[Snipped discussion about the Dumbledore-is-gay thing because I’ve spammed everyone’s dashes with that post once already :D - gyz]
I don’t agree with this but I think it’s relevant and interesting to think about and talk about. J K Rowling is not your personal activist and does not belong to nor serve as a voice for the queer community. I think it’s great that she had the automatic openmindedness to see a character in what is a heteronormative world, both in the Harry Potter world and in the real world, as some sort of queer. Dumbledore is not meant to be a token or a piece on the visibility of queerness. Dumbledore is gay. It is stated in the text that he “loved” another man and maturer audiences can pick up on the implication of that if they’re looking for it. That’s the end of it and that’s all the story needed.
With full awareness that posting this may well be the textual equivalent of punching myself right in my face: mannnn, this sort of response fascinates me. That post wasn’t about turning JK Rowling into a personal activist or a voice for queer people; it wasn’t about making Dumbledore a token or a piece on the visibility of queerness, either. It was about the difference between stating a character’s sexuality in an interview and stating it in the text; it was about the impact that a character who is stated as queer can have on readers, especially the young readers at whom HP is targeted; and, yeah, admittedly it was about how easy it would have been to add like one sentence to a seven book series and make a character the author confirms as gay in an interview gay within the canon of the novels. I didn’t even say that should have happened, just asked folks to consider why it didn’t. I didn’t even say that it was wrong that Dumbledore’s sexuality wasn’t stated within the books, just asked folks to consider what it meant that it wasn’t.
But here’s this response, one of many like it that’ve popped up in the like, what, the hour it’s been since I put that post up? Here’s this response, that starts with “I think this is relevant and interesting to talk about” but then point by point insists that, in fact, it isn’t: that JK Rowling isn’t a queer activist and no one should expect her to be! That the point of Dumbledore wasn’t his sexuality! That people should be glad JK Rowling was openminded enough to even think of Dumbledore as gay in the privacy of her own head! That mature readers could see it if they wanted to! That Dumbledore was as gay as he needed to be, and that’s the end of it. I mean, literally, this post starts off with saying this is a relevant and interesting topic for discussion and ends five sentences later with “That’s the end of it,” so, er, I would suggest that you may feel a little less interested in the discussion of this relevant topic than you would perhaps like to imagine. I’m not hating! I’m just, y’know. Saying.
Seriously, though, folks: what is it that prompts this response? What are you afraid of here? It’s not that I don’t get feeling protective of media you love, that’s had a strong impact on your life — I do, I totally do. But like, the post you’re reacting to doesn’t hate on the Harry Potter series, doesn’t hate on Dumbledore, actively doesn’t hate on JK Rowling: it just, er, talks about some stuff. So what is it? Do you think acknowledging that Dumbledore is a gay character who is never explicitly stated as gay in canon is the same thing as calling this narrative homophobic, and thus by association calling you, as a fan of the narrative, a homophobe? Because if that’s what it is, you can let that one go — while I’d suggest you spend more energy worrying about being homophobic and less worrying about being called homophobic, that’s not what this is about. Are you uncomfortable with the idea of children reading about an authority figure who’s clearly stated as gay (that one is a little homophobic) or afraid that if we talk about these books with anything other than glowing positivity, they’ll change/vanish/become angry and eat ours faces off the next time we try to read them? Like, what? What is it? Why this reaction? What is it you think is going to happen here?
I just, god, it’s so mystifying to me watching this go down, but for clarity: talking about why it would have been nice for Dumbledore to be confirmed as gay in the books as well as in an interview with the author is not the same as saying he should have paraded into every scene waving a rainbow flag and wearing the “Likes Boys” t-shirt from that one episode of Glee. Presenting the argument that one sentence confirming a queer character as queer wouldn’t have been an insane thing to expect is not the same as demanding JK Rowling be a queer rights activist. And if you think that stating — just stating, okay, not writing a whole narrative about, not structuring a romance around, JUST STATING — a queer character’s sexuality is the same thing as turning them into a token or a piece of the visibility of queerness? You might want to spend some time looking at the hows and whys of the way you view queerness and queer characters, because no, friend. That’s not how that works at all.