changeling: (writing)
I'm going to copypasta from Tumblr here, because DW/LJ are semi-permanent, and Tumblr is the digital equivalent of newspaper - tomorrow it'll just be a wrapper for fish and chips. And I suspect this is going to come up again.

This is in reference to these two images:

And the following comments appended to them:

Svetlana-Del-Rey (no longer on Tumblr):
Was she going to slap you because you never in any way made him gay in the actual books, taking zero risks/doing absolutely nothing for gay characters in literature, and only announcing your “authorial intent” afterwards for a cheap shot at looking like an ~ally~

Gay people are just normal people. We are not told about any of the Hogwarts professors love lives, other than Snape, and it would be completely out of character for Dumbledore to walk around telling everyone about his sexuality.

Did you want her to make him dress in glittery platform boots, a crop top, and decorate his office in rainbow flags to make it more obvious for you? Would that be enough of a stereotype to appease you people? Or what? Please tell me. I’d like to know how you think a gay character is supposed to be portrayed.

And did you miss the Grindelwald chapters in the ‘actual books’? Or was that also not obvious enough for you? Did Dumbledore need to whisper “always” wistfully in order for you to connect that he had romantic feelings for Grindelwald? Maybe you are American and need them to gaze longingly into each others eyes with awkward close ups of their fingers almost grazing each other that Hollywood thinks means ‘true love’.

It didn’t fit into his relationship to Harry to ever say “I’m gay”, and so it was not stated explicitly (you might have noticed the book was told from Harry Potter’s perspective).

The point is though, that he is a homosexual, well respected, powerful, and very loved wizard- and his sexuality doesn’t matter because no one else thinks it matters. a.k.a. no one cares that he loves men, and that is wonderful.

“No one cares that he loves men, and that is wonderful.”

Of course it is. But that still doesn’t equal visibility. Who cares if Dumbledore is gay in her head? Assuming there are 200 students per year level (is there any place online that has crunched these numbers? Just curious), there are at least ten gay students per year level. That’s at least 70 students (on average) in Hogwarts at any one time who prefer their own gender, or who like both. Nowhere are they present in the narrative, even as background colour. Hermione doesn’t pause from her SPEW crusade to tell off a homophobic classmate who’s picking on Luna for leaving Ginny a Valentine.

I didn’t get introduced to a single gay, bi, or trans character. I know who Ginny Weasley dated, but at no point did JKR mention that Neville and Dean had a thing for the whole of fifth year. Or whatever.

Not mentioning that Dumbledore is gay in the books doesn’t really mean a goddamn thing to the QUILTBAG readers who are forever looking for characters like them in fiction and not finding them (unless they read Justine Larbalestier). Yes, I thought that Dumbledore and Grindelwald had subtext. But so do Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. And as a QUILTBAG person, we’re used to reading our own narratives on books. But reading between the lines doesn’t make it a ‘textual’ interpretation, one supported by evidence.

QUILTBAG people are invisible in media, almost all the time. When you read closing chapters like the one at the end of the Harry Potter series (Gillian Rubenstein did one at the end of her Space Demons trilogy, and I hated it about as much), nowhere does it say, “And ten years later, Seamus Finnegan came out of the closet and lives happily with a Muggle”. In so many books, in so many movies, heterosexuality isn’t just the default, it’s THE ONLY OPTION. So even though you can read homo motives on characters, you know that in the next book, in the annotations, in an interview with the author, it will be made clear that those two are “just good friends”. Gay people aren’t just invisible; we’re completely absent. So we doubt our own judgements.

I’m glad that Jo thinks it’s important enough to stress in interviews that Dumbledore is gay. It makes her, the person, the private individual, a gay ally. But it does not make JKR, the author, a gay ally. And it doesn’t make the Harry Potter books queer friendly.


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January 2017

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