Homosexuality in Harry Potter—the Historic Moment

Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. The Headmaster of Hogwarts, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, leader of the Order of the Phoenix, and the only character in J. K. Rowling’s world-famous Harry Potter series who is confirmed by the author to be gay. Rowling shared this information with the public in 2007, but it was a long way to prove her claim on screen.

Although Rowling has been working to add gay representation to the Harry Potter universe and, with this, make the works more inclusive, in the past few years her tweets about other members of the LGBTQ community have made headlines.

Let’s see a quick summary of how LGBTQ representation has developed in the wizarding world and how the author feels about the community.

The veil falls from professor Dumbledore

In 2007, that is, after the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the last book in the series, Rowling pulled the invisibility cloak off Dumbledore. She stated that she “always thought Dumbledore was gay”, mentioned a former romantic relationship with Gellert Grindelwald, and talked about the time she had to correct the script for the movie Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Entertainment Weekly). In the latter, Dumbledore would have talked about his past acquaintance with a girl, so Rowling simply wrote in the margin “Dumbledore is gay!” This is how the whole thing started.

The Fantastic beasts take the stage

In 2013, Warner Bros. Entertainment CEO Kevin Tsujihara announced that they would collaborate with Rowling to create the Fantastic Beasts film series (Deadline Hollywood). At that time, fans had little information; all that was known was that the story was inspired by a fictitious Hogwarts textbook, which Rowling published in real life too in 2001, titled Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and that the main character would be the author of this textbook, Newt Scamander.

Later in 2016, Rowling not only confirmed Dumbledore’s appearance in the series, but also hinted that the films would explore his relationship with Grindelwald (Entertainment Weekly).

The Crimes of Grindelwald didn’t reveal much

While we didn’t get to see Dumbledore in the first Fantastic Beasts film, his young self plays a role in Grindelwald’s crimes. (Well, maybe his middle-aged self, but that’s relatively young compared to the 110-year-old Dumbledore.) However, there is something missing from the film: any direct reference to his romantic relationship with Grindelwald.

Before The Crimes of Grindelwald came out, the director, David Yates, in a 2018 interview, announced in advance that the film would not include such a scene, but, in his opinion, the fans of the wizarding world are well aware of Dumbledore’s sexuality (Entertainment Weekly).

The question remained the same: when would this important detail which up until then had only been discussed in interviews and tweets, become a part of the Harry Potter canon?

Rowling urges fans to be patient

In that same year, responding to fans’ dissatisfaction on Twitter, Rowling indicated to the community that the Fantastic Beasts series would have five parts. Jude Law, the actor who portrays Dumbledore, also called attention to this in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “What you got to remember this is only the second Fantastic Beasts film in a series” said Law and he assured fans that Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s relationship “will unfold naturally” and that “this is just the beginning” (Entertainment Weekly).

Dumbledore’s Secrets – the long awaited moment

2022 is the year when Dumbledore’s sexuality is confirmed on screen. A slight spoiler follows: during the film he brings up his relationship with Grindelwald and admits twice that he was in love with the powerful wizard. It took Rowling 15 years to write this information into the script and not just the margins: still, the news didn’t reach all fans. In the Chinese release, for example, Warner Bros. took out these two scenes at China’s request in order to “to respond sensitively to a variety of in-market factors”, the studio stated (Variety).

What comes next? 

Of course, no one can see into the future (just Grindelwald….and of course the quilin…and the demiguise, but that’s all), but we do know a few things. The Fantastic Beasts series was planned with five parts and there are still two more to go. At least in theory. The last two films did not perform too well in terms of reviews and income. Therefore, it’s unknown whether the last two films will be made. If Warner Bros. decides to continue, then we can count on more interactions between Dumbledore and Grindelwald. Rowling’s idea was that the fifth film would end in 1945, which is known to be the year of the famous duel between the two powerful wizards. This would undoubtedly give the characters an opportunity to explore what happened between Dumbledore and Grindelwald in the past, and how they feel about one another in the present.

Rowling and the trans community

Although Rowling has worked hard for a decade to give space to a gay character in the story, she is still divisive in the LGBTQ community because of her comments about the transgenderism.

The uproar started in 2020 when Rowling posted on Twitter that gender (‘sex’ in her tweet) neutralism wants to get rid of gender (‘sex’) altogether and thus of the female gender (‘sex’). Later she shared many anti-trans thoughts on the internet in response to which many Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts actors issued statements supporting the transgender community. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Bonnie Wright, and Eddie Redmayne also expressed their disapproval of Rowling’s tweets. Some people stood up for Rowling, for example, Robbie Coltrane, the actor who plays Hagrid, but some fans went so far as to “cancel” Rowling.

Overall, while Rowling is working to make the Harry Potter universe more inclusive of the gay community, she is unlikely to do the same for other members of the LGBTQ community. The fate of Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s relationship can only be answered by the fourth and fifth Fantastic Beasts films, if Warner Bros. decides to continue filming.

Translated by Amy Soto

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