.K Rowling is telling us that Dumbledore is gay! Interestingly, there was no hint at all (whatsoever) within the story books. For all those ( Potter-is-evil Christians) who haven’t read Harry Potter this is yet another opportunity to put down the books. However, the latest gay-twist in the tale and audience reactions (and responses) reinforce Harry Potter as the cultural landmark of our times and as a church, we must engage with it (and not just rubbish it).

The importance of engaging with Harry Potter

How do we engage with our Kids world? We have very little to say to their world and worse everything to say about their world. Every kid who follows Harry Potter would know about the latest gay-twist and we must help kids understand the issue involved and the other related issues (such as tolerance, acceptance and authority). Listen up! Besides, missing loads of fun, we have lost connectivity to a generation that has grown up with Harry Potter. For a decade, we have dis-engaged with Harry Potter. In doing so, we have have burnt bridges (not to mention our fingers) and have distanced ourselves from a generation (Oops! Why did we have to do this!).

The gay-twist: Does it matter?

Dumbledore is gay! Now, does that matter? No way! After all Albus Dumbledore is a fictional character. There really is no Dumbledore in real life. However, I am personally disappointed on two counts.Firstly, Dumbledore is my favorite character at Hogwarts. I simply adore him for his words of wisdom and perceptive comments about life. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.” (PS17)
“It is our choices Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” (CS18)
“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.” (PS12)
“After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” (PS17)

The loss of credibility

Dumbledore definitely offered a perspective to the readers and he did speak for Rowling (as she herself admitted in an interview). To the question: “Does Dumbledore speak for you? JKR is said to have replied: “ Oh yes, very much so. Dumbledore often speaks for me”. I wonder why JKR gave a gay twist to this character, long after the book series has been completed! Is this a joke or political correctness? Worse, In stirring up the controversy she has only stripped Dumbledore’s of his credibility to speak (within the story) to a larger audience.

An icon for the ‘tolerance argument’

Secondly, JKR has introduced the ‘ tolerance debate’ into the life space of younger audiences. It is common knowledge that she regards her Potter books as a “prolonged argument for tolerance” and urged her fans to “question authority”. However, she has used the power of suggestion to implant her views in the hearts and minds of her readers.

Is the gay-twist a problem?

Is Dumbledore being gay a problem? The gay twist to the boy-wizard story has stirred up a controversy about Harry Potter series again. Why now? Why Dumbledore (of all people)? I don’t know! Tell me, how does this connect with the story anyway? With this pronouncement, JKR has provided fodder for fan-fiction through her powers of suggestion. In fact, the gay motif (which is not in the book) is brought through the fan perspective. I wonder what would be brewing in the world of fan-fiction.

JKR’s words about Dumbledore’s sexuality cannot be taken lightly. Already Peter Tatchell, a Gay human rights campaigner, has remarked: “

It’s good that children’s literature includes the reality of gay people, since we exist in every society. What worries me is the context into which these words have been spoken.

Gay! Who…. me?!! It wasn’t my choice!

I can’t imagine Dumbledore being gay. May be it is a religious preference! But, being gay isn’t really his choice (not even his genetic disposition). Let’s be clear about this. It is author who has ‘imposed’ this on him (that too at a later date). We can choose to accept it or just laugh it off. We need to make a choice. Dumbledore’s words to Harry are perceptive:

“It is our choices Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” (CS18)

The power of suggestion

You may ask: What can a mere suggestion do? The power of JKR depends on the fact that she is dealing with younger avid readers of the Harry Potter series. I am reminded of C.S. Lewis’ words to describe the impact of two writers on their readership:

It is not a theory they put into his mind, but an assumption, which ten years hence, its origin forgotten and its presence unconscious, will condition him (the reader) to take one side of the controversy which he has never recognized as a controversy at all. The authors I suspect hardly know what they have done to the boy and the boy cannot know what is being done to him”. (C.S. Lewis, ‘Men without chests’, The Abolition of Man)

This is so true about J.K. Rowling as well. She hardly knows what she has done to kids and the kids cannot know what has been done to their world.

It’s a choice between what is right and what is easy

In the Harry Potter series, JKR (through Dumbledore) contends: The choice is between what is right and what is easy. Has JKR chosen what is easy rather than what is True, good and beautiful. And then, as Dumbledore himself has warned us:

Humans have a knack for choosing precisely the things that are worst for them.”

Make your choice!

In closing, I would like to conclude with Dumbledore’s words: “ If your determination to shut your eyes will carry you as far as this we have reached a parting of the ways. You must act as you see fit. And I — I shall act as I see fit.” (GF 709) We need to make a choice. I have made mine.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: