With author J.K.
Rowling's revelation that master wizard Albus Dumbledore
is gay, some passages about the Hogwarts headmaster and
rival wizard Gellert Grindelwald have taken on a new
and clearer meaning.
author stunned her fans at Carnegie Hall in New York City on
Friday night when she answered one young reader's question
about Dumbledore by saying that he was gay and had
been in love with Grindelwald, whom he had defeated
years ago in a bitter fight.
imagine how his ideas caught me, Harry, inflamed me,''
Dumbledore says in Harry Potter and the Deathly
Hallows, the seventh and final book in Rowling's
record-breaking fantasy series.
The news brought
gasps, then applause at Carnegie Hall, the last stop on
Rowling's brief U.S. tour, and set off thousands of e-mails
on Potter fan Web sites around the world. Some were
dismayed, others indifferent, but most were
calling any Harry Potter character gay would make wonderful
strides in tolerance toward homosexuality,'' Melissa Anelli,
Webmaster of the fan site
https://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org, told the Associated
Press. ''By dubbing someone so respected, so talented, and
so kind as someone who just happens to be also
homosexual, she's reinforcing the idea that a person's
gayness is not something of which they should be
Gay' is quite a headline to stumble upon on a Friday
evening, and it's certainly not what I expected,'' added
Potter fan Patrick Ross of Rutherford, N.J. ''[But] a
gay character in the most popular series in the world
is a big step for Jo Rowling and for gay rights.''
now be the world's most famous gay children's character,
but he's hardly the first. And Tango Makes Three, a
story by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell that
features two male penguins raising a baby penguin,
topped the American Library Association's latest list
of books attracting the most complaints from parents and
In 2005, PBS
decided not to distribute an episode of Postcards From
Buster that had been criticized by Secretary of
Education Margaret Spellings for including lesbian
characters. The Potter books themselves have long been
threatened with removal from school and library shelves,
with some Christians alleging that the series promotes
fantasy series Gellert Grindelwald was a dark wizard of
great power who terrorized people much in the same way
Harry's nemesis, Lord Voldemort, was to do a
generation later. Readers hear of him in the first
book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, in a
reference to how Dumbledore defeated him. In
Deathly Hallows, readers learn they once
had been best friends.
Dumbledore nor Grindelwald ever seems to have referred to
this brief boyhood friendship in later life,'' Rowling
writes. ''However, there can be no doubt that
Dumbledore delayed, for some five years of turmoil,
fatalities, and disappearances, his attack upon Gellert
Grindelwald. Was it lingering affection for the man or fear
of exposure as his once best friend that caused
Dumbledore to hesitate?''
As a young man,
Dumbledore, brilliant and powerful, had been forced to
return home to look after his mentally ill younger sister
and younger brother. It was a task he admits to Harry
that he resented, because it derailed the bright
future he had been looking forward to.
described by Rowling as ''golden-haired, merry-faced,''
arrived after having been expelled from his own school.
Grindelwald's aunt, Bathilda Bagshot, says of their
meeting: ''The boys took to each other at once.'' In a
letter to Grindelwald, Dumbledore discusses their
plans for gaining wizard dominance: ''If you had not been
expelled we would never have met.''
had speculated about Dumbledore, noting that he has no
close relationship with women and a mysterious, troubled
''Falling in love
can blind us to an extent,'' Rowling said Friday of
Dumbledore's feelings about Grindelwald, adding that
Dumbledore was ''horribly, terribly let down.''
love, she observed, was his ''great tragedy.'' (Hillel