Monday, October 22, 2007

Hey Hey Hey, Dumbledore's Gay!

I'm sure anyone who's a fan of Harry Potter has heard this story already, but allow me to offer my thoughts. Recently, author J.K. Rowling revealed that the beloved Professor Dumbledore of her bestselling fantasy series was a homosexual. Honestly, the woman isn't stupid, so I'm sure she knew this news would cause a bit of an uproar, even though she revealed it in a very casual manner. And, I'm afraid to say, it has.

Unfortunately, this little revelation about a fictional character's sexuality has really made the two sides of the "culture war" more clear than ever. Travis at the Sword of Gryffindor blog recently wrote an excellent analysis of the opposing sides (and he also called that the culture war should stop, to which I say "Here, here!") I strongly suggest you read his post. I also have my own little thoughts.

First, I don't understand all the Christians who are up in arms about Dumbledore being gay. Reading many of their comments, you would think they had wanted any gay character to be overtly negative. Of course, most of them probably would have been content without there being any gay character at all (and so would I). But let's look at it this way. Dumbledore is shown throughout the series as being an outstanding leader, role model, teacher, and overall moral person. He values innocence, friendship, and most importantly, love. Isn't it a good thing to have a gay character show those qualities? I really do believe that a reason many gay men and women lead lives of depravity is because for years society has said that depravity is the only thing homosexuals are capable of. Luckily, I have learned this to be untrue, and even though I think homosexual sex is outside of God's will, I'm fine with there being positive GLBT characters in fiction.

Second, for Bible-believing Christians who now think that the Harry Potter series is not redeemable, I would ask why homosexuality is any worse than the instances of lying, stealing, and other sins that occur in the series. Travis from SoG was very correct in pointing out that many Christians see homosexuality as a sin above all sins, and it annoys him as much as it annoys me.

But even more than that, isn't this a wonderful opportunity for Christian parents to talk to their children about homosexuality? Goodness knows there must be hundreds of gay kids in Christian households who could benefit from this. By all means, despite his sexuality, Dumbledore still seems to live a Godly life. He seems to have lived celibately, and he devoted his life to teaching and fighting the evil of Lord Voldemort. In fact, I would argue that he's a great example of what homosexuals in the Church are called to be. I know I'm certainly inspired by him. :)

Did Rowling mean it that way? Probably not. However, characters are meant to take on a life of their own outside of their author. Christian parents can reap a whole lot of good from this situation. They can teach their children that gay people are not bound for Hell (or even earthly depravity) just because of their orientation. In the off chance that their child is actually gay, they can start a wonderful dialogue. But of course, I'm having the feeling that people really like dialogue a lot less than they say they do, and that's a real shame.


Silus Grok said...

Hear hear.

Robert said...

I am often amused with discussions about the sexual orientations of characters from Middle Earth and similar otherworldly places.

Like many great writers, Rowling creates very detail biographies of her characters, and they act consistent with themselves throughout her stories. Sexuality is obviously an important component of those characters, whether it is openly expressed or not.

People may debate whether it is right or wrong to ascribe sexual characterists, but in fantasy stories people forget that the protagonists are invariably NOT Christian (or a member of any other known faith). They may have strong moral compasses, but they are not motivated by the teachings of Jesus (or Krisha, or Allah, etc.). Thus, they are neither saved by a relationship with Jesus, nor are they constrained to follow a Judeo-Christian point of view.

Peterson Toscano said...

And all this time my gaydar was going off with Sirius Black. Go figure. Now Professor McGonagall surely puts out some lesbian vibes.

Karen said...

Jay--I like reading your blog, but haven't posted before. Anyway, well said. There are so many stereotypes Christians have of gay people. Yet, there are many of us like Dumbledore who are seeking what is good, serving in ministry, living for God and just happen to have same-gender attractions. My existence seems to take others in the Church by surprise at times. I don't believe same-sex romantic relationships are what God wants (and so am celibate), but I also am very open with the fact that I have not experienced change, and might not ever experience change in orientation. I don't fit in the nice tidy box.

Jay said...

Silus: Thanks!

Robert: Good points. I mean, in a world where Christian morality is only alluded to, not explicitly stated, the so-called "rules" would be a little different, no?

Peterson: LOL about McGonagall. How have you been?

Karen: Thanks for the comment! I really wish you had commented before now, and I hope you comment in the future! You're just the type of person who I'd like to hear more from. Someone who isn't exactly ex-gay but not gay-affirming either. Hear hear for not fitting into the nice tidy box. :)

kurt_t said...

I've met more that a couple of people who think that Bugs Bunny is gay.

David said...

I think you're dead-on, Jay (though his celibacy seems to be a result of circumstance and spurned love). I find it kind of odd personally that she revealed this at a Q&A session rather than alluding to it where it was appropriate (re: his relationship w/ Grindelwald), but I'm fine with it.

However, and this may be a difference in perspective, I don't think a lot of parents want to talk with their children and tell them that gay people or not bound for hell/earthly depravity because of their orientation. Those who protest these sorts of things tend to believe just that. But I'm not the most optimistic chap. ;)

Saul said...

If he were celibate out of conviction, now that would have made a stir.

Mephibosheth said...

The best line so far belongs to Mark Shea, who called this the Buckbeak Mountain Controversy.

David said...


I am only commenting on what is (probably) the author's intent - I very much doubt Jo sees homosexuality as something requiring celibacy, but rather sees Dumbledore as a towering intellect who cannot really find anyone to match him in an intimate way - and when he did, he fell for a man who ended up a dark wizard, wise and intelligent though he was, and this crushed Albus. I have friends who are celibate by choice (though I am not), and am perfectly happy to support them. I just am cautious about people reading their viewpoints into a text regardless of content and authorial insight - particularly when the author is still alive. :)

Jay said...

Saul & David: Author's intent aside, it is usually up to the readers to decide the meaning of the text. As Robert stated, fantasy stories (even ones with Christian themes) are usually without explicit references to Judeo-Christian values. That doesn't mean Christians can't find those values or use the books as a springboard to talk about those values.

Dumbledore's celibacy is most likely due to mere circumstance. That does not mean Christians can't use the situation to talk about celibacy due to conviction. I'm just baffled at people drawing out the guns because of this subject. :)