Monday, October 22, 2007

Dumbledore is gay?


Full disclosure here: I've written a young adult fantasy novel, which I will submit to my publsher soon, in which a young girl runs away from home and washes up on the sparkling shores of pre-AIDS Castro street. She and the gay man who takes her in are the two main characters in the book, the heroes. Though I think the book is very good, I have some concerns that a major publishing house with a family-values reputation (hint: it's the same one that published Harry Potter) will be reluctant to publish a young peoples book, however good it may be, that not only accepts, but heroizes gay men and the culture of joy and openness they created, in that time and place.

So back to the good professor Dumbledore. How is it that, in seven books and four gazillion pages of text, Rowling neglected to tell us that, as she said last night in Carnegie Hall, "Dumbledore is gay," and that he was "smitten" with Gellert Grindlewald, who he fought in a battle between good and evil. She went on to add that "his love was his great tragedy." There are so many things I want to say here: homosexual love = great tragedy?; his great love also happens to be a stand-in for evil?; if his love, and loss of it, are his great tragedy, then would the grief of that not somehow have motivated, or at least informed, his self sacrifice at the end of the series?; did the fear of losing, say, 5% of your richer-than-god sales to a few homophobes keep you from telling us, your many fans? These are all deep questions that, no doubt, Rowling will have to answer somehow, somewhere. But really, my main and completely self-interested question is: Why didn't you step up to the plate, show Dumbledore in all his multiplicity of selves - hero, Christ figure, teacher, protector, gay man - so that generations of little witches and wizards and readers could have had him as a fully fleshed out character? And - in very open self interest here - perhaps, if she had, my little book would be a little less scary to publish.

A few final notes. If Dumbledore is gay, then McGonigle's definitely a lesbian and I don't buy for a minute that he would have had that desperately shaggy beard. Though the dress was good.

10 comments:

Kirk said...

Check out this commentary on the Dumbledore revelation from a former elementary school teacher who tried not to be closeted:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15528724

Ornery Librarian said...

Okay, I have such completely mixed feelings about this. Dumbledore is gay. That rocks. It gives his character a depth that I've always felt was missing. But announcing it now is such a cop-put it actually blows my mind a little bit. Rowling should have stepped up to the plate on this one.

I've always had my eyes on McGonagall and Madam Hooch.

Me said...

ornery: I agree completely - added depth + total cop-out. and, Oooh, never thought of Hooch!

thombeau said...

Great post. And your book sounds wonderful, too!

misscripchick said...

i love the idea of mcgonagall and madam hooch together. maybe today will be the day i get into fanfic?

your book sounds really interesting; best of luck with getting it published, i'm interested in reading it.

Me said...

Thombeau: I'm honored to have a visit from the Fabulonian ambassador! I'm glad you think the book sounds good. I hope the editor, the publisher, and the all-important marketing department think it's not only good, but also publishable. I'll be submitting it to them in a few weeks.

Misscrip: Now we're all going to be rereading the series to look for all that hot subtext!

Monica said...

ok i don't technically what a dumbledore is but what's the point after the fact. i assume you read those bookss, were there any lines to read between? that's like me writing a book series and years later being all confused as to how no one could tell that the main character was a ferret. i dunno.

claire said...

Being an active member of the Harry Potter fandom, I will say that the "fen" is very mixed on this. I basically called her an effing coward and ended my rant with: Dear Ms. Rowling, Get some balls. No love." As timid as this is, it already has had some effects. A school district in Illinois is banning ALL Harry Potter costumes from Halloween parades and a woman who has run a Snape Yahoo site for years is so disgusted (rabid Christian) that she's pulling the site. It's a lose/lose as far as I am concerned.

Elizabeth said...

monica - Apparently, in the land of Harry Potter, there is a lot to read between those lines.... A ferret, that would be funny!

claire - Wow! I had no idea the response from the "dark side" was that extreme! The thing about us bleeding hearts is that we'll bitch and be snarky, but we'll still read the books and dress our kids up in the costumes. But those crazy rabid righters really put their money where their idiocy is!

Ornery Librarian said...

So let me get this straight (HA!) A woman with a Snape Yahoo site was so shocked by the concept of a gay Dumbledore that she pulled her site. Okay, really? Perhaps she should get off the computer, leave the house and realize its not 1953.