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J.K. Rowling Says She's Misunderstood, Threats Queer Actor Over Nazi Comment

J.K. Rowling Says She's Misunderstood, Threats Queer Actor Over Nazi Comment

JJ Welles and J.K. Rowling

Rowling, the subject of a new podcast, received an apology from JJ Welles, who had likened her to Nazis.

Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling, under fire for numerous transphobic comments, says she’s been misunderstood — plus she’s received an apology from a young queer actor who likened her to Nazis. The apology came after a threat of legal action.

Rowling will appear on a new podcast, The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling, set to premiere next Tuesday, Variety reports. In a trailer for the podcast, she says, “What has interested me in recent years, particularly on social media [is when fans say], ‘You’ve ruined your legacy. Oh, you could have been beloved forever, but you chose to say this.’ And I think, You could not have misunderstood me more profoundly.

In December 2019, Rowling had tweeted support for Maya Forstater, a woman who’d lost her job because of what were deemed transphobic tweets. “Dress however you please,” Rowling said. “Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?”

Rowling has made many anti-trans comments since then, claiming to love trans people but also essentially questioning their existence. She has made statements that were supportive of trans-exclusionary radical feminists, a.k.a. TERFs, and has painted trans rights as somehow in conflict with women’s rights. She recently funded a center in Scotland for survivors of sexual abuse that refuses to serve trans women. Some conservative politicians have used Rowling’s comments to support their transphobic positions.

The podcast is hosted by Megan Phelps-Roper, a member of the family behind the Westboro Baptist Church, known for its hatred of LGBTQ+ people; Phelps-Roper has split with the church and rejected its views. Given that Phelps-Roper is a “former fundamentalist,” Rowling wrote on Twitter, “I thought the two of us could have a real, interesting, two-sided conversation that might prove constructive.”

The show is produced by the Free Press, a media company founded by Bari Weiss, a former opinion writer for The New York Times. Weiss, who has had relationships with both men and women but declines to label her sexuality, left the Times in 2020, saying it had become an “illiberal environment,” intolerant of anything that doesn’t fit a left-wing “orthodoxy.”

The first two episodes of The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling will be available next week, with other episodes dropping weekly after that.

Also this week, queer actor and drag queen JJ Welles apologized for and retracted his comment likening Rowling to Nazis. In a now-deleted tweet, he tagged Rowling and wrote, “To think you were once an icon to me. I think you absolutely have views that align with Nazis,” the Scottish Daily Express reports.

Rowling responded, “What’s your solicitor’s view on this Nazi accusation? Would they advise you to defend it in court?”

This Monday, Welles tweeted his apology. “I would like to publicly apologise for a previous Twitter thread where I interacted with JK Rowling on matters relating to the transgender community,” he wrote. “I have now removed these tweets and would like to apologise to JK Rowling directly for causing potential upset. I failed to choose my words with care and would like to retract my previous statements relating to her views on the LGBTQ+ and more specifically, transgender people. I would also like to retract my likening to JK Rowling to any far right or Nazi organisation and emphasise I do not wish any individual, inclusive of JK Rowling, to come to any harm.”

Users online were not impressed with the legal threat.

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